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Archive for the ‘integration’ Category

Our district changed our professional development/faculty meeting model this year. We’ve always set aside an hour on Tuesday afternoons for faculty meetings. But this year, our students are released an hour earlier every Tuesday than on all other days, allowing for a 2-hour block of professional development time. We no longer have a smattering of in-service days throughout the year as a result.

Last week, I was scheduled to facilitate one hour and our math coordinator, Caitlin Bianchi (@CaitlinBianchi), was scheduled to facilitate the other hour with our third and fourth grade teachers. We decided to join forces and model integration ourselves.

The overall goal was to re-introduce some digital tools that students can use to tell math stories or explain their math thinking. I say re-introduce because it’s one of my goals, as seen in this post, to use what we have, better. The first digital tool we used was GoogleCast so that we could project from a Chromebook rather than the desktop connected to the projector. This was a great way for teachers to see the ease of this process and get ideas for how and why students might share their work.

We revisited Voicethread (we have a school subscription), Screencastify (all students have the lite version as an extension), and Explain Everything (on iPads) as tools that might be used to tell math stories or demonstrate learning. We had examples of student work and examples of each tool being used in this manner. Teachers that have used these tools were asked to share examples as well.

screenshot-2017-01-27-at-2-32-48-pmTeachers were given a large amount of time to delve into one of these tools and try it out themselves. Near the end of the meeting, they were asked to share their thoughts and reflect using Recap. We shared the finished Recap with the whole group so that teachers could see the summary of videos they created.

There was a lot of math talk during this meeting. Teachers were engaged for the whole two hours, had hands-on time, reflection time, and time for collaboration. I’ve had a number of people share what they’ve done in their classes as a result of this time. There was positive feedback at the end about the meeting, excitement about integrating these tools, and enthusiastic response about the productive use of time. All in all, technology and math integrated well and was modeled for and with teachers.

 

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As we start the beginning of a new year, I’m often struck by the posts I come across on Twitter. In December, we see the “Best of” lists – best apps of 2016, best posts of 2016, and so  on. Then as we shift to January, we see the “Trends” lists which includes things like “Trends in Education for the New Year” or “Predictions for 2017”.

As an educator, we always know that new things come our way. New initiatives, new ideas, new resources. And we struggle with how to fit it all in. We ponder how we’ll add something new and then consider what we can take off our very full plates.

out-old-in-newAs a Technology Integration Specialist, I come across these posts and wonder. Do we add more apps to the collection on our iPads? If so, do we let go of one or two to make room? When I see lists of the “top Chrome extensions”, do we add more? Do we take away from what we’re using to replace it with something new? How do we know that the new one is better?

I find that I have more questions than answers. I hesitate to add more to our teachers’ plates. I read about new sites, tools, extensions, gadgets, and instead of jumping to incorporate them or pass them along to our teachers, I’ve decided to focus my energy on using what we have, better.

We are fortunate to have access to devices such as iPads and Chromebooks. Along with those comes access to powerful tools that we’re not using to the fullest extent. We can do better with what we have. (That’s not to say we’re doing poorly!) I will still check out what’s new and current, because I have a great PLN and I love to learn, but there’s plenty of room to grow with what we already have. Consider this a resolution. I’m sticking with the ‘old’ while considering the ‘new’.

Want to join me?

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Over the past two weeks, I’ve been asked to work with teachers and students to help introduce Google My Maps. Now that it’s found in My Drive, it’s getting used more often. I’ve always been a fan of maps in general, and we’re starting to see more and more applications for using My Maps.

One teacher is using My Maps to help students see the historical timeline and locations of flight. Students are creating layers for different famous aviators, including the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh. They’re dropping pins at various locations depicting where events happened in the history of flight for each aviator. then they add extra information in the placemark from text describing the event, to photos and videos.

Another teacher asked me to support students who were excited about their personal travels over the summer. The students had photos from their trip in Drive, so they were able to map out their trip. I’ve never seen fourth grade students so motivated and invested. I have a feeling that they’ll become experts and teach others.

This past week, I had the opportunity to work with faculty from another school for an in-service day. One activity we did revolved around integrating a variety of Google tools. Teachers responded to this form, then saw the data represented in a sheet.

We then imported the sheet into Google My Maps to see our data in a different, visual representation. Here’s the result.

This activity sparked enthusiasm around all of these tools.

Here’s a quick screencast to show how to import data from a sheet into My Maps.

I’m excited to continue using Google My Maps with a variety of students and teachers.

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A Powerful Example of a Middle School Integrated Project

In recognition of Digital Citizenship Week, I’m sharing an example of an activity that one of our teachers implemented with her students, with her permission. The teacher, Joy Peterson (@petersonjoy) teaches fifth and sixth grade language arts. She has four classes with a total of 87 students.

Joy spent the first month of school focusing on this project. She later reflected that it was a great way to get students comfortable with their Chromebooks, and it also integrated quite a bit of language arts! I really like how this project incorporated collaboration, the use of Google Docs as graphic organizers, and integrated a variety of digital tools, including Digital Driver’s License.

Joy explains the process she used for this project in these slides:

After her students finished their work, they presented their own slides to third and fourth grade classes working in pairs. This was extremely motivating. Joy noted that only 2 out of 87 students were not ready to share on the presentation day, which is quite remarkable.

Student Project Example:

(My favorite part – the So What slides! Why does it matter? Why is this important? Why do we need to know this?)

I was able to observe these presentations and was struck by each student’s knowledge and comfort level with the whole topic of Digital Citizenship, as well as the third/fourth graders’ engagement level.

TakeAway

One of the teachers of a third/fourth grade class asked his students to reflect on their learning after the presentations. It was remarkable to see this list.

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Thank you to Joy, her students,  as well as the third/fourth grade teachers and their students.

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This week’s #ETCoaches blog challengeWhat tools are you using that you are loving? What problems do they overcome? How can others replicate your success?

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There are many tools I use, that I promote for others to use, but here are a few at the top of my list that assist me in my work as an EdTech Coach.

Hootsuite: I rely on Twitter to build my PLN, provide resources, make connections, and for the best professional development. I use Hootsuite, (others might use Tweetdeck,) to visually access different streams on Twitter at once. It helps to join and follow Twitter chats as well. You can integrate other social media accounts too. It’s a lifesaver.

Diigo: I use Diigo to save and organize resources. In my role as an EdTech Coach, I have resources coming at me all day long via email, feeds, blogs, and Twitter. I need a way to save them so that I can easily access later. For example, I share a Tech News every other week (or so- being sensitive to other things going on in school). I collect items over time that will be of interest to our faculty and staff. I tag those TechNews and then, when it’s time to put the news together, I search for resources with that tag. Easy-peasy.

Canva: I use Canva to create visuals for the Tech News, blog posts, posters, flyers, and more. It makes me feel creative! See graphic above.

Smore: Those who are reading this might be wondering what tools I use for the TechNews I mentioned above. For years I did that using a Google Site, adding a new page with columns for each edition. I discovered Smore a few years ago and found that it was more visually appealing. Now I share the link to the Smore, and I embed it on the original Google Site in a new page, so that the archived editions are available too. Our school newsletter goes out to families once a week using Smore as well and it’s been well received. I’m curious to see how this might change when the new Google Sites are officially available.

PhotosForClass: I don’t use this other than to model, but I highly recommend that our students use this site. Search for an image, download it (even on a Chromebook) and insert it into projects, sites, or blog posts. It automatically includes the proper citation on the image itself. Great for teaching about WHY we need to cite our sources!

Google+ Communities: In addition to Twitter, I use various Google+ communities to ask questions, get ideas, and share. Some of the communities I visit most often include: Instructional Technology Integrators, Google Classroom, Chromebook EDU, and Bringing the World Into the Classroom.

Google Hangouts: I’m a member of a 5-person team in our school district. We’re all spread out with considerable distance between our schools. We meet once a week via Hangout to keep the team together, share what’s happening in our schools, work on district-level projects so that there’s consistency, and basically, collaborate. Hangouts make this possible without us having to factor in travel time to get together.

Common Sense Education:  Most EdTech Coaches know of this resource, but just in case… it’s an amazing site for Digital Citizenship resources as well as EdTech reviews. This is a must for your list.

There are many more, but these tools help me create, collaborate, share, connect, and stay productive.

 

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Here’s this week task for the #ETCoaches Blog Challenge:

“What are your strengths, areas for improvement, challenges, successes in your current role?” screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-26-05-pm

I’ll break down the individual areas with some thoughts below.

Strengths: I’m a good communicator. I respond quickly to inquiries or requests. I share new tools, ideas, and resources via a Tech News often, but not too often. As a former classroom teacher, I know how much teachers are juggling and adding another email isn’t helpful every week, so I spread them out. I stay positive and try to remain neutral.

Areas for Improvement: I know that I need to continue to build relationships, even though I’ve worked in these schools for 22 years! I’d like to work more closely with our special educators and increase my awareness of their needs in their work with students. After research and a long approval process, we’ve just purchased Read & Write for Google for all of our district’s students, grades 3-12. I’m very excited to share and support folks with this incredible resource with all of our faculty and staff.

Challenges: Like many, I’d say that time is always a factor. Determining how I best budget my time and prioritize is always a challenge. I hope to model best practices and demonstrate that student needs drive our work. We’ve embarked on some new things this year that require shifts for all of us.(We’re dropping traditional grades and gradebooks, moving to standards-based learning and reporting; middle school students now all have ePortfolios that also function as a personal learning plan, to name a few!) My challenge is to provide the support and encouragement necessary to help make this a smooth process.

Successes: I’m extremely fortunate to have opportunities to offer professional development to our faculty and supporting staff members as well. I feel that those are well-planned and facilitated, offering support, encouragement, and ideas that can be implemented right away. It is not my intention to share cool techie tools. I hope that I communicate that curriculum and pedagogy come first, followed by a discussion of how digital tools might best support the learning.

Those are initial thoughts. I’m noticing how often I used the word ‘support’. I guess that’s a big factor of who I am and what I do. As always, I welcome feedback!

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After filling out the form multiple times earlier this year to bring the Google Expeditions Pilot Project to our school and getting multiple responses that they weren’t coming to Vermont, that finally changed. We were honored to have the opportunity to engage our students with Expeditions at the end of April.

IMG_2948Throughout the course of that day, 15 of our educators and their students traveled to the Himalayas, the Galapagos Islands, National Parks, Monuments, under the sea to coral reefs, and explored careers in STEM to name a few.

Teachers were happy to guide students on these expeditions that so closely connected with and supported the learning that was already happening in the classroom. Since then, I’ve heard both students and teachers referring to it, taking it further, and repeatedly stopping to tell me that it was a valuable day. IMG_2949

One Humanities teacher, Lauren Wesnak, works with 7th and 8th graders, had approached me even before this came to be a reality (yes, that’s a pun) about obtaining some cardboard viewers for another virtual reality (VR) project. We ran it by our principals and got the nod to move forward. We purchased eight Cardboard viewers and when they arrived, I recruited some students to help assemble them. They told me that this was the best thing we’ve ever done in our school.

Here’s a quote from Lauren about this experience:

As each student put the Google Cardboard to their face and the video began, you could see a smile stretch across each student’s face! This happened with every single student. Students were also saying “WOAH!” or “NO WAY!” while watching. There were also a few moments when students actually waved back to scuba divers they saw or reached out to touch the elephant or giraffe that was in the video. These reactions alone made the experience not only worth it, but alerted me to how powerful of a teaching tool Google Cardboard really, truly is. To see students reacting with such true emotion to a learning experience is something you hope to have happen in every class, but unfortunately due to time restraints or curriculum needs this can’t always happen. Google Cardboard is allowing you to create these emotionally charged and connected learning experiences EVEN IF you have limited time. Today we used Discovery Channel VR to view a video of endangered species in their habitats in order for us to gain a greater understanding of their environment and their life. This is in direct connection to our Endangered Places Project which is our final project for our Global Geography Unit.

IMG_3012I observed the students as they saw elephants up close and saw them physically jump back when it seemed like they were too close!

Lauren gave her students this prompt: How did using a VR experience change or enhance the way you feel about the importance of protecting endangered environments and animals?

 

Here are some of their responses:

It was cool cause I could see what things looked like close up. If you have only ever seen pictures then this really helps your understanding process of how they act in their natural environment.
Using the VR headset you really realize how amazing and how special these animals are which you can’t experience anywhere else besides actually going there. It gave me a new perspective on these animals.
It just made me think like wow, now I know what it’s like to have these In the same environment as these endangered species. I notice how the Rhinos tusk was cut off. These animals were so beautiful now I really want to help protecting them.
Whilst I was watching VR I realized what these environments really are like. How bare they can look and how the animals have to survive. Its really cool showing all these different animals and how they interact with people who aren’t harming them. They all act peaceful and kind towards the human.

Next steps… we hope to make our own 360 videos to view using the Cardboard viewers!

 

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