Nov 22

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Nov 20

Technology, Teaching, and Learning

I’m taking a class to renew my teaching certification since I’ve jumped back into the school scene. The class I’m taking is called Terrific Technology for Teachers and Their Students. Much of the stuff I’m going to have to do will be a refresher of things I’ve either done, or are at least familiar with. It will be good to get back in the frame of mind of implementing things with students again.

One of the first assignments was to read several articles and watch a few videos about the 21st century student and teaching with technology and write a few paragraphs about our own philosophy towards these ideas. Interestingly enough, one of the articles we had to read was published in 2005 and another in 2007. The video below was also shared, and I got a kick out of it again. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth 3 minutes of your time.


Below is what I shared as far as my thoughts on the topics we explored. I’d love your thoughts and comments. Do you have some of the same thoughts? Do you disagree? Does anything stand out?

When I think about my philosophy of technology in the classroom and teaching in general, several things come to mind. I strongly believe the classroom environment needs to be comfortable, engaging, and safe for the students. Regardless of your teaching abilities, if students are not in a good place mentally in school, they won’t learn as much as they could. I also believe learning needs to be fun. Too often, kids do not relate school to fun, unless they are talking about recess.

Technology has certainly has a tremendous impact on teaching and learning – for both the students and the teachers. We are almost 15 years into the “21st century” yet many schools, teachers, and students are not utilizing technology in the classroom as much as they could be. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I feel it is the teacher’s responsibility to learn on their own, develop new ideas, and share them with their students. Kids are different these days. I see my own children on devices all the time. They are learning and communicating without a traditional teacher guiding them along. This needs to occur throughout the school day, not once the typical school day ends. To me, there is no reason students should not have access to a device in school, whenever they need it. For those saying students would use the technology negatively, I would respond by saying proper use should be modeled and taught. Taking technology away, or not having it available due to fear of what might happen is crazy. Removing access because of a negative action by a student is equally wrong. We don’t take pencils and paper away from kids who write mean notes, do we? We consider those essential to school. Why isn’t a laptop or tablet viewed the same way?

As a teacher, we need to model learning for our students. I’m trying my best to share my learning with students and my own children. I will tell them about something I learned and how we are going to try it out in class. I tell them it might work or it might not, but giving it a try is okay. Students need the opportunity to fail. We need to tell students it’s okay to fail. They can learn just as much from failing and finding an alternative than succeeding without much effort.

When it comes to the use of technology in schools, I think students should be creating and sharing their learning as much as possible. In most cases, work that students do in schools doesn’t get seen beyond the teacher and maybe some classmates. Students and schools need to share the learning beyond the classroom walls. Getting feedback from classmates, other children, and adults from all over the world is a powerful experience for students. When they know their work will be seen by many people, they will work harder to make sure they are sharing their best work. I’m trying to do this at my current school. We’ve set up a Twitter account to share images of learning at our school. I’m creating multimedia newsletters to share with families to give them a glimpse of their children are doing. I’m encouraging students to share what they’re doing with their parents. The more they get a chance to share the great things they’re doing, they’ll work harder, be proud of their work, and have fun.

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Nov 15

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Nov 14

Folders in Google Drive, Google Classroom, the Power of Social Media

GClassroomI’ve been enjoying the use of Google Classroom with several of the classes I see each week. I love the fact that I can assign something to the kids, they can complete it in class or whenever, and I can access their work and check whether it’s complete, all in one place, all without paper. It’s early in the school year, but I’m becoming more and more of a fan. If I was a classroom teacher in a school with GAFE and enough tech access, there’d be no question I’d be using this a ton.

Earlier this week, I ran in a little problem with Google Classroom and Google Drive. Five of my classes are participating in the Monster Project and are drawing a monster and creating a descriptive writing project. Students used good old paper and marker for their drawings, but we needed to get them online to share with the partner classes much easier. Google Drive was the obvious answer to me.

My plan was to using the Drive folder for each of the Google Classrooms as the storage place for the monster pictures. If you’re not familiar with Google Classroom, a “Classroom” folder is created and all work assigned through classroom is saved in that location. Students logging in via Drive with their GAFE accounts can access the folder. While in the teacher mode in Classroom, I created a folder within the Classroom Drive folder, thinking students could upload to this folder and everything would be organized. It turns out, this isn’t possible.

I’ve learned a lot of about Google Classroom from Alice Keeler. We’ve never met, but she shares great information about Drive and I sent a tweet to her about this issue, thinking I might be doing something wrong. Whether she realizes it or not, she’s become one of my Google Classroom go to people. She replied, and included Jonathan Rochelle in her response. It turns out that Jonathan is a co-founder of Google Docs and Google Drive. Social media to the rescue! My friend Dean Mantz also jumped into the conversation and we shared screencasts of the issue with Jonathan. He looked into it, shared it with his team at Google, and came back with information.

It turns out that what I was trying to do, can’t currently be done. Perhaps this will change within Classroom moving forward, but Jonathan did suggest a work around. The work around is actually what I ended up doing with students as my own solution. I did create the folder within the folder, but had to assign access to the folder to the students via Google Classroom. They simply clicked on the link and then added the folder to their Drive. It worked, but added an extra step to the process.

The only issue that made this tricky for me, was the fact that we were using iPads to take the pictures of the monsters and then uploading directly to the Drive folder. There isn’t a Classroom app (yet) so kids had to log in on the computers to accept access to the folder via Google Classroom before taking the pictures on the iPads. After doing this, the correct folder showed up on the device and the students could proceed. Now that the folders are created, everything is working well.

I love the power of social media, Twitter specifically. This little story is another confirmation that educators need to be connected and have people they can reach out to when help is needed. In this case, the connections led right to someone at Google who could offer a solution to a problem.

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Nov 11

The Magic of Google Drive & What I Learned Today

googledriveMy third and fourth grade classes are participating in the Monster Project. All five of my classes are connecting with classes in Illinois, California, Florida, and Alberta. The project is rather simple, but really, really fun. Students create and draw a monster. Then, they write a descriptive paragraph about their monster. The writing is shared with another class and the new classes draws the monster based on the written description. Then, the monster drawings are compared. If the students do a great job in their writing, the monster pictures should look pretty similar. If not, the students can take a look at their writing and see where they could have improved. Pretty cool, huh?

In their respective classrooms, the students created their monsters. Today, I saw the students and it was time to get their monsters online so we can share their work digitally. There are a number of ways this can be done, but since the 3rd and 4th graders use GAFE, I figured we should go that route.

Plan A

My original plan was to load the Google Drive app on the iPod touches we have, give each student an iPod touch, and have them take a picture of their monster drawing. Then, they could upload the picture to their Google Drive and we would proceed from there. This sounded like a good plan until I realized we couldn’t do it. The iPod touches are running iOS 6 and the Google Drive app needs iOS 7. The iPod touches are too old to upgrade.

Plan B

We have new iPad minis available to students, not enough for each student to have their own, but almost a 2:1 ratio. I downloaded the Drive app on each device and figured this would work. After seeing this tweet a couple of days ago, I realized we could eliminate a step and upload straight to Drive by using the camera to upload. I modeled how to do this for the students and they were able to pick it up rather easily.

Here are the steps used:

  1. Launch Drive app
  2. Sign in using GAFE account.
  3. Upload straight to Drive using Camera upload
  4. Rename file
  5. Log out of Drive

After the students uploaded their pictures, we went into the computer lab to do some initial photo editing. Everyone needed their own computer for this so the lab was the best option. The students used Pixlr Express, which syncs well with Google Drive and is available as an app in the Chrome Store. We’ve never done photo editing before so I wasn’t sure how it’d go. The students found their picture in Drive and opened it with Pixlr Express. Our first round of editing, mainly due to time constraints, consisted only of cropping the image. Students did this very well and then saved their new images back into their Drive folder for use next time.

We really accomplished a lot and the students did a great job. I really didn’t know how well it was going to work, but I was pleasantly surprised. Now, I’ll do the same thing with the other classes, hoping that they are equally successful. Using Google Drive was so easy. I can’t wait to share how we are using it with the classroom teachers so they can take advantage it as well.

 

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Nov 11

Chad’s Choices

It’s time for another edition of Chad’s Choices! Below are a few articles and blog posts I’ve come across recently that made me think, wonder, and learn. If you haven’t seen these, I’ve included a snippet from the article to pique your interest.

 

 

Below is a snippet from an interesting article about building your edtech ecosystem. I found it rather interesting and found the section below to be something I certainly agree with.

Too often we look for a single solution when it comes to technology, yet our needs constantly evolve. Additionally, the apps and programs continually change. We each have personal preferences and methods, and on top of that, our students have different learning needs.

Read the entire article here.

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Grading and grades – what are your thoughts? Mine have certainly changed over the years and I’m not as concerned about my own children’s grades as I used to be. Read this article, it’s really good and will certainly make you question current grading practices.

Most grading systems reward students for their behavior, not whether they’ve mastered the material. Changing to a grading system that bases grades on mastery enables teachers to give students regular, specific feedback about their learning.

Read the entire article here.

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Are you a digitally competent teacher? Do you even know what that is? The article and included infographic give some ideas. Read it and think about yourself. Where can you go? Where would you go for help?

What does being a ‘digitally competent’ teacher mean? Does it mean using laptops, smartphones, or tablets in your classroom? Does it mean finding new and interesting ways to use those devices along with apps and web tools?  What level of expertise with technology constitutes ‘competent’? Or does the concept encompass more than that? Do things like

Read the entire article here.

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I’ve been a fan of Jeff Utecht’s writing over the years and while he hasn’t been posting as much lately, he still comes up with an interesting take on teaching and educational technology. This piece about how things have changed and what needs to be replaced is spot on. Read and let me know if you agree.

…we need to start replacing the skills we use to teach with new skills that must be taught. The standards haven’t changed….the tools and skills have and we need to make sure we’re updating the skills to match the needs of our students.

Read the entire article here.

 

 

 

 

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Nov 08

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Oct 25

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Oct 23

Chad’s Choices

It’s time for another edition of Chad’s Choices is back! Below are a few articles and blog posts I’ve come across recently that made me think, wonder, and learn. If you haven’t seen these, I’ve included a snippet from the article to pique your interest.

 

 

I don’t think we give students a voice enough. How many times have your students had the opportunity to share their learning or their thoughts? Who do they share with? I’m guessing the sharing that’s going on isn’t to a very wide audience. Here’s are some quick ways to give your students a voice – #10 is the best.

10.  Give them trust.

I think we fear that students will say stupid things (they might).  I think we fear that students will make a fool out of themselves (they wont).  I think we have so many fears when it comes to giving students a voice that we often don’t even try it because we know all of the things that can go wrong.

Read the entire article here.

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I believe many teachers are hesitant to video record themselves teaching. For a variety of reasons, I think this idea scares teachers. Sharing that video is probably even more scary for teachers if the video is going to be used as an evaluation. However, a recent study reveals the a majority of teachers support this idea. What do you think are the benefits?

76% of teachers said they would be open to selecting and submitting videos of their teaching for use in a formal observation or evaluation.

Read the entire article here.

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I’m a fan of infographics. They’re a fun, yet compelling way to share data and information. The infographic below isn’t exactly new, but it it’s a great refresher about habits that highly effective habits of teachers who use technology.

They share, share, and then share some more

 

The-7-Habits-of-Highly-Effective-Teachers-Who-Use-Educational-Technology-Infographic
Click on the infographic to see it in full size.

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Are teachers really better at using tech than “digital natives?” First of all, I don’t like the term digital natives at all, but that’s besides the point. A belief exists that kids are better at using tech than many teachers and that teachers can often learn from their students when it comes to a new device or app. I certainly agree that teachers can and should learn from their students whenever possible, but this article was a little surprising.

It’s time to give up the notion that “digital natives” are more tech savvy than their teachers. According to a recent study of middle school science students and teachers, the teachers tended to have greater technology use.

Read the entire article here.

 

 

 

 

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Oct 18

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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