Monday, October 31, 2016

Apple Teacher: The World is Your Oyster

As a former teacher, I get jealous when I hear success stories from classrooms around the world. If only Apple Teacher was around years ago! As an educator, I would definitely take advantage of the Facebook Community, use the #appleteacher hashtag, delve into the trove of resources offered, and investigate professional learning opportunities for Mac and iPad.

You are so lucky. The world is your oyster. 

One tip that will help you on your road to innovation is checking out the Apple Education iBook resource guides. One, in particular, that I’m loving right now is Fostering Creativity with iPad. It’s a free multi-touch iBook that leads you through a three step inquiry-based process designed to leverage the core iPad apps. 
Join our chat this Wednesday at 5pm Pacific on Twitter's #AppleTeacher hashtag to discuss Fostering Creativity with iPad!

Have you ever explored or brainstormed collaboratively with your students by using Notes or iCloud? Results are amazing when you have students sketch a graphic organizer or document their critical questions, whether they’re scattered around the classroom or on an autumn leaf hunting expedition. 

As it turns out, iPads are fantastic tools for gathering information and reflecting, too. Make your students documentarians of their learning. Have them use the camera to document everything as they create a visual archive of their learning journey. Have them take photos, record self-reflections, research and more!

Finally, have your students synthesize and articulate their learning by turning all those digital artifacts they created (notes, sketches, annotations, photos, visuals and movies) to tell their story. Have them use Book Creator to construct, create and showcase their learning. Worried about workflow? Have them export their multimedia books as ePubs, turn them in via AirDrop, and then their audience can view their work with iBooks. The digital workflow couldn't be easier. 

iPads allow students to be the architects of their learning. Be smart, check out all the resource guides in the Apple Teacher Learning Center to learn more about the steps highlighted here. Feel like you’re innovating in isolation? Go deeper with Apple Distinguished Educators and connect with a broader community at a local workshop, conference or online course featuring Apple Teacher with EdTechTeam. Check out all our offerings here!

Friday, October 28, 2016

We Have a Winner! Student Summit Grant

Kern Kelley
Director of Student Agency
Author of "Google Apps Guidebook"

Want to apply for your very own Student Summit Grant? We will be taking applications for the next Student Summit Grant in January! Find out how HERE!

Student Summits are immersive educational events for and with students of all ages. During a Summit, students work with world class educators learning to how to utilize technology in the classroom. Scheduled for a full day or entire week, Students Summits expose students and teachers to educational technology experiences. Summits are customized to match the needs of the students. Possible strands include Google Apps for Education or STEAM focused sessions. These topics are flexible and interchanged depending on the audience. This is the second Grant giveaway Student Summit, and we've done 8 to date.

Below is an excerpt from our Student Summit Grant winner, Luann Hughes, Technology Director of Temple Independent School District and her winning entry.

Temple High School has been the pride of Temple since 1928.  The 175 classrooms at THS serve approximately 1900 students and 150 teachers. Temple High School has been an International Baccalaureate School 1992 and is currently one of 48 IB authorized high schools in Texas. In addition to a strong academic program, THS is the home for strong athletic and fine arts programs. Temple Wildcat Football has been in state playoffs for the past 2 years. The theater, band, and choir programs regularly earn both individual and department awards.

In 2014-15, Temple High School received six out of seven distinctions, ranking it 2nd out of 40 peer schools in its TEA (Texas Education Agency) comparison group, earning distinctions for achievement in math, reading, science, social studies, post-secondary readiness and top 25% for closing the achievement gap.

Temple High School is a 1:1 Chromebook campus. Students keep the same Chromebook throughout their high school career, and when they graduate they are able to take the Chromebook with them to college or work. Temple High School students have presented their technology model in many ways. Several districts have visited Temple High School to learn more about the model. Students in the STIR (Student Technology Integration and Repair) program have presented to the State of Texas Senate and House of Representative education committees, at the TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) conference, for Houston ISD’s technology department, and for various local organizations and clubs.

The Impact of Technology on Teaching and Learning

Temple Independent School District’s student technology initiative is focused on using technology as a tool to facilitate higher order thinking. This no more apparent than at Temple High School. The 1:1 Chromebook to student initiative that started in 2013 has brought teaching and learning to a new level. Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks, and digital resources such as Schoology and online textbooks have given students ownership over the time and space of their learning. THS teachers are exploring blended learning models such as Flipped Learning to maximize the power of the technology.

There were also some unexpected benefits. The student technology initiative has increased parent and community involvement. Many parents have attended training in order learn how to utilize the technology to help their children. Community leadership groups have asked for students for assistance in creating their websites and for guidance in developing their social media presence. The STIR (Student Technology Integration and Repair) program has empowered students to assist, train, and support other students and teachers.

This story tells it best: a senior who came by the Tech Spot, not because she needed help or a repair, but because she wanted to say how much she loved her device. She said she never thought that she would ever go to college, but, since getting the Chromebook, she had gained the confidence and skills that made her want to try.

From the WINNER:

Luann Hughes
Technology Director
Temple ISD

Temple High School is a very special place - I am a 3rd generation Wildcat and my children are both 4th generation Wildcats. As the technology director for the district, it thrills me to see how the 1:1 Chromebook initiative has changed the campus. Technology has become the tool that it should be in learning, but more importantly, it has given student ownership of their learning both in and outside of school. The Student Summit grant was a natural fit. We have a strong STIR (Student Technology Integration and Repair) program where student leaders support students and teachers with hardware, training, and applications. In addition, THS is one of 20 districts in Texas that is a part of the Raising Blended Learners pilot. This pilot has allowed us to focus on student-driven learning using technology as a catalyst.  We look forward to selecting 100 students to participate the January summit. We know that student will benefit greatly from the sessions and working with world-class trainers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

To the Moon and Beyond: San Diego Summit 2016

Valerie Ruiz
Special Education Teacher
Sweetwater Union High School District

I almost didn't come to the GAFE Summit. I was filled with anxiety as I drove over the Coronado Bridge. I didn't know one person who was going to be there and I find technology to be scary. However, I thought of my main goal for this year and it is to face my fears.  See, I'm turning 40 in May of 2017 and I realized fear held me back from a lot of things; however, THIS year I was going to conquer them. In July, I conquered my fear of swimming in the open water and completed my first triathlon. But, I was putting off my fear of failing in the classroom. I heard about the GAFE Summit after I participated in EdCamp619 and I realized this was how I was going to face my fear.

After being home for four hours, I've added an extension to my Chrome Browser (albeit be Bitmoji), used Google Drawing, completed a Pear Deck for Thursday's PD, created Twitter Bingo so I can encourage others to use it all while listening to Google Play. I've been researching how to get all those cool Google Badges and how to participate in EdTechTeam Online Classes.  I will earn those certificates and present at a GAFE Summit because, like Jeffery Heil and Google's Moonshot Thinking, I need to be 10x better.  I was at ground zero on Saturday Morning and now I'm shooting for the moon. Thank you for a wonderful experience and I look forward to growing with you.

Update: It has been a week since I attended the GAFE Summit.  Since then, I presented at a district wide PD about my fear of technology and my take-aways from the summit. My thoughts were published in the district Sweetwater Learns Blog as well as being asked to present at another PD. Professionally, It has been an exciting week for me.  Also, personally, I finally feel comfortable with failing. I now know that this is where true learning begins.

Valerie Ruiz attended The San Diego Summit 2016 Oct. 8th-9th. She has been a special education teacher in the Sweetwater Union High School District for the past 17 years. Currently, Mrs. Ruiz is part of the Special Education Academic Support Team at Special Services. Follow her on Twitter @mrsvruiz.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Unity is Power (اتَّكَلْنا منه على خُصٍّ الاتحاد قوة)- Building Bridges through Professional Development in Morocco

Holly Clark
Educational Strategist and
Head of Publishing

Ken Shelton
Global Keynote Specialist
Technology Integration Strategist

Helping teachers reimagine the classroom is what we at EdTechTeam do. This transformation is not limited to the United States. Last week Ken Shelton and Holly Clark got the chance to visit the Rabat American School in Rabat, Morocco. They traveled across three continents to spend time with, and provide professional development to, an inspired school - an institution looking to ramp up teaching and learning for the 2016-2017 school year.

Off the beaten track, and nearly two hours from Casablanca, Ken and Holly trekked their way across the ocean to deliver a purposeful professional development experience centered around Google for Education and effective iPad Integration.

They took up residence in an area called the Rabat Medina. The Medina is characterized by narrow and maze-like streets within the old city walls of a traditional Muslim neighborhood. Each day a driver took them to the school, where they were met by teachers both effective in technology integration, and those hoping to gain better insight in how it could change learning in their classrooms.

During the two day event, Holly helped primary teachers take a closer look at some effective and innovative practices around using iPads in the classroom. Her inspiration was based on the book “Innovate with the iPad” by Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen. Teachers learned how to use five simple apps to change the way they deliver instruction, and to incorporate these apps to more effectively capture rich information about student learning and growth.

Ken took his group of teachers on a Google adventure, showing both beginner and advanced groups as well as the school administrative staff how they could use G Suite to increase their effectiveness. Ken’s group work included leveraging apps across all school disciplines, in addition to working within learning environments that incorporated multiple apps (forms and maps, mail and calendar, docs and youtube) to provide transformative learning opportunities for students. One teacher even shared, “This has been a career changing experience for me.”

Ken and Holly hope to get more teachers and students in Rabat connected to the EdTechTeam community so that students across the world will be provided opportunities to collaborate with the amazing teachers at the Rabat American School.

In the end, the lost luggage, the countless hours on a plane and the time zone differences were nothing compared to the relationships formed and bridges built between two cultures of people to accomplish one goal: to reimagine education.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Casting the Learning

Meagan Kelly
Math and AVID Teacher
Team Technology Leader
Hesperia, CA
Twitter: @meagan_e_kelly

Why Google Cast?
During the previous school year, our district offered all teachers the opportunity to apply for a $1,000 “imagination” grant. The grant would be awarded to teachers who wanted to purchase supplies that would promote 21st century skills and the 4 C’s (creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking) within their classroom.  The premise of the grant was very open and, after some discussion with my administrator and other teachers, I decided to write my grant towards purchasing two flat screen TV’s and two Chromecasts. Without a doubt, this purchase has had a great impact upon my students and our ability to demonstrate 21st century skills and the 4 C’s within our classroom.
As the TV’s were installed in our classroom, I reminded myself that the TV’s were not for myself, but for the students.  I started brainstorming ways in which my students could use the TV’s to promote these 21st century skills. The last thing that I wanted these TV’s to become was an extension of my projector.  After all, if I simply used the TV’s as an extension of the projector, it would only be a “teacher” driven device and not  “student” driven device. Through this thought process, I found that there were several ways that I could use the TV’s and Chromecasts in our classroom to engage students and increase collaboration and communication.

Easily & Quickly Share Information
On a very simple level, Google Cast has allowed my students to easily share information with their group while they are working on various activities.  Within our classroom, the students regularly participate in group work or inquiry-based tutorials.  When they are participating in these groups, the students will often cast the assignment to the TV to show the students the problem or activity in which they are working.  The students no longer need to huddle around one Chromebook to see the problem or navigate to the same assignment or webpage.  Instead, the student can share the information by casting it to the screen for all students to view.

Ability to Restructure the Classroom Set Up
When looking at pictures of our classroom, you can tell that the classroom doesn’t really have a “front” or “back” of the classroom.  I designed our classroom in a way that promotes blended learning, student-led discussions and inquiry, and a teacher facilitated environment.  To start, our classroom our walls are filled with whiteboards so students can work on assignments and tutorials, as well as brainstorm and organize projects.  Students love to use the whiteboards!  Even though it is a bit “old school”, the use of the whiteboards greatly supports inquiry, collaboration, and communication within our classroom.

Initially, the only downside of this setup was that three of the table groups would have to move their chairs anytime that I wanted to display information to the class from the projector.  Although this was a minor inconvenience, the constant shuffle of the classroom limited my ability to quickly share information with students.  Once the TV’s were installed, I suddenly had three ways to share information: the projector and two TV’s.  I could share the same information across all three TV’s, or I could use the projector and the Chromecast to display different information across all three platforms.  The students no longer needed to move their chairs or tables to have access to the information being projected, but they could see it from any point within the classroom.

Increase Collaboration during PBL
Throughout the last year, my students have completed a variety of project-based learning lessons.  Some of the projects include creating a statistical research survey, creating financial plans, building cities from geometric shapes, and investing virtual money within the stock market.  While working on these projects, the students will regularly use the TV’s to collaborate on the product that they are creating.
As an example, when the students were building their cities from geometric shapes, they often struggled to understand some of the vocabulary, such as a “dodecagon”.  The students would search the word on Google and cast the shape onto the TV to share with their group. In addition to this, the students were also able to search for projects that had been completed by students across the country.  The students would cast the examples to the TV, which inspired them when building their cities.
Most recently, the students were tasked with creating a video to introduce their stock market project and the companies in which they had invested.  Since we do not have the paid version of the software, the students were unable to share their video and work on it simultaneously.  By using the TV’s and Chromecasts, a couple of the groups were able to cast their video on the TV’s and easily work on the video as a group.

The Results - It’s Great!
The students LOVE using the TV’s and Chromecasts.  It has greatly increased collaboration and communication within our classroom, but it has also increased student engagement which, ultimately, increases student achievement.  I’ve been able to restructure our classroom into a more “student-centered” environment, rather than “teacher-centered”.  Although it is a simple tool, Google Cast can be used in ways that engage students in their content classes, while promoting the 21st century skills that they will need to be successful in the future.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Highlights from Tri-Association Conference 2016

This year Monica Martinez and Dominique Dynes represented
EdTechTeam at the annual Tri-Association Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico This conference brings together more than 700 people from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the location changes each year. As EdTechTeam, we were able to share four different workshops on Google tools and tips for the classroom. It was fun connecting with old friends and meeting new ones over the three days of learning.

One of morning keynotes, like Jennie Magiera, from Tri-Association Conference
Not only did we spend time in workshops, listening to keynotes and networking with other educators, we also were able to experience “Una Noche Mexicana.” This special evening included dinner at a World Heritage site “El Hospicio Cabañas” with a private concert from world renown lead singer “Fher” from Mana, a traditional mariachi group and an incredible laser light show outside the building to wrap up the night. It was a wonderful experience to be involved in the 2016 Tri-Conference. We’ve included a link to the photo album for the event with a few photo highlights.

Our private concert from Mana in Hospicio Cabañas
Dominique, Monica, Jennie Magiera and David Jakes

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

EdTechTeam: An Apple Professional Learning Provider

EdTechTeam is proud to become an Apple Professional Learning Provider. With a track record of producing conference-style iOS Summits and custom workshops featuring Apple products in education, EdTechTeam builds on their success to offer unique professional learning opportunities in support of the Apple Teacher Program - a new professional learning program designed to celebrate educators and help them make the most of Mac, iPad and built-in apps to Enhance student learning.

EdTechTeam offers a four-week online course for those pursuing Apple Teacher Recognition independently, a full-day workshop for those who want face-to-face support, and a conference for motivating larger communities of educators. Custom solutions are also available to meet the specific needs of a school or district. In addition, the EdTechTeam Community for Apple Teachers is free and open to all educators wanting to learn more about innovative best practices using iPad, Mac and Apple apps for teaching and learning. Learn More ...

About EdTechTeam

EdTechTeam is a global network of education technologists dedicated to inspiring and empowering educators. With 30 full-time employees and over 200 contractors, EdTechTeam provides professional learning services for over 50 thousand educators per year in about two dozen countries. The founders, as well as almost all employees and contractors, are former or practicing teachers and school leaders. Many of them are Apple Distinguished Educators, and others are exemplary Apple Teachers - among the first to earn recognition through the program.

EdTechTeam is best known for producing an annual series of conference-style summits. The team also provides popular workshop-style bootcamps that help teachers earn a variety of certifications. The EdTechTeam Online program offers moderated courses as well as self-paced programs for individuals. In addition, EdTechTeam's Teaching and Learning Division provides a broad selection of custom services directly to schools and districts, including workshops, consulting, and support for change initiatives. School change is never easy, so EdTechTeam encourages a holistic approach focusing on Courageous Leadership, Empowered Teachers, Student Agency, Inspiring Spaces, Engaged Community, and Robust Infrastructure.

Launched in late June 2016, EdTechTeam Press now offers 12 titles and has sold over ten thousand books in the three months since the program launched. EdTechTeam also hosts a widely read blog, and an active online community with over ten thousand members. Also, launched by EdTechTeam 2015, Breakout EDU is now an independent company with another prolific community of about ten thousand members.

A California Benefit Corporation, EdTechTeam donates a percentage of net revenue to a grant initiative that puts devices into the hands of students, and that provides free training to students and their teachers. EdTechTeam also offers free or reduced-price tickets in economically depressed regions and emerging markets so that the people who need it most can also benefit from the learning technologies of today. EdTechTeam encourages educators to "dream out loud" and "be architects of what's possible" in order to create a better future for the students of the world.

Learn More ...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Redesigning the Learning Space


Laurie Guyon
Integration Specialist
Schuylerville Central Schools
Schuylerville, NY
Twitter: @guyonsmile

Have you ever noticed the differences between a kindergarten classroom and a high school math classroom? It’s not just about the height of the chairs, the volume of the students in the space, or the energy level. It’s the visual stimuli that can be the most remarkable variation. Why is it that every surface is covered in one classroom, yet sparsely filled in another? In the book The Space - A Guide for Educators Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon discuss how we can find the right balance to make our learning spaces engaging, visually stimulating, student centered, and collaborative.  

Right from the first chapter, the authors point out that we spend time thinking about what we teach, but not as much on where we are teaching. The last few weeks of summer, teachers are in their classroom decorating with freshly bought borders, alphabets, and charts that are hung up, but do we think about the purpose of them?  According to the book “we’re designers, whether we intend to be or not.” Hare and Dillon ask us to ‘think with intention’. What is the space designed for? Who will be in the space? What is the purpose of each nook and cranny? How can we create an environment that doesn’t overwhelm, but instead engages students?

One of the big ‘aha’ moments for me in the book was the comment about when we tend to create our spaces. When a teacher designs the space, we typically do it ahead of school, before, and after school to meet the purpose of the instruction. What the book discusses is that students should be co-designers in setting up the space. Why not have students tell you how they learn best? The book has graphics on student engagement in this process and explain how to keep it ‘BETA’ so if something isn’t working, it can be redesigned. It also emphasizes ‘quiet’ areas to help students who need the noise, both visual and audio, to be minimized at times. The book is rich with photos of creative spaces in action that can be done on any budget. Following #edtechbooks and @Spacethebook will help expand what is learned in the book as people implement the designs taught.  

The book is set-up to allow for writing in the margins and with graphics that help in the planning of a better, more collaborative learning space. It helps you realize the purpose of your learning space. I used the book while planning my new learning space, for my new position this year. I am fortunate to work in a school district that strongly supports the redesign for collaboration. As an integration specialist, I’ll be training teachers on the latest trends in technology and teaching practices to use in their classroom. This book helped the space transform into something that allows for creative thought, collaboration, and comfortable learning. While my classroom is mid-transformation, the teachers that have trained in this new learning space already love the flexibility, comfort, and collaborative nature.  

In one of the classes about redesigning the learning space, in which I used what I learned in the book and the EdTechTeam online Cohort, we came up with a list of words that describe their goals for their classrooms this year. We used the skills gained from the book to create layouts with what we already have, and created wish lists for things that we would like to get in the future. Classrooms in our school will have quiet nooks, standing desks, collaborative groupings, and engaging spaces without visual noise because of this book and the teachers who are embracing the topics learned.

The final gift this book gives is how to create ‘a culture of yes’ which will bring empowerment, energy, and joy to any classroom.  A simple transformation can happen in how we design the walls, how we arrange the furniture, and how we engage our students in the process. “Allow young minds to combine, create, and problem solve…” says Hare and Dillon. The Space teaches us how to make it happen.  
                                        Give yourself the gift of Space today!