My Workspace(s): #EdublogsClub

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As part of my participation in the #EdublogsClub blogging challenge for educators, I’m writing this post in response to this week’s prompt to describe our classrooms, offices or other spaces in which we work.  While I do have an office in our “central district office”, I also spend a lot of time in our 5 school buildings where the teachers and students I support spend their days.  I spend time in other teachers’ classrooms, in the several computer labs in the schools, and even in the “teacher workrooms” and libraries of the buildings where I sometimes set up a temporary office from which to work!  Much of my job does NOT rely on a specific physical space.  For example, as I write the first draft of this post, I’m sitting in the teacher workroom of a school building 40 miles from my office at the central district office building.  I had 3 short support meetings with teachers in this building earlier today and later on I’ll be meeting with another one about how our 1:1 iPad program can be even more effective for her students.  During this “down time” between my formal meetings, I’ve set up shop on a table where teachers eat lunch in the room where they make copies.  I’ve answered some emails, enrolled new students into software programs that I manage and I’ve spent a little time reviewing new posts on blogs I like to follow using Feedly, a reader to help manage my time.   And now I’m taking a few minutes to write the first draft of this blog post!

But the photos I’m including are snapped from my desk.  The top photo is a bulletin board that has turned in to a make-shift “motivation” board.  The pictures of my family and co-workers show some of the important people in my life!  But the quotes I have on there are even more helpful to see into who I am and what is important for me.  Here are a few of them typed out in case you can’t read them all in the photo:

  • Pencil Labs?????  (This was a motivation for why we needed to implement a 1:1 technology program that has been on my board for several years.  We have had iPads for all students K-12 for several years now, but I still like the analogy.  Would you tell teachers and students that they had to “go to the lab” each time they needed to use a pencil????)
  • You can’t get to outer space in a rowboat. (This one is just to remember that we need to pick the right tool for what we want kids to be able to learn and do.  And it can be important for kids to learn to pick their own tool.
  • Write! Write poorly. Write poorly in public until you get better! (Just motivation and challenge to continue to try to update my blog without my hangup of perfection before publication.)
  • The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything. (I’d love perfect technology resources, perfect policies, perfect colleagues, perfect students. But we can do good things without a perfect situation, so we should!)
  • No Heroes! (I need to embrace growth in other people and take the position that it shows growth for our district when “I” become needed less for technology support.)
  • Leadership is about creating other leaders.  (When I left the classroom and took my position as a technology integration specialist, I viewed myself more as a support person rather than a leader.  And I still see the line as blurred between the two for my responsibilities.  But when I read this thought somewhere, I knew that it was definitely part of my duty to our district and to the students in our district and to our profession.  One person cannot make a big enough difference without spreading their influence!)
  • Good teaching may overcome a poor choice of technology, but  technology will never save bad teaching. (So important.  This supports the premise that “technology amplifies,” as well:  when a teacher is provided good technology their skills will be amplified:  teachers with good pedagogical foundation have a new creative tool in their tool belt, but teachers with poor pedagogy who don’t know how to manage kids or handle unexpected events technology can make that even more obvious. So if your goal is to support successful technology integration, it must also be to support the development of sound pedagogy in the teaching staff, as well.  And if technology doesn’t make the impact you wish it would, you sometimes have to be willing to look more deeply into the reasons why.)
  • Am I part of the problem or part of the solution? Do I focus on the obstacles of my job or on the opportunities? Do I make excuses or do I set a positive example for others? Do colleagues and students see me as being full of enthusiasm or full of something else? Do I brighten up my schools when I enter them or when I leave them? (I can’t recall where I came across these questions, but I hope my constant reflection upon them helps me stay a positive influence!)
  • Economically disadvantaged students, who often use the computer for remediation and basic skills, learn to do what the computer tells them, while more affluent students, who use it to learn programming and tool applications, learn to tell the computer what to do. (Neuman, D. (1991). Technology and equity. Available at http://www.ericdigests.org/1992-5/equity.htm and first read by me at Dangerously Irrelevant, a blog I really appreciate!  I think this quote leads nicely to this one last “image” I’m including that is a thought I try to keep to the forefront when I work with teachers on how to integrate technology:  I want them to create!!  Not just to consume!  And I sort of love that in this photo you see the green-painted dowel rods that I have for working with green-screen projects with kids!)

Talk to me:  What do you think of the quotes on my  motivation board?  Do any resonate with you?  Do any offend you?  What quotes keep YOU going?  🙂

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Committed to Improvement: #Edublogsclub

I’m excited to be participating a in weekly blog challenge project that starts here at the beginning of the new year: #Edublogsclub! Each week, members of the challenge receive a prompt and are challenged to write towards this prompt during the week and publish their blog post. If you want to try the challenge along with me, click HERE to learn more and sign up!  This is my first weekly challenge where the prompt was to write a post that “tells your blog story.” So here goes:

This is not my first blog post, but I also don’t consider myself a successful blogger because I haven’t been consistent in my blogging practices in the past though I’ve tried several times to improve! I read other blogs through a feed reader (Feedly) so that I can just quickly skim the headlines. My favorite blogs are ones where new resources are shared as I used those to stay abreast of new ed tech that I then share out to the staff I support in our district.  I also read posts suggested by members of my Twitter PLN. I’m choosing to participate in this challenge to try to establish blogging as more of a professional habit. I hope that by receiving and responding to the prompts, I’m challenged to add other blog posts that are relevant to what I’m learning and sharing with others as well.

My biggest fear as I get started is that my posts will be long and wordy.  I know that other writing I do (emails, etc) can sometimes get too wordy and hard to follow, so I hope to keep things succinct and easy to read.  I’m also worried that the time I spend blogging will not be worthwhile since hardly anyone reads my posts.  In response to this fear, I hope to be able to focus on finding value in the process for professional growth and reflection of my own whether anyone reads or not!

Give it a Try: Twitter Chats

I’m getting ready to try my hand at my first opportunity to co-host a Twitter Chat and I wanted to make a brief guide for some of my colleagues who might have never taken part in a Twitter Chat before!    So this guide assumes first that you have a Twitter Account.  If you are brand new to Twitter, a better place to start is here:  http://cybraryman.com/twitterforbeginners.html.  Otherwise, follow these steps and tips to make a Twitter Chat a good experience:

  1.  Use a third-party app to help manage the “flow” of information during the chat.  I like, HootSuite but TweetDeck is also good.  These tools both have both app versions and desktop versions.  I prefer to work from my laptop AND iPad during a chat!  Once you choose one of the above tools, set up a column to follow the hashtag of the chat you’ll be participating in.  This filters out all the other Tweets and allows you to focus on just the relevant information at the time the chat takes place.
  2.  Understand the lingo and shorten words where you can to save characters.  Otherwise you won’t be able to fit your comments into 140 characters.   Ss = students, Ts= teachers, convo = conversation use the ampersand (&) and drop a few vowels where it won’t make the word impossible to read:  frm = from, f/ = for  Think about how you took notes in your college classes and shorten things up in logical ways!
  3. Questions will come out with a label:  Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 and you should respond to questions with answers with corresponding labels:  A1, A2, A3, A4.  If you forget an post with it…not to worry this happens occasionally and others will still be able to tell what you’re responding to most of the time.
  4. MOST important tip:  If you respond, be sure to include the hashtag of the chat so that others following it will see your contribution!  #CSedChat is hashtag I’ll be adding to the end of each of my tweets during the chat I’m helping to moderate!  It will be in each question and each answer!  (Bonus:  after the chat, I can still search for tweets that were made using that hashtag and find them all when I have more time to look through the resources!)
  5. Lurking is ok…jump in and watch if you’re too scared to contribute.  That’s a fine way to start!  But don’t be shy about sharing your expertise!

Celebrating Digital Learning Day 2016

Digital Learning happens every day in USD 113 Prairie Hills.  But to celebrate Digital Learning Day 2016, I asked teachers to send in photos that I could put together into a video to showcase several examples of what that looks like.  I was impressed with the thoughtful integration of digital learning that happens at all grade levels in all subject areas!   Here is the final product:

 

Adobe Voice iPad App: A Tip Sheet

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As part of our district’s emphasis on college and career readiness for our students, in a few weeks all teachers are going to get a 1/2 day to visit local businesses to learn more about how their content and/or the “soft skills” we teach students are applicable to today’s employers.  Following the visit, we are expected to create a digital artifact of our visit.  I’ve been brainstorming all the cool ways these visits could be documented, and I’ve created a tip sheet for a fairly new  free app that I’ve been experimenting with and plan to use to document my own visit for the day:  Adobe Voice.  I’ve created a tip sheet for new users of Adobe Voice that can be downloaded from this link:  Adobe Voice Tip Sheet.  The screen shot in this post is of my tip sheet.

Adobe Voice allows the user to insert  images of their own OR icons from their vast library, then record audio narration over the top.  Multiple images can be added to tell a story and the app even has its own background music and themes to choose from.  Once you’re done the app saves directly down to your photo library on your iPad as movie file . . . that’s right . . . a movie file!!  How cool is that?   (I just had a little flash back to my old Windows Photostory days, only Adobe Voice is way easier!!)

Online Resources for Teaching Statistics

Image of workers in Section of Vital Statistics (Census): 1909

Isn’t this a cool picture of workers in the Census Bureau from 1909?  I found it on the Library of Congress website at www.loc.gov?  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be a statistician 100 years ago!  Technology makes statistical analysis so much easier and quicker!

Today’s blog post is for teachers whose standards include the teaching of statistics.   These resources were gleaned from a MOOC I planned to participate in called Teaching Statistics Through Investigations.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to fully participate in this MOOC, but I was able to glean some useful information that I wanted curate here in this post.

First, Tech Tools:

http://www.tinkerplots.com/

http://fathom.concord.org/

http://www.statcrunch.com/

https://tuvalabs.com/k12/

https://public.tableau.com/s/

https://plot.ly/

http://www.jake4maths.com/grapher/

Next, YouTube Playlists:

TSDI-Unit Introduction Videos:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG6iFkLydgaq7phl8BMFzuxr9meK16MK0

TSDI-Expert Panel Discussions in Statistics Education:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG6iFkLydgaoY2LN0Z3RvbjpcxgAntatL

TSDI-Animated Illustrations of Students’ Statistical Reasoning:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG6iFkLydgapHVNAL4251iFoK_FohKl2o

TSDI-Instructional Support Videos in Statistics Education
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG6iFkLydgaocM_zesW4_Co1YBNgIM7-o

TSDI-Other videos we used from YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG6iFkLydgaroOKXMhze7etkwpCdFm7QN

And finally, an opportunity to subscribe to a newsletter for K-12 teachers of statistics:

The Statistics Teacher Network (STN) is a free newsletter published by the ASA/NCTM Joint Committee on Curriculum in Statistics and Probability for Grades K-12. Issue 86 of STN is now online atwww.amstat.org/education/stn.

Google Classroom Video Resource: Sharing!

Here is a Great video on using Google Classroom!

In today’s blog post, I’m sharing a video I ran across through a useful resource I use to learn about Google Tools:  www.thegooru.com.  I’m often asked by staff to show them quickly how to use Google Classroom, but this tool has become more than a “quick share,” so I’m hoping that being able to help folks create their first classroom and then sending them to this blog post will be useful!

This video is about 50 minutes long, but you can forward through the first part of the video because this is a recording of a live webinar and the first 6  minutes (or so) are the presenter inviting the live viewers to join his Google Classroom account so they have live participation.  As a viewer of the archived video, I just suggest you forward in the video to about 6:15 and start it there.  (This should make the viewing length about 45 minutes total.)  The video was published in September of 2015, so as of today, it is pretty current on what Google Classroom can do.)

Hour of Code Lesson Flow on Graphite.org

Graphite.org is a great place to find tech resources vetted by teachers and organized in an easily searchable way.  Graphite Educators can create lesson flows that show how tech resources can be put togBox island screenshotether in a logical flow for a tech-rich experience for your students.  I recently completed a lesson flow on how we use several technology resources together to introduce coding to students at the elementary level.  You can read my lesson flow here:  Hour of Code Lesson Flow.  I’m also excited to get to take three teachers with me to do a college and career visit to a local business that employs programmers this year.  We hope to be able to help our students make even more meaningful connections as we have them work on coding in the future since we will be increasing our own understanding of careers in computer science as a part of the visit.

The screen shot accompanying this post  from Box Island a new coding app I plan to use with 3rd graders this year during the Hour of Code week!