Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mission First, People Always!

In 2012, I started this journey of being a support teacher for middle and high school teachers.  I guess my official title is "Technology Integration Specialist" which no one really wants to say or hear.  While preparing for my first year in this role, I developed a "commitment statement".  A phrase to guide my interactions with teachers.

Over three and a half years, my commitment statement hasn't changed, but my focus has intensified on one thing: Mission First, People Always!

What's behind Mission First, People Always!

  • My faith brings me to the story of Jesus.  He had a mission to die and free us from the bondage of sin.  In the midst of his death-his mission, hanging on an "old rugged cross", Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)  People Always!  He continued to look after people in the midst of the mission.  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved at the foot of the cross during his crucifixion, he stated, "Dear woman, here is your son." In the midst of His horrible death, he was taking care of people, always!  (John 19:25-27)  Of course, His whole mission was to take care of people always.
  • Our mission is to bring the best quality education to our students.
  • Our problem is that we DON'T put People Always.  We expect teachers to continually make more with less.  
  • We must take care of people, adults who take care of our students, and students who are going to impact the world.
  • The background: It's either a sunrise or a sunset.  
    • Sunrise: The beginning of something grand.
    • Sunset: The sense of accomplishment: calming and complete!
As I complete my fourth year, I am focusing on people!  Something I feel I always have been doing, but now with even more vigor.  It doesn't matter how important the mission (coaching, curriculum, PBIS, Flex Mod, scheduling, discipline), I will take the time to talk with people and care about them.

"Mission First, People Always!"

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

About.Me Student Digital Life

As we move into a new way of thinking, we are encouraging students to positively portray themselves online.  By "new way of thinking" I refer to a past practice where we encouraged students to limit items online.  Today, we need to encourage students to have three major digital items before leaving high school.  As George Courcos elaborated on these items in his 2015 TIES Conference Keynote, we must mold student's behavior and knowledge so that they are positively portrayed online.

Mr. Otto, business teacher, was already in the midst of having his students develop a resume.  We decided that students would create an About.Me page so that they begin to have one of the three items they need to have before they leave high school.

Our students and instructor created some amazing pages on their way to a positive, digital life.  I used the embed feature from About.Me to create the information below.  If you are in the About.Me community, consider giving the students a compliment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

iPad Apps and Technology Tools For Learning Vocabulary Terms

Writing a vocabulary word followed by a dash and the definition is fairly isolated learning.  Enhancing the learning opportunity through connecting to real life situations and experiences can be so much more valuable.  In the upcoming semester, provide consider using offering technology tools to solidify a student's understanding and application of vocabulary in specific content areas.

Explain Everything
With an endless stage and the ability add images, videos, web pages a student can provide imagery to words.  Add in the ability for students to record their voice for understanding along with easy exporting to the camera roll, Google Drive, or Canvas and Explain Everything is perfect.

A screen that provides web making options to tie all of the terms around a main idea fits learning vocabulary terms easier.  Adding images in the same "bubble" as the words and definitions will add to the understanding.  Text is easy with the typing of characters or writing with a utensil.  Easy exporting to the camera roll, Google Drive, or Canvas allows for an efficient "Check For Understanding".

While Evernote is ending it's life with Skitch in mid 2016, Skitch continues to be a tremendous tool for an image annotated with shapes, text, or drawings.  The only negative would be the option to only add one image at a time.  If a variety is needed before the end of the school year in 2016, give Skitch a chance.

With the opportunity to have a controlled, framed image or a scattered image, multiple words, pictures and definitions can be placed on to one collage.  Exporting to the camera roll, Google Drive, or Canvas is simple for students.

Perfect for word webs only, SimpleMind has the opportunity to be color coded with words, definitions, problems & solutions to understand the vocabulary word.  Exporting is easy as an image once the web is completed.  No inserting of images is available in the free version.

Stick Around
While our district has not purchased an entire district set of this app, Stick Around is perfect for labeling and practicing terms relating to images. Currently, the Science and some of the social studies' iPads have Stick Around available for use with students.

Google Drive & Shared Document
Having students create a folder for images that represent the definitions or applications of vocabulary
words could be a method for putting all of the information in one place.  Don't forget that a document shared with partners or groups could be a method for collaborating on words and definitions.  One students could be responsible for the word and an image, while another student could be responsible for the "book definition" and parts of speech, while a third student could be responsible for an applicable activity or statement.

This tool can be a place for students to create "flashcards" in which to study.  Images can be added.  Learning is one section but two games exist, Scatter and Gravity.  Surprisingly high school students like these games which is evidence by the "what time did you get" comments that occur followed by a "let's do play it again". Lastly, all of the terms can be included in a custom designed test filled with written, matching, multiple choice, and true/false assessments.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Snapchat & PicCollage In Anatomy

It's awesome that Mr. Anderson is allowing students to use a technology tool that they have mastered to accomplish a task that Skitch was used for.  More awesome is that the student decided Snapchat and PicCollage could be used for educational purposes.

I asked the student to demonstrate how the she accomplished the required task.

In the business world, more efficient, creative ways to accomplish tasks correctly is always rewarded!

As with everything, the bad of using Snapchat can always occur.

George Couros pointed out in his TIES 2015 Keynote on Tuesday a time when he gave a hashtag out to high school students while he was presenting.  I wish I could find the exact Tweets, but I can't at this moment.  I can share the summary of the story.  Three students immediately used the hashtag to display their displeasure with George's words while they were sitting and listening.  Of course, their language was graphic.  However, one Tweet by as student was noticed by George during the speech that was EXTREMELY positive!  George spoke up to the crowed asking where/who the student was that posted the positive comment.  George THANKED the student and told him how much he appreciated the positive comment.  The student was a "larger than life" football player.  Once George acknowledged the positive tweet many, many other students jumped on board the positive Tweeting bandwagon.

Sure, something could have gone wrong with the student using Snapchat, but it didn't.  If it did, it would be addressed.  Now, the student feels empowered and invested in this process which allows her to "show what she knows."

Let's hope that our schools and the educators involved can be more comfortable allowing creation and productivity to have a personal touch!  Eventually, the innovation and creation will be rewarded.

Market Place Project Digital Skills To Master in Explain Everything

The Market Place Project in Spanish II has always been an enjoyable experience.  This year, we are continuing the project, but the students will utilize Explain Everything to demonstrate proper dialogue while bartering for a product.

This will be our third time using Explain Everything.  Mini projects one and two were introduced through tutorials.  We are increasing the levels of digital skills each time we innovate with Explain Everything.  Our hope is to continue to build on the creativity and other modern day skills with the students.  We are already seeing students not "concerning themselves with learning the tech" as Explain Everything is just "our tool".  The process of learning the content is becoming the focus.

The Spanish teachers and I discussed the Unit 3 Market Project and collaborated on how it would look.  Some areas of emphasis for me as a technology integration specialist include Creativity and Global Communication.

The Exceeding Expectations is highlighted because we are going to encourage students whose final products are pleasing to them to post them on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with #RaiderStrong 

Our Day 3 which is when the Explain Everything App is utilized looks like this:
As a help tool, I demonstrated the three skills that students will need to master 
  • Background
  • Characters
  • Layering
  • Animation
Using Explain Everything.

We played the video above and walked students through each of the three skills that were to be mastered.  Students, all 168 of them, have completed the assessment.  We are SO impressed!
Please view the conversations from "The Marketplace" that students created.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Providing instruction is one thing, showing it successfully in action is another.  The video below demonstrates students utilizing EDpuzzle with students on an iPad through the app or in Safari.  Either tech tool on the iPad works perfectly.

Listen to the teacher's reasoning and planning and feedback from a student.

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