Monday, March 26, 2018

Learning First, Technology Second

I've been meaning to write about my involvement in a  book study on Learning First, Technology Second, by Liz Kolb with the ISTE EdTech Coaches PLN. I serve on the leadership team for the PLN and one of my responsibilities is to plan and manage an annual book study along with Gregory Gilmore, an edtech coach from Missouri. This is our third book study and each time we hone the process and it gets better!  

Schedule & Questions (Twitter slow chat fomat)

Archive (see everyone's responses)

The book helps educators measure whether or not authentic student learning is occurring when digital technology tools are integrated into a lesson. It also provides support to help educators make better instructional decisions when integrating digital technology tools. The framework is based on three components: Engagement in learning goals, Enhancement of learning goals, and Extension of learning goals. 

We were also fortunate to be able to offer a "meet the author" webinar with Liz Kolb on Feb 22. If you are interested in learning more about the Triple E Framework, you'll want to watch the recorded webinar!

Check out the resources on the Triple E Framework website. You'll find rubrics, research, case studies, instructional strategies, and more. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Twitter Chats You Might Like

Twitter logo
We want our students to be lifelong learners, right? Talking about our own learning is a great way to promote and encourage students to do the same. In addition to participating in PLCs with colleagues, reading books and journals, and attending workshops and conferences, participating in Twitter chats is another way to learn and grow. Being an active contributor to the educational community also adds to a sense of fulfillment. Talking about new ideas, how you learned about them, and then implementing some of the instructional strategies with students sends an important and positive message to students. 

Educators can join Twitter chats based on experiences and interests. Once you become an active chat attendee, you automatically become part of the community. Members help each other out in a give and take sort of way. Once you build the relationships, others will help you out when you pose a question or need help. 

How do you know the chats that are taking place? The ISTE blog (author Diana Fingal, Jan 16, 2018) recently published an extensive list of Twitter chats for educators. I'm going to whittle that list down a bit and add some of my own. I encourage all educators to find one to try!

General Education Chats

  • #edchat (Thursdays, 7 p.m. EST): One of the first education chats, this popular chat has nine moderators and covers a broad range of topics. Find upcoming topics and read archived chats at 
  • #engchat (Monday, 7 p.m. EST): Where English teachers share ideas, resources and inspiration.
  • #OK2Ask (every other Thursday, 8 p.m. EST): Friendly chat with lots of classroom resources shared.
  • #satchat (Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. EST): For current and emerging school leaders

Job Role Chats

  • #kinderchat (Mondays, 9 p.m. EST): For anyone interested in kindergarten and early-childhood education.
  • #1stchat (Sunday, 8 p.m. EST): Chat about first grade teaching.
  • #mschat (Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST): For middle school teachers.
  • #ETCoaches (last Tuesday of the month at 1PM and 8PM EST). For ed tech coaches and tech integration specialists.

Chats Based on Topics

  • #BookCreator chat (Last Thursday of the month, 2 p.m. EST): Over the course of the chat, participants collaborate on a book and publish it online.
  • #digcit (Wednesdays, 7 p.m. EST): Focuses on digital citizenship. Read the chat archives on the #digcit website.  
  • #EdTechChat (Mondays, 8 p.m. EST:) Focuses on topics related to edtech.
  • #FlipClass (Mondays, 8p.m. EST): For those interested in the flipped classroom model.
  • #formativechat (Mondays, 7:30 p.m. EST): Discussion of topics related to formative assessment, from giving effective feedback to giving students more ownership of their learning.
  • #Games4Ed (Thursdays, 8 p.m. EST; Sundays, 3 p.m. EST): For those interested in game-based learning and gamification.
  • #iteachphysics (Saturdays, 9 a.m. EST): Bi-weekly chat for physics teachers.
  • #kidscancode (Tuesdays 8 p.m. EST): For educators interested in helping students learn to program.
  • #LearnLAP (Mondays, 8 p.m. EST): Focuses on strategies for creating a student-led classroom - "Learn Like A Pirate".
  • #TLAP (Mondays, 9 p.m. EST): For educators who embrace David Burgess’ approach of teaching like a pirate.
  • #pblchat (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. EST): For project-based learning fans.
  • #PersonalizedPD (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. EST): For those interested in customizing professional development to meet the needs of each educator.
  • #plearnchat (Mondays, 7 p.m. EST): Topics focus on personalized learning, learner agency, changing culture, voice and choice, and strategies to transform teaching and learning.
  • #Read4fun (Every other Sunday, 7 p.m. EST): Connects passionate educators with books, and with each other.
  • #Shiftthis (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. EST): Focuses on implementing gradual change for massive impact in the classroom.
  • #sschat (Mondays, 7 p.m. EST): For social studies educators.
  • #WeirdEd (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET): Focuses on positive issues, taking action and the kids.

Chats Based on Location

  • #MichEd (Wednesdays, 8 p.m. EST): Focuses on topics important to students, educators, and parents in Michigan. See archive here.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Common Sense Media's List of Best Ed Tech 2017

Common Sense Media's Educator Portal is one of my favorite sites for exploring new tools that have been evaluated by educators. The reviews with a focus on the impact on student learning is the best feature. 

They recently published their list of 25 best apps, games, and websites. The tools are broken down by categories: Arts & Socio-emotional Learning, ELA, Math & Science, Social Studies, Teacher Tools, and Tech Skills. 

Of the 25 tools listed, many of them were new to me! I will enjoy spending time exploring them. On the top of my list with questions I want to find out include:

  • Inq-ITS virtual labs (Will they work on Chromebooks?)
  • Beyond the Bubble history assessments (How are they different from more traditional assessments?)
  • Spiral instant feedback tool (Why is it called Spiral?)
  • Itch; a tool to help teachers teach with Scratch (Can it be true? I don't find Scratch to be that intuitive)

Enjoy the list: Best EdTech of 2017. Thank you Common Sense Media! 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre Bugs: Should You Be Worried?

I read news reports yesterday about two security vulnerabilities that worry me a bit, Meltdown and Spectre. Experts are saying that they affect nearly every processor made in the last twenty years! This includes computers, cell phones, tablets, and cloud services including music and video streaming sites. 

How it works is complicated. The best description I found was from the Intel website. "Most modern CPUs are able to predict what code they might need to run for a given process, and run it in advance so the results are ready before they are needed. This can significantly improve the overall performance and efficiency of a CPU, resulting in a faster and more capable computer or mobile device. CPUs may sometimes move data from one memory location to another for use by these processes. Although the system is operating exactly as it is designed to, in certain cases some of this data may be observable through these exploits"

Technology companies are working furiously to create patches to protect themselves and their customers. Amazon web services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Allure immediately deployed patches against Meltdown and there is no indication that the available exploits could work against them. Spectre is more deeply rooted and will be harder to fix. (Source: the Verge

According to a Bloomberg Technology article, the vulnerability will not prevent your computer from working and so far there have not been reports of anyone's computer being attacked. This makes me feel a little bit better. 

What should one do to protect your devices? Download and install ALL UPDATES! This means Windows updates, browser updates, app updates, antivirus program updates and firmware updates on any school or personal technology. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Annotate PDFs with Snap & Read

Image result for snap and read
Snap & Read just added a new feature - PDF annotation. Are you familiar with Kami? The Snap & Read annotation feature is similar. It is free with unlimited use for all Walled Lake Consolidated Schools students and staff and it works with Google Drive. 

This can come in handy for students to write responses directly on PDFs and  highlight important phrases. 

How do you use it? See written instructions and/or the video below. 

Step 1: If you haven’t already done so, install Snap & Read from the Chrome store. Accept the user agreement and then sign in with your WL Google Account.

Step 2: Go to Google Drive.

Step 3: Click on the Snap & Read extension (it will turn blue when active and the black toolbar will appear on the right).

Step 4: Click on the research button at the bottom of the toolbar.

Step 5: Click the three dots in the upper right corner.

Step 6: Open PDF from > Google Drive (or “My Device,” depending on where it is).

Step 7: Now you are ready to write on it. To do so, click the pencil in the upper left corner.  The buttons to write or highlight will appear.

Step 8: When finished, SAVE!

See one minute how-to video below (for best results, view full-screen).

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hour of Code

by guest blogger, Amy Stasak, middle school instructional technology coach at Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, @abstasak

What is the Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code", to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.

Geisler Middle School Student Coding Experience

This year I had the opportunity to bring a local company, AccelerateKid, to Geisler Middle School for a one-day Hour of Code event. 70+ students voluntarily signed up to attend an hour session in the Media Center, led by the owner and several of his instructors. They began by introducing the students to coding and where/why they might use it in their lives. Then, they connected the kids to a “broken” version of a Star Wars Jedi game on Scratch, a site where users program their own interactive stories, animations, and games. The AccelerateKid instructors walked participants through adding/editing/adjusting various coding steps, to essentially “fix” the game. They discussed important programming vocabulary and the various components to be used in the Scratch website. They posed challenges that students had to figure out how to complete successfully.

My Reflections

Several details struck me this morning as I observed the two sessions unfold. First, I was amazed by the diverse group of students that attended. Not only did this attract the stereotypical “computer geeks,” but we had almost half girls, over a quarter African Americans, quite a few English Language Learners and several Special Ed students. An interest in computer science is obviously growing to all populations. It was super cool to see the excitement on so many different faces. Second, it was refreshing to see young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Their brains were spinning and when they solved each challenge, the light bulb smiles spread throughout the room. Participants were all so willing to assist one another, applaud the successes, and even jokingly commiserate when their game spit out the “Game Over” sound bite. When asked at the end of each session who learned something new and who enjoyed themselves, the room erupted in “me, me me!” Overall, I would say this was a huge success and I am thrilled to have been a part of offering this experience to my students. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Creating Animated GIFs

I often listen to The Google Teacher Tribe Podcast with Matt Miller and Kasey Bell. This is a weekly podcast that lasts 30-40 minutes. I like the structure and always pick up a tip or idea that I can use as I support teachers in my district. It's a great way to keep up with GSuite updates. Sometimes there is a guest who talks about a topic related to educational technology. 

The topic of this week's episode was Supporting GSuite Learning with GIFs. The guest, Jake Miller, discussed why he decided to get started, which made me chuckle. He was on Facebook and saw a GIF of how to make a tater tot casserole; he liked that it was quick to view and kept his attention. He then reflected on some of his longer how-to video tutorials that hardly anyone opens and decided to try creating animated GIFs to see if more people would use them. OK, now I'm interested.

Jake creates his GIFs using Camtasia, a program that I have. (Thank you, TechSmith for providing this awesome program to Google Certified Trainers!) So, I decided that maybe I should at least figure out how to do it. I first went to Techsmith's video tutorials, but I didn't find exactly what I was looking for. I then did some searching and found a blog that was super helpful: How to Create a GIF Image with a Progress Bar by Jon Acampora

One reason why I haven't especially cared for animated GIFs is that sometimes it is difficult to tell when the video begins (due to looping), and often they are too quick for me to process multiple steps. Using Camtasia allows me to easily adjust speed and add a slider bar so that viewers can tell when the video begins and ends. Thank you Jon, for sharing how to do it!  

Here is my first attempt: Inserting Emojis into a Word Doc.

I still need to experiment with the publishing settings to figure out what works best. I first published with the highest HD settings, figuring it would be the clearest image possible. However, when I went to open it, it took awhile, and I know that each second is precious. I reduced the video size settings, but still don't know if it is the best. If anyone has suggestions for me, please let me know! 

I do maintain a Google Learning Site for teachers in my district (and anyone else who wishes to use it) where I post video tutorials and handouts to demonstrate how to use each of the tools in the Google Suite. My self imposed guideline is 2-5 min per video, trying to keep them at 2-3 minutes. I recently published some tutorials that can be found on my Google Forms page. Examples include Reasons for Use, Inserting YouTube videos, Sending out a Form to Others, Creating a Self-grading Quiz, and How to View the Data. I really do not think that I could use animated GIFs for these types of videos, as the verbal explanations are important. However, I could perhaps add some animated GIFs to my written handout. Maybe I'll try that next!  I'll also start building a library of GIFs as people ask me questions.