Green with Envy

At the start of the school year, I was contacted by a 7th-grade Spanish teacher who was looking for more ways to engage her students with the content, as well as provide them with additional opportunities to practice speaking. She was very comfortable trying new technology-so it was a win from the start!

The first thing we talked about was finding more opportunities for the students to practice speaking.  Immediately, I thought of FlipGrid.  If you haven’t caught #FlipGridFever yet…what are you waiting for?  (Flipgrid is an online video discussion tool that has many possible uses in the classroom.) I scheduled some time and worked with the teacher in her classroom to introduce FlipGrid to her students and give them the opportunity to try it out.  They were working on their first unit of study which included concepts such as their name, age, birthday, favorite color…  For their first assignment, the teacher provided them with sentence stems in Spanish to help the students with their responses.  She then scaffolded the next assignments using FlipGrid, gradually taking away the support she provided.  At the end of the unit, she used FlipGrid as a tool to deliver her assessment.  She continues to integrate FlipGrid into each of her units to provide her students additional time to practice speaking.

The next unit they were going to be working on was leisure verbs.  We brainstormed how to engage the students with the content while addressing the reading, writing, listening and speaking standards.  Since she has access to iPads, we decided to create a QR code scavenger hunt. We set everything up in the library, to allow the students more room to move around.  As we collaborated on this project, we created a shared Google Doc where we were able to organize the different stations, links and QR codes in preparation for the lesson.  Of course, one of the stations was a link to a FlipGrid! It was great! The students were actively engaged with the content, on task and had fun 😃


Most recently, we talked about an alternate way for her students to present their weather reports. In the past, she had her students create a PowerPoint and/or do an oral presentation in front of the class.  I had been seeing a lot about the DoInk app on Twitter and decided to try it out with this project. Once again we used Google to help us collaborate on the project.  We set up a shared folder for each of her classes in which we would store the images students found and wanted to use as their background images.  (Since DoInk is a paid app, we had it installed on 3 iPads and used those for the filming and students were able to access the shared Google Drive folders).  Prior to the filming, students researched cities and their weather forecasts wrote a script and many of them even made cue cards!  For the day of the filming, I borrowed three iPad stands and set up three green screens (we had one REAL green screen background, and two green plastic tablecloths as stand-ins).  Once again we were in the library, which allowed us to set up the three recording areas at one end, and then had the students who were not involved in the taping at the moment working on computers at the other end.

On the first day, I started class by giving the students an overview of the DoInk app and process for recording.  Each group chose someone to be their ‘camera person’.  This was completely student driven and the adults were available to help troubleshoot any technical issues they may have had.  All the videos were saved in our pre-made shared Google Drive folders and then they were uploaded to YouTube to an UNLISTED playlist.  This was then shared with the students so they were able to watch videos made by students in all classes.  Once again, the students were engaged, on task and they didn’t even realize the learning that was going (actually standing up and presenting in Spanish!) on because they were so focused on creating the video.


The librarian at this school was an integral part of these project as well.  Not only did she provide us with her space for a number of days, but she took a vested interest in the new technology we were using so that she could be another resource for the students.  In addition, she has been spreading the word about the different methods for engaging students with technology.  In fact, she worked with a social studies teacher to create a QR code scavenger hunt for the Revolutionary War #BuildingCapacity.

Since this project was done in the library, and there were a lot of people going in and out throughout the day.  Needless to say, there were many VERY curious teachers…and I think a lot of them were a lil green with envy



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.

Thanks for the memories NYSCATE!

Originally posted November 28, 2017
I hope everyone had a very happy and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday break. Not only am I recovering from two-7 hour drives, but my brain is still trying to process all of the information I gained while attending the NYSCATE conference in Rochester, NY from November 19-21. The last time I attended the conference it was held in Albany, NY and the attendees received a Palm Pilot…(needless to say, it’s been a while).
I have to say I was very impressed with the quality of the sessions I attended as well as the Key Note speakers. Tom Murray was on Sunday night, and he really made me think about school culture, who creates that culture, and how/why we use technology in schools (among many other things).
(I just noticed, I can see myself taking this picture! LOL)
The next day was Chris Emdin. Wow! Talk about an engaging speaker and someone who forces you to think out of your comfort zone. There were some key quotes I took away from his talk:
  • “You don’t teach grit, you activate grit.” It is already there for kids.
  • “We need to re-imagine the classroom first” before you can address integration of technology to impact learning
Although I really enjoyed all of the sessions I attended, there are four I am going highlight and I will reflect on them in the order they occurred.
I started my first day attending SketchNoting with Andy Wheelock. I have heard (and seen) a lot about this topic all over Twitter and I believe that students learn better with visuals, so this was the perfect way for me to start my NYSCATE adventure. I enjoyed seeing some of the research that backs up the idea of Sketchnoting, but even better, I like that Andy had us take the new information we gained from that research and create a SketchNote for it. I also enjoyed seeing how other people opted to draw their ideas. Best of all, he provided us with resources to not only see people who are well known for their use of SketchNoting, but also information to help us become better and tools to use to practice. I can see many uses for SketchNoting in the classroom, and I look forward to sharing this with the teachers I work with.
The next session (which I volunteered to be a presider for) was one I was very much looking forward to since my main focus for attending this conference was gain more information to not only bring back the teachers in my district, but also ways to help me improve my craft as a technology coach. Although the title was what grabbed my attention (Moving Up the SAMR Continuum: Coaching for Transformational Learning) it was the content that kept me engaged and delighted that I chose this session. The experience and knowledge shared by Vincy Murgillo and Megan Hugg was exactly what I was hoping for. I was just having a conversation with my fellow District Tech Coach about the idea that the coaching training we have attended doesn’t always 100% address our needs as tech coaches, so this was so helpful!
I have to say I have become a lil bit of a Twitter fan of Monica Burns, so when I saw that she was going to be presenting at NYSCATE I knew I had to make it to one of her sessions. I chose Tasks Before Apps: Elevate & Energize Traditional Learning Experiences because I think it is easy to get caught up in the tech tool, and forget about the learning goal. My biggest take away from her session was the idea of providing authentic audiences for our students. “If no one sees the work, it is the same as keeping the work in a pile on your desk.” This really resonated with me. She shared a book trailer project made with Adobe Spark which used icons and student voiceover to share information about the book, which was then made into a QR code that was placed on the book in the school library. HELLO?!?! There are so many reasons why this idea is awesome! I have already shared it with my fellow coaches as well as an English teacher who I already had introduced to Adobe Spark. We met, I shared this idea and she is now adjusting her project to collaborate with the librarian to make it happen. WINNING!
Last, but certainly not least (and I am not including this because I won a Nearpod VR headset…oh yes I did!!!) is Leverage Technology to Sculpt Culture & Ignite Innovation with Elisabeth Bostwick. There are so many ideas that stood out for me from this session. Elisabeth used a variety of visuals and quotes which, for me, helped send home the message. There seemed to be a common thread to many of the ideas that were being shared at the conference in general and in this sessions as well, one of which is to focus on the WHY (Ted Talk by Simon Sinek) and that many schools still look the same as they did in the early 1900’s. We, as tech trailblazers, need to disrupt in order to help innovate. This image she shared spoke to me:
This was such a great conference and I am so grateful I was able to attend and expand my coach’s toolbox all while adding to my Twitter professional learning network. There was a true sense of collaboration and camaraderie! Thank you NYSCATE!