Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

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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!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Coding Creativity: Winning #makewonder Student Coding Videos

On April 12th, my students threw down a challenge to the world: Create a video about coding and/or creativity and send it to us. They would then pick the top video and the winner would receive two new robotic friends that inspire us to code: Dash and Dot, courtesy of Wonder Workshop.

IMG_2760.JPGYesterday my students began the judging process. They watched each video three times, took notes, and analyzed them in groups. The loved all the submissions so much and had a hard time narrowing it down. First, they selected a finalist group of “super seven”, which you can find here. Then they deliberated, discussed and debated until they made an ultimate decision for the final winner… and deemed it a three-way tie!

Congratulations to these students for producing creative messages about coding that made my students laugh, shout and applaud!

Help Us Get To The Future! Perris High of Murrieta, CA - teacher, Princess Choi
Kids Just Wanna Code Young Achievers Christian Academy of Oklahoma City, OK - teacher, Charitta Smith
Blank Code Whittell High School of Zephyr Cove, NV - teacher, Madison Malone
Here’s what my students had to say about your videos:

  • "I love how they used OUR video as the background for the song!"
  • "I liked that they used a hit song and turned it into a coding song."
  • "What i loved about blank code was how they switch to different settings of the school."
  • "I love how our S.I.T [Student Innovation Team] group made a whole school dance and make up a song about them coding"
  • "I love how they were in a big group and they all sang together and showed each section of the groups."
  • “They just looked like they all had fun and tried their best !”
  • "Love how they only used Coding to control dash and dot,I also like how they showed backstage and i also like how you show behind the scenes"
  • "Because I like how they sung why they wanted to have coding and why they liked it."
  • “Love how they only used Coding to control dash and dot.  I also like how they showed backstage and i also like how you show behind the scenes.”
Not to be left out of the video-making fun, my students insisted on creating a congratulations video to share with the winners. Take a look and see how Amiriunna spontaneously threw down a follow up challenge to the winners: create a video showing how you used Dash & Dot and send it back! So the cycle of creativity and communication continues….

Congratulations to the students, thank you to Wonder Workshop for the generous donation of the prizes and thank you to Madison, Charitta and Princess for sharing this opportunity with your classrooms... and most importantly THANK YOU to everyone who participated for infusing code into your students' lives! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words... Images in Mobile Google Docs and Slides!

Let's be honest... until now Google Docs and Google Slides for mobile devices was a bit... meh. With limited editing functions there wasn't much for our students to do with these tools. Teachers around the globe cried out, "If we could just insert IMAGES!" Well friends, our cries have been heard in Mountain View. Today Google released this functionality into their iOS and Android apps for Docs and Slides.


I cannot wait until I see my students next period to see how this affects their work. Collaborative and Visual? Can't wait to see what happens next....

GIF from Google Docs Blog