Another year, another chance to get students and teacher excited about computer science and coding during #CSEdWeek! This year we reloaded many of the activities we used previously because of the success we had with them, but we did some exploring and took our use of Ozobots to the next level and were extremely happy with the results.
We decided to use a push-in model this year to try and bring fun, engaging activities right to the classroom and give teachers the experience of how CS can be implemented in their classes for a variety of subjects. We made this effort because in previous years we only offered lunch time activities and stations in library which resulted in teachers not being present when students were engaged and participating making those classroom connections tough to make and try and continue the momentum throughout the year.
For those of you not familiar with Ozobots they are great little devices to take students from basic introduction of coding all the way through more complex block coding sets. We currently have a class set of Evos which are the slightly more robust version that include a few more bells and whistles as well as the ability to update firmware. The Ozobot website has an amazing resource of lessons you can search through (grade-level, topic, standard) to really take advantage of their capabilities from the basic color coding through the more complex Ozoblockly coding.
Ozobots start simple with color-based coding using markers and paper. The colors you need are black, red, green, and blue which allow you to create paths for the Ozobot sensors to follow. Colors can be combined to create simple codes for speed changes, directions, timers and fun moves like tornadoes or zig-zags! We used the color coding function as a way to introduce coding and the Ozobots to younger grades (K-2) and had them create code paths that spell out their names or initials.
Though this is the second year we have had the Ozobots, this was the first year we dove into using the Ozoblockly coding aspect of them and frankly, we were blown away at how easy it is to get started and have students do simple to complex programming in such a short amount of time. Loading the code can be done across multiple different devices including our favorite, Chromebooks, as it just takes a series of flashing color lights read by the Ozobot sensors. We had our older students (3rd-8th) use the Ozoblockly coding to guide their Ozobots through a maze of their own creation and program their bot to move from one point on a grid to another to combine the coding practice with identifying points on a x and y-axis.
We had such great success and engagement with the Ozobots during #CSEdWeek that my fellow integrator, Anita Moose (@amooseIT), and I are currently creating schedules to continue push ins with classrooms in all three buildings and allowing for Teachers to request specific topics and standards for us to plan around to make the best use of the Ozobots integration into a teacher's curriculum. If you have had similar success or other great experiences with the Ozobots please leave any feedback in the comments below.
With Google Cast for EDU student sharing has just taken on a whole new level! This amazing extension for the Chrome Web Browser allows a teacher to easily give students access to share what they are working on quickly and in real-time.
The Google Cast for EDU extension is quick to install and very easy to setup for teachers, enabling them to turn their device into a display for an entire classes' devices when it comes time to share with the group. At the admin level we have limited the ability for students to install this extension in the admin console since teachers are the primary users for displaying content being shared by students.
With Chrome now having Cast built directly into the settings it's very easy for students and teachers to access the tool in order to share their screen. Within a few clicks you can access a preset teacher device and quickly begin sharing your screen to present.
Refer to the screenshots below for visuals on how to get started, but don't miss this opportunity to take advantage of a great tool to seamlessly share student work!
**For all my techies out there, all of our testing has shown that devices don't have to be on the same network in order to cast to one another. This has been extremely important since we have student and teacher devices on separate networks**
Providing meaningful feedback for students is one of the most powerful tools for educators to create meaningful connections and learning. It never seems like one method will check all the boxes in allowing students or teachers to get that feedback to other students so they can reflect on their own work. With the addition of technology in the mix, it has proven even more difficult to find effective ways to allow students to give and receive feedback on digital work.
Working with a 2nd grade teacher we were struggling to find ways for her students to make comments on hand-written and digital writing in a way that could be collected and reviewed later by both the teacher and the students. Some of the obvious options came up: wanting to use Google Forms for students to easily type in comments and Google Classroom to collect and share digital writing. We had the outline to how we thought we could get it done and now we had to find how to best adjust the tools at hand to work in a way that was easy for the students and teachers and could be replicated over and over again.
docAppender - If you haven't heard of docAppender it's a Google Forms add-on that will send responses to an specific Google Doc based on some of the parameters you set-up ahead of time. The initial set-up can take a bit of time (this is where Google Classroom comes in), but then you have a form that will send each response to a easily readable Google Doc that can be shared and used repeatedly to create a running record of feedback.
Google Classroom - I'm only going to assume you haven't heard of Google Classroom because you have been living under a rock with no Wifi and refuse to join most of the world in utilizing GSuite (j/k, well kinda...). The ability to organize a workflow between students and teachers with Classroom is game changing. It has made working in a digital, "mostly" paperless environment user-friendly and effective. When it comes to creating assignments, handing out individual templates, and easily collecting student work of a variety of medias I don't have much negative to say. There are no perfect systems, but we won't get into those in this post.
So now you know the tools, but the key is how you make them work together. The docAppender add-on doesn't need Google Classroom in order to function, but it makes it go much smoother. As mentioned above the docAppender add-on will allow you to sort and separate responses to a Google form onto specific Google docs which makes it a great way to get written feedback for specific people and then share that data with those people without sharing other feedback. Using Google Classroom lets you easily create a document and folder location to keep all the feedback documents together for easy sharing and use. Take a look at the screenshots below to get an idea how to get the process started.
So there you have a "daisy-chain" of two great tools to help facilitate peer feedback in your class. Many modifications can be made to suit your specific needs such as creating multiple documents for different types of writing, but if you include the right identification questions it may be just as easy to keep one big running record of feedback to not overwhelm a student with different documents to sort through in order to see their feedback. Making the connection through Classroom makes it really easy to create the documents and identify them by student name as well as give you as the teacher access to everyone's work and feedback. If you have any systems like this or good modifications/suggestions please leave them in the comments below.
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.
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.
Tech Integration Specialist at the Aspen School District. Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Former 4th grade teacher and Spartan for life! Go Green!