Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tech Challenge #4

Today's Techmas Challenge:
"On the fourth day of Techmas the Techformers challenged me to create a progressive story using TodaysMeet! We have started our own channel! The story is.. This is going to best Christmas ever!"

I never thought of using Today's Meet to do a collaborative creative activity. I seem to think "inside the box" and would have only used it for backchanneling a meeting. Here's to opening the lid and thinking "outside the box". Glad I opened this Techmas gift box. Here is my Today's Meet progressive story if you'd like to participate:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tech Challenge #3

"On the third day of Techmas the Techformers challenged me to create a Padlet of what the holidays mean to me. Check out Jan Huckabay Wells sample Post your links in the comments below and post them on twitter with #techformersu"

As I have used padlet before, I decided to create mine this evening. That way possibly others might want to comment to add to the fun. So here is my entry for Tech Challenge #3.

Tech Challenge #2

On the Second Day of Christmas...
"On the second day of Techmas the Techformers Challenged me to create a Smore about celebrating Christmas in another country. Check outJennifer Kraft's Share your Smore in the comments below and post to twitter using#techformersu also follow us on Twitter"

I accepted today's challenge with my father in mind. My father was Canadian French and embraced his French roots with an American twist. We always had a Friendly's Jubilee Roll ( Which was a nod to his upbringing with a Bûche de Noël. We always left milk and cookies for Santa. And my father would say for Father Christmas. Probably because he grew up with visions of Père Noël while I was growing up with visions of Santa Claus.

When presented with this second Tech Challenge immediately, I thought of making a Smore ( on the Christmas traditions of France. So here is my submission to the 12 Days of Techmas.

Have you made a digital smore lately?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tech Challenge #1

A connected friend started a series of Facebook Tech Challenges. Being a life long learner I love connecting, learning, and growing. But you know, I realize I sometimes neglect the fact that life online can be (correction SHOULD be) fun. They have designed 12 days of digital technology challenges to complete in a spirit of fun.

So today's challenge:
"On the first day of Techmas the Techformers Challenged me to create a Wordle of your favorite holiday song. Choose a favorite song or story, or if you are feeling adventurous, complete one of these worksheets with your class to gather enough words to make your word cloud."

Here is my entry:

A) I love that through the power of the web you can look up the lyrics to most songs. These are the lyrics to Winter Wonderland as depicted in a word cloud. The larger words mean the words appear more times in the passage (or in this case song). What a great way to pinpoint the main idea of a paragraph.

b) The site that I used Abcya's Word Clouds. It is a rather kid friendly site. You can explore it here: The beautiful thing is that you can save the image. Some sites don't allow the save feature. This makes it perfect for education.

As the holiday season gets busy, I don't know if I will participate in each challenge. But I love the fun of collaborating with others. Seeing everyone else's posts on Facebook gives you a little insight into each of us. Some are more creative then others. Some used beautiful sites that let you put your word cloud into a particular shape. Some got creative with colors. I'm sure as the challenges build we will get to know more and more about each other. Looking forward to the fun! Thanks for including me.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Recently throughout the Twitterverse, I began seeing posts about #EduBroAwards. I had never heard of this hashtag before. Of course this means I had to find out about it. If we are not life long learners we short change ourselves. So I found, Thenerdyteacher's EdubroAwards-v20. It seems the concept is a digital pat on the back for our friends in education.

The blog reads:
"The #EduBroAwards show was conceived as a way for people to celebrate one another after a long year of working hard, sharing, caring and generally being awesome. There are too many awards shows that focus on the few when we should all be celebrating the many. That is what makes our awards show so special and different from all of the rest. We want everyone to be recognized for how truly awesome they are. We have unlimited awards to give out and we can't wait to see the craziness that ensues when we hold out live Google Hangout to hand out the awards. "

True statement. Educators the last few years have gotten a poor light in the spotlight. Somehow, the media can find plenty of stories of a wayward educator. (I beg you fellow educators, stop giving them fodder! Remember the Golden Rule and perhaps we can restore some more gold stars to our profession) But isn't it better when the media finally picks up a heart warming story? I much prefer to read the story of teachers saving students from death, schools banding together to raise money for a child in need, educators planning EdCamps, 200 bag lunches being prepared by educators in the summer while attending DENSI2013 (thanks again for organizing that @zwhiteford!)
*Allow me to pause while I go back to the #EduBroAwards and add Zulma.*

[Okay, back. Thank you]

The list of positivity thankfully continues to grow as well. How nice to have an award from your peers for just such positive interactions. Much better to put our focus on the good. So thanks for hosting. And here are my two nomination posts:

"Do we really have to nominate ourselves?!
Fine. I'll go with:
Most Likely to celebrate others @neene
I'm outgoing yet shy. Go ponder that combination. But if you really know me – you understand. Thanks to all those that understand me.

So nominations for others:
Best online collective @DiscoveryEd
Best Twitter Avatar @teach42 – Love the joy on his and his son's face. And the fun was probably captured on Google Glass.
Best leader by example @plnaugle
Best snapshot into life without Google Glass - @tchilders
Best project lead @jenwagner
Most looked forward to conference @isteconnects
Most extensive online resource curator @cybraryman1

And probably my favorite nomination goes to a Twitter Newbie

Best Attempt at Learning by Doing @arneduncan for attempting to join a twitter chat to hear what other educators had to say. I'm sure the experience was overwhelming, but welcomed."

Second while creating this blog post:
"As I was just blogging about this Award concept I mentioned Zulma Whiteford and the Spread the DEN collaboration. Still amazed at how quickly over 200 meals were created by educators attending #DENSI2013. Best Give Back award should go to @zwhiteford! Okay now back to finish the blog post."

If you can find the time, why not visit Thenerdyteacher's EdubroAwards-v20? Give your friends a digital pat on the back. Let's end the year with some more sunshine and less storm clouds.

Friday, November 1, 2013

LHRIC - TLI Tech Summit Notes

Today, I had the pleasure of attending Lhric's TLI Tech Summit. It was hosted on a rainy, gloomy day at the beautiful Edith Macy Conference Center. What a shame those that haven't been here before missed out on seeing some of it's beauty. The Conference Center is nestled in the middle of the woods. It is carved into a hillside. A lovely locale for learning.

Today's event may have lacked the usual beauty of nature, but it did not lack for the learning. It was so nice to see so many familiar, friendly faces. It was great to say hello to BOCES employees from projects past, technology colleagues we've known for years, a friend from college days that happens to be in the same field, and DEN friends Carlos Ramirez and Steve Dembo. Additionally several members of the technology department from my district were in attendance. The day provided a great opportunity to get together, compare notes, and reconnect.

There were several concurrent sessions. Various topics available for most people's needs. Here are a few notes from some of the sessions that I attended.

Session One:

The first session that I attended was provided by Dr. Frederick M. Hess. How did I not know about his blog, He presented interesting reminders that it isn't about the technology. It is about it's application. A great analogy used was if a class 60 years ago lamented that they didn't have a full class set of pens would they not still be accountable for good, solid, educational instruction. If that same class received the full set of pens, would that insure that learning would increase? Why do we allow others to claim we need more, more and more equipment and stuff. The stuff isn't exactly what helps the students. It's their proper use with the students to enact educational change.

It was suggested that we in education might want to return to an emphasis on Learning Science. Not Brain Science or Neuroscience. But Cognitive Science. Considering how people learn could help us assist students in achieving greater learning. Methods of bringing about Cognitive Learning:
  1. Working Memory and Long Term Memory
  2. Deliberate Practice and Expertise
  3. Motivation
  4. Tutoring

Also, with my vision abilities, I learn somethings that aren't necessarily intended. During Dr. Hess' presentation he incorporated graphics from and These will be worth investigating later.

Session Two:
The second session that I attended focused on wireless preparations for PARCC testing and other online assessments. Recently, NYSED decided to scale back it's implementation of PARCC testing. Hopefully this constant emphasis on high-stakes testing will fade with the falling leaves. But unfortunately, I think it is here to stay. District's need to be prepared. If not PARCC, you can only imagine that some form of standardized online assessment is the wave of the future. So as not to be wiped away by the Tidal-wave, district's should be increasing their network capabilities and infrastructure. For those seeking solutions this session provided an overview of the considerations for development. Thankfully our district has been considering these concepts for awhile now. And also, thankfully it is not my role to make decisions regarding this. My role is to support it's implementation once designed and installed.

Session Three:
The second session that I attended was provided by Christopher Craft. As Mr. Craft described the journey we have taken with search engines from Altavista and Dogpile to Google, I was reminded of the ridiculous ads for the Bing Challenge. Their media campaign was probably not designed to remind me that Google is the Gateway to the Land of Knowledge. But that was it's end result for me. As Mr. Craft discussed Google came along with so much to offer we haven't looked back. Hard to remember their was a BG (before Google era). Two time frames in history have carved our world considerably since the original BC. The new BC (Before Computer) and BG (Before Google). Glad I was born AD (After Digitization).

Another discussion that some of my colleagues and I had today involved the fact that we probably no longer qualify for Young Educator Network status at ISTE. Although, by far we aren't passed our prime, we are sadly now, past the young educator bracket.

Quick office was mentioned as an option for editing Word documents on an ipad. I have quick office on my phone. Didn't realize there was an Ipad app. I so prefer my droid environment then the ipad. However, I am trying to embrace the change and experience what my staff goes through when embarking on a new journey with a new technology tool. So I am grateful for something that might make my transition a little easier. Of course Google Drive was the first app I downloaded on the work ipad. I think that is most indicative of my mindset lol.

Someone earlier in the day had used the hashtag #showmethepractice. I love that this was quickly added to the presentation. Mr. Craft shared that he had been challenged and inspired by that statement. He readily accepted the challenge. Good for him, modeling life long learning and connected education.

Session 4:
The fourth session that I attended was provided by Steve DemboDiscovery Education. As always Steve was quite engaging. And he discussed engaging students in their learning. Steve has been a fan of gadgets. He presented several at a recent presentation and was asked to share a few with us today. So he breezed through

Toys like these are important because you are challenged to add value to the next player.

A few interesting thoughts from the presentation:
  • The world is changing. You will be famous for 15 people now. Not famous for 15 minutes.
  • Creating a positive digital footprint is becoming a new essential skill for students.
  • Educators need to consider how we are sharing the positive stories from our teaching experiences.
  • Let students tell the story of their learning journey in the classroom. Would the videos look the same when designed by others?
  • Taking something great and making it your own
  • Telling your story and sharing it
  • Aurasma is now licensing through Marvel AR

Session 5:
The fifth session that I attended was also provided by Christopher Craft.  Mr. Craft discussed the security provided to school district's that opt to sign on with Google Apps for Education. He conveyed anecdotal stories of his interactions with some Google representatives and how our data is stored redundantly. Even if someone could manage to connect to our data it would be 1s and 0s that would need to be converted. If data is created on a Google Apps for Education domain the district still maintains ownership.

Mr. Craft demonstrated Google Forms with a sense of humor. The first question asked us to choose our favorite presenter today. The possible answers were skewed in his favor to elicit a laugh. However, if you are cheeky enough to be that creative with your form questions, then I am cheeky enough to answer “someone else”. *waves, yes that was me, hehehe*

He clarified for those that needed to know that Google forms allows text questions, paragraph questions, multiple choice, checkboxes, choose from list, scale questions, date options, and time option questions. I did learn that Google forms will now allow Grid 2x2 questions.

After that he suggested that we go...Beyond the basics
Let’s level up… Get that mushroom (I need to remember to bring that gamification vocabulary into simple tasks as he modeled for us)

Some tools overviewed included:
  • Using Google forms for teacher obseration.
  • FormEmailer – (A script for Google Apps
  • gClassFolders - Can be run as school or teacher based on roster to create folders for classes –
  • gClassHub - (A script suite)
  • Autocrat (built into gClassHub) - (mail merges in Google Drive Script) –
  • Ask parents to input data through Google forms on Back to School night
  • Doctopus (document sharing script built into GclassHub) -
  • Have students keep running idea journals in class
  • Pagemeister (Script for Google Sites) -
  • Flubaroo (Script for grading Google Forms) - [but it will only grade multiple choise questions]
Session 6:
The final session that I attended was also provided by Steve Dembo,
The Epitome for kids… being the lineleader
Let's create a culture where moving forward is a positive.

School work may be the best view of work. It is created in conjunction with teachers. Why isn’t this searchable on Google? Many districts set policies of not sharing with the public.

His son is age 6… He and his wife need to decide if he may blog by himself vs blog through the adult. My how our world is changing! But this is their world now. We need to adapt.

Gretzky - “I skate to where the puck is going to be… not where it has been.”

Samples shown of:
  • Fake Amazon product page… you being the product ...write a public review of yourself
  • Create About Me pages to represent yourself to the public
  • Google Unhangout from MIT - one central session then splits you into small group conversation
  • Projects by Jen Wagner - Steve played one of her videos from the Oreo Challenge. It was interesting watching the audience root for the children involved. We do develop that personal connection through connected learning.

How do we create the culture that facilitates this? Unconference, Google Genius Hours, etc. I have had the benefit of experiencing the Unconference format. Google docs and Unconferences help create customized learning open to the collective conscious. "Please sir, may I have some more?"

As always it is a pleasure to witness Steve in action. I have had the joy of seeing him present (oh a time or two... hehehe). Watching others where this was their first exposure to the great Steve Dembo was enlightening.

Thank you Lhric for a great day of connecting and learning!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Postcards passé?

Several years ago there was a song “Video Killed the Radio Star”. This song is echoing in my mind as I go about some preparations for a conference. And organizer politely asked if we could each bring post cards to represent where we are from. What a great idea! Of course I agree to grab one. Then I begin the process of thinking of where to point my vehicle to find one. Okay, so I used a little modern technology to help. I called a local grocery store:
Me: “Excuse me, do you sell postcards?”
Store Employee: “Do we sell what?”
Me: “Postcards. You know like for travel with pictures on them of places.”
Store Employee: “Oh, no. We don't sell postcards.”

Hmm where else to try. I emailed a local historical landmark. There they were very helpful. Although they don't have current postcards they were willing to loan me a vintage postcard if I returned it. I thanked them kindly for the generous offer. That would have been a huge help. Glad I found another alternative as I'm not sure I want the responsibility of caring for a vintage postcard that needs to be returned after 150 educators or so examine it. But I was indeed grateful for their kindness.

I had called a local bookstore. Remember those things. You know, an organized set of store shelves where you can buy (I know get this!) a book. Those hard bound or soft bound items of yesteryear that have words with meaning between the covers. This lovely local establishment carried postcards. The small businesses of America deserve our patronage. So here is their website: They were very sweet postcards for the next town over. As I was running out of options, I took them.

On the same street is a stationary store. I figured they were worth a shot. To my surprise they had a sundry of postcards. Those from my state and those for 5 or six of the towns in the local area. I snapped up a few as representation of the area. I now have postcards to bring to share. Yay!

But as I look at my newly acquired collection I was struck with the thought: Why, were these so hard to find. Has digital media killed the postcard industry?! As I purchased the first set at Anderson's, I commented to the shopkeeper. “I guess e-cards have sort of ended the use of postcards.” His response was “And mobile phones, you take a picture of where you are and send it to those you want to share it with instantly.” An excellent point! The handwritten note is becoming less and less utilized. It seems to me perhaps postcards on the decline now too.

Not too long ago, our town was captured in a project and book that is a collection of beautiful images from the town, When I look at these amazing images that were collected, I have to wonder why this image is the one I was able to purchase. I am grateful to have a postcard to bring. But, is this the representation of where I am from that I wish to present. Our city has indeed become more of a city lately. But couldn't that have been captured with beauty? If you consider all the amazing images that appear in postcards of New York City, this is the representation of our town. I think I know the next project for school. Have students design postcards for our town. We are celebrating a milestone year of existence as an official town after-all. I think this might just be a great way for our students to participate.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bloom's Taxonomy Adjusted

Back in my Education 101 courses we learned about Bloom's Taxonomy. Thank you, Brother. I still hear you in my head, "Child of Grace, these should be at the heart of all your teaching." The original skills of higher order thinking were: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation. In recent years, this theory has been revisited. It has received an update by several in the field. The new skills are: Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating. 

First, I like that they have been changed to verbs. Our learning and knowledge acquisition should be active – therefore verbs should be used. But some have taken time to pigeon hole modern technology applications to fit these new standards. Honestly, at first I too thought this was a great idea. I was about to jump on the bandwagon. I jotted down the skills. I started to think about the applications teachers and students have at their fingertips at our school. I started to align to Bloom's work. 

I placed one tool (Socrative) in a category. I moved to the next category. I realized hmmm the same tool could fit here too. I moved to the next. Hmm it could fit here, here, and here. I realized maybe the skills haven't changed but our tools have. It isn't so much about the tool anymore as it is how we use the tool. 

I admit, last year I did a great Digital Learning Day event about the tools we have as teachers. Insert Elvis lip here on me. Maybe I should have focused on the skills and what tool to use to reach that skill or skills. This year in September, I will be hosting a Technology kickoff in my building for teachers. I don't want to ruin the surprise by revealing the theme now. But I realize that this year's theme I believe is more on track in a colorful way.

How can one tool meet several areas of the Bloom's Taxonomy? It depends on the application of the skilled educator. Thankfully I work with many such individuals. I am merely their guide to assist with integration. For example, if a teacher is interested in using Google Docs in the classroom. I could easily fit “Remembering”. If all they are doing is providing a lesson outline with it for students to read. If they created a flash card like deck in Google presentations. But it can do more. It can also fit “Understanding” if a teacher let's a student summarize what they have learned in a Google Doc. It feels like an infomercial going off in my head. “But wait, there's more...” It could fit “Evaluating” if teachers give students the flexibility to debate their new knowledge in a shared document. It could also fit “Evaluating” if a teacher presents a passage and request students to critique it. Still more. Of course Google Docs is an excellent tool for “Creating”. Students can publish their own stories, poems, and more. Hypothesize a theory for their predicted learning and then revisit and organize the notes from their new actual learning process that developed.

Things that make you go hmmm. So I could be painstakingly evaluating all the applications we have at school and aligning them to Bloom's Taxonomy. Instead I write this blog post to share my thoughts and will go pour a cool glass of iced tea. It is summer after all. Teachers are off July and August, right?

Oh if only those not married/involved with teachers knew the truth...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Seeking Personal Professional Development

background image by Usien
A member of my PLN, Jerry Blumengarten, recently tweeted, "You should not have to wait to get PD you need. Be a constant learner on your own with great resources & support online." As I read these words the following image formed in my mind. Seeking professional development in our hectic, busy, Common Core, Data-driven lives is definitely a juggling act. Some will sit and watch the balls or rings fall and collect at our feet and have no idea what to do with them (let them fall). Some will pick up some and throw them away (toss them up). Others will pick up a few and run with them to put them to good use. Others yet will find a way to keep the cycle going. Toss some up. Catch some. Pass them around. Share them. Add new balls or rings. And keep it all moving fluidly. On different days I can be at different phases of the pd juggling cycle. However, in reading Jerry's words I find myself interested again in helping others to reach out and catch some new balls or rings and take them to heart (The perfect finishing act.) As someone who spends "free" time catching up with my PLN on Twitter, Google+, Edmodo, Facebook, etc. I obviously believe in receiving new balls pitched into my circle by friends. But it is up to me to keep the energy in motion or just let them collect at my feet. Thanks Jerry, for sparking this thought based on your words tossed back into the share-able collective instead of collecting at my feet.