20 Ways to Use ThingLink in Education

When I first learned about ThingLink late last summer, I was immediately impressed. My mind started racing about all the ways that ThingLink could be used by teachers, students and even beyond the classroom. If you’re not familiar with ThingLink, it makes images interactive. How do you make an image interactive? You upload a still image to ThingLink, and then you can add little icons on top of the image. Those icons become hyperlinks to other web media- websites, articles, videos, sound clips, and much more. Not only can you link to external content, but students can type their own responses onto an icon. I’ve embedded a ThingLink featured example by Molly below, so you can see it in action.

Now tell me that isn’t AWESOME?!

So, now that you’re hooked, what are some of the ways you could use ThingLink in your classroom? I’ve just included the tip of the iceberg below; the ideas are truly endless.

  1. Have students create one for a summative assessment in place of a typical test.
  2. Use a book cover image and have students include links about the book, characters, plot, etc. for an end of book project.
  3. Use the image of a map, and include links with information about the area, like this one, or this one, or this one.
  4. Use an image of a person or character and include links about their life and their important contributions to history or the topic being covered.
  5. Include an image of a body system and include links about how it works. For example, the skeletal system.
  6. Foreign language teachers (or ESL/ELL classrooms) could use an image of a familiar scene, like a family cooking in the kitchen, and include links to recorded sound clips about what’s going on in each part of the picture in the language being studied.
  7. Create a “getting to know you” ThingLink using a group photo and include links to teacher’s websites, bios about seniors for senior night, etc.
  8. Use it as a beginning of the year/course ice breaker by having students upload a picture of themselves and including links to content that describes them and things they like. Students can comment on one another’s published ThingLinks.
  9. Search the database of ThingLinks others have created and shared to see if there’s already something out there you can use.
  10. Create an entire lesson in one ThingLink, by including links to sound clip instructions, video content and links to assignments or quizzes.  See a great example here.
  11. Use the image of a book cover and include a video link to the book trailer to preview the book before reading it.
  12. Scan and upload an image of a worksheet, and include links to videos and websites that will help them solve the problems/answer the questions if they get stuck.
  13. Have students create a portfolio by linking to their work in all other webtools you use in class: blog posts, videos they created, scanned images or pictures of non-digital work.
  14. Depending on how big your school is, you could create and upload a map of your school. Then include a link over each classroom to information about that teacher, like their Twitter handle, class website, class LMS page(s), a written bio right in ThingLink, a recorded welcome sound clip from that teacher, etc.
  15. Create an image collage, upload it to ThingLink and then include links about each image. For example, you could create a collage of different geographic land forms like this one.
  16. Upload a picture of the periodic table of elements and include a link to a video or information about each element (or the ones you’re studying at the time). Sort of like the Periodic Videos site.
  17. Include links to videos demonstrating how to preform certain skills, like this push up example.
  18. Upload an image of your school and include links to information and videos about your school: clubs and activities you offer, your mission statement, academic offerings, promotional videos, and more. Then embed it on your school’s website!
  19. Put a twist on Friday’s current events discussion by asking students to not only find an article, but find an image that relates to their chosen event/topic, upload it to ThingLink, include a link to the original article as well as other links, videos, etc. that relate to the article and what you’re studying in class. You could even ask the students to include a link to an audio recording of themselves discussing their current event.
  20. Create instructions for a new website, device, or process like this one.

One of the things I like the most about this tool, is that no matter the project or access to technology, you can incorporate ThingLink into your class. You, as the teacher, could create one that students will use to preview/review information or complete an assignment. Students could work in groups or on their own to create one, depending on their access to technology and devices inside and outside of the classroom. If you have very little access to technology in your classroom and you still want students to create their own, you could assign individual students or groups pieces of the project to research and prepare. Then have the groups take turns adding their links to the full class ThingLink image. As you can see with how all over the board these ideas are, there are so many ways you could use this tool in an educational environment.

How are you using ThingLink with your students and in your schools? If you’re using it, please share a link to an example in the comments.

Tech To You Later!


Learning to Drive

In February, our district will begin state testing.  Once testing begins, there will be at least one grade level in at least one school in our district testing every single school day until May.  This big span of time marks the third round of testing this year. We are not alone. Toss that around in your head for a minute or two.

I’ll spare you my soap box about too much testing and where the focus has gone in education; you likely feel the same way (if you’ve got some time, or you’re just as passionate as I am about these issues, I do suggest you head on over to Nancy Chewning’s blog response to TIME Magazine’s Rotten Apples article that was featured in the Washington Post).  However, it is worth mentioning for the point of this blog post that with so much time dedicated to state testing, which influences districts’ report cards and teachers’ evaluations, there obviously becomes a heavy focus on testing and preparing students for the test.

Teachers are working so hard not to teach to the test, while at the same time making sure students are as prepared as possible for the tests- the scores of which will directly impact their own livelihoods.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions the past few months for websites that teachers can use with students to help them practice the PARCC tests and the digital skills needed for these tests. Many students in our district have had very little experience with technology outside of the school building. Even inside the buildings teachers have to share carts, so it is possible for students not to use any devices for a day or more at a time. Teachers and administrators want students to practice skills like typing, using the trackpads, dragging and dropping, typing in text boxes, etc., so they are prepared for test day since they have had such limited experience with these skills. Many have asked for practice test sites, which mirror the actual tests in order to practice these digital test skills.

I wholeheartedly agree that students should be exposed to these types of activities before seeing it for the first time on a high-stakes test. But I do not think students should be practicing these skills alone, with the exception of learning to keyboard initially.

Take the following example. When you learned to drive, you learned what to do at a traffic light: red means stop, yellow means slow down (or speed up for some lead-footed folks), and green means go. You did not have to practice driving in a new city before you could actually drive there and navigate those traffic lights, right? You now apply your traffic light knowledge when you approach all traffic lights, even though they may not be on the exact streets where you initially learned to drive.traffic light

If I am creating a digital learning environment for my students to the best of my ability and with the resources available to me, at the very least they will have experience with text boxes, dragging and dropping, using a trackpad and more. If I’m a math teacher, I can create lessons where students are measuring the angles of a baseball field using a protractor and other digital manipulatives. If I’m an English teacher, I can have students use the TextHelp Study Skills add-on in Google Docs to highlight certain parts of speech in certain colors to practice using a highlighting tool. These examples would give students real experience using those specific tools on a regular basis- not just experience using them on a practice test question inside of a practice test.

Students will learn digital test skills when they are infused in instruction; those skills do not need to be practiced in isolation. When students are familiar with digital tools and skills in your classrooms, they will be able to navigate and use the tools on any assessment- even if they look slightly different. After all, we still know what to do at street lights when the colors are slightly brighter or more dull, the posts in which they hang on are higher or lower than what we’re used to, or the traffic lights are hung on a street post near the sidewalk or above the street, correct? Our memory recall kicks into action and processes what to do at the lights, even when they are slightly different from our own home towns. The same thing goes for using digital tools on assessments if we use them in daily/frequent classroom activities and then see them on an assessment.

We learn through experience. We apply what we know. We adapt when necessary.

So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me about practicing “digital test skills?”

Tech To You Later!

#DigCit Day for High School Students

Now that our school’s Digital Citizenship (DigCit) day is right around the corner, plans are really starting to fall into place.  I haven’t been this excited for something in a while-and it’s for work!  That’s how I know I’m in the right field :).

the-definition-of-digital-citizenshipIf you’re wondering what exactly is digital citizenship right now, I suggest you check out this article by Terry Heick on teachthought.com.  He does a great job explaining everything digital citizenship encompasses.  The picture definition to the left is from his blog post, and I think it is fabulous! There’s also an awesome infographic at the bottom of the post you have to check out, too.

We’ll be starting off the DigCit day with a presentation from Steve Smith with Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions.  Steve travels to local high schools and puts on a very informative presentation about living in a digital world, the dangers and the ramifications of a negative online presence.  I saw his presentation at another school around Thanksgiving, and I knew it would be a great introduction to our DigCit day! If you live in the Cincinnati area, you’ve got to bring him to your school.  Best part about this presentation- he does it for FREE!

In November, I presented the idea of a DigCit Day to the teachers at our faculty meeting.  We discussed different possibilities, and I asked them for their input on the day since they will be such a key part of the execution. The feedback I received showed a majority of the teachers were in favor of a full day session.  Once we’re finished with the Steve Smith assembly, students and teachers will proceed throughout the day with their normal class schedules (students will go to their regular classes with their regular teachers).  Each department has been designated to teach a certain area/topic related to digital citizenship. I tried my best to align topics to departments that fit with their content areas.  Teachers have been given the option to team teach their topic with their students if they feel more comfortable doing so. Topics by department are below.

  • English
    • Email Etiquette
    • Online Security & Privacy (information, passwords, and social media location check-ins)
  • Fine Arts
    • Copyright, Fair Use
    • Protecting Online creativity
    • Creative Commons
  • Foreign Language
    • Outside speakers coming to discuss the hiring process and how businesses check social media before hiring people. Speakers include recruiters from TQL, School Outfitters and hopefully, at least, one more person
  • Business/Tech
    • An extension of the Foreign Language department- more student centered
    • Hiring Process & ramifications w poor representation
    • Importance of keeping social media clean and your digital tattoo
    • Will look at some examples, including the storify I made, and check out their own profiles
  • Health & Gym
    • Abuse of Technology & the Effects on the Mind and Body (excessive video gaming, obesity, low self-esteem and depression from cyberbullying, etc.)
  • Math
    • Cyberbullying
    • T.H.I.N.K. before you “speak” (also part of the official logo for the day)
    • Upstanders vs bystanders
  • Religion
    • What does your online presence say about you (from the opinion of others) & your digital tattoo
    • “Selfies” & online affirmation
    • Sexting/snapchat
  • Science
    • Responsible disposal, recycling, and life-cycle of e-waste
  • Social Studies
    • Legal professionals/guest speakers will be talking to students about the legal Issues facing (cyber)bullying, sexting and child pornography- I’m still trying to nail down a few speakers for this area
  • SAIL (Special Accommodations for Identified Learners), Study Halls, Repeat lesson (ex. student has two math classes, so they would get the same lesson twice)
    • Our Librarian will be holding a separate section for these students in the library about website/digital content evaluation for research.
    • If a student runs into a situation with a third repeat session, they will be sent to an area they are missing

I’m going to make a paper “digital passport” that each student will receive during their first class.  Each subject area will have a place to stamp on the passport. This will help keep track of students and any double lessons.  I’ll be posting all of the lessons from each department after the day, but in the meantime click here to see some DigCit resources.

I’m currently in the process of meeting with each department to share the resources I’ve collected and finalize their plan/lesson for the day, together. I think it’s really important that the teachers decide on their final plan, since they’ll be the ones carrying it out. This allows them to take ownership for the day.

This week an anonymous survey was sent to all our students to gain some perspective on our population.  It asks questions about cyberbullying, sexting, online privacy, copyright, social media, parental involvement and more. I’m going to provide each department with the feedback that pertains to their DigCit area, so they can share the results with students on the day (students don’t know about the day/date yet-it’s going to be a surprise for them).

Digital Tattoos for students

Temporary (Digital) Tattoos for students using our school logo!

I also plan to hang some infographics (using student survey feedback) and other DigCit posters around the school. SPOILER ALERT: students are all going to be receiving a temporary, stick-on tattoo to represent their digital tattoo (to the right)! A HUGE thank you to our Librarian and Web Master, Anne Jones, for making this and two other official logos for the DigCit day! If you could see my draft of ideas (if you can even call it that) and the final products she came up with, it makes it even more impressive.  I’ll share the other two after the day; they’re even cooler!

After the DigCit Day with the students, I’m going to plan an informative parent session (maybe call it DigCit Night?). I’m hoping to get one teacher to volunteer from each subject area to talk to the parents about what their department did with the students. I also believe schools cannot fight the digital citizenship and social media battle on their own; parents need to be informed and allies to schools and teachers. We’ll provide parents with resources to talk to their kids about digital citizenship at the parent info session.

I’ve got a few other tricks and surprises up my sleeve for the day, but I’ll wait to share those.  Follow along with the progress and reflections about our DigCit Day on my blog with the DigCit Day tag.

So, with a few weeks left to finalize and plan, what am I forgetting? What tips and resources do you have to share? What must-do activities can you recommend? What do you think?

Tech To You Later!

Lunch & Learn: Teacher EdTech PD

Since October, I’ve been putting on monthly Lunch & Learn PD sessions for teachers.  December was dedicated to tests and quizzes in Schoology (our new school-wide LMS).

As usual, I shared the results of the pre-survey I send out to teachers a week before each session.  I use these surveys to see what teachers are already doing with the tool(s) we’ll be discussing at the Lunch & Learn and what they want to learn. I share the results for three reasons.  First, I want teachers to see why I’ve chosen to cover certain areas of the tools (based on their responses).  Secondly, I want teachers to see I am taking their input into consideration, so they will know I value their time and opinion.  Lastly, I want them to know where they stack up compared to their colleagues, and see that they are not alone if they aren’t a technology wiz.

lunch and learn teacher pdBefore we began learning anything, I had the teachers take a “pop-quiz.”  This six question quiz included one of each of the six question types you can add to a Schoology test/quiz (multiple choice, true/false, matching, fill in the blank, ordering and essay). It was truly more informative to highlight the question and answer options.  I also wanted them to experience the students’ perspective when taking a test/quiz.

Once they had become familiar with all the test/quiz options, we discussed the possibility of using the “test/quiz” feature for interactive and in-class assignments.

We quickly looked over question banks and how to grade the quizzes (questions that don’t grade themselves), and then they had the rest of the time to start building a quiz (or an assignment). As always, I wish we had a little more time so they could have gotten a full quiz (or assignment) built and saved into a question bank.

To check out my Prezi presentation for the Lunch and Learn, click here.  To read about October’s Schoology assignments and discussion boards L&L session click here; and to read about November’s collaboration in the classroom L&L session, click here.

How do you use your LMS’ test/quiz feature as interactive assignments?  What do you think of online quizzes?

Tech To You Later!

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!

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

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

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

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!

Untangling the Web: Perfect Summer Read

At the beginning of the week I purchased Steve Dembo and Adam Bellow’s Untangling the Web: 20 Tools to Power Up Your Teaching. I was so impressed by Bellow’s ISTE 2013 Keynote that I had to read his book, and I’m glad I did!

Untangling the Web: 20 Tools to Power Up Your TeachingDembo and Bellow give a detailed description of 20 web tools that any teacher could use in his or her classroom. I was already familiar with a handful of the tools mentioned in the book, but I still learned a great deal about each one of them. This is an excellent resource for any educator, whether they are new to technology in the classroom or an experienced edtech user! Best of all, you get a great sense of what each tool can do without feeling like you’re reading the entire Twilight series; the book is a very quick read!

My favorite aspect of this book is the versatility of each of these tools.  Scrolling through my Twitter feed and some of my favorite edtech online resources, I often feel like so much stuff is aimed at elementary and middle school students or iPad, Android, and mobile users.  Students at my school (grades 9-12) use Tablet PC’s (basically a laptop that you can write on the screen), so I can count any tools that stop at a tablet or mobile app out of our repertoire.  Every single web tool mentioned in the book can be used at any grade level and is intended for a computer, with many of them being mobile/app compatible!

This is the perfect book to read while you soak up the last of the summer sun before returning to school this fall.  It will leave you with tons of ideas to immediately incorporate into your teaching next year.  I’d love to hear what you thought of the book and how you plan to use some of the tools they featured.

Tech To You Later!

Tablet PC and Web 2.0 Tools for High School Students by Category

In the fall of last year, I created a Blooms Revised Taxonomy Technology Chart that I used with my faculty for PD.  Since then I have used that chart multiple times when I meet with teachers to help them incorporate technology into their lessons.  Looking at the chart I realized it’s probably overwhelming for someone who doesn’t know what each logo and tool is or what it does.

Tablet and Web 2.0 by CategoryI decided to make another chart that groups different technology tools together by category.  This way, teachers could look at the chart and easily convert a traditional classroom activity or report into using a technology tool.  For example, instead of taking class time to brainstorm as a group, teachers could tell students to brainstorm on the class lino board at home, and then they could discuss the ideas and get right to work as soon as class starts.  A teacher may never have heard of Lino before (hey, I hadn’t before ISTE 2013!), but by looking at this chart they would know it was a collaboration tool and could go from there.

Tablet and Web 2.0 by Category with clickable links to each site.

It’s only a start at organizing so many tech tools out there for the classroom.  If you know of some tools that would be worth adding or think an entirely different category of tools should be added, please comment on this post!  I’d love to take your suggestions and add them to the chart.

Tech To You Later!

ISTE 2013 Conference: 4 Days in 1 Post

ISTE2013I was fortunate enough to attend my first ISTE conference this year.  It was an awe inspiring, eye opening and often times an overwhelming experience.  I want to reflect on the sessions, posters and products I loved and the key takeaways I gained before the conference is, all too soon, a distant past. I’ll do my best to include links to resources and websites I gained at the conference. Warning: this is an extremely long post!

Jane McGonigal, Keynote

I’ll start with the opening keynote speaker, Jane McGonigal. She was AWESOME! She spoke about gaming in education.  I like to think of myself as pretty open to any technology that can enhance the learning process, and more importantly, any technology that can enhance the learning process that kids really enjoy!  However, I’ve also noticed that I can feel myself putting up a wall when people talk about gaming in the classroom.  McGonigal’s keynote truly inspired me to work with teachers to incorporate simulations into the classroom. Where a simulation may not be best fitted, to encourage teachers to use the “10 positive emotions” people love about games into their lessons. I have a photograph of Jane’s slide listing these 10 positive emotions in order below (joy, relief, love, surprise, pride, curiosity, excitement, awe & wonder, contentment, creativity).  These 10 emotions are one of my favorite and most applicable takeaways from the entire conference.

McGonigal Keynote ISTE 2013McGonigal also shared some eye opening data on the amount of gamers, hours gamers spend playing video games and the brain “on games.”  McGonigal shared two previous games she had a hand in making- they were truly impressive.  The first, Evoke, encouraged students to save the world.  The second, Find the Future, was a mission to get more young people in the New York Library.

If you know of some great secondary games/simulations for the classroom, please share them with me by commenting on this post.

Intel Education Spotlight

Later Monday, I attended the Intel Education corporate spotlight session called Lessons from the Field- 1:1 Computing in Action.  This inspiring presentation was led by Dyane Smokorowski, Darcy Grimes and Dr. Amy Lou Weems (each of which is the deserving recipient of the Teacher of the Year award in their respective states).  These three teachers highlighted different projects they have done in their own classrooms.

First up was Dr. Amy Lou Weems. She discussed a handful of resources that she uses in her home economics classes.

  • Planet Power
  • Seriously Amazing
  • Choose My Plate (lets the students see how healthy their habits are now, and then has them change their age to see how their habits need to change for the future)
  • Career Clusters from careertech.org to help the students shape their academic careers
  • The Jason Project
  • Students do different projects that incorporate many different subject areas- Interior design of a house, combines art, math, economics, design principles, etc.

Dr. Weems used practical web tools that helped shaped students educational pathways and tools they could use for the rest of their lives to ensure a healthful lifestyle.

Next up, was third grade teacher Darcy Grimes.  She spoke about the economics project she did with two other schools across North Carolina. Grimes and the other two teachers planned the project together and kept kids at the same pace.  Students were to create their own business and product or service in a small group with their classmates.

They were allowed to choose any device in the classroom to complete the different steps of the project.  Some devices worked better for one group’s plan, and some worked better for others.  When the project was finished they presented their businesses. But, not just to their own classmates.  All three schools video-conferenced, so the students could present to the other two classes as well.  Then students from all three classes had the opportunity to vote on their favorites and purchase the goods and services from any other business within the three classes.  Grimes, and the other two teachers involved, didn’t just tell their third grade students about economics and how the world is a big place where we all must work together.  Those third grade students from the mountains of North Carolina executed actual “global” collaboration and economics.

Lastly, we heard from Dyane Smokorowski about her middle school language arts students from Kansas. She talked to us about the idea of Recipes vs Relevance for students. I absolutely loved this correlation.

Recipe: Teacher provides students with an assignment, the exact template the final piece should be turned in (8 page paper, 12 pt. font, etc.), and all the steps to get there.  A recipe doesn’t teach students to think on their own, it teaches them how to follow instructions.

Relevance: Teaching students valuable, career readiness skills.  Using project based learning, where the teacher guides, but the students lead.  They fail at times, but that is part of the learning process and they learn from that, make corrections, and finally come to a solid conclusion/solution. 

The students in Smokorowski’s class have one large PBL experience every year.  This particular year, her students were creating video games about books they had read.  Students used Inkscape, similar to Adobe Illustrator (but free).

Dyane wanted to teach her students that Google isn’t the only way to find information; talking to a knowledgeable person can be just as enlightening as finding a great internet resource.  Students Skyped with experts from a university in Utah about different areas  of gaming and computer programming. Smokorowski’s students contacted a high school in California, and those students created any animated characters Smokorowski’s students needed for their games.  With a little outreach, these 8th grade students from Kansas were working with people in Utah and California- all student initiated!

To top off an already incredible project, the Kansas Department of Education and the Governor invited Smokorowski’s students to speak and present what they had done and learned.  The students put together and executed the presentation- not Smokorowski.  Absolutely incredible!

This session taught me that anything is possible as long as educators are inspired and still have the desire to do great things!  Teachers have to be willing to let go of all the control and not need a cookie cutter final project from students.

Intel Education Free Resources

With over 800 sessions at the conference, it was easy to miss something.  Luckily, I just happened to be walking by when this session was starting and popped in.  Julia Fischer, the Professional Development Strategist for Clarity Innovations, was presenting this session by Intel Education. She shared tons of free, online resources from Intel for teachers and educators.  I’ll link to them below.

Props to Intel for their commitment to providing free and awesome tools for teachers!

Digital Citizenship: A Crosswalk from Common Core to Core Curriculum

We heard from Gail Desler, Natalie Bernasconi and Kelly Mendoza in this interesting session.  Key takeaways from this session were about infusing digital citizenship lessons throughout every subject area multiple times throughout the year since technology can be found throughout the Common Core standards and students are faced with needing to make good, online decisions every day.  We need to teach our students to “be upstanders, not bystanders!”

Desler, Bernasconi and Mendoza have all played a role in the formation of the Digital ID Wiki, which contains an abundance of digital citizenship resources.  This wiki is going to come in handy when I begin to plan a digital citizenship day in the fall for our students.

The four foci of the wiki are:

  • (Students) Stepping Up- bullying awareness
  • Building Identities- Digital tattoos, how will you show up on Google?
  • Respecting Boundaries- Copyright, plagiarism, fair use
  • Protecting Privacy- Internet safety and privacy

They also discussed Common Sense Media and some of the cool things they offer.

(At one of the poster sessions, I found out the FTC will provide free digital citizenship resources to schools. I feel horrible, but I cannot remember the presenters or the name of the poster to credit sharing this valuable information. When I logged on to order some resources, I found there are great resources for Business and Health too.  We will also have the PDF versions of digital citizenship resources I ordered on our school’s website.  Order yours at https://bulkorder.ftc.gov.

Technology PD for the Truly Reluctant Poster

I absolutely loved this poster session by Rushton Hurley.  He shared some great ideas for teachers who are uncomfortable diving into technology- start small and build on that.

  • Let kids pick how they want to submit something- not everything needs to be a paper or a PowerPoint. Let’s take a video for example.
  • Start week one by telling the kids to research and choose a platform to make a video because “I may not know how to do it”.  Yes, it is okay to admit to kids that you, as the teacher, may not know how to use every tech tool out there.
  • Let kids work in groups on a video.  This way any student who may not know how to make a video will learn from his/her peers.
  • If a student truly does not want to make a video, give them the option to make a poster.  This is also a “safety net” to avoid any excuses on the due date.  Computer crashed- where’s your poster? File wouldn’t convert- where’s your poster? Link is broken to view video- where’s your poster?  You get the idea.
  • Have a script (content) check half way through the project.  This will allow you to make sure the students truly understand the material. This is also a good way to grade a majority of the assignment before the due date, or to make sure a student doesn’t completely fail if they show up with no video or poster on the final due date because they have already completed the “meat” of the project.
  • Have students upload the video to a video site, like YouTube, and submit a link to turn in the final video.  This will eliminate video formats not working correctly or flash drives, DVD’s etc. being turned in.
  • On turn in day, let all students share their videos with the class.

Hurley’s website and resources can be found at nextvista.org

Changing Your Technology ‘Tude

Laureen Reynolds from Staff Development for Educators presented a handful of different free, online web 2.0 tools to use in the classroom.

  • Photo Peach– easy digital slideshows that are ready in seconds. This is a great resource to meet Common Core standards requiring students to create and present.
  • Dropbox– a cloud based filing cabinet.  I use Dropbox and love it!
  • Lino– a virtual bulletin board.  Reynolds said she started using it with colleagues to communicate ideas and information when they cannot always connect face to face, but has now started using it with teachers and students for assignments.  This would also be a great collaboration space for students to communicate about group projects.
  • Power of blogs for quick information.
  • Pixton– has a free version to create digital comic strips.  When she said “free version”, I was assuming the features would be very limited.  As she walked us through this tool (she walked us through every tool, which was very nice!), I was extremely impressed with the amount of options the free version offers.

You can follow Reynolds’ blog at thebulletinboard.org.

Five Global Tech Trends that Will Change Everything Educational

I will admit, this session was different than what I expected. I left this session almost afraid of technology, but it was very interesting!  The key takeaway from this session was: get your kids talking and asking questions about technology.  Jason Ohler discussed:

  • Augmented Reality
  • Semantic Web- the web will make more predictions and become more of a “suggestion box”
  • Transmedia Storytelling
  • Multisensory Projection
  • Smart Clothes- Google Glass and the capability to live stream a video as you’re having a conversation
  • Xtreme BYOD- Kids will be bringing robots, Google Glass and “math hats” to school
  • IPv6- Everything will have an IP address.  Ohler used the example of a low tire on a vehicle.  The tire will send out information that it is low, the car will do a search for nearby gas stations and/or tire stores that can fill the tire and calculate directions to the nearest spot.  The car will then tell you, the driver,  what’s going on, where to go to fix it and how to get there.

Ohler also talked about the idea of an all-encompassing e-portfolio (including academics, service, etc.), which is an idea I’ve been playing with for a while.

Through my own thoughts, I’ve wondered the best way to set up an e-portfolio from the time our students enter as freshmen; have it capture everything they do at our school through academics, extra-curricular and service; narrow the focus as they get older and start to decide what they want their major to be in college; and present a final portfolio to a panel upon graduation.  If you have any ideas, I’d love for you to comment at the end of this post.


Vendor Expo

The vendor Expo started Monday morning.  I wish I had taken a picture of the vendors on Monday, as opposed to Wednesday afternoon to better show the craziness of the Expo.

vendor expo ISTE 2013

By the time I left the vendor Expo, I felt…well…exhausted and dizzy! Everywhere you turned there was someone scanning your badge for a giveaway, telling you about their product and/or services and people giving new toys a try.  I definitely learned about some new products I want to check out.  Some of which that I’m looking the most forward to learning more about are: vendor expo ISTE 2013

Coaching for Education Transformation

This panel discussion included past ISTE president, Holly Jobe.  Throughout this discussion, the panelists described their successes and best practices for technology coaches.  The three main elements of effective coaching they went over are:

  • Relationships- build and connect: what have you learned from the teacher, too?
  • Relevance- what is relevant to this class/subject?  Start with end in mind and work backwards
  • Reflection- teachers reflect on what was learned and how it went over

They also made some other recommendations when talking about the three big points above.

  • Start with the willing teachers and create a ripple effect through word of mouth
  • Start with the content and pedagogy- then pick a technology tool that enhances the goal (DUH!)
  • Start with reasonable, realistic and practical tools
  • Don’t ignore any levels of teachers- challenge the advanced, and work with the newbies.  This is something I need to make sure I get better at.  It’s always easy to skip over the advanced technology users because they’ve already got it.

Some further resources they shared with us can be found at:

Cultivating Digital Age Instructional Leaders

Ending the conference with Melissa Shields’ upbeat presentation was just what I needed! She gave me some great ideas and left me feeling like I had gotten what I came for at the conference.

Shields shared a handful of thought provoking statements with us that I want to share.

  •  If your child were going in for surgery, would you want a surgeon who hadn’t changed/improved his practices and methods since 1957? Then why would you want your child to have a teacher who hasn’t changed/improved his practices in years?
  • Students say they have to “power down” when they come to school
  • Prepare students for their future, not your past

Shields talked about an activity she had done at a district retreat with all the school principals and administrators.  She gave each schools’ team a flip camera and 30 minutes to create a script and record a video podcast to be uploaded to the district website and Facebook pages by noon that day.  They were nervous at first, but all came away making requests for flip cameras at their schools! I’d say that was a successful activity.

She also shared about the impressive grant she recently received and what they do with the money. Click here for more information about the grant can be found here.

The link to her comprehensive wiki and ISTE presentation resources can be found by clicking here.


And That’s a Wrap

As I’ve rambled on in this post, I feel like I haven’t even grazed the surface of what I learned, saw and experienced at ISTE 2013.  Being surrounded by thought leaders and inspiring people for four days definitely gave me a boost of energy and some invaluable takeaways from the conference.  I can’t wait to get the school year rolling to implement some of the ideas that were shared at the conference (ok… maybe I’m not ready to give up my summer that fast).

If you attended ISTE 2013 I’d love to hear about the sessions you attended and enjoyed most.

Tech to You Later!

Bloom’s Revised Technology Taxonomy

Working in a 1:1 tablet PC school, I am always trying to help teachers find new tech tools to use in their classrooms and enhance their (already great) lessons.  I stumbled upon some great resources, which inspired me to create my own chart of tech tools/web 2.0 verbs based on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy levels.

My chart includes some software/programs that are loaded on students’ tablets; it is not limited to only web 2.0 tools. A few great resources I used to help compile my chart include Web 2.0 How-To for Educators by Gwen Solomon and Lynne SchrumPhillippa Cleaves’ Prezi, and my personal favorite: Kathy Schrock’s Bloomin’ Apps.  If you’re an iOS school or an Android school, make sure you check out Schrock’s guides!

Blooms Taxonomy Apps

At our faculty meeting this afternoon, I plan to break everyone up into six groups (one for each of the taxonomy levels). Groups will be given five to ten minutes to investigate one of the tools on their assigned taxonomy level.  Afterward, each group will summarize the tool and how it could be used in the classroom for the entire group. I plan to write a follow up post about how the PD session with faculty went over.

Download my Blooms Tax Apps chart with clickable links.

Tech to You Later!