Say it Ain’t So!

Have you seen this report from GoGuardian that shows how Chromebooks are being used in classrooms?  I stumbled upon it when I saw this post on Twitter by Andy Losik and this one by Alice Keeler. Not only did the articles hit upon a lot of important key ideas in regards to using Chromebooks in the classroom, but so did the comments.

Previously, I wrote a post about Creating Creators, Rather than Just Consumers, and both of these articles touch on that as well.  Many of the websites that are listed in the GoGuaridan study are places to access information or practice skills, both of which are important for learning. However, when looking at the list, what is missing, are the websites that students should be going to after they have gained their knowledge to create something that helps show what they have learned. Alice Keeler provides some very useful tools that can be used on Chromebooks. The one that is missing, is my new favorite-Book Creator. I feel it can cross over all content areas (and grade levels) and has so many possible classroom uses.  I hope more people realize that it is now available via the web, which means we can use it on Chromebooks.

I have been paying close attention to all things Chromebooks since my district is in the process of deploying Chromebook carts to our middle and high schools.  As I spend time in the buildings, I am often asked by teachers when we will be going 1:1 with devices in the middle and high schools (currently, our 3rd and 4th-grade students are 1:1 with iPads).  My immediate response is: WHY? To which I often get odd looks.  I ask this because in most cases, I don’t really think people know what they are asking for and/or what it involves.   Why do they think their students should have a device with them all the time? What are they going to have the students use the devices for? How are they going to change the way they present the content to their students to effectively incorporate technology into their classroom? Sometimes, they tell me they want a paperless classroom, and inside my mind, I shake my head.  Paper isn’t always a bad thing…students should still have those tactile experiences.  Having a ‘paperless’ classroom sounds great, but if all you are doing is replacing the same old lessons with a computer, you aren’t doing your students any justice.

Before a 1:1 initiative should get rolled out, we need to be sure that we have provided our teachers with training so that they can best use the technology with their students.  The pushback I get from teachers (which I don’t disagree with) is that if we give them the training now, and they don’t have adequate, regular access to devices, then they will forget what they have learned.  So timing is everything. I am looking forward to this journey, and can’t wait to see where it takes us!

Anyone have any suggestions for using Chromebooks in the classroom? Or rolling out devices in a district?



Oh the places we will go…

Happy New Year Everyone!!! Welcome to the new home for my blog 🤓.  If you haven’t had a chance to read my previous posts, check them out 😀 I am still trying out different platforms, so now it’s on to WordPress!

As we are embarking on 2018, I have been thinking about some of the projects I have worked on with teachers and their students.  Since this is a brand new job for me, I have been working hard to be sure that I am providing the support that teachers need, while also trying to encourage teachers to try new/different ways to incorporate technology into their lessons.  There are many teachers that I have shared new ideas with, but then there are the risk-takers who have allowed themselves to be my ‘guinea pig’ when their lessons/content/tasks match a new tech idea that I have.

One of the first ideas was using Google Tour Builder to create a Lit Trip.  I had first heard of these last year, but it wasn’t until I was talking with a 7th grade English teacher who was looking for an alternative way for her students to do a presentation about the book they were going to be reading, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, that I travelled down this road.  Since the story takes place in a number of different locations in the world, I thought it would be a great time to try out a Lit Trip.  I got the idea from Eric Curts who had a post Create Your Own Lit Trips (and more) for Google Earth that I had seen on Twitter.  This post is fabulous, step by step screen shots that walk you through exactly what you need to do to create a Tour.  If you are looking to make one, I highly suggest checking out his post (and the rest of his website!).  Then I saw his post about Launching Tour Builder Tours in Google Earth with One Click…Oh Joy!

The first day I worked with the students, I introduced what Google Tour Builder was by showing them a sample one I made about myself and allowed them some time to create one about themselves about either places they have been or would like to go to.  I wanted them (and the teacher) to be comfortable using it since I would not be with them the next time they were in the computer lab and starting the Lit Trip.


I also had them install a Chrome Extension called Vidyard GoVideo, so they could make a screencast of their Lit Trip and add in audio.  The videos were then downloaded and added to an unlisted YouTube playlist so they would be able to see the projects made by all of the students in each of her five classes.  I made a quick help video showing how to make their screencast using Vidyard to show the students when they were ready.

Overall, the teacher and students were quite pleased with this project (and so was I)!

After speaking with a librarian about Google Tour Builder, she asked me to come in and work with 5th-grade students who were researching Latin America countries…she had a teacher who wanted to try something DIFFERENT with her students when it was time for them to present their findings.  It’s all about Baby Steps…


Where oh where did the time go?!

Originally posted December 19, 2017
WOW! It’s been so crazy since NYSCATE, I just realized I was behind on my blogging! ‘Business’ has been picking up in the #EdTechCoaching world, and in between there my hubby turned 50 and we snuck in a trip to Cooperstown and NYC!
I was so excited about the Adobe Spark video book trailer idea I picked up from Monica Burns, I have been spreading the news to anyone and everyone who will listen. In a nutshell, the book trailer is made with limited text, icons and voice-overs by the students. All of the librarians in the four secondary buildings are in! We have talked about not only adding QR codes to the books but also putting a link to the book trailer videos in the book’s listing on the online book catalog. So far the project has started in one of the high schools and I just finished the planning phase in a middle school. I will be speaking to the English department at the other high school in January. Can’t wait to help provide students an authentic audience for their work!
If you haven’t tried Adobe Spark Video yet…what are you waiting for?! It is a basic, easy to use tool to create beautiful videos, with just a few options (which is a good thing!). Yes, there are many options out there to create videos, however, by making the process of making the video easier, more time can be spent on the planning phase of video creation. This is where the learning occurs, the video is just the finished product that demonstrates the knowledge. Students as creators + authentic audience = successful tech integration! #WIN
Wishing you all a happy, safe and healthy holiday season! Looking forward to sharing the progress of this project as well as the new ones I will be starting in the new year.

Creating CREATORS, rather than just CONSUMERS

Originally posted on October 17, 2017
Last year I had an opportunity to work with a technology integrator for a project I was doing with my students in science.  We were going to create human body projects, but I wanted to change things up, I didn’t want to do another PowerPoint… I had recently seen a news show that was talking about AR (augmented reality) in the classroom and was hoping to incorporate some aspect of AR with my students and their projects.  The project ended up having multiple layers, covering a multitude of standards, and grew into something I could never have imagined when we started.
I created a Google Site which housed all of the materials for the project.  First, the students watched (consumed) a short video about the human body. We then had a discussion about the human body and why it was important and brainstormed a list of things they already knew about it.  They then filled in a Google Form, choosing their top three choices of body systems they would want to do their research about.  Most students were able to research either their first or second choices.
Next, students did research (consume), which was guided by a graphic organizer which provided them with a place to keep track of their important information, as well as a focus for the information they needed to gather.
Once the research was complete, students were asked to gather images related to the different aspects of the research they were doing.  Then we began to discuss the next steps. 
They were going to create a video, which was going to explain the importance of their body system.  At this point in time, they were then partnered with the other people who were researching the same body system.  They first compared and contrasted the information they researched.  Then, they highlighted the information they wanted to use from each person’s graphic organizer.
Now, it was time to plan things out.  Each group began by creating a storyboard to decide the order in which they were going to present their information, as well as the visuals they wanted to use for each segment.  Once they had their plan, they used a Google Doc (shared with their group and with me) to start drafting their scripts.  Students were able to work and collaborate on their scripts at the same time, which maximized their time on task. Once they felt they were done with their writing, I read and commented on their writing, providing them with suggestions for improvement.
As if they weren’t having fun already, the ultra creation time was about to commence! Enter, Explain Everything…boy oh boy do I just love this app!! The students imported images, drew diagrams, added their own video and text to create their finished products.  Watching this happen in the classroom was pure joy! Talk about student engagement!!!
…but we still weren’t finished!!! Each group was tasked with creating three questions (and providing the answers) about their system that would be asked after someone watch their video.  We talked about wanting to know that they gained a general understanding of the importance of their body system, so the questions shouldn’t be too specific.
Almost done…
Lastly, students created a poster with the name of their system, the names of the people in the group and a visual that best represented their body system.  This is where the AR comes in.  The posters were going to serve as the ‘trigger’ for the Aurasma app.  As the posters were scanned, their videos would pop up on the screen and begin playing. When the videos were finished, the questions (which were loaded into a Google Form) would come onto the screen so they could be answered by whoever was watching the video.
Other 5th grade classes were invited to class to watch and learn from the videos.  In addition, parents were invited to see what their children were working on in class. Students in my class were also able to watch the videos made by their classmates and use them to help learn and study the body systems that they didn’t research.
There are many tech tools out there that allow our students to create a product which helps demonstrate their understanding of a topic.  As I mentioned before, I really LOVE Explain Everything (luckily for me my district purchased the app for our iPads).  Some teachers may not be ready to have their students tackle that app.  I have recently discovered Adobe Spark, which I think is a great starter tool to create quick and easy videos, and delivers a beautiful finished product.  If videos aren’t in your wheelhouse, I also used Book Creator last year with my students to create children’s books about the ecosystems they were researching.
We all need to consume information to gain new information.  In my (humble) opinion, if we don’t do something with all that we consume, we (and our students) will never have a true understanding of all the information we are taking in…
What creation tools do you use with your students? Have you tried the ones mentioned here? What are your thoughts?