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Archive for the ‘tech’ 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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Our use of green screen technology with video is expanding every day. We currently have a green screen set up (screen and lighting) in each of our two buildings, with more on the way. Teachers are excited to incorporate this into their programs to enhance and support learning.

Last fall, 8 educators from our schools gave up their own time to attend a green screen workshop offered one evening by RETN. (Regional Educational Television Network). The amazing facilitators,  Doug Dunbebin and Jill Dawson (@Switchback42), made a lasting impression on our teachers and from them to our students.

New videos featuring green screen technology have been created as a direct result of this workshop. The videos range from sharing about a field trip at the first/second grade level, to creating PSAs about Child Labor at the middle school level. There are more projects in the works as well and other teachers are joining in.

Thank you to RETN and Jill. Doug’s legacy lives on.

 

 

 

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We are making plans for our annual Theme Week which takes place the third week of February. I’ve written about Theme Week in the past here.

theme weekThis year’s theme is Connected Cultures Through Wellness. That seems to encompass many ideas, almost too many! In the workshop that the tech integration team offers, we like to offer something inspiring, fun, and that hopefully will filter back into the classrooms and influence teachers and students to try new things that enhance learning.

Last year we did that with the Aurasma app and augmented reality. The year before that, iPads were fairly new in our school and we offered a workshop around digital photography using various apps. Both were successful in getting students excited and they transferred that excitement back to their classrooms.

So, this year’s brainstorm is now upon us. We will have 4 groups a day for 4 days. Students in each group will come to work with us twice. One group comes at the same time on Monday and Tuesday, and then another group on Wednesday and Thursday. That’s a total of about 2.5 hours to get something accomplished. By the end of the week, we’ll have worked with about 200 students.

Please help us- we’d like to use the power of our networks to get ideas. What ‘new-ish’ technology tools can we use to address the theme, while having it not feel like traditional school work? Students love Theme Week because it’s a break from the normal routine; the workshops provide opportunity to do something fun and different.

Feel free to help us with the brainstorm in the comments below or on this Padlet. Your input is greatly appreciated!

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Post 28 on the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeYour thoughts: Should Technology drive the curriculum or vice versa?


The answer to this is simple, the curriculum and learning come first. Technology, like pencils or any other tool, supports, enhances, and makes some of the learning possible. It engages students in new ways, adds various “21st century skills” like collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking to make the learning go deeper. 

This week the teachers in our schools are taking time away from their classrooms to plan together with their teaching teams. Each team has a half day to begin their planning on integrated units of study – whether those are project-based, problem-based, passion-based, or place-based (I call these the PBLs). The administration has set aside this time for teachers to integrate Common Core standards and Next Generation Science Standards. It’s also an opportunity for me to listen in and offer suggestions and ideas about technology integration in these units of study. But it’s the curriculum that comes first in all aspects of the planning. I’ll likely blog about the progress over the course of this school year.

In light of yesterday’s post about using weekends to explore new tools, I created a very short wideo about today’s prompt. Richard Byrne, at the wonderful Free Tech 4 Teachers site, shared this resource recently and I thought I’d give it a try.

 

 

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Post 27 for the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeWhat role do holidays and weekends play in your teaching?


 

Like many educators, I take weekends and holidays to relax, enjoy my family, and get some ‘me’ time. But, given how we’re all so easily connected in today’s world, I also respond to questions or queries from teachers in our schools, I read  and interact with my Twitter and Google+ feeds, and often take time to try out new tools.

Today, we went for a beautiful foliage drive here in Vermont with one of our sons. The leaves are nearing peak in the highest elevations and we’re seeing beautiful color in the valleys as well.

foliage

 

Once I got home, I decided I’d try out some screencasting tools on the Chromebook. To get some practice, I made a screencast about how you can create photo slideshows on YouTube. I learned this trick from my friend and colleague, Lucie DelaBruere this summer and have been meaning to share it with teachers in my school. I thought a screencast was a good way to get the word out. Teachers are frequently seeking ways to share photos in slideshows and use a variety of tools. Here’s one more for their toolbox.

I used Snagit on the Chromebook to create this screencast. It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m exploring new tools. That’s how holidays and weekends play a role in my work. They provide time for me to do some things that I can’t fit in during the work week.

 

 

 

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3 Go-To Sites

Post 26 of the Teach Thought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeWhat are your 3 favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?


 

No hesitation here, these are by far my top 3 go-to tools!

twitterTwitter:  As I wrote about in this post, Twitter is a huge part of my PLN. I learn from others, gather resources, connect, and share. This past summer while at ISTE, I heard someone say that if it were possible to break down Twitter users by profession, educators would represent the largest group. I am not surprised by that fact. (myth?) There are educators at every level, subject area, and area of expertise sharing and connecting with one another on Twitter. Rather than follow individual blogs, I follow people on Twitter who provide links to new posts. The education chats provide connections with others with whom I reflect on my practice, create new collaborative projects, and professional development in its best form, (Feel free to click on Twitter in my tags and view other posts on this topic)

google plusGoogle+: Some people are surprised at this one. People question whether or not anyone is using Google+. The resounding answer is YES – lots of educators! I have joined a number of communities on Google+ that provide similar resources and connections as Twitter. If you are a Technology Integration Specialist like me, check out the Instructional Technology Integrators & Coaches Community, or the Technology Integration Specialist Think Tank Community. If you’re a classroom teacher, this is one of my favorites – the Connected Classrooms Workshop Community or the Mystery Hangout Community.

 

diigoDiigo: I use Diigo to collect resources, save posts, and then access them again when needed. I have the Diigo extension installed in Chrome, and have also installed the tool on my iPad. I go to Diigo all day long, to save things I come across on Twitter and/or Google+ as well as to retrieve things I’ve save. I create a Tech News every few weeks as a resource for our educators. It’s simple to gather the recent articles and posts that I want to share by going to Diigo and searching for my TechNews tag. When teachers ask me if I know of resources about a particular topic, I immediately go to Diigo to see what I’ve already saved that I can then pass along. This tool is a life-saver and time-saver for me. And I’m not even sharing about the ‘social bookmarking’ capabilities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Post 20 on the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeHow do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?


 

spinningThe prompt for this post has my head spinning in a variety of directions. I’ll share some examples of how I curate student work in my role as Technology Integration Specialist. I also have ideas for what I’d do if I were a classroom teacher.

We have carts of shared iPads in our two school buildings. Students create a variety of projects that they then want to share with others. We created YouTube accounts for the carts and use the YouTube channels as a location to upload and store video-based projects. From there, students can get the link or embed code to share their projects with others in blogs or via email.

Last year we did an integrated project around the time of the Olympics. Students created short videos and then linked to them using the Aurasma app and augmented reality. That was tons of fun and a new way to share our learning. I wrote about that here.

If I were a classroom teacher, I’d definitely suggest that students share their work via their own blogs. It’s a perfect place to curate and share, as well as receive feedback and comments from others. Another tool that would be highly effective for curating and sharing their work would be ePortfolios. We have a few teams exploring different models and tools for ePortfolios this year and I am excited to with them and support that effort.

Finally, the arrival of Google Classroom has positively impacted how teachers and students curate work. I’ve already received very positive feedback from teachers using Classroom and from parents as well. I look forward to seeing how it evolves.


 

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by krissen: http://flickr.com/photos/krissen/8689944802

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