Posts Tagged ‘Teacher’

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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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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I’ve started to see, once again, members of my PLN on Twitter sharing their one word for 2016. They’re awesome and inspiring and got me thinking. I’m seeing words like #be and #empower. I imagine over the next few days as we near and enter 2016 that we’ll see more.

As educators, we’re often asked about that one teacher we remember. Or the one experience in a classroom we never forgot. Once I became a teacher, I wanted to be one of those teachers for my students. I imagined, as we followed the Iditarod live in the early days of utilizing the Internet for such things (around 1995), that my first and second grade students would always remember me as the teacher who guided them through that experience. Then we started creating websites and blogging, and I thought perhaps that was it.

But when I do run into students from the past, they often bring up what I shared as my ‘favorite word’ and how they never forgot that. Long ago, my students cut out 4 foot letters that spelled out the word TRY, decorated each of them, and helped me affix them to the wall.

Whenever a student was stuck or said, “I’m finished” after very little effort, I just pointed up to the word on the wall. As I thought about this post, I realized that my favorite word was a harbinger of times to come- before #grit and #mindset hit the scene.

That’s my word for 2016, as it has been for many, many years. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t find a photograph of the original.


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I’d like to continue sharing how we’re getting started with the new iPads in our school with grades 3-8. I wrote about some of the processes in place in my previous post. This post will focus on some of the initial professional development that’s been put in place.

This summer, the administration supported the idea of offering a one-day iPad introduction to the teachers in this building. We spent a 7-hour day together learning about the processes, systems, apps, and important over-riding topics related to the iPads. The administration supported the idea of paying any teachers that came and gave up a summer day to participate. About 20 teachers came and joined in the fun.

During that day we worked on topics such as the SAMR model and Digital Citizenship. When introducing the SAMR model, I used Nearpod to take the teachers through a lesson and a Nearpod experience and showed this video. Teachers were then given a choice of 3 apps on the new iPads to create something to share with the rest of us about that topic. They could choose from Explain Everything, Educreations, or Doodlecast Pro. We spent some time sharing what was created and brainstorming how these apps might be useful in the classroom setting.

Earlier this summer I made a short video to introduce the big topics of Digital Citizenship that would be addressed in school. I used Powtoon to make this video. This was my first attempt, but I had so much fun. I have been sharing this video with teachers for two reasons- to give them the overview of some of the Digital Citizenship topics, and to introduce them to Powtoon. Again, when we looked at this during that summer iPad day, we talked at greater length about these topics and then teachers picked one and chose either Tellagami, BookCreator, or HaikuDeck to teach others.

The final part of the day was spent creating an impromptu video to introduce themselves to their students using iMovie. That idea was prompted by a post I had seen from the Tarrant Institute. It was amazing to see what these creative educators came up with in such a short period of time!

Since that day, it has been made clear that before any teachers use the new iPads with students, they need to have some elements of the training with me. So far, 75% of the teachers have done that! I’ve had to abbreviate the 7 hour training down to 1 hour. The parts that have stayed: using Nearpod to introduce the SAMR model, a discussion about Digital Citizenship, and learning the systems and procedures in place for using the iPads in our environment. So far, it’s going well. It is going to be extremely helpful that everyone has heard the same message, seen the same videos, and had similar discussions.

Last week we had a faculty meeting devoted to technology. After some nuts and bolts, we split into 6 small groups. There was a teacher in each group who facilitated the experience. They introduced an app, showed an example of it in action, had the participants get their hands wet using it, and then they all had a discussion about how it might be integrated into the classroom. The apps featured were: iMovie, Tellagami, BookCreator, GarageBand, Educreations, and Explain Everything. It was fun and energizing to see what people came up with and hear what they were taking away from the short gathering.

Teachers are already busy having students create with the iPads!

Teachers are already busy having students create with the iPads!

We continue to brainstorm how we can further explore, support, and learn about integrating the iPads into our curriculum. Having shared iPads challenges us, but it’s not stopping us!

Your ideas are welcome.

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Yesterday we had another technology-based faculty meeting at our preK-2 school. In September the faculty in that building set a tech goal for the year:

Using technology as a learning tool, students will share and communicate learning with others within and beyond their classroom walls.

Before the meeting, I created a Google presentation and invited the teachers to contribute either ideas they were hoping to do to meet this goal or something they already had done with students. I anticipated that we would use this collaborative presentation as a resource for the year as well as a vehicle through which teachers could get an idea of what’s happening elsewhere in the building. What I didn’t expect was that before we even met face to face that 14 teachers would contribute! I’m not going to share the presentation here… yet. I’d like to honor the teachers and their desire to get things up and running before WE share to a larger audience.

During the meeting, we began with a few teachers showing and sharing some examples of how they are working toward our goal with students. These included connecting with others via Twitter class accounts and sharing their learning and participating in global projects that connect kindergarten classes.

We divided up into four groups after that to talk for a short while with these questions and topics:

1. Defining our goal: What does it mean to publish and share our learning with a larger audience?

2. Larger Audience:

  • How do we reach a larger audience?
  • Who is that?
  • Where are they?
  • How to find them and/or connect?

3. Feedback:

  • Why is feedback important?
  • Does your activity allow for it in some way?
  • How?
  • How do students receive or give feedback or comments?
  • How do we teach students about ‘good’ commenting?

4. Blogging: If you’re blogging with students…

  • How’s it going?
  • Share:
    ideas for posts
    how are you sharing and getting feedback/comments?
    What settings do you have in place currently on your blogs? (moderating, open for viewing/commenting

And finally, teachers reported out from these small group discussions. Throughout the meeting, I invited participants to utilize a room on TodaysMeet and the conversation there was rich as well.

Our next steps and things to ponder for the next meeting:

  • What support do you need?
  • What tools could we use to achieve this goal?
  • How can WE collaborate and continue to share ideas and support one another toward meeting the goal?

Overall, there are fabulous things happening in this school and we have an amazing faculty. I was so impressed by what teachers were sharing and the level of discussion and commitment. I have the opportunity to facilitate a similar meeting next week with our grades 3-8 faculty. I can’t wait!

Image credit: Creative Commons/flickr  by orkomedix   http://flic.kr/p/6APyZo

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We’re off to a busy start this school year. Here’s how I’ve been spending some of my time:

I’ve been getting three different carts of iPads ready for use. Two are in our preK-2 building and the other is for a new extended day program for middle schoolers. Getting to know Apple’s Configurator and trouble-shooting why things aren’t working in a logical manner has been quite time-consuming! The final cart is almost ready and now we’re making sure iOS 6 gets installed. It wasn’t great timing from Apple for us!

I recently assisted a French teacher to assist her with a Voicethread project. Her students each created their own Voicethread with an image of somewhere they either went this summer or wish they had visited. They then recorded themselves describing, in French, various elements of that trip, real or imaginary. Once that was complete, they each had to leave comments for one another, also in French. They turned out well. I’d share one here, but need to get permission from students first.

I’ve worked with a middle school math teacher whose team is a pilot group using Edmodo. We co-taught classes to discuss Codes of Conduct for Edmodo or any other online experiences. A fellow teacher on Twitter helped me find some great resources to get started with Edmodo.I also helped a para-educator who runs a middle school literature group set up Kidblog for the group and again went over Codes of Conduct for using Kidblog and other online tools.

More and more teachers are exploring the idea of blogging using Kidblog. I’ve just ordered copies of “Making Connections with Blogging” to share with other teachers. I attended a session at ISTE this summer facilitated by Lisa Parisi and Brian Crosby, the authors of this book. It’s a great introduction to blogging and includes elements about setting it up, establishing expectations, ideas for posts, and much more. I highly recommend it.

My previous post was about an initiative that our middle school teachers are tackling. They had their Curriculum Night this week with parents. I gathered ideas from my PLN for a document about the rationale for publishing to a larger audience and it was shared that evening.

I teach third and fourth graders each week and this year I’m using Common Sense Media‘s Digital Passport as one tool with those students. It has already opened up many incredible conversations with the students! I got this resource from Richard Byrne’s Free Tech for Teachers site via a tweet.

Last week I had the pleasure of spending a day with other technology integrators and teachers doing some professional development around Flipped PD. It was nice to get some PD myself rather than providing it for others. I look forward to exploring Camtasia Studio some more as a tool for this endeavor.

Also this week I met with participants from the summer course I facilitated about Becoming a Connected Educator. We’re officially required to spend an additional 6 hours together. The biggest challenge is finding common time! We met this week in two separate groups. The group decided that for our next ‘gathering’ we’d have our own Twitter chat. Hopefully that will help everyone feel more comfortable with the idea and logistics of chats. Other members of our PLNs are welcome to help out and participate too. We’re still determining the date and time.

The week ahead is exciting too. I’ll be attending Vita-Learn’s One-to-One School Conference. I look forward to a day of learning and connecting with other Vermont educators. Then I leave Thursday after school to travel to Philadelphia for PLPLive! I will attend a tweet-up that evening and spend Friday connecting with other educators. I have been invited to be a part of one presentation, along with a colleague. There will undoubtedly be a blog post about PLPLive coming soon.

All in all, things are busy and challenging. There are many more things that pop up each day that haven’t been shared in this post, but you get the idea. A common theme in all of this for me? I couldn’t do much of what I do without my PLN. The resources and support provided for me by members who I see locally or connect with in the broader sense are invaluable, inspiring, and amazingly helpful. Thank you PLN!

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We’ve completed two of three days of our “Becoming a Connected Educator” course at school.Working with these fascinating and smart friends, colleagues, and amazing teachers is so fun. I’m able to learn alongside them and marvel at the reflection and dialogue amongst the group.

After two days the teachers are now on Twitter, using Hootsuite, have Diigo accounts and have joined and are sharing bookmarks to our Diigo group for the class. They’re reaching out to connect with others, finding educators to follow, and reflecting on their learning on a shared Google site.

Today we used a Google Hangout to have a conversation with Peter Skillen (@peterskillen) and Brenda Sherry (@brendasherry). I met both of them online via my work with PLP this past year. They supported me in my learning and have continued to do so. We met face to face at ISTE and they said they’d collaborate with me in my work with this class. True to their word, they shared ideas and thoughts about being connected with the group this morning. They are fabulous people and wonderful educators and I can’t thank them enough.

Our group checked out the #edchat at noon today. I assumed we’d lurking and talk about the experience, figuring out how to navigate the rapid flow of tweets that run on and on. Instead, many in the room contributed their thoughts, retweeted, and continued the conversation about homework face to face. What a group!

Later in the day we talked about blogging and especially blogging with students. Many teachers set up accounts with kidblog.org and are exploring ways to use that tool effectively with students. I wonder how many will keep their blogs open for viewing and commenting by a global audience. That’s often an area of discomfort for many of us. Writing for an audience that includes more than the teacher is so powerful.

Tomorrow we ponder the beginning of the school year and what being connected, to whatever extent we are at that point, looks like for us as educators and with our students.

It’s going well. There’s so much more to this journey. All of it requires patience, acceptance that getting connected is a process that doesn’t happen overnight, and building community locally and beyond.


Image: Creative Commons/flickr by Frank2216 http://flic.kr/p/aiGJbc

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