Renewing my Blogging Vows

It’s been two months since I’ve written my last post. How did this happen? I really enjoy reflecting, sharing and connecting with other educators through blogging, so I’m renewing my blogging vows! I’ve made getting back to blogging one of my New Year’s resolutions. GET_Badge

Since I’ve been gone from the blogging world, I’ve gotten some great news. I spent a week at SOITA in November for their Google Education Trainer Camp. It was a long week of learning, studying, practicing and test taking.  The application process was pretty long and had high expectations. I am SO excited that I was accepted as a Google Education Trainer!

iste2015badgeI also found out at the beginning of December that my poster presentation for the ISTE Conference this summer in Philadelphia was accepted! I have learned so much at ISTE the past two years in Atlanta and San Antonio, and I am honored to be a part of that sharing again.  Last year I spoke at the EdTech Coaches playground in Atlanta. I can’t wait to take on this next experience and everything else this conference has to offer- it is the ultimate reenergizing and inspirational PD for me!

It’s been a couple of crazy and exciting months.  I’ve been exhausted, and it’s that time of year where we all start feeling bogged down.  So it’s time to get back in the saddle, get some inspiration, hop in a Twitter chat (or ten!) and finish the year strong!

What do you plan to start doing, stop doing, or start doing again this year to help you in your profession?

Tech To You Later!


Speaking at the EdTech Coaches Playground at ISTE 2014

Like I said in my last post, I’m a little behind on my blogging…

iste 2014 presentation iste 2014 presentationISTE 2014 in Atlanta was another whirlwind experience, and a month later I’m still processing everything. This year, I was lucky enough to present during the EdTech Coaches Network (formerly SIGETC) playground.  I talked about the Digital Citizenship Day I planned back in February. Talking with so many educators who come from different walks of life and have had similar ideas and experiences to those I was sharing was awesome! As much as I was sharing best practices with people, I was getting just as many ideas as others shared their experiences with me and asked provoking questions. I’m really grateful to the ETC network for selecting me as one of the presenters.

All the sites I referenced during my presentation at the playground are on my website here.

I just think we are so lucky to be educators right now.  Imagine teaching during a time when doors were closed, you had to perform all day for students (or bore them to tears), and you were pretty much in it alone and constantly recreating the wheel… picture just 10-15 years ago (if that).  So much has changed.  As exciting as it is for our students to learn in classrooms today, I think becoming a teacher or working in education have become extremely exciting careers to embark on and fields to work in! The number of people ISTE pulled together from all over the world is seriously impressive.  Although I didn’t even begin to meet a fraction of the people who attended, the coaches playground I spoke at, other sessions and just plain down time (wait, when was there down time at ISTE?) led me to making many new connections who I am able to reach out to in an instant over email or Twitter. I am not alone in this thing called education, and I am fortunate to be a part of it with so much technology and so many instant networking opportunities at my fingertips. Thank you ISTE and my PLN for making it another successful year and a very memorable first speaking opportunity at the conference.

Did you attend ISTE 2014?  What did you think?

Tech To You Later!

Big Changes

It’s been a while since I’ve written my last post, and I’m feeling a little out of practice.  I’ve had so much piling up I wanted to write about that I didn’t even really know where to start. So I’ll just jump back in and get back to it!

For starters, I left my position at McNick.  Without getting on my soap box, I left McNick as a result of disagreeing with the new Archdiocese teacher contracts.  In my opinion, this discriminatory contract is going in the opposite direction the way education, society, and humanity should be going (okay, I promised no soap box…). Words can’t express how much my colleagues at McNick mean to me, and how grateful I am to have known and worked with each of them.  They are very special, talented and dedicated educators; I hope the students and parents realize how lucky they are to be a part of that community.  I’m going to miss them terribly.

In a way, the contracts were a blessing in disguise because it led me to looking at a new opportunity.  I am thrilled about starting my new position at Middletown City School District working as an instructional/educational technology specialist and overseeing the district’s website.  I’m really looking forward to this next step in my career working with multiple schools and a lot more teachers!  To be honest, the new challenge is scary, but I’m ready to keep learning and growing from the talented tech staff at Middletown! When I first started my masters program, my goal was to ultimately be a district instructional technologist, and I am still shocked and humbled that my plan has fallen into place (knock on wood!).

My Research Presentation

My Research Presentation

This brings me to my next point.  Last Friday, I finished my Master’s in Education and Instructional Computer Technology- WOO HOO! I can’t explain the relief I feel to be finished.  For me, grad school was extremely rewarding and worthwhile.  I loved (almost) all of my classes, and I felt like I learned and grew so much in each one of them.  If you’re debating going back to school to start your next degree, I say go for it! There will never be a perfect time and you’ll never know until you try. My advice: don’t settle for a program and an area you don’t love.  I couldn’t imagine pouring all those man hours into classes and a topic I wasn’t passionate about.

I did my final research project on the Lunch & Learns I have blogged about over the past year.  If you’re interested, I’d be happy to discuss it more with you.

I’m glad to be back to the blogosphere and look forward to returning to my favorite Twitter chats!

What have you been up to this summer?

Tech To You Later!

Campus Meets Community

schooloutfittersToday, I had the honor of speaking to employees from School Outfitters as a part of their Listen, Learn and Lead series.  As a testament to their motto, furnishing great places to learn,” they wanted to get a better understanding for the clients in which they serve- schools- and how they could better meet their needs. They asked me to participate in one of the “listen” sessions, so their employees could gain a better understanding about educational technology needs in schools today.

I really enjoyed talking with the company today, and not just because they were offering free pizza!  People in many different departments (from IT, to human resources, to marketing, to the President) attended the session and seemed genuinely interested to learn about what our environments are like in a school setting. They were very engaging and asked a lot of great questions-an educators dream!

I commend School Outfitters’ efforts to learn more about their customers! Now I realize a large part of their client base is the education industry, but I think businesses should reach out to schools in this way to see how they can better serve our campuses.  After all, we are always trying to figure out how our students and our schools can help serve our communities.

It’s easy to feel like the education world is the last to get on board with something that the rest of the world has caught on to for quite some time.  It was nice to finally feel like we (education) could be leading the way, or at the very least providing the insight and feedback to others to help lead the way!

So if you haven’t already (I know many companies do a tremendous amount for and to get involved with local schools-thank you!), now is your chance to get your company community involved with a local school’s campus. Could you help fund something or offer sponsorship for the school? Could you create an internship or work study opportunity?  Could you team up with a teacher/discipline to create a PBL opportunity for students?  There are so many ways to get involved with local schools; when you do, everyone benefits!

So thank you again, School Outfitters, for inviting me into your home today!

Schools, how do you get involved with your community?  Community leaders, how do you get involved with your local campuses?

Tech To You Later!

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!

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!

Gearing Up for a Digital Citizenship Day

Working in a 1:1 high school, you can imagine we’ve had our fair share of digital citizenship (digcit) violations along with our classroom successes. But just as we can’t expect our kids to grow up to be positive contributors to society without some serious coaching and character building along the way, we can’t expect them to be good digital citizens without seizing some teachable moments.

I had begun to develop ideas for some sort of training last year as individual digcit violations arose. After going to ISTE13 last year, it became pretty clear that we weren’t doing enough to make sure our students were becoming well-rounded citizens. We needed to be doing more than just modeling positive behaviors online. We need to be proactive about this new side to students’ education!

So where to start?

Digital Citizenship Day PresentationAfter some brainstorming and developing the skeleton of a plan, I decided to reach out to the teachers. After all, they’re the ones who are surrounded by our students everyday. Surely they have a better idea than idea about specific issues that our student body faces (acknowledging that many issues are universal). I developed a Prezi to present my two ideas to the teachers before collecting their feedback.  Click here to view the short Prezi.

I received a lot of great feedback from teachers. They were thankful to put a day like this into place and had a lot of great suggestions. Most groups said that they think the first option, where students progress through their normal class schedules would be the best way to get through to the kids since they are already comfortable with their own teachers.  I’ll be working with each of the departments to plan their “lesson” for the day.  I’ve only got a couple of months left, so I need to get moving!

So far, I’ve already collected my free resources from the FTC, and I’ve been collecting a number of resources on my website too. On Monday, I went to watch Steve Smith’s Connected: Students in a 7 x 24 World presentation. I really liked it, and I think his presentation will be a great start to our day (not to mention it’s FREE to school’s in the area thanks to Cincinnati Bell Technical Solutions CBTS)!

So what suggestions do you have for me as I shape this day? What are your favorite digital citizenship resources for high school students?  What experience do you have teaching high school students about digital citizenship that I can share with my teachers? I’d love to hear all your ideas and feedback!

Tech To You Later!

Help Students Build Confidence as a Presenter Through Screencasts

The other day I met with a teacher to go over some things about our LMS.  When I arrived to her classroom she had a student who had to give her a presentation before we started, so I decided to stick around and wait for him to finish.  The student did a great job and really knew a lot about the topic. He was very mature and even shook the teacher’s hand and thanked her when the presentation was over. I assumed he had been absent on his presentation day.

I was wrong.

This student had asked the teacher if he could give his first class presentation of the year to just her because he was afraid he may be sick if he had to do it in front of the whole class.  He wanted a chance to work his way up to giving a presentation in front of the whole class.  I’m sure there are many other students in the building who have this same debilitating fear of public speaking.

So I got to thinking this weekend, how can teachers help students build their confidence to present in front of the entire class?

screencasts for student presentationsThen I remembered one of the screen capture tools I included in my 5 in 5 screencast from October 2013.  I thought students could use Jing (or any screencast tool) to take a screencast of their presentation, including their voice to talk through the presentation just as they would in front of the class.  Then students could upload their presentations to and share the link with the class via a discussion board, class blog, class wiki, etc. Each student would be required to watch all the other students’ screencasts and comment on the presentation.

Sharing screencasts may be an alternative to first time, in-person class presentations, especially if you have a lot of shy students. How do you help students build their confidence to present in front of a large group?

Tech To You Later!