Monday, October 9, 2017

Make Web Pages Easier to Read with Mercury Reader Chrome Extension

When you or your students are reading online for information, a typical web page can look a lot like this:

Reading online can be complicated by all of the
extraneous elements we find on web pages.

There is a tool that can help make reading for information online a less distracting task. It is called Mercury Reader, and it is an extension that can be used in your Chrome web browser.

When you install Mercury Reader, you can click on it to remove all of the extraneous information from a web page you are trying to read. Here is a side-by-side comparison of what an article on looks like without Using Mercury Reader, and what it looks like when the extension is being used.

Benefits of Mercury Reader

  • Easy to toggle on and off.
  • Takes away extraneous and possibly distracting information such as ads or links to content which might not be related to the content being read.
  • Allows the reader to adjust font size and style for easier reading.
  • Allows reader to choose a theme which puts white print on a dark background. 
  • Can aid dyslexic or visually impaired readers who are reading content on the web.

How to Use Mercury Reader

Below is a 4 1/2 minute tutorial I recorded which shows how helpful Mercury Reader can be while still being very simple to use. I hope this tool will be of benefit to you and your students. Please take time to comment on this post if you decide to try Mercury Reader or if you have other tips for making reading on the web easier.

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Please see specifics on my re-use policy before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Improve Online Reading Comprehension with a Highlight & Right-Click!

Chances are you or your students come across words you don't understand when reading on the web. Try as you might to discern the word's meaning using context clues, sometimes the necessary info just isn't there, or you are focused on the task at hand without adequate time to figure out what the word is. There's a super easy and quick way to figure out an unfamiliar word or term you come across online if you are using Google Chrome.

Just Highlight & Right-Click!

Click This GIF to View a Larger Demo of the
Highlight/Right-Click Process
A few minutes ago, I was reading an interesting article on how to get yourself or others to change their mind when I came across a word I was not familiar with: Schadenfreude. So, I did this:
  • Double-clicked the word to select/highlight it.
  • Right-clicked the word and selected Search Google for "Schadenfreude".
  • Read the definition in the new tab that opened up.
  • I also clicked the sound icon under the word to hear how it is pronounced.
    After getting an idea of what the word meant, I returned back to the tab with the article I was reading and carried on.

    Train Yourself & Teach Your Students to Use This Trick

    I encourage you to train yourself and teach your students to use this quick trick for improving vocabulary and comprehension. Teaching a new skill in context when the need arises helps transfer it to long-term learning. Quick and natural in context ways to teach this trick include:
    • When you and your students are discussing online information which you are projecting in front of a group or the whole class, highlight and right-click a word your students seem unfamiliar with.
    • When a student approaches you to ask what a word they are reading online means, talk them through the highlight and right-click trick

    I hope this tip has been helpful! If you know other quick tech tricks that enhance learning, please share in the comments below, so we can all learn together.

    Pin Me! The graphic above is perfect for saving to Pinterest!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Please see specifics on my re-use policy before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Thursday, July 20, 2017

    Shortcut for Adding Hyperlinks to Google Docs & Slides (Sheets & Drawings, Too!)

    Have you ever discovered that something you usually do with a tech tool in multiple steps can be done far more easily/efficiently in fewer steps? It happens to me all the time! Sometimes, it's just not knowing there's always been another way, and sometimes, a new feature is added to tool and we are just so used to doing things one way we never notice the improvement.

    A recent example for me: I discovered while helping facilitate a session on G Suite Basics earlier this summer that adding hyperlinks in Google Docs and Slides (and Sheets and Drawings) has been massively streamlined. Now, if this is old news to you and it's been around for years, please don't tell me. I don't want to know how long I've been missing out on this shortcut!

    Up until recently, I've been adding links to Google Docs and Slides the same way I always have:
    1. With doc/slideshow open in one Chrome tab, open another Chrome tab.
    2. Search for site I want to link to in new Chrome tab.
    3. Click on site to open it.
    4. Copy URL from browser address bar.
    5. Go back to doc/slideshow.
    6. Highlight words I want to make into a link.
    7. Right-click on words I want to make into a link.
    8. Select Link from the menu that pops up.
    9. Paste URL into link box and apply.
    So, that's nine steps. Not a big deal or burdensome until you realize you could do it in far fewer steps in many cases! I finally noticed it this summer when watching multiple people add links to docs and slides during a professional learning session. 

    Here is the new shortcut method I discovered:
    1. Highlight the words I want to link in the doc or slide.
    2. Right-click the highlighted words and choose Link from the menu that pops up.
    3. NOTICE the opportunity to pick from a couple of sites Google nicely found for me. Or search from right within the link dialog for the site I want if the suggestions aren't quite right.
    4. Preview the suggested sites if needed. See my quick tutorial video below for a demo of this.
    5. Click on the link I want to use.
    6. Click Apply. DONE!

    That's three to four fewer steps, and a whole lot less clicking and tab switching!!!!

    NOTE: It's still best practice to search ahead of time for quality online resources to link to, as this shortcut method only gives two results to choose from. The shortcut method works well if you are fairly certain of what you're looking for.

    SECOND NOTE: This shortcut process works in Sheets and Drawings, too!

    Because it often helps me to see a demo of a new-to-me skill, I made a short tutorial video on how the process works. You can view it below. I hope you find as much benefit from this shortcut as I have!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Please see specifics on my re-use policy before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Monday, July 17, 2017

    Real Staffing Percentages in Texas Public Schools

    Source: Texas Education Agency
    Retrieved July 17, 2017

    Earlier today, Kimberly Reeves sent out the following Tweet:

    The myth of the 1:1 public school teacher to administrator ratio strikes again. It is a convenient myth to believe if you are someone who wants to convince the public that their local school districts don't know how to properly prioritize their financial resources. I had a pretty keen sense of déjà vu, since a similar statement by then Texas Governor Rick Perry led me to write about this same issue in 2011.

    I've posted a screen shot above of 2016 staffing statistics as reported by the Texas Education Agency, but just to clarify, here's a quick summary of the classifications of all public school employees by percentage, charter schools included:
    • Central Administration - 1.1%
    • School Administration - 2.9% 
    • Professional Support - 9.8%
    • Teachers - 50.5%
    • Educational Aides - 9.6%
    • Auxiliary Staff- 26.1%

    Comments I made about public education staffing ratios in my 2011 blog post still apply:

    With teachers comprising 50% of the employees of Texas public schools, and administrators only comprising 4%, it can hardly be argued that there is a 1 to 1 ratio of administrators to teachers in our schools. As a professional educator, I myself would be appalled if that were so.

    The 1 to 1 ratio of teachers to administrators only works if you count everyone except teachers as administrators. Lumping professional support, aides, and auxiliary staff in with administrators is inaccurate at best and deceitful at its worst.

    If some of our state leaders are going to question the way public education is run in Texas, they could at the very least use accurate information. The Texas Education Agency maintains an enormous amount of data, and I was able to find the most current snapshot of public education data in less than five minutes, by searching their website from my smartphone. Surely, government staffers could do the same?

    I will close with the graphic below, which shows a snapshot of state staffing percentages from 2010, the last time I addressed this issue on my blog. The percentages haven't changed much. It's time to put the 1:1 teacher to administrator ratio myth to rest. Now. We have enough alternative facts floating around Washington D.C. We don't need them muddying the waters in Texas.

    Source: Texas Education Agency
    Retrieved July 27, 2017

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Thursday, July 13, 2017

    Ideas for Using the Voice Typing Tool in Google Docs

    Voice typing can help students overcome barriers or lead to new learning opportunities. If you are using Google Docs and have access to a computer, laptop, or Chromebook with a microphone, you have everything you need to get started with voice typing in your classroom.

    Ideas for Using Voice Typing

    • Emerging or developing readers and writers can voice type an assignment or story. Then practice revising and editing skills using traditional keyboard techniques.
    • Students with reading or writing challenges, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, can use voice typing to help them express their ideas without the barrier of their learning disability.
    • When teaching the difference between the conventions of spoken versus written language, have students compose short sentences or stories or have a conversation using voice typing. Then collaborate to edit the spoken text so it conforms to the standards of written text.
    • Ask students to read aloud a short passage, recording their reading using voice typing. Then, have them compare what was typed to the original text that they read from. This can give students a visual example of their reading accuracy. 
    • When studying the traditions of oral storytelling or the drawbacks of gossip, play a game of telephone. As the message is passed around the room, have each student repeat it by voice typing it into a Google Doc before passing it along verbally to the next student. (Find a way to do this so the students can't see what was previously typed by others.) Visually compare how the story changes from the original to the final version (and the versions in between.)
    When thinking about voice typing in the classroom, what other instructional uses come to mind?

    How to Use the Voice Typing Tool

    If you are not familiar with how to use the Voice Typing Tool in Google Docs, watch the one minute video tutorial I recorded below. For a detailed list of voice typing commands, visit Google Docs Help.

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2017

    Easily Add Emoji to Google Docs & Slides to Engage Students

    Demo of Adding Emoji to a Google Doc

    It's Easy to Add Emojis to a Google Doc or Slide 

    1. Make sure you are clicked in an area in the Doc or Slide where you can add text.
    2. Click on the Insert menu.
    3. Select Special Characters.
    4. If the Emoji aren't showing up in the Insert special characters box,  click the middle drop-down menu in the box and select Emoji.
    5. To insert an Emoji in your Doc or Slide, click on it
    6. You can select different categories of emoji by clicking on the third drop-down menu in the Insert special characters box.
    7. You can adjust an emoji's size by selecting it and changing its font size.

    Ideas for Using Emojis in Instruction

    While we usually think of emojis in the context of texting and social media, they can be a fun way to bring engagement into learning. Here are just a few ideas I've brainstormed:

    • MATH: Teachers can use emojis to illustrate math problems for students to solve. Students can use emojis to illustrate solutions to math problems.
    • WRITING & SOCIAL STUDIES: Challenge students to write sentences or short paragraphs using only emojis. Partner up with others to see if they can correctly "read" the emoji writings. Compare this to the task of interpreting the earliest forms of drawings on cave walls or pictograph writing.
    • WRITING: Use an emoji or string of emojis as a writing prompt. Or ask students to select an emoji that describes the day they are having and then write about it.
    • MEDIA LITERACY: Create a Google Slides presentation with one large emoji on each slide. Show to students and ask for one word that comes to mind when they see the emoji. Discuss the impact of visuals on our thinking. Tie in to studies of entertainment, advertising, or propaganda. Extend the lesson by having students group emojis together in an attempt to evoke specific reactions from viewers.
    • JUST FOR FUN/AESTHETIC EFFECT: Use emojis to enhance presentations, newsletters, and other projects. Discuss if the emojis chosen are appropriate to the purpose of the publication.

    What ideas would you add for using emojis in instruction? I invite you to think about it, then share in the comments below!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Thursday, June 29, 2017

    What's Your #ISTE17 Story in 6 Words?

    ISTE 2017 has come to a close. If you are like me,  you are a combination of exhausted and excited by all of the learning and connecting that took place.

    You might also be overwhelmed. I've felt that way some years, as I looked at all of the ways others are innovating with technology for the benefit of student learning and feeling like I or my school or district were woefully behind.

    Or do you have lots of questions? Are you wondering if technology and teaching are moving in the right direction? Maybe you are asking yourself the big, philosophical, "Why?" and "What are the implications of this?" questions.

    I'm always fascinated by what everyone takes away from a giant gathering of educators like ISTE's annual conference. Especially since I get to experience only the smallest slice of what takes place. I want to know what others got out of it. Are you curious, too? Then read on, and let's see if we can collaborate to find out!

    A Challenge For You

    Can you summarize your ISTE experience or thoughts in six words? Not four or five. Not seven or eight. But six? (And yes, words like "the," "and," "or," etc. count!)

    Six words forces you to think deeply about your choices and hone in on the meat of what you learned, took away, or are still wondering about.

    If you are not familiar with the idea of the Six Word Story, this HuffPost article will give you an overview. So will a quick look at the hashtag #6WordStory on Twitter.

    Now, Contribute Your Story!

    I'd like to learn about everyone's learning at ISTE 2017 by curating ISTE 2017 Six Word Stories using Storify. Will you please contribute?  Here is how to contribute your story:
    1. Reply to the Tweet below with your ISTE 2017 Six Word Story.  (Rememberwords like "the," "and," "or," etc. count! I won't include stories that break the six word rule in my curation.)
    2. Include BOTH of these hashtags on your Tweet: #ISTE17 #6WordStory
    3. You can include a photo from the conference that enhances your story if you wish. Just please practice good digital citizenship and make sure it's a photo you took and/or have permission to use.

    Here Are The Stories!

    Please keep contributing! The Storify below will continuously update as new stories are added. 

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    #ISTE17 Day Three

    During the final day of ISTE 2017,  I spent some time perusing the Exhibit Hall in between a great workshop on building digital portfolios with Google Sites and a session on using Open Educational Resources (OER).  So, there were fewer tweets yesterday, and the majority of them were from the OER session.

    As always after a conference like this, my brain is full, I have a lot to contemplate, and my resource kit is more stocked than it was a few days ago.

    I'm thankful for all of the presenters who take time to prepare and share their knowledge and ideas. In his OER session yesterday, Andy Marcinek brought up the fact that we are far to siloed in education. Those of you who make the effort to share at conferences like ISTE and through your tweets and blogs help break through the silos, to the benefit of all learners and educators. Thank you!!!!

    Here are my tweets and the tweets of few others from the last day of ISTE. I hope all who attended, both in person and via Twitter, took away as much or more than I did!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Tuesday, June 27, 2017

    #ISTE17 Day Two

    I was contemplating going to the mall
    for lunch when I looked up and saw this!
    My second day of ISTE 2017 was HOT! Great music. Inspirational speaker. Fun learning. And, a REAL FIRE in Downtown San Antonio!

    Fortunately, the fire was mostly an inconvenience, causing the Marriott to be evacuated and the mall to close. And driving me a couple of blocks away to Fuddruckers for lunch to escape the choking smoke. No one was injured.

    See my Storify below for highlights from the day! If you've been at ISTE this year, or if you are learning from afar on Twitter via the #ISTE17 hashtag, what's been something new you've taken away? Take a moment to share in the comments below so we can all learn together!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    My First Day at #ISTE17

    June 26, 2017 was my first day at the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. I've used Storify, one of my favorite social media tools, to summarize my experience by curating my tweets as well as the tweets of others which caught my eye throughout the day. (As click through my story, you can hover on any photos or videos to see the tweets associated with them.)

    ISTE is an amazing conference for educators! Wonderful sessions filled with cool tech tools and deep ways to use them for teaching and learning plus thoughtful panels and conversations on deeper concerns in education. It's hard to put into words! There is abundant sharing from the conference on Twitter. Even if you can't attend in person, follow the #ISTE17 hashtag. You can learn no matter where you are!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Common Computer Keyboard Shortcuts

    I've been asked more than once in the past few weeks about keyboard shortcuts. Those quick keystroke combinations that can make creating and editing documents a bit faster, especially when they take the place of multiple mouse clicks.

    Some of you out there are keyboard shortcut ninjas. You know and use so many shortcuts that you barely ever touch your mouse!

    I am not quite so skilled, but there are a few shortcuts I've learned over the years that I use often and that are universal to most of the programs I use. I've compiled a list of them below. For simplicity, I've listed only the Windows version of the key combinations, but if you are a Mac user, you can substitute the Command key for the Control (Ctrl) key.

    Make selected text bold
    Make selected text italic
    Underline selected text
    Find text on current web page or in current document, spreadsheet, or PDF
    Undo your last action (MY ALL TIME FAVORITE!)
    Copy what's selected (text, graphic, table, etc.)
    Cut what's selected (text, graphic, table, etc)
    Paste what you last copied or cut (text, graphic, table, etc.) at the current location of the cursor
    Select all contents of a document, spreadsheet, etc.
    Saves the current document
    Print the current document

    How do you learn these keystroke combinations? By using them! Challenge yourself to try a couple each week. If you are new to keyboard shortcuts, it's helpful to know that you don't have to press both keys at exactly the same time. You can press Ctrl (or Command) first, then press the letter associated with the shortcut. Ideally, you press both keys with fingers of the same hand.

    If you wish you knew a keystroke for a command you use often, check out the menus of the program you're using. I took the screenshot to the right in Google Docs on a Mac. You can see that keyboard shortcut combinations for common commands are listed right in the menu.

    What is your favorite keyboard shortcut? Please share it, or any questions you have, in the comments below.

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Thursday, March 9, 2017

    Protect, Deter, Recover: Data Risks in K12 Schools #SXSWedu

    Protect, Deter, Recover: Data Risks in K12 Schools 
    SXSWedu 2017 Panel

    Hosted by Absolute: Empower K-12 staff, parents and community by learning best-practices for digital citizenship, including device safety and security, cyberbullying and Internet crime. Learn how to promote a healthy environment for students and faculty, including education on device safety and scenarios where they may be at risk; and how to work with local law enforcement to protect devices and data. Harold Reaves, Level V Certified in Homeland Security, shares best practices to protect student-assigned mobile devices and risks regarding social media and the Internet; and education consultant and former IT director can provide real-life scenarios, lessons and best-practices.

    Empower (Educate) K12 Staff, Parents, and Community

    Students don't think much about safety and security. Parents may think a lot about it but don't necessarily know what to do.

    Communities expect we manage devices paid for by their tax money well. There's also an expectation that we protect students when we give them access to devices and send devices home with them. Helping parents have a role and responsibility in this is important.

    Use your website and other communication tools to help educate parents with videos and other modes of information.

    Show that your organization understands their responsibility by making it a community collaboration to help keep students safe.

    Educating community members who are not tech savvy can trickle down and help everyone.

    Digital Citizenship

    Schools and districts often have curriculum for digital citizenship, but it is just as often not implemented because it's not tested.

    Students are connected to devices 24/7. They rarely unplug.

    Digital citizenship cannot be taught one time in drive-by lessons. It has to be continually taught, retaught, and revisited.

    Do students know they should keep their devices out of sight when they aren't using them to protect them?

    Work With Local Law Enforcement to Protect Devices and Data

    When doing a big new tech rollout, get local law enforcement involved from the beginning. They can consult with you on how safe your site is where you are storing the devices. Also it's good to establish the communication with them ahead of time in case technology should disappear later.

    Publicize to the community the security measures you have in place on district devices.  This lets them know you are being a good steward of the resources and also may help deter theft.

    Protect Student-Assigned Mobile Devices

    Teach students how to treat them properly: carry them, store them, etc.

    Data Risks

    Are we teaching data backup? What happens if a child drops and breaks their device. Teach good data stewardship.

    Find Partners to Help You With Awareness Programs

    Pro-active training strengthens the reputation of your program and builds public confidence. Districts can demonstrate they have taken measures.

    Absolute has developed a curriculum for mobile device safety training.

    What do you thing is the most common security issue facing students and teachers today?

    Device security.

    Putting out too much info on the internet. Lack of awareness of how this could endanger them.

    Not thinking about how much personal information they are giving over to apps and extensions when they install them. (Think of all the access an extension might ask for when you install it in your browser. Do we ever even read that?)

    Recommended video: Privacy is Dead; Get Over It

    Online Resources

    • Common Sense Media
    • Digtal Citizenship Webquest
    • Tech Learning
    • Elements of Digital Citizenship
    • Edutopia
    • Microsoft Security and Safety Site
    • Raising a Digital Child

    Absolute Resources

    • IDC White Paper
      Student Technology Analytics: How K12 Leaders Make the Case for Better Technology in the Classroom
    • Safe Schools Program
      Absolute Safe Schools Program Helps Promote Safe Digital Citizenship

    *********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Personalized Learning and the Tech to Make It Happen #SXSWedu

    Personalized Learning and the Tech to Make It Happen
    SXSWedu 2017 Panel

    One of the most promising ideas in education right now is personalized learning—providing instruction that is meaningful and contextualized for every student. The rapid growth of edtech is making it easier to transform schools and classrooms into environments that support individualized learning, but success requires a thoughtful, strategic approach. Join education experts working with schools all over the country to pilot new technologies in support of personalized learning. Educators will learn how to replicate success happening in cities like Chicago and Boston and edtech practitioners will get real-world insights on the way technology is being used in today’s classrooms.

    What does personalized learning mean?

    It's an umbrella term for a variety of approaches to learning. It is the next phase of differentiation which brings in student voice and choice.

    It's an opportunity for the highest achievers to take off and students who are struggling to move forward. To identify what each learner really needs.

    Understanding students in terms of strengths, needs, and interests. Start with the child first instead of the curriculum. Just because I'm born in a certain year I don't necessarily need to be in a group of students my same age. Also understanding that learning is social. Go beyond the four walls of the school to connect.

    It is not students sitting in front of individual computers with headphones all the time.

    Where do schools start?

    A team of teachers with a supportive principal that are going to pilot for the rest of the school. If they are successful, others will follow.

    Find your WHY first. These are curriculum and student experience decisions.

    It's a paradigm shift. No longer teaching to the middle. It's about getting to know kids and what they need.

    One problem is schools and districts don't think about the plumbing first. Are 30 computers accessing WiFi going to crash the network? Are the computers older than the students? Technology funding needs to be a priority with built in refresh cycles. Make sure you know what your infrastructure is now and where it needs to go.

    Don't forget student privacy policy. What will happen with the student data? Make sure it won't be sold.

    You need a trusted adviser to assess what's going on.

    It's not really the technology, it's the constructs around it. The vision.

    McCormick Middle School in Boston had challenges with their technology. But teachers embraced working with an edtech product to understand exactly what they needed.  Their interest and passion has resulted in the district investing more in their school. They are moving along a continuum to get closer to student voice and choice and ownership of their learning. With more data, students were able to take on more ownership than they had when grades were the only means of assessment.

    Is 100% student voice and choice crucial for personalized learning to happen?

    Sometimes the pendulum swings too far. Developmental age is important in these decisions. Rigor and top quality work are still important. Teachers must still be mentors, coaches personal trainers.

    We still need to set learning goals. Unfettered choice can leave students not knowing where to start or end.

    What are some of the pitfalls?

    It's hard to know what's going to change about your teaching before you begin using new tools, such as adaptive learning technologies. It's messy work.

    It's more than the teacher. The school board, superintendent, assistant super of academics, principal, etc, need to access the data and use it to make decisions.

    You can add too many tools to the menu. You have to refer to your why and keep a coherent strategy. What are you using tech and nontech and clean the closet of tools that aren't helping. SIMPLIFY.

    We over-invest in the tool and the technology. Make sure you are investing heavily in professional learning.

    There may be 1000s of edtech tools out there, but only a handful have shown to add value. Stop buying CRAP and look for robust tools. 

    Schools need to be interested in and make use of research.

    Paradigms for rapid-cycle trials and feedback on tools need to be used so developers can keep the tools relevant and make them stick.

    A lot of the work is change in teacher philosophy and practice.

    Test scores cannot be the end all be all of judging program/product efficacy.

    What are some challenges?

    Defining efficacy and going beyond the test.

    Standards don't need to be relaxed for this to work.

    There will probably be a backward slide in achievement in the beginning.

    How should tech support personalized learning in schools?

    It should allow you to scale personalized learning by bringing some part of the instructional process to where the student is.

    It should drive human interaction. A deep assumption that there is a teacher or adult involved and there is high quality interaction with them. Data should be empowering the teacher to meet the needs of the students.

    What are your favorite tools for personalized learning?

    • Lexia learning in elementrary grades.
    • Think Circa for writing.
    • SeeSaw
    • Padlet

    What does tech infused personalized learning look like in practice?

    A busy classroom with lots of things going on at the same time!

    Teachers can know a kid is having a question/struggle before they even raise their hand.

    *********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Wednesday, March 8, 2017

    CS for All: Teaching CS in Elementary Schools #SXSWedu #CSForAll

    CS for All: Teaching CS in Elementary Schools 
    SXSWedu 2017 Workshop

    As the Computer Science for All initiative jump starts around the world, more students in grades 6-12 have the opportunity to take computer science courses. Early exposure to computer science is critical to addressing equity in technology education, so how do we ensure that we are meeting the needs of a diverse pipeline of K-5 students who are ready, willing, and excited to learn CS? Join representatives from the NYCDOE CS4All team, the SF Unified School District, and the Austin Independent School District to explore specific pedagogical approaches, equity and implementation strategies, and lesson plans and resources to infuse CS into the elementary school classroom.

    Slides & Actvities:

    Table Discussion: What are the equity issues in computer science education where you live?

    • Access to teachers who are knowledgeable about CS and its opportunities.
    • In a low SES district, teachers worry so much about the basics they don't think there is time/need to move on to more advanced concepts.

    Unplugged Activities: Programming without devices.

    • Have groups of students create a list of steps to accomplish something. (Ex: How to make a PB & J sandwich.) Have other groups try to follow the steps and/or debug instructions.
    • Relay Programming: In a relay race, have groups of students write directions on how to recreate a graphic.
    Paired Programming
    • Using a tool like Code Studio, students work in pairs. One drives the device, and the other navigates (gives directions). Students switch roles frequently to complete simple programs.
    Interdisciplinary CS With Robot Mouse
    • Video of Robot Mouse:
    • Program Robot Mouse to navigate on a grid of numbers to the sum of two rolled dice. Challenge: Change to multiplication.
    • Program Robot Mouse to navigate on a grid of letters to spell a word with greater than 3 letters by navigating to each letter in sequence. Challenge: Perform an action on each letter.
    • Program Robot Mouse to navigate a map of your community.
    • Program two Robot Mice to perform symmetrical movements.

    I enjoyed this session! The hands-on helped me visualize using CS in core subjects!

    *********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    Innovating Instruction: Teachers as Designers #SXSWedu

    Innovating Instruction: Teachers as Designers
    SXSW 2017 Case Study

    Teacher need a bridge to navigate the extreme changes in learning and schools.

    Instructional innovation is needed. Just adding technology does not change the fundamental way teachers work in the classroom.

    One meta-analysis of research shows that

    • It takes 49 hours of it to impact instruction in the classroom
    • It works best when it is delivered in the situation where it is going to be used.

    Teachers as designers is a fundamental component of school change. We often ask teachers to design without giving them the supports they need to become designers.

    National Science Foundation worked in two schools over the course of 3 1/2 years. 
    • Had a vision for inquiry (elem school), exploration (middle school), and project based learning.
    • But were struggling with implementing at a deep level.
    • Three cycles of research and design to refine the approach. 

    Approach became Design, Situate, Lead
    • Design- backwards design, enrich content knowledge, leverage technology
    • Situate - No "one size fits all" for curriculum design. Contextualize teacher learning, model effective practice (co-teach, observe, be observed), individualize support based on what teachers need. 
    • Lead - administration must envision change so they can support what is happening, empower leadership at all levels, sustain a culture for innovation (what changes need to be made to sustain the work)

    Finding 1. Teachers as Designers
    • Teachers can be designers. It's a phrase that's thrown around a lot.
    • Collaboration, documentation, and reflection on planning increased
    Finding 2. Importance of the Inquiry Stance
    • Pursue big questions.
    • Facilitators need to establish trust
    Finding 3. Building Teachers' Capacities as Leaders
    • Need support of principals and administrators
    • Teachers shared within and beyond their school
    Finding 4. Critical Role of Principals - Structural Changes at the School -Level
    • Need to encourage and showcase teachers and their efforts.

    *********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Helping Parents Guide Kids' Media Use #SXSWedu

    Helping Parents Guide Kids' Media Use 
    SXSWedu 2017 Panel

    What makes for effective parent engagement around media and technology?

    Parents and caregivers are looking to schools for advice on their kids' media use.

    Lisa Nielsen: Rewrote NYC Dept. of Ed. social media and AUP guidelines to make it more friendly for teachers and students. For example, infographics for kids 13+, activity books for students 12 and younger. Also translated into multiple languages.

    NYC materials are available for free if other schools; districts want to customize.

    Parent coordinators at NYC schools help spread the message.

    As a result, more teachers in NYC are using social media to share the story of their schools.

    Brian Romero Smith, FWISD - 23,000 high school students in 1:1 tech initiative. Brought parents into the schools for the initiative and had sessions in English and Spanish. Got lots of questions about filtering and social media.

    Started encouraging positive digital citizenship and social media use. Created a resource website for parents. Included online presentations from students and took students out to speak with parents.

    Created community events. Included teaching businesses how to boost their social media use, and taught tips and tricks to parents to help them become role models for their children. (FOOD attracts people to these events!)

    Brought in experts via Google Hangouts or Skype for parents to hear.

    Rachelle Wooten, Dig Learn Specialist in Ft. Bend ISD - Found that if students participate and facilitate workshops, more parents will show up.

    FBISD - Why not use your LMS to help provide ongoing learning/resources to parents? Rachelle hopes to do this as FBISD moves forward with an LMS in the next year.

    Kelly Mendoza, Common Sense Media - CSM offers free resources to parents and educators, including rating edtech tools for learning and media resources for parents. Known for their digital citizenship curriculum.

    Digital teaching strategies offers bite size PD for teachers.

    CSM also advocates for what's best for kids in education and media.

    Programs for parents is called Connecting Families. Started in 2008 and has been through many iterations. Endorsed by National PTA.

    Most popular download is their Family Media Agreement.

    CSM has a widget you can embed on your website to provide fresh content to parents weekly from their blog.

    How to encourage parent participation in events:

    • Provide prizes for parents and students for participating.
    • FEED the parents! Food is the best.
    • Have kids do the talking and drive the show.
    • Consider live streaming so parents who can't come in person can view the program later.
    • Survey parents at the start of the year to see what their concerns are. Create programming around their concerns. 
    • Share info via your school or district Twitter, Facebook, Instagram 
    • Use multiple channels to reach parents.

    How do we empower teachers to play a role?
    • In Ft. Bend, students have to participate in an Internet lesson once per nine weeks, facilitated by advisory teacher.
    • Embed content in LMS so teachers just need to facilitate the discussion. Badge teachers who engage at a higher level!
    • Have a team of people on campus dedicated to digital citizenship and spread the lessons around so multiple teachers are talking with kids about their digital lives.

    Make sure you also emphasize the good things that can happen around a positive digital footprint and encourage parents to help their students build one!

    Find someone else who is doing this well, and partner with them to support you as you get your parent education initiatives going.

    Don't beat yourself up for what you haven't done in this area, but start where you are and do what you can!

    Remember it's not just about devices or media or screen time, but what's being done with those tools that matters.

    *********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Learning, Memory, & Knowledge Post-Google #SXSWedu

    Learning, Memory, & Knowledge Post-Google 
    SXSWedu 2017 Featured Session

    Andrew Smith Lewis 
    Cerego - Co-Founder & CEO

    Seth Godin famously argued that there is “zero value in memorizing anything ever again.” In the post-Google, mobile era, where information is constantly at our fingertips, this may very well be true, but how does this cultural shift away from memorization actually impact knowledge and learning? In fact, memory may be more important than ever in role as the foundational knowledge from which our learning (and information seeking) takes shape. In this talk, Andrew Smith Lewis will look at the science of memory and how technology is changing the cultural value of memory and knowledge. He’ll also explore the tradeoffs we may be making in the post-Google era as how we learn evolves.

    I love Google. It's Like the Brain I don't have!
    Some people hate Google.
    We all have a relationship with Google!

    Some people believe Google is replacing our brains.

    Is Google making us smarter or dumber?

    Learning - process of turning info into knowledge
    Knowledge -
    Memory - glue between learning and knowledge

    Have we outsourced our brain to a purposefully built ad server that makes $70 billion a year?

    There's a lot of "stuff" on the internet. Over 1 billion websites as of 2014.

    Ad serving's purpose is to make money.

    Some fake information is harmless (Elvis is alive.) Some is very harmful (fake news).

    Neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to learn and rewire

    • People who are blind have increased activity in the visual cortex when engaging in braile reading or music
    • London Taxi drivers
    Google effect
    • Google becomes external memory
    • We now remember where to find info instead of the info itself
    We now live in an age where we no longer value thinking about things deeply but value information instead.

    We are less effective when we multitask. What we are really doing is task switching w/out paying full attention to any one task. This creates continuous partial attention and that's bad for memory.

    Repetition is key for memory. Short term memory - repeat to remember something. Long term memory - remember to repeat.

    The act of recollection helps strengthen memory. 

    There is a chemical basis for the change we are undergoing. Dopamine gives us the tingle when we find something we like on the Internet. This creates a dopamine loop. We develop a tolerance to dopamine and need more/higher levels. This causes us to want to search for more information instead of building a solid foundation of knowledge. We're rewiring our brains to find information rather than think about information.

    Seth Godin & Eric Schmidt
    Both arguing that memory can be outsourced.
    "Zero value in memorizing anything ever again."
    "Anything worth memorizing is worth looking up."

    Memorization transmits culture.
    Without a foundation of knowledge, we get unchallenged facts.

    Ways Google is Making Us Smarter

    • Access to information.
    • Information is organized.
    • Education used to be based on location. Now it can be anywhere.
    • Helps us find experts and expertise. Ex: Nate Silver
    • Shift to culture of learning
    • Unlocks the ability to take learning to new levels of complexity. (Think calculators!)
    Education is what people do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself.  - Joe Ito

    Girl teaches herself to dubstep:
    • Watch over and over - memorization
    • Practice practice practice - repetition
    • Learner Agency - learn what you want
    People can shape their own brains. Ultimate personalization in learning.

    Cognitive Bias - We see what we want to see. But if we understand this, we can push back against it. And as Google and Facebook to push back against it, too!

    Data + Right Approach = Better Learning. Design experiences to help build and retain knowledge.

    Learning is about compounding. The more you know about something, the easier and easier it is to learn more about it.

    Would you want to remember everything? We can outsource to Google. But memory is essential to creativity.

    We can combine ubiquitous access to information and leverage it for learning and creativity. There is no creativity without memory.

    Educators should focus on the how, helping students learn how to deal with information. And how to find it. (For example, it doesn't make sens to ask Google, "When is my mother's birthday?")

    Thought Question: How do we decide what's worth memorizing?

    *********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    The New Economy of Cheating #SXSWedu

    The New Economy of Cheating

    SXSWedu 2017 Panel

    Today’s college student has more ways than ever to cheat. A simple online search turns up hundreds of websites that promise quick turnarounds and guaranteed A's on research papers and one-off assignments. Savvy students can subscribe to sites that post notes, quizzes, and exams for thousands of classes. And, if they pay a little more money, they can have somone take their entire class for them. The sites are part of a booming business that is operating right under the nose of colleges. In this session, two experts who have tracked the industry’s rise examine the shady operators, their threat to higher education and what can be done to stop them.

    How College Students Cheat

    • Contract cheating is HUGE and a lot of money is made off of it.
    • People who work for these companies get about half of the fees that are paid for the purchased papers.
    • You can pay people to take entire online classes for you.
    • Ultius - Custom writing, editing, business writing -
    • Craig's List is also a popular resource for writing services. 
    • The best sites promise the grades you want. If you're a C student, you don't want to turn in A and B papers.
    • Contract cheating companies help students rationalize the cheating.
    • Cheating is often spontaneous. 
    • People under report cheating, so it's difficult to get good statistics. 

    How to Stop It? (I.E. Keep it to an acceptable level of corruption.)

    • Parents need to ask more than just "How are your grades?" Interact  with your kids on personal levels and ask them if they are enjoying themselves. Are they happy. What are they learning.
    • Instructors need to change the way they are teaching.
    • 17 states have legislation against these cheating companies. But no one has been charged with violating these laws to date.
    • Accreditors need to look at academic integrity as part of accreditation.
    • Universities need to find a way to screen applications better. Students who are successful using essays written for them to get into college will have a tendency to continue cheating.

    Countering Contract Cheating
    • Assume good people making bad decisions due to stress or other factors
    • Keep talking about it!
    • Educate students on fairness, importance of learning, integrity.
    • Support students. If they are writing their papers at 2:00 AM? If so, is there support for them at this time? (Writing centers? Etc?)
    • Promote academic integrity. Cheating services market themselves. Foreign students might be led to believe this is the way things are done here. 
    • Design Assessments with Integrity. If we have quality teaching and learning, it will help mitigate the issue.
    • Do benchmark writings in class so you get to know student writing.
    • Are 20 page papers with APA citations necessary for most students? Are we still asking the same questions on the same topics that we asked decades ago?

    The ultimate answer is about changing the way we teach and assess learning. What is best in ensuring quality teaching and learning?

    Our society is built on a foundation of trust. We trust people to fix our cars, prepare our meals, operate on us. Say to a cheater, "There are a lot of dishonest people in the world. If we continue to allow this, we won't be able to function as a civilization. So these behaviors are not acceptable here in our community."

    Employers need to begin measuring competencies when interviewing perspective employees.

    *********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    App Overkill: Going Beyond the Buzz Words #SXSWedu

    App Overkill: Going Beyond the Buzz Words
    SXSWedu 2017 Panel

    • Jena Draper, CEO, CachOn Inc
    • Carl Hooker, Director of Innovation & Digital Learning, Eanes ISD
    • P.H. Mullen Jr., Arc Capital Development
    • Adam Phyall, Director Technology & Media Services, Newton County School System, Covington GA

    Oh oh! Mr. Hooker says this panel is going to include lots of interaction. This may impact my ability to take notes!

    Freemium apps account for over 80% of apps and tools in schools today.

    In the past finding tools was top down, but teachers are increasingly coming back from conferences or doing their own research and bringing tools back to school with them.

    It's important to build the WHY for using apps/digital resources. Teachers need to know the value-add of the tool if you want it to be adopted.

    There's a huge gap between what's being designed by edtech companies and what is happening in classrooms and what classrooms need. In classroom use cases and research is of paramount importance.

    Good resources for finding quality digital resources and apps:

    • Students
    • EdCamp
    • PLN on Twitter
    • Educator Blogs

    When selecting tools and resources:
    • Ask what the core functionality of the app is. And what you want it to do.
    • Look for multiple options.
    • Does the product work year after year? Can it continue to be used as students get older, change schools, etc?

    Knowing if apps are being used and being used well:

    • It's important to track use AND impact on student achievement.
    • How do we define use? Is it just logging in? Or is it tie on task?
    • Is it being used only during the school day or is it being accessed after hours?
    • Campuses often purchase systems and districts need to use data to show them if the money is being used wisely or not.
    • If what you bought is/isn't being used, what other tools are being used?
    • CatchOn ( is a tool launching tonight at SXSWedu which will help districts obtain data on the use of their digital tools.

    Once you have the data, what do you do with it?

    • Administrators: Ask informed questions of your staff. Why is the tool not being used? Is it too difficult? Is it not meeting the need? Then take answers to the next level. Expect vendors to help and improve. 
    • Teacher: Data should confirm what you've already observed with your students. Look for anomalies and use the data to improve your students' educational experience. 
    • Vendor: Find the breakpoints in utilization and see what is needed to fill the gaps. Data should be used to improve the apps and the classroom experience. 
    • IDEAL: Share the data between schools/districts and support one another in better use.
    • Be careful not to use the data to hit teachers on the head. Use it to open conversations and give teachers and students voice. What other tools are they using instead? Or what do they need to help them implement better.
    • Data is the middle piece in the efficacy discussion, not the end all be all.

    Closing Thoughts:

    Consolidation is happening rapidly in the EdTech market. Those of us in education can impact how this takes place.

    USE DATA to make what you are doing better and fuel innovation.

    Make sure you hold vendors accountable for their products functioning the way they should and the way you need them to.

    *********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.
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