Thursday, August 17, 2017

Excited for the New School Year

I have had a fantastic summer; lots of travel (northern Michigan and Tennessee), time in the water and on the golf course, and fun with family & friends. I've read many books; some for professional learning, some for fun. It's been relaxing and the down-time has done me good. I've had time to reflect on my important role of being an ed tech coach and set goals for the upcoming school year. I'm ready to go!

The Walled Lake Spice it Up Conference is one week from today! This is the 13th year, and an annual highlight for me. It's a ton of work to prepare for, but so worth it! I'm looking forward for Liz Kolb to join us as our keynote speaker. I read her book, Learning First, Technology Second, over the summer--loved it! There will be 54 breakout sessions throughout the day, so there is sure to be something for everyone. 

I plan to blog regularly throughout the year, as I'm participating in the ISTE Ed Tech Coaches PLN's Blogging Buddies project.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Are Webinars Effective for Teacher Professional Learning?


I was fortunate to be awarded a Walled Lake Consolidated Schools Foundation for Excellence Mini-Grant for my proposal "Professional Learning for Educators via Webinars." Time for professional learning is at a premium; there simply isn't enough time during staff meetings and scheduled PD Days. Teachers want and need more time to collaborate and explore as they learn new skills and instructional practices.

I wanted to find out whether educators would attend and find evening webinars valuable. Unlike many other aspects of teaching, technology changes constantly. Just as in any industry, it is vital that educators stay current with new trends and developments in both pedagogy and new technologies. Offering online learning opportunities to the teachers that I serve will help me better support them as they strive to keep up with rapid change. I wanted to try using a new webinar platform called Zoom, which is an online meeting and webinar platform that is user-friendly and has options for screen sharing, polling, and Q & A. Webinars can be recorded and reporting features are built-in and helpful for keeping track of attendee information needed for teacher recertification. In my role as an instructional technology coach, I thought that I would be better able to assist teachers as they discover ways to improve their instructional practices using technology tools.

I was awarded the grant in late February and was able to make the purchases and learn how to use the Zoom webinar platform fairly quickly. I surveyed staff to find out topics of interest and also to find out times and dates that would work best for the most people. Five webinars were scheduled based on this feedback.

The structure of each webinar was consistent. There was an overview presentation, followed by short demonstrations of how to use a tool as part of instructional practices. After each demonstration, attendees were given time to explore with opportunities to ask questions. The culmination of each webinar included some type of sharing so that attendees could show what they learned and discuss implementation into professional practices. This format was successful. 

Five evening (7-8:00pm) webinars were offered: 
  • 03.27.2017:  Safari Montage: Digital Content for your Classroom
  • 04.12.2014: Universal Learning Supports: Co:Writer and Snap&Read
  • 05.02.2017: The New Google Sites, Now Available to Students & Staff
  • 05.18.2017: Illuminate DnA: Assessments and Reports (this one had two others hosting with me and it worked great!)
  • 06.06.2017: Creating Interactive Activities with SMART Notebook
I didn't have huge turnouts to the webinars (most having around 15 or so), but I have to remind myself that that this type of learning is different and that people are busy with family commitments, especially in the Spring when people are finally able to enjoy beautiful Michigan weather. 

Attendees were invited to submit open-ended feedback after each webinar. Feedback was positive and people enjoyed the webinar format that I used. Comments:
  • “I liked learning in this conducive environment. I loved it!”
  • “I enjoyed learning how to get started using Safari Montage. I look forward to using it with my students.”
  • “Co:Writer has way more options that I was aware of.”
  • “I love these tools that I can use (Snap&Read and Co:Writer) to help my students!”
  • “I appreciate the hands-on experiences with live guidance.”
  • “I loved seeing examples of different kinds of Google Sites.”
  • “I liked learning how easy it is to use the new Sites platform.”
  • “I have a better feel for the kinds of Illuminate Reports I can access.”
  • “I became more comfortable using Smart Notebook. The webinar sparked my enthusiasm for digging deeper into this valuable resource.”

Looking Ahead
Due to the success of the webinar series, I will continue to offer evening webinars on a regular basis throughout the 2017-2018 school year. I plan to review Spice it Up Conference attendance reports and invite the presenters of popular sessions to co-host webinars. I will also survey staff to help determine topics of interest for future webinars.
All webinars were recorded and posted on the Walled Lake Safari Montage portal. Check them out! Log in required.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Google Team Drives Are Coming! Read Info & Think Before You Click

Google Team Drives Are Coming!

What is a Team Drive?

Google Team Drives are shared spaces where teams can easily store, search, and access their files anywhere, from any device. Team Drives will be available for WLCSD educators and students beginning on July 15, 2017.  To prevent issues, it is important to have a basic understanding of what Team Drive is and how it works before trying it out.

Why might I want to use Team Drive?

Sharing files with individuals and small groups is simple, but managing a large collection of files with a larger group can be challenging. Common problems:
  • Sometimes people cannot find shared documents in “Shared with Me”
  • If the owner of a document leaves the district, it is gone for everyone, even if it was shared with others!

Team Drive Features

Team Drive is located in a separate area from personal storage space (My Drive).
Files are owned by the team, not an individual.
The creator of the Team Drive is has full access and could be considered the “Group Manager.” This person initially controls the level of access that all team members have:
  • Full Access: can modify team membership settings, add files, move files, and delete files
  • Edit Access: CANNOT add people to the Team Drive, move files or delete files. CAN create files & folders, upload files, edit files, and add people not on the team to specific files
  • Comment Access: can only view and comment on files. (no editing)
  • View Access: can only view files

Other Things to Know about Team Drives

  • The default setting for new Team members is full access. To prevent issues, there probably should only be a few people with full access level.
  • Those with full or edit access can move files that they own into Team Drive (drag and drop). Once a file is moved into Team Drive, the individual who created it no longer owns it… the team does. Consider each file carefully before moving it to Team Drive.
  • When a file is moved to Team Drive by an individual, it is no longer available in that individual’s My Drive.
  • At this time, folders cannot be moved into Team Drive.
  • Any files in Team Drives are automatically shared with members of the Team Drive. However, those with full or edit access can also share Team Drive files with WLCSD students and staff who aren’t members of the Team Drive.
  • Each Team Drive has its own trash. Files and folders in the trash are deleted FOREVER after 30 days.

How-to Guide

Step-by-step instructions for setting up Team Drives, adding files and folders, and organizing files can be found here:
This overview video, created by JP Hale, may also be helpful (12 min).


Pam Shoemaker
Walled Lake Consolidated Schools
Technology Instructional Coach

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Interland: A Free Game Designed To Help Kids Make Smart Decisions Online

Parents & Teachers: Did you know that Google just released an online game to teach children about online safety and security? It's important to help kids learn how to be smart, positive and kind when they are online, just like we help them to be when they are offline. 

Summer break is around the corner and children and teens will have more time to spend on the Internet. It is a perfect time to introduce Be Internet Awesome! 

The game was developed in collaboration with reputable online safety experts such as Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely. The game includes topics such as:

  • Safe sharing
  • Determining what is real and fake
  • Keeping personal information secure
  • Online etiquette
Get an idea of how the game works by viewing the 40 second trailer posted below, then access the game here. I think it would be appropriate for upper elementary and middle school age kids. The game-based design is brilliant - kids will love it. Check it out and share widely! 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Have Some New Blogging Buddies!

The ISTE Ed Tech Coaches PLN has organized a  "Blogging Buddies" project as a way for ed tech coaches (and those tasked with helping teachers integrate technology) to connect, network and learn from other coaches via blogging.

Many ed tech coaches value blogging as a form of personal growth and reflection in their practice, but don’t always receive that online feedback in the form of comments from our coaching peers that we’re hoping for. This is an organized effort to facilitate connections and networking to make blogging a more positive reflective experience.

Each Blogging Buddies group is made up of about five ed tech coach bloggers who have committed to blog at least once a month, read and comment on each other's blogs, and share the posts with their own networks.

I'm part of group #1. ("We're number one!)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Spice it Up Conference Call for Speakers is Open!

Walled Lake Schools hosts an outstanding instructional technology conference at the start of each school year. It will be on Thursday, August 24 at Walled Lake Central High School. I'm excited to announce that Liz Kolb will be our keynote speaker! If you are interested in joining our awesome team of presenters, the Call for Speakers info is on the "Speakers" page of the conference web site. We would love for you to join us. Applications are due by May 31. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The ISTE Standards for Students: The Groundwork for What's Possible in Learning

The ISTE Standards are about pedagogy, not tools. It seems that the field of education has finally realized that throwing digital tools into classrooms without support and expecting magical changes in instruction and student outcomes is illogical. The ISTE Standards for Students provide a framework for in-depth learning, using technology to strengthen learning. The ISTE Standards support and deepen the learning derived from other content-area standards, making them not an additional set of standards, but rather a useful guide for supporting and deepening any educational content or initiative. The ISTE Standards serve as a groundwork for what’s possible in learning using technology.

Changes Over the Years

It’s interesting to reflect on the reasons for the changes to the standards over the last 20 years. In 1998, technology was primarily used in computer labs and students were taught how to use software focused mainly on productivity. Flip the calendar to 2007 when technology on mobile carts became increasingly available, as well as access to the internet. The emphasis shifted to using technology to teach critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. Fast forward to today to see devices in the hands of students. Technology is no longer seen as optional. New designs for learning and teaching support personalized learning and connecting with others across the globe.

The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students  

Empowered Learner
The standards were designed to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process of exploration, creativity and discovery. They include a strong emphasis on empowering students to have a voice and choice in their learning.

Digital Citizen
Human life is no longer solely digital or physical; it’s a hybrid. Students grow up immersed in technology but they don’t automatically understand technology’s drawbacks — or opportunities. Students must learn to use technology in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical.

Knowledge Constructor
Although it is quick and easy to find a multitude of resources for a research report by doing a quick Google search, it may not be the most effective strategy for locating accurate and relevant information. Students must know how to employ a variety of methods and tools to find information, make sense of it, and produce creative artifacts for themselves and others.

Innovative Designer
Historically, the teacher has been the sole designer of learning experiences. It’s more important than ever for students to identify and solve problems in imaginative ways. This involves testing theories and developing perseverance when working on open-ended problems.

Computational Thinker
One might speak of coding skills when explaining the meaning of computational thinking, but it’s more than that. Computational thinking involves formulating ideas and procedures with enough clarity that one could break down tasks enough to tell a computer how to do them. Knowing how to leverage technology to develop and test solutions will likely be useful in all occupations.

Creative Communicator
Communicating learning by turning in a research paper to the teacher or reading information off a presentation slide is insufficient. Students must be able to choose appropriate tools for the need and use and/or remix visuals, models and simulations to communicate ideas to a variety of audiences online and offline.

Global Collaborator
There are many kinds of digital tools that can be used to broaden student perspectives and enrich learning by collaborating with others from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

The Challenge
The ISTE Standards for Students is all about good instructional practices. You obviously cannot focus on all of them during every lesson, but think about the experiences your students have had in your classroom over the course of the semester. Try to identify specific learning experiences your students have had that align with each standard. If there are gaps, you’ll know what kinds of goals to set for yourself and your students in the future.  

ISTE Standards for Students 2016. Retrieved from

Redefining learning in a technology-driven world; A report to support adoption of the ISTE Standards for Students June 2016. Retrieved from


This will also be published on MACUL Community.