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Redefining the (digital) Classroom

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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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Join Me for the #createwithcode Twitter Chat!

I'm so excited to be moderating the first #createwithcode Twitter chat this Monday! Join us to chat about creativity, kids and coding.

#createwithcode Twitter Chat
Monday, April 27 
6:45pm-7:45pm ET
(3:45pm PT / 4:45pm MT / 5:45pm CT).

Also don't forget - you could win some coding robots of your very own!  Get your students together to submit a short and fun video about coding and computer science. It can be about a story from your classroom, a music video, a dramatic interpretation of how loops work, or anything! Just post to YouTube, and tag your video with #makewonder then submit the video to this Google Form. My students will judge and select a winner! The deadline for submission is May 19th. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hooray: Shared courses comes to Google Classroom!

Many of us have been enjoying Google Classroom this school year. A simple interface to manage our Google Apps assignments with kids? Yes, please! New features are being released each season and as the flowers of spring begin to bloom, so do two more Classroom goodies.

Shared Courses
Finally we can have multiple teachers in one Google Classroom course! Many times we team teach or co-teach a class - or we have student teachers or residents we'd love to give course access. Now it's possible with the "invite teacher" button.

Plan Ahead
Now you can create assignments without actually posting them. The new "save draft" button is awesome for teachers who want to prep materials over the weekend but send them to kids later in the week.

For more info, check out the Google for Education blog post on this!