Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Somebody That You Should All Know: Vol #1

Now that my role has changed to "Digital Learning Coordinator" from "Princess 5th Grade Math Teacher Ninja", I am often feeling guilty about sharing my work and stories. While I still have the honor of working with kids on a semi-regular basis - through a student tech leadership team and co-teaching or modeling lessons for colleagues - I am no longer a "classroom teacher." Therefore, I find it my civic duty to use this blog not only to share what I learn as I work with my 26 schools, their teachers and students - but also to share the direct work of the teachers themselves.

As such - this is a first of a series I hope to start called "Somebody That You Should All Know" (feel free to sing that to the tune of "Somebody that I Used To Know"). In this series I will be featuring some of the amazing and inspiring educators with whom I have the pleasure of working. My evil plan - that they have yet to learn - is to eventually get them to guest blog. Some may, some may not - either way, these are all great minds, voices and collaborators that you should know. Think of this as a Twitter #FollowFriday that exceeds the 140 character limit :).


First up:
Autumn Laidler
3rd/4th Grade Science Teacher
A.K.A., Empress Science Teacher Jedi
Chicago, IL

Autumn is exactly the kind of colleague with whom you want to collaborate. She's a walking, talking personification of creative commons / open source - that is, she believes that ideas are worth sharing, and should be equal opportunity. She is always reminding me that PLCs or organizations - even the ones you need to apply to be a part of - should never be exclusionary - but inclusive and generous with their learning.

Moreover, Autumn isn't one to rest of her laurels. Although she was an innovator well before gaining iPads in her classroom, she spent her first year of 1:1 iPad use redefining her practice and pushing herself (not to mention all of her colleagues) to rethink teaching and learning. Then this year -- when she could have easily said, "I got this people - watch and learn" -- she instead came to me as well as her other colleagues to brainstorm new ways to come up with new and exciting ideas to challenge her pedagogy.

Autumn's commitment to innovation is amazing, but is equally matched by her commitment to work with the highest needs communities in our city. Students who are marginalized and thus often difficult to reach are often neglected by shining stars like Ms. Laidler. However Autumn - like many of the other colleagues I will write about in this series - doesn't shy away. Instead she makes it her mission to work with these communities to truly make a difference.

If you're an educator looking for new and inventive ways to use mobile devices (such as the iPad), please take a moment to check out her blog and follow her on Twitter. (Note: She is an amazing follow - her tweets are not only thoughtful, but she does a great job of curating information on this site... something that I strive to be better at. Moreover, she is one to start dialogues and discussions using this tool rather than simply sending out 140 character quips, commentaries or retweets.)

Thanks, Autumn, for always being an inspiration to me, and for doing the work you do. You rock, my friend.

And that's a wrap on Somebody That You Should Know, Volume #1. Stay tuned for more highlights on amazing educators right here. Same bat time, same bat channel.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sorry Edmodo... Switching to Schoology

*****************

Dear Edmodo,

I'm switching to Schoology. I'm so sorry... I appreciate all you've done for me, and I'll never forget you. And, unlike the Taylor Swift song - we might just get back together if you change/update. But right now Schoology has so much to offer me that you don't: easier workflow, advanced quiz and discussion features, a clean layout.... I hope we can still be friends.

Love,
Jennie

*****************

Post Update: Wrote this post on 2-24-2013 with more info on Schoology vs. Edmodo...

For the past 2 years I've been an avid user of Edmodo - a web-based learning management system (LMS). I've relied on it it for everything from managing learning environments for my 4th and 5th graders to supporting my graduate students in the university classes I'm teaching.

However there were some downsides: the "wall" or "newsfeed" became cumbersome. Its cluttered interface made it difficult for my students - whether 9 or 29 years old - to find assignments, messages and quizzes. Additionally there was the age-old iPad issue of workflow. How would students turn in the digital creations made on their iPads? Thanks to iOS 6.0.1, iPad users can now attach videos and photos from their photo roll to websites by clicking on "file" icons (the same icon that would access your hard drive folders on a computer). Another great update: users can also open content from one app (such as PagesKeynote or Numbers) in another app (such as Edmodo or Schoology) -- see the photos above. This was amazing for turning in work! However, in Edmodo, this work is simply saved into the student's "backpack" and they must go through a few more steps to actually submit it. As such, the workflow was awkward for many students with processing issues/delays and they became frustrated.

Furthermore, you couldn't file share in the opposite direction through the Edmodo app. For example, if I sent my student a PDF of a graphic organizer through an Edmodo assignment, they couldn't then open it into another app. There was no "open in" or "share" button available when it was previewed. If I wanted them to open the document or PDF, I had to go through the web interface.

Finally I decided to give Schoology - another web-based LMS - another try. I had experimented with this site when it first came out - just a few months after Edmodo's release - but found it confusing to use and too expensive (they originally charged for some features that were free on Edmodo). However on this most recent go-around, I noticed that not only are all the features I need free, but also found that there are more features than Edmodo. I've been experimenting using it with some groups of students and sharing it with the teachers whom I coach. Today I was working with colleague Linsey Rose, and found that Schoology may just be the answer to many of my iPad needs! Below are some brief findings:

  • Workflow Solutions! Schoology offers a free solution to turning in digital content from an iPad that is easy to use! Like the Edmodo app, the Schoology app allows students/participants in a course to submit Pages docs, Keynote presentations, Numbers spreadsheets, PDFs, videos, pictures and more. However, when they open the Keynote, doc, PDF or spreadsheet in Schoology it allows them to directly submit it as an assignment. One-step submission! Amazing! So imagine: Kids can create a Keynote and easily turn it in to an assignment on Schoology. Then the teacher can open it on his/her desktop, give feedback and give it a grade if need be. 
  • Advanced Quiz Features! I can embed video and pictures into a quiz. Not just thumbnails or a link to a video or picture, but actual videos and actual pictures. I don't need to upload to a library first - I can attach a video or picture as an answer choice or part of the question directly from my hard drive on my computer. Wow. I've always dreamed of differentiating assessments with multimedia, and now I can! 
  • Cleaner interface! There isn't a cluttered news feed when kids log in. They can see recent activity, but then they click on their course and immediately they can see a clean, simple list of their assignments, quizzes, discussions, etc. (See photo above)
There are more great features such as course analytics (see which students logged in when), advanced discussion features (grade discussions as assignments, see who commented when in a timeline, allow students to directly reply to one another), and the ability to take attendance. I have just begun digging into this alternate LMS, but thus far like what I see.

Some downsides to Schoology:
  • You can't create small groups within a class/course nor can you send assignments to groups students. (However, you can send assignments to individuals.) We are getting around this by creating assignments named "Group 1 Polygon sort" and "Group 2 Polygon screencast" etc. and empowering kids to click on their group's assignment. 
  • When you get to the district level - i.e., you want an entire district to use Schoology - it begins to charge and can get costly. I haven't encountered this myself, but in speaking with colleagues, I have heard this is a barrier.
For a quick overview of the Schoology iPad app, including some of the features above, check out this video. Also this is a great post on the Schoology app updates and features.

To others using Edmodo and/or Schoology - what do you think? How do these two learning management systems weigh in for you?



Friday, December 14, 2012

Student Created iBooks!

As we've been exploring how to use iBooks Author for teachers to created differentiated digital content, we've begun to wonder how this could be used as a student creation tool. We have many classrooms with 1:1 iPads, but each room only has one MacBook or iMac (the only devices that run iBooks Author). However, we've started to experiment with aggregating student digital creations from their iPads and using iBooks Author to put them together.

This video is an example from a 4th grade classroom with whom I work. They are learning about elements of extended response (I know - not the most exciting topic. Hoping to move towards more exciting content next time!) and as such are practicing different aspects of responding to questions. In this segment, they are thinking about text evidence.

The students began by reading a short text. Then they responded to a prompt by finding evidence from the text (using Edmodo). Then they filmed each other's metacognition - that is, they filmed a partner talking about their own thinking when answering the question. Finally, student volunteers stayed after class to put the iBook together. Our hope is to replicate this process with more student-driven topics (i.e., a CBL or PBL unit) and make the iBooks Author jobs embedded into school-time.

Have you been using iBooks Author with students? If so, please share your stories below!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

We're Getting Google Scripty in Here!

For those of you who have begun using Google Forms in your classrooms and schools, you have probably found that they are a great way to collect data. From room reservations to formative assessments, forms offer a plethora of supports as an educator. Want to take it up a notch? Enter Scripts. Scripts are amazing add-ons that you can install into a spreadsheet to automate your life. From auto-scheduling in your calendar via a form to auto-grading an assessment to auto-handing out and sharing a document, scripts can make your life oh-so-much easier.

Tonight I had the pleasure of doing a Google Hangout on the Air with Liz Castillo from Hawaii, Angie Kalthoff from Minnesota and Jay Atwood from Singapore. We shared about four of our favorite scripts:

  • FormEmailer: Send email from a form
  • Autocrat: Create PDFs and Google Docs from a form
  • FormMule: Send out emails, voice messages, texts and calendar invites through a form
  • Doctopus: Create copies of Google Docs, Presentations and Spreadsheets - then share them out with students/teachers
Andrew Stillman - the author of many of these scripts - has a great site to learn more about how to use these (and more) scripts in case our Hangout video wasn't detailed enough: youpd.org.

If that's not enough Script love for you, here's an early holiday gift: Jay has an amazing site chock full of script info, graphics and tips. I highly encourage you to check it out: sandbox.atwoodphoto.com.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Registration Now Open! PLAYDATE13

PLAYDATE13 - the conference that was born at 10,000 feet (see this post to learn more about that) is now open for registration! Also, thanks to Boston-based educator Tracy Sockalosky's go-getter attitude, we've added on a second city to the event! As such, PLAYDATE will be now be occurring simultaneously in both Chicago and Boston.

Click here to register for either location - and register soon! This event is limited to the first 150 participants.

Read below for more info:
A new kind of conference. 
No presenters. No agendas. Just playing.
Explore the things you've never had time to explore. 
Saturday, February 9, 2013

This is a new kind of conference. Think about the last time you attended an EdTech PD, conference or other professional learning event. Oftentimes, we leave full of new knowledge and a list overflowing with new apps, programs and skills to try out. However, once we return to "the real world" many of us lack the time and support to actually try out all of these new tools. 

PLAYDATE13 is a space for us to come together and collaboratively explore these tools we've always wanted to learn more about. The concept is to invite educators from around the area to join together on one day, sit in a room for a few hours and just play. They will collaborate to learn about EdTech apps, programs and tools with one another. There are no presenters in the room, no experts and no agenda. Simply time to play, tinker, and explore. 

There will be a Google Doc circulated a month before the event for colleagues and fellow educators to fill in with tips, tricks and links to help support the exploration during the PLAYDATE sessions, but that's it! Join us on Saturday, February 9th to rediscover playtime.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Don't Trust Conference Presenters: The Teacher Behind the Curtain

Recently I've noticed something about conference presenters (myself included). We're a bit phony. How so? Well, we jump up in front of poor, unsuspecting participants and show about 20% of our practice... the perfect, amazing 20%. Then we thank our audience and walk away with smiles as if to say, "Don't you wish you could do that?"

So, don't trust conference presenters. If you pull back the curtain, you'll see that the other 80% of our practice is rich with failure and - as such - important learning experiences. Moreover, don't expect to emulate what you see in the presentations - even 20% of the time - immediately. I'm not saying don't strive to set and meet goals based on what you learn at PDs, conferences and PLC meetings - but scaffold for yourself just as you would suggest for your students. At least in my case, it took me months - if not years - of experimentation with my iPads, AppleTV, Student Social Media, Chromebooks, etc. to gather the 60 minutes of presentation material to 'show out' in front of an audience. And even then, I'm still a work in progress - continually learning and growing.

As such, I've recently begun to make more of my learning experience transparent when I present. I try and show what didn't work and why - and also how I learned and grew from the experience. I do this before I demonstrate the current strategy, tool or process that is working well. My hope is that by being transparent about the real deal - the time, growth and challenges that I experienced - my colleagues can walk away from my workshops and sessions feeling empowered to rock out in their own classrooms. Because I know they all can - if I'm honest with my own journey.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Student Screencast Workflow


Recently I wrote this article, discussing the pros and cons of different screencasting apps. However, 9 days later Apple's updated operating system, iOS6, was released. This allows users to upload video to websites. Now that this is an option, here is workflow that will help you get student screencasts turned in more efficiently and allow you to provide grades, feedback, through the same platform.

You'd use the free screencasting app Doceri instead of your previous screencasting app (i.e., ShowMe, ScreenChomp or Educreations) as it allows you to send the video to your photo/camera roll. You'll also need to have your Edmodo class set up and an Edmodo assignment created. (Edmodo is a free online learning management system.) For help with this, check out this video.

[If you want ideas for how students can use screencasting apps to show their metacognition, check out this previous post and this one as well.]

Here is the workflow:

(1) Make sure all iPads are updated to iOS 6.0.1 or later. You can tell by going to the Settings app icon, then clicking on "General" then clicking on "About". About halfway down the screen you'll see "Version" - it should say 6.0.1.

(2) Once you've made sure all iPads are updated, you go into Edmodo and create an assignment. Tell the kids what to do with Doceri and what kind of video to make. Give it a due date. Send it to the students.

(3) Have the kids create screencasts on Doceri. Then have them save to the camera roll by dragging the video (once they're done a screen will pop up with the video thumbnails) to the picture of the camera roll (the black square with a flower in it - see the second photo). That saves the video to the iPad's camera roll.

(4)  Have them log into Edmodo. Have them tap on "turn in" on your assignment. Have them tap "file" then "choose existing" and finally select their video (it should be the most recent one all the way at the bottom of the list of thumbnails). Then have them submit their assignment. Now you have their video submitted to Edmodo and don't have to worry about uploading to a website, emailing it to yourself or downloading it directly from student iPads! You can grade it, give feedback, or download it to your desktop. It's a much, much cleaner workflow than Educreations.com and also allows you to organize videos and give feedback. This also allows you to download the videos to your desktop, should you wish. (See the last photo for a silly sample assignment.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Middle School Students on Social Media

This month has been a whirlwind of travel and learning for me! For the past three days, I've been presenting at the Leveraging Learning iPad Institute in Auburn, ME - home of one of the longest running and most successful 1:1 laptop pilots in the country. In addition to discovering new apps, pedagogy and amazing ideas to bring back to Chicago, I was incredibly inspired by 16 middle school students who were there live-tweeting their reactions to the institute (see hashtag #adv2014). Their insights into education were beyond humbling. This is their second year attending and tweeting about the event, and several of them had gone home last year and read Bea McGarvey's book Inevitable from cover to cover. For fun. And had fun doing it. Then they came back this year and debated education points with adult educators at the conference. Honestly... mind. blown.

Yesterday I convinced the amazing conference organizers to showcase these young voices as part of the dinnertime keynote. No surprise - they were a hit. Moreover, I had them do a Google Hangout with a social media expert friend of mine back in Chicago - Autumn Laidler. See that hangout here.

Today I thought we could continue to promote their ideas and voices by having them do some guest blogging here. So without further ado, the inspirational students of Auburn Middle School:

____________________________________________________

Hello, my name is Donnie P, and my twitter account is @ams_donniep.  I am at the Leveraging Learning conference in Auburn, Maine.  I go to Auburn Middle School, and I am a student Twitter editor.  My job is to watch over the tweets that other kids have sent.  I correct them on a back channel we have going on at www.todaysmeet.com.  I tell them what to correct on their tweets, whether it’s a grammatical, or a spelling errors. I think that Twitter should be used in school because one time I was in Social Studies, and I “tweeted” about my class in Todays Meet.  When I was tweeting, I felt like I was absorbing information better.  I think all students should use Twitter, especially ones that have trouble listening.  It really helps for your listening skills I came to this conference last year as a tweeter, and I had a blast.  I had learned about Mass Customized Learning.  I had kind of just learned about it, but I really liked the idea.  I really didn’t have enough steam to do anything.  When I came to this conference, and listened to Bea McGarvey’s keynote.  Then I decided I just didn’t want to tweet about it, I want to do something about it.  I don’t just want to talk about the change, I want to be the change.
____________________________________________________

Hi! My name is Faduma and I’m an eighth grader at Auburn Middle School here in Auburn, Maine. My Twitter handle is @ams_fadumam. I have had the awesome opportunity to be a Student Tweeter two times (yep, I’m a veteran) for the Leveraging Learning the iPad in Primary Grades Conference. I’m a “tweeter” and what I do is I tweet about what I feel is an important fact, an opinion or a quote. Some people think that is it a negative thing that we are limited to a 140 character tweet but I think that it helps you make a good tweet because you have to tweet only the important stuff. I think that one a couple of things that I have taken away from this mind - blowing opportunity is that I need to take responsibility and initiative of my own learning and not take my education for granted.
____________________________________________________

Hi, my name is Owen Mower, and I’m an eighth grade student at Auburn Middle School. This conference has changed my views entirely on what the iPads do for the students using them. The technology focuses children, and enriches their learning. It has totally changed my mind from last year. I’ve been very lucky to be asked to get to come to this conference! Thank you for the fantastic presentations, and making the conference super enjoyable!
____________________________________________________

Hi, I'm Alina M. and I'm an eighth grader at Auburn Middle School. I've always lived here, in Auburn, ME and I am proud that I get to represent my hometown at this conference. It's such an amazing opportunity to represent Maine's education. All 16 students, over many weeks, have trained to become amazing representatives to our school. We are the actual, living proof that Mass Customized Learning will work, not just facts and statistics. You hear all the time, at conferences, how adults view topics. I think it's amazing that we were chosen to present the students view on these topics, as well! It's such an amazing opportunity; one that I wish every student could share as well. I really hope that eventually, because we are leading the way, that is what it will come to! 
____________________________________________________

Hi my name is Spencer H. I am an eighth grader at Auburn Middle School and the past 2 years I have had the opportunity to do something great. Basically I am a student tweeter and I go to sessions at the conference and I tweet about what is going on who is speaking questions opinions etc. My fist time here at the conference I went to my first session and my jaw dropped. I was in awe. After I got out of my first session I remember being like “Oh my god” it works and then I started thinking about how this whole time I was in more of a fixed mindset of “Kindergartners with iPad’s they are just going to break them within 5 days.” but after that session and over a year I have moved out of that fixed mindset and more into the growth mindset that iPads can work with Kindergarteners.
____________________________________________________

Hello! My name is Jacob Willette and I am a tweeter at the Advantage 2014 iPad meetings. What my peers, and I did was we used the social network Twitter to tweet the subjects of the many conferences. Throughout the days I participated, Thursday and Friday, I feel I did very well and “Tweeted” to my full potential. I would like to thank Apple Inc. and MLTI for the funding for our tee-shirts, lunch, and hotel room. I would also like to thank Kelly McCarthy, Carol Miller, Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Mauri Dufour, and Jennifer Magiera for brilliant presentations.
____________________________________________________

Hello, my name is Ryan.  I am an eighth grader at Auburn Middle School, I love hockey, and I am a student Tweeter.  This experience has been a blast and was way better than anything I could have imagined.  Being a Tweeter is a lot harder than it was cracked up to be. We all have to be synchronized with the Tweets, make sure they made sense, and listen to what the talkers have to say and get it down before you forget.  Yet even with all the stress we pulled it off, yet my fingers feel very sore and stiff.  With all that went on we had a blast, I think all of us will always remember the great days we had together, we really tried our hardest and hope you got the gist of what the different sessions.  We sure learned a whole lot.  Hope you enjoyed our tweets. 
____________________________________________________

Hi! My name is Spencer Frahn and I am a seventh grader that goes to Auburn Middle School.  I thought my first experience was great here at the Twitter conference.  I thought listening to the iPad session and talking to people that had questions was the best.  I learned a lot about the iPads, I used to think they were pointless but now I realize I was wrong. I listened to Dr. Ruben, Kelly McCarthy, Carol Miller, but I also listened to the conversation between the Tweeters and people who had questions. My job was to Tweet the “bare bone” facts or to write my opinion that I had on something the speaker said.  My name on Twitter is @ams_spencerf.  I hope I can do this again next year.
____________________________________________________

Hello, my name is Reece R I go to Auburn Middle school and am in seventh grade. I enjoyed tweeting at this conference at the Hilton Garden Inn and in the Auburn City Hall, learning about the iPads and iPods was very interesting. I feel that if every grade has iPads or laptops they can learn much more efficiently, faster, and better. Your presentation was very interesting, learning about your  feelings thoughts, opinions, and facts about iPads, iPods and many different apps.   Overall this was a very interesting program and I hope to do it next year.
____________________________________________________

Hello! My name is Samantha H.! I am one of the Tweeters from Auburn Middle School! My partner, Sophie M, and I went to 4 sessions. The sessions we attended, were: So You’re Initiative Isn’t Going As Well As You’d Like... What Do You Do Next?, Auburn’s Customized Learning and The Role Of iPads, and then we were supposed to go to the Professional Development in a Maturing Initiative session, but no one showed, so we went to the session across the hall. Our teacher, Mr. B, asked us to take a break and enjoy the session. All of the sessions we went to were presented by: Mike Muir, Shelly Mogul, and Mauri Dufour. I believe Mike is a very bright, and smart, man. And, he definitely knows what he’s talking about. Shelly is very, very nice, and is very smart as well. Mauri is a kindergarten teacher at Sherwood Heights. All of the sessions we went to were very interesting. I learned a lot of things but, some words really stood out to me. I learned that to succeed, you need a plan, and steps to move forward. I loved working with the Student Tweeter project! I wish I would’ve done it last year! If I could I would do this again in a heartbeat.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

PlanePlanning: The Birth of #PLAYDATE13

This week I had the honor of traveling to the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit with my 1:1 iPad Pilot team from National Teachers Academy (the Chicago Public School at which I taught for the past 7 years): Anita Orozco (Middle School Special Education), Autumn Laidler (3/4th Science) and Holly Mullenix-Stack (K-8 Music).

[Side note: If you don't already follow these ladies' work - please do. They are amazing educators from whom I learn on a regular basis!]

We presented a session on how we've worked together to redefine teaching and learning at our school. While the presentation itself was rewarding, the most amazing takeaway for me was the reminder that the biggest contributor to our school's EdTech transformation was teacher teamwork. The fact that we have a group of open minded and creative teachers who are all excited to work together and learn from one another is what allows our iPad initiative to grow and be successful. I'm so thankful to have been - and to continue to be - a part of this great team.

So as we floated on cloud 9 onto our plane, accompanied by the great Sue Gorman, we didn't let the end of the conference stop our collaboration and brainstorming. Autumn, Sue and I ended up sitting next to each other and as the plane took off, so began 2 solid hours of edtech collusion. Autumn foolishly thought that she'd get a nap. Little did she know that instead we'd birth the idea for a new conference.

Around 10,000 feet, we all began to discuss the pros and cons of the past few conferences we'd attended. We all agreed that we greatly value meeting new educators and discussing the good gospel that is innovative technology use. And yet we also lamented that we learn about a myriad of new tools, websites, tricks and apps at these conferences only to go back to the "real world" and have little to no time (usually the latter) to ever master or even simply explore any of it. For me, they usually end of in my "to explore" Google task list.

Thus the idea of #PLAYDATE13 was born. I originally wanted to call it "ExploriCON" but as the nature of Autumn's and my relationship goes, we ping ponged ideas off each other until we got a shinier version of this original thought. First Autumn came up with PLAY- People Learning & Asking "Y". Then Sue joined in the acronym fun and suggested adding "DATE". Autumn found a great acronym for that - Digital Age Technology Exploration. And so PLAYDATE came about. After coming up with a catchy moniker, together we refined the idea to meet some of our unaddressed professional learning needs and leverage best practices we'd seen at other conferences. We're going to be pulling in the rest of our NTA 1:1 pilot team - Anita and Holly - as well as some other thought leaders in the area with whom we've been collaborating closely.

This conference will be geared towards those who just want to explore - or play with - apps, websites, programs or tools that they've always wanted to dig into more deeply, but never had the time or support to do so. Modeled after an unconference or an EdCamp, the sessions will be participant-driven and hands on. Most importantly - there will be no sit and get. Period. No Presenters. Period. All of the content will be learner driven, exploration based and hands on. Just like the model of education we hope for our students. At the end there will be a share out of learning and take aways "The Play Off" - and digital content and notes will be disseminated to all.

If this seems like the model of learning that is right for you - or you just have some apps, programs, tools or websites you've always wanted to learn more about (Evernote? Google Sites? iMovie? Apple Configurator? Twitter? Pinterest?) - then check out this site for more info and to sign up for updates.


PLAYDATE 2013Saturday 2-9-2013


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

5 Tips for Starting off Strong with iPads

Here is an article I wrote for EdWeek about tips for starting off strong once your school has decided to invest in iPads.

Overview of tips:
1) One Classroom > Three Classrooms
2) Teacher Buy-In Is Half the Battle
3) We All Need a Little Help From Our PLCs
4) Plan for Incidental Expenses
5) Save Room for Failure

Click here to see the article and learn more! Thanks for reading :).


EdTechTeacher iPad Summit

If you're at EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, consider stopping by our session tomorrow at 11am on how to redefine your school through 1:1 iPad use - in science, math, literacy, special education and even music class!

If you aren't able to join us, check out our session info site here and follow the fun through the #ettipad Twitter hashtag :)!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Flipped Classroom Mini-Conference

Click here: REGISTER soon, space is limited!
Want to learn more about Flipped Learning? Or, if your students don't have access to at-home Internet (or you don't have support from your admin to flip), learn how to differentiate using video in your classroom! Come to the ICE-CAP Fall Mini-Conference on Flipped Classroom! Sessions are available for beginning and advanced users, including beginning to flip, creating  screencasts, tools for curating video and resources to find already-created and curated video!

Saturday, November 17, 2012: 8am-12pm
Phillips High School
255 E Pershing Road, Chicago, IL

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Workflow Apps to Manage Student Work

For those who are looking to manage workflow of student iPad work (i.e., students turning in assignments and teachers giving feedback on said work) and investigating apps/services to help them do so, here is an article I wrote for Appolicious that might help you out!

Apps that are compared:
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Showbie
  • eBackpack

Links and detailed information about each are provided in the article. Thanks for reading :)!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Anything you can do, Kindergarteners can do better

Recently I've been spending more time in Carrie Both's 1:1 iPad kindergarten classroom. I was so excited to observe how easily these students were able to navigate around an iPad. Not only were they able to easily find, pick up and turn on their device (using a numeration system and strategic placement around the classroom), but they also could do everything from create screencasts to use the AppleTV to mirror their work to a projection via AirPlay.

Carrie Both is a veteran Kindergarten teacher who is in her first year of full 1:1 iPad use. Last year she shared a rotating cart and explored best practices as part of a pilot. She has been incredibly brave and persevering, overcoming obstacles and pitfalls to forge her way towards a redefined classroom. What impresses me most about Carrie is that she is one of those teachers who everyone would say "had it all figured out." She was a "master mentor teacher" - in fact, she was my mentor years ago. And yet she continues to push herself to take risks, venture into uncharted territory and learn new skills. She's a great model for all educators - beginning and seasoned - to learn that they are never done learning. (Check out her blog here!)

*Note about the iPad cases: We bought the Speck iGuy cases for our kindergarten class. While perfect in terms of grip, color, size and durability -- they do NOT fit in the Bretford PowerSync Cart. In retrospect, we should have gone with something less bulky! If money was no object, we'd have gotten these Kraken cases which also cover the screen.

** Note about the second video: Willie would have definitely been able to type out the word "medium" without my help... had I not distracted him from hearing the directions to copy the word from the AppleTV projection at the front of the room. Alas, my avid recording of his iPad awesomeness prevented the poor boy from seeing the slide and following along with his class. My apologies to Willie and Mrs. Both! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Goo-Goo for Google

This week I had the pleasure of participating in the Google Teacher Academy in NYC. I walked away with a Google Certified Teacher pin, but the real prize was the mind blowing learning. These two days were a whirlwind of information and collaboration... I was truly humbled by the braintrust that surrounded me. Below are a few tips and tricks that I learned from my colleagues there:
  • Rosetta Stone, who? Forget about language learning programs! These Google Chatbots will make you fluent in over 20 different tongues. Simply add the chatbot to your chat list and create a chat between yourself, the chatbot and your foreign-language-speaking friends. The chatbot will translate everything you say as soon as you say it! 
  • Connect with your world! Harnu is a global discussion board / bulletin board on which you can post messages anywhere in the world. Discuss world events, sports, music, and pop culture - and have your discussions translated for ease of use. A great way to expand your students' horizons and collaborations.
  • Make free art online! deviantART is an impressive site that allows you to draw, doodle, sketch, shade and more... all on an online canvas, and all for free. The tools are surprisingly varied and advanced - and so are the possibilites for student use.
  • YouTube's Movie Editor Did you know that YouTube had its own movie editor? Reminiscent of some features from Apple's iMovie, the YouTube movie editor provides some free tools for kids to become movie makers and post their work online.
  • Manage projects - both for your students AND you! Trello is a great virtual task manager for your students' projects as well as your own. Organize project members and even integrate Google Docs! Super cool!
  • Google Art Project Field Trips If you haven't had the pleasure of checking this out, please do. The Google Art Project not only compiles great works of art from various museums and collections around the world, but also integrates Google Maps so you can get a "Street View" of the inside of the Colosseum or Chicago Art Institute. Yes, you can get a walking tour of these famed sites. From your computer. Take your kids for a tour!
This are just a few of the many ideas I walked away with... still need to digest and process. I'll continue to share as my mind has time to catch up with the learning!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

For Good and Not Evil: Social Media in the Classroom

This Thursday 9/27/12, my colleague Autumn Laidler and I will be presenting an event as part of global Social Media Week. We, along with 10 of our students, will be demonstrating how to leverage social media in the classroom to amplify student voices and learning. We'll discuss how to use this powerful tool "for good and not evil" and teach kids that social networking and collaboration can open a window to global learning.

If you're in the Chicago area that day, we hope you can make it! It is free and open to all.
Click here for event details!