Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SAMR is a Mindset

As I was participating in a Twitter chat last night (#edtechchat), I noticed this Tweet that I found very thought provoking in reference to the SAMR model. I've discussed the SAMR model with numerous teachers, and am even guilty of presenting it in an APP/webtool approach. However, SAMR is more of a mindset.

I love what this "infographic" says about the modification and redefinition levels. When you reach the modification level, you feel comfortable allowing students to utilize various tools resources allows the learning to be fun an informative. This could be different apps/resources to reach an endpoint, and the entire class may not create the same thing/use the same tools. Reaching this point means the students have a lot of exposure to various tools and understand how to apply them to the learning process.

The redefinition level defined here is much more clear than any way that I have explained it in the past. This is where students control their own learning, collaborate, and create/respond in ways that were not possible without the technology present. Whether you are a 1:1 technology school district or only have a small number of devices, students can reach a variety of endpoints that highlight the learning in different ways. This definition sounds much like Project-Based Learning.

What does this graphic mean to you?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Featured Educator: Faith Erexson

I decided to start a new series that I would post from time to time called Featured Educator. The idea is that a teacher shares their insights on utilizing technology in the classroom as a learning tool, and provides activities that are relevant to preparing students for the fast-paced world. The skills that are provided allow students to better understand technology as much more than a source of entertainment. (Trust me, all students know how to use devices for entertainment.) Students also need to know how to create and work with the devices along with their pencil and paper activities. The worlds should blend together much like the business realm. This will build the problem solving skills students need in order to complete tasks with technology as it is going to be a part of their future.

Faith Erexson is a second grade teacher at Wayne Center Elementary. She loves the excitement and passion the students display when they have the opportunity to create. (I get emails from time to time to show me what her kids are accomplishing, and I love it.) She sees technology as an asset, and as you watch her interview, you can sense that there was a progression over time on how the students use it. I appreciate how Faith is not afraid to jump in and try something. She isn't afraid if it bombs because she knows there has to be another solution, whether it be in another app or just the organization in the use of the technology.

Faith recently attended the MACUL conference and is anxious to try some of the new tips and tricks so many great educators are using. It was a great opportunity for me to brainstorm ways to use technology, and also project-based learning. We were able to participate in an awesome pre-conference workshop with Ginger Lewman on PBL. There we were able to see the natural fit of technology as students can use their devices to plan, collaborate, research, and create through the entire process. Here we created our bio-dome as we collaborated and researched how to create an underwater colony. :)

And...of course I tried to win free stuff by wearing some company's T-shirt. A winner for the iPad mini still hasn't been announced. I've been watching like a hawk! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I've known about Padlet.com for quite some time now, but it has been awhile since I revisited it. That tends to happen to me quite a bit as I check out resources and debate on how much I push out suggestions to my staff. However, since visiting Macul 2014, it forced me to look at it once again to see what improvements have been made.

What it allows you to do:
  • Create a wall of pictures, files, and links for you to display.
  • Collaborate with a small group/large group of students.
  • Collaborate with staff. 
  • Download as a PDF or image.
  • Upload your images as a background.
  • Place the items in a "freeform" or "stream" of information
    • Freeform places the items scattered over the screen.
    • Stream places them chronologically much like a Twitter-feed. 
(There are other options, but this will give you a basic idea of how it can be used.) 

I created a video tutorial using it between a PC and an iPad. It works surprisingly well on an iPad as you can add images from your camera roll, text, and links. In many ways, it can become more of a private Twitter for your class. You can choose to save it or throw it away. Either way, it can be a valuable resource for you and your class. This video does not show all the features, but it gives you a basic idea of how to create and share your Padlet with your students. 

Interestingly enough, I also tried this with my Android phone. There are many more options available for Android over iOS. For example, I was able to access my Google Drive, camera roll, video camera, and audio recorder. The Android experience on Padlet is almost like a cross between using a PC and an iOS device. So if you are an Android user, you could contribute to your Padlet wall with files and still have the freedom and flexibility of moving about the room with an iPad.

P.S. Here is a great Tweet I came across that gives a quick guide on what is available on Padlet.com:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Computer science is certainly a hot topic in education. Why shouldn't it be? Isn't software development a booming business? It doesn't look like technology is slowing down anytime soon. Teachers and students may want to take a more careful look at computer science when referring to the future opportunities.

I came across a TED Talk last night by Mitch Resnick. He works at MIT and played a part in the creation of Scratch. Scratch provides users (young and old) with some basic skills for computer programming. It is really a language of it's own as students piece together blocks of commands to create digital animations. If you have 17 minutes to spare, I'd highly recommend watching it.

One of the key-points Mitch Resnick makes in this TED Talk is that not everyone will be computer programmers. However, he believes it is important that everyone at least has the experience of programming a computer. I couldn't agree more as I've taken up learning to code HTML and CSS3 at Code Academy. Learning HTML basics has helped me quite a bit with issues here and there on the internet. I've been able to look at code, find errors, and replace it so that my website appears the way I want it. 

So let's think about this from a teacher's standpoint. Why should I let students use Scratch? Scratch essentially can be a full fledged interactive animation creation tool, or utilized as a presentation tool. Students can use it to report their learning in so many ways, it would be hard to list them all. It provides the flexibility and creative freedom that most presentation tools do not provide.

Here is a great example: 

For the next few weeks, Mrs. Huelsenbeck and I will be introducing fifth and sixth grade students to the world of Scratch as she so generously is providing me with her technology time. This week, they are going to check out the video from Mitch and also a little message from me as students under 13 will need to gain access by way of parent email. If you are interested in participating or you are a teacher and want to get it launched in your classroom, the information below might be of use to you. 

Click to See Parent Promotion

Lastly, as I am working on this blog post, I was searching Twitter and found that MIT will be producing a Scratch Jr. That will be geared more towards kids that are between the ages of five and seven. Apparently it will also be available on multiple platforms (iOS, Windows, etc). I will certainly look forward to that day. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Office 365: An Overview

I'll be honest, I love Google Drive. I use it on a daily basis. I am able to access it on my Android phone, PC laptop, iPad, and Chromebook. What I love about it, is the versatility, share-ability, and user-friend-ability. (I know the last one is a stretch, but I wanted to stick with a pattern here.)

With all that said, while at the Macul conference, we tried to share document and having a bunch of people trying to use Google Drive all at once across different platforms didn't work well. I didn't want to lug my PC around, so I was forced to use my Android phone because my iPad 2 couldn't keep up. (It is faster for me to swipe my keyboard on my phone anyway.) I never thought I would say this, but Office 365 would have actually worked better between our PC and iPad users. The online version actually works fairly well on an iPad.

I do not prefer Office 365 over Google Drive, but considering that Google does not turn off data mining when dealing with individuals under the age of 13 being compliant with COPPA  is more important. Yes, you can get a parent signature saying that students can participate. However, Google is still collecting information about students under 13. Think about it.

Office 365 actually has a pretty good web-based Word document creator that is collaborative much like Google Drive. Students can work together and see exactly what the other is typing. This is great when you are wanting to work in small groups and have students piece together information, peer edit writing, or even have a group discussion over a reading assignment. You can also create folders for you to view student work and give instant feedback.

I've created a set of instructional videos that I hope are not too confusing. Number one, you have to remember that this really is just a new version of Sharepoint. If you want a document to only be downloadable and not editable, you need to specify that in the permission levels. Permission levels in 365 is not near as simple as Drive. It will take some practice getting used to the environment.

So if you are curious about Office 365 and what it has to offer, these videos will hopefully get you going.

Getting Started: Creating Folders, Student Access, and Student Permissions

Creating Small Group Folders

Student Access and Tutorial

Monday, March 10, 2014

MACUL 2014

I'm very excited to say that I will be presenting at MACUL 2014 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This will be my third MACUL conference, but my first one not in Detroit.

Last year, Zack Linson and I presented together for a couple of sessions. We attempted to do a live Google Hangout, but I'm not sure that we were very successful. I will attempt to do the same again this year. Google has improved the ability to do a live cast from one year ago. It is so impressive that you can schedule your event prior so that it begins streaming right when you have it scheduled. I may even start doing my professional development sessions at school in this manner for teachers that are unable to participate.

This year I'm presenting by myself. I've titled it: Organized Chaos. Ultimately, that's what it is like at the elementary level. Kids are so excited to learn and do things, but it is a matter of channeling that energy toward the learning objectives. I'll be chatting with people about my role a technology coach, tips and ideas for organizing devices, and the pedagogical side that will solidify success in a 1:1 technology environment.

Hope it goes well!

You can view my live stream below. It will begin on March 13th at 1:00.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Vocabulary with Text Here and Pic Collage

I have been having quite a fun time working with first graders at Rome City Elementary. Ms. Ruse and Ms. Doyle are utilizing technology into their vocabulary instruction and doing it with two different resources. This is all with a focus on a "word of the day." They then have students look up the word using digital resources. Next, students record their results in an application that allows them to be creative. Lastly, the students post their results on Kidblog.org.

Ms. Ruse is using Freesaurus to collect synonyms and antonyms. I often have teachers asking for a dictionary that is more age appropriate. Freesaurus starts out as a thesaurus, but you are also able to find the definitions of words as well. This is good practice for the first graders as they were able to look up the work for themselves and make suggestions for synonyms and antonyms.

Next, Ms. Ruse provided pictures that matched the synonym and antonym for their "word of the day" through email. The students download those pictures and import them into Pic Collage. They also have to write their name, word of the day, and the synonym and antonym. Lastly, they match the words to the picture to show their understanding of the vocabulary words. When it was all said and done, they either email it or upload it to Kidblog.

After working with Ms. Ruse's students, we also saw some issues with special needs students being able to complete the task in a timely manner. One modification that can be made is to give just the word of the day, a synonym, and an antonym so that they are not overwhelmed with choosing a word from a list.

Ms. Doyle's class did a similar activity except they utilized two different tools. Instead of using Freesaurus and Pic Collage, we used Wordinare and Text Here.
Wordinare is extremely easy to use and simple enough that first graders can function fairly well with it. However, some of the synonyms do not always match according to the context. It is a little difficult for the students at such a young age to determine the context. This certainly provides a learning opportunity for students as they look up the words themselves and filter through the words.
Next, the kids download a picture from the teacher through email, and use Text Here to post synonyms for the word of the day. They also either use the circle or arrow tool to mark the actual "word of the day," and use the captioning tool for their name and synonyms. Lastly, it is posted on Kidblog so that all students and parents can view the captioned images.
 Text Here is an app that I came across a couple weeks ago. It was free for a day or so, so I very quickly installed it on all our student iOS devices before it became paid again. :) The teachers that have used it have commented about how quickly and easily students can create content with the app. Since classrooms are so busy, apps like Text Here tend to be welcomed. The app allows you to easily place captions, arrows, and circles on a picture. It has a comic book feel as you view the works.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Show Me: Student Account Creation and Tutorial

Show Me has been a big focus of mine lately. This has been mostly in the context of a teacher creating a video and either sending it out to students, or being able to download the content so that it can be stored on student devices for flipped learning purposes. Teachers in possession of an iPad have such an opportunity as creating video lessons is a breeze on a touch enhanced device. Show Me makes it even better since they give you so much freedom with your content since it is video that is watchable across multiple platforms and can be downloaded for keeping.

In the following video, I discuss student account creation. If you look at the Terms of Service. It states that parent permission is required. School districts can cover that by having parents sign off on use of Show Me at registration. However, under a teacher's account it is even more secure. Because it does not require that the student submit an email address or other personally identifiable information other than a name. When the teacher creates accounts for students, and registers them as under 13 years of age, Show Me makes all videos created on that username anonymous.

The second video produced is intended as a student tutorial. In it, I demonstrate how to sign into their account, create a video, and email a link to their teacher. This provides students with an exciting opportunity as they will be able to demonstrate their learning, create presentations, and communicate their needs like never before.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

eLearning Practice Day

I apologize to my visitors that are not from East Noble School Corporation, but most of the content on today's post applies to my schools. The reason this content is necessary is because the students will be required to complete a practice "eLearning day" to make up for some of the missed school due to lots of snow. However, some of the content might be applicable if you are interested in using Show Me to flip the classroom.

The official practice eLearning day will be a homework item on March 19th. I would recommend making a video prior to that date as it sometimes takes several hours till the Show Me website allows you to download the video.

In case you are curious, I made a sample lesson for first grade with Show Me. 

Teachers creating videos through Show Me will need to view my previous post about how the basics. The following content relates to the downloading process and sending to students through email:

After you create your video, the students will need to be able to download the content. If you are making PDF files or videos, you will need to keep in mind that it is different on an iPad as compared to an iPod touch. So two sets of instruction were necessary for the downloading process. Feel free to display them for your students. As always, I am more than willing to assist in this process. For teachers of young students, please let me know well in advance if you would like assistance because I have groups of students that I can assemble to help with it. 

Student iPad Directions

Student iPod Touch Directions

Lastly, I made a couple documents for you that you may download. Each document is a starter for giving parents directions on where to locate the content. Of course, one is for the iPod Touch and the other pertains to the iPad

Making PDF Files: Genius Scan and Word

There are lots of apps out there that allow someone to create PDF files with their iPad. However, I like the simplicity of Genius Scan. Making PDF files is easy to do and students can either conveniently store them in iBooks, or students can write on the PDF using Type on PDF. Why should we use PDF files? You can view them on almost any device.

In this video, I demonstrate how to make PDF files out of both paper items and online content.

If you would rather type out all your content into a word file, I would recommend saving it as a PDF as well. I would have made directions myself, but the young gentleman below did a pretty good job.