Category Archives: Instructions

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.

 

 

Time for Some Digital Spring Cleaning?

It’s that time of year when the snow finally melts (well, at least for those of us south of the Mason-Dixon line), the school year is wrapping up, and we’re all planning for summer. This is also traditionally the time when households go through “spring cleaning” as we clean out our closets or kids’ closets, re-arrange the jars of random screws in the garage, and finally knock out some items on our to-do list.

More and more, I feel like we need to do the same practices when it comes to our digital lives. We now spend hours of our day online, slowly building a digital version of ourselves. Our digital selves need a place to live, work, eat, share, and surf as well. Unfortunately, in this day and age of “check out this new app” or “sign-up here for more…” we are continually cluttering our phones and our amount of accounts to keep track of.¬† Data privacy has been in the news heavily lately, and having many different accounts out there opens you up for more risk.

It’s time we start a “digital spring cleaning” along-side the physical one, and you don’t have to wait until spring to do this. I like to use New Year’s Day as a benchmark to clean up my digital life, but found that doing it twice a year makes it much more manageable.¬† What follows are some tips that I’ve used over the years to keep my digital self from becoming a virtual hoarder.

Email Accounts for Different Purposes 

Somedays, email can feel like a never ending stream of junk mail. Ads about a funny t-shirt that went on sale to a product that will greatly enhance my…well you get the idea. One thing I started several years ago was the use of 3 email accounts. One is for personal information (I use this with friends and family) but not for signing up for things. The second is for signing up for things to try out or to set up accounts to some sort of online service. The third is solely for work-related items.

While this separation can help up the amount of junk you get in your work and personal email accounts, there are times when your email will still be used for spam, so you’ll need to remain diligent in which account you use to sign up for things. If this still doesn’t work, below is a plan B.

Unsubscribe and Purge Quickly

One service that has made my life much easier and my inbox much less cluttered is Unroll.me. This free service instantly lets you go through and identify messages that are spam and others that you may still want to receive but not in your inbox. It creates a list of all your subscription emails easily in a daily digest form. Quick bit of advice, you’ll want to update this yearly as it’s amazing how many other emails have found their way in my inbox since setting this up. (I just took a detour while writing this post and found I had over 300 emails coming into my inbox without my permission since the beginning of the year!)

Delete Some Apps 

Some apps you only use occasionally. Others you added and tried out, but never use any more. Besides taking up valuable space on your phone, these apps can clutter your screen or folders. On the iPhone you can check battery usage settings to see what you’ve used the past 7 days. Besides discovering that you spend way too much of your screen time on Facebook, this can also help you determine which apps are used heavily and which ones never appear in the list.

Review your security settings

When looking through the location services section of my phone, I was surprised by the amount of apps that were tracking me even when I wasn’t using them.¬† When it comes to social media like Facebook and Twitter, you might be surprised at the sheer number of 3rd party applications that are using some portion of your data. Go to your account settings on all your heavily used social media platforms and purge any 3rd party app connections you won’t need or maybe didn’t even intend to approve.

Manage “Notifistractions”

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about the amount of notification distractions or “notifistractions” we get on our devices. Many of these are not necessary and can cause you anxiety, stress, or worse-yet, distract you when operating a motor vehicle. I always recommend turning off all alerts with the exception of reminders or calendar events. That email or text message can wait, but also know that on most phones you can give some folks in your contact list “VIP” access.¬† This means you will get an alert from them if they send you a text or message.

Google Search Yourself

You never know what’s been posted out there about you. Maybe a friend posted a photo of you without your permission or maybe you are giving people access to your personal documents without knowing it. At any rate, it’s always a good idea to “Google Yourself” fairly regularly to see what information is out there on you. A couple of quick notes to be most effective:¬† 1 – Make sure you are not logged into your Google account or in “incognito” mode. This is what the outside world sees when they search you, if you are logged into Google, you’ll get different results. Also make sure search your full name is in “quotes” to get the most accurate results.

Back-up any important videos or photos

Every year, I do an “end of the year” family video that encapsulates much of what we did as a family throughout the previous year. While doing this to reflect on the year gone by is fun and heart-warming, it also reminds me to back up all my photos into either a physical hard drive or some sort of long term cloud storage like Dropbox. After all – you never know when your phone might break, and it would be good to have all your photo roll data backed up regularly.

Clear Those Cookies and Empty Your Trashcan

If you are like me, you use your trash can on your computer as sort of a temporary folder for items. At some point, you have to “empty” your trashcan, else you run the risk of your garbage chewing up most of your storage. The same can be said for the cookies contained within your browsers. These can be used for tracking your data and search queries and should be purged fairly regularly. Take a moment to look at and empty these on your laptop and desktop and you might find that the performance may improve on your computer when you do this.

I hope some of these tips help….Now get to cleaning!

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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 8.32.47 AM

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!

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!

Bowling with Bumper Rails: iPad Restrictions in Schools

"Pin Sweeper of Shame"

“Pin Sweeper of Shame”

When I was a kid we used to go bowling. ¬†No, not Wii bowling. Actual bowling. ¬†You know, where you wear someone else’s shoes, put your fingers in some greasy ball and take in your share of second-hand smoke? (smoking was allowed in bowling alleys back then). ¬†When I first started out, my ball went all over the place, including backwards once into a group of bystanders. ¬†When I finally did get my sense of direction down, I would end up chucking this 10 pound ball down a lane and inevitably it would end up in the gutter. ¬†Time and time again I would try only to be met with the “Brunswick pin¬†sweeper¬†of shame”. ¬†You know, the one where that rake comes down and knocks over all ten pins that you missed?

My parents were great at letting me fail and learning from that failure, but it led to some frustration.  Enter bumper rails! While I still had to have some basic sense of direction, the bumper rails kept my ball from falling into the gutter and I was able to achieve some moderate success and even come up with the occasional strike.

Rolling out iPads in our schools in some ways as mirrored my bowling experience as a youth. ¬†We’ve given some basic direction and support but sometimes the ball flew backward (like when we went from iOS 4.3 to 5.0). Sometimes our¬†fingers get stuck in the ball (iPads only being used for simple substitutive tasks). And other times, even when we had students going in the right direction, their feet would sometimes step over the line before they roll(distraction).¬† However, ¬†by constantly¬†communicating with our community, teachers, students and administrators, we are continually seeking out ways to positively impact¬†the instructional¬†use of¬†these tools in the classroom and thus have the kids bowl more strikes. ¬†One of the early struggles in our deployment was the ability to be balance¬†profiles and restrictions on the iPads so that they would have a successful educational experience. We really only had a couple of choices when we started back in 2011:

A) Let the kids bowl down the lane with the possibility of the occasional gutter ball or B) Set up blanket restrictions which was similar to bowling a ball down the lane only to have the pin sweep come down and block the pins, essentially taking away any of the creative personalization opportunities of the iPads.

Finally, this summer, we were able to use our own set of bumper rails. With the new Apple Deployment system and our revamped Casper JAMF MDM system, we were able to put some better, more secure profiles and systems in place to help further the instructional focus of iPads in the classroom and let creativity flourish.

Here’s a poster of a few of our newest restriction profiles at each¬†level:

Eanes iPad Restrictions PosterThese new profiles will help us not only deal with our greatest challenges of the past but also help us push out apps wirelessly¬†to student iPads at a much more rapid rate with an eye on personalizing each students’ device. ¬†Here are three things we’re most excited about in the new system:

670px-Bowl-Step-12

Casper Focus on a lane

Locked in “Focus” when needed:

With the new Casper Focus tool, teachers can lock student iPads into a single app. ¬†This means that we can use the iPads for testing and even as a substitute for expensive calculators. ¬†While we don’t want teachers over-using¬†this feature, it will give them some scope of control when needed to get the class re-focused and on the same page so to speak. (like those directional arrows in the bowling lane)

Managing Distraction:

We are highly concerned that non-educational gaming and iMessages were causing some disruptions to learning and causing kids to be off-task or distracted during the school day or at night. ¬†With our new MDM update, we have removed iMessages from the devices entirely and also improved some of the restrictions for gaming. We still believe it takes a village with a team approach of parent and school to teach kids self-control, but this new system gives us the guidelines (Bumpers) we need to make that happen effectively. One student found this out when he tried to turn in his iPad after getting it this Fall and claiming that it was broken. ¬†When he was asked why he thought it was broken he said, “Because I can’t download my favorite game. ¬†It just keeps disappearing.” (Strike!)

Our new App Deployment model

Our new App Deployment model

Over the Air App Distribution:

At the secondary level, students could get apps from us via a web-clip called “Self Service.” This was a nice way to make apps available for students, but it meant essentially giving away the app as a consumable because once it was redeemed, the student owned it. ¬†With the updated MDM system and the new Apple ID Under 13 program, students K-12 can have apps “pushed” to their iPads over the air without going and looking for them. ¬†By that same token, the apps now act as licenses which can be “pulled” back whenever a student leaves or starts a different course (Think rapid ball return and pin set-ups)

While we are always working to make personalized learning the perfect blend of support (bumpers) and guidance (arrows) which will turn learning into a success (strikes). With these new additions, I think we are well on our way to bowling a perfect 300 when it comes to iPads in Education.

Now…if I could just improve my personal bowling score…Am I too old to play with bumpers?

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!

9 Tips To Getting the Most Out of a Conference

(Note: this article is cross-posted at Edudemic.com)

Having just wrapped up a successful iPadpalooza and seeing all the chatter around ISTE 2014 online, I wondered: what makes a memorable and meaningful conference experience?

At iPadpalooza, we had 98.4% of people tell us they would come back to our event next year. Rather than being happy about that number, I focused on what the 1.6% didn’t like. Was the live music too loud? Were the speakers or presentations not what the attendee expected?

I used to be guilty of attending conferences and passively waiting for information or presentations to amaze me. I’d leave disappointed and wonder what attending these conferences would mean for me in the future. However, all of that changed when I started taking a more proactive approach to my conference experience. Here are a few steps to help anyone attending either their 1st or 50th event.

Prior to the Event

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Me on stage before the closing event at iPadpalooza

Laying a good foundation of prep work prior to attending a conference on the scale of ISTE or the variety of something like iPadpalooza can make huge a difference.

1. Find Some People to Follow –¬†This doesn‚Äôt mean cyber-stalk or physically tail someone during the event. Rather, look at the big name speakers or presenters and start to follow their work on social media. This will give you a flavor of their presentation-style and may indicate what kind of content they might offer during their sessions.

2.¬†Identify sessions ahead of time ‚ÄstLooking at the program guide for the first time at the registration booth puts you at a disadvantage. Most events (especially Ed Tech ones) post their session titles and descriptions well in advance. Take that opportunity to do some early research on topics that interest you and areas that you want to improve upon professionally. Additionally as popular sessions can fill up quickly, always have a back-up plan.

3. Plan on giving yourself time between sessions ‚ÄstGeorge Couros¬†blogged¬†about a conference in Australia that left 30 minutes in between sessions. While that‚Äôs a great way to have time in your schedule, most events only allow for 15 minutes or so. When planning out your days, be sure to leave a couple of longer breaks throughout the day. This extra time will allow you to reflect on a session or connect with colleagues and maybe actually have a professional lunch that is longer than 30 minutes.

During The Event

4.¬†Don‚Äôt sit in sessions you don‚Äôt want to be in ‚ÄstEdCamps have mastered this strategy by the ‚Äúvoting with your feet‚ÄĚ way that they run their events. If you are ‚Äústuck‚ÄĚ in a 2-hour workshop on the theory of how Disney‚Äôs Frozen can be applied to advanced Physics, you either didn‚Äôt research the workshop well enough or the description was completely off (First clue ‚Äď it was called ‚ÄúLet it Go: Why Liquid Nitrogen is the Bomb‚ÄĚ) Don‚Äôt be afraid to walk out to your back-up session. If that one is full, find a quiet place where you can observe and follow the conference hashtag. At least that way you might pick up on some great things shared at other sessions.

5. Meet somebody new and connect ‚ÄstThe easy way to do this is to have some virtual introductions via social media before-hand and then approach them when you see them in person (assuming their social media avatar looks like them). The more challenging, and sometimes more interesting way to do this, would be to find an attendee sitting by themselves and just introduce yourself. You never know how their story may help inspire you in the long run and vice-versa.

6. Capture your thoughts and reflect daily ‚ÄstI like to blog about the things that I have learned at conferences. This isn‚Äôt so much to share with others as it is for me to identify the things that I found valuable in my learning each day. Not a blogger? Use a tool like¬†Storify¬†to capture bits and pieces of a hashtag and make your own recap with others‚Äô social media posts.

After The Event

7.¬†Go back and share what you learned ‚ÄstAs teachers, we know that our students learn by doing. Therefore, take what you learned and teach someone else. The blog that I mentioned in step #6 is a great way to share what you learned. For the slightly more daring, ask to have some time at an upcoming faculty meeting to give your 5-minute Ignite-type talk about highlights of your learning to the whole staff.

8. Follow-up with attendees and presenters online ‚ÄstNow that you‚Äôve made some connections with new people from the event, be sure to send a message in the weeks afterwards to strengthen that connection.

9. Blackmail yourself ‚ÄstLearning new and inspiring ideas at an event can be great momentum going into the beginning of the school year. However, often weeks or months pass before you even get the motivation to apply something you‚Äôve learned and by then you are too tired with the day-to-day of school life. Rather than blow it off, blackmail yourself. Outwardly tell colleagues (online or in person) that you are going to try a new concept that you learned. Then, set a time when you are actually going to try it and publicize this as well. I like to send myself an email in the future using¬†futureme.org¬†or the like. Setting up that email immediately after the event ends and can immediately reignite you months later.

These steps or tips are not fool-proof, and they do require a bit of heavy lifting on the part of the normally passive conference attendee. But, if you apply some ‚Äď or all of these steps ‚Äď you‚Äôll find yourself not only enjoying conferences more but also sharing that joy with other colleagues and students down the road.

Kevin Honeycutt rocking the closing of iPadpalooza

Kevin Honeycutt rocking the closing of iPadpalooza

The APPMazing Race: A Great Way to Increase Collaboration and Learning at an Event

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 1.19.08 PMThis year at iPadpalooza we were looking to do something a little different with all that “transition” time in between sessions. Often times, when you attend a conference, you find yourself in complete session-mode. You rush from session to session, never taking time to reflect, interact or collaborate with others at the event.

And so, the APPMazing Race was born. When the team at iPadpalooza started brainstorming ideas, the thought of some sort of app-based Olympics was being passed around. Last year, we did an Aurasma scavenger hunt to get people interacting with their space. It was a great time-filler but was purely for individuals. Inventing a challenge based on teamwork would make the actual event even more meaningful was the hope. We ended up with 47-teams of 3 to 4 players signing up for the race by the end of the opening keynote. At midnight of the first day, they received their instructions of what they had to accomplish in the next 36 hours.

Unscheduled Challenges:
1. CREATE – A logo and team name for your team
2. LISTEN – Create a 15-20 second audio podcast that summarizes your favorite session. (background music/sound effects for a bonus point)
3. CONNECT – One team member must make a new friend from somewhere else (not on their team) and Ô¨Ānd 3 things they have in common. Create a Thinglink to represent your new friend and the 3 things you have in common. (Bonus point for Ô¨Ānding someone from a different state or country)
4. SNEAK – A team member photo-bombs an Eanes iVenger (hint: they will be wearing red crew shirts on Wednesday) ClariÔ¨Ācation: A proper photo bomb is when someone sneaks into a photo from behind.
5. CAPTURE – Take 5 selÔ¨Āes with vendors and post to Instagram with hashtag #iplza14 and your team name. Capture all 5 for Ô¨Ānal submission video. 1 point per selÔ¨Āe.
6. EAT – Create a Canva poster based on your favorite food item from the food trucks.
7. DRAW – Using a drawing app, create your best caricature of another team member.
8. CHALLENGE РCreate and post a Vine of a team member asking a presenter a question. (please don’t interrupt a session just for this Рthat could result in a deduction)
9. OUTREACH – Connect with someone over FaceTime who is not at the event and show them around. Take a screenshot that displays evidence you are here.
10.SHARE РUpload and share your final video submission somewhere visible on the web. Your final video must be no longer than 2 minutes.

We ¬†also had two scheduled challenges from 3:30-4:30 in the main room of iPadpalooza on Day 2 where the teams had to complete these –
1. DRIVE – Control a Sphero through an obstacle course. 5 attempts per team. Bonus points to the top 3 teams that take the shortest time to complete the challenge.
2. SMASH – Create an Appsmash LIVE during the day 2 closing activity. Theme of the smash will be given at 3:30. You must smash as many apps as you have team members +1 (so a team of 4 must smash 5 apps).

Bonus points we possible for teams with evidence of the top tweets and creativity of final video submission. While we could have just made it a checklist of items and drawn names out of a hat, we decided instead to judge their final submissions. Rather than fact check every item, the 2-minute video was the proof teams had to submit to at noon prior to the closing.

We had an amazing 18 teams complete the challenge and many were made up of people from completely different districts. In retrospect I would have loved to given every finishing team an award, but we ended up just awarding the top three prizes. Here is what the winning video submission looked like from Team “FargoFromDownUnder Appletes”

While there are always areas to improve, this race was successful in bringing colleagues together (either from the same district or even different countries) to engage and collaborate with an event rather than just being an passive participant.  We look forward to even more teams competing next year and know now that the bar has been raised!

Official APPMazing Race Rules & Challenges 2014 PDF