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A blog post I wrote to High School Students. As I’ve been helping students get going with their gmail accounts and blogs over the past couple of weeks I’ve been joking about the “old school” e-mail systems that some of you still use. Hotmail, Yahoo…and seriously….AOL…come on….. But there is another old school tool that I think has seen its best days behind it. Microsoft Word….oh how we loved you back in the day when you were really the only word processing program we needed. But times are changing and it’s time to move on to new and better tools. Google Docs is a very powerful alternative to Word. Here are 10 reasons to consider using Google Docs the next time you need to do some writing. 1. No more corrupt files Nothing worse than staying up all night to finish an assignment only to quickly drag it to your flash drive and turn up at school with a file that won’t open on a teacher’s computer. With Google Docs access to your file is only a click away and you never have to worry about your file their corrupt. 2. No more corrupt USB Keys Of course if your file is not corrupt then it’s your USB Key that fails you when you need it most. Using Google Docs as an online storage locker means never having to worry about a corrupt or even lost USB key again. Simple download the documents you need when you get to school. With 1GB of space you can store a weeks worth of work easily. 3. .doc .docx who cares! Nothing worse than having a file you can’t open or giving someone a file they can’t open. With Google Docs simply share the link to your file on the Internet. If they have a web browser and an internet connect they can view the document. 4. Work Collaboratively By far the best feature of Google Docs. Work collaboratively with others in your class. Missing a day because of IASAS? No problem! Have a friend take notes in Google Docs during class and simply share the notes with you. Just don’t forget to return the favor. 5. Share and Share a Like Simply create documents to share with team members, club members, or anyone else you need to. No more worrying about the latest versions of the document or how many times you’ve revised. Allowing everyone to work on the same document at the same time can increase productivity and save you time. 6. Export to PDF or Word no problem Still need to hand in the Word or PDF version? Not a problem File – Download As allows you to download Google Docs in a variety of formates. 7. Make it Public Proud of a piece of work that you want to put on your blog or share with the world? With a couple simple clicks turn any document or presentation into a viewable web page. If you can click you can publish. 8. Work from any computer with Internet access Never worry about leaving your USB or computer at home again. Any computer, or mobile device for that matter can access your files. From an iPad to a Blackberry it might not be the best view in the world but you can still see your documents. 9. Work on...

3rd Grade Teacher, Laura Chesebro here at ISB continues to impress me with her innovative use of technology with kids. First there is her class website/blog where she engages both parents and students. Then there is the fact all her students are blogging themselves. Another example of her innovation was the weather unit they did earlier this year where she used her Facebook and Twitter Network to gather temperatures around the world for the kids to analyze and use.  And if that wasn’t enough, she’s now reinventing the way a classroom newspaper is created.  I remember creating classroom newspapers with my students in 4th, 5th, & 6th grade. This project almost makes me want to go back into the classroom again just to try it for myself.  First, there is Laura’s understanding of how kids learn technology. Before they start this project, she exposes them to Google Docs and lets them explore the program. It didn’t take long for the kids to of course find the chat feature in Google Docs. For some teachers, this would have been a reason to stop using Google Docs, for others like Laura, it was a teaching opportunity and a chance to use it for learning. A quick call to the carpet, the class talked about the chat. Why did Google put it there? How would you use it? What would you say? And off they go again exploring the program.                     Then there is the template Laura found by searching the Google Doc Templates for “Student Newspaper.” Someone else out there had done the hard work of creating the template for her (Thanks Lezlie Harris whoever you are).   Next was the creation. I went to observe as the students took the rough drafts they had on paper and started typing them into the newspaper template. Three to four kids to a “section” of the newspaper, working simutaneously on the same document. As I watched via the Google Docs, it didn’t take the students long to start chatting. One group talked about the font they were going to use. Another group commented and encouraged each other on how much they had written or how fast they were writing. Yes, they were all in the same room but what a great way to start teaching “chat etiquette” in an environment that could be monitored by a teacher. Next it was time to find pictures. A lesson on Creative Commons and using compfight and the kids were off to find pictures for their articles. Another lesson on citation/attribution and with a little help from the teacher, the students also learned how to correctly cite pictures used from the Internet.  Lastly, Laura makes some final formatting edits, downloads the different sections of the newspaper out of Google Docs in PDF form. She combines them into one PDF and uploads them to Youblisher to create their online Newspaper.  Click the Image to see the Magazine I haven’t even talked about the writing standards, research standards, or reading standards that were covered along the way. What a fun, engaging, powerful project. Just the thought of using Google Docs with 3rd graders blows my mind. Adults have a hard enough time wrapping their heads around how Google Docs works and here 9 year olds go about it like they “get it”. No fear,...

frustration

Andrew Vicars, one of our COETAIL participants, wrote a blog post that I was going to leave a comment on but then it got to a point where it needed its own blog post as it’s a conversation that continues to be talked about. It’s a conversation with many different points of view and so I thought I would add mine to the mix. You’ll want to read Andrew’s blog post first to get the context of what he’s talking about, but I’m going to answer the questions he’s asking around technology integration here. 1. Wouldn’t it be great if every student had a computer skills class so that teachers could be provided with a list of skills and software that the students are all able to use. But for this to work students would all have to take this class at the start of the year. How long would this class have to run for?   Would students remember what they learnt six months later when they are asked to apply it? And this is exaclty why technology as a class does not work. We can not teach everything “just in time” so we end up teaching everything “just in case” and then we teach kids things they might never use or teach them things that they won’t use until the end of the year. In the end, teaching skills out of context doesn’t work. 2. Individual classroom teachers should integrate technology skills and software competence into their units. Does this extra teaching come at the expense of content? Is this a reasonable expectation for teachers.  Should a social studies teacher be able to teach technology skills? Yes to all of the above. First off, I like that Andrew calls technology a skill as that is a mindset that needs to change. Most teachers don’t see teaching technology as a skill but rather a “program”. If we view technology as a skill, then we can look at the skill students are learning through the use of technology. Let’s take a look at Blooom’s Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking Skills. I have created this image and flipped the usual triangle because what we really want is students to spend more time in the Create area than the Remember area. Actually Create should be the foundation for learning not Remember….Remember should come last in that “Oh do you remember when we created….” sort of way. Does this extra teaching come at the expense of content? Yes….and now we have an answer for why we need to teach that skill as we can apply it to Bloom’s. Why do I need to teach movie making? Because you want students to create good content that they can share. Why do I need to teach how to search? Because you want students to have the skill of evaluating and analyzing. We are not teaching technology, we are teaching skills that every student needs to have and technology happens to be a part of that. Create can be met with paper and pencil, with glue and scissors, with a hammer and nail, or with movie maker and it should be the job of every teacher to expose students to different ways of creating content that fits within their discipline. Is this a reasonable expectation...

flipboard

OK…so let me clarify that title. I honestly think textbooks are on their way out…or at least I hope they are. Really it should read “Flipboard as core curation artifact for classrooms” but that wouldn’t have you here reading now would it. I’m in love with Flipboard. I have been for awhile now….it’s one of the first apps that gets downloaded on all devices. But lately as I’ve been thinking about the death of textbooks and what might replace them I have started to dig deeper into Flipboard and really think it has a ton of potential to be that core curation body of knowledge for teachers and students. Why Flipboard: Can be installed on all devices! I mean all devices. Windows, Mac, iDevices, Android. That by itself gives it a top marks! Beautiful layout: Design matters…and Flipboard knows that. Every time I show Flipboard to a teacher or student they instantly love it…what’s not to love. Big pictures, magazine flare, beautiful transitions. Connected: You can connect Flipboard to a ton of different accounts and at the same time connect it to hashtag conversations giving you all kinds of different ways to bring information together in one space. Flipboard Magazines: This really is the game changer. Flipboard rolled out magazines a while a go. Allowing a user to create a magazine and “Flip” things into it. Others can subscribe to your magazine and see what you find interesting. You can check out my magazine here ——————————————————-> So basically a teacher would have a flipboard account….set up a magazine for thier class and then “flip” all the articles, resources, etc they want students to access into the magazine. The students subscribe to the magaizne and have all that content dispalyed beautifully on their screen….no matter what that screen is. Class as Content Curators: Of course….that would work but I think we can go farther. I don’t want the teacher finding all the content for the course. I want students to have the ability to add content to their “textbook” as well. Content that we can discuss in the classroom, that can spark conversation…the real reason we come together..to be social. What if we could have all the students in a class adding to the “textbook” have them find things that interest them on a given topic and allow them to “flip” that into our “textbook” as well. Flipboard allows that too…where you can invite others to add to your Flipboard magazine. Game changer!!!! But Wait There’s More! Because ever student is going to need a Flipboard account to make this work they also will be able to create their own boards around content they enjoy. The class magazine (aka textbook) becomes part of that but so does other things that interest them. Also…..because you can search a twitter hashtag and add that to your Flipboard. A class hashtag now becomes part of the conversation. Where kids can tweet something, hashtag it with something like #engp1ju (English Period 1 Jeff Utecht) and have all that content in their new “textbook” as well. Social and Academic I talk a lot about breaking down the barriers of social and academic. That this is the world we live in where we work and are social at the same time. A Flipboard account would allow...

evaluatingtechnology

Evaluating the use of technology in a classroom environment is not something most administrators are trained to do. It is easy to walk into a classroom and see that every student is using a computer, but how do you really assess if and what type of learning is taking place? In the past, I have had administrators tell me “I walked into the teacher’s room and all the students were on laptops.” As though just the site of students working on laptops meant they were engaged in the learning process. I have been trying to wrap my head around a simple way for administrators to evaluate the use of technology in the classroom (a thank you to Dennis Harter who got me thinking about this). When most administrators evaluate teachers during the evaluation process, they have some sort of check sheet they are working from either mental or as part of a school’s evaluation process. I wanted to come up with an easy way for administrators to add to that list some questions that they can answer without knowing a lot about technology and by just observing its use within a lesson. I remembered a Marc Prensky article in Edutopia in which he talks about the typical process of technology adoption: Dabbling with technology Doing Old things in Old Ways Doing Old things in New Ways Doing New things in New Ways What if we turned these stages of technology adoption into questions that an evaluator could use during the evaluation process? Is the technology being used “Just because it’s there”? Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in Old ways? Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in New ways? Is the technology creating new and different learning experiences for the students? This could be a simple list that any evaluator can use to decipher how the technology is being used in a particular lesson. Is the technology being used “Just because it’s there”? This would be the use of edutainment software, the use of a particular piece of technology because it happens to be in the room. The teacher dabbles with technology, not having a real focus on its use within the lesson but uses it as an add-on or at a very basic level (no real impact on the learning process). Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in Old ways? Publishing a piece of writing in Word rather than hand writing it would be an example of this. Also, using an LCD projector instead of a white/black board for a lesson. Another example would be researching on the Internet rather than in an Encyclopedia. These are all great things, and great ways to use technology, but they are only replacing the way we have always done things with something that might be faster, easier, and more accurate. In the end however, they are still the same old things we have been doing for years in education. Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in New ways? Examples would be: watching Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech or listening to a recording of Stalin. Old things in New ways could also be reading and evaluation an original piece of writing or visiting a battle site...

priorityinbox

As we move to Google Apps for Education at my school I gave a quick 10 minute talk at a staff meeting on 5 Gmail Tips for Teachers. Here they are: 1. Archive is Your Friend  Getting use to archiving everything is a change. Google wants you, begs you, to archive your e-mails so you can search for them later. No need to keep hundreds…even thousands of e-mails in your inbox. Archive and search later. 2. Learn to Search in Gmail After archive, next you need to learn the search syntax of Gmail. Understanding how to search through your archived mail is a must if you’re going to keep thousands of messages. Good search syntax to know: in: (i.e. in:sent dennis will find you all the e-mails you have sent to someone named dennis) has: (i.e. has:attachment will find you all the e-mails with an attachment) from: (i.e. from:jeff will find you all the e-mails from jeff) to: (i.e. to:john will find you all the e-mails to john) label: (i.e. label:Google Docs will search for the word ‘docs’ in your google label) subject: (i.e. subject:dinner will find all e-mails where the word ‘dinner’ is in the subject line) 3. Use Priority Inbox  We get so many e-mails during the day that using Gmail’s new Priority Inbox can help search out the conversations that are current and e-mails from people you communicate with most often. The other advice I give teachers is to star the e-mails that need a response by the end of the day….and before you leave school archive everything in the “everything else” area. You can always search it later and you’re not going to go back and read them tomorrow as there will be new e-mails waiting for you.   4. Use Chat Gchat that can be found in your Gmail sidebar is a great added feature that I’ve been waiting to hit schools for years. A lot of businesses already use some sort of chat client for quick responses and gchat does just that. Use it to communicate with friends at school, with your department, or with students. Have a running dialog throughout the day and get those conversation based e-mails out of your inbox and into a chat format. Gmail also archives all the chats and if you happen to miss when someone chats you it will send you an e-mail with what they said so you never miss the information. Oh….video chat is great too if you are lazy and don’t want to walk to talk to someone else face to face. 5. Canned Responses  Canned responses are a must for teachers! Turn on this feature in labs and use it to create canned responses to parents or to students. It can also be used to create multiple signatures that you can quickly add to message. So now you can have a e-mail signature for parents, students and co-workers. Here’s a PDF of how to get Canned Responses working What tips would you add to the list for teachers? Related posts: 5 Tips to a successful NECC Video: Google Search...

iphone

From Venturebeat.com The girl, 17, had been helping her grandmother count the 72-year-old woman’s personal savings. Apparently wishing to impress her friends and the world at large, the teen snapped a picture of the cash and uploaded it to Facebook. Within hours, masked robbers showed up at the girl’s own house with a knife and a club, breaking in and stealing cash and personal possessions from the teen’s 47-year-old mother. I read this the other day and was wondering if this girl ever was taught about social networking and where her information goes.  Some rights reserved by ifranz I then starting thinking about the autonomy I had as say a 13 year old. My parents knew where I was 99% of the time, knew who I was hanging out with, who I was talking with and where I was physically…seeing there was no digital place for me to be yet.  I think about the autonomy a 13 year old has today. The autonomy to post, talk, respond, take a photo with anyone they want without parents knowing about it…and being able to share with people that their parents might not know.  These are new behaviors we need to be teaching in schools. We teach how to share, in the physical world. We teach how to cooperate, in the physical world. We teach how to stay away from danger in the physical world. But do we teach these same skills in the new digital sense? Why not? If we know we are all spending more time online, in online relationships and communicating more online than in person these days, why are we not teaching these social-networking skills? We talk about making friends, in the physical world. We talk about what it means to be a good friends, how good friends trust each other and how good friends watch out for each other….in the physical world.  Are we teaching social-networking in the digital world as well? If not are we doing our students, our community, our society a disservice? Related posts: Social Networking Workshop for Parents College students warned about social-networking sites Policies, Safety, and Social Networking ~ Steve Dembo ISTE10 School's about Being...

Maps I found in an antique shop. Yes...paper maps are now considered antiques.

Google Maps has been out for 10 years now. Digital maps…starting with Mapquest has been out since 1996 (technically 1993 but mapquest was the first main stream map most people remember). For those of you keeping track that puts us almost 20 years into the digital mapping word. 20 years we have been using digital maps and yet for some reason digital maps have not replaced (there’s that word again) mapping in our schools. In 2007…8 years ago now….Apple put a map in our pocket. Fast forward to 2015 and almost everyone has a digital map in their pocket. Pilots now fly with iPads, ship captains now navigate with GPS and digital maps. Truck drivers now drive via digital maps and GPS location. So basically every professional that needs to use maps is using digital maps. I’m not saying we need to stop teaching how to read a paper map…but really…that should be 10% of the mapping work a student does not 99%. With that in mind here are 10 ways you could use Google Maps in the classroom. 1. Latitude Longitude Scavenger Hunts You remember learning about Latitude and Longitude right? Well, in a paper map world it’s a place that is “kind of there” where your two fingers meet. In a digital world it’s a specific location. This allows us to do some fun stuff and learn about Latitude and Longitude at the same time. What do these three places have in common? 24.007233, 38.210118 31.204263, 121.281686 46.986944,-123.812859 Then maybe you have students go to the opposite hemisphere from where these places are and see what’s there. Is this math looking at x y axis and how we divide our world? Or is this social studies and looking at landmarks? Or is this English and we have the settings of the books we have read? Or is it History and we’re comparing and contrasting battle sites. In a digital mapping world Latitude and Longitude mean more than where your fingers meet…it’s a very exact location. Google Sightseeing blog: View some of the great images from around the world 2. Earth Picker Earth Picker is a fun and addicting game. If you click on the link kiss the next 30 minutes of your life goodbye. The game reminds me a bit of Carmen Sandiego back in the day. Only in this game you need to be able to “read an image” a new skill that we need to be teaching students as more and more of our information becomes visual. What do you see? What clues can you find? A great little game to start teaching digital mapping skills. Yes…Google does have a whole site dedicated to using maps in education 3. Smarty Pins Smarty Pins is a great game for educators to use and adapt. I encourage educators to play the game for awhile, yes the questions seem to be American Centric, however what we’re after here is the questions that Google is asking and how the game works. Once you get the hang of it an educator could create their own questions around their own content area. Students could put a pin on the map where they think it is…once the true place is revealed they could get driving directions to see how far they were off….now...

ninja

It looks like word finally broke on Twitter yesterday about a project I’ve been working on for about 5 or 6 weeks at my school. It started as a “I wonder what would happen if….” project and has turned into a pretty awe inspiring, self-motivated, get-out-of-their-way, dare I say fun project.    When I was going through the process of becoming a Google Apps Certified Trainer I was taking the required tests on all the Google Apps. The tests run on Google’s own system and once you press start you have 90 minutes to finish. Google also gives you all the training materials which are public and anyone can learn from. So I did what any cheating student would do. I started the test in one browser and then opened up the training materials in another browser. When I came to a question I didn’t know the answer to I would quickly search for and find it in the training manuals. Basically an open book test. As I continued taking the tests I kept asking myself “What is Google after here?” and then it hit me.  It’s about searching and finding information A big smile came across my face when I realized I had been beat at my own game. I’m constantly preaching that filtering and searching are skills that EVERYONE needs to master in today’s information abundant world and here’s Google putting it into practice.     It makes perfect sense! Google Apps change so rapidly that really the right answer today might not be the right answer tomorrow. So the ability to search and find the right answer is what they are testing. I, as a technology coach/integrater/coordinator (whatever your special name is for the job), do this same thing everyday. People ask me how to do things, I look up the answer. So a big part of being in this role is knowing how to find information when you need it. I then thought what a great way to build a tech team at our school. To find the kids that are geeky/eager enough to go and find the answers they don’t know on their own.     So I set out to create the ISB Google Apps Ninja Training Center. Here’s the idea: Students take a test of 10 questions needing to get 80% of better to “earn” their Ninja Belt Once they get 80% or better on the first test they progress through the Ninja Belts until they reach Ninja Master White Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, Ninja Master – Total 40 questions Each time a student earns a belt I will send them a widget of that belt they can put on their blog Each time a student earns a belt they can come get a button from me to wear around school Once a student has become a Ninja Master in all 5 areas I’ll give them a shirt hence making them an official student tech team member If students don’t get 80% or better they can simply study and retake the test as many times as they would like.   Next I started creating the tests in Google Forms and embedding them into the site. Once students have taken the test I install the Flubaroo script which grades the tests for me and e-mails the students their scores. Next those students who...

boringlecture

I continue to think about how lectures are changing in our new connected world. My last blog post primed my thinking and thanks to the comments and a great run yesterday. I have been able to push my own thinking to what it is I was trying to get at and the changes to the lecture that we’re seeing today.  Lectures For Content Delivery Are Dead This is what I am coming to understand. That the lecture use to be the way we delivered content to students. The PowerPoint made this easier on us as it allowed us to make some quick bullet points of what we wanted to cover and then go about “covering the material”. When content is free, open, and accessible to all then we need to rethink what lectures should be used for and delivering content or knowledge is not a good use. Let kids go find the content….what we need to use the lecture for is to inspire them to go learn the content, create understanding, and apply that new knowledge to other areas.  Lectures should be used to inspire, tell stories, and push ideas Before every keynote or lecture I give I start by giving the audience a page like this that allows them to get involved with what I am talking about or to be off task. I constantly tell my audience that if they are going to be off task then here are some links, some ways to be off task. If I can’t hold their attention that’s my fault as a teacher not their fault as a learner. Is that right? We are quick to blame students for not paying attention but to be fair if I’m in a boring lecture I don’t care how old I am I’m not paying attention. Is that my fault as a student or the teacher’s fault? I believe that’s my fault as a teacher. You might disagree but I’ll own it that if my class is boring that’s on me. So what should a lecture be used for if it is not to deliver content? Inspire: I love inspiring lectures. The ones that make you stand up at the end. The ones that make you feel like going out and making a difference, the onces that you can’t wait to share with others, that you retweet, or reshare in some way. They inspire you to take action, to try something new, or just to smile and enjoy life. Lectures should be used to inspire.  Tell Stories: I love a good story teller. Sir Ken Robinson is a good story teller along with pushing ideas he tells stories about as good as anyone….his ability to weave story telling and idea pushing together is what pulls you into his lectures. Use lectures to tell stories that inspire, that get a point across, that push me to want to learn more or to think deeply about a subject.  Push an Idea: My personal favorite are lectures that push my thinking to the point where my head physically hurts. Have you ever been to a lecture where your thinking has been pushed so far past what you believe, what you thought possible, or what you can image is possible that it actually hurts? It’s happened to me a couple of times. These are also...