Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Talented and passionate educator, Donna Rudisill, @derudisill, recently shared Four Challenges for the New School Year with our school community. In this article, Matt Wachel challenges us to think differently this school year right from the start.
"Four Challenges For The New School Year." ASCD Inservice. N. p., 2017. Web. 4 Sept. 2017.
Matt's article and the graphic immediately appealed to me. But, the practical side of me also thought, How? How can I have students share publicly? How can I call every family by the end of the week, especially when I teach 120+ students and the first week of school is notoriously busy! And, what in the world does “create their own spaces” mean when I teach in a traditional science classroom?  
Matt’s article is super helpful and is a great place to start. His tips and more are all here in this Google sheet. RETHINKING THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
And here’s where YOU come in. After you explore the sheet, take a minute to add your ideas. What did you do the first week of school to build relationships with students and begin to form a community of learners?




Thursday, July 27, 2017

Google Drawings & Graphic Organizers

Tools by Google Drawings. Inspiration by Matt Miller and Ditch that Textbook. Expertise by Linda McCray and Tara Zeller. Direction to get stuff done by our superintendent, Matt Stover. Vision to keep Why firmly at the heart of everything we do from our Chief Technology Officer, Marty Sharpe. That’s where this blog post comes to you from.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_on_the_shoulders_of_giants

That’s a lofty introduction to a blog about using Google Drawings to create graphic organizers. I wanted to start off by giving credit to everyone who had a hand in the project that I’m writing about and I realized that once you start connecting and linking it’s hard to know where to stop.

So, let’s get to it.

Graphic organizers are a thing. They have outlasted every “innovation” that has come along in the 16 years that I’ve been teaching. They are true Survivors! Graphic organizers are a component of many current teaching models including Learning Focused Lessons (thank you Jill Darrough) and the Literacy Design Collaborative (thank you Regina Propst). According to John Hattie and Visible Learning their use has an above average effect size, outpacing other educational strategies including small group learning (0.47), home environment and classroom management (0.52),  scaffolding (0.53), socioeconomic status (0.54) and many others.  Teachers know how to use graphic organizers and if they need a refresher, there are tons of resources out there to help.  Students are creating their own. Teachers are creating super cute graphic organizers posting them all over Pinterest. But… And you know the most important part of the sentence is always after the “but”.
Created in Canva by Stacy Lovdahl


But ...

But, how do we use graphic organizers with students in a digital, blended classroom?
There are lots of ways and this post focuses on just one way using templates created in Google Drawings.
Take a look at this Google Slide Deck and make a copy if you’d like to keep it.  It is setup to show you a screenshot of a bunch of graphic organizers that we’ve created in our district and some that we’ve borrowed from Matt Miller and Ditch that Textbook. When you click on the link, it will prompt you to make a copy.
The copy is placed in your Google Drive. It’s yours to keep, modify and customize for your students.

How Can You Use This Slide Deck?

  1. Bookmark It - This slide deck is always changing. It started last year after Tara Zeller and Linda McCray attended a session at NCTIES16 about graphic organizers and Ditch that Textbook. They shared their learning with our Instructional Tech Dept and Linda created a document that with forced copy links to all the graphic organizers.  “Forced copy” is a game changer!  Tara created some unique graphic organizers in Google Drawings and we realized the possibilities were endless!  Since then we’ve created over a dozen additional graphic organizers.
  2. Add the Slide Deck to your Google Classroom About Page - If you think your students might need to use a variety of graphic organizers throughout the year, add the slide deck to your LMS. Each time they click on a graphic organizer it will make a copy for them and place it in their Google Drive where they can customize it for their assignment.
Are you using digital graphic organizers with your students? Can you think of other ways to use the Slide Deck? I would love to hear your experiences! Tweet me at @braveneutrino or leave a comment. Let's keep the sharing going!



Friday, July 14, 2017

ISTE17 - A Focus on Students

I focused almost exclusively on talking to students at ISTE in San Antonio, TX. The results, 35 interviews in all, are coming together in this website, Periscoping ISTE17, and all I can say is these kids are amazing.
It was a joy to interview these kids and in the beginning I thought I was giving them an opportunity to explain their project or poster and what they've learned. But, it became more than that. By listening to these kids who are so similar to the kids we teach, I found out more than just what they learned; more than just the product of their learning. By listening to the students describe their learning in their own words I discovered how they learned. I glimpsed the way they perceived, digested and transformed the teachers' instruction into knowledge of their own.

So, I didn't attend as many official, sit-down sessions at ISTE17. But, by focusing on students at ISTE and capturing it all on Periscope, I can take their voices back to my district so others can listen to these kids talk about coding and STEM projects and how their teachers inspired them to read about history and architecture using Minecraft and Glogster.   It makes me even more sure that it is worth it because this is what happens when you take a risk, teach differently, and trust your students.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Blogging Buddies

One exciting outcome from being more focused on "being a blogger" is discovering ISTE's Blogging Buddies.  I've connected with four amazing educators, Lauren Villaluz, Arielle Goldstein, Jennifer Trattner and Bridget Walters.

Lauren Villaluz is a technology integrationist and former K-12 Spanish teacher in Michigan.
Arielle Goldstein is a technology and library media specialist in New Jersey.
Jennifer Trattner is a technology coach in Glendale, Wisconsin.
Bridget Walters is a district instructional coach and former science teacher in Florida.
 and learned about design thinking in 2nd grade, gotten a sneak peek into the Summer SPARK conference and been inspired to make the most of my summer by reading their blogs.

I look forward to learning and growing with this group and sharing both our education experiences and our journeys as bloggers.

On a practical note, I've added each person to a Twitter list and added that list to a tab in my Hootsuite.  I have a board called Blogging Buddies in Feedly to keep track of new posts and comments.  ISTE has created at Blogging Buddies Site where you can find information about the program. ISTE created a Twitter List of all the Blogging Buddies participants that you can follow.  You can also follow all Blogging Buddies on Feedly.

Monday, June 12, 2017

An Excuse To Go Shopping

Being selected as an ISTE17 Emerging Edublogger is a great excuse to go shopping. But, it's not what you think. I'm geeky, a title that I embrace, and I hate to spend money unless I absolutely have to.  But, for my Edublogging project, I need stuff. I am interviewing students and others and broadcasting using Periscope.  The interviews will be livestreamed to my Periscope channel at Periscope.tv/braveneutrino and to Twitter under the #ISTE17, #StudentShowcases and #PasstheScopeEDU hashtags.  The ISTE Twitter audience is huge so these interviews need to look and sound amazing, right? So... I need to shop for some stuff.

Purchase #1: The iRig Mic

I love this mic. It plugs into my Samsung S6. It has a long cord. It is directional, so it filters out the loud convention center noise and captures the voices of even the softest student interviewees. Check out this interview of adorable 3rd graders from my first interview project at NCTIES. (Pardon my awkwardness at the beginning or scroll to about 1:21 to hear the students.)  You can hear the students clearly even though in real life she was speaking in practically a whisper. And, you can see that I didn't need to hold the mic so close to her mouth.  I got better with positioning the mic as I got more experience doing the interviews.

Purchase #2: External Battery

Truth #1 - Periscope drains your battery like a boss. Truth #2 - Once your phone is down to about 30%, it's hopeless.  Truth #3 - Not all external batteries are created the same.  Truth #4 - Discovering all this in the middle of Periscoping your event is a bummer.

For ISTE, I'm bringing two external batteries;   the KMASHI 10000mAh Portable Power Bank with Dual USB Ports. This is going to be for charging low-use devices like my iPad.  The second batter is the Anker PowerCore II 20000 Portable Charger, 2000 mAh Power Bank with 3 Power IQ, 6A Output, Dual Input and 4A Fast Recharging. The Periscoping phone will be connected to this battery continually when scoping to keep it from draining down.  If needed, the fast charging connection will be helpful to get the phone recharged during down times.

Purchase #3: Microphone Logo Flag

This is the Foxnovo Square Cube Shaped Interview Mic Microphone Logo Flag Station.  This purchase is going to stretch my creativity, because I'm going to have to make a snazzy sticker. But, it's all part of the plan to amplify the message of the students that I'm interviewing. Sarah Thomas recently recommended Adobe Spark, so I think I'm going to try it using it to make the sticker(s).  The Logo Flag cube will let me display my blog URL, the #ISTE17 and #PasstheScopeEDU hashtags and my website sciencetoybox.com right on the microphone.

Purchase #4: Mic Covers

Next up is a 10-pack of Microphone Windscreen Foam Mic Covers. These have not arrived yet and I'm a little nervous because the reviews on Amazon were very up and down. Some reviewers were super happy and others got packs of covers with faded and smeared colors.  I'm hoping for the best.



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Pass the Scope EDU: An Epic Collaboration

I love collaborating with the people in the Pass the Scope EDU community. Educators from all over the United States and several countries share their experiences, wisdom, and expertise via Periscope on the third Thursday of every month and every month it is inspirational, funny and amazing. And, every month I think, "Well, that was the best ever.  It can't get better than that."  And, you know what happens, right? The next month, it gets better.

May Was Amazing

Periscope is a live-streaming app that also posts to Twitter. One of the easiest ways to watch our broadcasts is to search Twitter for the #PasstheScopeEDU. But, we also have a theme each month and a special hashtag to go with it. The theme for May was #aMayzingMoments. Trust me, it lived up to its hashtag. Almost half the scopers, that's what we call people who Periscope, produced a professional broadcast using OBS. OBS is a free, open-source software for video recording and live streaming.  And, as usual, I was left wondering how we were going to top that?

Here's How

At the end of June, Pass the Scope EDU educators will descend on the biggest technology conference in the world: ISTE - the International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Antonio, TX. Our missions are as varied as we are.  Here's a short summary of what each us is planning to do. We hope you find it helpful, give us feedback and comments during the live broadcasts and  let us know what you're doing to make #ISTE17 amazing!
Follow us on Twitter, search for the #PasstheScopeEDU hashtag on Twitter and find us on Periscope.
I am thrilled to be teaming up in real life with Toutoule Ntoya who I’ve been collaborating with virtually on Backyard Science and STEM projects for over a year.  We will interview students to amplify their voice and capture their point of view.  My focus, my mission, my quest is to show teachers the point of their investments in project-based, maker-based, inquiry-based, non-traditional, 21st-century teaching methods.  And that point is the students. And, they are amazing. Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/braveneutrino


In addition to interviewing students, Toutoule plans to broadcast his experiences as he explores the influences of technology on students. Implementing technology can be really daunting and if teachers can see the results of taking the dive maybe there will be more tech use in classrooms around the country. The best part is that this "in real life" experience will form the basis for even more conversations as we head back home. Our collaboration at ISTE is the manifestation of the investment in building a PLN grounded in relationships. Our conversations have impacted  our thinking and passion behind technology integration.


This is Derek's first ISTE and he is making it as memorable as possible. He is speaking at the Sunday Ignite session and will be broadcasting interviews with edtech vendors about the newest technologies, software, devices, and applications for the classroom from the ISTE Expo Hall. He also plans to broadcast at Badge Summit and the Participate event on Saturday, the EduMatch Meetup and Global Education Day on Sunday, the Class Dojo meetup, Seesaw Happy Hour and EdTech Karaoke on Tuesday. You may even see some exclusive interviews with ISTE officials as Derek is an ISTE Emerging Edublogger. Should be a blast!


Brian is a 1:1 Technology Learning Coach in North Texas. An ISTE veteran, this will be his first year as an ISTE Review Captain for the BYOD Strand.  Brian will begin broadcasting on Saturday morning at the Badge Summit hosted at the ESC for Region 4. On Sunday, he will set up PTSEDU’s OBS and broadcast from the ISTE Bloggers Cafe to capture the learning and connections being made by the educators, learners and eduRockstars who come by. Monday and Tuesday will include broadcasts from the BYOD sessions approved by his team and broadcasts from the ISTE17 Bloggers Cafe including interviews with special guests from Common Sense Education, Nearpod, Air Squirrel, Microsoft and Flipgrid.
Jacqueline is an Instructional Technologist from Fort Worth, TX, as well as a first-time ISTE attendee. On Tuesday, she will be taking over the “Woman in Technology” Snapchat channel. She'll be interviewing fellow Pass the Scopers via Snapchat, and hopes to gain exposure for the Edu-scope movement by sharing a behind the scenes look.
On Wednesday the 28th, Jacqueline will be broadcasting from the ISTE Leadership Playground. This event focuses on exposing district administration and leaders to innovative educational methods.



Claudio is excited to be attending ISTE for the first time and will be presenting at ISTE Ignite Session on Sunday. He will be interviewing learners and educators as Man In The Street. He also plans to broadcast from the Badge Summit on Saturday, June 24th and from the Flipgrid ambassador dinner Tuesday, June 27th.








This is Dene's first ISTE experience, however, he is not new to San Antonio having served in the United States Air Force and spent time at Lackland AFB before entering education. He plans to broadcast from some of the sessions that he attends and to share his experiences as a new ISTE attendee. Dene is experimenting with using Periscope and the PasstheScopeEDU community to, in sense, manage the incredible volume of information that ISTE has to offer.






Sarah is a fourth-time ISTE attendee and plans to Pass the Scope as much as possible for the #notatiste crew. She will also be involved in a few things during the conference. On Sunday, she will be hosting the third annual Edumatch ISTE meetup, and later will be delivering an ignite immediately before the opening keynote. Monday, she will be participating in a panel discussion about being a Google Certified Innovator. Wednesday, she will be on an ISTE panel about what to do with information learned at the conference, and then will be doing a presentation about Edumatch and Edcamp Voice with the ISTE Global Collaboration PLN.



See. Told You!

That's how we're going to top the last year's worth of Periscope broadcasts that captured the wisdom of educators from all over the United States and Canada, from Buenos Aires to Singapore and more. Broadcasts that addressed edtech integration and social justice. Included teacher voices and student voices. This month, we're taking the show on the road and bringing ISTE to you in your kitchen or wherever you happen to be.
See you soon!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Best Buy Awesomeness

Virtual Reality and Best Buy Education

Virtual reality and Best Buy Education have been a huge part of my instructional technology life this year. My school district began the year working with Best Buy Education to bring Google Expeditions Virtual Field trip kits to every feeder school area. WOW! That means that my instructional technology colleagues and I have worked with every school and hundreds of teachers to deliver standards-based virtual reality lessons to over 7,500 students.

How Did This Happen?

My district has 5 feeder areas and a team of instructional technology facilitators who scheduled, trained, carried and carted five Google Expeditions kits from school to school beginning in September to the last week of school. We tried having our internal courier service pick up and deliver the kits from school to school, but the demand was so great that we found that, to be responsive to our teachers, we needed to deliver the kits ourselves. This maximized the number of days that devices were in the hands of students and teachers. Best Buy even wrote about our District in a Case Study for their website.

Find Out More

Best Buy Education has a booth at #ISTE17 (Booth #2818) and will be demonstrating Google Expeditions, Robo, pi-top and much more.  I'll Periscoping from the Best Buy booth and I hope you'll tune in. The broadcast will go out to the #ISTE17 and the #PassthescopeEDU hashtags.  If I can get my schedule organized I'll try to publish my calendar on line. #fingerscrossed!