Explore Week in the T.E.C.H. Playground

Visit us this week in 326 Willard and Explore the T.E.C.H. Playground!  Sometimes it can be overwhelming walking into this space – worry no longer.  Pick up a map as you walk in and follow the path to treasure!  Along the way you will encounter several of the things we use everyday.  Bring a friend!  Bring two!  If you complete the map and find treasure, you can earn a special badge in the T.E.C.H. Playground Mission Game and earn 1 hour of professional development credit!

For more details read this:



TECH Tips from the T.E.C.H. Playground Part 2

There are so many apps and websites trying to get our attention – it can be overwhelming trying to research them all.  Here are some of the apps and websites that we use in the T.E.C.H. Playground, we hope you find them useful and if you have a question – visit us in Willard 326.  Read Part 1 – Before Class and Content Creation.

For Class:

Video:  YouTube and TED are excellent apps that can be used find the perfect video to share with your students.  Are your students struggling with a particular piece of content?  Check YouTube.  Is there something inspirational you would like use to introduce a lesson or provide some talking points to start class?  Check TED.

QR Codes:  Use QR Codes to easily share data, information, or websites.  You can use a QR Code to link to your contact details.  Or you can use a QR code that links to a specific website for your students to explore.  If you are collecting information from your students, create a Google Form and a QR Code for the link.  Then have your students scan it when they walk into the classroom.  Instant info!

Teacher Kit:  The university provides a course platform in D2L, but using D2L on a phone can be tedious at best.  Teacher Kit is a handy app that will help manage some aspects of your course on a mobile device.  We like being able to take student pictures and using them for attendance.  Tap the face once for absent and twice for present.

Padlet:  Is an app and a website that can promote classroom conversation.  Create a guiding question(s) for the day and have students post their thoughts to your wall.  They can use the web-based site or their internet connected device to share ideas and collaborate.

Poll Everywhere:   Use Poll Everywhere as a tool for formative assessment.  Create a list of questions ahead of time, or prepare some generic survey questions, then have your students answer through their phones by text message.  Build some quizzes on the website and include them in your next PowerPoint or Keynote presentation.  It is fun to watch the answers come be displayed in real time!  And you know exactly what students understand and/or struggle with.

Plickers:  Plickers works best when the instructor uses the website and a mobile device.  The app is amazing, but there is some setup involved.  Create a free account on the website, download the “cards”, and assign students to specific “cards”.   Then create your quiz or survey or whatever it is that you want to know.  Display your questions on the SMART Board and have students answer with the “cards”, you grade them by scanning the room with your mobile device open to the Plickers app.  Use your mobile device to advance to the next question.  Check out this video to see Plickers in action.

Socrative:  This is another formative assessment tool with two different apps: one for teachers and one for students.  Create a variety of questions, from short answer to multiple to choice, to true/false or put together an exit ticket.  Ask a question and get real time feedback on where your students are with the lesson.

Kahoot:   Kahoot is not an app, but works on any mobile device.  All you need to do is create a free account and build your survey/quiz.  To use Kahoot, play your quiz on SMARTboard, students will be prompted to go to a website, enter a quiz code, and type in a username.  Then the games begin!  Kahoot will ask questions and give students a timer.  Students who give correct answers in the least amount of time will get more points.  Its like the trivia games in pubs – but focused on education!

SMART Notebook: All of the classrooms in Willard are equipped with SMART Boards and all of the attached computers have SMART Notebook installed.  Create interactive lessons on your iPad, then upload them to Dropbox or Google Drive for easy access from any computer in Willard.

After Class

Save PDF files:  If you used the SMART Board to markup any of your PowerPoint or SMART Notebook slides, take just a moment to save those files as PDF files.  Then you can upload those files to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive or D2L for students to review at a later date.  Use the Adobe Reader App to view and mark up PDF’s, with an in-app purchase you have the ability to edit PDF’s as well.  PDF Reader is another free app that has many functions similar to Adobe.

Create videos: There may be an occasion when your students need a little more explanation for a particular topic.  There are three apps that can help with creating content Explain EverythingEducreations, and Show Me.  Explain Everything currently has a price of $5.99 and is well worth it.  Import just about any file you use: PDF, DOC, XLS, PPT, KEYNOTE, PAGES, NUMBERS, JPG, GIF, MP4, this list goes on.  Once your video (MP4 or MOV) is ready it can be uploaded to Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox.  Educreations is free and all of your creations are stored in your free Educreations account.  Lessons can be shared by email, Facebook, Twitter or hyperlink.  Show Me is similar to Educreations, create your video and upload it to the Show Me community.

Remind:  D2L is a nice platform for sharing information and communicating with students.  There are occasions when something needs to be shared immediately to your students – that is where Remind comes in.  Send one way communication to your students as a text message.

Zipgrade:  Create a free account at zipgrade.com and build an assessment.  Print the sheets off and have your students answer the questions, then grade the sheets by scanning them with your iPad. Use zipgrade as exit tickets, formative assessment, or quizzes.

Websites:  There are some great websites that can be used as resources for teaching, some of our favorites: EdutopiaTeachThoughtApple EducationISTEGoogle EducationEdSurgeEdudemic, and EdTechTeacher to name a few.  If you have a favorite that is not listed here – please add it in the comments.

If there is an app you like that we didn’t mention – please add it in the comments.  We love your feedback!


TECH Tips from the T.E.C.H. Playground Part 1

There are so many apps and websites trying to get our attention – it can be overwhelming trying to research them all.  Here are some of the apps and websites that we use in the T.E.C.H. Playground, we hope you find them useful and if you have a question – visit us in Willard 326.

For Organization:

OneNote: If you are a student or employee of Oklahoma State University, OneNote is free for you to use and allows you to organize your life.  Log into Cowboy Mail (everyone who has an OSU email account has access to this) and click the blue box with the dots in the upper left corner of the screen to choose OneNote.  Take notes, jot down todo lists, develop a semester outline, clip websites – do it all in OneNote and sync it across all of the devices you use.

Google Drive: Drive gives you a cloud based resource to hold documents, spreadsheets, or powerpoints.  If you utilize Google’s Docs, Sheets, and Slides – then you can create an unlimited number of items.  Drive also gives you the ability to share a document with a class or co-worker for easy collaboration or viewing. Bonus – everyone with a *.okstate.edu account has unlimited storage in Drive!

OneDrive:  Everything that Google Drive does – OneDrive can do as well.  Create, share and collaborate!  This is the Microsoft version, so everything should have a comfortable look and feel for those who use Microsoft Office products.  As with OneNote, OneDrive is accessible by logging into Cowboy Mail and clicking the blue box in the upper left hand corner.  OneDrive comes with 1TB of storage, each item you upload will count against your quota.

Dropbox:  Use Dropbox as a cloud based storage system for all of your files (as in any file type you can think of).  Easily sync those files between your portable devices and your laptop with ease!  When you create a shared folder, you can collaborate on the documents located within without having to email files.  You will be limited on your cloud storage based on your account plan.

For Content Creation:

Prezi:  Create your content on Prezi.com, then use the app to review your work.  You can also connect your iPad to an AppleTV or connect to the multi-media splitter (with a dongle) in the classroom.  Open the app and start your lesson.

PowerPoint:  Try the app for free for 30 days, or login with your Cowboy Mail account credentials and have unlimited access.  All of the features you love about PowerPoint are now ready for you to use on your iPad.  Save your PowerPoint to OneDrive for easy sharing and collaboration.

Keynote:  Keynote is the Apple version of Powerpoint, so if you are an Apple person enjoy!  To use Keynote, there may be a one time purchase price of $9.99.  It will depend on when you signed up for your Apple ID.

Slides:   This is the Google version of PowerPoint and comes with all of the easy collaboration features that Google Docs are known for.

Haiku Deck:  Haiku Deck is a visual content creation app for the iPad.  It is free to use and comes with a companion website, so you don’t have to use your iPad for presentations.  With Haiku Deck, the image is the emphasis, with room for short phrases to be added to complete the slide.

Google Docs:  Create a word document to share with your students, no matter where you are or where they are.  Documents can be made public or kept private and shared with specific users.  You can adjust the type of collaboration you want in your document from copy, to comment only, to edit – its your choice!  Save your Google Doc in Google Drive and it will not count against your overall storage quota.

Microsoft Word:  The word processor you are most familiar with, as an app for the iPad.  As with PowerPoint, login with your Cowboy Mail credentials for full access.  Save your work to OneDrive for easy sharing and collaboration.

Adobe Spark:  You don’t have to use all three of these apps at the same time.  Pick one and work with it.  They provide fun and different ways to create content with or for your students.  Spark Page allows you to create a scrolling presentation.  Spark Post gives you the opportunity to create eye catching pictures and graphics.  You can even include some animated text!  With Spark Video add the opportunity to narrate your visual representations.  All of these apps can be shown through your iPad or through the internet.  Create a free Adobe account and you are ready to go.

Infographics:  Infographics can be an excellent way to use graphics, charts, or design to communicate information.  Canva and Piktochart are apps for creating that have parent websites for posting.  Links to your infographics can be embedded in D2L or hyperlinks can be shared through email or social media.

Read Part 2: During and After Class.

If there is an app you like that we didn’t mention – please add it in the comments.  We love your feedback!


What Change Can You Make This Year?

I have always tried to do things a little bit differently.  I really don’t want my class to be like every other class.  I want something different and unique, something that would impact the students and leave a positive memory with them.

One of the first “changes” that I made was introducing music as part of the classroom
culture (no one in my school outside of the music folks did this).  I taught math (not music) but I knew that playing music during class could be beneficial.  So in my second year of teaching, I brought the boombox from home, found a Braveheart disc and it was game on.  I have had music playing in my room ever since (and expanded well beyond Braveheart – Spotify is amazing).

Another big change was transforming my teaching model from a traditional classroom to a flipped classroom.  This was difficult, but intentional.  I made this change because I had started to get into some really familiar routines and wanted to do something very different.  Another big change: at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, I gamified my calculus class.  It was a struggle, it was fun, it was exciting, and the days zoomed by soooo fast!

Why did I change to a flipped class?  I thought it had potential!  Why did I gamify?  I thought it would make a big and fun difference!  I didn’t do these things just to do them.  I took intentional risks and left the friendly confines of the familiar for uncharted waters.

I had the opportunity to attend my first ISTE conference in 2013 and was so impressed!  I loved the vibe!  I loved the ideas I was getting from others!  I LOVED this conference!!  This conference really got me thinking about what I am doing in the classroom.  What could I change?  What needed to stay the same?  How could I help students own their learning (even more than in a flipped environment) and be even more brilliant with my practice?  All of these questions…I decided I had to go back and the very next year, my friend and I had a table session!

These ideas from ISTE had me looking around my school, one of the best public high schools in our state (True Story!) and I thought, we could be even more amazing….I dug into educational technology and the ideas from the conferences.  From this point forward life was all about change.  I would talk to any of my colleagues who would listen.  I would stop them in the hall.  Talk to them over the bathroom stalls.  Walk them to class.  Send staff wide emails…

Fast forward to January 2015, I resigned my teaching position to become a full time PhD student at Oklahoma State University.  This was change of the highest magnitude!  It was also very intentional.  One of the biggest reasons that I did this was to put myself into a position to help teachers make changes without being afraid.  I want to help them see that change is not bad, it can be so rewarding!  But it can be so difficult to start.

As I close in on completing course work this December, change is coming for me again.  I took some intentional steps to change my practice and they have led me on a journey I did not anticipate.  What steps of change can you take?  What can you do to improve your practice?  What step can you take today, that will make a positive difference tomorrow?


Gamify Your Class. Here’s Why.

  1. the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.
    “gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun”

If you have been a reader of my blog – you will have noticed that its all over the place these days.  Graduate school has had my brain on a super buzz and given me the opportunity to look at several aspects of education that I had not been able to study previously.  One of those issues is why research is not disseminated in a way that benefits teachers.  My goal with this blog post is to do that with Gamification!  The readings for one of my courses this past week took me right into one of my areas of tremendous interest.  Below is a quick sum up of the research that I read and below that are links to the articles.  Some of this research is older – so I wonder what exactly would change…This is something that I want to look into.  As always, I encourage your input here.  Gamification and learning by video games is something that most people will arch an eyebrow at….

Students are not punished for failing 

Every game you play these days gives you multiple opportunities to do something.  A not uncommon strategy for gamers is to go charging into a new area to see what obstacles are there.  After the location is scouted out, a very well thought out plan is put into play.  Gamers have the opportunity to fail and try again an infinite number of times.

How would this look in your classroom?  I know that there are hard fast deadlines – but if the goal is truly to gauge student learning, shouldn’t we give them the opportunity to show it?  How about not penalizing a student for homework that is turned in late.  Or giving the student an opportunity to retake a quiz/test if they scored below a satisfactory level.

Remember the goal is learning.  Promote this.

Social construction of knowledge

Students are social creatures and games promote socializing.  Look no further than one of the most popular games out there: World of Warcraft.  Not only is it popular – the discussion boards are loaded with socially constructed knowledge about how to improve your character or ideas for moving through difficult parts of the storyline.

How does this look in your class?  Let students work together.  Let them “post” learning on a discussion board (either online or in your classroom) and allow all students to share what they know here.  Promote collaboration.  Promote conversation.  Promote sharing ideas.

Its the whole two heads are better than one mode of thinking.  Sometimes all a student needs is a different point of view.  How often have you had someone else look at your work to make sure it was good?  Do the same thing with your students.

When I flipped my classroom, students worked in groups and I worried about this.  I had had a difficult time getting my groups to be collaborative.  When I stopped lecturing the entire period and put the learning firmly into the students hands, 85% (rough guesswork here) of the conversation became very focused on the math.  Students will be students and conversation will wander, but way more conversation will be on target.

Students should be in a state of flow

Games are designed to be just right.  Like Goldilocks and the porridge, she went for the bowl that was not too hot (hard) or too cold (easy).  When you organize your class in this way, students should be in a state of flow.  Class will be just difficult enough that they keep going and learning, yet not so easy that they do nothing at all.

Gamification can help make this easier to do.  Allow students alternative ways to complete homework.  Give them some choices, ones you can live with, about how they go about learning.  Challenge all of your learners by giving each person in a group a specific strategy to use as part of the lesson.

Learning that is inquiry based tends to help this as well.  When students start to investigate a new topic, all of the students in a group bring different experiences and knowledge.  Those who struggle with a topic will take more risks and share more if they know that they are contributing to the construction of this knowledge.  If they have the opportunity to show off the experiences that they have had that will help them on this problem, their confidence will grow.

Promote questioning here – from every student.  Then have the students work together to solve those problems.  Stay out of the way – provide the necessary nudges.  Learning is messy and that mess will show up right here.

Think about a massive multiplayer online game

Lets revisit the social aspect of school – it could almost be compared to a massive multiplayer online game (mmo).  People from a variety of backgrounds and cultures and experiences go to school.  People from a variety of backgrounds and cultures and experiences participate in mmo’s.  How do we pull all of these people from so many different places in the same direction?

Give them quests.  In mmo’s players can play and explore alone and complete quests as individuals.  They may find some cool loot and have fun.  At some point, those individuals want better loot, which will require more difficult quests, which will require groups of people working together for a shared purpose.

These more complicated quests will require high levels of communication and the shared knowledge of how to go about completing the quest.  Think about homework – this could be the simple individual quest.  It could also require small groups.  Now think about quizzes/projects – these could be the more complicated quests.  The ones that deliver the loot that matters!

Some of the most powerful items that can be earned in games comes into play when battling a “boss” character.  In World of Warcraft some of these fights can last hours and require large groups of participants.  Social.  Common goal.  Intense communication.  Sharing experiences.  Maybe you set a class goal for a test, or maybe you let your students work on that test in groups, or maybe you let the entire class work together on a test….

Loot could be whatever will make your class tick.  I have used some of the following in my classes:

  • homework pass
  • quiz pass
  • opportunity to ask the teacher a specific question on a test
  • 2 students can talk for 5 minutes in the hall during a test
  • students can go back in time and redo any test they choose

Students could “level up”

There are some foundational things that must be covered in every teachers’ classroom.  These are the non-negotiable items that students have to learn.  Think about this for a minute….Games are fun because the gamer can level up, become stronger, purchase better equipment, become more independent – yet still following the story line.

Apply this to your classroom – students can learn the same lesson in a variety of ways.  They can show you what they have learned in a variety of ways.  Let them.

All students start off at the same level.  All students will learn x and turn in y.  As the students successfully learn in your class and successfully show you what they learned, let them level up.  Allow them to choose an alternative way to get the lesson.  Let them be creative in showing you what they have learned.

I allowed students to turn in “homework” by creating videos that would teach other students that specific topic.  Students could blog what they were learning and how they were doing.  Students could teach other students.  They did not all start there, some chose to never go there, but the options were available.


The Research Says: Bridge The Gap!

  This week I attended the AECT conference and it was quite different from any conference that I have attended. AECT – the Association for Educational Communications and Technology – was a gathering place of graduate students and researchers from all over the world. These amazing people have been digging into educational technology and all of the different influences it is having in education.
This was not like ISTE or OTA, there was no App Smackdown, or super cool tool session – this was about research.

It got me wondering – how can we get the research into the hands of the teachers? In a way that teachers would appreciate? In a way that informs practice and encourages teachers to make positive change. In a way that matters.
When I was in the classroom (until last year), I did not have time to read the research. Teachers don’t have time to read a well put together literature review, or methods section. They need the idea, was it successful, can I use it, give me a couple of examples in real life. If a quick scan of Twitter or some focused Google searching did not give me what I was looking for – then I moved on.
How can we bridge this gap? Our teachers work so hard and have so much going on, that wading through research is not at the top of the list.
Talking with some of my committee members led to this discussion: what if research was culled down to the most important items, put into an infographic, placed in a blog under 600 words, with links to the actual research (should teachers have time and want it) and links that showed the research in practice. Would teachers read it then?
Teachers want to be brilliant for their students, schools, and communities. They want to make a different that lasts a lifetime. They want to reach students in new and amazing ways. Can we make it easier for teachers to adopt new ways of thinking?
A quick example as a sum up – when I was a pre-service teacher in the early 1990’s, my media class consisted of using an overhead projector, micro-fiche, and the VCR. Today I teach pre-service teachers how to use blogs, interactive whiteboards, websites, social media, virtual tours, infographics, movie making, tablets (and more) as part of their educational practice. These future teachers are learning how to step into new technologies, so that as things change, they are not intimidated. I had to learn how to use cool new stuff, like the internet, as part of my teaching practice on my own. Without the benefits of research or instruction from those who had really investigated this new thing.
Teachers have so much more available to them now than ever before, yet it is so hard to step out of their comfort zones. Research says “……..” and research says “……….” and yet very little change occurs.
Can we find a way to get research into the hands of teachers in a way they can use it? I wonder what the research says….


HCI Night!

HCI Data Collection Night in the T.E.C.H. Playground

On October 22 the doctoral students in the Human-Computer Interaction course (EDTC 6333) spent an evening in the T.E.C.H. Playground exploring the research process and their HCI-related questions.  They had already worked in teams to develop research questions and sketch methods for collecting relevant data, using the equipment available in the playground. The October class meeting was their chance to try out their data collection procedures on real people (namely, their classmates and professor).

We had a great time doing cognitive tasks while walking on the treadmill, having our heart-rate and breathing monitored while exploring unfamiliar websites, having our gestures observed (via Kinect) while listening to a (deliberately) boring lecture, exploring the other technology in the room in our downtime, and answering various surveys about our experience.  All of this occurred in a genial atmosphere fueled by sugar (thanks, Tara!), collegiality, and a genuine excitement about research in the educational technology field.  When I asked students to give me quick email feedback on their experience, most of them wrote about how cool they thought their classmates’ projects were.

Over the next few weeks the groups will be reporting on their study and preliminary results.  While the data sets will be too small to draw any conclusions at this point, they will have the opportunity to reflect on the overall process and to redesign the data collection tasks if needed based on lessons learned.  All of these projects posed interesting questions that would be worthy of developing into full-scale studies in the future, if the students choose to do so.  I hope they do!


What Does It Mean To Be Connected?

If you have not investigated YourEdustory – then you are missing out!  This darn graduate work has taken its toll on my blogging this semester and this space feels strangely neglected.  I have recently eeked out a couple of blogs based on some topics from class – but not written of my own free will in quite awhile.   Writing on my blog is important to me, I never thought I would feel this way.  I have grown accustomed to sharing my thoughts and ideas in the modest hope that something will trigger a small change here or there and impact students in the most amazing ways.

Back to YourEdustory – prompts for teachers by teachers to encourage blogging.  Remember, if you don’t share what you do, then you are letting others “assume” what is going on in your schools and classrooms.  If you don’t speak up for yourself, then that is a story that remains hidden from view.

The current prompt is very important in our modern day obsession with social media:

What does being “connected” mean to you?

When I was a new teacher, I was “connected” to the people in my building.  I had no school email.  I had AOL, but was still trying to figure out those darn chat rooms.  Forget using that stuff as a teacher!

The people that I was connected to, were people who poured into me, people I saw everyday.  They gave me ideas to try.  They helped me grow as a teacher.  New teachers that I was hired with, we helped each other!  We were connected through our struggles that first year.

I am still connected to Kevin, a high school English teacher in Edmond.  We were in the same hiring class at Guthrie High School in 1997.  Although time took us in different places, then back together, then into different spaces again – we remain connected!  I know that I can call Kev at two in the morning, although he may not answer….

Move forward to just a couple of years ago when I truly discovered how Twitter could be used by a teacher.  HOLY COW!  My level of connectedness started growing by factors of ten.  It led to opportunities to connect with Kas Nelson and Todd Garrison and Anthony Purcell!  There are so many others, I don’t want to offend by not listing them (they reside in #oklaed and are the most amazing people)…But I am connected!  I learn from people in other cities, other states, other countries!

So what does connected mean?  To me – relationships.  Its how we grow and get better as people and as teachers.  Its how we make a such a tremendous difference in the lives of our students.  It is the opportunity to look outside of the place that we reside, to knock down the walls that we view as barriers.  To reach out for new ideas, to get great feedback on struggles, to pour into each other!


Scott is a Wannabe Innovator!

As most of you know, I gave up a full time teaching position in an excellent suburban public school to become a full time PhD student at Oklahoma State University.  It has been quite the journey and I have loved every step of the way.

In some of the reading for a class today, I learned about diffusion of innovation.  Now keep with me for a second, don’t bail out yet…Here it is in a nut shell – when adopting innovation, people fall into the following categories:

  • Innovators – 2.5%: These people drive change.
  • Early Adopters – 13.5%: Willing to try new things.
  • Early Majority – 34%: Thoughtful and willing to change, once advantages are demonstrated.
  • Late Majority – 34%: Skeptical of change and only adopt after the majority have already done so.
  • Traditional Users (Laggards) – 16%: Critical of anything new and will not adopt until the new has become traditional

Here are the questions posed by my professor followed by my response.

Describe an instance of change you’ve experienced as a member of an organization (ex: teacher in a school). What role did you take in the process of change? (That is, did you demonstrate the behavior and/or attitude of an early adopter, a “laggard” or somewhere in between?) How was the change initiated? How did you and others in the organization handle the change? As you reflect, with what you know now, what leadership and management issues and challenges can you identify and discuss?

Here is a big change that was self inflicted and led to a cascading of events that led to me becoming a PhD student: The Flipped Classroom!

How did all of this happen…Well….

I was really impressed when I first came across Khan Academy – I thought this was a great way to make resources available for my students outside of the school day.  A place where they could go to get help when I was not around.  However, I was also thinking – it would be really cool to have my own math videos for my students to watch.  I test drove some software for 30 days (Camtasia, it is amazing) and when the trial was over, I asked my principal if she would sponsor a copy.  This was like a shot of heroin.  The highs I felt when working with Camtasia and creating for my students were awesome.  The ideas bouncing through my head when I wasn’t creating gave me a powerful buzz.  The next year, I flipped my classroom in all three preps that I was assigned: PreAP Algebra 2, PreAP Precalculus, and Calculus.  I chased down resources, I made videos, I started using Edmodo (one of the first people in our district to use this LMS), found SnagIt, and went to my first ISTE conference.  The conference introduced me to Jane Mcgonigal, which led to lots of deep thoughts about gamifying my classroom and an intense desire to have a session or poster at ISTE.  All the while this is happening I was becoming active in Twitter and the things that I could find under the following hashtags: #oklaed, #flipclass, #mathchat, #okmath, #tlap, #edtech, #edtechchat, #gamification, #gbl, #pbl, #sbg, #satchat, and #satchatwc just to name a few.  I have found and participated in more…..these were the influencers.  After the second ISTE conference, where my friend Kristina and I had a poster session, I changed up my Calculus classes to a gamification model.  Then left halfway through the first year of that experiment to become a full time grad student.

To sum up, I have been on one long continuous journey of change over the past four years, looking for ways to best use educational technology in the classroom.  Then as I become more comfortable and willing to try any sort of idea, I started sharing what I did with the world in my blog and in my building.  I would talk to anyone who would listen.  I would share ideas, make lesson suggestions, comment on an app, share a website, collaborate, whatever I could do to make our teachers more comfortable, less fearful of this crazy new thing called educational technology.  Inside of my school, my administration was very supportive.  They encouraged me to explore all of these things, and if I requested money, they wourld help me get the technology or provide an alternative that was less expensive.  I had their support and their trust.

So where do I see myself?  An early adopter.  Flipclass is still in its infacy, the current iteration of flipclass has only been around 8 years or so and I was not in on the ground floor.  Gamification is newer, but I also missed the ground floor in this one as well.  I did not get as much practice application with this concept as I did with the flipped classroom.  However, I think gamification can have massive benefits with today’s students (unprofessional and limited researched opinion).

I would love to be an innovator – to have that idea that makes an impact at all levels of education all over the world.  

As far as leadership with all of this, I do find myself with limited patience for teachers who are laggards with edtech.  This is not some flash in the pan educational philosophy that is doing to disappear in a few years.  The rate of change in our world is growing expoenentially!  We have no idea what careers are going to be available to students who are in 2nd grade.  How do we prepare them for those careers if we, as teachers, do not start exposing them to technology?  Some students only get this exposure at school, and there is evidence that a digital divide is growing.  How do we account for this?  How can we as teachers be satisfied with how we are conducting eduction if we refuse to start incorporating technology?

Lots of passion on this topic for me.  I am not saying everyone needs to have the experiences I had or do the things that I have done.  BUT, as teachers, we need to be willing to step out of our traditional comfort zones and step into reality.  We need to do the best we can to prepare our students for futures that don’t exist yet.

I saw this quote and will end here: If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.


You Can Pin-terest It!

You may have heard of this website: Pinterest.com….

Now use it in your class!  How?

Step 1 – Sign up.

Step 2 – Search by key word or click on some of the suggestions below.

Step 3 – Set a timer – you will lose track of how long you will be here…

For the Teacher

  1. Search Pinterest for classroom organization ideas
  2. Search Pinterest for teaching ideas based on your subject: elementary math, spanish, calculus, middle school social studies, site words, digital citizenship, Shakespeare, middle school music….just to get you started!
  3. Search Pinterest for different teaching techniques – try interactive notebooks or formative assessments or TED Infographics.
  4. Need some teacher inspiration – click here now!
  5. Follow some great boards for unlimited ideas: Edutopia, ISTE, The Buck Institute, Shake Up Learning, Edudemic just to name a few.
  6. Most teachers have a chocolate or coffee addiction…

For the Student

  1. Have students send pins they like to a classroom account, these could be funny/inspirational/whatever.
  2. Have students search for a project idea and email/post a pin in the classroom LMS.
  3. Have students share some ideas related to the current unit of instruction.
  4. Students show understanding of digital awareness by sharing pins of resources that are good/bad and why.
  5. Students could sort pins according to topic – be able to explain why they sorted like they did.