Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Google Training with Synergyse for GAFE

Have you ever wanted to learn more about Gmail or Google Drive?  Ever wanted some quick tips about Google Calendars?  Well, you now have an easy way to get those quick tips.  Synergyse Google Apps Training is now available in your Google Apps for Education account.  You'll want to install it in your Chrome Browser through the Chrome Web Store.  Synergyse is an extension that installs and appears in each of your Google Apps in the upper right corner near the settings gear.


While in one of your Google Apps, like gmail, calendars, docs, or others, you can click the circular logo to open training videos and tips.  Check them out.  They are a great resource and easy way to keep up with what is new with Google Apps for Education.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

FETC Part 3 - The Sessions

This is the last of the installments of FETC 2016.  This will be the last summary of sessions and a few quick take-aways.  As I mentioned in my previous posts, this might have been one of the best conferences I've attended.  The sessions were informative, thought provoking, and full of real-life experiences.  It was also nice to be attending the conference with 3 others from my district, which provided all of us the ability to process what we had heard.

My first session of the last day was Schools That Work for Kids, with Eric Sheninger (@e_sheninger).  He shared about the process he went through to change his school into a school students wanted to attend.  He wanted his school to work for the students, because most schools work for the teachers and ignore what the students want or need.  He talked about what changes needed to occur and that those ideas came from having conversations with the students.  It was important to make it "their school."  He created awesome learning spaces and allowed the students to design them.  He shares his presentation with everyone here - bit.ly/Schools4Kids .  You need to answer a few questions, but then you have some great resources.  He mentioned that you really need to work the hard to inspire the ones that don't want to change.

I also attended another of Eric's sessions later in the day, Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times.  He shared how technology is changing the educational landscape and that we need to adapt and anticipate those changes.  He stressed the need to embrace social media to tell your story.  You also need to create a brand to represent your school and make sure your messages always support the brand.  Focus on improving public relations and continue learning like never before.  His experiences are well documented and he was sure to point out that there were failures along the way.  It wasn't easy, but the benefits were great.  Here are some resources that he shared - bit.ly/DigiLeadICLE15.

One of the most fun sessions I attended was facilitated by Leslie Fisher (@lesliefisher). She had a great time sharing cool apps and websites with the teachers in attendance. Teachers from the audience were invited to come up and share some cool application. Some of them were:

iBrainstorm App for iPad
Starlogo Nova
Kiddle.co a search engine for kids
Sign Easy App for iPad
Permission Click for collecting permissions
YT Full Fill - a Chrome extension for viewing YouTube

There were a few more fun ones, but I am going to save those to use with my friends. Maybe a future post will give them away.

Conference Take-aways







If you ever get the chance to attend FETC, do it.  What a chance to learn and connect with some outstanding educators and leaders.  Mark your calendars for 2017 - Jan. 24-27.

Monday, January 18, 2016

FETC Part 2 - The Sessions

FETC built its conference around the following topics: Communication and Collaboration, Digital Teaching Tools and Game-Based Learning, Educational Policy and Leadership, Emerging Technologies and Maker Tools, Instructional Design, Mobile Learning, Online and Blended Learning, Professional Development, and Technology Infrastructure. There were hundreds of sessions to choose from, so the four of us decided to split up and see as much as we could.

My first session dealt with Professional Development. Two teachers shared how their PD was developed to model 1-to-1 learning, by recording PD sessions and posting them in their LMS, so that teachers could go back and watch on their own time. The sessions were offered live and recorded. They created a 9-part webinar series for all teachers to learn from. This session illustrated the use of an LMS for professional learning, not just for teaching the students. Our staff could benefit from the creation of PD courses created in our new LMS, Schoology.

The next session, a Journey Into BYOT (Bring Your Own Tech), by Katrina Keene (@teachintechgal), discussed a plan to involve students, teachers, parents, and administrators to develop BYOT. Katrina shared success and struggles that they ran into along the way. It is important to ask WHYs?, and think thoroughly through the HOWs?. It is also important to involve all of your stakeholders. Parent education is a big part of success, and PD for staff in being flexible moving forward. There will be a lot of different devices, and the teacher doesn’t have to know them all. Empower the students, let them help or they can figure it out.

Lisa Bradshaw (@lbradshawedtech) led a session about Model Instructional Technology Classrooms. She developed model classrooms slowly, so that other teachers in the school could come see the successes that were happening. Model Classroom teachers were given the necessary tech, professional development to know what was expected and how to make it happen, and support of technology leaders when failure (or learning opportunities) happened. Their PD for technology use modeled around the SAMR model. Each year more teachers were added as Model Classrooms and eventually buildings moved entirely to quality technology enhanced classrooms.

My next session was conducted by Andrew Marcinek (@andycinek). Andy led a session to examine and explore instructional design and how to plan lessons and units to make learning an active experience. He also spent time exploring learning spaces where furniture and technology allowed students to move about the room and work together in groups. He shared pictures of great learning spaces and encouraged members of the session to think about how we could change spaces for our students.

The last session of day 2 was one centered around Digital Citizenship. The discussion centered around just being a good citizen (why do we need the digital part). Students need to be taught and reminded about being a good member of society. These two teachers, Timothy Wilhelmus (@twilhelmus) and Jeffrey Tron (@JeffTron71), shared how they work with students to keep reminding them of these skills. It is not just a one-time lesson. Digital Citizenship is something that needs to be brought back up over and over. There are many resources that were shared.   They can be found at Bit.ly/DIGCITFETC16.

Sessions were outstanding and we had interesting conversations about how we could bring this information back to our district. There were many things that we can share with our colleagues. It will be fun implementing some of the creative concepts we saw.  There will be one more installment of learning that occurred at FETC.

FETC - Future of Education Technology Conference (Part 1)



Last week, I had the opportunity to take a few members of our district's technology planning committee to Orlando, Florida for the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). I know, you think Orlando in January, and you think it is just a fun get-away. You would be wrong. This conference was outstanding. The sessions were meaningful and covered issues that were relevant to quality education and learning. Another important quality of the sessions was that the sessions were run by teachers and administrators, talking about their experiences. Many conferences are comprised of sessions sponsored by vendors.

This first post will focus on the Keynotes.

The opening keynote was Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani), who is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. She shared her story and experiences as well as framing a need in America. There is a need for our students to understand engineering and technology. She was a huge supporter of STEM education and wants to close the gender gap in the areas of computer science and tech. That is why she formed Girls Who Code. Her goal is to provide computer science education and exposure to over 1 million girls by 2020, through summer camps and after-school programs.

The next keynote was Leland Melvin (@astro_flow), former NFL football player and astronaut. He shared his story of growing up with teacher parents, exposure to engineering activities, perseverance, and support. Here is a short video of his story. His ability to overcome failures and setbacks was impressive and motivating. We need to help our students experience setbacks and show determination to overcome them.

The last keynote was Sean McComb (@Mr_McComb), the 2014 National Teacher of the Year. He created a program for his school called AVID. This program allowed him and other teachers in his school to move with a group of students through all 4 years of high school. By building relationships, and using those relationships to encourage and push the students, they were able to increase their students’ achievement. Almost all of that group of students was accepted into a 4-year university. Here is a clip from one of his keynotes. His story is clear about the power of teacher/student connections, and the powerful impact teachers have.

I will post again soon, with some information about the concurrent sessions that were conducted.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

More Google Classroom Updates - Calendars

Google Classroom added calendars.  You can now see a calendar with all of your assignments and you don't actually have to go into Classroom.  You can activate that feature by going to the "About" section of your Classroom after you make a new assignment.  Then, you'll be able to open your calendar in Classroom or open in Google Calendar.  Here is the "About" section.


Once you've put it in your Google Calendar, you'll be able to see it in your "my calendars" list and perform features with calendars, like changing colors, adding events (but not assignments), and even sharing.  You could now post this calendar on your public webpage for parents to see.  Google Classroom is making awesome improvements.  Check them out.



Another feature about the calendar is that the item in your calendar provides a link back to the actual assignment in Google Classroom, so you don't have to search to find that assignment.







Thursday, July 2, 2015

Audiobooks are a Great Option


We are one month into summer vacation and I've already completed more books than I would have during a whole year.  Why have I avoided audiobooks?  They are awesome.  I have been listening to books when I walk - trying to get 1 hour per day - and it has been great.  My wife loves Audible and has purchased a few books.  I was able to share her account and read some of the books she has read. I also have been using Overdrive, and listening to audiobooks from the library, for free!


Audible has an iOS App and works great on my iPhone.  It also hooks up great using bluetooth in my car, so I can listen when driving around.



Overdrive also has an iOS App and works on the iPhone and in the car.  It does require a library card so that you can reserve and check out audiobooks from your library.  It also returns the books after the time allowed.  Bonus - no trip to the library to return!

Because of the ease of use and access of these Apps, I've read some outstanding books.  I would recommend them all to you.  Most of them are reviewed by Franki on her blog, A Year of Reading.


The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage, by Brene Brown





David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell






The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz





To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee






The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller





Every Day I Fight, by Stuart Scott






Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand




All of these books have been entertaining and enlightening.  I would never have been able to read this many outstanding books during this time.  I wish that I would have had this type of resource available to me during my time in school.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Link to Different Slides in a Google Slides Presentation

There are times when you would like to be able to jump around a presentation.  You can build links into your slides that jump to other slides in the same presentation.  The following video will show how to create those links.  It will also show that you can link from objects, like shapes and pictures.  It is quite a nice feature.

Students might like to use this feature when building a "choose your own adventure" type presentation.  Give it a look, then give it a try.