What is the best way to provided professional development to staff, especially when your focus is educational technology? What my fellow integrator, Anita Moose, and I have found is to remove the concept of educational technology out all together! One of the biggest complaints and issues we hear from teachers is a lack of time to thoughtfully plan anything out and feel confident implementing it in the classroom. So after sitting down to brainstorm how we can create a PD that will hold value to teachers of a a variety of subjects and grade-levels we decided to keep it simple. We hosted half-day sessions of Curriculum Planning for teachers to come in and have paid time (stipend or PD hours) to work on any upcoming curriculum they need to plan out and have our Technology Integrators "moderating" and available to answer any questions and provide support in finding places to use technology to enhance teaching and student learning.
We marketed these sessions as opportunities to get planning done on 'paid' time (we offer stipends or PD hours for in-house salary advancement programs). We had a variety of teachers attend from all grade levels and subjects and use their time to get organized for the start of the year with tools like Google Classroom, create content with Google Slides and SMART notebook, flipping the classroom with Edpuzzle and Educreations, and setup digital portfolio templates with Google Sites. We were consistently told how helpful this time was and one of the best PD offerings they've attended!
So by removing the focus on trying to master a tech tool or process we were able to attract a variety of teachers to make use of always needed planning time and then hold meaningful discussions about where technology might help accomplish curriculum and student learning goals. Teachers weren't overwhelmed by a sit and get and were engaged in getting work done that was specific to them. It turns out one of our simplest attempts at PD was one of the most successful and created an easy recipe to repeat at various times throughout the year. Please make any comments regarding some of the most effective and successful PDs you've designed, run, or attended.
Another school year down and another amazing visit to InnEdCO 2018 in Keystone, CO! It's been so great to have such an amazing conference local to Colorado when ISTE only comes to Denver once every 5 years. After 4 days of learning, connecting, and growing I want to highlight several things I took away from this incredible experience.
Everyone needs to be at the table when it comes to innovation - Several of the sessions I attended discussed how we can innovate in our teaching, student learning, curriculum, and professional development. There are so many great tools and resources to help us become innovative but one of the most important themes I took away is who you have at the table in order to accomplish this innovation. Without the support and shared vision of administrators, an educator may not feel comfortable or supported in taking the risks and making the changes necessary to help students become innovative.
Building relationships is crucial - Edtech Coaches, Technology Integrators, Digital Coaches, etc.. are becoming more and more common in school districts across Colorado. Many sessions focused on how these positions can be successful in helping support teachers and students in using technology to accomplish learning goals. With these roles being often viewed as 'one more thing' for a teacher it has become important to show value to teachers so they feel like using coaches or integrators as a resource will greatly help them and be an asset. Two of the sessions centered around the DPS MyTech program which looks to successfully implement 1:1 devices in 14 schools and that included putting Digital Coaches in place to help support teachers and students.
All the groups and individuals I listened to from DPS, St. Vrain, Boulder Valley and others made a point to emphasis how important it was to establish relationships with their teachers and administrators to create meaningful connections. Once these relationships were established it then became possible to help teachers integrate technology to dynamically accomplish learning goals.
Design Thinking, Inquiry Learning, & Project/Problem based Learning are still the goal - These aren't new ideas and over the past few years the ways to implement them has been all over the map (and I don't think that's a bad thing). Many sessions used the design thinking framework to help the audience work through concepts and rethink how they are addressing student learning, teacher professional development, and technology implementation. I really like this process and find it so useful in designing dynamic experiences and coming up with great ideas. It is exciting to see it become somewhat of a standard for working through a process to utilize the best thinking of all the people in the room.
Can you really create an innovative and dynamic lessons if you aren't incorporating inquiry or project-based learning? Students are no longer engaged with old school drill and kill pedagogy. If we aren't letting our students identify problems, ask questions, and come up with solutions then we aren't preparing them for the next level in their education and beyond. Thankfully with the help of edtech there are a ton of ways to implement these strategies.
How do we teach Digital Citizenship and Digital Skills to our students?- We can't expect to inject all of this educational technology in our teaching and not help prepare students to be thoughtful and purposeful with its use. There are several programs out there to try and help a educator pass on these skills to students, but Google has recently jumped in the game with their Be Internet Awesome digital citizenship program and Applied Digital Skills program for utilizing GSuite. Both of these programs are filled with resources that can be modified or plug and play to get a teacher going with their class. Check them out if you haven't already!
Google now has a digital citizenship & safety curriculum (3-5th grade) that’s free online and doesn’t require a sign-in https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/en
Applied Digital Skills curriculum provided by Google to help teachers teach applicable digital skills to students using GSuite. Resources are available online and can be modified for differentiation. https://applieddigitalskills.withgoogle.com/
-Does require Google account to track progress and access materials.
So there you have my big take-a-ways from this year's InnEdCO conference in Keystone, CO. If you've never been make sure to plan on attending this summer and connecting with a ton of amazing educators who all are looking to utilizing edtech and innovative thinking to improve how we educate in Colorado. Please add any of your highlights in the comments section if you did attend.
In my role as Technology Integrator it can be overwhelming to decide on the right direction when looking to advance staff in their teaching practice and students in their potential. It's easy to get lost in the bells and whistles of technology engagement instead of focusing on the purposeful use to deliver curriculum and achieve academic standards. Thankfully, one of the best ways I have found to keep things in perspective is using the ISTE standards (Student, Teacher, Coach, & Administrator) when trying to be thoughtful about how we are using technology to enhance our teaching.
We have been making progress in meeting regularly with grade-level teams and departments K-12th. They were originally set up as 'tech check-ins' to give teachers a voice to address immediate and small concerns and then allow for planning conversations in upcoming lessons. My fellow integrator and I wanted to move the needle a bit faster and felt many teachers time and ability to process the ISTE standards when planning lessons was often limited. We decided to use some of the time already dedicated to our tech check-ins could be used to help teachers process the ISTE standards and jump start the conversation about effective technology use in their classrooms.
So the question was: "How do we quickly introduce portions of the ISTE standards to teachers during these check-ins and still have time to let teachers ask other questions or bring up concerns?" Our first decision was to start with the Student Standards in order to hold discussions that would engage teachers around student learning, we would circle back with the teacher standards in larger-scale PD.
It was then determined that we needed to develop protocols in which to frame these discussions. My fellow integrator, Anita Moose, has been well-versed in our District initiatives of Cognitive Coaching and Adaptive Schools so we decided to adapt several of their protocols in order to hold meaningful and productive discussions with our teachers that could be executed quickly. We broke the standards review into two pieces: 1. A general overview of all 7 of the student standards. (Empowered Learner, Digital Citizen, Knowledge Constructor, Innovative Designer, Computation Thinker, & Creative Communicator) 2. A deeper dive into the sub-standards.
This process has just begun and we plan on carrying over into next year, but the first few meetings we have had promoted some great discussion and got teachers thinking critically about the ISTE standards and how they apply to their own teaching and student learning. You can review and use the protocols we came up with below and feel free to make any suggestions for improvement in the comments. I'm sure I'll be writing an update post as we dive deeper with what's working and what needs improvement so stay tuned!
We did it! Aspen Schools has successfully held its first EdTechTeam summit to promote some great things happening in edtech and motivate and empower educators from across the state. The goal of the summit is to improve teaching and students' learning with the help of some awesome tech tools and ideas. The process of hosting the summit at your home school is time-consuming and exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. Here are 5 takeaways or ah-ha's I had from this amazing experience:
1. We need to give Geo a chance- One of the incredible members of the EdTechTeam, Jeffery Heil, gave an inspiring keynote to kick off our summit and presented a session on taking advantage of the Google Geo tools to engage and excite your students.
Taking advantage of Google Earth now being web-based is a must for teachers of just about any subject or content area. The 'Voyager' component of Google Earth is an incredible educational tool that curates content normally not available to students.
Google Maps and My Maps are great ways to create custom maps and really individualize your experience in a variety of places. Once you have created a map you can export it as a KML file to import into another My Map or do a Google search for relevant KML files that have been created by others that you could use.
Street View lets students get up close and personal with places inside and out that they may never have a chance to visit in person. The ability for everyone to contribute to Street View puts an incredible amount of power and agency in students' hands that can lead to powerful learning and connections, but please be considerate of students' privacy and safety when encouraging sharing.
Google Expeditions is a powerful AR (Augmented Reality) tool that lets you use mobile devices to take students all over the world and beyond for fun and interactive experiences. Starting its full roll-out this fall the power of this is unlimited whether you have a full class set or a few to run an engaging center. I can't wait to see how this develops!
2. Google Applied Digital Skills Curriculum- Google has recently released it's Applied Digital Skills Curriculum which walks through practical life applications that can be accomplished with the GSuite tools. Use this to teach students (or adults) how to research properly, create a budget, stay organized, and much more. Teachers can guide students through the self-paced learning that can be done individually or in groups and the lesson plans and resources can be downloaded to allow modification to meet your specific needs. I think we are finally getting to the answer to all teacher's favorite question: "When am I going to use this in real-life?"
3. Tinker Thinking is important- We were extremely lucky to have very energetic and innovative Jessica Loucks presenting at our summit. I attended her session called Thinkers That Tinker and was motivated to integrate more design thinking into our teachers' lessons and students' learning starting at the most basic of levels. Our first activity was using Makedo kits to design and build a creature out of cardboard! We were given a few requirements and then set off in groups to get creative. In a short amount of time we had all created very different concepts that we presented to each other and participate in a Launch Cycle that can easily be adapted to working with our students. I think the simplicty of design thinking and creativity is often lost on educators as we are pressured to juggle so many things and to step back and slow down is good for us and our students to be creative problem solvers that aren't defined by the barriers around us. Moral of the story: don't be afraid to tinker and let your students tinker!
4. Leadership- In addition to hosting the weekend summit we were also able to have a leadership pre-summit specifically for administration, teacher-leaders, and other school leadership positions. The Leading & Learning session was led by Mark Garrison who did an amazing job of motivating and inspiring us to think about how our students are learning and what ways technology can play a role. We covered several of the models for thinking about and evaluating tech use with teachers (TPACK & SAMR) and students (4Cs, TIM, & T3) and framed our discussion about what good teaching can look like with the assistance of technology as well as how we can coach teachers to use technology effectively in their teaching practice.
Participating in the pre-summit and the full summit made one thing clear to me regarding leadership: we need our leaders to participate in these types of events in order to better understand how technology fits into the educational model and can be leveraged to promote student and teacher success. We had several principals attend the full summit and one summarized his revelation perfectly: "I went in thinking this would be all about the gadgets, and soon realized it was about ways to promote and improve student learning and great teaching!" So refreshing to hear this coming from the leader of a building who will then hopefully pass down that excitement and energy to their own staff when looking to set goals for improvement.
Teachers and staff can do a lot by "leading from the middle" when it comes to improving our students educational experience with the aide of technology, but getting our leadership on board is crucial to long-term success!
5. Do you say it GIF or GIF (JIF)?- I am a lover of GIFs. Several years ago I attended a session in an EdTechTeam summit that really showed me the power of these simple graphics and how they can be easily created and used creatively to achieve a lot of different goals in the educational sphere. In hosting our first summit I decided it was time to share my love of the GIF by participating in the Demo Slam. For those of you not familiar with the Demo Slam it is an exciting, fast-paced, and competitive showcase of innovative & fun tech tips to get people motivated to try great things. We use this model in our own district to get people engaged before staff meetings and showcase the amazing things happening in the classroom.
In my attempts to be funny I opened my presentation with the statement that it's pronounced GIF not JIF along with an attempt at a witty jab at those who think otherwise and then proceeded to do a mediocre job of presenting my information. My new best friend and nemesis, Jeff Heil, decided to take it upon himself to impromtively change his original topic and troll me to the point of destruction using this simple video below:
After that short video and a quick tutorial on a very easy way to make GIFs using Google photos I lowered my head in shame and accepted defeat... Until the next day when the entire summit was presented a video message from the amazing Ken Shelton (c/o Tracy Purdy) making his case for the use of phonics and linguistics that result in Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) pronounced with a hard G! I stand with Ken and will forever hold on to my opinion that it's pronounced GIF and not JIF!
There are my 5 big take-aways from the 1st (hopefully not the last) EdTechTeam summit in Aspen, CO. If you attended please feel free to share any of your favorite moments in the comments section.
As my school staff move towards a full integration of GSuite for EDU tools to optimize our workflow. We have begun to really take advantage of Google Calendars to keep our schedules organized and accessible to others. Here are some tips and suggestions I have after working with staff in developing best practices:
Layering & different views - Google Calendar works on the premise that you can easily meld a lot of different calendars together in order to stay organized. When you have a whole organization using the calendar it allows for easy sharing and access to calendars making coordination with peers simple and effective. Don't forget that you can alter how you are viewing your calendar based on your needs. Schedule view is often forgotten and can really help keep you organized if you have a lot of events. Day, Week, or 5-day view might help keep things organized if you need a clear picture of several calendars all at once.
Sharing - Much like Google Docs one of the big advantages of Google Calendar is the ability to easily share it with other Google users and control what exactly they can see. Calendars can be made public or shared individually with a varied level of detail/access depending on what you deem appropriate. Avoid unnecessary emails about your availability by giving some level of access to your calendar/schedule to your cohorts.
Invites & Attaching documents - One of the lynch pins of organizing your calendar with others is sending invites. This insures other parties are aware of a meeting or event you have scheduled, inserts it on their calendar, and will let you know who has confirmed or denied their ability to attend. Use the 'Find a Time' tab when creating an invite to easy see invitees availability (if you have access) to avoid back and forth correspondence about best times. When any corresponding documentation (i.e. agendas, supplemental reading, notes, etc...) would be helpful, simply attach it to the calendar invite so you have quick access. This feature is great for standing meetings that you may have a running agenda for, no need to search your Drive for the document!
Making appointments - One feature only available for organizations like schools and businesses is the ability to make appointment slots that users can then sign up for and make an event on both calendars as a reminder. When you are in a support role, like myself, it is an easy way to stay organized and again avoid unnecessary emails back and forth to find times that work for everyone. View the Google Help center documentation HERE and watch the quick GIF below walking through the process.
Syncing & Embedding - Everyone's using GSuite aren't they? Though a tool like Google Calendar always works best in it's home environment, it's easy to give someone (or larger audience) access to a calendar in a few different ways regardless of their Googleness. Each Google Calendar you create has the ability to be imported into a calendar viewer and grab an embed code to easily display your calendar on any webpage that allows for custom HTML.
Spreadsheet import - When you have a lot of events you'd like to put in a calendar all at once, the thought of clicking on each day and entering the details can seem like a massive time suck, and it is. The ability to create a quick import template via Google Sheets is an incredible time-saver that makes populating a calendar quick and easy. Find the instructions from Google HERE and access a template I've created HERE.
There you have my advice for some of the best features and tools of Google Calendars that have really helped my district get the most out of this tool. If you have been a longtime user of Google Calendar none of this should come as a surprise, but getting everyone on your team and organization on board with these features and tools is paramount to getting the most out of Google Calendar and being efficient and organized. Please leave any tips or advice in the comment section that you've found helpful that wasn't mentioned above.
The #ETCoaches book study of Learning First, Technology Second, The Educator's Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons has just wrapped up and my brain is overflowing with ideas and theories of how to best integrate technology into our educators' teaching and student learning. Liz Kolb, ISTE author and Professor of Edtech at U of M (I had to put aside my college bias, but couldn't deny the incredible work done by her and her colleagues. Go Green!) put together an amazing book and resource that revolves around the Triple E Framework and ISTE standards to think about technology integration to ensure that a teacher and student's learning goals are met. The book brings into context several other frameworks, including two that I've discussed on this blog and with my own staff. TheSAMR and TPACK frameworks definitely have their place in the edtech discussion, but I like how the Triple E Framework is immediately ready to be used as a quick evaluation tool for teachers and administrators to assess a lesson and what technology you may have included to enhance, engage, or extend the learning goals based on your curriculum or standards.
The framework revolves around the three main concepts of engagement, enhancement, and extension.
Engagement in learning goals is the first component or measure of the framework. Just as you would guess the purpose is to look at how any technology tools you are using will help students engage with the desired learning goals and classroom tasks. I thought the books discussion of false engagement is a critical component we need to consider when evaluating our tech use. We cannot assume engagement just because student is using a piece of technology, but we need to ask ourselves if they are active participants in their learning with the aide or addition of technology. The book discusses a variety of strategies to promote engagement including things like guided practice or co-use and provides context for how to think about them in a handful of scenarios where you can think about and visualize the process. Kolb lists the three questions below to ask yourself when measuring the engagement of your learning goals through a tech tool:
1. Does the technology allow students to focus on the assignment or activity with less distraction?
2. Does the technology motivate students to start the learning process of knowledge gathering?
3. Does the technology cause a shift in the behavior of the students, where they go from being passive to active social learners?
*Learning First, Technology Second: The Educator's Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons. (2018). 1st ed. [ebook] Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, p.50-51. Available at: https://www.iste.org/resources/product?ID=3975&ChildProduct=4012 [Accessed 1 Feb. 2018].
Enhancement of learning goals is the second element of the framework and has a teacher look at how technology adds value and scaffolds learning for students. Keeping higher-order thinking skills in mind is crucial to thinking about the enhancement a piece of technology can bring to your lesson and help accomplish your lesson goals. The book includes a list of tools/resources that can provide enhancement such as Kaizena and Imagistory with additional description and explanation. The same scenarios are provided from the engagement chapter, but take the questions below into consideration when evaluating a lesson plan with its learning goals:
1. Does the technology tool aid students in developing a more sophisticated understanding of the content (higher-order thinking skills)?
2. Does the technology create scaffolds to make it easier to understand comprehend or demonstrate their understanding of the learning goals in a way that
3. Does the technology create paths for students to comprehend or demonstrate their understanding of the learning goals in a way that they could not do with traditional tools?
*Learning First, Technology Second: The Educator's Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons. (2018). 1st ed. [ebook] Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, p.64-65. Available at: https://www.iste.org/resources/product?ID=3975&ChildProduct=4012 [Accessed 1 Feb. 2018].
Extension of learning goals is the third and final component of the framework. The focus is on something I think good educators already know which is learning does not and cannot take place in isolation. If we are not looking at how what we teach our students is connecting to their own lives then how do we expect them to find a value and retain what they are learning. Kolb discusses several tools including GooseChase and Lab4U as ways to extend your students' learning. Like the previous two components of the framework the same learning/classroom scenarios are listed while taking the three questions below into consideration:
1. Does the technology create opportunities for students to learn outside in their everyday lives?
2. Does the technology create a bridge between school learning and everyday life experiences?
3. Does the technology allow students to build skills that they can use in their everyday lives?
*Learning First, Technology Second: The Educator's Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons. (2018). 1st ed. [ebook] Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, p.78-79. Available at: https://www.iste.org/resources/product?ID=3975&ChildProduct=4012 [Accessed 1 Feb. 2018].
Understanding the three components and their role in good technology integration is done very well by Kolb in the book. This includes scenarios to understand the components, examples from the field, instructional support strategies, and lesson plan templates. One of the best tools she gives you is the Triple E Measurement tool and access to a free digital version on https://www.tripleeframework.com/ . This has been my first experience with a framework that has a digital resource can be used right away to evaluate a lesson and have quick feedback on where it falls within the framework and its areas of strength and weakness. Take 5 mins and review a lesson you have created with the easy to use rubric HERE and make any adjustments to get the most out of your lesson and accompanying tech resources to best achieve your learning goals.
There you have the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding and using the Triple E Framework for effective tech integration. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of the book and really dive into what the Triple E Framework is all about and how you can begin using it to put some thought behind your tech use in teaching and learning. Better yet, read it with some colleagues to really get a group perspective and avoid learning in isolation. Reach out on Twitter mentioning @TripleEFrame & #ETCoaches and grow your PLN with an amazing group of educators (many whom participated in the recent book study and slow chat). If you have read Learning First, Technology Second please leave any insights in the comment section. Always keep those learning goals first and you'll be amazed at the results!
If you are reading this blog there's a good chance you found me via Twitter. There are a lot of opinions about Twitter especially since the election of our President who is not shy about his use of this platform for pretty much anything that comes across his mind. Politics aside, I do believe Twitter has a special place for educators in allowing us to connect, share, and grow in ways never before imagined.
Twitter started with the ability to add 140 characters and has recently doubled to 280. Though many people see drawbacks to the character limit, I feel it really makes us value the words we are posting and think critically about what's the most important info to include to get your message across.
Tip: use a url shortner like the Google URL shortner or tinyurl, when posting links to save on character space.
Once you have an account the Twitter web interface has several options you can use to get the most out of the platform:
#Hashtags (formerly the pound sign) are Twitter's version of keyword searching (many platforms have adopted this as well). You can search these in the search box on the upper right hand corner of your screen. Adding #Hashtags to your own tweets allows you to put an organizational system in place to group relevant tweets together with yours and other users. Using #Hashtags to follow and participate in Twitter chats is one of the most valuable uses I have found for Twitter. Whether rapid-fire or slow-chats I have always made some great connections and walked away with amazing ideas or tools. Some of my favorite #hashtags to keep up with and participate in are:
Here's a link to a great article listing 100 educational hashtags organized by topic.
Lists are collections of twitter users you can curate yourself or become part of. Another great tool to sift through the massive amounts of information and focus on a specific group. You can see lists created by other users and follow those as well to let great users find other great users for you.
Moments are curated events that collect related tweets and put them together. You can even create your own moments from tweets you want to collect and stream together to tell a story about a particular event. Flipping over to the moments tab can be very useful and informative when looking to gather information on a particular subject or event. It is important to remember that Moments are not comprehensive collections of information so take them for what they are worth.
Following other Twitter users is where you can get the most out of your experience. There are a lot of people on Twitter and who you follow will affect how your feed looks. Though it may be tempting to follow everything and everyone you may have had interest in you will quickly find that great things posted by those users can get lost in the shuffle. Be thoughtful about who you are following, but as a courtesy always considering following fellow educators who follow you. Some of my favorite tweeters are:
Tip: when you do find someone or something worth following you can set mobile notifications to be alerted every time they tweet. No need to sift through your feed to find the gold.
When you've fully bought in to the Twitter life it might be time to up your game and use an app like TweetDeck to take full advantage of everything Twitter has to offer. TweetDeck and other apps like it, allow you to really organize your feed and create columns/sections to follow specific #hashtags, people, or content. It can be really useful when you begin to use Twitter as a professional development tool and participate in Twitter chats. I love TweetDeck and currently use it as a "Chrome app" that launches automatically when I open Chrome.
Best Twitter desktop apps (older article, but all the tools are still relevant)
Best Twitter mobile apps (articles rates app by categories)
So if you're already using Twitter as an educator hopefully you found some useful tips in this post to really get the most out of your experience and if you're not on Twitter, what are you waiting for!?! Anytime I talk to folks who are hesitant I always encourage them to get on and not focus on sending out any information, but simply following those who are already sending out great information. You can still gain a lot from Twitter by "lurking in the shadows" and you may find that as you begin to interact and connect you have created a PLN that was not remotely possible in the past. Feel free to share this post with those who haven't made the Twitter plunge yet and let me know of any great tips or tools you have experience with that make Twitter work for you!
How did you celebrate Computer Science Education Week? In the third consecutive month with a tech week to celebrate (October - Digital Citizenship Week, November - Media Literacy Week, and December - Computer Science Education Week) my fellow integrator, Anita Moose (@amooseIT), and I were pretty fried after organizing the first two and not sure how to get back up and excited for this huge event. Anita proved to be key to getting us motivated and excited by rallying the troops and reaching out to our middle school coding classes. She then matched them with elementary classes K-4th grade to share their knowledge of basic coding with some fun unplugged and digital activities. In addition to having students teach students, we held lunch sessions in the middle and high school with Ozobots, Osmo, and hour of code activities on the Chromebooks.
Our most concentrated effort was having coding and CS centers on rotation in the elementary school library with the help of our amazing librarian, Lisa May Howard (@aeslib) and AES G/T teacher, Julie WIlle (@jpwille). Using Bee-Bots, Pro-Bots, Ozobots, and code.org activities, every single student in the elementary got exposure to a variety of coding and CS concepts throughout the week with time to play, explore, and problem-solve.
The three buttons below will give you access to each of the resource documents Anita and I put together for teachers to use during and after CS Education week. We included videos, unplugged resources, and online activities.
Though we are getting more traction at including coding and CS (Computer Science) in students' everyday curriculum, it was still important to provide a specific focus on these topics to create excitement for pursuing these topics from the students and teachers. The underlying goal of each of the weeks was to encourage teachers to keep using the concepts throughout the year for a more comprehensive understanding and use. That's why we created resource documents for each topic (Digital Citizenship, Media Literacy, and Computer Science), to provide consistent access for teachers and allow them to go back at their convenience and use when applicable. The hope is that these weeks will soon be showcases of the great work already being done throughout the year. Please share any great resources you've used for this week or successes you've had.
You've often heard my ranting and raving about the great things done for edtech and education from the amazing people at the EdTechTeam. I was accepted to present at their Colorado Summit in Louisville, CO this November and joined 600+ educators for a weekend of fun and learning. It was truly an awesome event and a bit overwhelming with all the participants and presenters to hone in on the best tips, tricks, and practices to take-away and back to my teachers. Here is a list of the amazing things I gained from this incredible two day event:
1. Chromebooks are the answer! - I'm sure this could spark a lengthy debate on which device is the most effective for student learning and there can be a case made for a variety of devices depending on environment, but the more I speak with other educators in a variety of situations the Chromebook continually seems to rise to the top. In my district we have been steadily moving mostly to Chromebooks for students, but still have a mix of devices including iPads, iTouches, Android tablets, Macs and PCs. The Chromebooks are a breeze to manage using the Admin console and the simplified interface of the Chrome OS lets students get just about everything and anything done within the GSuite workflow.
Once you do take the plunge into the world of Chromebooks there are plenty of great tips you and your students can use to maximize your experience. I sat in on a session with Sean Williams (@seani) who walked us through some of the useful shortcuts, apps/add-ons, and extensions. Review his slideshow HERE, but some of my favorite are:
Shortcuts - save yourself some time and sanity with these keyboard shortcuts.
Ctrl+Shift+T - Open your last closed tab(s)
Ctrl+Windows Switcher - screenshot
Ctrl+Shift+Windows Switcher - selected area screenshot
Ctrl+Shift+? - Pull up a map of all the available keyboard shortcuts and what they do.
Extensions - get the most out of your Chrome experience with great extensions to improve you and your students workflow.
Extensity - as you continue to add more and more extensions you may notice some issues with performance.
Too Long; Didn't Read (TLDR) - this extension has been out for a while, but seemed to take a hiatus and wasn't working for the past year or more for most users. Well it's back, and I urge you to use it with your students to get great short summaries of any website and assist with their reading and summary skills.
Add-ons and Apps - when working in a Chrome environment it's always key to find useful apps or add-ons to allow you and your students to do more. Apps are currently being phased out in the Chrome environment so they are essentially websites again.
Equatio - allows you to insert complex equations into most GSuite tools. Use voice, handwriting (touchscreen required), or keyboard input. NOW FREE FOR TEACHERS!!
Draftback - add-on for Google docs that enhances the existing 'version history' that can be used to see past revisions and revert back to those versions. Great way for you and your students to watch the evolution of the writing process and reflect on practice.
Desmos - a powerful graphing, web-based, calculator that can be used individually or as a class with teacher-led activities and instruction.
Google Keep - turn your sticky notes digital! Create to do lists, notes, and reminders that can be shared with others, organized, and inserted into Google docs.
2. Bitmojis and Google Slides - There are a ton of great uses for Google Slides in the classroom and I was blown away by Sylvia Duckworth's (@sylviaduckworth) presentation on tying together the Chrome extension Bitmoji and Google Slides to create fun comics for teachers or students to use. Many of us have already dipped in the Bitmoji world via Snapchat, but utilizing the Chrome extension is a great way to use these fun comics to create meaningful digital literature for both students and teachers to express themselves. Check out Sylvia's presentation HERE and her website (sylviaduckworth.com) for more awesome ideas and how to get started.
3. Sketchnoting - Another great topic championed by Sylvia Duckworth. She gave several presentations during the summit to help people get started and advance their skills in how sketchnoting can work in the educational environment. As we do move to an more digital environment for students it's important to still provide students with tactile ways to record and remember information. There often seems to be a disconnect if students simply type down their notes and we are getting closer with the tools available to live comfortably in both worlds. I cannot do the topic justice in comparison to Sylvia so please check out her presentation HERE, blogpost HERE, and her website for more information on how to find the best tools and strategies for you.
We were also introduced to Rocketbook which combines the best of both worlds when it comes to taking notes and keeping digital records. Sketchnote, doodle, draw, scribble, etc... and use an app on your phone to send your documents to a variety of locations all at once. Very cool tool I recommend checking out.
My favorite take-away was the WolframAlpha add-on which essentially puts the power of Siri into your Google Sheets. Insert questions into your sheet and use the add-on to quickly grab the answers. This is obviously the most simplistic use of this amazingly powerful add-on so add this to your Sheets and start playing.
So there you have some of my biggest takeaways from the incredible Colorado Summit put on by the EdtechTeam. Alas, I am only one man so there was no doubt a plethora of other great things happening that I couldn't get to throughout the Summit. I've said it in previous posts, but if you are able be sure to make the time to go check out a summit near you. The information, connections, recharging, and excitment gained from this two day event is incredible. Feel free to comment on any of the topics above or any great ideas you've taken away from this or another EdtechTeam Summit.
With the overwhelming access to technology our students have, promoting good digital citizenship from K through 12th grade is a must! Though we have been helping teachers integrate Digital Citizenship into their classes using the Common Sense Media lessons we wanted to make a big push for this year's Digital Citizenship Week.
So where do you begin? We wanted to get both the students and teachers involved with a variety of activities during the week in order to build some momentum that we could carry throughout the year. We created morning announcements to be read by students in each building, hosted lunch activities that included the online digital citizenship programs from Common Sense Media (Passport, Compass, & Bytes) and our own surveys created using scenarios from Common Sense's newly released Social and Emotional Learning resource. These survey's included videos of our students reading several of the scenarios posed from the SEL resource and followed up with questions to the students on what they would do if put in those situations.
Thanks to the support of our amazing AES Librarian, Lisa May Howard (@aeslib), we were able to set-up a digital citizenship "hub" in the library during the students weekly library rotation to ensure all students were exposed to the digital citizenship activities and skills. Both the AMS and AHS librarians were also crucial in supporting our cause during the week by setting up digital stations and conducting short lessons for students.
Students were offered a chance to be entered into a drawing for participating in several take-home activities for the ES and MS and for completing the Digital Dilemma forms at the HS. Teachers were entered into a prize drawing for completing any of the digital citizenship activities we provided with their students or completing the Google Digital Citizenship training. You can use the buttons below to access all our planning documents and resources.
Needless to say all the hard work and planning resulted in a very successful and fun week getting the word out about digital citizenship, but as I mentioned earlier the main goal is to make this mindset last throughout the year. In working with building and district administration we provided the resources to help teachers and staff integrate the skills of a good digital citizen into any and all of their lessons and projects with students. Building principals were trained in what to look for during observations to ensure these crucial skills are being taught and what questions to ask (in-person & digitally) to promote further discussion of digital citizenship with their staff. Feel free to use any and all of the resources linked in this post for your own work on cultivating good digital citizens in your school and feel free to comment below on any successes you've had in creating a positive digital citizenship culture in your school or district.
Tech Integration Specialist at the Aspen School District. Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Former 4th grade teacher and Spartan for life! Go Green!