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Blog about instructional technology. Today is Friday, May 26, 2017

The Elementary Web Search


The internet is full of information. However, it can be difficult to find information appropriate for younger readers. The right sources ARE out there! Here are some tips for younger students that have helped the younger researcher be succesful most of the time.

  1. Click Search tools at the top of a Google search results page.
  2. Click All Results.
  3. Click Reading level. You'll now see results annotated with reading levels as well as a percentage breakdown of results by reading level.
  4. To filter your results by a specific reading level, select your desired level - for most elementary students, click BASIC.
  5. At any time, you can click Clear to go back to seeing all results.

Try search engines for younger students 

  • KidRex- Wikipedia will appear in search results in KidRex. These articles are generally far too difficult for elementary readers and it is recommended other resources be found.
  • InstaGrok - (basic overview of InstaGrok) - move the Einstein slider to the left for more basic results.

Use keywords to search 

Do not choose ask and answer websites
When students are researching for projects in school, they should generally use websites that are from reliable resources. This means to avoid sites where users can login and provide answers and contribute to the articles. Although it is true that the information may be correct, websites written by known experts should be used. Also, these are the type of websites that will often show up when a young student types in their search because they will often ask a search engine using the same language they use when they speak. For example, "How does rice grow in China?" instead of "rice grow china".
Sites that should be avoided for school research projects (unless otherwise stated by the teacher)

  • Wikipedia - These articles generally have advanced reading levels making it difficult for younger grade readers. The articles may also contain incorrect information. However, it is an excellent place to start research with parent/adult support. A great wikipedia article will have many resources at the bottom of the article that can then be a platform for great research.
  • WikiHow
  • Answers.yahoo.com
  • Ask.com

It is an ever changing landscape and these tips may evolve and change over time. I'd love to hear what works for you!


Action Research: Students Ability to Focus with Tech Distractions


http://www.personal.psu.edu/scs15/SP10newsletter/actionresearch.gifIdentify Issue:
I have been noticing a significant amount of distraction lately among my students. In a recent lesson with Google Earth, students often allowed themselves to stray from the task at hand to fly into street view of their homes or use the flight simulator tool. This caused many students to run way past the due date for the assigned project. This caused me to look at the original assignment and reflect whether it was engaging enough. It asked them to choose ANY location they wanted in the world, do some research that would “make others want to go there”, research the distance the location was from our school, and then create a Google Tour using their chosen locations. It seemed it had at least some of the elements we teachers use to engage our students: choice and a really cool 21st century tool. But, was the tool TOO engaging in that the tool itself distracted the students from completing the given project?

In addition to my observations in that lesson, our 6th grade has started to allow their students to bring in their own devices and listen to music. I now have students that immediately come up to me and ask, “can I listen to music today?”. My initial response to this is, “I don’t know, CAN you listen to music AND complete the given project?” I’m not sure the student truly knows the answer to that question.

So, I have decided to intertwine a unit on data and spreadsheets with information on helping kids know and understand themselves while also teaching (I hope) skills to help them stay focused in this 21st century world.

<p>I thought I would use an Action Research model since it seems to best fit what I am trying to do and myself and my students understand the implications and effects of distractions and how students can learn to cope with them to maintain focus. My questions are:
  1. Do students have the same level of focus while listening to music - a common technology distraction with our students new access to their personal mobile devices?
  2. Does the type of music matter? Does the volume of music matter?
  3. What other variables could be instituted?
  4. Can we evaluate ability to focus and concentrate while another “engaging” tool is open in the background or off to the side?

I will admit that I had some bias when beginning to think about this. Although I believe that students need to learn to focus while their smartphones, iTouches, and computer games are around, I truly don’t (or didn’t) think that they can truly focus while using them. However, in looking deeper into these questions, I have found some articles that support both sides:

Implement variables and test ability to focus and concentrate:
I will begin by telling my students about what I have been observing and my questions regarding their ability to focus with technological distractions. It is my belief they should be aware of the “study” not only because they should want to learn more about themselves but also because it seems the ethical thing to do. My outcomes (or learning targets as we call them) will be:

  • I can organize data in spreadsheet.
  • I can analyze data in a spreadsheet.
  • I will become more aware of technology distractions that have the biggest impact on me.
  • I will research and reflect on methods that will help me overcome distractions and focus on the task or project.

The “study” will have students attempt a timed typing test. I like using this one for timed typing assessments because you can choose the option to have non-word (just letters) for the test. This should help account for students who may try to read the text as they are typing and not bias students who are not able to read as fluently. I will have all the students start each “session” at the same time and during each session, I will implement the following variables in the room. Without music for practice. Without music for data collection. With loud rock music. With soft pop music. With a very catchy melodic popular music. With a popular software open to the side (like Google Earth or ….?) 

Gather data:
As we implement the variables, data will be collected by each student for words per minute and errors. The data will be entered in a spreadsheet and then determine how to graph the data. I’ll need to have a brief lesson on the structure of a spreadsheet and how to format the cells.

Analyze the data:
Once the students have graphed the data, they will choose 2 articles to read and will reflect on their findings in their blog. They will determine if the data showed that music was distracting to them or not. They will also read a few of the articles (or at least portions) and determine if any of these are recommendations they can implement in their lives to improve focus around 21st century distraction.


Google Apps for Education in Boulder August 2nd and 3rd


Link to all resources for conference

Inspired Writing: 5th Graders that have Gone Google by Dan Maas of Littleton Public Schools

  • Link to presentation
  • The best 21st century learning tool is a good teacher.
  •  Learning In the Cloud - book compared 1:1 programs with Little Public Schools
  • Little Public School invested in the teachers and got results
  • Inspired Writing project has shown growth where other programs have not.
  • What are some of the components of the Inspired Writing program that causes this improvement?
  • Students are now blogging about what they wrote. Students are motivated to write for the wider audience and comments from other students.
  • The students who are writing in their journal tend to not write as much as those that write on their blog or Google Apps because the audience is so much larger.
  • The computer has no bottom of the page.
  • Here is an article in "The Journal" where LPS program is highlighted: http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/03/07/building-21st-century-writers.aspx
  • So "Journal Time" means getting out the laptop or netbook and blogging.
  • Cluster Maps are a huge piece for motivation because they show the kids that people all over the world are reading their blogs. 
  • LPS had a goal of improved writing. The chose to implement the 1:1 program with the focus of measuring success usuing writing scores.
  • They also use the comment feature of Google Docs to allow the student to figure out how their writing can improve vs a red pen mark showing the correction in paper/pencil writing. 
  • Full names are not used. 
  • Many of our grades at my school are doing some creative thing with Google Docs. The presentation highlighted an activity where a slide show was created by students, note taking done by students, test created by students (google forms), grading done by students, grade recording done by students (google spreadsheet). We have done very similar activites. Feels good:)
  • Research tool in Google really simplifies adding images. Even allows you to add footnote that credits images at the same time!! Amazing! - must use this quickly!!!! First lesson!
  • Teacher uses revision history to check that all students are working on the document.
  • TPaCk: Argues that 21st century learning happens when you bring your content and pedagogy with technology. http://randysresources.wikispaces.com/TPACK
  • LPS 1:1. Use Linux netbooks. About $275. Some are 4 years old and batteries. They do not go home but stay on a cart. They have a reboot/reimage keystroke that will reimage.  IT only touches the machine if it physically breaks. The network is an open network. He has 3 techs that support 13,000 devices??? How does he do it? 
  • LPS is now using Discovery Education text books. 
  • Why Google? More portability than hardware. 
  • They moved RTI from targeting a few students to all students in the building using Google Docs. Notes taken on every student every Friday.
  • Students don't necessarily learn keyboarding. They do have the philosophy that students will learn to type in the way that best suits them.
    My Takeaway

This was a very powerful session for me. It is apparent from the work at LPS that putting technology in students' hands can have a significant impact on outcome. It is also apparent that sound pedagogy must accompany the technology. I plan to use the study and resources to motivate my staff to strive to integrate 21st century writing activities into their lesssons. I will plan my first few rotations for my 5th and 6th graders to create a Blogger blog (since I have learned at this conference that we now have Blogger!). My principal has revealed that a long-term goal for our school will be to move to a 1:1 environment. This session has served as a strong motivator and amazing resource to emmulate the great things done at LPS.

Powerful Collaborative Tools with Google Docs by Michael Wacker

  • School should no longer be defined by four walls.
  • http://bit.ly/cogafewack
  • Google docs is cloud based
  • 50 is the number of users who can edit a doc at the same time with full functionality.
  • Only 200 views at a given time.
  • Layered permissions provide safeguard for teachers and students.
  • Don't forget about Publishing to Web and choosing automatically republish.
  • You can also share collections where everything in the folder is shared. You can have folders inside of folders.
  • Discussions are different from comments. Think of how to use each of them pedagocially.
  • Revision history allows you to see history of the edited document. 
  • insert menu to Image and now YOU CAN SEARCH DIRECTLY FROM THE WINDOW! YAY! The images are labled for reuse and can be used as desired (but not for profit).
  • Insert menu to Equation toolbar.
  • Google Takeout by Data Liberation- Allows you to take out anything you have can be "yours again". 
  • Bookmark links are powerful ways to make long documents more managable.
  • Table of Contents uses the Insert to Headings to create the table. Great ways to organize a big doc.
  • Tools to Research. The BEST ADDITION EVER! You can research information, images, etc. IF added to the document, it is cited for you!!!
  • Even a translate feature for the document.
  • When using the Insert to Comment, if you begin the comment with "@", the feature will EMAIL the user addressed after the "@". Wow!!

My Takeaway
I learned a number of tips and tricks that help me to be a more efficient user and instructor of Google Apps. Probably the most significant thing I learned for my students was the "Research" tool in Google Docs. What a great feature to help them learn about digital citizenship and citations as well as make the research process more efficient. 

Google Apps and Writing by Kim McMonagle

  • Stick Pick App
  • https://sites.google.com/a/c2e.org/geek-camp/camp-sessions/writing-process-and-reflection-go-google 
  • This document takes you through ways the Google can walk a student through "Brainstorm-->Rough Draft-->Edit-->Revise"
  • Again hearing that comments should be used to give suggestions and NOT fix it for the student. Be careful of "Resolve" comment. Might want to keep that record so you know the student fixed it.
  • Can use Google forms for reflection.
  • Have students write the rubric with you to determine what a rubric should look like.
  • By showing the students each other's writing with a Google form, they can now see what that detial means by looking at other students examples. Students are motivated to write before their classmates and adding unique ideas before others.
  • Use a Google form by adding an article into the form and having students read it and then form fields below to reflect on the article.

My Takeaway
This session was a perfect fit for meeting the needs of our school. Our school goals are focused on improving writing. Specifically, our goal is focused on "short constructed response". This session truly helped me refocus on the writing process and how this relates to the tools I will use with my students all year, as well as the tools I will teach our teachers to use with students. I feel that all the ideas from this session can help students write a well formed short constructed response in a 21st century environment. 

Google Drive: From Neutral to Warp Speed

  • https://sites.google.com/a/edtechteam.com/google-drive/
  • Writing in Google really helps the writing process because the collaborative piece allows you to work with students throughout the writing process. Feedback can be given throughout the creation of the piece. 
  • You can take a picture in documents by Insert Menu to Picture and "take a snapshot"
  • Use the pictures in the Insert to Image Life options as writing prompts
  • In Google Drive - go to Create --> More --> get more apps. So many opportunities! 
  • Google Drive Apps - the apps follow the user profile. They have to log into Chrome to see the apps.
  • WeVideo app is free video editing. Still simplistic but getting better. There are some cool animations. WeVideo creates a folder for projects in my Drive.
  • PicMonkey picture editing.
    My Takeaway

This session more for the geek in me than the teacher. There were some fun apps and uses for Chrome and Google apps that I will use and teach others to use. It is difficult for me to teach how to customize Chrome to students since we use technology in a mostly shared environment. Sessions such as these are great ways for us to see the big picture and better understand what may or may not work in our environment. 


Notes and Reflections on TIE 2012


I have recorded my brief notes for the major sessions I attended and then given a brief reflection below each session.

Click Into Colorado History by Jennifer Jensen

  • Resource website for the session.
  • Great instructional strategies. Put learning a new tool into kid's hands. Give them a heads-up about learning a new tool. Perhaps flip the lesson? Provide some online learning to pick up the basics?
  • Feedback is important. Should be a part of every lesson!
  • Love the "Office Hours" online hours idea for older kids or being available certain hours via chat or some online tool. Imagine this would be quite engaging for kids. 
  • Don't forget those simple tools like "SmartArt" in Word to help students organize thier thinking.
  • Using infographics to help explain an idea for non-linguistic interpretation
  • Gather data about topics such as population and create a graph in exel. Other data weather, temperature, economy.
  • Socrative student response system and app. Looks easy to setup
  • Lego Superhero app for easy stop-motion multimedia project. They filmed the movie with a diorama. 
  • Blabberize is a neat way to differentiate for kids whom writing might be more difficult when writing isn't the learning objective.
  • http://photopeach.com/ is a great simple tool for slide shows and quizzes. Mybrainshark.com is another one.
  • QR codes that tie to student projects about certain Colorado (or any) location. Use string to map the QR to a large physical Colorado map.
  • ReelDirector app for video editing. $1.99 without volume discount.
  • Similarities and differences and analogies can provide some of the deepest most sustainable learning.

This was an excellent session with multiple different lesson ideas based on the research of McRel. Categorizing the lessons helped participants and myself see the value of the lesson based on the instructional strategy. There were so many fabulous ideas but one of my favorite included stop motion animation of the traditional diorama. By writing a script that describes the event in the diaroma, the learning is deeper and more sustainable.

From Trees to Bits: Moving Education into the 21st Century by Hall Davidson

My biggest takeaway from this session was the idea that we should truly be using current technology to create richer learning and therefore deeper learning. I left the session wondering how a tech lesson could be bumped to the next level. For example, creating a brochure about a topic is good and utilizes recall and understanding. What if that brochure was more interactive and asked the student to create a podcast or video that compared and contrasted events?

STEM for all - the story of Preston Middle School

  • There is a gap in graduates prepared to work in STEM fields  and available prepared employees.
  • STEM students feel it STEM educatin means: choice, high expectations, 21st century skills, higher order thinking, rigorous instruction, real world application, excited about learning, highly engaged instruction, 3rd space (transfer of learning) and addressing the STEM crisis
  •  http://www.steminstitutes.org/
    • http://prestonmiddleschool.org/
    • Scientific investigtation, field work with actual scientists and experts, 
    • They know the work they are doing can change the world.
    • Book: Whatever it Takes by DuFour
    • Competitions other than sports such as math competitions
    • Science Olympiad competition: http://soinc.org/
    • Examples of student projects: Student research allowed an AED to be placed in the school, student studied how water diversion would mean water conservation
    • Kids who struggle with reading and writing go to "film study" that allow for targeted interventions via enrichments - not sure how this works.
    • Pre-AP strategies into all classes
    • Now have a learning lab intended for kids in special ed and those students who need help.
    • Mentors are a big part of this solution. About 250 students received mentoring from community mentors via email.

    Some Student Examples

    • 88 published authors through the Big Brain Club. 
    • Follett shelf
    • film study enrichment
    • Student created art on a SMARTBoard that he wanted on a snowboard. He emailed companies in Fort Collins and trademarked his design. He is waiting to hear back about his acceptance.
    • Girls club that takes girls to different STEM careers and exposes them to what's available.
    • Brown bag visiting scientist lunch.
    • Increased the school year with STEM Institute. Tuition based.
    • STEM technology lesson: http://vimeo.com/user8227474/review/43050307/44ddfaa401

    This was one of the more inspirational sessions for me. I loved the emphasis on STEM for ALL. Although the school curriculum changed to include more engineering, math, and technology, that was not the major turning point for this school. It seems one of the most significant changes came in giving students more choice in their learning as well as expecting more from the students. Because students are engaged in learning that often impacts a global audience (or at least an audience outside the classroom), the students are more motivated and successful. My takeaway from this is to create more lessons that reach out to the audience beyond the classroom walls. I will try to engage the students in lessons that impact a larger audience when possible. I will also combine this by attempting to have students show mastery before application with the flipped classroom model.

    Introduction to the Flipped Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann

    • Classrooms should move from teacher centered lecture to learner centered small groups, discovery, centers, inquiry.
    • Flippedlearning.org
    • Critical Question: What is the best use of your f2f class time
    • Central idea of the flipped classroom - what used to be done in the classroom (content delivery) is now done at home and what used to be done at home (worksheets, practice) is now done in the classroom. Here is the video shown at the session.
    • It is not all about videos. The most important thing about the flipped classroom is that it gives you the time to do the cool stuff with the kids:)
    • Some things to do if inequitable access to technology:
    1. Burn videos to DVD and put in player and tv to watch
    2. Check out mobile devices with videos loaded
    3. Other ways?
    • If against homework, you can have the kids watch in class and work asynchronously at their own pace.
    • The videos can come at any point in the classroom.
    • DI -> Practice -> Apply -> Assess -> Remediate
      With the flipped classroom model, this created an asynchronous situation which was addressed with centers.
    • What happens when everyone is not ready for the "test" at the same time?
      -LMS (Moodle, Schoology) was a big tool to help with this.
      -A video on Mastery
    • Flipped classroom is more of a conversation of knowledge. Flipping allows for differentiation because students must pass the initial mastery assessment, at their own pace (with remediation if necessary), before moving on.
    • Another idea is Explore - Flip - Apply
    • Flipped economics with current events
    • Flipping in the elementary classroom. You can flip a few lessons. Example: When teaching the kids sounds and phonics in reading. First DI and then videos for practice and remediation. Most kids need 100 exposures to learn and some need much more. 
    • Parents love the videos!!
    • On blooms - the videos are the bottom. It is in remembering and assessment is understanding. Classroom is then where applying, evaluating, creating is done in class.
    • Flipped classrooms can be a part of backwards planning - ask the question first: "How do you build a fuel cell?" or "How can we save energy in the classroom?" and then go from there.
    • From Language Arts classroom teacher: 
    1. What do I constantly teach with DI that can be moved to a flipped video. Remove the lecture from class.
    2. Can make centers in class for elementary. One the books, one the video, one small group instruction.
    3. Can also flip grading and feedback. Go over the document online. Like conferencing 1:1. The video gives students a medium to engage students. They must reflect and ask questions.
    • Flippedclass.com
    • Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Inquiry-- PBL -- Mastery -- PD -- AFL -- 21st century learning
    1. Information to be learned should be presented in multiple modalities
    2. Need multiple ways to be assessed in mastery. Have kids prove they have learned material. 
    3. Flipped classrooms are messy. Kids are all doing different things. 
    • Have the kids make the videos for the younger kids or even each other at centers. They are the YouTube generation. Example given was student who took a "Fred" like persona called "Phineus".

    This was another very inspirational session for me. I have often used videos in the classroom for direct instruction that allowed students to learn detailed technology steps/processes at their own pace. However, the difference was that I had not asked the students to show mastery of the tool before diving into the project that utilize the tool. I think this idea would allow students to be more prepared for projects, especially those with more steps. I do have some questions and wanderings as I think about applying this in my classroom:

    1. How do you differentiate for those that finish first. How do you help them go deeper without giving them more busy work? I am sure this is a classic question especially for GT programs and I will need to investigate this further.
    2. I am wondering what age to begin to implement this lesson design on a consistent basis. I have created videos at the 4th grade level and am wondering if 3rd grade would work.

    Robotics for Elementary by David Larsen

    I am fascinated by the emphasis on robotics in education right now. There are so many programming opportunities for kids but it seems the focus is currently on robotics. Robotics programming does provide an incredibly engaging way for students to problem solve to accomplish a goal. There is an immediate reward if the task is completed correctly. However, this could be done building applications or manipulating a sprite in SCRATCH and probably many others ways I am not even aware of right now. It seems that the job we should be focusing on is understanding and manipulating data. Data manipulation, data mining, data querying, is what our world is all about in this information age. I suppose this is not as glamorous as making a robot climb a ramp or follow a line:)


    Educational Philosophy


    My coworkers nominated me for a district award this year. Considering the respect I have for those I work with, it was an incredible honor to represent my school. As part of the award, I was asked to describe my educational philosophy. Although I had done this before, it was on a much smaller scale and I found my philosophy changed with experience and exposure. I am posting my thoughts here and I hope to return to this post on a regular basis as an exercise in reflection of my practice.

    Education should prepare our children to be productive successful citizens. The content, standards and curriculum we teach will help to prepare our children for careers, but it is the fundamental life skills learned and taught in school that will prepare our students to be successful in life. Technology is an essential tool in this learning, however; it is not a question of if the technology used in classrooms today will be outdated, but when. It is therefore imperative I am teaching skills that are more sustainable than the tools used. These skills should help build a citizen that will enrich this rapidly changing world.

    Students today must learn how to problem solve, collaborate, communicate, and make associations. They must make sense of, sort, and organize the immense influx of information. Along with our greater dependence and use of technology comes the necessity of learning to use it ethically and responsibly. We must also foster a sense of curiosity and inquiry in this age of instant access to information and answers. As a teacher, I feel I am tasked with seamlessly threading these skills into existing standards and curriculum using sound pedagogy and bit of “artful” teaching flare.

    It is also imperative that the learning environment is engaging and safe for all students. Learning occurs best when students can trust, make connections, and are motivated to learn. I strive to know each of my students as unique individuals and offer learning opportunities that meet each of their needs. Technology can play a significant role in this by providing a medium that is intrinsically motivating to our students. Technology can also help to bridge gaps and reach students who may otherwise find learning more challenging. Using technology to achieve these outcomes requires an understanding of how to apply these tools within a lesson’s design. My role is to support my school in implementing these 21st century tools to best meet the needs of all students.

    Learning is built on trust and relationships. Creating a nurturing learning environment inspires bold thinking and learning. These relationships should extend beyond school walls and include collaborating with parents and families to allow students to excel in all aspects of school. Relationships in my classroom are built by setting clear expectations, providing feedback, encouraging dialogue, and offering support. I reach out to parents and our community by creating a transparent classroom with all lessons posted on my website. I continue to support this foundation of trust through timely communication and information by maintaining our school website and Facebook page. To me, it is essential to work together to grow our students into the best citizens they can be.


    Creating an Interactive Story with Primary Students on the iPad - Inspired by the Book "Press Here" by Herve Tulle


    When I saw this book in a local book store, I immediately thought it would provide an excellent model text for my primary students to use to help them create an interactive multimedia story.

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Kj81KC-Gm64" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>

    The book lends itself to creativity and imagination through the use of fun literary tools (the book uses interjections throughout the pages to engage the reader to participate) and a unique "hook": asking the reader to actively take part in the story! . When you add iPad technology, students have an incredibly engaging tool to help them tell their story and a storytelling portal (Educreations.com) that allows their multimedia creation to be read by the world!

    Educreations appFor the iPad app, I chose Educreations. The app is incredibly easy to use and publishing to the web was possible in just a few short clicks (once the free school account was quickly setup on http://www.educreations.com/). For me, this is an important step and one where technology can provide motivation for many students that may not be possible with simply writing a story on paper and sharing it with the teacher and peers. Research has shown that the wider audience of the web has positively influenced student performance in regards to creating quality work and completing their written work and this finding is supported in the book Handbook of Research in New Literacies, by Julie Coiro, as well as other research.

    This app is similar to the ShowMe app. Both are free at this time so explore both and choose the one you feel fits the lesson best for your kids.

    I have included a step-by-step process for the lesson below.

    1. Register for an Educreations account to that publishing from the iPad is quick and easy. You can register for the account HERE. I chose to create one generic school account since I am using this lesson with primary students.
    2. Read the book, Press Here by Herve Tullet. After reading, work your teacher magic to help identify strategies the author used engage the reader. Use of interjections, talking directly to the reader, giving the reader instructions. I also plan on using the Visible Thinking routine "See, Think, Wonder". My goal with this routine is to help the students see past the dots used in the story and imagine other objects they could use for the story they will create. The routine will have to be tweaked a bit to fit with the book but not too much.
    3. Next, it is tie to demonstrate the app and show the sample video (see bottom of post). It truly is a very simple app. I think the hardest part for primary students will be understanding when the app is recording your voice and actions (illustrating) and when it just "shows" or displays the drawn picture.
    4. I will use a simple graphic organizer/storyboard to help the students plan their story. This tool will be important in helping the students efficiently create their story on the iPad. I have embedded the organizer below. It allows for the student to create 5 scenes. This could be adjusted for students age and ability. Students will draw the picture they intend to draw on their iPad on the left and write their script (as best they can) on the right.
    5. Once the organizers are completed and I have checked them, the students can begin creating their stories. I will have to work in small groups as each grade has 6 iPads.
    6. Once all stories are complete, we will have a share day. Again, the stories are all published under our account on Educreations.com so access will be simple and easy. I can also embed the stories on the classroom teacher's website or just send the link to the teacher and parents.


    A student sample is in 1st grade. She did a great job asking the reader to interact with the weather!

    <iframe width="480" height="300" src="http://www.educreations.com/lesson/embed/378302/" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></iframe>

    The storyboard graphic organizer is below. You can use the tools on the screen to downloaded if you wish.

    <object height="400" width="466" data="http://embedit.in/2grdrwoI9N.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"> <param name="data" value="http://embedit.in/2grdrwoI9N.swf" /> <param name="src" value="http://embedit.in/2grdrwoI9N.swf" /> <param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /> </object>


    QR Code Math Lesson


    QR Code for TargetI am not sure why kids find QR codes so intriguing but if you can include them in a lesson, they are completely engaged! The most difficult part about QR codes is getting the teachers on board with the lesson when they may have never seen or been exposed to a QR code in the past. My brave 6th grade teachers implemented the lesson below and I am hopeful it is just the beginning of QR code lessons at our school.

    QR stands for quick response and is a method used by companies to push information to mobile phone or iPod users. The picture on the right is from Target and if you scan it with a QR code reader app (there are several through iTunes) it will open your mobile phone's browser to a promotional page. Try it!

    Our lesson focused on math. Our objective was to have kids create word problems that involved factors but the focus could be anything for a QR code lesson. There are basically three major steps involved for the students with this type of lesson:

    1. Creating the web content (web page) that the user who is scanning the code will be taken to.
    2. Creating the QR code from the web address of the web page that contains the content.
    3. Users who scan the codes and solve problems (in our case-math problems) from the web page that they were taken to.

    The detailed lesson plan steps are below:

    1. We had our students work in pairs and basically had two classes participating. With that in mind, I will use about 26 kids in each of our classes for this lesson plan example.
    2. Break students in each class into pairs to create a math word problem. With 26 kids, that means there will be 13 word problems to solve and therefore 13 QR codes generated.
    3. Once the students have created the word problems, have them write the word problems on a web page. We are now a Google Apps district so we used Google Sites. However, there are other free website tools out there that could be used (Weebly). The web pages are easy and only contain the word problem itself so pretty simple text. So each classrooms website had one page for each team or 13 total. Here is the website created by one of our teams.
    4. Once the page is complete, the students can begin creating the QR code. We used http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ because it was so simple but there are many out there. They simply copy the web address of their page and generate the code. We then had them print the code.
    5. Once the codes were printed, we had them label with their question number and tape them up around their classroom.
    6. When both classrooms were done posting their printed codes, the teams took an iTouch from the cart and switched classrooms. Once in the other classroom, they began to scan the codes created by the other class and try to solve them.
    7. The teachers then brought the classes back together so they could score their answers. They also had a pretty in-depth discussion about word problems and the thinking that went into both creating and solving them.

      Thanks to iLearnTechnology for the inspiration!

      Image citation:


      Reflecting on Student Inquiry


      The article Student Inquiry and Web 2.0 by Pam Berger was an interesting article that allowed me to think more deeply about my practice. Although I am familiar with the idea of linking technologies to instructional and learning strategies, inquiry based learning is newer to me. The article defines Web 2.0 and then maps specific technologies and web-based tools to the Stripling Inquiry Model. In an era when so much about my practice is changing so rapidly, from the technologies to the delivery models, this article provided a clear map to an inquiry based classroom.

      I am familiar with student centered learning since I recently finished a masters in eLearning Design from CU Denver. Much of the programs instructional strategies utilized Kolb's model Experiential Learning (Dave Young was my student adviser and taught many classes). We were always creating, building, experiencing, questioning, and reflecting. We were taught to create lessons that followed these same steps. However, much of what I create in the classroom is project-based learning. Students are still experiencing, building, creating but often with defined projects as a goal. Compared to the Inquiry Model outlined in the paper, many of my project-based lessons are more restrictive and do not allow for the construction of of new knowledge and projects based on wondering and questions.

      However, I am learning!...we hope:) I had one main goal this year: to introduce Fox Creek to a global learning community. To achieve this goal, I had our students reflect on the topic of Cyberbullying in a blog. However, I wanted the students to critically think about the information and to question the content. So, we discussed critical thinking as defined both by the new Bloom as well as the discussion the students have in their classroom. We also posed questions about the information using Bloom's verbs as a guide. I am SO fortunate to co-teach with teachers such as Angel Wolf, Shari Griffin and Maggie Granat (to name a few) and  the discussions in these classes were so exciting! Each class posted their questions on this Google Doc and then read the questions posed by other classes. This type of questioning is also outlined in the article as important in helping students construct knowledge. I feel the blog lesson was hugely successful. For the most part, the students were deeply insightful in their blog post. They also did a great job of commenting on each other's posts as well as blogs around the world!

      I plan to take the idea of student inquiry one step further. Our next lesson will be centered on the Siemens We Can Change the World contest. Students will follow the scientific process of inquiry to solve an environmental problem in their classroom and/or our school. The process focuses heavily on developing a plan, collecting data to evaluate the plan and reflecting on its outcome. This process very closely follows the Stripling Inquiry Model outlined in the article. The most difficult part for me is not knowing "the plan" on day one of the lesson! The students determine the plan solely based on their questioning and research. As the teacher facilitating (not delivering) an inquiry based lesson, I must provide the support to keep the students on track and the objectives clear yet allow them the freedom to discover answers on their own. This article provides a nice resource to help guide me through our next journey in inquiry learning!


      Creative Commons License
      The Blooming Verbs list poster by Learning Today is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.


      ISTE Sessions ~ My Notes and Reflections


      I finally got around to reflecting on the sessions I attended at ISTE. As I was writing, I was pleased to note that I have already begun implementing some of the ideas I learned about at the session.


      1. Main wiki here: http://backchannel.sswiki.com/Structure UN: backchannel PW: everyvoice
      2. Must have focus or conversation will get away from main topic.
      3. Communicate rules. Keep them simple. Ex: Be nice, Be clear, Be open
      4. Can put the backchannel tool into website or wiki.

      My Takeaway from Backchanneling:
      I have since discovered drop.io's chat tool (http://drop.io/dropname/chat) that, at this time, is not blocked by my district. It is simple to use and will work for almost all my grade levels. For my next backchannel event, I will spend more time setting ground rules for the chats. It is such a powerful communication tool and an amazing way to assess students and drive instruction based on results.

      Managing the 21st Century Classroom

      1. http://web.me.com/alwayson
      2. http://sites.google.com/site/managingthemodernclassroom/

      My Takeaway from the 21st Century Classroom:
      I did not attend this session. It was closed. Nice resources and presented by a collegue in my district.

      Google Enhanced Classroom:

      1. http://my.uen.org/myuen/58239/2
      2. Google Squared: http://www.google.com/squared. Allows searches to be returned in the form of a table with rows of information and infinite numbers of columns of data.
      3. Gmail has video chat. Both users must have plug-in
      4. If you use Google Calendar and make public, allows followers to subscribe and add into their calendar
      5. http://earth.google.com/ then to gallery allows you load new layers into google earth to see some amazing pieces of data. Ex: World Oil Consumption graphically shows which countries and how much oil they use
      6. http://googlelittrips.org
      7. Literature Tours in Google Earth - other tours? historical figures, animal migration. Use image tag in location marker to add graphic or image.

      My Takeaway from Google Enhanced Classroom:
      I need to more deeply explore Google Earth. This tool can have the most significant impact on learning in my setting. I really liked the Google Earth gallery and I imagine that this gallery can meet the needs in many subjects from language arts to science. My goal will be to explore this tool for some of the science units my teachers have near the beginning of the year including weather for 6th and 2nd grade.

      Math and Technology and Spreadsheets


      • http://mathcats.com/spreadsheets/
      • For estimation, setup a square root formula (multiply a cell by itself)
      • Use Google Spreadsheets to gather birthday data and use scatter plot graph.
      1. http://www.themathplace.org/

      My Takeaway from Math and Technology and Spreadsheets:
      Math is a weakness of mine. I have succesfully integrated Excel/Google Spreadsheets into some lessons but the ideas presented here will definitely broaden my lesson ideas. This session also reminded me that integrating technology into a lesson doesn't have to be grand and time consuming. It can be as simple as having kids come in and create their own multiplication table and allowing them to add colors and formatting to customize it to make it their own.

      Assistive Technology

      • Here is new technology, how to use it, how to manage it. Should be asked and answered for all new technology.
      • ePortfolio can be as easy as a PowerPoint. Should be a learning journal.
        • Selection - academic social physical
        • Collection - work videos pitures
        • Reflection - identify artifacts that show growth and needs
        • Projection-Update goals based on growth and needs
        • Presentation-create presentation that includes artifacts in ways that show progress toward goals
        • Demonstrates how much student grows. EX: copy of a page from Harry Potter. Student went from 47 missed words to 27 to only 9 words missed. All demonstrated on a PowerPoint eLearning Portfolio.
        <p>My Takeaway from Assistive Technology:
        This session was one of the two most powerful sessions for me that I attended (see Alan November session below for the other). By powerful, I mean a session that will significantly drive my practice this year. This will be my third year teaching technology and each year I feel I am not quite using technology to help those students whose learning is affected in some way. I feel I can use technology to better meet the needs of our sped and ssn students. I also feel technology can help our students who have difficulty processing information and even our gifted kids. I am writing this reflection near the beginning of the school year and we have already done so much to help many of these students. Our school purchased 5 iPads and I am working with learning specialist and building resource teacher in implementing this tool with apps like Dragon and Storykit. I am excited about this new direction in my practice and hope to reach more students than I have in the past.


      Primary Classroom

      • Blog - Parent meeting includes my teacher web address
      • http://classblogmeister.com/ -
      • Start first week. Many parents or volunteers to help
      • Can use an expert system. The one or two who know a skill teaches the others.
      • Blogs as digital portfolios, This teacher uses blogger,
      • Videos to teach sequencing to tell a story.
      • Global collaboration project - rock our world.
      • Use the commoncraft story telling with cutout characters.
      • Videos that show (and reinforce) learning to teach planning (storyboarding), tasks, roles, props, setting/location,
      • Kids can also creat how-to tutorials for sequencing
      • photobabble allows students to talk about their learning with a photo in the background.
      • Skype to talk and learn with others. Practiced with staff and buddy class.
      • http://plan4tech.wikispaces.com
      • Weather conversation for skype, classes in other locations, experts like scientist, doctors
      • Start small, practice, take your time

      My Takeaway from Primary Classroom:
      I got some great ideas from this session such as how-to tutorials to teach sequencing. This session also showed me that I am doing many things right. For a new teacher, this is great positive reinforcement. Every now and then, we need that reassurance.

      21st Century Skill-Empathy

      Alan November, November Learning
      Learn how to design more rigorous and motivating assignments that engage students in global communications and help them understand different cultural perspectives and points of view

      • Working with people around the world requires skill and sensitivity as to cultural differences.
      • We need to globalize our curriculum.
      • Your job now is to say hello and build partnerships with other teachers around the world that fit your curriculum.
      • Challenge every single teacher to find teachers around the world to connect with.
      • Empathy - the most important skill in a global economy are people who can hold different points of view at the same time (wow) BTW - americans are not very good at that ..as a group.
      • swesch
      • In a global economy it is insufficient to do test scores as your mission
      • root zone database is the alphabet of country codes.
      • We should teachers how to give assignments they have not given before
      • find essays by students in england about the american revolution. Email the teacher and invite the teacher to view the analysis our class did on the essay.
      • Debate the other class (in england) over course of events
      • Students should be having conversations with students around the world
      • If we are studying other cultures we MUST get in touch with somebody living in that country!!! Same for books based on other cultures. Go to websites from those countries to learn how that book or information is viewed.

      My Takeaway from 21st Century Skill-Empathy:
      This session was one of the two most powerful sessions for me that I attended (see Assistive Technology above for the other). By powerful, I mean a session that will significantly drive my practice this year. Of course, I am aware that technology can open the world to our students but in my first two years of practice, I have not utilized the technology that would allow this. There are many reasons for this including a building that was new to technology integration, the difficulty in finding tools that are easy for primary kids to use while keeping them safe, and simply knowing how to design lessons that open the world with technology. Alan November's session gave some great ideas that were "out-of-the-box" and basically stated that it should be mandatory to use technology to open the world to our students. It was a wake-up call for me and one that I have already started to implement into lessons. All of our 1st-6th grade students will participate in the National Day on Writing using a 21st century tool. Our primary kids will use Storybird.com and our 4th-6th graders will each get their own blog. This is a start for us. It is a beginning. It is a small step in moving from posting our writing on our school walls but hopefully the crack in the door will grow wider through this year and the years to come.



      Easy iMovie 09


      This is an update for the iMovie 09. There are few changes although fairly minor. This document should show you how to get to most of the major tools.

      <embed src="http://embedit.in/v6vgqyLsbF.swf" height="400" width="466" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullScreen="true">

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