Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What Happens When We Give Students a Voice?


It was a historic week for the Tech Sherpas. Thanks to EdTechTeam, four students from central Maine joined me for educational opportunities across Alberta, Canada. The students presented to over 1,000 educators from around Edmonton.


(and won the Demo Slam :)


The week in Alberta, Canada was capped off with an energetic Student Summit at Black Gold Regional School District in LeDuc. One hundred and fifty students coded, animated, modded, taught, learned and and engaged in a learning experience like none other.

The event culminated with a group of little wizards creating a district wide student tech team website. Collaboratively, students researched domain names, designed logos, and built a custom website for their school board with links, resources, and lots of selfies!

The whole thing can be found at www.studentmagic.org



I was amazed at how quickly that one idea, forty-five minutes and thirty amazing students could take the building blocks of a transformational project that will help teachers, give back to the community and ultimately provide a platform for all the students to learn.


So, what are you waiting for - go get started!! Ask the EdTechTeam how you can bring an extraordinary student learning experience like this to your district.




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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Lesson Checklist



Guest Post by Rushton Hurley
 Keynoter for all EdTechTeam Summits




At the Solano Summit (California) in February, I presented a session called, "Making Your School Something Special." A new buddy from that gathering, Dan Shane of the Hanna Boys Center (http://www.hannacenter.org/), challenged me to take the ideas I was presenting about memorable learning and success, and with them provide a checklist that allows a teacher to think through how a lesson rates on the scale I provided.

Here's the scale we discussed:

* powerfully memorable

* generally effective

* weak, but easy

* waste of time

As I see it, we should aim for pushing all of what we do into the top two categories, with the distinction between the middle two being the operative piece. I wasn't working to come up with STHAA (Something That Has An Acronym), but rather to put something together that allows one to tie one's lessons to the success of the school as a whole.

Below are five ideas. I was tempted to include two negatives, but instead I'll separate them out and start with them as the points of departure:
* The activity/lesson isn't simply a reward for good behavior.

* The activity/lesson doesn't simply require people to listen and take notes.


That established, here's my shot at a checklist:



* The activity/lesson prompts students to grapple with related ideas and find connections to other learning.

* The activity/lesson is more about students figuring something out, and less about applying a formula.

* The activity/lesson allows students to use individual talents and creativity to describe and build on their insights with what is taught.

* The activity/lesson involves a level of learning that both teacher and student would agree has meaningfully advanced the student's understanding.

* The activity/lesson has an outcome that would make for a compelling case as to why parents would choose the school for their children.


What do you think? I'm sure I've left off important thoughts, and would welcome your input on what needs to be added to the list or the points of departure.



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.



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Worksheets vs. iPads - The Surprising Truth

Reblogged from Mrs.Wideen's Blog

 Kristen Wideen teaches 2nd Grade in Windsor, Ontario Canada and is an Apple Distinguished Educator



Photo taken by Christine Cousins

Math is Harder When Using an iPad


I do not use a lot of worksheets in my math program.  So much so, that last week, I gave a worksheet during math to my grade 2 students to do and one of my students cheered.  CHEERED! For a worksheet!  I asked the child in my class why she cheered.  I figured that she would have responded with, "I like worksheets."  If she had answered that way, I would have been fine with that. I believe that we all have our own learning preferences and some children enjoy doing worksheets.  However I would never have anticipated what she said to me.  She responded with,

"I like doing worksheets better than using the iPads because I don't have to think as much."  


I was speechless for a second... then I dug deeper and asked her to explain how worksheets are easier.  She responded with,

"On the iPads, I have to show my work, explain my thinking and make sure it is my best work because someone other than you might see it on my blog or on Twitter."  


"Wowza!" (I actually said that out loud to my student) she giggled and I continued thinking about what she had said.

In other words, there are two major reasons (other than they are engaging and fun) to continue using the iPads and social media during math class:

  1. Using the iPads leads to a higher level of understanding because students have to explain their thinking with pictures, numbers, words AND their voice. 
  2.  If you use social media in your classroom like we do, it leads to higher quality work because there is a larger audience that may see the student's work.  
As I continued to think about what my student had said, I thought about the recent math activities that we had done on the iPad.  My student was right.  It typically takes longer to complete a task on the iPad because there are multiple tasks that need to be completed.  We usually do an anchor chart with the learning goals and success criteria for the task.

An example of a finished product Sidhak's Skeleton

An example of a finished product Ryan's Blog

Could I have handed out worksheets for the students on these two math concepts?  Of course.  Would it have taken less time?  Probably.  Do I think they gained a better understanding of the concepts?  Definitely!  I also love using these pieces for assessment purposes.  These two examples were completely done independently and I can go back to their blogs and look at their work whenever I want to.  So can their parents.  A very powerful tool if I do say so myself.

Will I continue to use the iPads and use worksheets on some days?  Of course. In fact, I gave out a worksheet today for my students to complete.  They said, "It was an easy math class today."  Hmmm, maybe I need to give them harder worksheets..

Thanks to Kristen for letting us reblog this amazing story.


For more fun with iPads join us at an iOS Summit in your area.



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.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Google Classroom Gets an Update


Google is making Classroom even more fun and personal by making these fun changes.

1. Say Cheese!
You can now upload your own images to Classroom to use as a unique class theme. Classroom will now help you crop the image and then pick a matching class color. If you don't have a great picture you would like to use, they have added some additional images and patterns to help make your classroom more personalized.

What does this mean for teachers? Make your class more personable by adding a class photo or action shot!

2. Quick Look
Users can now view the About page in the mobile apps (iOS and Android) for easy access to their class materials and resources. 

3. Create Away
Using the iPad App - students can now add images, videos, and any other files to assignments from other apps on the device. 

What does this mean for teachers? Students can make a screen cast on Explain Everything and upload it to turn in as an assignment.

4. Smiley Faces Unite!
  • Go emoji crazy because they are now available on the Android app.

What does this mean for teachers? If you haven't talked to your students about proper use of Emojis you might need to now.

5. Faster Speeds
  • Google made updates that will increase the speed of the app’s performance - making homework even easier to turn in on time :)

As a reminder here is a tutorial on the greatness that is Google Classroom on the iPad


For more fun with iPads join us at an iOS Summit in your area.



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.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Round-up: The Five Best Reads You Might Have Missed


It's not too late to read these popular articles!



What did I learn? Search Google News Archives


Math Apps and Google Drive A Winning Combination


Google Apps Around the World


The How (and Why) It's Time To Create Digital Portfolios


Why Schools Should Teach Technology Not Ban It!





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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Power of Padlet





Padlet is an amazing FREE tool to inspire teachers create a collaborative learning environment on any device. It works much like a digital bulletin board, but it is so much more powerful and FUN.

Starting is easy

1. Go to Padlet.com
2. Sign-up for an account
3. Create a 'Wall' using the tools on the left hand side of the screen.

You can personalize the wall in almost anyway you can imagine. You can also get a personalized webpage address to share with students.




What can you do with the Wall?

1. Pose a question for students to answer
2. Post a writing prompt and let students share their answers - to help each inspire each other.
3. Ask prediction questions
4. Give students a place to share videos, pictures or screencasts.
5. Create a  collaborative brainstorming environment
6. Make a "Parking Lot" for student questions
7. Interactive Maps or Graphics

The possibilities are limitless! 

In the end, Padlet easily allows teachers or students  to create amazing digital artifacts of learning.  It can make student thinking visible, give every student a voice and allows students to show their work.



To get started here is a great tutorial from Lisa Highfill one of the amazing presenters at GAFE Summits.


Don't forget to download the Chrome Extension  and Chrome App to get the most out of Padlet.

Finally, what do you use a Padlet for? Share your ideas on this collaborative Padlet created by  Phillip Cowell a teacher from an International School in Beijing, China.





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.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Beware of the ‘GAFE Summit Hangover’





Guest Blogger:

Jessica Pidkowa
Senior High Social Studies Teacher
Rundle College Senior High





Much like a great night out on the town, the EdTechTeam GAFE Summits are fast paced, full of energy and involve a lot of meeting new people. When you are living in the moment of the Summit, you don’t want to stop! You take it all in during the keynotes and sessions, and you certainly don’t want to miss out on anything. When you get back to your hotel room at night, you feel inclined to create new resources right away, fearing the dreaded ‘use it or lose it’ phenomenon. On top of that, you meet some amazing like-minded individuals so you are arranging to connect with them after the conference to learn more of their tips and tricks! And then you repeat it all the next day…

So this all sounds fantastic, right? Absolutely, and it is. But just beware of what I would call the ‘Google Summit Hangover’. No, it is not alcohol induced, but it does involve the same euphoric feeling followed by becoming rather fuzzy headed.

I experienced my ‘hangover’ on my plane ride back from the Summit. Seated next to a woman who had just attended a conference about neuroscience and the autism spectrum, she saw me feverously jotting my Googly notes and took this happenstance as an intellectual opportunity to discuss educational pedagogy. I could have brought up some of my new ideas for increasing student engagement, discussed methods for differentiation, or ways to provide immediate feedback to students, but unfortunately, my side of the conversation was more along the lines of “At my conference I learned…. um stuff…. Docs…. Forms…. um… interactive…. thingies”. Needless to say, I don’t think I represented myself in the most intellectual light, and not surprisingly, the conversation didn’t last long. Having pushed myself to do it all at the Summit (and I am so glad I did!) the adrenaline rush ended abruptly, resulting in one small side effect of becoming quite empty-headed on the plane ride home.

Fortunately, this side effect was not permanent and the next day I was no longer suffering symptoms of my so-called ‘hangover’. I am now happily applying the wonderful things I learned to my high school classroom. But just a few words of advice for when you are coming home from your next summit: It might be a good idea to plan to watch TV on the plane ride home, perhaps even tuning in to something extremely educational such as The Bachelor.

What's your Summit Hangover Story? Share it with us in a comment..we'd love to hear it.



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.