The 8 ingredients for the perfect technology integration soup!

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While attending the icon2013 conference in Burlington recently, I had the opportunity to meet up with several of my colleagues.  We all worked together as Technology teachers in the same district and left the same summer to become high school Technology Integration Specialists at 3 different high schools.  Although our job descriptions may be similar, our experiences, successes and frustrations were quite varied.   Our new districts all had some areas of strength and  shortcomings.  We talked about the ingredients that were necessary for technology to truly become integrated in a school and came up with the following:

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  • A strong wireless network – there needs to be a permanent line item in the school budget to support a robust wireless network that provides reliable coverage throughout the entire school campus.

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  • An administrative champion – above and beyond the presence of a district technology/tech integration team, there should be a school administrator to champion education technology.  They should regularly blog and tweet about the successful technology initiatives in the school and about education technology to strengthen communication to parents/community and to model appropriate use of social media.  They should publish a newsletter highlighting technology use in the classroom, technology related calendar events, technology tips and tricks, and students perspectives on education technology.

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  • 1-1 student/teacher computer ratio – There are few jobs that require their workers to schedule time on a computer or to share a computer with 2 or 3 coworkers.  That should not be the way students or teachers access technology either.  Until every student  and teacher has access to devices at a 1-1 ratio true integration will not be possible.  Teachers should have immediate access to their own computer anywhere in the school building,  Sudden teachable moments and unscheduled inquiries can become amazing learning experiences when a student can immediately look up the answer to a great question on their device.

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  • Technology Integration support – Teachers require support to understand what technology to use and how to use it meaningfully in this ever-changing, improving and evolving world of education technology.  Providing ‘just-in-time’ support and training is crucial to that end.  This training should also be made available to parents through regular evening technology workshops.

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  • Computer Education curriculum for students – There should be technology teachers K-12 that deliver ongoing technology education directly to students.  At the lower grade levels the curriculum would include Internet Safety, understanding the importance of a good digital footprint and learning how to use the information available on the Internet wisely and legally.  As students get older, courses should be available in robotics, engineering, computer programming, web design, tv/video, app development, computer aided photography/video, animation, etc.

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  • A student help desk — an intern program or class should be available for students to troubleshoot hardware and software issues; provide proactive support to teachers; researching new tools and the integration and use of tools; and sharing that knowledge via blogs, tutorials or presentations.
  • teacher-99741_150Teacher Technology Leaders – Ideally schools would have at least one “Vanguard” teacher from each dept who periodically meet with the Tech Integration team to plan future PD and run peer lead PD sessions on early release days.

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  • Software to support the effort – Teachers, students and parents all benefit from the use of a common Learning Management system (such as It’s Learning, Moodle etc.) which provides 1 go-to place for student assignments, handouts, etc.  All students (at least those 13 years and older) need an email address and access to a collaborative environment such as Google Apps for Education.

All pictures are from the public domain thanks to Pixabay

Augmented Reality

I have been recently intrigued by the possibilities of Augmented Reality in education.  While I have heard of this phenomena prior to attending the MASSCue conference, it was certainly further intrigued after 2 sessions I attended.

One session was an exciting demo of free software that runs on computers – Trimble Sketchup (formally Google Sketchup – a 3D building creator), AR media plug-in (works with Sketchup to view sketchup buildings in 3D, and manipulate it in a 360-degree environment) and Google Earth ( sketchup buildings can be submitted and viewed).  Two Technology Integrators, Christine Donoghue & Donna McDonnell from Billerica Public Schools,demonstrated how to easily create 3D buildings in Sketchup and then view it in 3D/Augmented Reality or via Google Earth as they do with their elementary students.   These programs have direct ties to the K – 12 curriculum in areas such as math, geography, art, literature, history and high school engineering.

There are many ways to use the sketchups.  Sketchups are being connected with google lit trips.  Students recreate historical buildings as part of a history unit.  NASA now has data on their website and an app that takes advantage of  Augmented Reality as well.

The most impressive part of the session was actually seeing this in action.  Since I did not videotape the session, I found 2 youtube videos that should give you a sense of what this looks like:

The presenters developed a handout which list all of the software that would need to be installed and install instructions as well. Other links provided during the session that you may find useful:

Basic House Drawing Directions http://www.slideshare.net/Teacher1349/sketchup-basic-house

AHS Flipped Classroom exploration

Flipping at AHS

There is a lot of discussion at AHS about the flipped classroom.  A few teachers are trying it.  A PLG has formed called Examining and Experimenting with the “Flip”  where a small group of teachers are exploring the pros and cons of flipping and learning the best way to implement that model in the classroom.  They are reading the book Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams as a basis for this exploration.  Our Tech Tuesday offered 2 sessions on the flipped classroom in January.  The Director of Digital Learning has pulled together a collection of material on the topic found at http://aps-techtutorials.wikispaces.com/Flipped+Classroom

I attended a MassCUE Technology Conference session lead by Lawrence Academy’s Technology Director/Math Teacher Mark Burkholz on flipping the classroom.  Additionally, my colleagues – high school math teachers Kelci Adams and Deb Rainha, attended a flipped classroom workshop put on by the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC). There is so much information to share!

What is a flipped classroom?

According to Mark’s blog, a flipped classroom is “…an approach where lectures are posted online as videos (called screencasts) for students to watch as homework thus freeing up time in class for more enriching activities.”


Video creation or using ready made content

While Mark acknowledged there are many products available to create your own screencasts, he highly recommended screencast-o-matic for it’s ease of use and low cost (the $15 pro account allows you to edit your screncasts, publish to vimeo/Google video/YouTube and much more).  He indicated that his entire math department worked together to build a library of math videos so that no one person had the responsibility to create the entire collection (available at his website http://flippedmind.com/ and click on mathcasts or going to Lawrence Academy’s Math YouTube channel).   Other resources mentioned at the CREC conference include iPad Apps: Show Me, Educreations, and Explain Everything that are powerful video creation tools.  Most of these resources allow you to create your own instructional video -or- use ready made videos created by other educators.

As far as creating your own videos, participants at the CREC workshop learned that using a stylus (if you are on an Ipad) can be useful in making effective videos.  The guideline for the length of the video is generally 1 minute per grade (so a tenth grade teacher should try to keep the video close to 10 – 15 minutes).  Mark suggested that when searching for ready-made video content for a flipped classroom online, you search using the term “applet + your subject matter” for the best results.

Keeping students accountable

The CREC conference emphasized the importance of  holding students accountable for watching the video content as homework.  Some strategies were to create a quiz for students to take after viewing the video to assure that they really watched and understood the content.  Students may also be required to take notes on the content and show those notes to the teacher as part of their homework grade.  Depending on the level of the class or the content of the class, teachers could provide slides that the students must take notes on or they may be asked to take notes on their own. Mark often will have students take questionnaires after watching screencasts to help him determine understanding gaps to discuss the following day in class.

Why flip your classroom and what should be done with your extra class time?

Mark emphasized that the benefit of flipping his classroom is that it increases the time he is able to spend with each student each day.  The increased class time allows him to plan more creative group activities during class to engage students and deepen their understanding of the material as well as to answer questions as students work on problem solving in class.  The CREC workshop provided additional ideas.  One strategy is to have students break into self-defined groups ranging from “I totally understand this concept” to “I need some more instruction to move forward”.  This helps the teacher determine where to focus their attention while the students are practicing concepts from the unit.  Additionally, each student could be given a green,yellow and red cup that they can use to indicate to the teacher that they need some assistance during class.

What about the students without access?

Mark acknowledged that because he teaches at a private school, he did not have to wrestle with the challenge of a student not having access to technology at home.   He suggested that a teacher could provide a thumb drive that contains the video content for students who may have a computer at home with no internet access, or provide open hours in a computer lab or school/town library to access the internet for students without access at home.

The future of Flipping

Some teachers attending the The CREC conference are using a mastery model for their flipped classroom.  All video content for the course is available for students at any time.   Students work through the material at their own pace.  Students take quizzes and must get a 75 or higher to move forward.


Want to learn more?
For more information on flipping classroom check out the APS Digital Learning Wiki, or my Pinterest boards on the topics of Flipped Classrooms and/or Flipped High School Math Classroom.

Learning how to create an Infographic

I have had a goal of learning how to create an infographic for some time. Wikipedia defines an infographic as a  “graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly”. To find the right online tool to create an infographic, I found a blog post written by my favorite EdTech resource, Richard Byrne’s Free Technology 4 teachers ( Three Free Tools for Creating Infographics)

The 3 infographic resources he suggested were:

  • Visual.ly (good for analyzing twitter hashtags).
  • Easel.ly(a good overall infographic creator)
  • Infogr.am (good for making Excel charts standout)

I started with Visually since I did not have to gather any data in order to use the tool.  I  quickly generated the infographic below analyzing the popular hashtag #edtech:

create infographics with visual.ly

Then I wanted to learn how to use Easel.ly and Infogr.am  I did not have any data to plug in which seemed to stall my success.  As I procrastinated achieving my goal, Richard Byrne came to the rescue again.  His article, Video – How To Create Infographics, included a well made tutorial by librarian Linda Braun explaining the process of creating infographics using Easel.ly and Infogr.am. Check it out:

Creating infographics | screencast tutorial from School Library Journal on Vimeo.

Another tool Richard mentioned was Zoom.it.  This tool allows you to upload an image (such as an infographic) and zoom in on it easily.  I found an infographic online and used the image to play with zoom.it:

I collected a small number of resources in pinterest regarding infographics, check out my board!

 

…now I just need some teachers who would like to use these tools….

Flipping Professional Development…pros and cons

I recently attended the MassCUE technology conference and was asked to write up some articles for an internal technology publication our department plans on developing.  I thought I would share some of the articles on my blog as well.

Flipping Professional Development

The Flipping PD session was lead by Joe Spano who discussed what worked (and did not work) when trying to flip PD at a technical school.  The presenter learned that flipped PD for beginner teachers works best when using brief teaser videos only.  This will give teachers enough information to peak their curiosity to seek out 1-1 assistance/training to learn the actual technology.  Joe learned that more advanced/independent users are more able to take advantage of full flipped PD.

Successful models for delivering professional development have been via Tech Cafe/Lunch & Learn (where he arranged food delivery during training time with the cafeteria for lunchtime or after school sessions).  You will need a lab or training area with lots of equipment.

Joe recommended using Screensteps Desktop for creating step-by-step instructions.  He also suggested that students could make instructional videos for teachers during their study period.     When generating instructional videos, investigate putting them on cable tv as well for parents.  To determine whether a staff member is a beginner or advanced user of technology, Joe suggests having teachers evaluate themselves or to develop an evaluation for teachers to fill out.

Rewarding Failure

In another session, Technology Integrator Peggy Harvey discussed her desire to implement a reward system for teachers in her building who are taking a risk by using new technology, even if they fail.  She will highlight the efforts of teachers who take risks with tech in the classroom (just as we encourage our students to do) during staff meetings and give them a small prize.  She plans on introducing the concept to the staff by showing a Youtube video about famous people who have learned much through initial failure.

photo credit: notsogoodphotography via photopin cc

Today I was Madame Spang!

I was visited by a high school French teacher yesterday.  Last year he had his French III students create a survey (using survey monkey) in French. They emailed the link to their survey to the teacher.  The teacher then had to post each link on his webpage so that the students could take each others survey.  Some of the links did not work properly.  My challenge was to use technology to improve the work flow and eliminate the bad link problem.

We decided to set up a blog (using Kidblog.org) for each class.  I used Kidblog because students do not need an email address to acquire an account and teachers do not need to know how to access the student’s blogs…they are all easily accessible from one url.  So the students created the survey in survey monkey, copied the link to the survey and placed it in a blog post.  Then each student answered every survey on the class blog.  Over the weekend the students will analyze their survey results in survey monkey and create a second blogpost to create a narrative in French about their findings.  Voila!

So many Apps..so little time

Lately I have been spending some time working on ipad carts at the high school. I have been working with math, social studies, science and language arts teachers gathering new apps to try. Between the work I did last year organizing apps at a middle school preparing for a BYOD deployment and the current projects here at the high school, I have collected a great many app lists. I decided to use list.ly to organize these collections. If you are looking for apps to serve a particular purpose, check these out:
General ipad app list.ly’s:
Photo Apps http://list.ly/list/1fC-photo-apps
Screen Capture iPad Apps http://list.ly/list/1fE-screen-capture-ipad-apps
Productivity Apps http://list.ly/list/1fU-productivity-apps
Classroom Mgt Apps http://list.ly/list/1fW-classroom-mgt
Audio Apps http://list.ly/list/1fX-audio-apps
Ebook/Storytelling/Writing Apps http://list.ly/list/1gI-ebookstorytellingwriting-apps
Note taking Apps http://list.ly/list/1gK-notetaking
QR codes Apps http://list.ly/list/1gL-qr-codes
Augmented Reality http://list.ly/list/1y4-augmented-reality
Brainstorming Apps http://list.ly/list/1iK-brainstormingmindmapping-apps?feature=mylist
Apps to find free Apps http://list.ly/list/1gJ-apps-to-find-free-apps
Physical Education Apps http://list.ly/list/1xr-ipads-and-pe