Finito!

Or am I? Yes, I’ve finished making and uploading my Course 5 final project video. But making the video is not the end to my COETAIL experience.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
photo taken by me

I’ve really only started. Now, I won’t have to report to Jeff or be ‘graded’ anymore, but I will be building on what I’ve learned in COETAIL and still connecting and collaborating with much of the PLN I’ve formed here.

I’m super excited to move into my new role as Information Literacy Specialist (like a tech integrator) at ISKL, Malaysia. I never would have dreamed I’d be working in a tech position like this, as I always felt so intimidated by tech. Now with COETAIL under my wings, I’m ready to take it on and SOAR!:)

My Top 5 from GAFE Summit @ ASDubai

My trip to the GAFE (Google Apps for Education) Summit this past weekend at ASDubai confirmed my suspicions…

GOOGLE IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD!

Here are my top 5 take-aways from this event:

  1. Photo taken by me of the Student Showcase @ ASDubai

    The ASD Student Showcase–Thanks to a 4th grader, I now know how to use Magic Garage Band. As part of our economics unit, I’m going to have my 4th graders create their own soundtrack to accompany their iMovie advertisement. Student showcases are always underrated, in my opinion. Adults learning from kids is epic (yes, did I mention I teach 10 year olds?).

  2. You Tube–both You Tube for Education and You Tube Creator–First, You Tube for Education is a handy resource to quickly search for great videos to enhance the educational experience. For example, I just found a super informative and engaging video of a space station commander giving a tour aboard the International Space Station to show my learners. You Tube Creator is just like iMovie, but, to me, it seems much more user-friendly.
  3. Teacher Dashboard–this is an add-on to Google created by Hapara. It costs $4/student/year. As a teacher, I can say that it’s a dream come true for management. At a glance, you can see all of your students’ inboxes, documents (even those NOT shared with you!), current screen, etc.

  1. Chromebooks–these are starting to grow on me. 8 second start-up. Super easy management. Only $300 each. However, I’d like to get feedback from teachers who are currently using these machines with students, especially in elementary. Anyone out there willing to share?
  2. Networking. You always get out what you put in. Waking up early to go to the breakfast and mingle or joining a group of strangers at one of the lunch tables are a couple of ways that I went about networking. It felt almost surreal at times when I’d see someone that I knew that I knew–not knowing if I really do know them, or just follow them on Twitter:)

Just remember: If all else fails, GOOGLE IT! (or maybe just start there;)

Crib Sheets for anything Google! (including Google Earth, Groups, Picasa, Blogger, Calendar, Docs, etc)

Guide to Going Google

(stupid formatting–couldn’t get all 5 numbers to work…oh well)

Student Innovation–What else could we ask for?

I’ve always benefitted from posts where COETAILers simply blog about how they are using tech in their classrooms–especially the ‘how to’, nitty, gritty stuff. So, I’ve decided that my next couple of posts will be just that–talking about what my students and I are learning together.

I want to start off with this photo.

my wonderful students

This is one of my all-time favorite shots of my kids. No longer am I the only ‘go-to’ person in the class for troubleshooting. Heck, let’s be honest, now I’m one of the last they go to!

In this photo, you can see kids discovering, teaching, learning, collaborating, communicating effectively, critically thinking. (I think many of these skills are listed in our ‘Profile of Graduates’!) Now, here’s the important question:  How often do we give our learners the opportunity to practice these skills and do so in a meaningful way?

Book Creator App by Redjumper

We just finished up an informational writing unit in which we used the Book Creator app on  the iPad to create the final project. We don’t have a class set of iPads, so I had to check out 11 machines from the library; I asked kids and parents to bring in their devices if they could; and then the remaining 3, I borrowed off one of the lower school carts. (We’re not supposed to borrow from them, so that’s why I didn’t go to them in the first place.) This was my first time really using the iPads as a whole class, as well as my first time using Book Creator. That being said, I was definitely learning right alongside the kids.

We talked a lot about copyright and which images could be used from the internet. I had really only introduced pics4learning and compfight to them. Understandably, they were feeling frustrated as these sites did not provide the high-quality images they were looking for. My librarian came through for me and reminded me of Google Advanced Image Search where you can set the usage rights filter . This opened up worlds for my students!

Still, however, sometimes the right image was nowhere to be found. Enter Bobby*.

Bobby* saw me use the app Skitch in the past to annotate photos, etc. (I use my iPad in place of a document camera–that’s a whole different post!) Watch the video below to see what he came up with, when what he was looking for was nowhere to be found.

It’s positive correlation–the more I ‘hand over the reigns’ to my learners, the more innovation and critical thinking I see.

*Bobby’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

COETAIL Reunion

It’s almost embarrassing that I’ve waited this long to post. It’s not like I haven’t been on the COETAIL site reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, and it’s not that I haven’t been inspired to write–it’s just, um, maybe a bit of procrastination and a lot of life’s busy-ness!

So, here we go, let’s stop lurking (every time I hear that word, I think of the Friends episode of Phoebe in the casino–LOL!), and dive on in!

Last weekend I went to Muscat, Oman, to visit friends and watch my husband’s varsity soccer team win the MESAC tournament. (Do not be alarmed–my husband is the coach; he is not ON the varsity boys’ team:) Anyways, My friends work at TAISM, so I went with them to school one morning. I was thrilled to be able to meet up with fellow COETAILer, Marcello Mongardi. Being a COETAIL member in solitude at a school is tough. I don’t have anyone to compare notes with or just process information with–at least in a physical presence sense. So it was wonderful to finally meet up with someone! (On the other side of that coin, I do have to say that collaborating virtually over the year with COETAILers like Cheryl Terry and Brad Thies has proven to be very successful!)

Food Chain Project Using QR Codes

Marcello showed me some of the great things he’s doing with his 2nd graders, including a project where his students created QR codes to provide more information for their science project on food chains.

I also found a great poster on one of his walls about commenting on blogs. I love it, because it is kid-friendly for 2nd graders and always accessible if a student gets stuck with what to do when commenting.

While conversing, Marcello and I found out that we were both kind of procrastinating with our blogging, as well as the final project. Even though it took me another week to get going, thanks, Marcello, for helping me to get going again!:)

We also talked about our new positions next year–he’s moving into MS tech, and I’m going into ES tech–and how we are so lucky to have this COETAIL network to bounce ideas off, steal ideas from (while citing sources, of course;), and just get some good ol’ fashioned support.

I’m super excited about moving to ISKL next year, where a brand new cohort has, or is just now starting. Welcome! I look forward to learning and growing with you!

Photo Credit: Cliph via Compfight cc

Who’s in Control–Me or the Device?

I picked up a book while back in the States over Christmas.

I used it in a mini-lesson with my fourth graders to talk about balancing screen time. After the read aloud (one of my kids even picked up on the author’s ‘name’!–Ann Droyd:), the kids were challenged to log their screen time for a week–writing down how many minutes they watched tv, texted, went on the computer or ipad or ipod (and for what–to play games, do homework, watch a show, etc.). After the week, we came back together to analyze the findings. What a great discussion we had. Who knew 10 year olds could think that deeply!

Anyways, it got me thinking about my own screen time. I even showed my students that AMAZING cell phone commercial about disconnecting to connect. See below.

I’ve started to really become aware just how connected we (at least people in Abu Dhabi) have become—but not necessarily connected to other people, connected to our devices.

Everywhere I look, I see people walking, eating, biking, talking with another human being–but all with devices in hand! It’s almost become addicting–we can’t seem to live without checking our device when we feel that buzz or hear that ding, song, swoosh, doorbell, dog bark, or whatever other annoying sound people have programmed to alert that a new connection (email, tweet, text, call, facebook comment, etc.) has been made.

Here’s my theory: we’ve gone from none to all in a flash, and it’s hard to stop or slow down.

What I mean is that when you think back 25 years ago, it was very costly to connect to the internet. I remember good ol’ AOL bleeping and blurping as it dialed up, charging my parents each minute I was online. It took awhile to finally get booted up and running. Plus, I had to go the guest bedroom to use the enormous desktop. Not the most effective use of my time. So, I didn’t connect that often.

Now, fast forward to present day. First, I had a laptop. Much faster than my parent’s desktop with AOL, but still, I had to turn it on, wait a bit, and then I was connected. Last year, I got an iPad. Now I was more mobile, and I had apps. Checking facebook was much faster. It made me then check it more often. This year, I finally got an iPhone (I think I’m one of the last on the planet–seriously, does EVERYONE have one????). Anyways, now that I have my iPhone, I am connected…all…the…time.

It’s a great thing and an awful thing. Great thing b/c I feel so much closer with my family back home as we talk on a daily basis now, and I can quickly and effortlessly send photos of the grandkids. Awful thing? I’m connected all the time!

But the first step to solving any problem is awareness, right? That’s why I absolutely love that commercial above. It reminds me how important it is to power down every now and again, especially when my kids are around.

When I was teaching my class about balancing screen time and connecting face-to-face with people, I told them how important it was to look at people in the eye, not down at your device, texting away, as you talked. Well, just after that lesson, I was called out by one of my kids. He exclaimed, “You just did what you told us not to!” as I apparently continued to finish typing something while another student asked me a question. I guess even the big kids need reminders:)…

 

‘Tis the Season for Giving

creativecommons.org

We’ve heard it all before–giving is better than receiving. So why not give some of your photos to Creative Commons today??:)

I’m the first to admit that I’ve never ‘given back.’ I’m a taker when it come to getting images and information from the internet. Until recently, I’ve never thought about it. But now, as I search for just the right image for my post, I become frustrated. How come all the best photos are for sale or are copyright protected??? And it’s not even just the best ones; sometimes, I search for something, and NOTHING comes up under Creative Commons. 

I’m using mainly compfight. Is anyone having better luck with another site? Please share!  (And then go post one of your images for all to use–the world will be a better place:)

Course 5 Ponderings…

It’s hard to believe that course 5 is already almost here! It feels like yesterday when this cohort was just getting off the ground! COETAIL has helped uncover a passion of mine that I never knew existed. I have grown exponentially as a professional thanks to my fearless instructors and fellow COETAILers…so much so, that I’ve been hired on next year in a tech coaching position! Just knowing that I have this community as a resource helps to ease my anxiety as I enthusiastically take on this new role!

That brings me to my ponderings for my course 5 project. A few things have been buzzing around my brain:

edmodo.com

1) Effectively utilize Kidblog and Edmodo: Each year at my school, teachers have to set a goal to work on throughout the year. My goal is to pilot a student blogging project. We just began with our first blog posts about a month ago. We are using the platform Kidblog, and the kids are ecstatic. They are thrilled to have an authentic global audience. (Today they blogged their top 12 of something in honor of 12.12.12–they’d love to get some comments on their posts if you have a few minutes! http://kidblog.org/EmilyRothsClass/) I’d like to use this as my course 5 project so that I can really devote some time and energy to making it as effective as possible. Additionally, I’d like to try out Edmodo with my kids as well and connect it to the blog somehow. I’ve heard about it plenty, but have never taken the plunge.

Concerns? I must still stick to my curriculum. ‘Fitting everything in’ is getting to be a problem. And how do I do all of this in a meaningful, purposeful way? This kind of brings me to my next idea for a project.

Some rights reserved by Abhishek Jacob

2)Rewrite 1st Lucy writing unit with digital citizenship focus: Because I cannot fit it all in, I need to figure out a way to take something out or merge things together. I remember Jeff telling us in our first or second course about ISB replacing the first Lucy Calkins‘ writing unit with one on digital citizenship and blogging. This is something I’m keen on, especially because it would tie in my first idea.

Concerns? I wouldn’t get to actually put my plan into action this year (and most likely not next year).

Some rights reserved by Todd Ehlers

3) Develop a pd plan for teachers (as well as students?): This project would be focused on preparing myself for my new role next year. I like having a plan, and right now I am feeling a bit anxious because I don’t have one. I like how each week’s lesson in COETAIL uses the ISTE NETS for teachers. I’d like to put together a year-long plan to systematically work through those NETS. When teachers feel successful with his/her own level of tech, he/she will be more likely to infuse more tech in their teaching, therefore, directing affecting students.

Since I will be working in classrooms with students as well, I’d like to work on a plan as well, at least to start off the year with some digital citizenship unit.

Concerns? Again, I wouldn’t be putting this plan into action this year. Does this matter?

I’d love any feedback, input, and/or suggestions!:)

Management–Sometimes the Hardest Part

I have a student teacher in my classroom twice a week this semester. She’s done a few lessons, and while she has written up great lesson plans, the part that I end up coaching her the most on is classroom management. Without solid management skills, our efforts as educators are worthless. When we think about managing technology in classrooms, it’s really no different.

Some rights reserved by anselm23

I ‘heart’ my laptop cart. Really, I do. I feel so lucky to be in a 1:1 MacBook situation with my students. That being said, my learners know that it is a privilege, not necessarily a ‘right.’ It can be taken away at any point if they are found to be using the computer or technology inappropriately (going against what they promised in our RUA–Responsible User Agreement). The management of technology and logistics can oftentimes be more challenging than actually coming up with the ideas of how to integrate technology. Here are a few things I do in my classroom to keep my students and I sane:

  1. All laptops are numbered. Students use the same computer each day. This holds them accountable to being responsible for the machines (keeping them charged, safe, and well-kept).
  2. When it’s time to take the machines out or put them away, not everyone goes at once. As you can imagine, mass chaos would follow. I call either the quietest or most organized table or maybe the odd numbers or people wearing red–I try and mix it up to keep them on their toes!
  3. I am always circulating when computers are out. Students know they need to be on task, or they are at risk for having their computer taken away. I also have LAN school, a classroom monitoring software,installed on my computer so if I’m conferring with students, I can see all student screens at once on my computer.
  4. All water bottles and snacks disappear when the computers come out. Water bottles go under their desks, and snacks go back to the cubbies. I tell them WE DON’T WANT GOOBIES IN THE COMPUTERS!
  5. If students choose to work on the floor with their computer, they can NEVER leave their computer on the floor unattended. I make a huge deal if I see one laying out.
  6. When students hear one of my instruments or me say “F-R-double E,” and they say, “Z-E,” they know they must be absolutely silent with their eyes on me. Many times I will say “45,” and they know they must close their screen to a 45 degree angle so they aren’t distracted while I’m talking.

I think the key to technology management in the classroom is being consistent and firm with expectations. Once students see you lax on something, they will use it to their advantage. To add on, the RUA (or AUP or RUP or whatever you call it) must be at the heart of it all. It must be revisited frequently throughout the year. It simply cannot be something sent home at the beginning of the year in a pile of papers to be signed and returned. It may come back signed, and it may even been read (although I highly doubt it), but it needs to be understood. That piece of paper needs to come alive. The first couple of weeks of school should be devoted to truly understanding what students are promising to do on that paper. Otherwise, we are doing a disservice to them. We are setting them up for failure.

Although not the most attractive to read, Teaching and Learning 1to1 has a nice list of other tips for managing technology in the classroom, with one of my favorites being, “Test the sites (video clips) you plan to use ahead of time.” I don’t think I need to say anymore, as I’m sure we’ve all been there before:)

Should I Stop Funding My Kids’ College Savings Plan?

Maybe.

What an awesome movement sweeping through the world right now with MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Universities have always been for ‘the haves.’ Well, now, ‘the have-nots’ have a shot at a good education as well. (And I may not have to sock away as much money for college savings’ plans!)

Some rights reserved by spike55151

Universities are the key in changing the way education works. When you look at schools’ mission statements, they will often say something about ‘college-prep’ or preparing students for university. That is often directed at the high school level. Well, then middle school has to prep for high school, and of course, then elementary finds themselves prepping for middle school. This is the downward spiral that has brought us to ‘Toddlers in Tiaras’ learning to read at the age of 2!

Once universities change, the dominos can fall, and we can make school ‘right’ again by putting learning and kids at the true center–not standardized tests and politics! And MOOCs are a step in the right direction. However, that doesn’t mean that elementary, middle, and high school teachers can just sit back and wait. We need to be proactive in keeping kids at the heart of it all–challenging them, developing their critical thinking skills, and getting them to think for themselves.

Some rights reserved by low.lightin

I was sitting in a theatre last week in Kazakhstan (on an accreditation visit) watching a cultural presentation for president’s day. The guy in front of me was messing around on his Galaxy phone. I sat there mesmerized as he effortlessly maneuvered about, using the touchscreen. It made me think how 20 years ago, if you showed anyone a phone like that where everything is touch-based, they would not believe it. Then, it got me thinking about what’s to come in 20 more years!

Fast forward to last night when I was Skyping with my mom. My 2-year-old was ‘sharing’ her chocolate with her by trying to put a chocolate into her mouth, a.k.a., mashing it into my MacBookAir screen (aahhhh!!). My mom joked, “You know, in 20 years, she’ll probably be able to really slide that chocolate on through!”

No one really knows what education or technology is going to look like in 20 years’ time, but my hope and dream for the future is that we will finally be at a point where teachers will be more ‘at one’ with using technology in the classroom–where it will not have to be integrated; it will just simply BE because it IS. It will be something that without the technology, the learning will be less and not as effective and efficient. One reason for this will simply be because the younger generations moving into professions will be digital natives already.

I absolutely love the idea of MOOC that it’s accessible to all, free of charge, but above all, I love the whole belief behind it–teaching people to be life-long networked learners.

 

Reverse Instruction for Elementary–Yay or Nay?

 

Some rights reserved by FlySi 

Jon Bergmann sums it all up on his blog Flipped Learning with, “The key to flipped learning is NOT the videos.  The KEY is what those videos allow you to do IN CLASS.”

In an article on reverse instruction, Johnathan Martin says, “Let every classroom be a collaborative problem solving laboratory…”

What Jon and Johnathan are saying makes sense. Why waste precious classroom time teaching something that could easily be done at home? Then, that critical time in the classroom with the teacher can be that ‘problem solving laboratory’! So yes, it makes good sense, but what about for elementary school?

I was excited to come across some elementary teachers flipping parts of their classrom on Flipped Learning Network. I’m not a huge fan of flipping classrooms at the elementary level; however, I do see how reverse instruction, especially in upper ES, can have its time and place. I found a site by Franklin Elementary School, a public school in the States, that has videos posted for each Everyday Math lesson for grades 4 and 5. SCORE! You have to request permission to see the videos, but the teacher, in her blog, says she’s happy to share!

Last year I started having some of my high-flying math students create “Khan Academy-like” tutorials for their peers. We used Kodak flip cameras and the computer. It was more labor intensive that I liked, so we didn’t do it as often. This year, I started having students create tutorials using the apps Screen Chomp or Explain Everything on iPads. We don’t have our own class set of iPads, but we do have some that we can check out from the library. My first mistake when we worked on these was where to save the work. All of a sudden, we had to return the iPads as another teacher needed them. We hadn’t noted the device number or saved the work anywhere besides the actual device. This is one of the issues with shared devices, but that’s another blog post in itself:).

I’m interested to see how other elementary teachers are using reverse instruction in or out of the classroom and how they feel it is enhancing learning.