Thursday, October 30, 2014

Just because you use video doesn't mean you've flipped your class. And just because you don't like the "flipped classroom" doesn't mean you shouldn't use video.

Long title. I know. It's late and I couldn't think of a shorter one.  Think of it as a title/thesis statement all in one.


I am finding more and more that people in education use the word "flip" to refer to anytime students watch an instructional video.  That's frustrating to me.

For me, flipping my classroom was about
finding a way to support my students more in their learning, and to
better differentiate my instruction and time with them.  It was about
getting out of the front of the classroom and
allowing class time to be more focused on them, their questions, and their needs.  It was about
freeing up class time from lower-level direct instruction so students could have engaging mathematical discussions,
participate in inquiry and discovery activities,
create and solve their own problems (which requires higher levels of thinking and deeper understanding of the concepts), and
get individual or small group support if they needed without the fear or pressure of being surrounded by 39 of their peers.
There was time for inquiry and discovery.  
There was time for discussion and problem solving.
There was time for collaborative and "fun" activities.  
There was time for whole group "big idea" talking.
There was time for individualized, asynchronous formative assessment.  
There was time to re-watch a concept that was tricky.

Flipping my class gave me and my students more TIME to do what was more important, more valuable, and more challenging.  It opened up more opportunities for collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. It was a completely different environment with completely different learning activities, only made possible because direct instruction was removed from the group learning space.

I just happen to use video as an instructional tool to help free up that time.  It's not the video that makes my class flipped.  It's the mindset of answering the question: "What's the best use of of the face to face TIME you have with your students?"... and then going and doing that.

"Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter."

Was my flipped classroom perfect?  No!  Did flipping my class make my classroom perfect and always ideal?  No!  However, it was better than the four years I had a "traditional" class - it was far more effective, efficient, engaging, and enjoyable for students because of the way class time was focused on them and not on me as the master of knowledge (student-centered), focused on active learning activities (not passively sitting there to receive information), and focused on higher-order thinking activities (actually doing something with the information like applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating).
 I think it's important to mention, that even after THREE YEARS of "flipping", there are still things I would have changed this year from last year if I was still in the classroom. It is a continual process of refining and discovering ways to make class time more effective, efficient, engaging, and enjoyable for student learning.  
A few ideas?  I would have included more problem-solving and critical thinking activities (even one a week in time-crunched math analysis, but I have such a better picture of what my Common Core Algebra 1 class should have looked like now that I went through the curriculum once).  I would have done a better job with spiral review (I like the 2-4-2 idea for homework from Steve Leinwand's presentation that I still have to blog about...).  I would have used more tools like InfuseLearning, Socrative, Padlet, TodaysMeet, Google Drive/ Doctopus, and maybe even Haiku as my LMS instead of my blogspot.  I would have continued to refine my Peer Instruction processes and developed more hands-on WSQ chat activities.  I would have worked on finding ways to make the student blogs more meaningful and try to connect with other classrooms around the country/world.  I would have chosen certain concepts to introduce as a whole class first before having students take notes on the vocabulary and examples.  I might have even restructured some of the videos and WSQs so they only had them 3 nights a week max instead of 4-5.  I would have remade some of my videos that could have been presented in a better way... and so much more that I would have thought of as the year went on.

I'm learning that one of the best ways to understand a well-structured and successful flipped classrooms is to go visit one, and I definitely had my share of visitors when I was in the classroom.  But now that I'm out of the classroom, I am trying to describe something to those around me that is so foreign, and it so hard to even conceptualize.  I find myself describing the goals I mentioned above to others and never actually mentioning the word "flipped" at all.  It just brings up too many misconceptions and wrong ideas because of what culture, social media, and other people have come to define a "flipped classroom" as.
In my new role, I am helping teachers to transform their classrooms to be more student-centered, focused on active learning and higher-order thinking...Technology is a great tool that can help allow this to happen.  Using video to remove direct instruction, content delivery, and vocabulary or background information can be extremely valuable.  Not because it's cool to "flip" your classroom, but because we want class time to be more effective, efficient, engaging, and enjoyable...We want students to be able to collaborate, communicate, and engage in critical thinking and creativity...And if a video lesson is a way to help meet those goals and transform the class, then do what's best for students, and just do it.
Direct Instruction --> OUT! 
Engaging, Collaborative, Challenging Learning Activites --> IN!

As a final note - if you are able to structure your class where there is no direct instruction needed - it's completely project based, discovery based, etc, then that's great!  Maybe flipped learning isn't for you, and that's fine.  It's not the answer for everything, and you definitely shouldn't try it just because you think it's the latest thing to do.  However, in the moments you find yourself up front delivering the same instructions for the fifteenth time, or realize at the end of an exciting day of discussion or inquiry you wish you had a way to capture the key ideas or points that were made in class, consider using a video to communicate that information for students to access individually at their own time, in their own space, at their own pace.  That doesn't mean you've flipped your class, but it means you've used an awesome technological tool to help support your students in their growth and learning.  Heck, you could even have the students create those videos.  But, that's another post for another time... :)

See the definition of Flipped Learning and the Four Pillars of F-L-I-P, by the Flipped Learning Network, here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Using Diigo to give feedback on student blogs...

Short & Sweet Post Today -

I was just thinking yesterday that Diigo would have been a great tool to use to give feedback on my students' math blogs... All I would have to do was bookmark them, tag them (probably with student name & blog topic so I could sort easily by either one), and then I could highlight key things they said, comment on specific parts of the post, pose follow-up questions, etc!  Rather than keeping my comments to myself on my grading rubric, and having a hard time pointing to specific parts of the post, I could share the annotated link with the student and they could get detailed, specific, descriptive feedback.  In addition, if we used Diigo groups with a class, they could add comments back, and classmates could discuss and evaluate each others' posts.  All the comments and highlights would remain private to the students within the group.

Now, I haven't actually used this so I don't know about the workflow and such, but just had to get the idea out there!

See my previous 2 posts on Diigo for more details - a tutorial on how to use it and a mini-unit in English

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coaching Reflections - Lesson Series 2 - Model lesson with Google Forms & InfuseLearning

I got to teach a math class this week!  That's right, I got to teach Completing the Square to a class of almost 40 Freshmen-Seniors in Algebra 2 [I mention that because it is quite interesting to have a class of the "top" freshmen and the "low" seniors... what a mix!].  This was a "model lesson", which means my fellow decided she wanted to see me teach the full lesson, with her sitting in the back observing and taking notes.  We also recorded the lesson on my iPad so we have something more concrete to reflect back on.

For our pre-brief, we planned the lesson together.  We decided what part of the concept to cover, what the students would already know coming in, and what the end goal would be. Our focus for the lesson was on using InfuseLearning as a tool to monitor their progress continually throughout the lesson.  Thankfully, I also decided after our pre-brief to use Google forms as an opener and an exit ticket, because Infuse Learning completely failed - none of the questions would load on the student computers!!

Funny thing is (and I think one of the awesome things about teaching - you are always seeing new things and making new connections) I actually taught the concept in a completely different way than I had before.  Our focus was on making perfect square trinomials and why they are so useful to use in solving quadratic equations vs. expressions that aren't perfect square trinomials.

This was the first time students in this class have used their laptops, so I went and visited this class period the day before to introduce myself.  I think that helped, because when they came to class that day, they already knew who I was and were excited they were going to get to use their devices that day.

I had this on the screen when they entered, so we could get started with class right away.  I think having some sort of "opener" or "warm-up", even if it's as simple as this, is so important in making the best use of the class time you have with your students.

Below is my "rough" planning notes that I had made before the lesson.  My reflections and comments are in green.

Overall lesson reflections and comments:

  • It was fun to be up teaching again!  The hard part was that I didn't know the students' names, or what levels most of them were at, so I had to learn a lot on the fly and try to reach all students in the class period.  There was also a brand new student that day that transferred from another teacher's class that had already learned this concept, so I wanted to help him feel welcome and appreciated but didn't want him continually sharing the "right answer" since he already knew how to do it.
  • Even I did not 100% monitor student laptop use.  I made a big deal about the "half mast" with the laptops when we weren't using them.  There was one kid in the back corner who was playing around with it during the first part of the lesson.  Funny thing is, because of where the iPad was recording the lesson, you could see what he was doing the whole time! Ha! It was only for about 5 minutes but I'm disappointed I wasn't more aware of it, since that is something I really want to model for my fellows (classroom management w/ laptops)
  • Seating arrangement in class really affects collaboration.  The students were seated in rows and although they did a decent job of "talking to a partner" at different points throughout the lesson, it would have been great to have a better setup and expectations for what this would look like.  Obviously, that is something that has to be built and can't just happen with a strange teacher on a random day.
  • Tech Back-up plans! I feel I did a decent job adjust when Infuse Learning didn't work at all, but if I would have thought through it a little better, I would have had Socrative ready, or have asked ahead of time if the teacher had mini-whiteboards available to use. I just came across this blog post comparing Socrative & InfuseLearning.  I'm wondering if many of the students were using Internet Explorer and that was the issue?
  • Checking homework... I didn't spend any time in class checking their homework from the night before, which is a normal routine for the class. Where does this fall in this lesson, if at all?  Should homework even be checked (I never did, students were responsible for checking their answers and their performance would show on their quizzes).
  • The Google Form Opener and Closing really provided valuable feedback for me (the teacher) and [the opener] allowed for some great partner/group/class analysis and discussion.  I think that is a valuable use of technology that enhanced the lesson.
"Lesson Plan":

Opener (2-3 minutes)
  1. Go over laptop rules and expectations (open vs. half mast).
  2. Paper out for notes and work.  
  3. Get on Infuse Learning and sign in
Students understood "half mast" and for the most part (with the exception of the student mentioned above) followed the rules.
Students had no problem getting on InfuseLearning and signing in.  Once I selected a question to push out to them though, nothing showed up on their screens.  We tried it multiple times throughout the period to no avail.  I tried it when I went back to my office and there were no issues.  So, I'm wondering if there is some sort of limit with how many students can be in a room at once (we only had about 36 I believe) or if IE was an issue?
Warmup (10 minutes)
  1. Warmup - Google Form (w/ Vlookup & Conditional Formatting)
  2. Send out link on Infuse -
  3. Response Spreadsheet
  4. Set timer for 3 minutes
  5. Think-Pair-Share - What did you notice? (Infuse Learning text question)
  6. KEY: Students know word “Perfect Square Trinomial” and what it looks like when factored
  7. Infuse Learning True/False and Numeric - is this an example of a perfect square trinomial? (If not, what would it need to be?)
    1. x^2-6x+9
    2. x^2+2x+4
    3. x^2-18x+30
    4. x^2+30x+225
The Google Form warmup went great.  Students got started and factored 3 problems, all of which were Perfect Square Trinomials.  I used conditional formatting to code the "right" answers as green. However, I only coded one way of writing the answers correct, and left some other "right" answers not green.  This led to a great thinking time for the students of "which answers up there NOT in green are actually right, and why?"

I then showed them something like (x+2)(x+2)=8 and asked them to use the Zero Product Property to solve it.  The majority of the students didn't fall for my trick question (it's not equal to zero) and FOILed out the problem and tried to subtract 8 from both sides in order to solve it.

I changed the equation to be (x+2)^2=8 and asked them to solve it.  Some of them still tried to FOIL it back out, but then I showed them that when we have something "quantity squared", we can take the square root of both sides to solve it.

Because I couldn't do any of the InfuseLearning activities noted above, I tried to have the students write down their ideas, share with a partner, and then I would pick some to share out to the class.  Not ideal (I think whiteboards would have been an improvement from this), but it worked ok.  When watching the video back, I still was not fully happy with how I moved on in certain instances instead of probing further.

I showed them numbers like 9,16,25 and asked them what they were called (Perfect squares), and then said that it's because they can be written as 3^2, 4^2, 5^2 (as "something" squared).  So since (x+2)^2 is just another "something" squared, it is also a Perfect Square.  However, since it comes from a Trinomial, it is called a "perfect square trinomial" (PST)

For #7 above, most of the students could answer "yes" or "no" after we clearly defined what a PST was, and then I asked them to start thinking about what the 3rd number in a PST always was (a perfect square).  Not too many of them could give a reason WHY their answer was "no" - meaning, if it's NOT a PST, what number would make it become a PST?  We ended up discussing and modeling that together as a class, which made this section go a little longer than planned time-wise, but necessary.

*I had VLookup put in the spreadsheet ahead of time so I could see which students still needed to submit.  This was definitely helpful (and more helpful if I actually knew the student names!).  It would have been neat to show the students the results coming in, but I didn't want them to see their classmates' answers and just copy.  Because this was their first experience with GForms, it might have been good to have them do a "non-math" or "non-right answer" form first so they could see how the results come in.
Concept Introduction (5 minutes)
  1. 5 problems with blank - what goes in the blank? Submit Infuse Learning Numeric Answer one at a time
    1. x^2+10x+____
    2. x^2-20x+____
    3. x^2+12x+____
    4. x^2-16x+____
    5. x^2+4x+____
  2. How Do you know? Convince Me
This was the next step building off of what they did in the previous section.  Without a third number to confuse them, could they come up with the 3rd number themselves?  When we went over one of them, I said that I didn't think what they gave me was the right answer (even though it was) and I wanted them to convince me they were right.  This would have worked much better had I had a way to get an argument from EVERY student, and not just the 2-3 students I called on.  I learned about the "Convince me" from a Steve Leinwand presentation I went to this week; it's next on my "to blog" list so I'll write more there.
Visual Introduction (5 minutes)
  1. Show example of the “incomplete” square. What “magic number” would we need to complete this?  What steps do we take to to get that “magic number”?  What would be filled in on the outside? x^2-4x + ______
  2. Infuse Learning Draw question - Fill in the square
  3. How do you find the “magic number” Infuse Learning text question
I wanted to make sure to hit up the visual learners and show them the conceptual reasoning behind the "formula" most of them already knew (cut the middle # in half and then square the result).  I think it's important for students to understand that what they are really doing is "completing a square" when doing this process.  Same thing, I was going to have the do an InfuseDraw question and actually fill in a square for me so we could look at the results - bummed that couldn't happen.  Whiteboards would have worked as well, although w/ InfuseDraw I could have projected all the drawings up there with no student names for some deeper analysis.
Mathematical Solving Introduction (10 minutes)
  1. x^2+6x+4=0 solve
    1. Factor this (30 seconds)... it doesn’t factor!
    2. What do you need the “magic number” to be for us to factor it like a perfect square trinomial? Infuse learning numeric answer
    3. Turn & Talk - tell your partner how you got your answer
    4. Share - How do you know? Convince Me
    5. If we need the “magic number” to be 9, what do we need to add to get there?  If we add something to one side, what must we do to the other?
    6. The equation becomes x^2+6x+9=0 Infuse Learning True/False Question
    7. Turn & Talk - What should the equation become? Infuse Learning Text Question
    8. The equation becomes x^2+6x+9=5
    9. (x+3)^2=5, Square root both sides, +/-, subtract the 3, you’re done!
I asked the students to factor and solve the equation.  Most of them realized they couldn't factor it and tried the quadratic formula.  I told them they couldn't use the quadratic formula but needed to solve it.  This led us to seeing how we could convert the equation to a PST, and however we changed the equation on the left we had to compensate for it on the right (this is different than how I used to teach it - I used to have the students "subtract 4 from both sides.  Then add 9 to both sides.").  It was fun playing a little bit of devil's advocate, trying to do some things wrong and having the students try to convince me otherwise.  Again, I wish Infuse would have worked or I had another way to get answers from all the students rather than just had them "discuss it" (which some partners did better than others) and then call on different students.
Practice and Extension (15 minutes)
  1. Practice Problems - depends on time
    1. Possibilities:
      1. Go over 1 more as whole class; assign 2 to be done in partners
      2. Go over 1 more as whole class, number students off 1,2 and have them do 1 and then find someone with their same number to compare answers to
      3. Go over 1 more as whole class, number students off 1,2 and have them do 1 and then find someone with the other number to teach
    2. x^2-10x+8=0.  Need it to be 25, so must add 17 to both sides
      1. (x-5)^2=17, 5+/-rad17
    3. x^2-12x+22=0.  Need it to be 36, so must add 14 to both sides
      1. (x-6)^2=14, 6+/-rad14
    4. x^2+6x-3=0. Need it to be 9, so must add 12 to both sides
      1. (x+3)^2=12, -3+/-rad12 = -3+/-2rad3
    5. CHALLENGE: Write your own equation that DOESN’T include a PST, the make it a PST and solve it
I ended up going over 1 more and then students only had 2-3 minutes to practice another one.  They didn't get to do the peer teaching I wanted them to.  In addition, I really wanted to get to the challenge activity, but we didn't.  If I was teaching again on Monday, this is where we would start because I think it's a very valuable part in the cycle of learning.
Exit Ticket (5 minutes)
  1. 5 MINUTES LEFT - Exit Ticket
    1. x^2-4x-4=0 is a perfect square trinomial
    2. What is the “magic number”?
    3. What must be added to both sides to get the “magic number”?
    4. What is the new (unfactored) equation?
    5. What is the new (factored) equation
    6. The solutions are…
    7. The part from today I understood the most was:
    8. The part from today I’m still confused about is
Students were only given about 3 minutes instead of 5, so I'm disappointed I wasn't more strict on the time with getting them started on this.  About 2/3 of the students submitted it before the end of the period, and the others were told they had to finish submitting it at home.  They didn't get their hw assignment until they submitted the exit ticket, which I thought was a neat idea.
I thought this was a great exit ticket because it guided the students step by step through the process and allows me to see exactly where they are going wrong.  It also gave them the chance to give feedback on the lesson.  If I was teaching on Monday, there are several things I would go over on Monday based on what they wrote.

Same thing as the class opener, I had the VLookup formula put in already so I can tell which students submitted the form. As of right now (Sunday morning), there are 11 more students to submit, but there were 3-4 students absent on Friday. Not bad considering I gave them 2 minutes less than they should have had.

Put in confirmation of Google Form for students to get after submit.
Once they hit submit, they were given the practice problems to try.  I believe I gave them 5 where they just had to find the 3rd number, 3 where they had to solve it completely, and 1 problem that my fellow exposed them to the previous day in a more "problem solving" opener that I wanted them to see that they could now solve mathematically.  That whole cycle/connection with starting with the conceptual we need to work on, but with the time we had in planning I think it was decent for a first round.

Next steps - completing the square when 'a' is not 1!

Diigo - Online Annotation Tool for Collaboration & Research

Why are students still researching information online, printing out the website that meets their needs, annotating and highlighting on the physical paper, and turning in that paper to a teacher?

#1 It's wasting paper
#2 It's time-inefficient
#3 It doesn't allow for peer or class collaboration

In comes Diigo... You may know it as an online social bookmarking tool, but with Diigo Educator Accounts, it can be so much more.

Here is a video tutorial I made for our district on setting up Diigo accounts and the basic features for use in the classroom.  Please note there are some comments specific to my district with regards to signups, as well as the fact that the students have to use the Diigolet bookmarklet instead of the Chrome "Capture and Annotate the Web" Diigo Extension, since the students currently cannot download it.

Here is the instruction document I created.

In my next post here, I will detail a mini-PBL unit one of my Tech Fellows just implemented that includes Diigo as well as Google Drive and Padlet to help both enhance and transform the learning experience for her students.

P.S. You can also annotate PDF files with Diigo and then save them to your Diigo Library.  There is a post here with the details.  I've only tried it a few times, but it looks like you can open up a PDF from the internet or upload a PDF to your Diigo library first and then annotate.  When you want to share your annotations, it's in the same place, but it's called "Get Share Link" instead of "Get Annotated Link".  It doesn't look like it saves the PDF to your Diigo library unless you click on the "Bookmark" icon on the toolbar that pops up.
*I'm still confused by this because I have an educator account and was able to annotate and save PDFs no problem.  However, when you look at their pricing plans, it looks like only two of the paid plans have PDF annotation.  I couldn't find anything concrete online.   So, if you don't have an educator account (yet), try annotating a PDF and let me know.  If it doesn't work, then try it again once your educator account is approved.

Coaching Reflections - Lesson Series 1 - Using Diigo, Google Drive, and Padlet to research & create

One of my Tech Fellows, the amazing Dawn Lam (follow her at @MrsLamBHS) has been using Diigo with her students to research essential questions.

(*For those of you who don't know, I am currently a Digital Learning Coach, working with teachers on effectively implementing technology into their classrooms. Teachers sign up for a year-long "fellowship" of working closely with me, and they are called "fellows" or "tech fellows".  We have a coaching cycle that includes pre-brief, lesson implementation, and debrief/reflection that we follow)

Here is a brief summary (which I know I'm missing some parts, but it will give you a good overview) over her mini-PBL unit on "Duality of Pride".  These activities took just under 2 weeks to complete in class.

The technology she used throughout the unit, in addition to Diigo, were Google Forms (to collect student links), Google Docs (for whole-class collaboration), Google Drawings (for group brainstorming and bringing together research), Google Slides (for group presentations), and Padlet (for class brainstorming).

1. Her students had been reading literature around the theme of "Duality of Pride" and had already been coming up with essential questions.  Each group chose an essential question to focus on.  The end goal of this mini-unit was a group presentation that answered each group's essential question with supporting evidence from a variety of sources (literature, online sources, videos, etc)

2. Dawn created a screencast explaining to students how to sign up for Diigo and get the Diigolet bookmarklet. (With student accounts, this first step would not be needed as the teacher would create all accounts from a roster).  I came in two of her four class periods and helped model how to use Diigo and all the features (Highlighting, Sticky Note, Tagging, Sharing Annotated Link, etc).  The students overall thought it was awesome ("This is so cool!"), especially when I closed out the website, went back to it and saw no annotations (and acted like I was freaked out), and then clicked on the Diigolet bookmarklet again and all my annotations re-appeared.

3.  Students had to find sources online that helped them to answer their group's essential question.  At the time, we did not know about the collaborative group features of Diigo, so the students just turned in their "Annotated Link" to the teacher and were able to share with their group from their page.  Dawn could open up any of the annotated links she wanted to see what the students thought was important and what sort of annotations they were making on the articles.

Now that we know about the student groups on Diigo, they will be able to add their source to the Group page, tag it for easy finding, and then actually open up each others sources, annotate their own comments alongside the original annotator, and continue to build and share their ideas.

Students were able to share their research with their group members to help put together their thesis for the presentation.

4. Dawn  created a graphic organizer on a Google Drawing that was then shared out to her students (one per group, everyone collaborating).  Students were able to add their comments and research from their sources, as well as some of the short stories they had read in class.   She had each student put their initials before each of their comments so she could monitor how each student was contributing to the live document.

In addition, she was able to have all the documents open on her computer at once and was able to add comments and make suggestions as her students were working.

5. Dawn  also embedded presentation skills into this mini-unit by teaching students about "Less is More".  During the students' first presentation, she noticed that they had a lot of text on the slides, complete sentences, and were reading off of the slides a lot.  For this second time, they actually spent some time in class discussing the qualities of great presentations, both in terms of presentation skills (voice, enunciation, hand gestures, connection with audience, etc) as well as presentation creation (less is more, pictures to guide presentation, not whole sentences but fragments on slides, etc).  Dawn  used TED Talks to help the students analyze good presentations, and they collaborated on a Google Doc with key ideas during the video.

Students used the rubric that they were going to be graded on to score the sample presentations they saw from the TED talks.

6. Before the presentation day, one group was selected to give a "practice" presentation.  The period started with students jotting down the key ideas they remembered from the "what makes a good presentation" TED activity, and then sharing some ideas with the class.  Each group had also written down goals on a Google Document that they specifically had based on what they learned, and my fellow read those out loud for the group that was going to present.  After the presentation, every student wrote down some Positives & Constructive Criticism for the group on a sticky note.  They brought their sticky note to their own presentation group and discussed what they thought, choosing 1-2 positives and 1-2 constructive criticisms to post on the class Padlet wall.  They then discussed as a class what they saw.  Lastly, students were given time in their groups to edit & practice their presentations for the "real" presentation day the next day.  The group who was the "practice" group got to go again the next day as well.  Dawn reflected and said she saw a HUGE change in the presentations after the "practice" day (in the "practice" group's real presentation, but also in all the other groups' slide content, since their presentations were on Google Slides), especially in regards to the slide content (less is more) and the connection to the audience & to the thesis.

I hope this is an example of a lesson that shows technology being used to both enhance and transform the learning experience for students.  I'm looking forward seeing the use of the collaborative features of Diigo in a future unit, as well as continue to see the students' presentation skills improve over time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Reflection and Takeaways - Technology Course 1 (Preliminary Admin Credential)

I started the Preliminary Admin Services Credential Program at my local county Office of Education last month, and it has definitely proven to be thought-provoking.  Most recently, this last weekend was one of the embedded "Technology" courses that is aligned with the content courses but ties in specific technological tools that will help with the course goals.

While I do consider myself fairly techy, and was familiar with the majority of the tools presented on Saturday, I still had some great takeaways and some new things I learned.

I'll start with some miscellaneous takeaways:
  • Incognito mode in Google Chrome simply gives you a "clean" Google search.  This means your search history is not affecting the results that Google gives you.  It DOES NOT "hide" what you are doing from anyone.  Ctrl-Shift-N is the shortcut to go incognito
  • When you are searching for stuff on the internet in front of students or an audience, push the FREEZE button or cover the projector so you make sure the results are appropriate before showcasing.
  • Great resource - and
  • Digital Literacy in the K-12 Classroom - amazing document that aligns Digital Literacy skills with the CCSS and breaks it down by where students should be at each grade level.  Also, check out CUSD's Educational Technology website with CCSS Digital Resources sectioned by grade level.
  • How to find free wi-fi?  Go to Yelp and type in the school's address and "wi-fi".  You will get a list of places that have free wi-fi within walking distance of the school (or any address!)
Tech Tools Presented & Topics Discussed:

  • Prezi is all about creating presentations that tell a story
  • Use their templates - which "path" will help tell the story you are trying to tell?
  • Prezi & images - when you bring in a citation for an image, you must take off the http:// part or it will automatically change it from text into the image
  • Prezi & YouTube videos - you can embed YouTube videos in your presentations (since they link back to the original source).  You can't download the video, edit or chop it, and then reupload it to YouTube as your own.
  1. When you are trying to communicate your vision, make sure that what you use (i.e. a video) does not contradict your message.  The example we were given was a video about how tech has changed.  The video was created in 2006.  It was being shown in 2008. [Here is the 2014 "Did you know" video]
  2. When new technology is introduced, for it to be successful, there must be:
    1. Trainings (initial exposure and practice)
    2. Support (follow-up) 
    3. Expectations (I'll be coming in a few weeks to see how you are using it)
    4. Modeling by Administration (using it in their meetings)
  3. Site leaders have a HUGE impact on how well technology is implemented.  We must STOP saying "The district said we had to do this..." We ARE a part of the district team.  Everyone must be on board (especially the admin) even if you don't agree with the decision
  4. Books to read: Good to Great Go, Put Your Strengths to Work
Professional development and speaking
  • "If you want to be a good speaker, watch good speakers"
  • Sometimes there is greater fear in presenting to teachers (peers) than students.  This may come from the fear of being judged or the fear that someone in the room knows more than you.  Teachers and Admin must let go of trying to be the master of knowledge in the room, especially when it comes to tech.  We must be okay with bringing other people up to show the awesome things they are doing in the classroom.
  • Resources on Presenting:
Fair Use / Educational Copyright
  • In our classrooms, we can use any picture we want on powerpoints, documents, etc... However, the moment it is posted online, you must consider copyright!
  • Discovery Education - if your district has bought a license, your students can use their images.  Within Discovery, they give you (under "details") the citation that you MUST put under the picture in any of your presentations or documents
  • Google Images (I never knew this!)
    • Once you search for images, go to "search tools" --> "Usage Rights" to filter images appropriately.  Here are the four categories (as you go down, the categories include all the images in the previous category as well) and a brief description of what they mean:
      • "Labeled for reuse with modification" - this is usually a very small number of pictures.  This means you can edit it in photoshop, and you can use it on your website to sell things or make money
      • "Labeled for reuse" - Anyone can use it, but you cannot photoshop it
      • "Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification" - Anyone can use it and can edit it in photoshop as long as it isn't then use to make money
      • "Labeled for noncommercial reuse" - Anyone can use it, but you cannot edit it or use it to make money
    • **You still must cite images even if they are labeled for reuse!  That labeling does not mean they are "free" to use without giving credit!
    • To get the citation from Google Images, you must click on "view image" so all you see on the screen is the image.  Then, you get the URL from the omnibox (address bar).
  • If they are your photos, you don't have to cite them
  • If they are your photos of your students, you must make sure they have given you permission and that is on file.  If you aren't sure, you can blur/black out faces OR take photos from the back of the room so you can't see faces.
Facebook for school sites
  • Claim your school and district facebook, twitter, instagram, etc pages even if you aren't planning on using them right now.  You don't want someone to come in and claim your school's name before you do
  • Be careful of leaving these sites open for comments; if so, you need to monitor them closely
  • *Embed facebook and twitter feeds on your school's website so it automatically updates
  • This can be very community building!
  • Don't NOT use this technology because it "could be potentially bad".  Think about the good that could happen!
Ted Talks, Ted-Ed, RSA Animate

  • RSA Animate - Takes Ted Talks and animates them to make them more understandable
Other Tech Tools Covered in the session:

  • Twitter for school sites and professional learning
  • Blogs / Blog Readers (Feedly)
  • Google Forms

Sunday, October 12, 2014

DLC Goal - Student-led "Genius Bar" (POST IN PROGRESS)

One of the goals I have for this year is to get a student-led "Genius-Bar" type program started up.  The initial goal is to have "students helping students", especially with the brand new roll-out of the 1:1 laptops.  However, from some of my reading, I can see more potential for students helping teachers as well!

I'll be adding more notes and comments to this post as I sort through all the info, but I wanted to at least start with links to some places with great information!

Some great resources can be found at Generation YES:  Huge thanks to Kourtney Bostain for sending me a resource from them on Google Plus that just got me exploring more!

Some other resources I've found:
Some ideas from chatting with Nichole Carter, who has started a "Tech Gurus" student tech support group at her school.  (See her Pinterest board of resources here)
  •  I attempted to get this off the ground last year by getting kids to come in on their own time or as an after school club. I couldn't get ANY takers. This year I am running it through my advisory class, and boy has it taken off like there is no tomorrow.
  • What sort of Training do/should the Tech Gurus have?
    • (Ideal) - have them come in over the summer to give more 1 on 1 training
    • Digital Citizenship - all students have to go through trainings on this, but this can be led by Tech Gurus if they are trained first
    • Care & Maintenance; Responsibility with Device
    • Managing Apps, Setting up GDrive, etc
  • What do the Tech Gurus do throughout the year?
    • Tech Help - Genius Bar during advisory (partner rotation) in the library.  Both students and teachers can come in.
    • Tutorials - They make tutorials on different apps/programs the students might use.  They also help with training modules for parents (even running parent training night this year instead of teachers running it).  Things such as how to access wifi at home, how to use the iPad, how to set up accounts, etc).  Tutorials can also be done through a "speed dating" night where tech guru is set up at a table with a small group and shows them something in 5 minutes or less.  Bell rings and groups rotate.
    • Projects - Tech Gurus make presentations, movies, Aurasma, etc for different events such as Back To School night, Board Meeting, Rotary Club, etc.
  • Other notes:
    • She got them t-shirts and badges as an identifying feature so people recognize them and know they can ask for help
    • Helpful to have people on the team that speak the different languages needed at the school site.

I will continue to add to this post as I gather more ideas and resources and put a plan together for it.  Please comment and add your resources and suggestions!
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