Saturday, June 14, 2014

No Rest for the Techie...InnEdCo, Here We Come!

How do you like to spend your summers? Resting, rejuvenating, traveling, learning? Why not all of the above?

Summer break for my team started on June 10th, but we're not ready to relax just yet! On Monday, three of us head to the mountains to present at the InnEdCo conference (formerly TIE Colorado). We will be leading a session called Exploring the Tech Integration - Blended Learning Continuum. Our session is based on our Blended Learning vs Tech Integration presentation that I blogged about in January.

We are excited to have the opportunity to present and learn alongside so many great Colorado instructional tech leaders, including some teachers from our district. If you plan to attend the conference, I hope you'll come to our session!

For those of you who don't live in Colorado or who are not attending, what are your favorite summer learning options?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Great New Presentation Tool for iPads: Adobe Voice

Adobe recently released a free new iPad app called Adobe Voice. If you use iPads with your students or for yourself, you should check it out! It's an extremely simple and user friendly presentation tool that is great for teachers and students alike.

It has several different combined background/transition options, but not an overwhelming amount and has a nice little music library divided by theme/mood. Users can use the available graphics, upload photos, or add text to one of a few different slide formats, record audio for each slide, and either use the provided music or upload their own. It even has a few pre-made story structures, such as "Teach a Lesson", "Show and Tell", and "Explain Something".

It also has a built in tutorial that walks you through how things work the first time you use it. No need to spend time teaching students what to do! Best of all, it's so easy to use, even a Kindergartner could use it!

The only real downside is that you can't download your completed video, but you can share the link by copying it to the clipboard, emailing it straight from the app, embed it, or share it out via Facebook, Twitter, or SMS.

I was able to make a video explaining Blended Learning in about 45 minutes (would be faster now that I know how everything works.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Instructional Tech QuickGuide to Integration

In a recent post titled "Go Paperless", I shared a Paperless PD QuickGuide our team created to help with meaningful tech integration in professional development. Since then, we've made a few adjustments to it and re-branded it as an Instructional Technology QuickGuide, designed to be a reference for teachers looking for ways to integrate technology. As with the original, this document is filled with links to sites and tutorials. Click on the image below to check it out! (*Note: Strange Google Behavior: For some people, the document is not opening without requesting Share permission, though it is set for all to view. If this happens to you, copy and paste the link into a new browser window, and you should be good to go.)

We hope that teachers will find our QuickGuide helpful and easy to use.

What do you use to inspire tech integration for yourself or others?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Schoology - Inspired by CommonCraft

One of our favorite resources when helping teachers understand technology is CommonCraft, a company that puts out a series of short videos that explain various tech concepts "in plain English". If you're not familiar with their videos and formats, below are a couple of great ones:

Online Citizenship

Web Search Strategies

As part of a subscription, you get access to CommonCraft's cutout library so you can create your own CommonCraft-style videos. We used their cutouts to create a short introduction to Schoology, a learning management system that we recommend our teachers use to house resources and course content for their students.

We shared this video in a course we created to help our teachers learn how to use Schoology with their students. Although the Schoology website has a few videos of their own, the features described in their marketing videos include some of the Enterprise features, which are only available in the paid version of Schoology. At the moment, our district is only using the free version (which is extremely robust), so we wanted to highlight what Schoology can do for teachers without talking about tools they won't be able to use.


I have to say, making your own CommonCraft-style video is a lot of fun, but it is time consuming! If you've ever tried making one, I'd love to see it!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Go Paperless!

Our team was recently called upon to teach members of our district's Learning Services department strategies for integrating technology into their professional development (PD) sessions. Knowing that our district would soon be flooded with Chromebooks to support online testing and that we had people with a variety of skill levels, we developed three versions of a Google training to help people think about ways they could use Google tools in their PD sessions to reduce paper and enhance engagement. Our hope is that if teachers experience the meaningful use of technology in the PD sessions they attend, they will be inspired to transfer some of the tools and strategies into their own teaching.

As a companion to these sessions, we developed a Paperless PD QuickGuide for participants to reference as they plan their PD sessions.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tech Skills Needed for Successful Online Testing

With state testing going online, many teachers worry that their students will not do well due to a lack of tech skills rather than content knowledge. In our district, my department has been tasked with helping teachers determine what tech skills their students will need. We are also working hard to find tools that will help students practice these skills without requiring students to take online practice tests over and over.

In Colorado, our students will be taking the CMAS and PARCC, both powered by PearsonAccess. We searched high and low for resources that may have already been created to help us with this task, but found few. So in an effort to help others, I am sharing our findings with you!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flipping Fantastic!

It's funny how information sometimes aligns. I read an article today in an issue of eSchool News that a colleague had sent to me titled, "Don't Make These Mistakes with Flipped Learning" by Meris Stansbury, and one part stuck with me: "teachers need to have an accountability system in place for flipped learning instead of just relying on students to watch the video with no checks-and-balances." The author gave a couple of examples, such as, "have them eMail answers to two-to-three questions after viewing the video materials and describe two questions that they have about the video or what they didn’t understand. Students should have this completed by a certain time of night."

Such a simple and seemingly obvious idea, but many teachers skip this step. Then, the stars aligned and my boss sent me a link to a great FREE tool she came across today: eduCanon. eduCanon lets you embed multiple choice questions into the timeline of a video and collect response data! You can even provide answer feedback to students right then and there. How's that for flipping fantastic? Other options include inserting free-response questions (available with the paid version), web content, images, equation editors, audio and more. Best of all, you can prevent students from skipping past parts they haven't viewed yet!

What a powerful tool for flipping instruction, or for use in a blended learning environment! If you try it out with your students, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

EDIT: Someone responded in the comments that they liked EDpuzzle better than eduCanon. I hadn't heard of it before, so I checked it out. I have to say EDpuzzle is pretty awesome too! I like that you can import videos from several sources, and their customer support is awesome. I couldn't figure out how to edit questions after they'd been created, and they responded within a few hours AND immediately implemented a functional change that I suggested, making it much easier to edit existing questions!