Tuesday, August 30, 2016

5 Questions to Ask Yourself this Year


Co-Author of @spacethebook
Design Specialist and Science Teacher
Gulliver Schools
Miami, Florida

What is the purpose of your space?

Before you dig into your space and start moving things around or make a purchase list, ask yourself and your students what you want to have happen in the space. What does great learning look like? How can you foster a space that supports that? Once you have a clear idea of the purpose, then you can focus on which "stuff" you will need to make that happen.

What stuff is in your space (and has always been there) that does not really enhance learning?

Is there a poster that you may have placed to cover a bare wall, or a shelf filled with out-dated teaching materials, or a table you might someday need (but do not actually use)? If something fits this description, try removing it. Just for a few weeks. Do you miss it? Bring it back. But you probably will appreciate your newfound space instead.

How are you fostering intra-class collaboration through writable surfaces in your classroom?

Which insights can you gain through asynchronous communication? What does that even mean? Simply, how can first hour's insights and learning contribute to 5th hours? How can morning work of one group enhance the ideas of another? Try capturing this work on writable surfaces and allow others to comment and spring-board off of their ideas. This intra-class collaboration can bring new life to learning and help create a collaborative learning community.

Which senses are affected in 5 different places in your classroom?

Stand in the back and close your eyes, what do you hear ... is there a loud road, air conditioner or ticking clock? What about in the center of your space? What do you see? Is it hard to focus because there is so many posters and information on the walls? Try this sensory exercise around your space. Gain empathy for what your learners are experiencing.

How many choices are you giving students in how and where they work?

The one desk per student is a one-size-fits-all approach. Does one type of working and learning space serve you? Think about your home, is there only one space you sit? Or one space you are able to work? If our learning spaces provide choices then students can move where they are most productive. if we give them space and choice, they will learn when it is time to change, all for the sake of better learning.

Meet the Co-Author!
Twitter: @ideaguy42

Buy The Space: A Guide for Educators Today! Chat with Rebecca and Bob every Tuesday in September at 4pm Pacific on the #edtechbooks hashtag on Twitter!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nat and Lo Demystify YouTube

Molly Schroeder
Director of Summits

At the Flagship California Summit in July,  Nat and Lo from Google came to share their story about how they started their amazing YouTube channel where they get to tell people about all the cool things happening at Google.  

Their YouTube channel at Google is where they demystify the technology in our everyday lives, in the hopes that by doing so, more people can become informed, imaginative participants in technology’s future.

After uploading YouTube videos over this past year, they started to wonder, how does YouTube itself work? So they went to talk with some of the engineers at Youtube, and learned so much we ended up making two episodes.

They’d love for you to check them out, and share if you enjoy the episodes!

Also, they are always researching future episode topics and love to hear people’s ideas and questions about how technology works. Please feel free to email them with any thoughts or questions, or they’re also on Twitter, at @NatAndLo if you’d like to reach out that way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Assessment that Matters


7th Grade English/History Teacher
Technology Leader
Bakersfield City School District

A few weeks ago, a friend complained that his last teaching credential class was “hard to get through.”

“Which class?” I asked.

“Assessment,” he replied.

I shook my head, reached into my school bag, and pulled out Kim Meldrum’s Assessment that Matters: Using Technology to Personalize Learning. “Try this,” I said. “You’ll especially like the feedback and next step suggestions on pages 50-51.”

Assessments that Matter Pic.jpg

Assessment should not be “hard to get through.” Unfortunately, focus on once-a-year assessments of learning can be tedious, boring, and discouraging. Those assessments do more harm than good. ‘Assessments for learning and as learning actually affect students immediately and alter the course of instruction.’

In Assessment that Matters, Meldrum argues that technology as a tool can provide a wealth of information that guides teaching decisions. She provides multiple examples of apps students can use and explains how teachers can gather assessment data from that work. The best part is students become self-editors and revisers as they reflect on their own work. When that work is shared with a larger audience, students work even harder.

Meldrum urges educators to determine what is being assessed. After a student reads a passage, does the teacher want to assess comprehension or writing? Once this has been decided, the teacher should determine which tool best assesses that skill.

One day this summer, I asked students to demonstrate that they understood the attempted use of yellow fever as a biological weapon during the American Civil War. I was not assessing writing, and a couple of students had a difficult time writing their ideas. As such, I  used Meldrum’s suggestion and encouraged the summer school students to use Google Voice Typing to share their new knowledge. A wealth of information materialized when a student complained, “Teacher, the computer isn’t typing what I am saying.”

I watched him voice type and witnessed the error. Next, I had him retell me what he wanted to communicate. When I voice typed what I thought were his words, I had no issues. I then asked him to repeat the sentence while I listened carefully. The student, who unfortunately still read at K/1 reading level in the 7th grade, was not pronouncing the words correctly. This was an aha moment! As Meldrum writes on page 48, oral language is a precursor to reading and writing.

I now knew what to do with this student. I immediately had him practice reading the sentence I voice typed using his retell. He practiced by reading the same sentence multiple times. If the computer correctly typed what he said, he knew he was successful.

Of course, I will share this assessment and learning strategy with his regular teacher. As Meldrum has suggested, I will also encourage the use of screencast apps that will record his progress throughout the semester. This student is just too incredible and inventive to allow him to be assessed as a failure by traditional methods, not when assessment can be used for learning and as learning.

Assessment that Matters pic 2.jpgAssessment, for students and adults alike, should not be “hard to get through.” Nor should assessment be a one shot moment that determines whether a student is a success or failure. ‘Technology as a tool can bring a wealth of knowledge regarding student ability and progress throughout the year.’

So, if you would like to borrow my copy of Assessment that Matters, just let me know. I have sections highlighted and marked with post-its. Or you might just want to get your own copy to mark up and keep in your school bag!

Jennifer Scott has taught at Compton Jr. High School in Bakersfield, California for 16 years. She tweets at @JenTechnology and blogs at mrsjentechnology.blogspot.com

Monday, August 22, 2016

Promethean and EdTechTeam - A deeper partnership to impact education

Director of Technology

If you’ve been to a GAFESummit in the last year, you’ve no doubt seen representatives from ClassFlow, the latest software innovation from edtech leader Promethean, in the sponsor space. We here at EdTechTeam are thrilled to announce that Promethean has decided to become a Diamond Sponsor of our events! If you’re wondering what that means, read on...
In a nutshell, Promethean shares EdTechTeam’s passion for education. They have the leading brand of interactive flat panel displays in the United States, and have won many awards for both their hardware as well as their software. You’ll see some of their hardware this coming year at our events, including their revolutionary ActivPanel, a tablet-like surface for the front of the classroom running the Android operating system.
Their innovation is not limited to hardware, though, as their award-winning ClassFlow platform just got a major upgrade. The new ClassFlow Marketplace is an open community where teachers may buy and sell original teaching resources such as digital lessons, unit plans, assessments, teaching guides, worksheets and more. All teaching resources purchased in the ClassFlow Marketplace can be delivered to students in the classroom, at home, or on-the-go using ClassFlow’s free delivery features.
Next time you’re at one of our events, stop by and say hello to our friends at Promethean. We’re excited for what the next year will bring!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dive into Inquiry! Amplify Learning and Empower Student Voice with Trevor Mackenzie

Trevor Mackenzie
Victoria, BC Canada
Author of Dive into Inquiry
I am so excited to share with you all a project I am tremendously proud of: Dive into Inquiry.  

Over my years as a teacher I’ve learned an incredible amount as I’ve taken on a more personalized approach to educating our youth.  I’ve seen the enormous benefit of flipping control over learning in the classroom and fostering student agency in our curriculum.  I’ve gained an appreciation for my colleagues and their specific teaching areas as I’ve collaborated with teachers to co-plan and co-teach in an inquiry model.  And I’ve made mistakes, ones that have helped me reflect, revise, and refine what inquiry looks like in my practice.
Types of Student Inquiry.jpg

Dive into Inquiry brings this all together in one inspiring resource to help readers make inquiry their own and help amplify learning in their classroom and empower student voice.
Dive into Inquiry provides a structure that prepares learners for the transition from traditional teaching models to the inquiry classroom, a structure that begins with building strong relationships with our students through a gradual release of control over learning from the teacher to the student.  The book is full of detailed lessons that will help educators create the inquiry atmosphere our students require.  I share accounts of student learning that will deepen understanding of inquiry and help clarify my proposed structure.  Included in the book are illustrations to use in the classroom to assist learners in their own understanding of inquiry.  Readers will be inspired to make inquiry their own whether they are new to the inquiry pool or confident in all Types of Student Inquiry.
The book is jam-packed with passionate narrative, clear examples and lessons, inspiring student stories, and supportive processes.  Readers will finish the book feeling  well prepared to make inquiry work for their learners in a manner that is low risk and high reward.

Dive into Inquiry 3D Cover.jpg
Transform learning and get your copy today!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Enter the #squadgoals Challenge

We invite you all to join us for our #squadgoals challenge for the next month! We know for many of you this is a time where you're meeting with your staff and colleagues to make big plans for the year. We also know that learning is always #bettertogether! We gathered stories of #gafesummit attendees who brought their squads recently to a summit to celebrate the power of learning together. To enter, simply tweet @edtechteam a picture of you and your squad, share what your goals are this year for your school or district together, and include the #squadgoals hashtag! We'll share them all and give away bundles of 2 tickets to a #gafesummit or #edtechteamonline course! The challenge ends September 15th. Read our #squadgoals below and cheer on each other as you move towards them.

Principal, Ranchos Middle School
Fresno, CA

I feel blessed and fortunate to have had the opportunity to take a team of educators with me to the GAFE Summit in Mountain View. Since the day I arrived at Ranchos Middle School, I have been a part of an environment that embraces collaboration and seeks what is best for our students. This past spring our District made the commitment to purchase Chromebooks for my site and we began to explore professional development for our staff. As we dug deeper several of my teachers came across the EdTechTeam via Twitter and we began to discuss taking a team to the GAFE Summit.

The summit was, simply put, an incredible learning experience. Our staff was excited and eager to participate in the workshops and activities available to them.  It was such a unique opportunity to go back to the hotel and work collaboratively on the lessons we learned that day. I was nervous since I was not “the” expert, but I was excited to be a member on the team, learning and working together. The experience was priceless as the team bonded in a way that is difficult to describe. Teachers are back at school visiting each other's rooms to see how others are setting up the workstations.  Grading policies are being revised and adjusted to reflect learning outcomes instead of just using points.  As a group we even decided to participate in the Bootcamp trainings for level 1 and level 2 GCE certification.  

Our #squadgoal is to make sure we are all Google certified as a staff and that we can provide our students with a transformed educational experience.

I would advise fellow administrators to take a team with them to a GAFE Summit. Dream big and take the entire staff if you can. If not, then you need to empower several key members of your staff to take the lead. In my experience, staff feels less threatened when it is one of their own who provides some initial PD in the area of tech. You will have the dual benefit of having an assistant tech coach on site (follow @theteachingjedi on Twitter if you want to see a teacher who took on this role) and your staff will have someone they know and trust to talk with privately about tech. Creating a positive culture where everyone feels that they are #BetterTogether is our #squadgoals for the year. The best part is that the GAFE Summit was just the beginning; now we will all get to experience the journey together.

Over the past two years while I was principal of Fairfield High School we had a vision to get 100% of our staff to attend a GAFE Summit. The reason behind that was to build capacity within our teachers and ensure that they were equipped with the tools necessary to have a purposeful integration of technology.

Administrative Assistant, BlueSky Online School

BlueSky is the oldest completely online program in the state of Minnesota.  We are always trying to get ahead of the game on new technology and more importantly, finding new technology that will benefit our students, parents, and staff.  

You could say that our #squadgoal is to build a stronger and more innovative squad.

We try to send different members of our staff to different Ed conferences throughout the year and this is our second year sending a team to the #gafesummit in Fergus Falls.  Our team included one of our IT systems analysts, two language arts teachers, a special education teacher, an office support person, and a counselor.  I think it is important to send staff from different areas to PD events because it lets the ideas spread more easily when they report back to the entire group.  Our IT analysts have specific take-aways that they are focusing on that our teachers aren’t going to value or be able to relay.  Teachers from different content areas could sit in the same session on Google Forms and Sheets and come away with a completely different list of ideas on uses and features they want to explore.

Another good reason to send a team to any event and especially a #gafesummit (there are many around the country!), is that your staff has a fun time.  Sure, it’s a lot of information to take in in only a few day time span.  It can get a little overwhelming at thinking of how to implement so many new ideas.  But your squad is there right along with you.  You can form bonds with staff members you don’t usually spend time with.  You get to work together on filling out Bingo cards to win a prize or think your way out of a BreakoutEdu box.  

Director, Secondary Education FSUSD
Fairfield, CA

The first year we sent a cohort of teachers to a summer summit and then a second summit hosted by one of our other district high schools in November.  Teachers came back pumped and excited about what they had learned and began to share and collaborate without prompting. By our second year, we were in year one of a district wide 1:1 Chromebook deployment beginning with 9th graders.

At FHS we committed to sending all of our 9th grade teachers to a GAFE summit. We wanted to ensure that the teachers that were working with the students that were now in a 1:1 environment were equipped with the tools and strategies to fundamentally understand how to augment and redefine their lessons by integrating technology. By the end of the second year we were proud to say that we had over half of our staff attend a GAFE summit. The momentum that was built from those that had attended was infectious. We began to hold mini #techslams at our staff meetings, held our own version of an #edcamp, engaged in Twitter challenges, created a #Pineapple room for collaboration,  and saw over 90% of the staff implement Google Classroom. Our site was lucky to have additional support from our Ed Tech that would meet regularly with the teaching staff to support them with the GAFE suite and helped to motivate and push the teaching staff to try new tools and feel safe in those new ventures. Our site was poised to develop a very focused educational technology vision:

At FHS we see that educational technology will be a quintessential and indispensable part of the teaching and learning process; teachers will use edtech as facilitators of learning relevant to the students’ lives, and students will use edtech to become empowered, self-directed learners who realize their potential to impact their community and the wider world.

This school year I am now in a new position as the Director of Secondary Education for FSUSD. I am now working with each of the high schools and middle schools to continue the same efforts that were begun at Fairfield High. I am committed to making it a reality that all of our FSUSD teachers attend a GAFE Summit, all sites implement professional development around the SAMR model and depth of knowledge, and ensure that each site follows their educational technology vision.