Tech Teacher of the Year Award

This year was the inaugural year for a Tech Teacher of the Year award at our school.  It was decided that the winner would receive new classroom furniture.  Luckily, our school PTSA was very generous and found this to be a good cause, so they offered to fund a second classroom with new furniture.  We were able to award two teachers this year.  Teachers were asked to nominate a colleague and students were asked to nominate a teacher if they qualified for one or more of the following criteria to be this year’s Tech Teacher of the Year!

  1. Creativity and innovation in the classroom through use of technology
  2. Shows growth in his or her teaching through use of technology
  3. Commitment to digital citizenship and information literacy
  4. Commitment to life-long learning
  5. Vision for the future of technology in his or her classroom

In a 1:1 environment, you have to think a lot more about the devices you get, the software you put on the devices and the training you provide.  There are countless infrastructure considerations that must be made as well.  While things like wifi/internet access must be made a top priority, classroom furniture is sometimes overlooked or deemed as a project to get to down the road because it can be put on the back burner.

old student deskWhy does classroom furniture matter?

Take an older style chair and desk combo for example (image to right).  These desks currently make up many of our classrooms.  Our students have tablet PCs that take up a large portion of the desk space.  There is little room to have anything else on the desk, not to mention they constantly fall off the desk if the desks are bumped or students walking up and down the isle are wearing a book bag and accidentally bump into another student’s tablet.  Obviously these desks are not conducive to a tablet environment, but they also don’t lend themselves to a collaborative, creative working space either (2 of the 4 Cs of a 21st century classroom).

As a technology department, we felt it was important to focus on revamping the current classroom setup for teachers and students to take full advantage of our tablet program.  The new desks will be longer and wider and will allow for group work to be done much easier.  Chairs will be separated from the desks.   We worked with School Outfitters to order the new furniture;  they’ve been really helpful, and I highly recommend them if your school is in the market for new furniture.

A BIG congratulations to John Norman and Michelle Semancik as this year’s TTOTY winners!

Norman has really pushed himself this year to try new things and enhance his teaching.  Norman has implemented many new technology tools into his teaching repertoire this year, including voice recordings in his PowerPoint presentations so students who were absent or on retreats could get caught up on his lectures from home, to completely transforming a long standing senior project to include a classroom wiki, Google forms, and different web tools of students’ choosing.  Norman was very dedicated to his own learning this year and attended almost every Lunch & Learn as well as had many one on one meetings with me to see how he could best implement technology into his teaching.  With more than 30 years of teaching experience, Norman is a great example of continuously striving to improve himself, his teaching and his students!

Semancik is constantly working to learn and grow, her own personal motto and resolution this year.  Semancik always actively attends and participates in technology professional development and it is clear that she takes what she learns and applies it to her classroom.  Sometimes skeptical at first, she closely evaluates and tests new technology before implementing it into her lessons.  She served as the social studies PLC leader this year, and worked with her department to figure out a way to include more educational games and simulations into their teaching, while also including meaningful assessment.  Semancik fully embraced Schoology this year, including many discussions boards and assignment submissions in all units.  She frequently uses Twitter to extend her classroom culture outside of the school day, find resources and connections for her own PLN and support the Academic Team. Through microfinance organization Kiva and the help of technology, Semancik has connected her students with people all over the world to help alleviate poverty through monetary lending, rather than direct donations.  These are only a few examples of the many ways Semancik utilizes technology and web tools in her teaching. It is exciting to watch Semancik constantly challenge herself, her teaching and her students through effectively implementing technology into her classroom!

Thank you to all of our teachers for continuously working to learn new systems and tools to use in your teaching! A special thank you to all of our 19 nominees, John and Michelle for doing something extra (or many extra things) to be noticed as taking full advantage of our tablet program.  And of course, a special thanks to PTSA for funding a second classroom with new furniture.

How do you think classroom furniture and setups contribute to a 1:1 or BYO environment? How do you recognize teachers in your building for their effective use of technology in the classroom?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

Lunch & Learn: Teachers Spotlight EdTech Successes

April marked the last of this years monthly Lunch & Learns, where teachers were invited to bring their lunch to the library during their lunch bell on a designated Thursday each month.  I wanted the last session to spotlight some teachers throughout the building, and allow them to present some of their edtech success stories.  I’m happy to say that I had trouble narrowing it down to 4-5 teachers from each lunch bell!

lunch and learn informationTeacher presenters ranged from 5 to 40 years of experience teaching, and the tools they presented on also ranged in tech-ability level. I asked teachers to answer the following questions in an 8-10 minute presentation of the tool.

  • What was the activity/project and how did you decide on having students use this particular tech tool? How was this different than the traditional project/activity you previously used? How would you change the project for future use?
  • How much were you involved with setting up the technology portion of the project for students? How long did it take? How difficult was it?
  • What were the results? How did this improve/enhance student learning? How did the students respond?
  • If there is an opportunity to quickly interact with your tech tool, I’d like to do that with the teachers.

I filmed each of the teachers’ presentations and uploaded them into the corresponding Lunch & Learn resource folder on Schoology.  Teachers asked the presenters a lot of questions, and there was a lot of great brainstorming going on.  I know some teachers have already implemented some of these tools after seeing them presented at the Lunch & Learn.  A brief summary of each of the highlighted tools are below.

Word track changes/review tools– Word has a handy feature that allows you track your and student changes, add comments and more. This is a great way to grade papers, so your students can easily see all your comments and suggested changes. It’s also a great way to see peer-editing progress.

Screencasting– Screencasting records whatever you’re doing on your screen and you can also record your voice giving instructions. Screencast-o-matic (screencasting tool) allows you to download your video to your computer or upload your video to the their website or YouTube and share the link with anyone.

VoiceThread– VoiceThread is like an audio discussion board. You can upload a picture or even a PowerPoint presentation and record your voice over each slide. Students can create audio comments on each slide too. Both you and the students also have an inking option that is recorded/played back as you speak as well.

Weebly– Weebly allows you and your students to create websites/portfolios. It is an extremely easy platform to use. There is also a blog feature. You can manage your students sites and they can be password protected.

Symbaloo– Symbaloo is a visual bookmarking site. It’s an easier way to keep track of all your favorites and website resources for students.

Kahoot!– Kahoot is an awesome, interactive, quiz game. It’s similar to a BDubs trivia game; the less time you take to answer the questions, the more points you get. You can download the results to see what each student answered, how much time they took, etc. It’s really easy to set up and the kids LOVE it!

Wikispaces– Wikispaces has a great educational side to their wiki platform. Wikis are a great place for students to complete group work because you can track all the changes they make and students can work on the wiki from anywhere-they don’t have to be together. They have a project side to the wiki that allows you to put students into groups, and only those students have access to their group pages.  Wikispaces was highlighted at a Lunch & Learn earlier in the year and caught this teacher’s eye to implement.

Blogs– Our creative writing teacher showed off her student created blogs in WordPress and how she manages them.

Minecraft– Our Latin teacher talked about how letting his students use a tool they were comfortable with (and he was not) transformed an okay project into a really awesome experience. His students researched important buildings and places in Roman/Latin history.  Previously they had to create the building out of a clay, a diagram, a drawing, etc.  He allowed his students to use Minecraft and was blown away by the detail they were able to put into their creations.

Read about all the Lunch & Learns this year by clicking here. How do you spotlight teachers and encourage teachers from different subject areas to engage in conversations about best practices together?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

E-waste Recycling Poster Contest for #Digcit Day

As part of our school-wide Digital Citizenship Day on February 24th, all science classes had a research/poster contest (special thanks to one of our science teachers-Lauren Wulker- for the idea!).  The students were given a reading prompt and some guiding questions over the weekend and returned to DigCit day on Monday to talk about responsible disposal and recycling of electronic waste. The end goal is that the top poster(s) will be displayed somewhere in the building with a place to recycle electronic products like batteries and cell phones.

ewaste digcit contest

Students were able to team up with a couple of their classmates or work alone on their posters.  They were also allowed to create a poster on any material they wanted- poster board, electronic, etc.  Most chose to create theirs on an actual poster board or paper.  They were displayed in the library and teachers came in Tuesday and Wednesday to vote on their top three favorites.

I was so impressed by the results!  The following pictures are just the top 4-5 posters from each teachers’ classes.

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The top three winning teams received a pizza lunch from LaRosa’s.  And the winners are…(drum roll please)…

How do you promote the responsible disposal and recycling of electronic waste is your school?

Tech To You Later!
Katie

5 Edtech Tools in 5 Minutes: Episode 5

With our school-wide Digital Citizenship Day, February was a little crazy and I never got around to making a 5 in 5 episode for February. Now that things have calmed down, I can resume making the monthly 5 in 5 screencasts, which highlight 5 edtech tools teachers can use with students in 5 minutes (okay you caught me-less than six minutes!). By no means are these five minute episodes a comprehensive overview of the tools, but it should be enough to let you know what the tool is, what it can do, and if it’s worth your time looking into and learning more about.

5_in_5This episode features the following tools:

  1. Big Huge Labs
  2. Kahoot!
  3. Pinterest
  4. Visuwords
  5. Piktochart

For the videos, the Prezis, Diigo links to all the sites featured in the episodes and more, visit my website. If you don’t want to miss another episode, subscribe to the iTunes podcast channel here.

Tech To You Later!
Katie

Facilitating PD in my PJs: Moderating my First Twitter Chat

Tonight I had the pleasure of moderating my first Twitter chat: #1to1techat (1:1 teacher chat).  This has been my favorite Twitter chat, professional development, and weekly motivation for a long time now.  I was flattered when Shaelynn Farnsworth asked me if I wanted to moderate this week.

You can check out the archive of #1to1techat on 2/19 by clicking here.

Before I answered her, I got very nervous. What if I didn’t have a good answer to someone’s question? It only took me a few minutes to calm down and realize, she wasn’t asking me to be an expert at anything.  The beauty of a Twitter chat is that it is a bunch of educators and practitioners coming together to exchange their expertise, brainstorm and bounce ideas off one another. I’m sure someone learned a thing or two from me, but I bet I learned the most from everyone else!

If you’ve participated in a Twitter chat before, you get the benefits.  If not, don’t worry-they happen every week day, so you have time to see it for yourself.

#1to1techatA Twitter chat is the easiest, most affordable (free!) and convenient way to connect with other educators across your state, the country, and even the world.  You use a program like TweetDeck, or even the Twitter search feature, and follow the chat by setting up a column (or searching) the designated hashtag (in this case, it was #1to1techat) at a specific time.  They usually last an hour.  A moderator poses questions to facilitate the conversation, and you- as a participant- include the designated hashtag in all tweets to keep it in the stream for others to see and respond to.  Twitter chats are like the best faculty room/hallway conversations and brain storm session you’ve ever had… on steroids!

“…until you look at Twitter, you won’t realize the sheer volume of conversations that are happening without you… It was kind of scary and awe-inspiring at the same time: the education world had been going on without us, and it was going really fast.”
Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters

Some Tips for Moderators and Things I Learned Along the Way:

  • I invited some individuals, (Twitter) lists of people, and  other common hashtags/chats to join us. The more people that are involved-the more fulfilling the conversations!
  • I had my questions pre-typed and double checked for the 140 character limit. This made it a lot easier to copy & paste the questions from a Google Doc (which I was also able to easily share with Shaelynn for feedback prior to the chat).
  • I used TweetDeck on my Mac to keep track of everything going on during this fast paced chat. I had multiple columns dedicated to the chat based on replays, RTs, favorites, etc.
  • I kept a notepad and pen near by to jot down any new tools, sites and go-to gurus that I want to investigate after the chat. HAH! I did not write one thing down because I didn’t have time. I’ll have to go back through and re-read the tweets and check out the archive.
  • Chats go fast and it’s easy to lose track of which question you’re on or what the question is.  After participating in #NTchat (new teacher chat-another inspiring chat) a couple of times, I borrowed Lisa Dabbs idea of pointing out the question as the moderator like so,
    —>Q1: question here. #hashtag.”
  • As hard as it will be, pay attention to time. I got caught up in conversations and didn’t leave as much time for some questions as I’d have liked.

Overall, I’d say it went pretty well. Well after the hour was up, people hung around to keep talking and sharing ideas (no thanks to me, but rather the people who participated and shared their experiences and ideas). When is the last time you were a part of “sit & get” PD where teachers weren’t looking at the clocks and ready to race out the second it was over? When was the last time people were actually bummed PD was over already?!  All of these people will continue to check out the ideas and tools shared on Twitter and implement them into their own classrooms to improve their instruction/facilitation.

This is the power of twitter chats, my friends!

Have you participated in a Twitter chat before? What did you think? What tips do you have for moderators?  What are some of your favorite Twitter chats?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

Experts in the Trenches: Teacher Led EdTech PD

This year I decided to implement a new plan for teacher edtech PD to try to accommodate their schedules as best as possible.  I came up with the monthly Lunch & Learn idea, and so far it’s gone over pretty well!

Word cloud of teachers' pre-survey respopnses about what features they currently use in DyKnow

Word cloud of teachers’ pre-survey responses about what features they currently use in DyKnow

Today was our January session. We focused on revisiting DyKnow, which is very versatile software that we have on all student and teacher tablet PCs. Most notably, DyKnow allows teachers to view and “monitor” students’ tablet PCs in real time and control (or “block”) which student applications they choose for that particular lesson. It does a lot more than monitor and block, though. Our teachers were all trained on this software a while ago, but haven’t received “formal” training as a refresher in a while.  It’s always good to refresh!

This Lunch & Learn session was called DyKnow: More than Monitoring and Blocking.

I asked one of our experts in the trenches, math teacher Jack Kaniecki, to take the lead during this session because he uses a lot of the interactive features with his students on a regular basis.  He did an incredible job, and I wish I had thought far enough in advance to video record this session for those teachers who were unable to make it.  Duly noted for next time.

Prior to this session, Jack and I met a couple times to discuss what he would show the teachers.  He taught me a couple new things about DyKnow during these demo sessions- thanks, Jack!

As always, I started out by sharing with teachers the results of their pre-survey, so they know why I chose to highlight certain features.  To see those results and the Prezi that was used during the presentation, click here.

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.  Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.
Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

I made a Lunch & Learn class in DyKnow and added Jack as the instructor.  I made six new student accounts and added each “student” to the new course in DyKnow.  Teachers teamed up with at least one other teacher to use the tablet PCs that were already set out and logged into DyKnow as one of the six new “students” and took on the role of students in Jack’s classroom. Jack was able to show his teacher view on one projector screen and interact with the “students,” just like he would on a normal day.  While interacting with one another, Jack walked them through how to do/set up each task. I had set up a resource folder in our Schoology PD Course ahead of time with links to instructions and videos for each of the tasks preformed during the Lunch & Learn (and then some), so teachers can refer back to them at a later date. While Jack had his tablet PC projected on one screen, I had the Prezi with the corresponding how-to instructions up on another screen.

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.  Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.
Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Between the two of us (mostly Jack) and some input from other teachers, we went over how to use the following features: filter URLs; submit, collect, grade, send back and retrieve students’ panels; send polls; use the “private ink” to avoid writing over students’ work; embed a web page on a panel; place students in groups and work on group panels; and the chat feature- whew!  I haven’t checked out the results to the post-survey yet, but judging from the interaction, engagement, and “ohh’s!” from the teachers, I’d say it was a pretty successful Lunch & Learn.

I definitely plan to utilize more teachers in future edtech PD sessions, especially after todays session seemed to have gone over so well. After all, they are the experts of their content area in the trenches with the students day in and day out!

If you’re interested on other Lunch & Learns I’ve put together, click here.

How do you utilize and encourage teachers to lead edtech PD sessions at your school? If you use DyKnow at your school, please share your favorite feature by commenting on this post.

Tech To You Later!
Katie

Backwards EdTech Flow Chart

I’m a very visual person, so naturally I’m drawn to charts, diagrams and anything that I can look at and understand.  I’ve made a couple other charts to help people pick technology tools based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and web tools by category.  I’m particularly proud of this new chart that I’ve been working on for quite some time!

Backwards EdTech Flow Chart

Click this image for the full version!

I truly believe technology enhances the classroom, but I never think it should be used just for the sake of using it.  This is another visual I created to help teachers select the right technology tool for the job. I hope it helps you think backwards (or rather the “right” way) to think about selecting a technology tool to use in your class.

It starts by asking what you want students to do, and then you pick a goal, such as explain a concept.  Follow the diagram until you either reach a list of tech tools to help you or your students complete this task or you reach a prompting question, such as “do you need them to do this verbally?” Based on your yes or no answer, you’ll finally come to a list of edtech tools.  All the tools found on the web are hyperlinked.

If you’re not a visual person like myself, scroll to the second page that is just a list of the goals  and all the corresponding links (no prompting questions).

For this, the Bloom’s and the web 2.0 by category chart, visit my website!

What tools or goals would you add to the chart?

Tech To You Later!
Katie

Collaboration in the Classroom: Teacher PD

The second session of my Lunch & Learn series took place today.  It was the session I was most looking forward to in the whole series- Collaboration in the Classroom: Tools for Student Collaboration!  This session focused on Google Docs, Linoit, Skype and Wikispaces.

As always, I began with a pre-survey of teachers’ current use.  I asked for three pieces of information to plan the 50 minute sessions.

  1. Describe what collaboration looks like in your classroom.student collaboration
  2. What tools do you currently use for student collaboration?
  3. What do you hope to get out of this session?

I made word clouds in Tagxedo out of the first two questions, which I included in the Prezi for the session to share their responses.

collaboration in the classroom teacher pdBased on feedback from the first session, I wanted this session to allow more time for teachers to get their hands dirty and use the tools.  So I started out with a brief introduction, and then had them dive right in!  I had Tablet PCs set up all around tables, each labeled with the tool set up and signed in on that machine.  Beforehand, I had created multiple accounts to be used during this session (three accounts for Google Docs to simulate three students, etc.), so we didn’t have to waste time creating accounts, logging in, and getting set up.

Teachers had about 20-25 minutes to explore the tool in front of them with a few other people in their group (“tasks” for each tool are listed at the bottom of this post under each tool). I walked around to help groups when needed, but for the most part teachers were really able to just dive right in and start exploring. There was even a person across the library, so the Skype group could actually practice Skyping.

We came together for the last 15 minutes of the session, and I asked each group to share what they had found out about their tool.  I filled in the blanks to make sure the big points were touched on.  If I had more time I definitely would have rotated each group, so they could have all tested each tool before coming back together to share.  So far, the post-survey responses seem to be in agreement that teachers would have liked more time on this topic and they all learned something they will apply to their classes- YAY! I heard a lot of “let’s meet to set this up for my class…,” which is music to my ears!

I provided resources for each tool in our PD Course in Schoology for reference at a later time.  I’ve included some of that info below (with the exception of links to our practice examples).  I also gave teachers all the test account log in information, so they could play around with it on their own if they wanted to do so before diving in and setting up their own accounts.

Google Docs
What to do:

  • Edit the email document
    • Use the chat feature
  • Add info to spreadsheet
    • Find sum and average years of teaching experience
  • Add a slide to a presentation
    • Make a comment on a slide
  • Create new Google Doc
    • Share it

Google Drive home
Google Docs in Plain English
Google Docs Tour
Tips Every Teacher Should Know About
Google Drive/Docs Help
Sync Google Docs with Schoology

Linoit
What to do:

  • Post idea for using Linoit with students or coworkers
  • Send post by email
  • Post a picture or video

Linoit Home
Sign Up for Linoit
Linoit How To
Tips, Tricks & Ideas for the Classroom
50 Ways to Use Linoit in the Classroom

Skype
What to do:

  • Video call other Skype Team
  • Do a Mystery Skype
    • Use the location in the Mystery Skype folder to answer questions
  • Find a lesson or guest speaker from the Skype in Edu website you could use/bring to your class

Skype in Education
How Do I Join Skype?
Download Skype
See Skype in Action
50 Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom

Wikispaces
What to do:

  • Participate in the discussion on the home page
  • Access team page and add to the table
  • Make a new team page
    • Add “Widget” to new page
  • Edit About McN page
    • Add a fact
    • Make a comment

Wikispaces Home
Wikis in Plain English
50 Ways to Use Wikis
Wikispaces Help
Getting Started with a New Wiki

To check out the Prezi that describes and highlights each tool, click here.

What do you think of this format?  How have you used these tools in your class?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

Twitter Professional Development for Teachers

So I’m a little late with my blog post about this PD, but better late than never!

The Twitter PD I put on for teachers was broken up into four parts (Understanding Twitter, Creating an Account and Beginning, Classroom Uses, and Building Your PLN) over three weeks.   Teachers were given objectives for each of the four parts that had to be approved by myself or the Director of Technology and then turned in to the Principal by the end of the three weeks to hold everyone accountable.

twitter-bird-white-on-blueResources for all four parts were loaded into our LMS (was Edline at the time, not we’ve moved to Schoology).  Each “part” included links to other websites, articles, blog posts, and basic tasks to complete on Twitter.  All the resources I used can be found on my website by clicking here.

Teachers could work on their own to complete the objectives during the two weeks leading up to the faculty meeting.  At the faculty meeting teachers were broken up into stations based on their level of knowledge or by which of the four stages they had not yet completed.  If a teacher had already completed all of their objectives by the  faculty meeting, they were allowed to leave when we got to the Twitter portion of the meeting. If they did not finish by the time the meeting was over, they still had one week to complete all the objectives.

I was thrilled by the amount of teachers who admitted to finding a use for Twitter (whether for themselves or with their students) after the PD.  Of course, there were still teachers who felt skeptical or chose not to use Twitter, but they at least understand Twitter now.  Every little bit to connect ourselves as educators and to meet the students “where they are” with interactive activities is a step in the right direction.

I’ll leave you with something I heard at ISTE13,

We must prepare students for their future, not our past!

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

Twitter Contest: Digital Learning Day 2013

Yesterday was a fabulous day of Twitter chats, webinars, live chats, and resource sharing: Digital Learning Day 2013.  Being a 1:1 school, I thought we have to do something to celebrate this day! In the midst of a crazy time of year at our school, I put together a Twitter contest.

This flyer was displayed throughout the building to promote the contest.

Our students could tweet any time during DLDay about their education experience with technology using #MCNDLD. Each time a student tweeted, they were entered into a drawing to win lunch for them and three of their friends from Chipotle, Jersey Mikes or Skyline (winner’s choice).  While some students thought this was a “trap” to check on their Twitter feeds, many participated and we had a great amount of participation!  The Storify feed was displayed in the library all day for students to read what other students had to say.

Some teachers even incorporated the #MCNDLD hashtag into their lessons.  We hoped we would become a local trending topic, but no such luck.  All and all, it was a fun day for everyone. Please feel free to comment on this post to tell me about what you did for DLDay!

Check out what our students had to say by clicking here.

Tech to You Later!
-Katie