Thursday, January 19, 2017

Get Ready for Digital Learning Day 2017


Digital Learning Day is coming up on Thursday, February 23, 2017. The Digital Learning Day website provides the history behind this national event:
Started in 2012, Digital Learning Day has provided a powerful venue for education leaders to highlight great teaching practice and showcase innovative teachers, leaders, and instructional technology programs that are improving student outcomes. This grassroots effort blossomed into a massive nationwide celebration as teachers realized that Digital Learning Day is not about technology, it’s about learning.
Teachers in my district are providing digital learning experiences to students every day and this is most likely true for anyone who may be reading this post. My challenge to you is to provide ONE new digital learning experience to your students on or near February 23. Need ideas? See list below to spark your thinking:
  • Record a short video (1-3 min) with FrontRow lesson capture and post it to your classroom website or blog. It might be to explain directions to an assignment, show a writing sample with oral feedback, or highlight main points of a lesson for review. If you are nervous about recording, do it in the privacy of your home! Did you know that you do not even need to be connected to your classroom equipment to record a video? See two min tutorial here.
  • Create a Safari Montage playlist for an upcoming unit and share it with students using a "permlink" or QR code. Students will be prompted to log in with their WL username/password. Learn more about Safari Montage, including how to create a playlist, by clicking here.
  • Try using a formative assessment tool such as a Google Form, Kahoot, adding a question in Google Classroom, or another one from this list.
  • Try using SMART Notebook to create an interactive lesson for your students. There are teacher-created lessons that you can use/modify on the Smart Exchange website.
  • Introduce all of your students to Snap&Read and Co:Writer, learning support tools. Walk them through how to install and use both of these powerful tools. See how-to info here.
  • Explore other ideas posted on the Digital Learning Day website: digital tools, online resources, and/or lesson plans submitted by teachers.
Remember, I'm available to help and want to support your efforts. Please let me know your plans to provide a new digital learning experience for your students.



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Students, Our Best Advocates

Each year, student teams and their teachers from around the state participate in the AT&T/MACUL/MVU Student Technology Showcase, an event held at the State of Michigan Capitol Building. This year’s Student Technology Showcase took place on December 7, representing 34 schools across Michigan.  It was an opportunity for teachers and students to present to lawmakers classroom technology projects designed and created by students at all levels of K-12 education.  

Through these demonstrations our lawmakers see the importance of technology integration into the classroom firsthand, hearing straight from students themselves.  The event was also a chance for teams to move about the rotunda of the Capitol to explore the work of teams from other districts.  These new connections helped students grow their digital literacy knowledge while discovering the possibilities of other technology integrations into school projects and curriculum.

For most students, this was their first experience meeting and speaking with the legislators that represent their community.  In doing so, they found out that it is not so scary to be a part of the political process. Students had the opportunity to practice speaking skills as they explained how they use technology to help them learn, resulting in an increase of confidence in speaking with adults; even if that adult happens to be Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, who visited many tables during the showcase this year.  
Photo by Ryan Burklow; he is on the Governor's Communications team.

Sometimes students leave the Student Technology Showcase with unexpected experiences. For example, ​Sen. Marty Knollenberg paid special tribute to the team from Royal Oak Middle School by inviting them to the Senate floor!

The student projects were as varied as the regions of the state they represented.  The Hamilton High School team demonstrated their process to create infographics and many of their finished products.  An overall passion for robotics was evident from many schools:  from the elementary students coding with spheros and dash robots, to the high school students who shared the robot that competed in FIRST robotics competitions.  

Western Middle School students took this to an even deeper level.  They coded EV3 lego robots and used sensors to demonstrate possible car safety solutions.  This is the type of deeper learning that can happen when thoughtful technology integration collides with sound practice and student curiosity!

We at MACUL hope that all Michigan educators will consider taking a team of students to future Student Showcase events. The structure is in place and the environment is perfect for educators and students to share their unique stories with state legislators regarding the importance of students having ongoing technology-enhanced learning experiences. Students are our best advocates!

Written by Pam Shoemaker and Joe Rommel

Pam Shoemaker is the Technology Instructional Coach for the Walled Lake Consolidated School District in Walled Lake, MI. She serves on the MACUL Board of Directors and is on the leadership team of the ISTE Ed Tech Coaches PLN. Pam is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and her interests include advocacy and everything ed tech! She can be reached by email at pamelashoemaker@wlcsd.org or Twitter @shoemap.

Joe Rommel teaches teachers how to use technology in a meaningful way for the Berrien Regional Education Services Agency (RESA) in Berrien Springs.  He was a teacher for 15 years at St. Joseph Public Schools, most recently teaching sixth grade language arts.  Joe enjoys making things with his wife and four elementary aged kids.  He can be reached via email at joe.rommel@berrienresa.org, found on twitter at @jrommel, or stop by at 711 St. Joseph Ave.  Berrien Springs, MI - he might be in his office.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Blogging Challenge Week 4: Blogs I Follow

Lady with binoculars by liftarn
When Bloglines went out of business in early 2015, my blog reading habit took a dive and I moved to spending more time following Twitter. This blog challenge is making me rethink the idea. Last week I set up a Feedly account, and followed other edtech coaches who are participating in the blogging challenge, along with a few others. I  look forward to checking out what blogs other ed tech coaches are following!

Here are a few that I follow:

Penny Christensen (organizer of the #ETCoaches Blogging Challenge - Thank you!)
Steve Wick 
Gregory Gilmore
Matt Miller
The Official Google Blog





Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blogging Challenge Week 3: Tools!


Craftsman penguin by Moini
For this week's #ETCoaches blog challenge, I will write about some of my favorite ed tech tools. Narrowing the list down was difficult, there are so many from which to choose! I'll write about some that I've used for several years and some that I am just beginning to use.

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) I think that moving to GAFE four years ago has lead to a positive change in the frequency and ways students use technology on a day-to-day basis in my district. Teachers and students have discovered that the built in collaboration and research features make the work of learning, solving problems, and sharing their knowledge so much easier. When the suite of tools was new to teachers, there was some initial resistance. I worked hard to learn the ins and outs of each of the applications myself, and then offer learning opportunities to the teachers I serve in as many ways as possible. Examples: Face-to-face workshops, online courses, video tutorials, webinars, and co-teaching. Here is my GAFE PD Website.

Don Johnston Snap&Read and Co:Writer These two tools were just purchased by my district. They are universal reading and writing support tools, available to ALL students. Learn more about the tools by reading my latest online newsletter. I plan to follow a similar plan to what I did when GAFE was first introduced: Use the tools myself, and offer learning opportunities to the teachers I serve in as many ways ass possible. I have lots of work to do!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Blog Challenge Week 2

Deep thinking or reflecting by carneiroblogbr
This week, we are asked to reflect on our role of being an edtech coach. Using technology was once viewed by many as an extra, something to use if time allowed. I am pleased that this thinking is almost completely gone now, at least in my district. Using technology is now thought of as something that is part of everyday learning routines. Therefore, I am able to support educators as they look for new ways to use technology to help students learn.

My edtech coaching toolkit is large. I pull out tools and techniques for those I work with based on instructional goals and educator experience. I share my toolkit in a variety of ways -- my instructional tech web site, Google Apps for Education PD Site, email newsletters, Twitter chats, FTF presentations, and working collaboratively with individuals and teams.

I work hard to keep learning and stay abreast of new edtech ideas and trends. This helps to keep my edtech coaching toolkit fresh and full! For example...I am a Certified Google Trainer. Just yesterday, I spent half a day taking a Google Educator course even though it was not "required" for re-certification. I picked up some new ideas and can share what I learned with other educators.

Being a part of the ISTE EdTech Coaches PLN pushes me to be the best that I can be. I joined the leadership team two years ago and enjoy the comradery; we are a small but powerful group! Planning events and learning opportunities for other edtech coaches helps me to not put off setting goals and priorities for myself.



Monday, September 12, 2016

Blogging Challenge

I am participating in a blogging challenge with other EdTech Coaches in my PLN. I've been blogging since November of 2006! ...some years more than others. I have several reasons for blogging:

  1. Reflection
  2. Sharing ideas
  3. Sharing good things happening in my district
  4. Sharing resources
  5. Announcements & Events
I am passionate about anything related to ed tech and how it impacts learning, teacher leadership & professional learning strategies. 

I will be updating my blog over the next few weeks during the challenge!

Two New Learning Support Tools