Friday, September 20, 2013

Using PhotoStream in Education

I love the idea of making better use of iOS's PhotoStream in education.  A teacher can create a PhotoStream of specific images they'd like students to be familiar with and share that particular PhotoStream with their students.  The ability to identify objects, species, or varied symptoms may seem a bit geared to low-level Blooms memorization; however, there are times when it is absolutely necessary to be able to recognize something the minute the object is seen.  That's where PhotoStream can come in handy.

To create and share a PhotoStream with others follow these steps:

  1. Select the photos you want to share.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Click the Share button in the toolbar, choose Photo Stream from the pop-up menu, and click New Photo Stream.
    • Drag the photos to Photo Stream in the Source list, and click New Photo Stream.
    The New Shared Photo Stream dialog appears.
  3. In the “Shared with” field, type the email addresses for your invitees.
    To enable your invitees to access the shared photo stream from an iOS device, you must provide the email addresses associated with their iCloud accounts.
  4. In the Name field, type a name for the photo stream.
  5. If you want to share your photo stream with someone who doesn’t have an Apple device, select the Public Website checkbox.
    Note:   People who view your shared photo stream on the web cannot comment on the photos. They also cannot view the comments posted by you or by others who subscribe to your shared photo stream with an Apple device. If you would like someone who doesn’t have an Apple device to see the first comment added to a photo, you must post the comment first, before inviting the person to view the shared stream.
  6. Click Share.
Your invitees are sent an email and a notification asking them to subscribe to your shared photo stream.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Apple Distinguished Educator Institute 2013

I'm waiting at the airport to catch my flight for the 2013 Apple Distinguished Educator Institute with all sorts of emotions. I'm more than excited to begin a journey of discovery filled with seeking new knowledge, collaborating and networking with others and being introduced to innovative ideas so that I can continue to do the same with the amazing educators I work with in Manitou Springs.

I saw a quote the other day on the Apple Website:

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” - Apple, Inc.

I like this quote and though I'm too humble to think the innovative practices we are employing will change the world they will certainly have impact on the students who will, collectively, change the world. My goal in Austin will be to gleam all I can to make good on that quote.

I'm also really nervous. These ADE'S are rockstars who produce amazing content and have been my mentors for many years. Now, i'm working side by side with them and that's a bit daunting. Yes, I'm a bit out of my comfort zone.

I'm curious too - what exactly will the next few days hold? The advanced agenda is out and I've taken several surveys but what exactly is in store remains to be known. There certainly is a lot of excitement in the twitter-verse.

Mostly, I'm humbled to be awarded this title and will do my best to live up to the expectation.

I'm also a little bit stoked. Okay, a lot stoked.

So what exactly is an Apple Distinguished Educator?

From the Apple website: Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) are part of a global community of education leaders recognized for doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. They explore new ideas, seek new paths, and embrace new opportunities. That includes working with each other — and with Apple — to bring the freshest, most innovative ideas to students everywhere. ADEs work closely with Apple to lead innovation in education. ADEs advise Apple on integrating technology into learning environments — and share their expertise with other educators and policy makers. They author original content about their work. They advocate the use of Apple products that help engage students in new ways. And they are ambassadors of innovation, participating in and presenting at education events around the world. Being part of the ADE community is much more than an honor — it’s an opportunity to make a difference.

You can find out more by visiting the Apple ADE website.

Can you see why I'm excited, nervous, curious and mostly humbled to be a part of this amazing group of educators? Let the games begin.


Why Wouldn't I? Thoughts on Using Technology for Technology's Sake

Frequently I'll hear the statement, "We shouldn't be using technology for technology's sake." There is no argument that educators must be purposeful in their intent when it comes to lesson planning in order to meet district and state mandates while continuing to design learning opportunities for students that are engaging and authentic. Much credence has been given to this statement and, with the advent of applications that often mimic low level thinking skills like word searches, then I might agree. But technology and access to technology has changed and lately I'm beginning to feel like this statement is more of a crutch or reason not to use technology than one that is truly focused on the educational goals and outcomes of learning. The only people I hear making this statement are those either resisting the use of technology or those trying to convince the resistors to use the technology and letting them know the intent is purposeful. I'm not convinced this statement is doing much to help children learn. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's slowing teachers down and giving students yet another reason to lose interest in school and learning.

The use of technology in education has helped me be more effective with my time and organization. It has aided in my teaching and learning by bringing countless resources to my fingertips just in time for upcoming lessons and units. When a new application or device becomes available I'm interested in it's use because I want to increase my productivity, get more connected or simply investigate a new way of doing something. Students should be using technology to raise awareness of issues relevant to them by starting conversations and taking action. Students need to use the technology in order to find answers to questions and connect with like minded (or not) people. The idea of using technology for technology's sake has never let me down because technology is brilliant and opens doors to unimaginable places and things, especially in the classroom. And, if the technology takes a bit of time to learn and perhaps even slows me down for a bit, I consider myself better off because I've spent some time in the problem solving/troubleshooting mode and come out on top.

If I consider the fact that teachers are professional, able bodied learners whom I trust to create lessons that focus on learning and critical thinking, why wouldn't I want them to use technology for technology's sake? One creative idea will often lead to another and so it goes in a technologically rich, connected classroom that collaborates and produces and shares incredible pieces of work because a teacher isn't fearful of using technology, sometimes just for technologies sake. Why wouldn't I?


Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Need for Paper and Pen

Experience and time have led to the need to retire the phrase "you will still see paper and pen" when talking about classrooms in a 1:1 environment. The statement is antiquated and equivelent to the idea of continuing the use of a slate and chalk in post 19th century classrooms despite the advent of the paper and ballpoint pen.
We must continue to grow with the tools available and stop validating the tried and true tools of the past. The need to reassure others that despite the technological changes of today, despite the respectfulness of using a modern tool for modern learners, we honor and value the tools of yesterday.
In the early days of our 1:1 adoption we gave a lot of school tours and often found myself pointing out the use of paper and pen. You won't hear that statement from me anymore. What has changed? Time has been on my side. I've had 2+ years to grow in a dynamic environment filled with mobile devices and student choice. I've seen learners grow with a tool that expands the boundaries of their education and learning experiences. I've seen teachers shift control of content and decision making to their students. Mostly, I've seen information, paperwork, news, and social media explode in an online environment.

Weeks may go by without my need for a piece of paper or a pen. That doesn't mean I'm not writing, it just means the mode of writing is beginning to look very different from my experiences in the past and vastly different from the experiences of my parents and grandparents. And, it means, more than ever before, educators must begin to be aware, to accept and be willing to model, use and expect this new form of writing in the classroom and let go of the need to hold onto tools that are becoming irrelevant in our changing world.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Embedding Youtube Video into BlogPost

Embedding a Youtube video into Blogger post is quite simple.
  1. From Youtube, select the share button located beneath the video
  2. Select Embed
  3. Uncheck Show suggested videos when the video finishes (Located beneath the embed code)
  4. Copy the code provided in the expanded box
  5. Edit the blogpost where you want to embed the video
  6. Click the HTML tab at the top of the post and paste the code into your post
  7. Publish your post

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Note Taking in a Blended Environment

As many teachers move toward student directed learning many begin substituting classroom lectures for video.  This allows students to move through class material at their own pace and review material on an as needed basis.  There are a few apps and online web applications that make iPad note-taking in this environment a little easier to accomplish.  The trick is to find browsers that allow for multiple windows on one screen.

Side by Side (free) is a multiple-window reader/browser with offline reading and note taking capabilities. It turns the iPad into multiple resizable reading devices working in parallel.  You can browse webpages, download files, read documents, or take notes on each split screen.  Watch the video on one side of the screen, take notes on the other.  There is a pro version for side by side available for $1.99 but the free version works just fine for this task.

sling Note ($2.99) is another app that pairs a web browser and a notepad or a calculator and a notepad side by side.  Again, you can watch the video on one side of the screen and take notes on the other side.
What I like about slingNote is that you drag and drop objects from one side to the other, a nice feature for note taking from a website.  You can also insert text boxes and use a stylis with ease on the note taking side of the page.  slingNote integrates with Dropbox nicely and allows for opening of the notes in other applications.

VideoNotes is a neat new web based tool for taking notes while watching YouTube videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on.  It's a little buggy on the iPad due to VideoNotes being web-based, at least for now.

The caveat of course is that once students are aware of side by side browsing they can use the app for any task, including online testing.  This creates a pressing issue for teachers to redesign test questions that can't be answered by using Google.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Internet Searches - Developing Web Literacy

I was recently asked about internet search tips teachers might integrate into their lessons so students might become more effective at internet research. There is quite a bit written about understanding URLs as a method of weeding through search results, an important skill needed by those who don't quite have the web literacy to specifically search for information on the internet. Teaching web literacy - the ability to discern how and why you are getting the results in which you search, provides students the tools needed to research topics from all points of view and retrieve requested information specific to a query.

I'm a HUGE fan of Alan November. His website, November Learning, is chock full of resources on web literacy. Take the quiz yourself and see how you do before teaching to students.

Below is a Tricia Campbell's slideshare related to November's most recent book - Web Literacy. You could share this with your kids and not have to recreate the wheel.

Another excellent resource for google search tips is Teach Hub.  This links to 100+ Google Search Tips for Teachers.  Note this page suggests a method for getting around blocked sites, so be mindful when sharing with students. Not that they couldn't get that information on their own.

A list of web country codes is useful to find websites, etc... on similar topics from other countries.  This gives students different perspectives on topics and moves us beyond US bias.

Research Beyond Google - Vicki Davis recently shared a link to a post on her blog along these lines titled Researching Byoned Google.  This post lists alternative search sites to Google.

A few years ago I created a lesson for my students on internet search basics.  The premise of this lesson is to provide an explanation of the differences between search engines, directories and meta-search engines.

Lastly, because I am a big advocate of Alan November's Digital Learning Farm, (I've written about it before,) and feel we would do well to incorporate the concept into our classrooms.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Apple Distinguished Educator

I am thrilled to announce I have been selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator in the Class of 2013. I realize, and respect, that being selected for this award would not have been possible without the great efforts of all the people I work with daily. So, a public thank you to all for making this award possible.

The application periods vary by regions. In North America, the application process opened in November and closed January 15th. After submitting an application that consisted of answering several questions and creating a short video, the wait is finally over. I've been selected!

The Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Program began in 1994, when Apple recognized K-12 and higher education pioneers who are using a variety of Apple products to transform teaching and learning in powerful ways. Today it has grown into a worldwide community of over 2,000 visionary educators and innovative leaders who are doing amazing things with technology in and out of the classroom.

Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) are part of a global community of education leaders recognized for doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. They explore new ideas, seek new paths, and embrace new opportunities. That includes working with each other — and with Apple — to bring the freshest, most innovative ideas to students everywhere.

The community of Apple Distinguished Educators has been amazing already. On the day of the announcement I had many new twitter followers and invitations to professional development events current and past ADEs are running. They certainly are a welcoming group.

So, I'll be headed to Austin this summer to participate in the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute. There I will have the opportunity to meet innovative educators and learn amazing things as I participate in a week chock full of professional development, content creation and collaboration. Austin, here I come.

Monday, February 4, 2013

K-4 iPad Parent Meeting

We hosted our first iPad parent meeting on January 30th in the school auditorium for those parents wanting to learn more about the K-4 iPad pilot program initiated in January at MSES.  We had an excellent evening.

Key points reviewed:

Why iPads? 
Manitou School District Vision Statement:   "Our whole children are Empowered personally to lead and to serve, Equipped intellectually to shape their future, Enriched creatively to flourish lifelong." 

iPads offer another powerful tool to students to achieve those whole-child ends - a medium our digital natives find both natural and intuitive.

Most of us have heard the term "digital native" used to describe children born in the high-tech world that we adults have grown up into - a world far more connected and fast paced, for better or for worse, than when we were in elementary school.  Technology is a part of many of our students lives already - and will be a significant part of their schooling and work world going forward.  That presents many challenges to parents and educators.  While technology offers new power in the learning process, it raises concerns for us, not just as parents, but as a society about the effects of this power in our lives.

We have had computers in classrooms for over 15 years and linked to the internet for just as long.  We have already seen kids' natural connection to technology in their learning and thinking.  Now, the iPad has entered the scene and causing to address this issue from a personal point.

We have been saying for several years now that it's on our watch as parents and teachers to address the implementation of 1:1 technology in the classroom.  We have a desire to put this power for learning in the hands of our kids on a continual and individual basis.  We have accomplished this by increasing the number of computers available to students in the classroom and in computer labs.  We also notice a continual increase in the number of devices students bring to school with them on a daily basis (smart phones, iPads, computers.)  Schools are in constant competition with these devices and need to address the "check in, unplug, check out" attitude students bring to school each morning.

Initial 1:1 Pilot
As a response, two years ago fifth grade along with middle school implemented one to one iPad program.
  • iPads are not a new way of learning or a revolution in education, they are a powerful tool in the classroom and, for many students, at home.
  • Higher engagement
  • Longer, more focused basic skills practice
  • But also great creavitity in publishing their knowledge and more empowered research.
iPad Brochure
Russ shared the iPad Brochure with everyone.  It is available here for download. IPAD BROCHURE

Last year, as we piloted this program, Debbie Heidenreich’s husband, Dan, made a Video that illustrates these points in the words of our own students and teachers.
iPads Invade the Fifth Grade at MSES

Interactive Example
We then shared an example of an interactive electronic book to show some of the power of digital learning for younger kids.  The book, though powerful, is not intended to replace the power of a child sitting on an adult's lap while being read to or the feel and interaction of a great paper book.  The electronic book has distinct advantages we want to capitalize on in the classroom and at home when the parent or teacher is working with others.

User Agreement
An overview of the Elementary K-4 User agreement was presented.  This agreement outlines general care and use of the iPad, insurance policies and the opt in/opt-out agreement.
User Agreement K-4

Take Home Preparations
The next couple of weeks involve final preparations for students to bring the iPad home.  While we feel the iPad is a powerful learning tool, we also recognize and respect the choice of some who would choose not to have electronics enter the home environment.  The Opt-In/Opt-Out agreement form allows for parents to express their iPad home front preferences.

Classroom Visits
The meeting then adjourned to classrooms where the children and teachers shared some of the exciting new uses being pioneered for the iPad in various grade levels over the few short weeks the iPad has been in use.  The principal and I were on hand in the auditorium with questionnaires for those who wanted to share feedback.

Future Conversations
In addition, parents and school staff will meet on the second Tuesday of each month to address iPads in the classroom.  The first meeting will be February 11th at 3:00 PM at MSES.

More information about iPads at MSSD may be found on the MSSD14 iPads Wikispace.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mystery Skype

Mystery Skype has hit classrooms worldwide and if you teach Social Studies might prove to be an engaging interaction to offer to your students.
Basically, teachers connect with another class somewhere in the world.  They then determine a time for their classes to Skype with each other and offer clues as to where they live.  Students must piece together clues to determine the location of the call. 
There are a variety of jobs in preparing for the skype call and during the skype call that allow for each student to be actively involve with the conversation even though they may not be speaking at the time. 
Mystery Skype also provides the opportunity for a little global interaction and communication that a class may not ordinarily have with the outside world.  On top of all that, it's fun.
Read more about it in Learning and Leading with Technology.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Site Visits and School Walk-Throughs

Our district has hosted several site visits since moving to a 1:1 iPad environment in September of 2011.  Though these visits can be time consuming, I believe they benefit all involved.  Classroom teachers have the opportunities to share their practices with other educators, students engage in authentic conversation with adults and participants get to see, first hand, a school in action.  School visits build collegiality within the broader community and work to improve education by collaboration.

I often get asked for tips about planning school visits or walk-throughs.  Here are a few:

  1. Mix up the sessions and get people moving around.  A little pedagogy, a little technology, visits, eating, etc...
  2. Participants come to see, first hand, what goes on in classrooms so be sure to build in ample time for walk-throughs.  Be sure to let participants know whether it's okay to speak with students and teachers.  I always ask teachers to prep students regarding the visit so when the adults entered they wouldn't be wondering why they were there.  If events can be scheduled on the same day of each week, even better, because then everyone knows it's a school visitation day and they can expect visitors.
  3. No surprises visits.  Let teachers know you are coming.  The beauty of seeing a 1:1 in action is seeing it in action.  If your visit is to be "real," visitors need to see not all students use the iPad every single minute of the day and that everyone uses the device differently.  
  4. The only request I had of teachers was that they did not have any direct instruction going on during the site visit.  This would make it difficult for visitors to roam the classrooms and interact with teachers and students.  
  5. Build in time for Q&A.  Whether you do this in each session or do this at the end is entirely up to you.  A mix is nice.
  6. Student panels/tour guides are awesome.  Everyone likes hearing about the student perspective because it provides the participants a unique view of the 1:1.  I selected students who could handle the makeup work of being out of class and whom I knew had a good working knowledge of the iPad.  This is important as they are representing the school and the implementation and you want them to be good.  I asked teachers for recommendations on students who were eloquently spoken and could work well with adults.  
  7. We had 5-6 school/Apple personnel roaming the hallways during the classroom visits for those who had specific questions.  We included the representatives from technology and administration.  Our Apple Development Executive and Sales Executive were present.  This helps.
  8. A teacher panel adds a nice touch to the end of the visit.  I selected the teacher panels based on availability(planning times) and the teacher's strengths in the 1:1.  Every teacher on the panel had embedded technology into their lessons seamlessly in a different way.  (Some focus on content, some on process, some on authenticity, some on the differentiation aspects of the apps and the device, etc...)  Look for teachers who will provide a variety of methods of doing just this so that it offers a glimpse into the many ways iPads are transforming classrooms.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

iPads at MSES

Yesterday, January 7th, marked a transformative day in some of the Manitou Springs Elementary School classrooms as teachers distributed iPads to students in select first through fourth grade classrooms.  One class in each grade level will experience a 1:1 iPad environment for the next five months of school.
Students using iPads - Day 1
The excitement level was similar to that of the first day of school.  Students were completely engaged in activity.  In an attempt to capture the excitement in writing, Mark Langseth, fourth grade teacher, asked his students to send an email describing their thoughts and attitudes toward learning with the iPad.  One student responded as follows, thought the sediment was the same among all students:
"I love the iPads they are so cool. I think this will be a very fun learning experience.  I think I am going to look forward to going to school now.  iPads have a big effect on kids and how they learn.  Thank you for the iPads we will enjoy them."

All teachers are incorporating a series of digital citizenship lessons to teach appropriate use and understanding of the many platforms and interactions students will experience through out the course of the semester.  These lessons will be embedded in classroom activities.
By the end of day 1, kindergarten students had learned how to author story books, first graders had visited the San Diego Zoo, second graders began blogging with students in Great Britain,  third graders had researched science topics, and fourth graders were emailing and studying comparative and superlative forms of adjectives.
The teachers in the 1:1 environment are already questioning the next school year, wondering how on earth they will cope in a non-1:1 iPad setting.  With only one day of 1:1 access under their belt, they see the impact this access will have on student engagement and instruction.