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 In my experience, teachers tend not use it and go back to more reliable, yet outdated, analog activities.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.
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:
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!
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):
IMO email is a tool. Being able to effectively communicate in a variety of arenas are the basics now.
— Matthew Haley (@MattHaley13) July 2, 2017
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.
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:
- Tour the World with the NEW Google Earth from Matt Miller and Kasey Bell
- Google Earth Lit Trips on Chromebooks by Eric Curts
- Ben Friesen’s New Google Earth resource page
- Create your own Google Earth tours with geteach.com/tour (blog post)
- EdTech Team’s blog and infographic: 10 Google Earth Updates That Will Change Your GEO Life
- The Google Earth Training Center
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability. Educators:
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.
Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals. Educators:
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
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.
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
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.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I obsess over certain tools I love. Thinglink is probably number 1 on my list and it just got even better! Last year, I participated in the Thinglink Summer VR Challenge and was introduced to their new 360° tag editor for making 360° images and VR content interactive. This particular feature of the platform is only available if you have a Premium Educator account. When I provide professional development opportunities for my teachers, I usually do not recommend purchasing individual subscriptions because I know that the money comes out of their pockets. This is one exception.
Thinglink is not just a tool. It is a supportive community designed to provide teachers with rich, interactive experiences that engage learners and immerses them into worlds they may not possibly be able to experience otherwise. When I see teachers and students using Thinglink to annotate content that demonstrates understanding of concepts, they are giddy. Seriously. Giddy. One of my favorite bloggers, Richard Wells (@EduWells), recently published a post about the impact of virtual reality in the classroom and how it can encourage empathy.
Below are the Thinglink current pricing options.
I recommend starting with the free 14 day trial so you can see for yourself how easy it is to navigate the interface. If the out of pocket cost is not an option, try approaching your campus administration or PTA/PTO for funding. Many campuses have even used allocated grade level or department funds.
One thing I struggled with as a new user of this feature was learning about 360° images, specifically where to get them and how to make your own. I’ve tried several apps and continue to go back to the same one: Google Street View on my iPhone. Here are the simple directions:
Create photos with an iPhone (Won’t work with an iPad because it won’t save to camera roll)
- Open the Street View app .
- Tap Create +.
- In the bottom right, tap Camera .
- Take a series of photos.
- At the bottom, tap Done .
- Your 360 photo is stitched together and saved in the “Private” tab on your phone. The photo is also saved on your phone (unless you turned this setting off).
- Publish your 360 photo on Google Street View (you can blur faces or identifying information if needed)
Upload Image to Teleport 360° app on your iPad
- Open Google Street View on your iPad.
- Navigate to your public image and save to your camera roll.
- Open Teleport 360 and tap on Upload Media
- Tap Photo Library and tap on your 360 image
- Tap edit and start tagging using text, images, audio, video, embed html, or transitions
Here’s a quick video to show how easy it is to use:
If you would like to take your class on an immersive learning adventure to a specific destination, check out the photo pool from the Flickr 360 Equirectangular Group. Many photographers have given permission for their images to be used. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) also has a wealth of information and resources on the subject of virtual reality. Also, within the app itself is a growing collection of their own 360° image library.
Check out the Spotlight Speakers 17 Channel created by Susan Oxnevad (@soxnevad) to see examples of how educators are using this tool to support instruction.
There is a new “Featured Lesson” section on Rock the Lab home page that will change every month. I’ll provide 2 different lessons that have a monthly or seasonal theme. This month we celebrate Black History with different types of multimedia content appropriate for all levels. K-2 students can explore videos, text with audio, and books from Capstone to learn about various African-American Leaders. 3-5 students will engage in the HyperDoc Learning Cycle process by researching 3 different African-American heroes of their choice. I would love to feature lessons created by other NEISD educators, so please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to submit a lesson.
Last week I attended TCEA 2017 in Austin and am currently working on a blog post to share my reflections. In the meantime, I stumbled upon this amazing resource created by Ron Burke (@MistaB10). His Twitter pic alone is worthy of its own blog post. Ron curated a plethora of technology challenges that allow teachers to explore new tools, choose tasks that are of interest, and provides examples of authentic integration. Where has this dude been all my life? Seriously. Check out his other interactive images here.