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Redefining the (digital) Classroom

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Update: You can now sign up for pre-sale notifications!

Update on Courageous Edventures: Wow Corwin is fast! They already created a flyer and have a link for you to sign up to be notified when pre-sales for my book go live!

Click here to sign up.

Thanks for your support, everyone!! :)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Courageous Edventures: I Wrote a Book!

Hi everyone! I'm so sorry it's been FOREVER since I've written a blog post. I have a good reason though... I wrote a book! (I think you probably got that from the title.) After years of blogging here, sharing stories via conferences and a TEDx, Corwin Press gave me the amazing opportunity to compile all of those tales and tips into something a bit more substantial.

Dreaming up a concept, doing the writing and going through hours of revision has been a definite edventure in and of itself. I didn't want to share the news afraid I'd jinx myself. However, today the cover was approved and my editor gave me the green light to begin sharing!

The book is called Courageous Edventures. Below is a brief description of the content. As it goes through peer reviews, revisions and iterations, I hope to begin sharing more here about the process.

The tentative release date is late summer / early fall of this year. Please stay tuned for more updates, as I will publish them here! Thanks for all of your support, friends!

 Courageous Edventures

"I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging.” - J. R. R. Tolkien 

The early innovators are out innovating, but what about the many who hope to follow on their own adventure? These educators often feel the pull, but hesitate due to the obstacles along the way. This book charts a course to identify and navigate around those obstacles so everyone can find the courage to journey into the limitless possibilities of the unknown -- and discover their own version of classroom innovation.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Google Expeditions Pioneer Roadshow Launches at Des Plaines District 62!

Perhaps you have seen Google Expeditions on YouTube or experienced it yourself at ISTE. If you haven't you should definitely check it out. Essentially, the program allows students to utilize the power of Google Cardboard to go on virtual field trips to places all over the globe - and beyond!

Expeditions can magically transport your kids to amazing locations like Mars, the Moon, Coral Reefs, the Great Wall of China and more. I'm proud to say that I even helped write one of the field trips, one in which you can take kids to Slovakian caves. My inspiration for selecting this location was my 4th graders' fave read aloud, Gregor the Overlander. They had always asked questions about the setting and had difficulty visualizing it. Photos and videos of caves were helpful but nothing like touring the environment in real life. Now thanks to Expeditions, my kids can have the experience of walking through a cave without ever leaving their seats.

Google Expeditions was announced this summer, but until now, only those piloting the program for the Google engineers were able to try it out. Today Google announced the Expeditions Pioneer Program. During this school year, they will be bringing kits filled with everything you need to go on an Expedition - the smartphones, tablet for the teacher to direct the tour, a router to allow the whole thing to run sans-Internet, and Google Cardboard or Mattel View-Masters.

I'm proud to share that this roadshow kicked off right here in Illinois today - in our school district (Des Plaines District 62) with three of our schools: Terrace, North and Forest Elementaries and at a neighboring high school, East Leyden High (Go #LeydenPride!).

The Expeditions team drove up in a decked out custom Subaru and took our kids to Borneo, on an ocean safari, exploring Gettysburg and even to the Moon! Not surprisingly, our students absolutely loved it. The ooohs and ahhs, laughter and amazement was palpable. We can't wait to see three more of our schools dig in tomorrow!

After spending a few weeks here in Chicagoland, the Expeditions Pioneer tour will continue on throughout the US, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, the U.K. and then followed by more locations as the school year progresses.

If you would like to see your school's name on the list, head over to the Expeditions site and sign on up! For more information, check out the Google blog post.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Finally! Calendar comes to Classroom... and More!

Our teachers have been loving Google Classroom but one of the things we keep asking for is integrating Google Calendar into the platform. Wouldn't it be great if assignments automatically were added to our students' calendars? Well, the team once again has heard our prayers - Calendar integration is coming to Classroom! Hoooray!!!

Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 2.37.46 PM.png

In this update, other fun features will be released, such as:
  • Reusing posts - Created a great assignment? Now you can reuse it later instead of making it again!
  • Question-based assignments - Assign questions and track who responds to the discussion!
  • Bumping posts - I'm actually most excited about this one. One concern I had with using Google Classroom is that when I post something, it gets pushed down to the bottom of the stream by other content. Now we can move a post to the top of the stream so that our students can easily find it! YESSSSS!
  • Due Dates Optional - Rolling assignments with open turn in times are no longer beholden to required due dates in Classroom.
  • Attach a Google Form - We've all been adding Google Forms via links but soon you can actually insert the form into a stream as an assignment!
For more info, GIFs and images of the new features, check out the Classroom release blog here!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

5 Tips to Make the Most of #ISTE2015

One of the largest EdTech events of the year, ISTE - the International Society for Technology in Education, is coming up in just a week! From great workshops to playgrounds to the casual conversation and collaboration that happens between sessions, this is a great event to recharge your innovation batteries. After attending for several years, I feel more confident going into the event and thought I’d share some tips to make the most of it with you:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. You’re on your feet all day, hiking around the labyrinthian convention center and standing around gabbing with new edufriends. Be sure to bring comfy shoes - or if you must wear something snazzy, bring a pair of flip flops to swap out once the day starts to wind down.

  1. Pack healthy snacks. The food in the convention centers are often overpriced and under-good. Both for you and tasting. The restaurants around the event are usually sporting long lines during the lunch hours and when you have a short window of time before your next session, you probably don’t have time to wait. So pack some fruit, granola bars, trail mix, anything that will travel well in your bag throughout the day.

  1. Download a business card app. I get so many business cards during these events that I never look at again. However, in the mix I lose great the contact info of fabulous educators I wish I had remembered to save. The next time someone hands you a card, ask to just snap a photo. I love the app Cardful because of its Evernote integration but there are a ton of good ones out there. Once you’ve got the picture of the card, you can categorize it as someone you’d like to follow up with… or not.

  1. Don’t forget the poster sessions. Oftentimes folks forget that the poster sessions are some of the best opportunities for learning and connection. Here are brave educators sharing their work in a casual environment. Many of the best things I’ve learned at ISTE has been from chatting up a poster session presenter. Moreover, most of the student presenters I’ve seen at ISTE have been at the poster session exhibits. It’s so important for their voices to be represented at ed conferences - and when they are there we should stop and listen.

  1. Talk to strangers. So often we head to these events with our herd of edufriends and circulate through the halls in our own prearranged clique. However a potential edusoulmate could be sitting right next to you. Engage fellow participants in conversations, offer a seat to someone who looks lost and who knows? Maybe you’ll be co-presenting together next year!