Thursday, June 14, 2018

Another Year Down; Time to Reflect

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Today was the last day of school for the students in my district. As I think back on the year, I feel fortunate to work with such amazing people who pour their hearts and souls into the work of educating children, the most important job in the world. 

I am proud of many things that I've been involved in over the past year:

  • Partnering with teachers in my district to lead evening webinars on a variety of instructional topics.
  • Participating in the work of the iCouncil to collaboratively create in instructional framework. Our next step is to build a website with resources, testimonials, classroom videos and more; resources and ideas for educators to learn more about good instructional strategies.
  • Redesigning the instructional technology web site. There is a new "digital toolkit" that includes a sampling of tools organized by task.  
  • Teaming with special services staff to plan for a new and improved assistive technology consideration process.
  • Planning for a new building-based Technology Teacher Leadership program that will begin in the Fall.   
  • Modifying the format and organizing our annual Spice it Up Conference.
  • Being a part of the ISTE Ed Tech Coaches PLN Leadership team. Highlights include:
    • Planning and organizing a slow chat book study on the book Learning First, Technology Second by Liz Kolb; educators from all over the world participated.
    • Chairing a speaker selection committee for the annual conference.
    • ... and I'm looking forward to being the President of the PLN next year!  
  • Being surprised at the MACUL Conference with a Making it Happen Award! Thank you MACUL
What will next year bring? Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Add Voice Narration to Google Slides Presentations with Screencastify!

A feature that is greatly missed by teachers since we have moved to online tools and resources instead of installed software is the ability for students to create video for projects; to blend images and sounds to convey a message. One solution that can fit the bill is to combine the features of Google Slides with Screencastify, a Chrome extension used for recording anything that you see on the screen of a laptop or Chromebook. 

Simply put, students begin by planning their project, and then collaboratively build their presentation with Google Slides. Next, they write a script (what they plan to say when each slide is being shown). After practicing their delivery, paying close attention to their speech (rate, volume, enunciation, expression), they use the Screencastify extension to record themselves narrating as they click through their presentation in full screen/presentation view. 

It seems complicated at first, but it is easy to do. Here are step-by-step instructions for downloading and installing the Screencastify extension, changing a few settings, and using keyboard shortcuts to start and stop the screen recording process. Have fun!

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

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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 edchat.pbworks.com 
  • #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).