Category Archives: Apps

21 Things Every 21st Century Educator Should Try This Year (2018 Version)

In 2014 I wrote what would be my most popular blog post ever. Little did I know what impact (both positive and negative) this post would have in the educational world. Part of the popularity of the post was due to the Sean Junkins created infographic that accompanied the post. For the most part, people tended to look at the infographic and pass judgement on whether or not these were things that teachers “should” do in the classroom without reading the blog at all. All that to say –¬†Congratulations! If you are reading this post it means that you have taken the time to click on a link before just looking at the infographic.

Seeing that the world and education has changed (especially in the areas of technology, privacy, etc), I thought it might be a good time to rewrite the post before the start of the 2018 school year. Before I do that, a few disclaimers:

  1. I know that this is an ambitious list. We need ambition to move the needle in public education.
  2. While I love my friends in other countries, I’m not as familiar with their laws, so for the purpose of this post, put on your U.S. hat.
  3. Yes, technology costs money. Money that we are sorely lacking in public education. That said, I’ve tried to differentiate some items on this list require little to no money, just a growth mindset.
  4. The purpose of this list is not to shame teachers into trying EVERYTHING on the list. My hope is that it will generate one or two ideas for a teacher to try this year.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to my 2018 version of “21 Things That Every Educator Should Try in the 21st Century”. A handful of these are carry overs from the 2014, but the majority are not. Many of the updates come from trends I’ve seen not only in education but also in the workplace like these Top 10 Skills Needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (from the World Economic Forum). Oh, and of course, check out the accompanying infographic as well…just be sure to read the full post before passing judgement. ūüôā

1. Post a question of the week on your class blog

One of the best ways to engage student (and family) interaction with your classroom is to have a class blog. ¬†While these are becoming more common, I like the trend of having a weekly student ‚Äúguest author‚ÄĚ write up the ideas and learning objectives discussed in class. ¬†This is also a good place to discuss appropriate commenting behavior on blogs and websites.

2. Have a class twitter or Instagram account to¬†post about the day’s learning

Just like a blog only smaller.¬† One of my Ed Techs (Ashley Pampe) actually created a “Social Media” team on her elementary campus. She vets and reviews all their images and blog entries before posting, but it’s an effective way for students to learn appropriate posting behaviors before they dive into the middle school world of social media. Ask parents to follow the account so they can also get a little insight into the happenings of the school day.

3. Create an infographic to help review and understand information

Infographics have become a part of everyday society. People are looking for information quickly and visually. Creating an infographic to review content is a powerful way to help those students that are visual learners. Taking this one step further – have students create an infographic as a way to convey their information on a subject. There are many free online tools out there to help with this but my favorite is Keynote (now with built in icons – it’s what I used to make the infographic for this post)

4. Debate a topic virtually and face to face

Lately the internet and social media have become a stomping ground for people to share their opinions, often in ways that they wouldn’t in a face to face conversation. We need to have students understand this medium as well as how to have an educated argument in person. Creating an environment where cordial discourse is encouraged and modeled, will help our youth as they enter what appears to be an increasingly tumultuous online future.

5. Go paperless for a week

Let me define paperless here as “no worksheets”.¬† I do thinking taking notes in a journal or Sketch-noting are valuable for learning, but for this I’m thinking more of the daily minutia. The idea behind this challenge is see if you can figure out ways to make things more digital. ¬†Maybe instead of a newsletter you print and send home, you write a blog or send a MailChimp? ¬†Or instead of asking kids to write and peer-edit each other‚Äôs papers, you ask them to share a Google doc? ¬† If your students don‚Äôt have devices, then challenge yourself to try this personally for a month…it’s much harder than you think.

6. Have a ‚ÄúNo Tech Day‚ÄĚ to reflect on our use of technology

Technology and devices have become engrained in much of what we do on a daily basis. The notifications, alerts, constant connection can do some harm if not properly balanced. For this challenge, have a day without technology. Then, have your students reflect on the experience the following day. What areas did they find a struggle? What did they notice about their daily routine?

7. Bring Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the Classroom

Many teachers already do this with the use of Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. These “digital assistants” are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to A.I. and are becoming more prevalent in the homes around our country. Some questions to ask your students might include – What impact will these devices have when it comes to future learning? How might hey help us in the future?

8. Fly a Drone (and discuss it’s impact on society)

Not all of us have access to drones, so flying one in your classroom or outside on the school grounds may not be feasible (or legal in some cases). However, there are several examples out there now showing us how drones can help us and how they can hurt us. One thing is for certain, these are not going away anytime soon. With that said, a question for students is, what impact do drones have on our privacy rights and what legislation exists out there today around drones?

9. Facetime with an expert

With so many resources and experts available, it only makes sense to bring in someone from ‚Äúthe real world‚ÄĚ. This not only creates interest in the topic, it adds an air of authenticity. ¬†Use Google Hangouts, Facetime, Zoom or Skype to reach out to a content expert to share their thoughts around a particular subject or topic. If you can, record it and post it to your class site or embed it on your blog to generate¬†discussion at home.

10. Produce a class Audio podcast

Have students create a podcast highlighting classroom activities, projects or students.  To get it to the web quickly, post it to Soundcloud or use a tool like SoundTrap.  For the more advanced user, use a podcasting site like Podbean.com and actually get the podcast posted to iTunes.  That way mom and dad can listen to the weekly recap while going on their evening walk or driving to work.

11.  Take a Virtual Field Trip

Want to check out Machu Picchu? Maybe visit Mars? Why not take your class on a virtual field trip? The increase in ways to see virtual worlds via tools like Google cardboard and Nearpod VR, have helped bring this access to schools without the high-end cost usually associated with VR.

12. Create a classroom full of student entrepreneurs

What better ways to encourage teamwork, collaboration and global thinking that to introduce students to entrepreneurism to solve real-world problems? This past year, one of our middle schools did just that by wiping away the bell schedule and spending time with student teams identifying issues with the school and proposals for how to fix them. Expanding this to local, state or national level help introduce students to the design thinking and project-based learning to solve actual issues.

13. Design and deliver a presentation

This may seem like something every teacher can already do, so I’ll say that this challenge is more about working with students on the art and science of an effective presenting. Being able to communicate a point or idea effectively is becoming more and more of a lost art. The “3-legged” stool approach to balancing a presentation (content, slide design, delivery) can be an invaluable skill for all students going forward in life. While I prefer the use of Keynote, there are many effect tools out there that students can access to create and present from. One word of advice…take it easy on the bullet points.

14. Identify fake news and internet bots

With the current political climate and the increasing use of bots to sway public opinion, we need to help students identify what is real and what is not online. This goes far beyond “fake news”.¬† It can be something as simple as understanding the angle of a post based on its title to identifying real people versus robots on twitter. The good news (or bad news) is that there seems to be an example of this happening every day in real time.

15. Establish a space for student voice

Student voice (and choice…coming up later) is something that classrooms of the 20th century really struggled with. A teacher may ask for feedback or an answer to a classroom, calling on those with the courage to raise their hands. What if some truly incredible ideas were out there but students were too shy to share? Using tools like FlipGrid (free for educators now), you can ask for each student to give feedback to a question or even submit an online poetry slam around a scientific fact.

16. Practice mindfulness in your classroom

There is a lot of hype around mindfulness in schools, some of which is true some of which is not (see #14).¬† While the impact of mindfulness on test scores may still be open to debate, there is value taking a pause and reflecting on the now. Technology can hinder some of that, but short of banning all tech (see #6), we need discover life balance in this new “instant-on” world. Give your students 1-2 minutes to stop, breathe, reflect, and simply “be present” every day. You may find it helps their learning as well as behavior on those dreaded rainy days or test-taking days.

17. Utilize robotics to tell a story

The fourth industrial revolution will definitely feature more and more robots in our world. Use of robotics in the classroom is currently relegated to specialized elective classes or maybe a Friday afternoon of free time in a maker space (see #19). The common misconception around these tools are that they are too pricey and one-dimensional for regular classroom use. By using low-cost robotic technology systems like Trashbots, schools can now have a wide array of materials for building robots and better yet, using them in a variety of subjects other than math and science. Why not program your robot to re-enact a moment in history? Or maybe have it tell a story?

18. Augment reality in an old textbook

As witness by the Walmart raiding of Merge Cubes, Augmented Reality (AR) is becoming a new way to engage learners. However, buying a bunch of these may not be possible for every teacher. Luckily, on the back shelves of classrooms and libraries exist rows and rows of old textbooks, some of which are still in regular use. By using an augmented reality tool like HP Reveal (formerly Aurasma), you can breathe fresh life into those old textbook pages. Take a graph and make it interactive or hover over an image to reveal a more in-depth video on the subject. While AR may seem like “flashy” technology, coupling its use with existing materials can be a cost-effective way to increase engagement and deeper learning.

19. Build a maker-space for hands-on learning

A maker space is not a new thing. It used to be called “shop class” when I was in school. However, unlike its 20th century relative, maker spaces today can be built into the classroom environment. They allow room for exploration, design, and iteration. And here’s the best part for schools struggling with funding – they can be almost free and require little to no technology. A trip to the local hardware store can yield some donated materials as a trip up to the attic to dig out those old childhood legos. Much like practicing mindfulness (#16), having hands-on learning activities can increase retention and help encourage creativity.

20. Become an activist for a worthy cause.

If the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge can teach us anything, it’s that sometimes a little creativity is all you need to awareness to a cause. Whether it’s helping a country in need or finding a cure for a disease, our new connected society can be a powerful thing when galvanized for good. Participating in a global project (see #12) gives students perspective on their own lives while helping others with their life challenges.

21. Let your students drive the learning

While you could do all of these challenges by yourself, the real power comes in letting students own a piece of it.  They have the curiosity and the digital acumen, it’s the teacher’s job to give them instructional focus and empowerment.  We live in wonderfully connected times.  Despite all of technology’s perceived misgivings and the apocalyptic fears that we are losing ourselves as a society, why not use some of this power for good?

Just know that as a teacher in the 21st century you ultimately hold the key to unleash this creative beast.  So try something on the list this year that may force you a bit out of your comfort zone because there is no better way to learn than trying.

Just be sure to share your successes and struggles when you are finished as learning in isolation helps no one.

 

 

#SXSWedu 2017 Manifesto

screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-5-02-39-pmI’ve attended every SXSWedu since the beginning. As it’s located in Austin, it’s a¬†great opportunity to learn and share with leaders from around the world right in my backyard. This year, we are sending quite a bit of staff to stretch their thinking and grow as professionals. ¬†As usual, Ron Reed and the crew at SXSWedu¬†put together a dynamite line-up that doesn’t disappoint. One thing I created to help guide staff is create a “manifesto” of sorts for¬†those that are either going for the first time or are just needing help not being overwhelmed by all the great sessions in their lineup.

If you are a first-time or veteran SXSW-er, hopefully some of these tips will help you as you make your way towards Austin next week.

If you are with a group, create a Slack channel

Attending a large conference with a group can be engaging but you also can run into serious FOMO (Fear of missing out) on sessions you don’t attend. I invited all of our staff attending to our own district Slack channel. Slack is a great way to share resources and communicate in a group format that won‚Äôt crowd your inbox during an event like this.¬†I consider it kind of like a group text on steroids. We will still encourage staff to follow along at the #SXSWedu hashtag, but using a private group Slack can be powerful when reflecting and sharing after the event is over.

Parking can be tricky…and Uber is gone

The days of free parking in downtown Austin are over (unless you are comfortable walking a long distance). That said, most of the parking around downtown is reasonably priced ($10-$15 bucks), but I‚Äôd encourage you to car pool if possible. Here‚Äôs a map of downtown parking for some ideas of where to find parking. Also, as Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin since the last SXSWedu, you’ll want to use an alternate ride-share company like Fare¬†or Ride Austin¬†to get around down town. If that doesn’t work, there are always a bunch of pedi-cabs!

Registration

Registration is located on the Northeast corner of the convention center (Exhibit hall 5). You should have been sent a badge via email from sxsw@sxsw.com that has your Quickcode to scan when you get there. You can also link your account with the social.sxswedu.com account to upload your picture ahead of time if you don’t want them to take it when you get there.

You can pick up your badge starting at 4 PM on Sunday (advisable if you want to avoid longer lines on Monday).

Food

Lunch places are always changing year to year so check Yelp for some good options.¬†Prices do vary and ‚Äúrush hour‚ÄĚ is generally between 11:30-1:00. Some newer places downtown include Cafe Blue¬†and one of the BEST pizza food trailers down Rainey street behind Craft Pride called Via313 (Detroit-style pizza).¬†One of my favorite burger joints continues to be Casino El Camino on 6th street. Of course, if you are looking for BBQ and don’t want to wait too long in line at IronWorks, I’d highly recommend LaBarbecue¬†(order the rib, it’s pricey, but worth EVERY penny!).

Events

SXSWedu has several events that happen in the evening. There are multiple movie screenings happening throughout the week. One of note is a screening of the movie ‚ÄúHidden Figures‚ÄĚ on Monday from 7-9pm at the Stateside Theater (with a Q&A panel with¬†@RafranzDavis and others to follow).¬† Another event that¬†I am personally involved in is the¬†CatchOn Launch Party on Tuesday at 7:30pm-11pm at Cedar Street Courtyard. It‚Äôs a start-up company I‚Äôve been advising on and we have all sorts of fun stuff planned for that evening including a little live band karaoke! Your SXSWedu badge will get you into all of these events.

Scheduling Quirks

SXSWedu doesn‚Äôt follow traditional conference schedules (1 hour sessions repeating throughout). There are variety of sessions from 15-minute talks, to Think tanks, to meet-ups, to Future 20s, to longer workshops. Be sure to create a log-in before arriving and ‚Äėstar‚Äô the sessions you are interested in but also note the start and end times as many overlap.¬† Also, note that with the exception of keynotes, most of the sessions Monday through Wednesday run from 11am-6pm and on Thursday they are from 9:30am-2pm with a closing party to follow. (you can sleep in!)

Sessions that intrigue me

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My interactive panel session at SXSWedu

I’m super pumped to see Tim Ferriss keynote on Wednesday at 9:30am. I’ve been a fan of his podcast and books for the last couple of years and I’m excited to hear what he has to say about learning and mastery. Sessions that focus on design thinking, student empowerment, and artificial intelligence tend to draw my interest this year. I’m also all-in on the Breakout EDU concept and I’m excited to see good friend and super-engaging speaker Adam Bellow at this year’s event. This year, not only am I attending, but I’m also moderating an¬†interactive panel¬†called “#AppOverkill: Going Beyond the Buzzwords”. ¬†I’m excited to hear from¬†the panel of experts we have assembled¬†and we are also going to be doing some different activities to engage audience in the conversation.¬†Come be a part of the conversation and fun at Tuesday at 11am!

Takeaways and Reflections

Attending an event like this can be incredibly rewarding and energizing to those of us in education. However, it’s important that those that attend also bring back and share their learning with others on campus.

Here is a list of questions to keep in the back of your mind as you attend sessions and look for things to bring back. (Thanks to Lisa Johnson @TechChef4U for curating this!)

  1. What are the top sessions/topics that you liked?
  2. What are the top sessions/topics that you would like to take back to your campus to impact change?
  3. What are the top sessions/topics that challenged your beliefs?
  4. Who was someone you connected with that impacted you?
  5. Who are the top people that engaged you?
  6. What are the top resources you found most impactful?
  7. What are the top pieces of research or studies you feel are most impactful for our students and/or teachers?
  8. How will I share my new discoveries from this event with my staff?

While there are many other questions you are thinking about¬†than the ones above, keeping these in the back of your mind while attending SXSWedu allows you time to reflect when it’s all over and also think about ways to share your new discoveries with others when you return.

Happy learning!

 

Apple Classroom and iOS 9.3 in a 1:1

As mentioned in a¬†previous post (Choosing the Next Device), we are moving forward with iPads in all K-12 grade levels but our new model will look and feel much different than the previous one. ¬†When we embarked on the 1:1 in 2011, there was really no systems designed to distribute and manage our devices. Workflow was an issue (we used email mostly). ¬†While we put restrictions on the devices in terms of age-appropriate app downloads, it was impossible to completely block all “non-instructional” apps without completely locking down the device.

With the release of iOS 9.3 and the subsequent update of our JAMF server,  Apple has revamped classroom and technology support of iPads in education.  Below are some of the newest features that Eanes ISD will be taking advantage of in order to optimize the use of these tools for learning.

1. Eanes App Store

Some of the feedback our¬†Digital Learning Task Force received from teachers, students and parents was that non-instructional apps were a distraction when it came to learning. ¬†While we have restricted some of this usage over the years, we will now have the ability to completely remove Apple‚Äôs App Store from the device. ¬†Students will only have access to apps that we provision in the Self-Service app (examples below) which will act as a sort of ‚ÄúEanes App Store‚ÄĚ. (see infographic at the bottom of this post) We also now have additional¬†flexibility to give some students, based on learning need and responsibility, access to the actual app store at some point.

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Teachers and students will still have the ability to request apps which can be added to this new Eanes App Store. By doing this we’ll also be addressing another concern that was raised in that we have too many apps being used all over the district.  This will allow us to better align both horizontally and vertically the apps that we are providing to our students throughout the district.

New Apple Management

The new iOS will allow for better management and deployment which will also help address another issue raised with the DLTF.  Many students didn’t receive their iPads until a few weeks into the school year.  Since most of our instructional materials are now digital, this caused quite an issue. With the new management software, we’ll be able to deploy devices much sooner, getting instructional materials and digital tools for learning at an earlier date than before.

Apple Classroom

Apple Classroom is a new tool that was just launched by Apple during its latest announcement on Monday, March 21. This new tool will act as a ‚ÄúTeacher‚Äôs Assistant‚ÄĚ of sorts in that teachers can glance at all the screens of their students on their own screen to check for off-task behavior. ¬†Additionally, the teacher can reset passcodes, remote launch and lock apps on student devices, and select a student‚Äôs device to view on the big screen wirelessly. ¬†

In closing, we’ve come a long way since that initial deployment in 2011. ¬†We’ve seen many things NOT to do and many amazing projects¬†and benefits as a result of having mobile technology in our classrooms. ¬†This next phase of our 1:1 will¬†bring even¬†deeper learning as we continue to focus our instructional use and make learning truly personal for all of our students.

 

Infographic New Eanes App Store

 

36 Weeks of Innovation for Your Classroom

Recently, it’s been reported that U.S. “Millennials” are not making the mark when it comes to technology proficiency and problem solving when compared to counterparts in other countries (19th out of 21). ¬†Say what you will about the assessment and measure of this, but I do think it gives us a chance to reflect on ideas for integrating problem solving strategies into the everyday classroom.

Last year, I wrote this post on 21 Things Every 21st-Century Teacher should do and it became an instant hit (with the help of Sean Junkin’s Infographic). ¬† As tech tools come and go, I felt the need to update and¬†refresh it for this school year. ¬†However, I ran into a problem. ¬†When I got done with my updated list (removing a couple of ideas, adding several more) I was up to 36 different ideas. ¬†As luck would have it there are 36 weeks in a standard school calendar so this actually works out wonderfully. ¬†While these aren’t necessarily listed in the order you should do them, they are listed¬†from least difficult (#1 – Selfies) to the most difficult (#36 – Creating an in-class incubator). ¬† The last few challenges¬†are especially¬†geared toward real-world problem solving and will hopefully make a dent in those¬†“Tech Problem-solving” stats in the future.

36 Weeks of Innovation for the 2015-16 School Year:

1. All About Your Self(ie) Project

You know all those “getting to know you” activities that you start at the beginning of the year? ¬†Why not integrate selfies into those? You know kids (especially teens) have hundreds of these on their phones and it could be a creative way to tell the “their story” through selfies.

2. Have a class twitter account to post a tweet about the day’s learning

Just like a blog only smaller. ¬†Nominate a ‚Äúguest tweeter‚ÄĚ and have them summarize the day‚Äôs learning in 140 characters or less. Then ask parents to follow the account so they can also get a little insight into the happenings of the school day.

3. Create your own class hashtag

Tell your students and their parents about the hashtag and have them post ideas, photos, and questions to it.  It’s a great way to get people from not only in your class but also around the world to contribute to your class conversation. You can also use this with your blog posts (#1) or classroom tweets (#2). Bonus points if you use something like VisibleTweets to display your posts in your class.

My daughter's 1st grade teacher has a class Instagram!

My daughter’s 1st grade teacher has a class Instagram!

4. Create a Class Instagram Account 

Spinning off of the twitter account you already created, why not have a photo-based summary of the learning in class as well? Have a daily student photographer who‚Äôs job is to post an example of something your class/students did that day. If you don‚Äôt want to mess with ‚Äúdo not publish‚ÄĚ lists, you could¬†ask that it be of an object or artifact, not a person. ¬†This would also be a good time to have a mini-digital citizenship lesson and talk about when and how to ask permission to take someone‚Äôs photo.

 

 

5. Create a comic of your class rules

Let’s face it, classroom rules are in need of a makeover. ¬†Do you still have that blown-up Word Doc with your 1995 clipart on it? ¬†Why not make your classroom rules into a graphic novel? ¬†Here’s just one example¬† of classroom rules done up comic-style! BAM! BOP! BLAZAMO!

6. Periscope a “minute in the life” video

I wrote¬†a few weeks ago about this newest social media trend called “digital broadcasting”. ¬†While that post went over some best practices for Periscope and Meerkat, I’ve since been exposed to a multitude of ideas from other ‘scopers. ¬†One idea is to capture a “minute in the life” video to post weekly. ¬†Whether this be a minute in the life of a 3rd grader or a Pre-Cal student, it opens up a window to parents and other educators to see what is happening in your class. ¬†I have a much longer post on this coming soon…but since we are early in the list, I’m keeping it simple.

7. Create a MEMEory –

ChemistryCatOnDating-32707

I think meme’s are inherently evil. ¬†Some are so clever I almost get jealous, while others leave a lot to the imagination. ¬†With apps like Meme-Generator or an app like Skitch,¬†you could have students make historical memes, favorite literary characters or even cats that like chemistry.

8. Brain Breaks

Kids (and adults) can really only sit and “work” for so long. ¬†The average adult can sit for about 20 minutes before their mind begins to wander. ¬† For kids, the younger they are the less than can sit still (just come watch me and my family at a restaurant for proof). ¬†Brain breaks should be a part of every class and every grade level. ¬†From Improv games to yoga to GoNoodle, make brain breaks a part of your classroom and watch their brains re-ignite!

9. Sketchnoting for reflection

I’ve been a big fan of sketchnoting before it was called that. ¬†Back in my day (now I sound like an old man) we called it doodling. ¬†However, the more I do it (either digitally or on an old school notebook) the more I realize that I actually remember what was said. ¬†Why not try this in a class? ¬†During a lecture or watching a short film, have students represent the talk in a sketchnote. ¬†Check out this massive sketchnote of my co-Keynote with Todd Nesloney at iPadpaloozaSouthTX.

10. Create a List.ly list to encourage democracy in your class.

It could be as simple as a list of choices for a project or something as grand as what is one thing you want to learn about this year? ¬†Whatever the choice, use List.ly to create a crowd-sourced voting list and let your students have some say in their learning! ¬†Let’s just hope they aren’t old enough to vote for Kanye in 2020.

11. Blog for reflection

Having introduced reflection with Sketchnoting (#9) you are now ready to have kids practice the art of not only reflection with words, but published words.  Using sites like EduBlogs and Kidblog (no longer free) you can have your students reflect on their week of learning in a student blog.  Crowd-source the topics for their writing from other classmates for those that are struggling with an idea.

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A Westlake Student’s portfolio

12. Digital portfolio for projects and art

I’ve got a giant box full of art projects and my oldest is barely entering 1st grade. ¬†I can only imagine the size of the extra wing I’ll need to add to my house when all 3 of them are through school. ¬†While I love all their art, I would appreciate it even more if it was also digitized. ¬†Using a platform like Blub, have your students capture their best work and reflect on the process. For more advanced users, organize each into different categories, styles, or themes. ¬†Besides the student example here, check out Lisa Johnson’s (TechChef4U) multiple Bulb sites for staff and student iPad instructions.

13. Participate in a Mystery Hangout

This sounds a lot scarier than it is but essentially think of playing the game 20 questions with another classroom somewhere in the world. Here’s a link to a community page with more resources. It’s a great way to increase cultural and global awareness and you could event invite the other class to add to your Pinterest board (#10), vote on your List.ly (#8), comment on your blog (#1) or maybe co-collaborate on an eBook (#17).

14. Create a Fantasy league (where they keep track of the stats themselves)

It’s time to break the stereotypes of sports. ¬†What better way to do that than through fantasy sports and math? ¬†Have students “draft” a team in a particular sport and then track their stats manually to see who wins. For a more advanced challenge, create a “mega” league with multiple sports over the course of the year. ¬†Watch for heated trades taking place on the playground and Monday discussions¬†livening¬†up when football season starts!

15. Special Effects Science

With a ton of stop-motion apps and the new Slo-mo feature built into iOS, there are a ton of creative ways to watch a science experiment unfold.  From the slow growth of a plant over a semester to the infamous erupting volcano experiment in super slo-mo, science really is part visual arts.

16. Infographic-ize your newsletter

Tired of sending home that same boring newsletter that nobody reads? Why not jazz it up with an infographic.  Using a tool like Canva or even keynote (what I used to make mine for this post), you can create a visually pleasing and impactful message to your community.  Just be sure to include links to your class Twitter(#2), Instagram (#4) and Periscope (#6) accounts!

17. Pinning for parents

In this new digital age, parents are always looking for some help when it comes to ways to help their kids manage it all and be successful for school. ¬†Rather than just send them tips here or there, why not have a Pinterest board for parents? ¬†Here’s one we¬†did called “86-days of summer learning” for parents looking for learning ideas in the summer.

18. Green Screen a field trip to another land

Budget cuts mean no more field trip to the local zoo?  Why not take a virtual one?  Have you class research specific locations in our world (and even specific times in history) and then visit them via green screen technology.  Students can discuss what they might see during their trip and reflect on challenges and discoveries they made (virtually of course).

19. Make a class weekly podcast

Busy parents mean no time to read a weekly newsletter or that note in the take home folder.  One thing many parents due is subscribe to podcasts (remember the Serial craze last fall?!) so why not put your class highlights in their weekly feed?  Have your students write and create segments for the weekly show and publish it to iTunes to make some instant memories and to let mom and dad listen to your week while working out.

20. Animated book reports

The video book report is so 2013. ¬†Why not ramp it up a notch and use some animation? ¬†Apps like Explain Everything, Puppet Pals, Tellagami, Toontastic, etc allow you to make your book reports a little more animated. ¬†Add in some green screen (#18) with some stop-motion (#15), throw in some legos, and your students could make their own Lego Movie as a book report! (as long as they don’t use that “Everything is Awesome” song as their soundtrack)

21. Instructables by Students

The Instructables DIY craze is a powerful one. ¬†From figuring out how to make your own bubble-machine to how to use chop sticks, these how-to guides for life hacks are quite handy. ¬†Since student’s learn best by teaching, why not flip the script and use a site like Bulb or¬†Snapguide to have students make their own Instructable over the topic or subject area of their choice?

22. Let a kid take over

A student takes over the 5th grade math quiz via Apollo

A student takes over the 5th grade math quiz via Apollo

I know. This sounds dangerous. ¬†If you look at John Hattie’s research on visible learning, the number 1 way to help move the needle on student learning and retention is to let them drive their own learning and self-grade. ¬†While there are several different ways you can do this (Project Based Learning¬†being the¬†most widely accepted method), you could sprinkle in little bits of this in everyday curriculum.¬†An app like Apollo allows the students to take over the teacher’s board¬†and then send out their work to the entire class instantly! ¬†(bonus: check out the built-in random student picker for some extra fun)

23. Student-led Parent-teacher conference presentations

I first heard about this from Sandy Kleinman this past summer, but the concept is simple.  Tell students on the first week of school that they will be collecting a portfolio of work and present what they have learned to their parents during parent-teacher conferences.  This is a great way of having kids (even as young as kindergarten) own their learning (#22). This could be daunting if not planned well, but with built in reflection activities (#9, #11, #12) there are multiple ways to gather discoveries to share with mom and dad.

24. Augment an old Textbook

Textbooks are a way of life in education and though many are now digital, there are still tons of old adoptions laying around in classroom cabinets or school storage closets. ¬†Why not utilize these books to add a little Augmented reality to the classroom? ¬†Using an app like Aurasma or Daqri, create a special video message and “attach” it a picture in the textbook. ¬†So when the entire class turns to page 26 and holds their device over the image…they’ll get quite the surprise!

25. Go Paperless for a week (then track the data)

Depending on your grade level, this might be harder than you think. Even in a 1:1 district we still print or have need to print things from time to time.  The idea behind this challenge is see if you can figure out ways to make things more digital.  Maybe instead of a newsletter you print and send home, you write a blog (#11) or send an infographic (#16).  Or instead of asking kids to write and peer-edit each other’s papers, you ask them to share a Google doc?   If your students don’t have devices, then challenge yourself to try this personally for a month.

26. Google Cardboard

With Google’s release of “Expeditions” last May, students can now take a mobile phone or iPod and use Google Cardboard to take a virtual field trip anywhere around the world! ¬†This does take some prep, which is why it’s further down on the list, but the reactions of students experiencing the Great Wall of China is amazing!

27. No Tech Tuesday

Have your students not use any¬†technology and live like it’s 1915. This is a great way to really investigate how much times have changed in the past decade and our reliance on technology. ¬†Of course when they are done, have them blog about their experience. (#11)

28. Cardboard Design challenges

Design challenges can be a great way to have students think differently and work together in teams. ¬†Whether it be creating a cardboard chair that can support your weight (like Mr. Lofgren did here with his middle school students) or creating your own arcade like Cane did, the only limits in these activities are supplies and your students’ imaginations. ¬†And sometimes, having limits like supplies and time can actually enhance the creativity of the teams. ¬†BONUS: Create an Instructable of your final project (#21)

29. Redesign your learning space

After having your class design their own cardboard chairs (#28), it’s time to look at your classroom space. How is it designed to facilitate learning? Have your students research what types of furniture work best for a diverse learning environment. ¬†From the color on the walls to the lighting, have students research the costs and practicality of a new classroom makeover. ¬† Need some inspiration? How about his “classroom diner” concept:

image

30. Make a class book

The ease with which you can publish books now is amazing.  Using a tool like Book Creator or iBooks Author, you can publish to the iBooks store or Amazon.  Don’t want to do something that intense? Keep it simple and make a book using Shutterfly and then have it printed as a keepsake.

31. Code a makey-makey Instrument

Music can be a great learning tool. ¬†Coding is like learning a second language. ¬†This challenge combines the two at a pretty inexpensive cost ($49 for a Makey-Makey, $2 for bananas). Have your students work in teams to create their own musical instruments using any classroom materials around them. ¬†Then when they are all done, have them put on a “Junkyard Musical” performance to wrap it up! (Which would be a great thing to Periscope (#6))

32. Appmazing Race

While the APPmazing Race got it’s humble beginnings from iPadpalooza 2014, it has since grown¬†into a global phenomenon as a new strategy for delivering PD. ¬†Though built originally for adults, it’s perfect for students with mobile devices. ¬†Set up a series of challenges over a class period or a couple of weeks and have the kids team up and go to work! ¬†While the race itself doesn’t take a lot of work (except for reigning the kids back in), the prep before hand and the scoring afterwards will take quite a bit of time. Be sure to have a rubric to help students understand how they score on particular challenges and I would advise on using a tool like Padlet.com to curate all their finished discoveries. ¬†Here’s an example of one of the biggest races I’ve hosted using Thinglink and Padlet to curate.

33. LipDub to History

The ultimate form of flattery is imitation. ¬†The ultimate form of stardom is when Weird Al makes a parody of your song. ¬†Why not take that to another¬†level and have students re-write lyrics to their favorite hit or a popular tune? ¬†The catch is they have to tie the lyrics into something historical like the video below.¬† Who knows, maybe some¬†student¬†will remake ‚ÄúChaka Khan‚ÄĚ into ‚ÄúGenghis¬†Khan‚ÄĚ.

34. Design your own Rube Goldberg Machine

How great would it be to have teams of students design a Rube Goldberg machine? ¬†I once saw former 4th grade teacher Cody Spraberry facilitate a 2-week project¬†where each group had a defined space in the classroom (marked by tape) and had to design, create, and test their Rube as well as record it. ¬†Not all the reactions were as priceless as this kid’s, but tying in reflection (#11), how-to instructions (#21) and some video effects (#15) can really make this a powerful lesson in teamwork, perseverance, problem-solving and organization.

35. Global Outreach GoFundMe

Teaching our students about generosity while giving them a wider perspective of world events can be powerful.  Now with tools like GoFundMe, your class can strategize a way to help support a cause like this one for creating a School for the Deaf in Haiti.  This is real, authentic, impactful learning that will make a difference in the lives of your students and those you are helping.

36. Create a start-up Incubator

To really tackle all of those “future-ready” skills, why not have teams of students create their own actual start-up company. ¬†Some high schools across the country have started this program (including our own Westlake High School) but it doesn’t have to be exclusive to high school. ¬†The key is to get business and industry leaders to work with the kids and talk about real world scenarios their companies will face. ¬†Kind of like “career day” on steroids. If you can get some local business or parents to participate with some funds, you can actually host a “Pitch night” to start the event and a “Shark tank” type activity to close it where students will get actual money to try and create their product. ¬†This is the most intensive of all the ideas on this list and can utilize parts of all the other 35 topics to make a team successful.

While I don’t expect any one classroom to do all of these ideas (I’d have to give them a prize if they did), I do think many of these are doable and possible on the cheap. ¬†I tried to design most of them without dependance on a particular type of technology, but having access to devices, even if not in a 1:1 environment, is helpful.

I hope you enjoy and be sure to give me some feedback below as to what you think. ¬†And to practice what I preach, I took Sean Junkin’s tutorial advice and created my own infographic out of Keynote for this post. ¬†See below:

Infographic 36.001

 

Up Periscope? New Rules for the Latest Social Media Tool

New Rules of (1)I’ve always been a fan of sharing openly. ¬†I sometimes tell people that my life is an open book that no one wants to read. ¬†The nature of my job and my position is one that interacts regularly with social media as both a way of learning and a means of sharing.

Recently, I’ve been captivated by the phenomena of Meerkat and Periscope. ¬†As I’ve seen throughout my many years in Ed Tech, whenever a new tool hits the market there are usually a slew of early adopters running out to grab it, figure out what it does, then figure out how we can use it for education. ¬†I’m usually one of those first-adopters, but I’ve purposefully taken a more measured approach to the world of mobile live video streaming and becoming a “Digital Broadcaster”.

I have¬†been to countless presentations where people have stood up during a certain slide to snap a photo of an amazing graphic or quote. ¬†I’ve also seen people take photos of the presenter on stage with a poignant slide in the background. ¬†I’m lucky enough to be able to present and entertain¬†educators from all over the country and have no problem sharing my slides, my resources, and the occasional¬†selfie.

However, this recent trend of live video streaming has me flummoxed.  On one hand I love the concept of free-flowing information to the masses.  On the other hand, the digital citizen in me feels like there should be some level of permission asked or granted prior to filming an entire event.  It makes me wonder:

When is it ok to live stream someone without permission?

At a recent event this summer, I was in the middle of a¬†presentation and noticed someone standing off to the side with their phone in vertical video mode (which itself is annoying). ¬†When I asked¬†the¬†attendee what¬†she was¬†doing she told me she was “periscoping” my entire talk. Figuring that this is sort of a new tool and I think it’s important that everyone has access to learning, I dismissed the lack of permission in this instance for the betterment of education.

Brody the bootlegger on Seinfeld

Brody the bootlegger on Seinfeld

However, that moment stuck with me and when thinking about the protocols for filming someone’s talk, I tried to relate to¬†the music and film industry. They have¬†some pretty clear guidelines about when¬†it’s ok or not ok to film. ¬†Despite these guidelines, if you go to any rock concert you’ll see tons of phones up and recording video. (presumably for personal use although many of these are texted and posted on social media) When thinking of¬†recording movies,¬†I’m reminded of the Brody and the “Death Blow Bootleg” episode of Seinfeld. I’m not saying this crosses into the “bootlegging” realm, but there are some similarities in the narrative of when is it ok and not ok to record an event without permission.

So what exactly does the law say? ¬†Well, in less you are getting undressed or are naked on stage, photographers and videographers can capture you without permission. (see Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004) That leaves a lot of grey area when it comes to what can and can’t be captured without permission though. ¬†And while you may not be arrested for doing such things, there are now some precedents set about being sued for capturing someone with out their permission and posting it on social media. (See Heigl vs. Duane Ready)

So with all these thoughts swirling around in my head, let’s flash forward to last weekend. While Todd Nesloney and I gave our opening keynote for iPadpaloozaSouthTx,¬†someone actually periscoped the entire talk. Later,¬†we learned that¬†hundreds were able to see us that couldn’t attend the event because of this new app. ¬†I was both honored and¬†also slightly concerned…

Where do we draw the line between sharing and permission? ¬†It’s a question that’s been churning in my brain for the last few weeks. ¬†Since I don’t want to be someone that bashes a tool without trying it, I created my Periscope account and actually streamed a minute of the closing keynote that afternoon (the appropriately titled, “SHARE, it’s human” by Felix Jacomino).

I have to admit, it’s a pretty cool concept. ¬†You record an event happening that you want to share with your followers (but not necessarily archive) and BOOM! It’s instantly out there with no tape delay or filter. Eric Sheninger recently wrote this post on the power of video in schools where he dissects the various video tools out there and some resources for how they can be used in schools. Tony Vincent also shared a great post of how he utilized Periscope at ISTE 2015. ¬†While I think the digital broadcasting¬†movement has a lot of potential, let me go back to the original question: When is it ok to live stream someone without permission?

As someone who has¬†benefited from the power of social media and also¬†encourages sharing, I’d be a hypocrite to say you shouldn’t live-stream someone. ¬†But I do think that as we¬†are discovering new ways to use¬†these tools in education, we should perhaps develop some “Rules¬†of Etiquette for Digital Broadcasters.”

So here goes nothing:

Rules of Etiquette for Digital Broadcasters

1.  Asking for permission

While it’s great to watch an entire presentation and not actually be there, many events and speakers actually have contracts written that state who can and can’t record. ¬†We deal with this often with our keynote speakers at iPadpalooza. ¬†Most contracts allow for internal use of video, but not external (especially not the entire talk). ¬†Looking at YouTube and their guide to “fair use” I like their set of “4 questions to ask”. ¬† The fourth question “Will you work serve as a substitute for the original” is where filming presentations may cause trouble.

Solution: Ask for permission prior to capturing any part of a talk but ESPECIALLY if you are planning on streaming the entire talk.

2. Consider the length

As I stated before, there seems to be some social norms that make it ok to take photos of poignant slides. ¬†While this could potentially be a¬†copyright violation, most presenters share their slides and materials so that others may learn from them. As a presenter it not only spreads the message, it drives interest in who the speaker is and the message they are trying to convey. The same can be said about Periscoping someone’s talk in that sharing a snippet of someones talk allows the end-user to experience a bit of what the audience is seeing, almost like a sneak preview. ¬†The question is when do you cross the line between a sneak preview and recording an entire talk.

Solution: If you are going to capture someone’s talk or presentation, keep it to under 1-2 minutes. ¬†This way those you share with will get to see some of the amazing things shared without sharing a “substitute for the original”.

3. Check your surroundings

Live-streaming someone in a public place means that bystanders around the recording device may be captured. While holding up your phone may give them the clue that you are in fact recording, they may not be as aware when it comes to their own under-the-breath comments.  A snarky remark shared lived by someone in the audience is instantly playable to everyone in the world even if it was only intended for their neighbor.

Solution: Let those around you know you are capturing the talk (and warn them what they say may be inadvertently captured) or move to a more isolated location to capture the brief recording.

4. Live Stream vs. Capture?

With both Meerkat and Periscope, there are time limits to how long the videos are posted.  Which means that only a few will get the opportunity to see it if they are following along.  Capturing and editing a video to put onto YouTube or some other platform is done with the intent of sharing over the course of time.

Solution:¬†If you are just sharing a snippet of a talk or presentation to share where you are and what you are watching with friends, stick to Meerkat or Periscope. ¬†However, if you are hoping to capture the entire talk for distribution elsewhere, you’ll want to do so with permission from the speaker.

5. Location

If you are at a large event like ISTE or a smaller conference, it’s likely that all featured speakers have some sort of exclusivity clause with the event organizers. ¬†Filming without permission of the event, could result in getting you thrown out.

Solution: Find the organizers of the event and ask for permission. ¬†While that may seem cumbersome, it’s possible that the event will give you access to their own stream or even ask you to post it to their social media feed for cross-promotion. ¬†At worse they will tell you “No” and you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the talk while it’s being captured by someone else.

So there you have it. ¬†Nothing too Earth-shattering but I’m hoping¬†we can start to have the conversation around this topic of digital broadcasting. ¬† I think it’s important¬†that we have this ¬†conversation with colleagues and students¬†around the rules above to determine what is right and what isn’t.

What did I leave out? ¬†Please comment below and let’s have a discussion about this. ¬†Or better yet, periscope your thoughts to me @mrhooker. ūüôā

Let’s figure out this dilemma before people start using the voyeurism prevention act and give talks while disrobing. ¬†No one wants to see that!!

IMG_4390

In case you missed the Periscope, here’s our keynote captured a different way…

Update: Literally 10 minutes after making this post I got to experience a “private Periscope” with Felix. ¬†He shared some thoughts on a workshop he was giving and some other ideas he had. ¬†I can definitely see some educational benefits to that! ¬†Thanks for sharing Felix!

IMG_4430

A screen shot of my Video-to-text conversation with Felix and this post. Appropriately done on Periscope!

Secret Photo-Sharing Apps…The Latest Teen Trend

Much like the Yik Yak incident of last fall, I’ve recently been asked to communicate to our local community about another trend with our students. ¬†These particular apps an element of “secrecy” and some social sharing involved. ¬†I also have to admit, some of them are very clever in terms of how they can be disguised. In light of some recent incidents with our high school students, I created a letter¬†as both a source of awareness but also a resource for tools. ¬†What follows is the¬†letter that was sent out to all Eanes ISD secondary school parents on the afternoon of February 10, 2015:

This past week we discovered a new trend among teens with their personal use of technology.¬† While seemingly innocent on the surface, the latest in hidden photo-sharing apps could potentially cause trouble with our youth down the road, especially in the area of ‚Äúsexting.‚ÄĚ While the Eanes ISD staff have taken the necessary precautions to block/restrict these types of apps on our network and devices, students still can engage in misbehavior on their own personal devices which can lead to serious distraction and, even more severely, possible prosecution.¬†

Similar to last semester’s issues with the Yik Yak app, we are once again asking for parents to keep an eye out for the following apps (or similar ones) that might be making the rounds on your child’s phone.

We are sharing these tools and resources with parents in order to promote discussion around responsible decision making, to correct poor choices, and open up a dialogue between parent and teen about their digital lives. What follows is information about some specific hidden photo-sharing apps, next steps to take, and where to go  for help and support as a parent.

Keep Safe Private Photo VaultScreen Shot 2015-02-10 at 7.53.49 PM

Keep Safe Private Photo Vault is one of many new ‚Äúsecret vault‚ÄĚ type apps making their way through the app stores of Apple and Android. This app is¬† advertised as a way to keep photos and videos safe behind a private PIN and not post them on your public photo roll.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 7.54.00 PMThe app is easy enough to identify (see icon here) however, if you share iCloud accounts or check your child‚Äôs photo roll regularly, you¬† won‚Äôt notice it as photos don‚Äôt appear there. While hiding photos is one issue, our concern is with the ‚ÄúInvite friends‚ÄĚ premium feature. With this enabled, kids can potentially share photos privately without anyone knowing.¬†One additional premium feature is called ‚ÄúSecret Door‚ÄĚ. This¬†allows you to make the app look like another app. Pressing and¬†holding down on the ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ app enables the PIN pad.

Next steps –

If your child is a Keep Safe Private Photo Vault user, (or a user of other ‚Äúprivate vault” type app) a conversation should happen with him/her about why they feel the need to hide their photos and share them privately. If you don‚Äôt see the app, but suspect it may have been downloaded, you can also check in the Updates section of the App Store under ‚ÄúPurchased‚ÄĚ on your child‚Äôs phone. Any apps ever downloaded are stored in there.

Additionally, there are new apps that are disguised as a calculator or a folder on the device, so it’s becoming harder to find these. Two such apps include Fake Calculator and Best Secret Folder   (Both pictured here)   

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 7.56.31 PM

These apps look innocent and most of the calculator apps actually are¬†real WORKING calculators. However, if you punch in a secret combination of numbers and symbols, you can ‚Äúunlock‚ÄĚ the secret photo compartment hidden behind the calculator.¬† ¬†Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 7.54.25 PM

Rather than checking every single app on your child’s device, one quick way to check on an iOS device is to go to  Settings->Privacy->Camera. There is a list of every app that uses or has used the camera at one time or another. 

While deleting the app takes care of the immediate issue, there may be a larger issue at hand when it comes to the use of private photo sharing by your child. Please take this opportunity to have that conversation about how NOTHING on the internet is truly anonymous or temporary. 

So….Why should I worry about this?

Much like with Yik Yak in the fall, it is likely that many students will learn about these apps from friends and be curious to try them.¬† Teens have a certain level of curiosity and experimentation anyway, but with the added peer pressure, it could lead to a more serious issue like ‚ÄúSexting.‚Ä̬† Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton goes into the details of sexting laws in the state on this site. While the majority of these cases are tied to state courts, here is some more information on the federal side of things.

What else is out there?

Besides those stated above, there are many other apps being made that provide the same service.  Here is a Mashable.com post that describes 7 different apps for iOS and Android that are out there to hide photos and videos.  Much like social media and kids, the best method of avoiding any type of negative behavior with this technology is openness, awareness and communication with your child.

Where Can I Get Help and Support?

Common Sense Media always has helpful resources for parents and kids.  Here is an article for parents on how to discuss sexting with your teen.

Eanes ISD also provides multiple resources and platforms for parents to get assistance or to report any issues that may be discovered down the road. On February 25th we‚Äôll hold our second annual ‚ÄúParent University‚ÄĚ at Riverbend church to discuss these and many other issues with raising kids in the digital age. Click here for more information on Parent University. I also send out a monthly ‚ÄúDigital Parent Gazette‚ÄĚ to interested parents to alert them of any concerns and showcase some great examples of how technology is being used in the classroom.¬† To receive this newsletter, sign up here.

Finally, I‚Äôm offering another ‚ÄúDigital Parenting¬† 101‚ÄĚ iTunesU course this semester.¬† This is a free 12-weekScreen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.01.02 AM online course offered to the public that covers a variety of topics such as social media, screen time, gaming, and helping your child make a positive digital footprint.¬† The course has already started but it‚Äôs not too late to sign up.¬† It officially runs from February 2nd through May 1st.

Click on this link on your iOS device to enroll today

(note: download the free iTunesU app before enrolling)

Thank you for taking the time to not only review all this information but also to talk with your child.  We know that it may be difficult, but it is important to have an ongoing conversation about social media and digital footprints. If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact either your campus administrators, counselors, or me.

It takes a village to raise a child.  The more we communicate, the better the learning experience for our kids.

Thank you!

 

Social Media Awareness: A Letter for Parents

This week some of the students and staff at our high school felt the affects of when social media can be used to harass with the app Yik Yak. While the app in this case is blocked on our devices and network, students were using their phones to participate in this harassment and cyber-bullying. What follows is the letter I sent to all Middle School and High School parents in our community. ¬†I’m sharing this with you all in the hopes that we can all be aware of not only this specific app but also the fact that we need to have a constant communication between parent, school and child.

(UPDATE: Since sharing this, we were interviewed by the local news here)

In light of this week‚Äôs incidents involving the inappropriate use of the app Yik Yak to harass Westlake students and staff, this is a good opportunity to open the door to a greater conversation we should be having with our kids about social media and their ‚Äúdigital footprint.‚Ä̬†¬†While we at Eanes ISD have taken the necessary precautions to block/restrict these types of apps on our network and devices, students still can engage in misbehavior on their own personal devices which can lead to serious distraction and, even more severely, possible prosecution.

We are sharing these tools and resources with parents in order to quell bad behavior and open up a dialogue between parent and teen when about their digital lives.  What follows is information about Yik Yak itself, next steps to take, other apps that can be inappropriately  used,and where to go for help and support as a parent.

More about Yik Yak

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.00.45 AM

Yik Yak is the latest in a line of social media apps using location services to post messages to those around the user.  These messages are
anonymous,
but they are not untraceable. This app has had many issues across the country at both high school and college level. While Yik Yak claims to have set up a Geofence (blocking cell data) around our schools, there are cases where students have been able to go out of range to post their messages. Here are some steps you can take as a parent to identify if this app is a problem for your child and what you can do to prevent its use.

If your child has the app, you can search what Yaks they have posted by clicking on ‚ÄúMe‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúMy Yaks‚ÄĚ inside their app. This will show you what they have posted, but know they can delete their yaks. However, you can see if they have ever posted on Yik Yak (even if they deleted the posts) by checking their ‚ÄúYakarma‚ÄĚ points in the upper left corner. By default, it‚Äôs set to 100.¬† If they voted on a yak, posted a yak, replied, or shared, the number will change.

Next steps –

If your child is a Yik Yak user, a conversation needs to happen with him/her about why they feel the need to be on the app. We are recommending all parents delete the app from their students devices, especially since Yik Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.00.54 AMYak policy states that you need to be of ‚Äúcollege age‚ÄĚ to use the app.¬† If you don‚Äôt see the app, but suspect it may have been downloaded, you can also check in ¬† the Updates section of the App Store under ‚ÄúPurchased‚ÄĚ on your child‚Äôs phone.¬† All apps ever downloaded are stored in there.

While deleting the app takes care of the immediate issue, there may be a larger issue at hand when it comes to the use of social media by your child. Please take this opportunity to have that conversation about how NOTHING on the internet is truly anonymous or temporary. 

Here’s a great article by Psychologist Diana Graber about 3 Things Kids Need to Know About Yik Yak.  I particularly love this excerpt from the article about Yik Yak and other apps that may follow it:

Here are articles about students being arrested for improper use of Yik Yak.  They can help our students understand the seriousness of bad behavior on social media. 

Yik Yak Working with Law Enforcement

Arrest Made at University of Georgia

So….What Else is Out There?

Like the above article states, there is always a new ‚Äúsomething‚ÄĚ when it comes to technology and social media.¬† Being aware of what else is out there doesn‚Äôt necessarily solve the problem, but it is a good place to start for parents.¬† Here are a few apps/sites to be aware of that have been making the rounds with teens nationally:

Kik

Ooovoo

Ask.fm

WhatsApp

Omegle

Yo.

Whisper

Secret

For a complete list of these and other social media sites gaining popularity with Teens, check out this Common Sense Media article on 15 Sites and Apps Kids Are Heading to Beyond Facebook. 

Again, awareness is just the first step.  We need to continue to have an open conversation about this and everything else happening in their lives.  Social media may be a new thing, but there has always been a need to discuss issues and problems with our teens well before Yik Yak and long after it’s gone.

Where Can I Get Help and Support?

Common Sense Media is a tremendous free resource for information from age-appropriate ratings of movies and video games to ‚Äúbest of‚ÄĚ app lists for parents and kids.¬† We especially encourage you to check out the ‚ÄúHow-to‚ÄĚ section on Cyberbullying.¬† It includes many great resources for parents to use when addressing these topics with their kids including things like: ‚ÄúHow do I monitor my teen online without ‚Äúspying‚ÄĚ?‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúWhat should I do if my kid is bullied online?‚ÄĚ

We here at Eanes ISD are also providing multiple resources and platforms for parents to get assistance or to report any issues that may be discovered down the road.¬† Individual campus Booster Clubs have offered to host ‚ÄúParent Tech Talks‚Ä̬† led by me throughout the next several weeks. (Contact your local booster club for more info) I also send out a monthly ‚ÄúDigital Parent Gazette‚ÄĚ to those parents interested to alert parents of any concerns and showcase some great examples of how technology is being used in the classroom.¬† To receive this newsletter, sign up here.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.01.02 AMFinally, I‚Äôm excited to announce this year‚Äôs ‚ÄúDigital Parenting 101‚ÄĚ iTunesU course.¬† This is a free 6-week online course offered to Eanes ISD parents that covers a variety of topics such as social media, internet filters, device restrictions, and helping your child make a positive digital footprint.¬† The course begins on October 6th and runs through November 21st.¬† Click here for more information and to sign up!

Thank you for taking the time to not only review all this information but also to have this conversation with your child.  We know that it may be difficult, but it is important to have an ongoing conversation about social media and digital footprints. If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact either your campus administrators, counselors, or me.

It takes a village to raise a child.  The more we communicate the better the learning experience for our kids.

Thank you!

How Modern Technology Could Have Changed These Classic Movies

starlingiPhone

What would Starling do with an iPhone?

There are some movies I just love watching over and over again. ¬†I consider these types of movies “classic”. ¬†When I say classic, I mean a movie published before inventing of the smartphone in 2007, so it doesn’t necessarily mean going back to some black & white film or “talkie” from back in the day. However, lately I’ve been amused while watching some of my favorite movies. I¬†start to think about how different it would be if they just had the internet or a smartphone.

What follows are some of my all-time favorite movies and a particular important scene that could have been severely altered if it took place with today’s modern technology. ¬†But rather than stop there, I’ll also offer the “2.0” version that could retain some of the major plot points despite modern technology. This isn’t all for entertainment folks…stick around to the end to see some classroom ideas for getting your kids to reflect on this as well. ¬†[SPOILER ALERT – If you haven’t seen some of these films, I give away some major plot points]

Cujo –

This movie adaptation of a Steven King classic has many of the modern horror movie tropes: Damsel in distress, lack of resources, no one else around to hear, etc. ¬†A majority of the film takes place with the mother and child trapped by a large rabid St. Bernard in their Ford Pinto. ¬†Unable to escape, they are terrorized throughout before finally making a narrow escape at the movie’s end.

Cujo TODAY¬†–

Discovering they are trapped in a non-working Pinto, Donna takes out her cell phone and asks Siri for help.

“How can I help you?”

“Contact a local dog catcher”

“Let me find that for you.”

Movie ends.

Cujo 2.0 –¬†¬†

She’s trapped in the car, asks Siri for help only to hear repeatedly “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that” because of the growling dog in the background.

Silence of the Lambs –¬†

In one of the more tense scenes, Agent Starling is trapped in a basement looking for Buffalo Bill.  He kills the lights and dons a pair of night vision goggles adding to the tension.

Silence of the Lambs TODAY¬†–

Agent Starling, shocked when the lights go out, calmly pulls out her phone and turns on her flashlight app, blinding Buffalo Bill and helping her save the day.

Silence of the Lambs 2.0 –¬†

Her flashlight app requires an update to iOS8 that doesn’t work with the crappy wifi in the basement.

The Godfather –

When the family sets up the meeting between Michael and Sollozzo, a stressful sequence follows while the family tries to discover where the meeting will take place so that Michael can have a gun planted there. ¬†They discover the location right as Michael’s about to walk out the door and they are able to plant the gun in time.

foursquare_edited-1The Godfather TODAY¬†–

Michael shares his Apple ID (KidCorleone@gmail.com) with his brother who uses iCloud and the Find My iPhone feature to locate where Michael is at. ¬†Michael doesn’t have to find a gun behind a toilet because now the gunman can just come in and mow everybody down.

The Godfather 2.0 –

Michael forgets to enable Find My iPhone…essentially keeping him off the grid. Luckily his brother discovers that Sollozzo is¬†at Louis’ Restaurant when he inadvertently checks in on¬†Foursquare and posts: ¬†“About to get my grub on (location: Louis’ Restaurant, Bronx)”

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner –

A great movie about early stereotypes and beliefs around interracial marriage, young Joey is excited to tell her parents all about her new fiance, John Prentice, only to be thrown into the turmoil around their prejudices when they discover the color of his skin.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner TODAY –

Joey’s parents may have still been shocked, but if she had created an Evite to the dinner invitation, they would at least have had a warning by seeing who was on the guest list.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner 2.0 –

Instead his face on Evite, John Prentice just uses the default avatar, thus hiding his identity.

instagramselfie_edited-1The Sixth Sense –

In one of the most quoted lines of all time, Cole Sear reveals that he “sees dead people.” ¬†This unbelievable declaration drives through most of the film and really throws the viewer for a loop when the final plot twist is revealed.

The Sixth Sense TODAY –

Rather than tell people he sees dead people, Cole starts taking “Selfies with Dead People” to prove he’s not crazy. (or “Cray-cray” as the kids today say it)

The Sixth Sense 2.0 –

He’s unable to post the selfies to Instagram because he’s not 13+, thus rendering his evidence useless since we all know if it’s not on Instagram, it can’t be real.

Psycho –

Norman runs the Bates Motel, a place that seems to have perpetual sudden vacancies and an inn keeper that doesn’t seem to be all there.

Psycho TODAY –

A series of bad Yelp reviews about the blood stains and peep holes drive travelers away from the motel. One yelper reveals “I’ll never go back here again. The owner guy’s mother can be heard hollering at him day and night. ¬†#soannoying”

Psycho 2.0 –

Norman’s mother creates a bunch of fake Yelp accounts and sways the rating and feedback to be overwhelmingly positive. ¬†One such dummy review states that “long, hot showers are a must” in the spacious bathrooms with tear-away curtains.

Breakfast club –

From IMDB – Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought. A major point of this movie is Mr. Vernon checking on them to make sure they are obeying and sitting quietly not talking to each other.

Breakfast club TODAY –

The kids happily agree not to talk to each other, because that can just be plain awkward anyway. ¬†Instead they friend each other on SnapChat and have loads of “private” conversations without Bender ever finding out.

Breakfast Club 2.0 –

Shermer High School has a strict policy banning any and all cell phone use. The kids are now faced with an uncomfortable decision of having actual conversations rather than burying their faces in their phones.

When Harry Met Sally –

This classic Rom-com shows the main characters (Harry & Sally [Spoiler]) continually running into each other throughout their lives.  These cause amazingly funny and quaint scenes where they share anecdotes of their previous lives and eventually lead to their following in love with each other.

whenHarrymetSallyOnFacebook copyWhen Harry Met Sally NOW –

After college, Harry and Sally stay connected via Facebook. ¬†While this means they can always keep up with each other, it also means that those charming little anecdotes can’t happen because they can always respond with “Oh yeah, I saw you posted that on Facebook.” ¬†They stay friends, but never fall in love.

When Harry Met Sally 2.0 –

Sally doesn’t believe in social media and isn’t on Facebook. ¬†However, her friends convince her to get on Match.com and her profile keeps matching her with the same guy over and over again, who turns out to be….her old acquaintance Harry.

 

Educational tie-in:

While this is fun to think about and ponder, how could we apply this to learning? ¬†What if a classic fairytale got a modern reboot? ¬†Or how about contemplating how a major historical event would have changed if we had modern technology? ¬†You could even reverse it and try to get the kids to imagine a recent event and what would have happened if the same event happened in the 1950’s. ¬† Lots of potential here….post your ideas in the comment section below.

21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This Year

The Past mixing with the Future #selfie

The Past mixing with the Future #selfie

A new school year always brings about new ideas and hopeful ambition for teachers. However, it’s almost 2015. ¬†Gone are the days when we can use the excuse that “we don’t do technology”. ¬†Part of being a teacher in the 21st century is being creative in integrating¬†academics and learning into student’s digital lives. With access to content being ubiquitous¬†and instant in student’s out of school lives, we can either reject their world for our more traditional one, or embrace it.

While some of the ideas that follow may seem a bit trendy, it’s never hurts to¬†model ways to interact with all this new media as a covert way of teaching digital literacy and citizenship. ¬† The great news is, you don’t need every student to have a device to make these happen.¬†Heck, in most cases all you would need is a single smart phone. ¬†All you need is an open mind and some student-led creative thinking.

And so, I present the 21 things every 21st century teacher should try in their classroom this year:

1. Post a question of the week on your class blog

One of the best ways to engage student (and family) interaction with your classroom is to have a class blog. ¬†While these are becoming more common, I like the trend of having a weekly student “guest author” write up the ideas and learning objectives discussed in class. ¬†This is also a good place to discuss appropriate commenting behavior on blogs and websites.

2. Have a class twitter account to¬†post a tweet about the day’s learning

Just like a blog only smaller. ¬†Nominate a “guest tweeter” and have them summarize the day’s learning in 140 characters or less. Then ask parents to follow the account so they can also get a little insight into the happenings of the school day.

3. Make a parody of a hit song

The ultimate form of flattery is imitation. ¬†The ultimate form of stardom is when Weird Al makes a parody of your song. ¬†Why not take that to an creative level and have students re-write lyrics to their favorite hit or a popular tune? ¬†Sure, this might take more time than it’s worth academically, but the collaborative sharing and engaging aspect of producing such a thing can be a positive. ¬†Who knows, maybe someone in history class will remake “Chaka Khan” into “Genghis¬†Khan” or something like this classic:

4. Create an infographic as a review

Those clever little graphics are appearing everywhere from Popular Mechanics to Cosmopolitan. Why not make one as a way to help visual learners review and remember information?

5. Go paperless for a week

Depending on your grade level, this might be harder than you think. Even in a 1:1 district we still print or have need to print things from time to time. ¬†The idea behind this challenge is see if you can figure out ways to make things more digital. ¬†Maybe instead of a newsletter you print and send home, you write a blog or send a MailChimp? ¬†Or instead of asking kids to write and peer-edit each other’s papers, you ask them to share a Google doc? ¬† If your students don’t have devices, then challenge yourself to try this personally for a month.

6. Have a “No Tech Day” just for nostalgia’s sake

And then have your students blog about the experience.

7. Create your own class hashtag

Tell your students and their parents about the hashtag and have them post ideas, photos, and questions to it. ¬†It’s a great way to get people from not only in your class but also around the world to contribute to your class conversation. You can also use this with your blog posts (#1) or classroom tweets (#2). Bonus points if you use something like VisibleTweets to display your posts in your class.

8. Create a List.ly list to encourage democracy in your class.

It could be as simple as a list of choices for a project or something as grand as what is one thing you want to learn about this year?  Whatever the choice, use List.ly to create a crowd-sourced voting list and let your students have some say in their learning!

9. Integrate Selfies into your curriculum5b7df7199ed9f846a52813b021033049

This one might take some outside the box thinking,¬†¬†but I’m guessing that there are students in your class that could come up with a creative way to do this. ¬†Maybe take a selfie next to a science experiment? Or a selfie with an A+ paper? #SuperStudent

10. Curate a class Pinterest account 

Pinterest is a great visible way to curate resources but why not create a class account that has a different board based on projects throughout the year. ¬†Add students as collaborators and let them post their projects to the board. ¬†You could also have a board on gathering resources and information for a topic which would be a good time to mention what is and what isn’t a valid resource?

11. AppSmash Something

Besides just fun to say, you should definitely take multiple apps on whatever device you use and smash them together into a project. ¬†Check out this post¬†for¬†the basics and remember, it doesn’t have to be you who is doing the smashing. ¬†Let your kids come smash too!

12. Participate in a Twitter Chat

Twitter can be like drinking information from a fire house at times, but finding a good twitter chat on a topic and¬†participating¬†can be a great way to learn and grow as a teacher. ¬†Check out Cybraryman’s list¬†of twitter chats and times to find one that interests you. Don’t see any you like? Make your own! Remember in step #7¬†when you created your own class hashtag?

13. Make part of your classroom “Augmented”

Why not make take an app like Aurasma and hide some easter eggs around your room? You could make them about a project or just secret nuggets about you. ¬†It’ll keep kids (and parents during back to school night) engaged and¬†turn dead space in your classroom into an interactive learning opportunity. ¬†Need some ideas? ¬†Check out Lisa Johnson‘s List.ly List (Remember, you know how to make those now from¬†#8!)¬†of over 50 Augmented Reality apps.

14. Create a recipe on IFTTT.com to make your life easier

With all of these tools and social media platforms, it might be a good idea to create some ways to automate tasks in your classroom. ¬†IFTTT.com has some great pre-made “recipes” to combine some of your accounts into simple workflow solutions. ¬†You can even have your plant email you when it needs water.

15. Create a Class Instagram Account 

Have a daily student photographer who’s job is to post an example of something your class/students did that day. If you don’t want to mess with “do not publish” lists, you could¬†ask that it be of an object or artifact, not a person. ¬†This would also be a good time to talk about when and how to ask permission to take someone’s photo. ¬†Mix in your class hashtag(#7), throw in an IFTTT (#14)recipe, and all the sudden you can also auto-post selfies (#9) to your¬†class Pinterest board (#10)

16. Perform in a LipDub Video 

This can be either a solo project or for even greater effect, tie in your parody song (#3) and have your students act out their learning throughout the video. ¬†Don’t forget to hashtag it. Bonus points if said video goes viral like this one:

17. Make a class book

The ease with which you can publish books now is amazing. ¬†Using a tool like Book Creator or iBooks Author, you can publish to the iBooks store or Amazon. ¬†Don’t want to do something that intense? Keep it simple and make a book using Shutterfly and then have it printed as a keepsake.

18. Participate in a Mystery Hangout

This sounds a lot scarier than it is but essentially think of playing the game 20 questions with another classroom somewhere in the world. Here’s a link to a community page with more resources. It’s a great way to increase cultural and global awareness and you could event invite the other class to add to your Pinterest board (#10),¬†vote on your List.ly (#8), comment on your blog (#1) or maybe co-collaborate on an eBook (#17).

19. Produce a class Audio podcast

Have students create a podcast highlighting classroom activities, projects or students.  To get it to the web quickly, post it to Soundcloud.  For the more advanced user, use a podcasting site like Podbean.com and actually get the podcast posted to iTunes.  That way mom and dad can listen to the weekly recap while going on their evening walk or driving to work.

20. GHO on Air with an expert

With so many resources and experts available, it only makes sense to bring in someone from “the real world”. This not only creates interest in the topic, it adds an air of authenticity. ¬†Using Google Hangouts On Air means you can record this session on the fly and post it to your class site or embed it on your blog to generate¬†discussion at home.

21. Become an activist for a worthy cause.

If the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge can teach us anything, it’s that sometimes a little creativity is all you need to¬†awareness to a cause. Whether it’s helping a country in need or finding a cure for a disease, ¬†our new connected society can be a powerful thing when galvanized for good. ¬†Participating in a global project gives students perspective on their own lives while helping others with their own life challenges.

BONUS –¬†Let your students drive the learning

While you could do all of these challenges by yourself, the real power comes in letting students own a piece of it. ¬†They have the curiosity and the digital acumen, it’s the teacher’s job to give them instructional focus and empowerment. ¬†We live in wonderfully connected times. ¬†Despite all of technology’s¬†perceived misgivings and the apocalyptic fears that we are losing ourselves as a society, why not use some of this power for good?

Just know that as a teacher in the 21st century you ultimately hold the key to unleash this creative beast.  So try something on the list this year that may force you a bit out of your comfort zone because there is no better way to learn than trying.

Just be sure you blog about it when you are finished as learning in isolation helps no one.

Oh….and be sure to hashtag it.

 

Update: Thanks to¬†Sean Junkins who¬†made this great little graphic for the challenge. ¬†Collaboration at it’s finest!

Thanks to @sjunkins

Thanks to @sjunkins

A Whole New World of Apps (for the Under 13 Generation)

Green PG-13_Hv_CS3As students fill the hallways of our schools on their first day back, there is a major change afoot for those kids under the age of 13. ¬†Students in the pre-teen realm have always had less options when it came to personalization and use of certain websites/social media. ¬†While some of those rules still apply when it comes to the web, Apple’s new system of allowing districts to issue Apple IDs for those students under the age of 13 (with parental consent) means that the days of every elementary students having the same standardized iPad are in the past. ¬†Combining that with the new deployment system and (in our case) an MDM like Casper, and we are finally starting to see some of the real powerful potential of the 1:1 iPad platform. ¬†While I know there will be some glitches (there always are in technology), I’m looking forward to the improvements listed here this year for our K-6 students.

App Provisioning

For the past 2 years, our elementary students have been living in the 1:1 world when it comes to devices, but haven’t really gotten the full-fledged personalized experience of their older counter-parts when it comes to apps. ¬†Because we couldn’t have individual Apple IDs on each iPad, we used Apple Configurator to provision “images” to sets of iPads at every grade level. This was a painfully arduous process that entailed having a Support Tech go classroom to classroom with a Macbook and provision the images to each iPad. ¬†With the amount of time and man-power it took to accomplish this, we basically had time for one app-refresh cycle every year. ¬†Besides the inefficiency of this model, we also had several times when iPads would get “hung up” during app refresh and have to be completely wiped, losing important student work that hadn’t been backed up. ¬†Now that every student will have an Apple ID, we can “push” apps out to students over the air (OTA). ¬†If a classroom wants an app, they contact our MDM campus manager who loads the app and pushes it out to the class overnight. ¬†If it’s a free app, the kids can even download it themselves!

App Personalization

Since we basically had two groups (K-2 and 3-5), that meant front-loading the images with pretty much every app we would think to use for the school year. ¬†The resulting images were somewhat heavy (taking up over 6GB of the 16GB space) and many were unnecessary depending on your grade. ¬†Here’s our example list of apps for elementary last year. You could have 3rd graders looking at 5th grade apps that they didn’t even need. While we’ve really focused on productive apps vs. consumptive ones, we at least knew that all kids would have the tools they needed to create a finished product. ¬†Now that we can now push apps over the air, that means starting with a much leaner set of core apps to start (nearly all “productive” apps) and adding those content or grade-level based consumptive apps as needed. ¬†One drawback of not having a set image on them is that iPads are essentially naked to begin the year until the students have their Apple IDs set up. ¬†Enter the always clever Janet Couvillion. She’s an Ed Tech at one of our elementary campuses and she created this tremendous Thinglink about all things you can do on an iPad with only basic apps:

Content Distribution

We utilize eBackpack as our web-based and app-based content distribution system. ¬†However, we’ve also found some successes using iTunesU at the upper grades when it comes to quickly creating courses for students. ¬†Now that our students under the age of 13 have Apple IDs, we can have them enroll in a class course at the beginning of the year that a teacher can use to push out content as it becomes relevant. We can also provision specific iBooks or class sets of iBooks to students based on their Apple IDs, something not possible in the past.

Time to Focus

Another potential bonus of all of this is the new Casper Focus feature we had a kindergarten teacher test for us last year. ¬†With all iPads in this new system and each student with an Apple ID, a teacher can now “control” or “lock-down” all the iPads in his/her class into a specific app. ¬†While I’m not a big fan of the lock-down control model when it comes to teaching and learning, I do know there is a time and place when this might need to happen from time to time. ¬†With state and national testing moving to an online platform, we’ll need to have this ability going forward. ¬†This year we’ll be pilot testing the ACT Aspire test on iPads for students in grades 4-9 and we’ll also be piloting using a Desmos Calculator app during our 8th Grade Algebra State assessment. ¬†None of this would be possible without this new system in place without individually going to each iPad and enabling Guided Access.

Parent Involvement

In order to make this system work, we have to really rely on parent support. ¬†They have to go through the online consent and Apple ID creation process for us to be able to utilize all the advantages listed above. ¬†As a parent, the advantages to this program versus making your own Apple ID are many (here’s a Parent Guide from Apple). ¬†They’ll be able see what apps their students are purchasing. ¬†With their students being in the Under 13 program they’ll have less advertisements and data mining to worry about. ¬†As a parent of a new kindergarten student, I was excited to not only set up her Apple ID¬†because we¬†can now mirror the apps she’s getting at school and put them on our devices at home to help with her learning. ¬†I’ve always been a believer in the concept of a village raising the child and in our ever-increasing online world, the lines between home and school are no longer clearly defined. ¬†This process gives us as a district another opportunity to communicate about the education of their child, which can in the end only be a good thing.

To help introduce parents to this process I made this somewhat silly 3.5 minute video (below) along with some instructions for them on their end.

 The future is bright and no longer just for those born before 2001!