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Time to Reflect, Again

reflectionYesterday, I came across this post about a 30-Day Blogging Challenge for Teachers. It includes a reflective teaching question for each day in September to get educators blogging. Given that I haven’t blogged in too long and have too much to share from a full summer of learning, connecting, and teaching – I think I’m going to accept the challenge.

Plus, it’s about ‘reflective teaching’ and my blog is ‘Reflections on Ed Tech'; it felt like a good match.

Starting on Monday, I’ll try blogging daily. That will be quite a change for me, but I see it as a great way to get back into blogging, to share about recent experiences, and to model for others.

Anyone else want to join me?

 

 

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Len Radin: http://flickr.com/photos/drurydrama/7647054162

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I won’t share any excuses. I just haven’t blogged. I’m hoping to remedy that.

In February, we worked on a project with third-eighth graders. Our school has a theme week during which students choose from and attend a variety of workshop sessions around a common theme. This year’s theme was the Olympics. We decided to use the Aurasma app on iPads to create auras with students. Here are some details about the workshop:photo (4)

  • Students came for 1 session only
  • Sessions were 1 ¼ hour in length
  • There were 12 students in each session
  • We did four sessions a day over three Days
  • Total: approximately 150 auras created!

Students only had that one session, so we needed to make this whole thing happen in just that time. Also given our time constraints, we completed the whole project on iPads, rather than incorporate computers or laptops into the process. Students chose to create a video using Tellagami or an iMovie trailer. The videos were about anything having to do with the Olympics- an athlete, a country, a sport. (We didn’t have time for research, so they needed some prior knowledge about their topic.)

Once they finished creating the video and saving it to the Camera Roll on the iPad, we took them through the steps of creating an aura in Aurasma. We uploaded all of the auras to one channel and then took trigger images of icons and photos from or about the Olympics. We posted those trigger images around the school for anyone to scan and then view the videos.

It was a great success, except for the one session where the internet went down!

Here’s how using Augmented Reality and the Aurasma app has evolved since then in our school:

  • Weather: students used Explain Everything to describe some collected and documented weather data. Those students then created a comic about a weather disaster and then used the comic as their trigger image.
  • Issues in Africa: students used iMovie to create PSAs about various issues in Africa today. They then shared them with one another for reflection and feedback by creating auras with trigger images around the classroom. Students walked around the room with iPads to view one another’s videos.
  • Solar System: a class made a large-scale model of the solar system on the ceiling. They put labels near planets and moons. Those labels are transforming into trigger images leading to videos with more detail about that planet or moon.
  • Classy Cards: one class worked with the art teacher to create paintings. Those paintings are then transformed into greeting cards. The class sells packages of these cards as a fundraiser for a local charity. They’re using Aurasma and creating auras of each painting that lead to a marketing video explaining what they did, why, and for what charity.

Here is a site I put together with resources about Augmented Reality for a recent conference at which I shared this project. I especially like this post (also on the site) which explains the difference between the Aurasma app and using Aurasma studio. I found that extremely helpful.

One goal for introducing this technology during Theme Week was to share a new technology and have it spread beyond the project. There are many people using Aurasma and augmented reality now, and many who are pondering how to incorporate this technology into their work with students.

Finally, in the spirit of sharing, here’s a doc with step-by-step directions on setting this up yourself. (also on the site listed above)

That is the age-old question, eh? I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but was recently inspired to address this more directly in our schools by this post. A 14 year-old came up with an idea to cut costs at his school, which in his case, specifically related to ink and toner costs. Check out the statistic about toner costs vs. perfume!

We’re currently evaluating the amount of printing and copying that happens in our schools. The costs for this are astounding. The impact on the environment is definitely another consideration. As a school that utilizes Google Apps for Education, the numbers are surprising.

CHANGEBut most of all, we’re hoping to change our culture. We have brainstormed ideas, but welcome yours as well.

  • Change settings so that users can only print to certain printers.
  • Reduce the number of printers overall.
  • Require that print jobs over 10 pages are sent to the copier instead.
  • Draft a list of what not to print- email, personal items, anything from Google Drive. How do we monitor this?
  • Educate teachers and students about how to print- selecting a printer, print settings, double-sided printing, color printing vs. black and white.

Some ideas to present this to our faculty, staff, and students:

  • Host a contest to have others come up with creative ideas to reduce printing and copying.
  • Read The Lorax to students, with this topic as one focus.
  • Create an infographic for all to see, detailing our printing/copying costs, use, habits, and more to educate everyone about our culture.
  • Encourage everyone to make a personal pledge about how they’re going to reduce printing and copying. Post the pledges on a Padlet, a Thinglink, or even on a public bulletin board in the school for all to see.
  • Recognize those that model positive habits and behaviors in our school Google+ Community.

Other ideas? What have other schools done to change the culture? We don’t need to go totally paperless, but we do need to address our habits.

 

Recent Reflections

Wow- It’s been a month since my last post and I don’t know where the time went!

Here are a few things that have been happening:

Theme Week- Each year our building with 3rd-8th graders has a Theme Week hosted by the related arts teachers (Music, Art, P.E.) and the World Language teachers. Instead of students going to those classes, they go to a few workshops based on a central theme – this year it was the Olympics. Other adults in the building pitch in to make the groups smaller and the offerings larger. The tech integration team did a workshop using Augmented Reality this year. We only had our groups for one session, about 70 minutes. In that time, students created short videos about an Olympic sport, athlete, or country. Then they selected a trigger image and set it up in the Aurasma app on the iPads.

Some of the Olympic trigger images used to access the videos students made.

Some of the Olympic trigger images used to access the videos students made.

Voila! Now there are trigger images all over the school that anyone can scan and then view the videos that pop up.

We culminated Theme Week with the annual Faculty-Student basketball game. We streamed it live via UStream and recorded it for future reference. The students came from behind to win it- and the gym erupted at the final buzzer!

We have many more teachers using Voicethread or getting ready to use Voicethread. This ranges from first and second graders for an exploration of constellations, to middle school students describing their families in French for pen pals in France.

First and second graders have become news anchors and have put together a news video to share. The topics of their features have to do with various aspects of the community around our school.

Teachers had another in-service day focused on the Common Core. We also took a closer look at some SBAC sample items. In addition, the teachers shared and celebrated their work this year on implementing Common Core writing standards. We captured some of that sharing on video. I was happily surprised by the amount of technology being integrated into the Writing Workshop model. There were many teachers reporting out the positive aspects of Google Drive and blogging as critical elements of the writing process. (third-fifth grades)

I’m noticing that I am devoting less time to staying connected with my PLN via Twitter or Google+ and am reflecting on what’s taking priority over that. I feel disconnected and am not benefitting from this great resource of mine. Time to re-examine that!

Both Digital Learning Day and the 100th Day of School fall this coming week in our schools. I have no idea which teachers it was, many years ago, that made a holiday out of the 100th Day of School, but it’s celebrated in elementary school classrooms nationwide, at the very least. Students bring in displays of 100 Cheerios, pennies, etc. and honor the day in creative ways.

This year, the schools in which I work are compiling a list of how we’re integrating and using technology, both with students and as professionals, to see if we can get 100 examples by the end of the week.  We’re hoping not to necessarily add on something new, but to celebrate what we already are doing. I’ll likely share more about that soon.

A few years ago, I created a Google map at this time of year and shared it with the world via my PLN on Twitter. (zoom out to see all of the pins) I invited educators around the world to drop a pin on the map, showing us where they were, in the hopes that we’d get 100 pins by the 100th day of school. It worked – we had well over 100 pins. It was very exciting for students in various classes in our schools to check the map daily to see the new pin locations. It opened up conversation about geography, time zones, hemispheres, seasons, and much more.

This year, we’d like to try something similar. If interested, please add a pin to this new 100+ Favorite Books map. Tell us your class’s favorite book, your location, the age/grade of your students, and anything else you’d like to share. Please try to do this by Friday, February 7th.

Thanks for your help! Feel free to pass this along to others in your PLN.

Communication is Key

As the technology integration specialist for two schools that encompass grades K-8, I have many people with whom I work. I am frequently pondering how best to share the many resources, tip and tricks, and ideas that I come across from my PLN or that I have learned about via my own professional development experiences. I share things with specific groups (science teachers, for example) when a resource is content-specific.

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/cu3jnE via Intersection Consulting

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/cu3jnE
via Intersection Consulting

I also share many of these things via a Tech News that I compile every other week or so. This came about after it was made clear that I was sending too many emails with too much information, feedback that I greatly appreciated! The Tech News includes timely announcements from the tech department, tech-related professional development opportunities, new collaborative and global projects, and tips and tricks involving the tools we use on a regular basis. There’s more too- innovative videos, sharing examples of what educators in our schools are doing, and information about how/when to get support. It turns out that the Tech News is read and viewed by quite a few people, but not enough people. It’s just another thing for the teachers who already have too much on their plates.

It has also become clear that those who don’t get to the Tech News aren’t aware of the things I assume they know. That’s a big mistake on my part. I wonder why everyone else isn’t in my head?!

I get very excited about the things I learn and come across and am eager to share, but what is the best way to do that? How can I share things in a timely manner, but in a way that doesn’t overload the teachers even more?

Suggestions? How do YOU communicate and share with those in your schools/districts?

Student-Centered Learning

A group of technology integration specialists from our supervisory union, plus some other key critical friends are participating in a MOOC together for the next 8 weeks, called Digital Learning Transition. Here’s a link to the MOOC .

We spent some time together in a Google Hangout last week discussing and filling out the self-assessment for our team. We had very rich discussions about what is and is not happening in our supervisory union. At the heart of the matter is student-centered learning. It’s a key component of our tech plan and those of other districts in Vermont as well. Yet, who has had the discussion about what IS student-centered learning? Have our superintendents and curriculum coordinators? Have our principals?

Our teachers are being asked about whether or not this is a focus, yet do they know what it is? Do we have a shared definition? How do we help clarify that for all audiences, provide examples so that it’s not confused with differentiated learning, and provide support and professional development? Who takes the lead on this?

I wonder about a few things… I believe in student-centered learning, at least as I understand it. I see the value of passion-based learning, problem-based learning, and place-based learning as well. But in these times of data driven instruction and new assessments and standards, how will we or can we allow for the 3 PBLs to happen?

How are other schools already succeeding?

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