Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One Screen of ChromeApps Perfect for the Classroom

By Holly Clark
As educators, we hear a lot about apps!
Sometimes we spend countless hours going through them to find the best ones. I propose we try something different.
Instead, it’s time that we look at apps to find those that help us gain a better look into student thinking and understanding. I have created a list of my favorite apps that purposefully achieve this goal. There are of course more apps than these that create informative artifacts of learning, but I like to keep the list simple and concise so that teachers and students only have to learn a few apps  -and can focus on content not on learning new platforms.
The following list will help make student thinking visible not only to the teacher – but hopefully to the world.
Each app is linked – have fun exploring them.

To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching. 

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.

Monday, November 3, 2014

5 Places to Discover Great Videos

I love me some good educational video.  With more than 72 hours of new content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, finding great videos to use in class is a daunting task.  Here are the resources I use for finding great videos. 
As always, remember to watch every minute of the video you plan on showing in class!  

1. Devour is a website where they curate a handful of videos every day. Not all the videos shared here are educational.  I like to drop by the site a few times a week to see if something catches my attention. 

2. The Kids Should See This is the creation of a mom and her two kids. The blog site features great videos that you (and your kids!) should see.  The curation skills here are top notch

3. ShowYou is the Swiss Army Knife of video aggregator tools, pulling in videos from all over the web. The best feature is that you can add your Twitter and Facebook accounts and quickly see all the videos people in your PLN are sharing.

4. Vimeo Staff Picks is a great place to discover high quality, usually artistic videos. The staff frequently feature animated shorts created by students in digital arts schools. These videos are perfect or language arts classes. 

5. YouTube Trends is the official YouTube blog where Googlers discuss the latest video trends around the world.  It's a fantastic place to get the story behind a viral video or the latest internet meme. 

I hope to see you at the next EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google Apps for Education in your area. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Science Resources - Free for EdTechTeam Friends

BirdBrain Science is an online personalized science curriculum.  The company is making their product free to all friends of EdTechTeam! 

One size does not fit all when it comes to teaching science.  More and more, we hear talk about "personalized education" and the need to meet every learner where they are. I think we can agree that’s a great idea, however, as a teacher trying to accommodate the learning needs of 20-100 students on any given day, preparing one high quality lesson is challenging enough.  Thankfully, an awesome new site is here to help science teachers differentiate the content for the different readers in their classroom.

With BirdBrain Science, every student is able to access science content at their instructional reading level, ensuring that every student is able to fully participate in the lesson (and increase their reading ability at the same time.) Think adaptive, personalized science texts for each of your students!

The company was started by Brendan Finch, a former Los Angeles science teacher. Brendan left the classroom in June in order to reinvent science education. Brendan has graciously agreed to provide free access to any friend of EdTechTeam for the rest of the academic year though this special page.  Be sure to forward this along to the science teachers in your life, it'll make their day!

I even hear a rumor that they plan on moving into history next….

Hopefully I’ll see you at the next EdTechTeam event! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

How (and Why) to Create Interactive YouTube Videos

Last week I had the opportunity to work with some awesome teachers in Hudson Valley, New York as well as Suffolk, Virginia. It's awesome to see teachers excited about professional development and leave with an eagerness to get back in the classroom to try something new!

As we begin to understand the strengths and limitations of online and video instruction, it is important that teachers are equipped with the skills necessary to create their own high quality educational videos. A transition to digital classroom models should not mean a reduced role for the teacher. By leveraging digital tools, teachers can augment their role and extend their instructional voices beyond the classroom walls.

Here are ways you can use interactive YouTube videos:

1. Create interactive books: In this video I've taken the traditional read aloud and broken it into four separate videos. When the student arrives at the end of the first segment they are required to make a make a decision. Once they select their answer, the second video in the playlist will load.

2. Curate great resources: With iPads and smartphones, the days of a list of blue links are limited. In this video I've linked off to four other videos that help students learn about types of chemical reactions.

3. Review critical questions:  In this video I've taken a single exam question and turned it into an interactive experience for the students. Anytime they get the answer incorrect, there will be a video of me explaining why it's incorrect before they try again. The entire experience is four videos.

Here is a video tutorial on creating interactive YouTube videos:

I hope to see you at the next EdTechTeam summit featuring Google Apps for EDU, iOS, or Future Ready! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

#GafeSummit - Not Your Dad's PD

There is a lot of buzz around #gafesummits. People are talking about them from coast to coast even in countries where you might not expect to hear about schools using Google Apps for Education. There is something special about these two-day events and a lot of teachers find them the perfect combination of pedagogy and fun!

What is all the talk about?
In the simplest terms - it’s about mind-blowing learning that happens over two days at various school-based summits around the world.

These two day events are packed with activities strategically set-up to get participants moving, networking and taking ownership of their learning.

Participants begin by fueling up with brain-powered snacks at the breakfast spread, and then mozie over to the photobooth where they can get their creative juices flowing by mixing and matching props to take the perfect google-inspired photo.

Summits begin with keynotes that center around cutting edge ideas like “Living in Beta” or “Future Ready Schools” strategically chosen to set a motivational tone for a days worth of inspired learning.

After the keynote we are all off to four different sessions throughout the day, where participants can learn how to use a tool, delve into the pedagogy behind technology integration or wander into a session that looks into innovative ideas like design thinking or empathy in the classroom or moonshot thinking - an idea inspired by Google.

Roni Habib packs two rooms at the Marin Summit as he discussed the idea Mindfulness and Happiness in the Classroom.

In addition to the peppering of innovative sessions, there are sessions based on iOS, Android and ideas like Digital Portfolios and Digital Citizenship offered by known experts in those areas.

What Sets EdTechTeam Summits Apart From Others?

Chris Bell, COO of EdTechTeam, boasts: “We have compiled a group of world class presenters” that make up over 50% of the sessions to ensure the highest quality sessions around. Mix in a great combination of local talent and participants walk away with their minds blown and inspired to make real change in their classrooms. EdTechTeam makes sure that there is a list of experts and innovation specialist to help lead teachers down the pathways of impactful integration.

Between sessions there is a break that allows for networking, sharing of ideas, the chance to pick the brain of a favorite presenter, and the creation of relationships that often lead to life-long friendships.

With over 50 Summits in the works for next year, including iOS Summits - there is sure to be an event near you! Come for the learning but stay for the fun. Follow the hashtag #gafesummits until you can attend a summit or become a summit groupie like many people I know.

See what the Marin News has to say about GAFE Summits!

To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Dung Ball - Progress Through Failure

This weekend I had the opportunity to speak with teachers in Frederick Maryland and Manchester Connecticut.  I love doing these talks. It's an incredible rush to know that because of your message a teacher is ready to put him or herself out there and try something new in the classroom. Maybe it's finding an alternative to a worksheet they've used for ten years, or creating a video so that students can access the material at home. 
The topic of failure is often preached at our events, and there are fantastic examples of people who have taken a risk and it hasn't worked out.  However, that doesn't make it any easier. Anytime I fail I get incredibly nervous and fear what others may think.  So much so that I will begin thinking of ways to frame the mistake so that it lessens the blow.   What I've began doing, however, is start with the cold hard truth. I made a mistake. This didn't work. In other words, I failed. 
When I was in the classroom, I had times where my test scores were lower than they were supposed to be.  I've forgotten critical deadlines that led to missed opportunities. I've empowered students to publish online, only later discovering that what they posted was very inappropriate and potentially damaging to the school's reputation. 
I now believe that those failures helped me discover who I am. Every time a mistake happens, we are forced to look in the mirror and realize that we're not as good as we would like to be. Over time, we begin amassing a huge collection of mistakes, or as I call it, a dung ball.  This ball of "*@*@" is who we are, and it motivates us to be better next time; to continue searching for the correct path forward. 
Don't try to hide your dung ball. Own it. It's who you are. You will be surprised how relieving it is to know that even the worst about us is out in the open. There's something to be said about not giving others the chance to hold something against you. Because you're so up front with pointing out your failures it can no longer sit in the back of your mind and keep you for taking the next big risk. 
I hope to see you at the next EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google Apps for Education in your area. 

Empowered Teaching: A Gift to Yourself

Heritage High School
Denver, Colorado

I used to believe that my birthday was a special event that warranted a full month of festivities and fun. Even though I am not quite as selfish as I used to be, I did give myself the best present I could give myself: a weekend around empowered teachers. I just spent my birthday attending the Colorado GAFE Summit in Boulder. 

Molly Schroeder made it clear in her keynote that just by being at the conference we are empowered teachers. We may not always feel it. We may feel that we are just getting started. We may have lots of hoops and bureaucratic red-tape to get through. We may not have the devices we want. We may not have the support we want. 

But what we do have is a community of teachers trying to make education better tomorrow than it was today. 

It’s not always about getting what you want or getting the newest devices in your students’ hands. It’s about doing what is best for students. 

So, what is best for students? 

You know. You’re a teacher. That is why you do what you do. 

If you still aren’t quite sure what you should do, here are a few suggestions:

Fail loudly: one of the things that many of our students never hear is that it is okay to fail. When you try new things as a teacher and they don’t work, let your students know that you tried and failed. Being a teacher doesn’t make you infallible or invincible. It gives you a platform to share your failures (but also share your successes). 

Live in Beta: This builds off of the first piece suggestion, but by trying new things and taking risks, you are admitting that what you have always done isn’t necessarily the best. With changes in students, we should have changes in instruction. Take a risk, try something new, live a little. 

Attend a GAFE Summit (or any other conference that would surround yourself with like-minded people): One of the best things that I could have done in my first semester of teaching was to attend my first EdCamp. I had no idea what it was, but I walked away thinking, there is something better out there for our students, and I want to be a part of that. Become that empowered teacher

After attending the Colorado GAFE Summit, I realized this: no matter where the education spectrum shifts or whatever referendums are passed down,  there are so many educators ready to fail loudly, live in beta mode, and to do what is best for students. I want to be a part that. 

That weekend was one of the best presents that I could have given myself because I know that I am a part of that. I am an empowered teacher.