Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Flipping the Classroom - Now More than Ever?

Now more than ever before, the Flipped Classroom is becoming an integral part of the new normal in Distance Learning.

Originally coined in 2006 by two Colorado High School Science teachers--Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams--(& later made more popular with Khan Academy), the idea was to pre-record lectures for student viewing so the in-person learning could be deeper.  And so the movement produced tools and resources that grew into a worldwide blended learning environment in the classroom.

We saw those resources and ideology put to the hard test this year when teachers all over the world were thrust into using them.  Technology companies responded by fine tuning their products as teachers gave in-the-field feedback.  

And as teachers always do, they responded with fixes, work-arounds, and ways to use products that companies never thought of for their products.  

The model we are using in our school is that a video lesson is posted on Google Classroom for students to view. The following day, teacher and students meet live on Zoom or Google Meet to review the material and Q&A.  This model is done 3-5 times per week for major subjects. 

Recording is done either by a screencast (with voice-over) or with the teacher filming the lesson where it is demonstrated on a white board or with manipulatives.  I have found the comfort level of the teacher determines which way they prefer to Flip the lesson. 

Today there are so many tools available to accommodate the different technology skill levels of educators.  I try to work with my teachers according to what they are comfortable with using.  Hopefully, we build on it until they can try new things or dive deeper into a tool.

And don't forget Classroom Expectations -- just as it's done in the brick and mortar building -- there is a set of rules for attendance that may include using correct name, muting on entry, no inappropriate virtual backgrounds. 

What tools are you using or looking to learn more about as we finish the school year or start the next one?  Check out these resources for ways to “Flip” your classroom… Screencastify, Zoom, G-Meet

ISTE2019 - Day 2

The excitement in the Expo Hall was palpable.
My mission today was to visit the people whose products I already use to say thank you, as well as check out new products that colleagues in the tech field were talking about with enthusiasm.
I was not disappointed.
The theme this year was STEM and all it was all around us:  robotics, drones, electronics, circuits, and LEGOs -- Oh, My!!
I played with LEGO Mindstorm robots (I co-coach a FLL LEGO League  team) and Little Bits circuits before stopping at the MackinMaker booth to see  Dena O (@MissTechQueen) present on
STEAM in the classroom.
Little Bits circuits

After checking out new toys, I took advantage of the mini sessions at various Booths.  First up was a game of Kahoot - a game based online platform for quizzes.  We actually played a combination of online & paper version on general knowledge -- great fun for us and I'm sure the kids will love it for interactive reviews.

Next up was the FlipGrid booth where I took advantage of the flexible seating (an inflatable unicorn) to watch a #FLIPHUNT presentation by Kathi Kersznowski (@KathiKerz). FlipGrid is a website platform where teachers create "grids" that pose questions to students who respond in video form.   A Fliphunt is "a digital scavenger hunt that takes place on Flipgrid. You create the Tasks to engage your students and challenge them to show what they know with video Responses."
So many possibilities for the classroom!
Flipgrid booth

Monday, June 24, 2019

ISTE2019 - Day 1

This is absolutely my most favorite time -- ISTE! It is a time when I can be with my Tribe, those kindred spirits who speak my language, and relish in the most incredible sharing of ideas. It is also held in my hometown of Philadelphia - and I love going home. It is my nirvana.

First up today was a session on Merge Cubes. When I first saw these items about a year ago, I thought they were cool stress balls in a cube form.  They are so much more. Using an app, the cube transforms into a 3D virtual object spanning topics on solar systems, body systems, ecosystems, and even some games.  There is even an app (Merge Object Viewer) that allows you to inspect your very own 3D design files before printing them! They are definitely being added to my STEM toolkit this year!

Learn more about the Merge company here.

I took a little time before my next session to visit the Poster Sessions. This morning the theme was Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) and it was exciting to see what educators are doing in their classrooms with it. I love the Poster Sessions at ISTE because it shows real world classroom applications for a lot of the things happening in EdTech.  (Some of the sessions have students showcasing their work!!)

The most exciting of the poster presenters was Kaitlyn Stenson, aka KinderNuggets, and her work with the littles using VR/AR, robots, and coding in her kinder classroom. She was so enthusiastic, and easily explained how she used the various tools -- a great display, too!

I followed this up with a session with one of my favorite EdTech leaders, Kasey Bell of Shake Up Learning. I love Kasey for her extensive resources in Google as well as her E-Books and new podcast with Matt Miller. She is generous and positive with her knowledge.

Today was about Learning Menus (Choice Boards). I love the idea of this resource and wanted to know more about implementing them in the classroom (as well as sharing with my colleagues).  I wasn't disappointed! You can see what they are all about here.

Monday will be about checking out the Expo Hall, Posters & a few more Sessions-- always a good time.
Til tomorrow...Safe Surfing!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Professional Development (in the comfort of your home...or beach...or poolside)


Reading (or Listening) for PD.

While you're building your reading list for the summer, whether at the beach, by the pool, or in a comfy chair, slip a few
books in that stretch your professional development. There are so many available for whatever topic you are interested in,
so here are a few of my picks. Some allow you to practice a new skill and some are laced with humor -- all are good reads.
Try something new or share your picks in the comments.

I’ve curated a PDF list on my Wakelet - See the list HERE. I found it easy to curate from Amazon, but you can get the
books anywhere. (I do not receive compensation from Amazon).

Maybe reading is more than you want to do, so why not check out a Podcast? There is quite a resurgence of
Educational Podcasters available these days.  Most of my favorite bloggers (see sidebar or click here) are now using
the medium and it is great!
The podcasts vary from short and sweet ideas to almost hour long themed casts with resources.

I use Podcast Republic for my Podcasts, but there are probably dozens of Apps based on your platform or preferences.  
Some podcasts to check out:

The Google Teacher Tribe by Matt Miller and Kasey Bell

The Ten-Minute Teacher Podcast by Vicki Davis

The Creative Classroom by John Spencer

Truth for Teachers by Angela Watson

The House of #EdTech by Christopher Nesi

PD in Your Flip Flops.

There are a plethora of workshops available online that let you pick and choose according to your schedule; some are live and others are archived for viewing at any time. Check out some of these free webinars:

The Teach with Tech Conference (TWTcon) July 22-24
I love this multi-day online conference -- it offers workshops on a variety of topics every hour for several days. It's pop-in/pop-out depending on your interests.
TWTCON 2019 Teach With Tech Online Conference dates: July 22-24, 2019. Teachers participate in a wide range of sessions online that focus on classroom teaching strategies with technology. Come and see the new innovations in online learning technologies. Both free and paid tickets are available.”

Simple K12 - PD in your Bunny Slippers (all year)
Offers free basic membership, live and on-demand webinars, resources and community.

Google for Educators - looking to hone your Google for Education skills, explore this site (all year)

What are you doing for PD this summer? Share in the comments below...
Safe Surfing,

Monday, May 13, 2019

🎶These are a Few of my Favorite (Organizational) Things

Throughout my career as an EdTech Teacher and Coach, I have sampled enough new “hot” and
“latest/greatest” products to realize that it is overwhelming to expect teachers to use everything that
rolls down the pike.  That sense of so much to choose from is often the barrier to using anything
at all.

Over the years, I have come to rely on the tried and true tools that truly help me get things done,
be organized -- both efficiently and easily.

Keep it Simple

As part of my job (and really, my natural curiosity) I read blogs, scan social media, attend workshops
and talk to colleagues in my field to stay up on what’s new in technology in the classroom and how
teachers are using it. I try to keep my personal tool kit simple so I can get the most out of it. One
of my multi-purpose go-to products is Google Suite.

Besides using it personally, our school decided to to become a Google school several years ago.
It has made management of my classroom so much easier. While I admit Office Suite products are
more robust in features, the Google package has made seamless work of assignments,
communication, collaboration, and work anywhere worth the sacrifice. With the Education version,
we also have unlimited storage for Google Drive. Plus, it has eliminated the “dog ate my homework”
and “it just deleted” excuses from students.  And for the most part, the Google team listens to

Reading Blogs in One Place

I look to others in my field to help keep me current. I rely on those Bloggers who seem to have
endless energy and resources to keep me up-to-date on how they are using various tools.
As my collection of bloggers started to increase, I wanted one place to read them all.  
These are the people who regularly post wonderful ideas, resources, and most importantly, are generously ready to share when I have questions.

I use Feedly to subscribe to my favorite experts’ blogs. It is cross platform (website & device app) and I catch up on all my reading in one place. (See my list of fav bloggers on the sidebar.)   

Website Curation

For all the websites I visit to keep up on online resources, finding a place to keep them all -- whether
for me, colleagues, or my students, I absolutely love Symbaloo. Symbaloo is a website-based
tool that lets you create tiles that link to websites. Tiles can be organized through “webmix” tabs,
can be color coded, and shared. Visually, I love it and have my webmixes curated by subject and color.  I have been using the free version for many, many years and last year started using
the Teacher premium. I can share out a Webmix to my students for a particular project or to my colleagues for some Classroom Tools.

I have also recently started using Wakelet, another website based curation product, for my lesson
plan ideas. This website allows me to use an add-on in Chrome to save things as I find them online.
I can add any number of items, from images, websites, videos, and more. So far, it has been a nice addition to my toolkit. (and it’s free)

Classroom Discussions and More

Another tool that I use quite often in my classroom is Padlet (formerly Wallwisher).  The app is
similar to a bulletin board where you can post/display various items -- like images, links, notes,
and videos. While originally free for unlimited use, last year a cap was put on the free plan limiting it at three.

I love using it as a discussion tool for my classes as well as way to display mixed media projects.  
It almost always plays into a lesson for feedback and idea sharing with my students. I post a
question or comment  and students can reflect on it, adding videos or images, even links to other resources. There is a comment feature which allows my students to exchange ideas with each other. This is especially great for those students who would rather not speak up in class,
but have incredible thoughts to add to the discussion.

Workshop & PD Notes

The final tool that I use quite often (and for many years now) is Evernote.  This cross platform app
has seen me through every workshop I have ever attended.  It allows me to take notes, add links
and photos, and organize it all in a “note” by date. I use it exclusively at workshops as it easily
allows me to organize with titles, locations, tags, and notebooks. This is free with an upgrade option.

These are a few of my favorite things that keep me organized. What keeps you in check?
Tell me what are your favorite things.

Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links on this page - I make no profit from recommendations

10+ Tech Projects for ILA

One of the things I love to do with my teachers is find an add-on project that is technology-based for their lessons. And when it comes to Integrated Language Arts, there are a plethora of ways for students to express their understanding of a topic.

Here are just 10 of my favorites (and  a bonus +1)

1. Movie Trailers - I generally have students pick their favorite book and make a movie trailer for it. When they finish the trailer, they make a sign with the book jacket and a QR Code that is hung outside the library. (iMovie, Animoto, Adobe Spark Video, PhotoStory, WeVideo)

2. Comic Strip - students choose a scene from a book and create a comic strip (6-panel). (Powtoon, Google Slide, StoryboardThat)

3. Infographic - a poster that highlights one or more characters: features quotes, character traits; ideas are endless. (Canva, Adobe Spark, Glogster)
QR Code for Book Trailer

4. Reader Theater - scene/summary of a book or my favorite: assigning parts and having the students act them out and create sound effects. (Audacity, Garage Band)

5. Podcast - interview a character from a book (Audacity, GarageBand)

6. Brochure - character/place as a tourist tri-fold (Google Slides, Power Point, Publisher)

7. Fake Social Media - conversations using fake social media templates, this can be done digitally or on paper (ClassTools: Twitter, Fakebook templates)

8. Wanted Poster - create posters for the antagonist or other characters (Canva, Adobe Spark Page, Slides)

Google Slides Comic Strip Panel

9. Webpage - showcase understanding of characters, plot, theme (Adobe Spark website, Google Sites)

10. Stop Animation - recreate a scene from novel study using stop motion. My favorite so far has been from the book Wonder. (Lego Animation iOS app, Google Slides, HeronAnimation )

BONUS: BigHugeLabs -- create Trading Cards, Movie Posters, Magazine Covers, and Cubes to showcase characters, theme, and summaries 

What are your favorite resources or tools for integrating technology into your lessons?

Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links on this page - I make no profit from recommendations

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Integrating Tech Really Does Pay Off

Trying new things is scary, especially in technology. And with all the new tools that come out every year it can be
downright daunting. Where to begin? It is overwhelming when you already have a full plate just keeping up with
day to day responsibilities.

As a Tech coordinator in my school, I try to share out cool and engaging resources as I come across them.
I research tools so I can see how they play out in the classroom and then recommend them to teachers who might
like to try them. I think it’s important to keep the teacher in mind when I try new things.

Of course, my true guinea pigs are my students. If I like something, I will try it in class first, incorporating it into a
lesson. My classes will give me feedback on the new tool so I can judge if it’s lesson-worthy.

Over the years I have refined my go-to tools and use them regularly--the others I use for specific projects as they
fit. I will say as a caveat -- I do not use technology for the sake of it -- and do not recommend it for that reason
either. It must serve a purpose to furthering the learning process and it must make the teacher’s job easier.

With that said, I also think it’s important for lessons to be looked at and refreshed from time to time. After 17
years, I readily admit that even I get bored with some lessons. I often survey students afterward to see what
worked and what didn’t. I adjust the lesson delivery or abandon it altogether. I find something new to make
the topic more interesting.

So with all that’s available, how do you know what’s right for you?

Reach out! Talk to your edtech person (if you have one), talk to your colleagues, get on social media!! There
is a plethora of resources online. There is one thing that I know and yet am always surprised by and that’s the
generosity of teachers. People are using and creating curriculum resources every day. Why reinvent the wheel?
Over the years I have found some tried and true sites that offer fantastic ideas. There are also innovative
leaders in education who are on social media and sharing their stuff all the time (blogs, twitter, Facebook).
Check my links on the sidebar and at the end of this article for some of these people.

To avoid the “try it all and use nothing” syndrome -- PICK 1 THING. Pick one thing to try in a lesson and
use it until you’re comfortable with it. Once it becomes part of your teaching toolbox, try something else.
But, give it a chance. Try it with your kids and reflect on its effectiveness. Soon your arsenal will grow
and become refined. If you have trouble, get help first. If after you’ve tried it and it doesn’t work or
infuse something into your lessons--move on.

Trying new things is scary, but sometimes the payoff is how the student remembered the information
because of the way it’s presented or how they were engaged in it.

Last night I ran into a former student. This was a kid who I worried about. He didn’t always get his
work done--but when he did, it was inspired. He told me how well he was doing, an A student now.
He made a point of saying how well I had prepared him. He had even shown his teacher some
things he had learned with me. (I beamed inside). Sometimes you don’t get the affirmation you want
at the time, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t made an impact where it counts.

Take a look at your lessons. Find one that has some dust on it. Blow the dust off and infuse some
new life into it. Your students might actually thank you.

Some of my favorite Teacher Tweeters
Pinterest is a great resource for whatever you’re looking for - personal or professional
Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) - free and paid lesson plans