Tag: summer

after school tech club

8 Tech Tools to Get to Know Your Students for Back to School

The first day of class can be daunting. Students are curious about the new faces around them, intimidated–even frightened by the prospect of so many people they know nothing about. As a teacher, you might feel the same way. You knew everything about last year’s students, got excited when their baseball team won the playoffs, cried with them when a favorite pet passed away, cheered when they got an A in math. Those details–that intimate knowledge–helped you understand what motivated them so you could differentiate instruction to reach each of them where they were.

Now, you’re starting over. It would be easy to go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves, but you want the first-day ice-breaker to be more–enriching but fun, to set the tone for the rest of the year. You want students to quickly get comfortable with each other, bond as a group, without turning the classroom into a party room. And, you want an activity them haven’t done so many times in the past it’s boring.

One truth never changes: Students love talking about themselves. There’s no better ice breaker than one where students share information about themselves. There’s no better way to discover new friends than have a classmate understand perfectly what you’re saying about a tough soccer game because s/he too plays soccer.

Another truth: Kids love technology. This year, try a get-to-know-you that uses one of the many free online tech tools. How about these ideas:

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summer pd

17 Take-aways from Summer PD

summer pdSummer PD 2015 just ended. A couple dozen of us–teachers, library media specialists, tech integrationists, lab teachers–gathered virtually for three weeks to experiment with some of the hottest tech tools available for the classroom–Google Apps, differentiation tools, digital storytelling, visual learning, Twitter, blogs, Common Core and tech, backchannels, digital citizenship, assessment, and more (12 topics in all). It was run like a flipped classroom where class members picked 60% of daily topics, then they read, tested and experimented. Failed and tried again. Asked questions. They shared with colleagues on discussion boards, blogs, Tweets.  Once a week we got together virtually (via Google Hangout or a TweetUp) to share ideas, answer questions,  and discuss nuances.

The class awarded a Certificate based on effort, not end product. Here are my takeaways as moderator of this amazing group:

  • They are risk takers. They kept trying long beyond the recommended hour a day in some cases.
  • They were curious. They wanted to get it right, see how it worked.
  • They are life long learners. Some had been teaching for thirty years and still enthusiastically embraced everything from twitter to the gamification of education.
  • They were problem solvers. I often heard, ‘if I tweak it here, I can solve this problem’.

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summer

What’s a Tech Teacher Do With Their Summer Off?

summerSchool’s been out for at least a few weeks and I just finished up three online classes that started in June. Next week, I’ll feel like I have an endless span of hours to do all the activities that got sidelined by grading,  projects, training, and general ‘school’ stuff. Once I get through reading until I’m bored (or  I run out of food) and straightening up the house (I won’t get carried away), I’ll start on the meat of my summer activities. Truth, that list is more of an overstuffed file cabinet than a carefully-constructed To Do page, but here’s what it looks like:

  1. Finish a tech thriller I’ve been working on this for four years. I’m 99% there (10% to go). Of course, it has lots of cutting edge technology and a quirky AI named Otto (a palindrome). If you follow my blog, you know this is on my list every summer, as predictable as the Golf Channel. This time, I’m doing it!
  2. Under the file folder, “The world doesn’t change in front of your eyes; it changes behind your back,” I realize a few tech trends are passing me by. This includes 3D printing, Maker Spaces, and Google Classroom for starters. They are seeping into tech conversations regularly on my social media and there’s little I can contribute other than questions. I need to fix that this summer. Any suggestions?
  3. Learn a new tech tool every week. This also I do every summer. I’ll share a video, a project, and academic tie-in each week.
  4. Get back to my inquisitive, curious roots. I used to spend hours figuring out how to solve problems, find solutions, determine what made something tick. Now, I’m too busy. I can feel the rift in my spirit, my sapped energy, my fuzzy brain. This summer, I’m getting back to that. Here’s my promise:

When I see something techie I don’t understand, I’ll ask:

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5 Must-have tools for Ed Conferences

digital note-takingIt’s summer, time for teachers to recharge their cerebral batteries. That could mean reading, going on field trips, spending time with online PLNs, or taking calls from family members who usually end up at voice mail. For many, it means attending conferences like ISTE and NEA to learn how the heck to integrate technology into their lesson plans. If you aren’t a veteran conference attendee, you may wonder what you should bring. That’s a fair questions considering learning is no longer done sitting in auditoriums nodding off to the wisdom of a guest speaker behind a podium. Now, you might be asked to scan a QR code and visit a website, access meeting documents online, interact digitally, or use a backchannel device to share your real-time thoughts with the presenter. Besides a toothbrush and aspirin, what should you take to your upcoming conference? Here are five tools that will make you look and act like the Diva of Digital:

Google Maps

Some conferences take multiple buildings spread out over several blocks, and depending upon the number of attendees (ISTE last year had about 15,000), your hotel may not be around the corner from the Hall. Bring the latest version of the Google Maps app on your smartphone or iPad, complete with audio directions. All you do is tell it where you’re going, ask for directions, and Siri (the voice behind the iPhone) will lock into your GPS and hold your hand the entire way. If friends are looking for a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts near the conference, Google Maps will find one. If you want Chinese, use an app like Yelp to find one patrons like (although I’m becoming a tad leery about Yelp. Anyone have a good alternative?)

Conference App

Most educational conferences have one. I find these more useful than the conference website. They are geared for people who are manipulating digital device one-handed, half their attention on the phone and the rest on traffic, meaning: they’re simple and straight-forward. Test drive it so you know where the buttons are, then use it to find meeting rooms, changes in schedules, and updates.

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8 Tech Tools to Get to Know Your Students

The first day of class can be daunting. Students are curious about the new faces around them, intimidated–even frightened by the prospect of so many people they know nothing about. As a teacher, you might feel the same way. You knew everything about last year’s students, got excited when their baseball team won the playoffs, cried with them when a favorite pet passed away, cheered when they got an A  in math. Those details–that intimate knowledge–helped you understand what motivated them so you could differentiate  instruction to reach each of them where they were.

Now, you’re starting over. It would be easy to go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves, but you want the first-day ice-breaker to be more–enriching but fun, to set the tone for the rest of the year. You want students to quickly get comfortable with each other, bond as a group, without turning the classroom into a party room. And, you want an activity they haven’t done so many times in the past it’s boring.

One truth never changes: Students love using ‘I’. There’s no better ice breaker than one where students share about themselves. There’s no better way to discover new friends than have a classmate understand perfectly what you’re saying about a tough soccer game because s/he too plays soccer.

Another truth: Kids love technology. This year, try a get-to-know-you that uses one of the many free online tech tools. How about these ideas:

  • Have students upload a favorite picture of themselves into Thinglink, then add hotlinks (the yellow and red ‘dots’ on the image below) that take visitors to websites, videos, more pictures, or text that share details about the student.

thinglink

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summer online classes

29 Online Educational Activities Kids Will Love This Summer

earth dayWhat are we as parents and teachers most worried about over the summer? That kids will lose that education sharp edge. It will be dulled by sun and sand and something else.

Worry no more. Here’s your cure: learning disguised as play (inspired by the fascinating website, Playful Learning). Kids will think they’re playing games, but they’ll actually be participating in some of the leading [mostly] free simulations available in the education field. A note: some must be downloaded and a few purchased, so the link might take you to a website that provides access rather than play:

Economics/Money

  • Admongo–explore, discover and learn about online ads while playing a game
  • Coffee Shop—run a coffee shop business
  • Lemonade Stand—run a lemonade stand business

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tech ed quote

Top Ten Reasons for signing up for Summer PD

If you haven’t yet made the decision to join me at Summer PD for three-weeks of high-intensity tech integration, here are the Top Ten Reasons for signing up:tech ed quote

10. Tech in ed is a change agent. You like change.

9. You’ll have a bunch of tech ed skills you can now say ‘I know how to do that’.

8. Your school will pay for it of you promise to teach colleagues–or show the videos.

7. It’s fun.

6. You want to meet new people.

5. You’re technophobic, but lately feel like teaching without technology is like looking at a landscape through a straw. You want to change that.

4. Richard Sloma said, “Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.” You want your tech problems lined up in single file.

3. Technology in education is the greatest show on earth. Well, at least in the classroom. You want to be part of it.

2. Ashton Kutcher told teens, “Opportunity looks a lot like work.” You agree. Learning tech ed this summer is an opportunity you’re ready for.

1. Albert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Education’s fix requires technology. You’re ready for a new level of thinking.

For more information, click here and here.

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paper-free class

5 Must-have tools for Ed Conferences

digital note-takingIt’s summer, time for teachers to recharge their cerebral batteries. That could mean reading, going on field trips, spending time with online PLNs, or taking calls from family members who usually end up at voice mail. For many, it means attending conferences like ISTE June 28-July 1st and NEA June 26-July 6th to learn how the heck to integrate technology into their lesson plans. I’m going to ISTE as well as Teacher Pay Teacher’s first-ever conference in Las Vegas. I’m so excited about both of these, ready to meet new colleagues, get fresh ideas, and extend my PLN to places I hadn’t considered before.

If you aren’t a veteran conference attendee, you may wonder what you should bring. That’s a fair questions considering learning is no longer done sitting in auditoriums nodding off to the wisdom of a guest speaker behind a podium. Now, you might be asked to scan a QR code and visit a website, access meeting documents online, interact digitally, or use a backchannel device to share your real-time thoughts with the presenter. Besides a toothbrush and aspirin, what should you take to your upcoming conference? Here are five tools that will make you look and act like the Diva of Digital:

Google Maps

Some conferences take multiple buildings spread out over several blocks, and depending upon the number of attendees (ISTE last year had about 15,000), your hotel may not be around the corner from the Hall. Bring the latest version of the Google Maps app on your smartphone or iPad, complete with audio directions. All you do is tell it where you’re going, ask for directions, and Siri (the voice behind the iPhone) will lock into your GPS and hold your hand the entire way. If friends are looking for a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts near the conference, Google Maps will find one. If you want Chinese, use an app like Yelp to find one patrons like (although I’m becoming a tad leary about Yelp. Anyone have a good alternative?)

Conference App

Most educational conferences have one. I find these more useful than the conference website. They are geared for people who are manipulating digital device one-handed, half their attention on the phone and the rest on traffic, meaning: they’re simple and straight-forward. Test drive it so you know where the buttons are, then use it to find meeting rooms, changes in schedules, and updates.

(more…)

8 Digital Ways to End the School Year and Prepare for Next Year

If you’ve been swearing all year to get students online using some of those amazing digital tools. digital summer copyI have some ideas for you. These eight projects will be so much fun, they will eagerly welcome the new school year, hoping you have more for them to learn.

The trick with so many of these online sites is: Let students explore. Don’t rush them. Don’t teach them every twist and turn. Don’t expect perfection. Expect inquiry and enthusiasm and self-paced discovery. Let them solve problems as they create.

Here are eight ideas for amazing end-of-year projects that leave students thinking school is ending too soon:

End-of-year Multimedia Summative

Students take pictures of each other holding up favorite projects or working on tech skills–humorously, of course. Use these pictures in an Animoto movie to share light-hearted details of their Year in Tech. Open it with a magazine cover of student (created in Big Huge Labs). Accessorize with music, transitions, and text bubbles. Save to class network and load onto the school set of iPads. Students can play these movies on the last day of class as they celebrate the end of school. If you don’t have iPads, gather students in comfortable seating, play a student video as they reflect on another successful year of Tech.

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summer like a teacher

What’s a Tech Teacher Do With Their Summer Off?

[caption id="attachment_9121" align="alignright" width="428"]technie What I did on my summer vacation (click to see original)[/caption]

UPDATE

Are you going on road trips? Are you playing with your children, seeing friends you forgot existed, or engaging in retail therapy?

If I have time in between what I HAVE to do, I’ll join you. It might be a virtual trip, but we’ll make it happen.

Here’s what’s on my plate (so far) this summer of 2012:

  1. Attending ISTE 2012. It’s in my backyard this summer–San Diego.
  2. Attending training my school signed me up for on UbD, our new grading program (forgot the name), and robotics. One of the training sessions comes with a free lunch.
  3. Editing a K-6 technology curriculum and a keyboard book for Structured Learning (a great publisher of edtech resources for the classroom)
  4. Working on a tech thriller I hope to finish and get off to publishers. Of course it has lots of cutting edge technology in it and a quirky AI named Otto.
  5. Picking the brains of my two children. One works in cybercom for the Navy; the other the Signal Corps for the Army. Most of the stuff they can’t tell me, but I love hearing what they can.
  6. Working with tech teachers at my local school district on a technology curriculum for their K-6 classes.
  7. Presenting at several schools on tech ed topics. If you’re interested in working with me on that, please contact me at this link.
  8. Consulting with a Denver school district online to train their new tech teachers in what to teach in their computer labs next year.
  9. Getting back to my inquisitive, curious roots. I used to spend hours figuring out how to solve problems, find solutions, determine what made something tick. Now, I’m too busy. I can feel the rift in my spirit, my sapped energy, my fuzzy brain. This summer, I’m getting back to that. Here’s my promise:

For the next six weeks, when I see something techie I don’t understand, I’ll stop and ask the essential questions:

(more…)