Updated SMART Notebook 17 Resources

If you are an employee of NEISD, you now have access to the
new version of SMART Notebook 17 (must be manually downloaded from the Software Center). I’ve been updating my resources to reflect the new features of SMART Notebook 17 and SMART Ink. I’ve also included videos to walk you through troubleshooting a common problem that we are seeing across the district. It’s pretty simple to do and if you have these steps memorized, you will avoid interrupting the flow of your lesson if your board loses interactivity. This first resource is a Notebook file that provides the following information:

  • Connecting your SMART Board at the beginning of the year
  • Learning what all those buttons are on your remote
  • Orienting the board and fixing the interactivity problem (THIS IS THE ONE I WANT YOU TO MEMORIZE!)
  • Tutorials on how to use the new SMART 17 ink and how to annotate using Word or PDFs
  • SMART Tools
  • Using your Document Camera with your SMART Board

Click here to download the Notebook file:

I’ve also updated my Ultimate SMART Survival Guide to include information on SMART AMP and SMART LAB. Click here to learn more

Make Your Techsperts Do It!

Teaching is hard. It takes years to learn how to juggle curricular, administrative, management, and instructional tasks all at once. Untied shoes, stomach aches, and unexpected schedule changes thrown into the mix can create a long and unproductive day. So what usually happens when there are technical issues with your classroom equipment? In my experience, teachers tend not use it and go back to more reliable, yet outdated, analog activities. What if you had help? To be more specific, 22 extra sets of hands to manage and maintain your classroom technology?

The answer is simple. Teach your students (yes, even the littles) basic skills that become part of your classroom routine. Here’s just a few examples of how they can help take some things off your plate:

  • Explore new iPad apps and teach the rest of the class using your Document Camera or Reflector
  • Make sure mobile devices are plugged in and charging
  • Organize laptops and untangle cords in carts
  • Dust power cords and smart boards
  • Update apps (unless it asks for your apple id password)
  • Help other students who are struggling using a device during a lesson or station
  • Unplug and replug the Smartboard when it loses interactivity

By identifying your classroom “Techsperts”, you not only have more time for actual instruction, you are allowing the students to take ownership of THEIR digital tools. Take some time to train a small group of students the basics of whatever you have access to in your classroom or computer lab. Rotate your “Techsperts” on a weekly or monthly basis so all students have the opportunity to be class leaders. Below you will find a set of Techspert badges that you can print and laminate. It’s a Google Doc, so feel free to modify the content to fit your needs. Click here to make your own copy.

Digital Reflection Tools for PLC Book Studies

Something I noticed this summer in the Twitterverse was the abundant sharing of thoughts, ideas, reflections, and connections made by teachers to many popular books on the subject of educational pedagogy. In fact, most of my personal book choices actually came from #booksnaps or #sketchnotes posted in my Twitter feed. I started doing some research to find engaging ways for readers to use technology during a book study. I found this one resource from FLDOE (Florida Department of Education) that serves as a handy guide for staff book studies. The first paragraph states:

“Book studies can be powerful tools for developing the teacher expertise necessary for improving performance and enhancing student learning through deliberate practice. What sets an effective book study apart from an ineffective one lies in both the initial planning of the book study itself and the utilization of the knowledge, skills and practices acquired.”

Staff book studies are a great way to introduce the use of digital tools to teachers. Once they become proficient users themselves, they can then start using those tools to support classroom instruction. Nadine Gilkison, author of Franklin Township Tech Tips, recently shared this Google Presentation with 5 suggestions to offer participants. If you are an administrator who wants to kick your book studies up a notch, check out the presentation below:

The Ultimate Google Survival Guide Facelift

As with any online tool, change is inevitable, especially with Google. Modifications to platforms are, for the most part, positive even though there might be a slight learning curve for the end user. Google Classroom recently came out with several new features that teachers will love. You can read about them here. One of my goals this summer was to become Google Certified. As I was studying for the exam, I realized I hadn’t updated my Ultimate Google Survival Guide in quite a few years, and it needed a huge facelift. It’s more of a curated list of resources from various sites, but hopefully it will keep you from hopping all over the Internet to find the best of the best. Each tool includes tutorials from Hoonuit (login required), Google Training Center, Google Help Center, and links to Google Innovator’s blogs like Alice Keeler, Eric Curts, and Kacey Bell. If you teach Littles, make sure to check out resources from the amazing Christine Pinto.

I also wanted include instructional ideas to go along with the video tutorials that demonstrate the basics. You will find several examples of embedded content like Thinglink or Google Maps that provide ideas for implementation. This is a dynamic resource that I will add to on a regular basis as I discover or create lessons throughout the year. Enjoy!

The New Basics?

Last week, I finished reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and started on Cultivating Communication in the Classroom by Lisa Johnson. Her first chapter discusses email etiquette. As I was reading, I started making connections to Couros’s book and remembered this tweet with the subsequent response from Matthew Haley (read his blog post here):

Because of the ability to search the Internet for almost any answer to most test questions, I tend to agree that the new basics are more about the 4 Cs (communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.) All of these skills should be spiraled within the core subject areas. The problem I find, especially for elementary, is coming up with ways to teach email as a form of writing. In our district, students don’t have email accounts in grades K-5. If teachers expect to use this form of communication as a part of the student/teacher workflow process, then students need authentic exposure at a much earlier age. 

This is why Lisa’s first chapter grabbed my attention. Even though her book focuses on future-ready skills for secondary students, her observations completely apply at the elementary level. So, the question I’m now asking myself is what tools do we have at our disposal if email is not an option? Lisa gives several examples in her book that provide curricular connections such as emailing an expert or having students maintain the classroom newsletter. Another option would be to build this communication piece through consistent feedback loops via Google Classroom. Alice Keeler describes here how she uses private comments as actual assignments. This allows students to replicate a digital conversation in a meaningful way that is centered around their own learning. Modeling this type of digital interaction will definitely prepare our students for what lies ahead in the secondary classroom as well as the workplace. 

What’s New in Google Earth?

Back in April, Google announced they would be revamping their entire Google Earth experience. That’s great news if you are a Chromebook user as Google Earth can now be viewed right from your browser. But those aren’t the only changes to this amazing platform. About 10 years ago I started creating my own virtual field trips for students. It was a very time consuming process, and I didn’t have access to embeddable interactive content. Google now has a component full of interactive experiences from around the world called Voyager. These are curated journeys from all over the world that include Street View images and 360 degree videos. There are 6 categories for students to choose from:

One of my favorites was created by PBS Education called Explorers: Age of Encounter. Students are able to travel back in time to the late 15th and 16th centuries and follow the routes of 6 explorers that changed the way people viewed the Earth and interacted with each other from different countries and continents.

One way to turn this into a collaborative project would be place students into 6 groups using Alice Keeler’s Group Maker for Spreadsheets.  Each group can choose an explorer to research and document their findings in the spreadsheet. Once research is complete, the class can create one collaborative Google Presentation explaining how these encounters set the course for the modern, globally interdependent world. Increase the DOK level by asking them to describe an alternative history had these explorers not discovered new worlds and civilizations. There are many guided tours available, so I encourage you to check out this section by clicking on the ship’s wheel icon located on the navigation toolbar on the left.

Here are more resources about other new features in Google Earth and ideas for implementation:

 

I am the Help Desk

I was on a roll there for a while, meaning I got all the way to page 85 without stopping to write a post. And then page 85 happened.  

For 10 years I have been an Instructional Technology Specialist. INSTRUCTIONAL. A word I kept emphasising over and over to my campuses. I think every tech coach has this battle with curriculum vs. wires and pliers. You arrive on a campus with a specific agenda in mind and then you get hit with a multitude of technical issues. Next thing you know, 80% of your day has been spent unplugging and plugging SMARTboards, fixing Outlook issues and trying to figure out why an iPad is no longer connecting to the network. “What Did the Help Desk Say?” was actually our mantra one year. 

Empathy is a word you hear over and over again in The Innovator’s Mindset. I have to remember that technology is my specialty. It’s what I do every single day. Troubleshooting to me is very easy because that’s what my day is filled with. Teachers, on the other hand, juggle 10 things at one time. They don’t have the luxury of perfecting the art of troubleshooting like I do.  Once I read page 85 (and highlighted every sentence) a lightbulb went off in my head. Where has my empathy been?

” The educators we serve need the tools and resources to work if we truly want to create a culture of innovation. They also need to feel our support in creating an environment that we would truly want to be in as learners ourselves.” ~ George Couros

You’ll notice there is a new page in the main navigation menu on this blog. Tech Tips will be a new section dedicated to empowering teachers with the basic skills needed to navigate these treacherous technology waters in which we expect them to swim. I will provide quick tutorials and fixes for specific issues I observe in the classroom environment on a daily basis. My new mantra?

I am the help desk. 

Stop Stammering

It’s going to take me forever to finish reading The Innovator’s Mindset. George Couros continues to provide examples of innovation in education, which forces me to put down the book and look something up on the computer. In chapter 2, he refers to the television reality series, Educating Yorkshire, in which Musharaf Asghar overcomes a stammering disability with the help of his teacher. Mr. Burton tries a technique he saw in The King’s Speech, a film starring Colin Firth. Watch the video below to witness this incredible journey.

According to Merriam-Webster, stammer means: to make involuntary stops and repetitions in speaking. I think back to my first few…maybe 10, years of teaching. I found myself repeating the same techniques and strategies that didn’t work over and over again, just like a stammer. I was burying my students in ineffective worksheets and isolated activities on a daily basis. Now, in my defense, this was way before the era of technology integration. All we had were pencils and a Xerox machine. But, we did have our minds. Why wasn’t my mind working back then to be innovative when it came to delivering content and meeting the needs of all of my diverse learners? I have often said during trainings that I wish I could contact my first few classes and apologize for how terrible I was as their teacher.

Now, as a technology specialist, my job is to train teachers on how to use technology to support the curriculum. I’m realizing that technology can be just a fancy, pancy substitution for pencils and Xerox machines. It’s not about the tools you have at your disposal. It’s about your innovative mindset.

I get it. Do you?

ISTE Standards for Educators

FULL DISCLOSURE:

I enabled a new plugin and wanted to try it out. That is the actual purpose of this blog post. It’s called Live Shortcodes and has probably been in my dashboard for a while; I just didn’t notice. Last week I saw that ISTE published this really cool accordion style interactive page describing the new ISTE Standards for Educators. I was trying to figure out how to embed this in my blog post and stumbled upon several new plugins that I hadn’t yet activated. Needless to say, my morning has been filled with pure joy and giddiness. It’s not as cool as ITSE’s, but I’m pretty happy. Click on each standard to reveal the indicators.

Learner

Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning. Educators:

1a Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.

1b Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.

1c Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.

Leader

Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning. Educators:

2a Shape, advance and accelerate a shared vision for empowered learning with technology by engaging with education stakeholders.

2b Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.

2c Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.

Citizen

Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world. Educators:

3a Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.

3b Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.

3c Mentor students in safe, legal and ethical practices with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property. 3d Model and promote management of personal data and digital identity and protect student data privacy.

Collaborator

Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems. Educators:

4a Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology.

4b Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.

4c Use collaborative tools to expand students' authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally.

4d Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.

Designer

Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability. Educators:

5a Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
 
5b Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
 
5c Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
Facilitator

Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students. Educators:

6a Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.

6b Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.
 
6c Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
 
6d Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.
Analyst

Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals. Educators:

7a Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.
 
7b Use technology to design and implement a variety of formative and summative assessments that accommodate learner needs, provide timely feedback to students and inform instruction.
 
7c Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.

 

 

About the Standards

A roadmap for transforming education, the ISTE Standards help innovative educators like you re-engineer and reimagine their classrooms and schools for digital age learning. They are a guide for amplifying and empowering learning, no matter where you are on the journey to the effective and meaningful integration of ed tech. Source

Cool, huh?

App Flows Aren’t Just for iPads Anymore

Graphite App Flows (Now called Lesson Flows from Common Sense Media) were something I discovered a couple of years ago. A Lesson Flow is a lesson planning framework that helps you integrate digital tools with pedagogical insight. They helped teachers in my district move away from unstructured “skill and drill” use of the iPad to a purposeful lesson that made students accountable for their time spent on the device. 

Since then, app developers have realized that districts purchase multiple types devices, not just iPads. Many popular productivity iPad apps now have an online alternative. This allows for more flexibility when teachers are planning and checking out iPad, Chromebook, laptop carts or scheduling time in the computer labs. Here is a list of some of my favorite apps that now have a web based counterpart.

G-Suite                              Thinking Blocks         
Thinglink Haiku Deck
SeeSaw Virtual Manipulatives
Book Creator Learnzillion
Google Earth Math Learning Center
Google Maps BrainPop
Canva Educreations
Nearpod Padlet
Edublogs Popplet
Google Classroom Snapguide
Quizlet Animoto
YouTube

In my district, elementary teachers usually have about 3-4 iPads per classroom. That’s all fine and dandy if your lesson is designed to be in a workstation or center. It’s also difficult to manage multiple users logging into different accounts on 1 device. That may be a simple task for secondary, but try that with a kindergartener. Turning your App Flow into a Web/App Flow may be your solution. It’s the same lesson using the same resources, but now you have a choice of which device you would like your students to use. I just finished this one to support 4th grade Equivalent Fractions. Here is the link if you would like to use or modify it to fit your needs: https://goo.gl/t5devp

 

Be More Dog

For the past 5 summers I’ve been the tech troubleshooter for my district’s summer school campuses. This year I decided to take a break from everything, including blogging, Twitter and Facebook. I picked up several books (real honest to goodness books made from paper) that I had been meaning to read for a while and got busy. The first was The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. I didn’t even get past chapter 1 without reactivating my Twitter account to reengage in my PLN. It was that inspiring. Then on page 6, George recommends viewing a commercial from O2 titled “Be More Dog”. Let me save you the trouble of looking it up. 

This video resonated with me in so many ways. It made me think about the reaction of other cats had they been in this video as well. What would they have been thinking, saying, or doing in response to this one particular cat who wants to “be more dog”? Then I thought about the metaphor it represents. When you have one teacher on a campus that is looking at educating students from an entirely different perspective, how do the other teachers on that campus react? Do they embrace this change of mindset and try to emulate the behavior, or do they snub their noses at the thought and “remain a cat”? (Don’t get me wrong, I love cats)

This is where I find the whole educational system so frustrating. On page 5, George writes,

“Compliance does not foster innovation. In fact, demanding conformity does quite the opposite.” ~ The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros

This quote, I think, was aimed toward students. However, I’m looking at it from the perspective of the district/teacher relationship. I see districts demanding conformity from educators and almost punishing those that strive to grow and try new tools, strategies, or techniques that don’t come from central office. Now, I must confess that I have not finished the book because I felt so compelled to get back on the Internet to begin this discussion. I’m sure he goes into great detail about how to accomplish this paradigm shift, but I still want to ask these questions: How does a school or district move towards an innovator’s mindset when faced with opposition? What has worked for you in your school or district? I would love to get honest feedback in the comments section because I honestly don’t know the answer.  

Thank you, George. You got me blogging again.

Thinglink Teacher Summer Challenge

Thinglink just announced they will once again facilitate a self-paced online summer teacher challenge. Every year that I participate, I learn new and innovative ways to utilize one of my favorite tools. This summer will focus on the use of their premium 360/VR feature. This is the perfect opportunity to try out this amazing platform for only $25.00 (normally $125.00). Below is an example of an interactive 360 image focusing on Science vocabulary.

Check out this post on their blog for more information about upgrading your account and signing up for the challenge. Hover over the tags in the image below to access task cards for each challenge.

Using HyperDoc Format for Unit Reviews

It’s that time of year again in Texas (Insert sigh). Reviewing for the STAAR exam does not need to be a painful process. Instead of the traditional STAAR formatted worksheet, try a HyperDoc full of engaging multimedia content. I’ve created a template, examples, and even a list of multimedia resources to help make the creation process less time consuming. 

For the past 6 weeks, I have been tutoring a group of 5th grade math students. They handed me a binder that is literally 3 1/4 inches thick. Yes, I measured. The tree hugger in me had a little tiny stroke. That’s what inspired me to turn this binder full of worksheets into engaging HyperDocs using a template created by Nadine Gilkison (@nadinegilkison). The content in these HyperDocs is not my intellectual property. It belongs to my district, so the privacy settings require end users to be logged into their district NEISD Google account.

I created another Science Review HyperDoc that supports all of the 5th grade Life Sciences TEKS. This one is open to the public, so please feel free to make a copy and modify to fit your needs. It is filled with multimedia content to support over 8 TEKS. It also includes a reflection component (Google Drawing) where students answer essential questions.

I really liked the flow of the format and the fact that teachers can choose which sections students need to focus on based on assessment results and benchmark data. It’s also great for differentiation. You may have some students that need to focus on Interactions in Ecosystems, while others need to focus on Life Cycles. HyperDocs, by nature, are designed to be self-paced to accommodate the different needs of individual learners. 

If you are interested in creating a HyperDoc Unit Review for your class, you can use this template to help get you started. I’ve also curated some of my favorite resources that can be embedded within the activity.