Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolve to Promote Truth

Photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com
OK educators. It's time to put the skills you have to work with ALL of the people in your lives, not just the ones you call your students. This may also include yourselves.

It's time to promote self-restraint. And critical thinking. And research skills.

It's time to be OK with gently correcting even the adults in your life.

Why this call to action? Because I firmly believe that until we can promote the idea that ALL of us, regardless of age, are responsible for conducting ourselves wisely online, convincing our young people to be responsible digital citizens will be an uphill, frustrating, and in the long run a losing battle.

An area where I believe we can easily make an impact is in the area of promoting the truth. Stated another way, let's resolve to

  • Not pass along information without doing some quick fact checking. 
    • If you don't have time to fact check, just don't pass the info along.
  • Let people know when they are sharing incorrect information and ask them to delete and post a correction.
  • In the process, teach others how to do their own quick fact checking.

An Example of How to Promote Truth

Following through on a resolution to promote truth is not all that difficult. Here is a scenario which played out for me earlier this fall:
  • A friend posted an address on Facebook where people could send cards to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C.
  • Thinking it was a good idea, but wanting to be sure it would truly work, I went to my favorite rumor checking website, snopes.com, and searched for Walter Reed cards for soldiers and quickly found that the address shared by my friend would not work.
  • I then posted a comment on my friend's Facebook post, sharing that the information was inaccurate and that Snopes is a good place to check on these types of things before sharing. Then, I gently suggested she might want to take it down and let the person who shared it with her know as well. (She did take it down!)
That's how easy it was. Instead of clicking Share without thought, I took about five extra minutes to confirm that what was being said was true. Hopefully, anyone else who saw this play out will  hesitate the next time they are about to share information and take a moment to check.

Develop Your Suspicion Muscle

One thing we all need to do is become more suspicious of the things we read online, especially the ones that are "feel good" (like sending Christmas cards to soldiers) or "cries for help" (like missing children alerts). Often these tales started out true. Many missing children posts began as truth. A lost stuffed animal's journey began as truth, but I continue to see the picture of the "missing" lion popping up on Facebook, even though the story has already had its happy ending.

Here are some of the types of posts that almost immediately make me pause and verify before sharing:
  • Reports of the death of anyone famous
  • Requests to help find missing people
  • Photographs circulating during and after disasters (Just look at all the pics supposedly related to Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. Anyone ever heard of Photoshop?)
  • Any report of a scandal
  • Stories/photographs that support a specific political point of view. (Even the views I agree with. Especially those! Why would I want to damage a cause I believe in by spreading falsehoods?)
It is hard to categorize everything that gives me pause, which nowadays is almost anything. But whenever I experience a mental "Hmmm..." alert after seeing something online, especially when social media is the first place I see it, I
  • Head to Google where I specifically look for news references if it is a current event topic. And I try to find verification on two or more sites.
  • And/Or I go to snopes.com if it seems to be something that might have been around for a while.
Whether I verify the information or not, if I choose to correct or reshare, I always include a link to a reliable source with the information. Again, hoping to model appropriate sharing for my online connections.

I Hate to Say it, but We Need to Trust Less

In the digital age, it is too easy to spread inaccurate information. Many of us who remember getting information pre-Internet have not made the mental transition from the days of print media and the days when news came to us only through networks on television. We trusted that what we read and heard from journalists had been verified. Frankly, many people, regardless of their age, are just gullible, assuming if it's online, it's true.

Today, anyone is capable of being a "journalist," of sharing the latest "news." People with zero journalistic training from your high school friend on Facebook to a social media specialist hired by a news or pseudo-news organization. Some of those specialists prioritize getting visits to their site and shares of their information far above sharing accurately. So it benefits us and those in our circles if we treat the information we encounter with healthy suspicion, and verify before we share.

Who's With Me?

As I write this, one year is ending and another is beginning. But no matter when you are reading it, I hope you will join me in a resolution to promote truth

I would love it if you would share in the comments below your thoughts on this topic, ways you verify information which finds you online, or information you shared a correction on because you found it to be false. It will be encouraging to know we have partners in the truth crusade! :-)

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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

EdTechSandyK's Top 5 Posts of 2013

Graphic Used With Permission
On January 1st this year, I took time to look over the top five posts on my blog from 2012. It was interesting to see which posts received the most hits, as I assume "most hits" = "resonated the most with readers." Because this was a helpful exercise for me at the end of 2012 / start of 2013, I thought I'd give it another go as 2013 ticks away its final hours and 2014 looms on the horizon.

So, I bring you (insert dramatic drum roll) the top five most visited (and hopefully read!) posts on my blog from 2013 as tracked by Blogger:

  1. How to Decode a Tweet, 1/7/13 - I originally wrote this post and created the graphic for it because I needed it for a Twitter for Professional Development workshop that I was going to be co-leading the next month. I had used someone else's similar post in previous workshops, but Twitter had changed its layout enough that I felt an update was prudent. Little did I know this would become my most popular post of the year! I also learned a lesson from this post: If you go to the trouble to customize a graphic, put your name on it somewhere. I've seen the graphic passed around and re-used in numerous places over the last year without any credit or link to the original post provided.

  2. iPad Basic Training for Teachers, 8/30/13 - After spending a spring and summer immersed in designing training for my school district's "iPads for Teachers" initiative, I thought it would be beneficial if I shared our process and online materials. I was right! In addition to receiving the second highest number of visitors on my blog, this post also generated requests for permission to link to the materials. In looking back over this post, I now realize that it is almost 2014, and we still need to get the materials updated to iOS 7 information. I could be discouraged by that, but instead, I'm going to look at it as job security and a chance to further practice my video tutorial making skills!

  3. 10 Killer iPad Projects Students Will Love, 6/24/13 - This post is comprised of notes I took at an ISTE 2013 concurrent session. So, no original work for me, but a chance to further spread the great ideas and resources which Holly Dornak and Jessica Dyer of Lamar CISD took time to share with us at the conference.

  4. My Favorite Videos for Describing Educators' Professional Use of Twitter, 10/20/13 - I talk about Twitter. A lot! And I am interested in others' experiences with learning via this microblogging tool. As a result, I am constantly saving resources that I can turn to when it is time to create a presentation or just shoot a link to someone to say, "Hey, this is what I'm trying to tell you about." After seeing a wonderful new video in October created by teacher and edtech graduate student Victoria Olson, I was inspired to compose a post mentioning some of my all time favorite Twitter explanation videos. The idea obviously appealed to the online audience, propelling this late-in-the-year post to the fourth most visited on my blog.

  5. Your Facebook Privacy is YOUR Responsibility, Not Your Friends'..., 1/13/13 - Although I tried really hard to tone it down a bit, as I reread this post I can sense the frustration I was feeling when I wrote it. As an advocate for digital citizenship for people of all ages, I admit to becoming easily irritated by the inaccurate information that is constantly propagated online, and my patience in this area continues to erode. When I hit certain levels of frustration, they often get worked out in a blog post. Hopefully, between my moments of venting, some true enlightenment results for anyone who takes time to read. I'm soothed by the fact that this made my top five most-read list for 2013.

Another year has sped by. (They really do go faster each year!) As I look back on 2013, I see an iPad and social media focus in my top five posts. Much like 2012. Mobile learning and online connection continue to dominate my thoughts and the interests of my readers. Will 2014 bring any significant changes? I look forward to finding out with you!

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.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Excited to Join the Digital Citizenship Chat Team in 2014! #digcit

Digital citizenship is a topic that has become increasingly important in recent years as young people and adults alike negotiate what it means to be a participant in the largely public and searchable online world. Hardly a day goes by where we don't hear a story in the news about someone making a misstep in the digital realm that translates into consequences for them and those around them. These issues span a spectrum including cyberbullyinglack of professionalism leading to job loss, and online posts leading to indictment and incarceration.

What we don't hear enough about are the positive aspects of engaging online. Sharing ideas in areas of interest or expertise through blogging, creating a portfolio of our best work to show off to colleges and  prospective employers, and coming together to raise awareness of a cause are just a few of the ways people of any age can leave a positive impression of themselves as citizens online.

Digital citizenship has been a huge interest of mine for several years now because I think we can never discuss it enough or continue to grapple with topics related to our online conduct. Which is why I'm excited to have been invited to become part of the Digital Citizenship Chat team! On the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, you can find #Digcit chat on Twitter.

I was going to take time here to tell you all about it, but one of the advantages of being on a team is no one has to do all of the work alone. Below is a Smore digital poster designed by one of our team members to tell you all about the first 2014 chat taking place January 8th at 8 Eastern / 7 Central as well as introduce you to all of the team members. I hope to see you at one or more of the #Digcit chats in 2014!

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.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Shining a Light on Our PLNs

Photo by smjbk Used Under a Creative Commons License
On December 4th, I was tagged by Carrie Ross and Kristy Vincent. Then, I was tagged today by Joel Adkins and Carl Hooker. What started out as a Sunshine Award  has now become an opportunity for edubloggers to share a little about themselves and learn a bit about other members of their networks beyond just the professional side that most of us educators stick to when blogging. So, after four tags, I think it's probably my turn to participate!

Wondering what the heck I'm talking about? Read the rules below...

Here are the rules:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
Step one was completed in the opening paragraph. So here goes step two...

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. I was adopted as an infant; my mom was 48 and my dad was 47 when they brought me home.
  2. I don't hate smokers, but I hate smoking. Both of my parents died 13 years ago within five months of each other due to complications of emphysema/COPD. They were life-long smokers except for the last four/five years of their lives.
  3. I've read through the entire Bible - Genesis to Revelation - twice.
  4. I can't imagine being retired; I don't know what I will do with myself!
  5. I love to sing but I've never had any formal lessons or training. If I had to do it all over again I would have taken choir in school instead of band so my instrument would always be with me (although I loved being in band in middle and high school!).
  6. I think I'm good at organizing other people, but I stink at organizing myself.
  7. I like to two-step, but I haven't been out dancing in a long time.
  8. My first major experience with educational technology was in the Summer of 1990 when I helped set up the first computers in professors' offices at the university where I was a sophomore and taught them things like how to turn the computers on and launch programs. Little did I know what I would one day be doing for a living!
  9. I've climbed down the back side of Enchanted Rock in Llano, Texas, without any ropes or safety gear and tennis shoes that had almost no tread. Spur of the moment decision. Not smart. Very scary and it's only by God's grace that I lived to tell about it.
  10. I love dogs. A lot.
  11. I first believed in Christ as my savior at the age of 11.

Answers to the Questions from the Bloggers Who Nominated Me

OK, since I have nominations from four folks, I'm going to take a trick from Carl's book and answer a few questions from each of them. Except Carrie, who forgot to list 11 questions!

  1. Why did you start blogging? (Kristy) I started my blog at the same time that I started my master's degree in 2009, thinking I'd blog about what I was learning. Around the same time, though, I also got involved in this thing called Twitter, and I quickly found lots more topics to blog about beyond my formal studies. 
  2. If you could possess only one piece of hardware, what would it be? (Kristy) A touch-screen laptop that switches between tablet/app and fully-functioning computer mode with a standard keyboard. It would also have to have smart phone functionality since I wouldn't be allowed to have a smart phone any more.
  3. What was your favorite lesson to teach in the classroom? (Kristy) One that sticks with me was called The Atoms Family. It was a story for teaching the parts of an atom that I found in a science teaching magazine in the mid 90's. I took on the personas of Nerdy Nelda Neutron (0 personality), Perky Patty Proton (a very positive personality), and Enraged Elliot Electron (negative personality and likes to race in circles) and taught the parts of the atom to my sixth graders. They pretty much thought I had lost it when I ran circles around the room as Elliot! It was beyond fun. I just did a Google search and the lesson is still out there!
  4. If education wasn't an option in any form, what would you be instead? (Kristy) A talk radio host.
  5. What was the title of the last book you read for fun? (Joel) 11/22/63
  6. What was the hardest lesson you learned? (Joel) Change is inevitable, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Even if you don't make changes yourself, the world around you does not stay stationary.
  7. What is your favorite movie of all time? (Joel) I have three, each for different reasons, so I can't break the tie. They are, in no particular order: Air Force One, Shadowlands, and Amazing Grace.
  8. What's your proudest moment? (Carl) My proudest moment was graduating from college. I had a smile on my face that would not go away for anything that day. It was the first time I felt a sense of accomplishment for a body of work and also deeply moving to see how proud my parents were of me.
  9. Have you ever cried at a YouTube video? If so, which one? (Carl) Umm, you mean which ones, right? I am a softie for kids and animals. This video about an abandoned dog rescue really got me.
  10. How do you explain your job to people? (Carl) I tell them I help teachers learn more about using technology in teaching so they can teach students more about technology. It's so much more complex than that, but that's a pretty good summary for a casual chat.
  11. What's the biggest prize/money you've ever won? (Carl) Well, at my high-school's after prom party, I won a diamond and ruby ring. Not sure of its value, though. I won $500 playing bingo once, too.

11 Bloggers I Want to Know More About

11 Questions For the Bloggers I Want to Know More About

I'm going to go with several of the questions I decided to answer above. Mostly because I enjoyed answering them! But I do have a few originals, too.

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What was/is your favorite lesson to teach in the classroom?
  3. If education wasn't an option in any form, what would you be instead?
  4. What was the hardest lesson you learned?
  5. What is your proudest moment?
  6. How do you explain your job to people?
  7. If you could send a message back to yourself 20 years ago, what would it say?
  8. If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing about the public education system, what would it be and why?
  9. If you could visit any event in recorded history, what event would you pick and why?
  10. What is the title and author of the last book you read for fun?
  11. What is your favorite movie?

This was fun and took longer than I thought it would. It also broke a blog writing drought for me. Thanks, Carrie, Kristy, Joel, and Carl!

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.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

#EdCampOnline Experience 10-26-13 #ce13

Yesterday I had the exciting opportunity to participate in the first ever EdCamp to be held online. If you are not familiar with EdCamps, they differ from traditional professional development experiences in that they are organized by the participants on the day of the event. This EdCamp video gives a brief introduction to EdCamps, and this TEDxPhiladelphia talk by Kristen Swanson gives a much more in-depth story of how the EdCamp movement came to be and what it seeks to provide to educators.

I have watched many EdCamps from afar by following their hashtags on Twitter while they are taking place, but have never had the opportunity to participate in one in person myself. I am excited that EdCamp Austin is coming to my area very soon, but I was also pumped when I heard about EdCamp Online and registered for it right away. After being a part of yesterday's event, I am even more excited about the in-person experience I will be having in just a couple of weeks!

To preserve the experience, I created a Storify using the Tweets I sent out during EdCamp Online. They include general getting organized Tweets, information from the session on engagement in online learning that I took part in, and the wrap-up. Also included is evidence of some technical issues that were bound to happen with a large endeavor like this one.  I've embedded the Storify slide show below so you can see what my experience was like. You can also click here to view the Storify in a different format. 

I hope it will help inspire you to take part in an EdCamp experience at your first opportunity!

NOTE: When Storify shut down in May, 2018, I exported my Storify collections to Wakelet. Below is the original collection of Tweets I saved during Edcamp Online in 2013, now hosted on Wakelet.

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.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Favorite Videos For Describing Educators' Professional Use of Twitter

A snapshot of the information flowing
through my Twitter stream today.
I have been actively using Twitter for professional learning for a little over four years. It has become my most valuable professional learning resource during that time.

As a result of the tremendous value I've gotten from it, I've written about and presented on Twitter quite a few times. You would think that based on my extensive use of the tool and the number of times I've presented formally on it, words which describe its value and use would trip easily off of my tongue. You would be wrong.

I am often at a loss for words when I am trying to briefly describe Twitter as a learning tool. Especially to someone who is highly skeptical of "that Twitter thing" anyway or who has only ever used Twitter to follow celebrities and friends for social purposes. For whatever reason, I have difficulty with the initial task of helping them see Twitter for the powerful learning tool it can be when used specifically for that purpose.

Fortunately, I am not alone in my quest to convince others of the value of Twitter for professional learning! There are many educators out there who are passionate about spreading the word, and a few of them have made videos which help me compensate for lacking in the ability to initially describe what the heck using Twitter for professional learning looks like.

In case you are ever in the position of trying to describe Twitter for personalized professional development, here are my favorite videos for introducing Twitter to teachers. I find that after sharing videos like these, I am able to better move the conversation forward and share tips for finding and sharing quality content on Twitter. I hope these videos are helpful to you as well!

The Videos

Twitter in D123 - A professionally done video by a school district, showing how staff members including teachers, tech coaches, administrators, and the superintendent use Twitter for professional growth. I love this video because it is under 2 1/2 minutes long and serves as a good intro to discussing Twitter.

Twitter in D123 from OLHD123 on Vimeo.

Re-Imagine Your Professional Development Experience...With Twitter! - Created by elementary technology teacher and edtech graduate student Victoria Olson, this video gives a wonderful overview of the use of Twitter for PD. As I write this post, this video is only a week old. I came to know about it because Victoria asked permission to use a graphic I had created in her video. I particularly like how Victoria breaks down three stages of Twitter participation into the Lurker, the Participant, and the Author. I love, love, love this video, and I can't wait to use it with educators who want to know more about Twitter!

Why Tweet? A Personal Journey Through the Twitterverse - University of Alaska professor Skip Via  created this video a couple of years ago to address what he saw as resistance to use Twitter for professional learning among higher education faculty. I relate to this video because it describes an experience similar to mine, where I left Twitter after trying it for the first time because I just didn't get it. Dr. Via also incorporates some graphics in his video which help explain how the connections you make on Twitter expand your scope of learning and influence.

Obvious to You, Amazing to Others - This video is not directly about Twitter, but I like to show it before the end of every gathering where I discuss Twitter for professional learning. From my earliest days of teaching, I never understood why I had to go ask other teachers for ideas all of the time. I would see evidence of projects they were doing with their students, wonder about them, and then just march right in and ask if I could know more. The teachers were never reluctant to share, but I always had to ask first. I exposed my own students to numerous impactful learning opportunities because of those conversations. This video helped me understand; we do things because they are obviously smart/right/good to us, but don't think it's worth sharing them with others because they make so much sense to us. Educators often wonder what they have to offer to other educators via Twitter (or any other medium). I use this video to help convince them to just share what they are already doing, because the rest of us need to know.

Now It's Your Turn!

Please take time to share in the comments below any other videos you have used when talking with educators about Twitter. Or, share a way that one of the videos above was helpful to you!

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.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Create Short Animated Videos for Learning With the Tellagami App

Through a teacher and an educational technologist in my school district, I've recently discovered the Tellagami app for creating short animated videos. The video below is only the third Gami (the app maker's term for a finished product) which I have created. I was able to learn the app very quickly this weekend in preparation for introducing it to secondary fine arts teachers from my school district this morning. I won't take time in this post to teach you how to use Tellagami, because the app gives you a very nice tutorial the first time you launch it. There are also good instructions included on the Tellagami website. 

Check out my Gami (it's only 26 seconds!), then scroll down to learn more about what I like about the app and some ways I think it could potentially be used in teaching and learning.

What I Like About Tellagami

  • The app is free  for both iOS and Android mobile devices, which makes it ideal for both 1:1 and BYOD learning environments. I created the Gami above on my Galaxy Note II Android smartphone.
  • You do not need to create an account to use Tellagami.
  • The app has a few choices for customizing your avatar, which helps keep a focus on the final outcome of the product.
  • There are a few backgrounds to choose from in the app, but you can also doodle your own background,  select a photo stored in the photo library on your device, or take a photo while you are creating the Gami to use as a background.
  • There is an option to directly record your voice or type what the avatar says and let Tellagami add the speech with a computerized voice.
  • The maximum length of a Gami is 30 seconds, which lends itself to succinctness.
  • There are numerous ways to save your Gami, including directly to your device as a QuickTime (iOS) or MP4 (Android) or sending a link by email without saving to your device.
    • An advantage of sending by email without saving is your Gami gets uploaded to the web, and you get a link that you can Tweet or share on Facebook or in a text message. You can follow the link to get an embed code if you want to post the Gami on a website. This is the procedure I used to add the Gami above to this blog post.
    • An advantage of saving the Gami to your device is you can then upload the movie file to a website of your choice such as YouTube or a blog. Here is the Gami I created as a demo during a fine arts teacher inservice this morning, saved as a a file to my iPad, and then uploaded to YouTube.

Ideas for Using Tellagami in Teaching and Learning

  • Any teacher or staff member could create a Gami to add to their website or blog with a brief welcome/introduction message.
  • A foreign language teacher at one of our high schools lets students speak via Gami because it is less intimidating than standing up in front of the class.
  • Create a public service announcement (PSA) on a health, wellness, or safety topic.
  • Create a book teaser/trailer to get peers or students interested in reading a book.
  • Explain a problem, process, or procedure. This Gami uses a screen shot created with the Educreations app to explain a math procedure.
  • Create a news report recounting the important facts of a current or historical event.
  • A possible advanced use could include recording several 30 second Gamis and then editing them together into a longer video. This might be a way to get students to create a collaborative presentation, with each student recording a Gami for their part.

What Other Ideas Do You Have?

Have you used Tellagami before or had an idea spark from the examples above? If so, please share your ideas in the comments, and please include links to any Gamis you have posted on the web!

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, October 10, 2013

LMS & CMS Discussion - #TECSIG Fall 2013 Breakout Session

Some CMS/LMS systems districts are using:

  • Moodle
  • Schoology
  • Edmodo
  • Project Share Epsilen
  • iTunes U
  • Blackboard Collaborate
  • Blackboard - U of H Clear Lake
  • Desire2Learn
Administratively difficult to use multiple systems at university level. In K-12 also difficult.

If you work for a university or school district, who owns a course you create? If you put it together on your own time and are not compensated extra for the development, is it yours or your employer's?

If teachers put together a course with no editor, there is no quality control. Teachers may not have all of the skills they need to do online instructional design. Also, once the course is built, links go dead or change or become outdated. Continued design is a huge time investment.

Is there a need for dedicated online course instructional designers in K-12 education?
  • Consistent look and feel? (Unified design)
  • Deep understanding of the LMS/CMS and how it works.
  • Keep course content updated
Do K-12 schools need courses completely delivered online? Is the cost to develop worth the need? (homebound, credit recovery, acceleration)

In K-12, CMSs fill a blended learning niche more than than a fully online learning niche.
  • Lewisville ISD is doing a two day in person/three day online model with a group of students and students are seeing benefits.
Teaching online courses is a lot of work. It is a bigger time investment to design and implement online courses than in person courses. This is woefully misunderstood by administrators and teachers.

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.

Effective Coaching - #TECSIG Fall 2013 Breakout Session

Does anyone have a model where core teachers have extra off periods for technology coaching?

  • One district has that model but for core area coaching (not technology)
  • Another district pays a stipend to classroom teachers to be first-line support to teachers in addition to their teaching duties. 
  • Another district has an on campus person who has a stipend and also core content specialists who teach two classes but use the rest of the time for coaching other teachers. At district level, now focus on building capacity in the core content specialists instead of working directly with teachers. Meet with content specialists and try to help them prepare for the next two weeks at school.
Another model - District-level coaches go to campuses and teach a class for teachers while they observe.

Another district shared they have six district-level people and prefers this over liaisons because there is inconsistency in a campus-based person's ability to devote time to the job. Campus based personnel are also more likely to be given campus duties such as covering classes, organizing science fair, creating and sending newsletters, etc.

Definite tension between coaches being fix-it people and instructionally focused repeated across school districts.
  • Decision trees for whom to contact in what kinds of situations
  • Use the 10 minute rule - if it's going to take more than 10 minutes for a fix, it's a technician problem
  • Sometimes it's your instructional coaches who have the problem saying no
  • Great resource from Brenham ISD: https://sites.google.com/a/brenhamk-12.net/bisd-new-hires/about-us

Changing what PD looks like: Would challenge based learning opportunities help with building capacity in to teachers who are already constrained for time? Could this be done in a blended or fully online space?

Apple has an online SAMR assessment survey (FREE) that will help teachers self-assess where they are in their technology learning. People are notoriously bad at assessing their own skills, however.

Bright Bytes Clarity for Schools - Not free, but allows teachers, students, parents, and administrators to assess where they are in tech integration. Region 11 has purchased this for all of their schools. Identifies gaps and offers solutions. Look for info videos on Vimeo.

How can we stimulate binge learning? (Similar to binge viewing of videos on Netflix.)

  • Appy Hours
  • Potlucks
Be models of growth, not perfection.
  • Share your own stories of how you learned something. Ex: Coach shares she used to take a picture of how her IWB was set up so when the cables got rearranged she could hook it back up herself.

Provide incentives for attending PD. Ex: Tech Bucks you can save up to purchase technology items. (Ann D. had this idea.)

Speed Geeking - Get some teachers who will share a snipit of something they are doing in their classroom. Set up in stations (Ex: in library) and have other teachers rotate through the stations for 10 minutes.

Book study recommendation for tech coaches - ISTE's Technology Facilitation and Leadership Standards

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.

Device Implementation - #TECSIG Fall 2013 Breakout Session

Participants & Their Questions:

Sandy Kendell, EdTech Coordinator in a 4A District - We have implemented one iPad for every teacher K-12 and we are rolling out BYOD grades 6-12.
  • How do you manage iPads efficiently while still giving individual users latitude with their devices?
Bruce Ellis, Director of PD TCEA, former Director in a LARGE URBAN district.
  • Questions: iPad management at a distance, tweaking the conflict between using them as shared devices vs. 1:1.
  • Information on implementing Android
Anonymous Inst Tech Coordinator from a Fast Growing suburban school district. Implementing 1:1 for 3rd through 12th grade students. Not committted to a device yet. Evaluating what to do PK-2. 3rd - 5th in Spring and 6th - 12th in Fall. 6-12 will take home.
  • How do we go about doing this? Procedures? Would like to visit with people who've done it successfully.
Millie from a small rural CenTex district. 1:1 with Macs in HS. 4th year. 7th & 8th also one to one but don't take home. PK-6 sharing iPad carts. All teachers have Mac Books. PK- 6 teachers all have iPads too.
  • Just moved in to new elementary schools. Teachers have had Windows laptops. They are getting Macbooks on Monday morning and need training! 
  • Teachers will have two "computers" in the classroom. What device should it be? What do they want it to do?
Molly Valdez, San Antonio ISD. Did a Kindle Fire deployment last year. Good but kinks. Students liked the size of the Kindle.
  • Anyone else using that device?
Mark Gabehart, Round Rock ISD - Forming a tablet committee to develop specs on what they want tablets to be able to do to support curriculum and teacher efforts.
  • How do you go about supporting a variety of tablets in your school district?
Joel Adkins, Pleasanton ISD - Just here to help answer questions! :-) Policy is now not writing policies. Any device is supported!

Tim Holt - El Paso ISD - multiple roll outs - iPads, Chromebooks, BYOD, a stew of things happening in the district.
  • How do you keep a balance in the control without losing purpose?
Tanna Fiske - @fiskeclass on Twitter - EdTech from Eanes ISD - Fully 1:1 K-12. Has done cart scenario in past as a classroom teacher. Just wants to see where everyone is.

Timn Yenca - @mryenca on Twitter - EdTech from Eanes ISD. Looking at different MDM solutions for 1:1. Anticipating Apple's MDM solution coming in Fall.

Bryan Fuqua - Robinson ISD Tech Director - All teachers have iPads, BYOD at jr. high and high school. Different carts all over the place. Exploring 1:1.
  • How have others decided on what device to go with? Who all had input? Staff? Teachers? Community?
Caleb Basinger - Systems Engineer with Apple, here to help!

  • Have heard New Braunfels ISD has gone 1:1 iPads and are a very good resource.
  • Eanes ISD does site visits. Includes teachers panels and technical information. Try to share their successes.
  • Belton ISD - 1:1 iPads and Chromebooks. They do scheduled tours
  • iPad Carts vs. Small Pods of iPads in classrooms - In Sandy's opinion (a few people agreed), pods of iPads are more robustly used because teachers have consistent access.
    • A shared cart often winds up being monopolized by one or two teachers
  • Another option is an iPad Cart shared and dedicated to each classroom on the grade level for six weeks or another specific type of time.
  • Security - Joel's district blocks porn, gambling, and murder. Keep it flexible so tech is not an obstacle to prevent teachers from being flexible in the classroom.
  • Basic image on iPads, then use Apple volume purchasing for teachers to customize the apps they want on their iPads. Help teachers learn how to assess apps.
  • Devices going home - not filtered by most districts. Can be pointed back to the filter on the district network by global proxy, though.
  • Kindles have been difficult to globally manage. They have to be touched.
  • Consider hiring contractors to help set up devices.
  • In elementary classrooms - iPads seem to be the device of choice.
  • Right now, it's really a browser war. Something work well in Chrome or Firefox or Explorer. Use what works for you to get the task done. - Joel Adkins
  • Don't forget bandwidth! And access points!
  • Educate your stakeholders on bandwidth.

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.

Parent Communication in a Mobile Device Initiative - #TECSIG Fall 2013 Breakout Session

Eanes has had 67 parent meetings since starting their 1:1 initiatives 3 years ago.



Parent  Concerns:

Equity - What if all students don't have devices? - Need to assure we are helping teachers plan for that.
Distraction - What about off task behavior? Be ready for it at first, make lessons shorter. Novelty will wear off.
Screen time - Studies have shown interactive screen time is very engaging - http://goo.gl/7gFct3 - kids brains are changing.

How can we help educate parents also? So we can work together as a team for kids. Ex: Modeling appropriate use of technology.

What about parents who don't have access? How do we communicate with them? This is a big challenge. No big answers here.

Parent support is essential for long term financial sustainability of programs. 

Philosophical Videos for Thinking About Place of  Tech in Our Lives - tangent that came up in this session:

  • http://vimeo.com/70534716
  • http://teamcoco.com/video/louis-ck-springsteen-cell-phone
  • http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/09/05/219266779/our-cultural-addiction-to-phones-in-one-disconcerting-video

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.

Mobile Learning in Georgetown ISD

Over the past year, the school district I work for has made tremendous strides in the realm of mobile learning. I am proud of all that our school board, administration, technology department, educational technology staff, and teachers have done and are continuing to do on a daily basis to move students' educational experience forward through integration of district-owned and student-owned mobile devices. Our Engage! initiatives are rolling right along.

And now, a peek into what's happening in GISD...

Yesterday, local ABC affiliate KVUE did a story on our grades 6-12 BYOD initiative. High school Latin teacher Mark Warren and his students were featured, as was our EdTech Coordinator Kim Garcia (my boss). They both did a great job of reperesenting the goals/purposes of the program! I think my favorite moment, though, is when one of Mark's students talks about not really getting homework anymore. See if you can catch what he says about that!

For our opening convocation earlier this year Kim put together a video montage showing what our teachers and students had accomplished in 2012-2013 with iPads that were rolling out across our district. as of the start of the 2013-2014 school year, every teacher in our district has been issued an iPad, and many campuses are bringing in small sets of iPads to use with students. Take a look at how creative our teachers were in a relatively short amount of time; the majority of teachers did not receive their iPads until mid-Spring 2013!

After posting resources and stories about other districts on this blog from time to time, it's fun to get to feature my own district and rewarding to be a part of these endeavors!

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.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

5 to 6 Hours of Basic Training on iPads? What?

Photo Used Under Creative Commons License
My last post was on the plan the educational technology team in my school district came up with for iPad Basic Training for Teachers. As iPads began making their way into our school district through different avenues last year, we felt it was important to make sure our teachers had a basic understanding of how to use the iPad before we even began to talk with them about using the iPad for teaching and learning.

In conversations with people inside and outside of my district, upon hearing we were proposing five to six hours of training in the basics, we were occasionally met with "What? You want HOW MUCH TIME to do basic iPad training?" The strongest reactions usually came from people who were already iPhone and iPad users themselves.

I'm going to list a few of the reasons we felt five or six hours was the minimum amount of time we needed for iPad basic training. They are not necessarily listed in order of importance, but all contribute to the reasons that prioritizing for this kind of training should be included in any implementation that puts iPads into the hands of teachers for the first time. The same principles can apply to any tablet, laptop, or mobile device you are deploying to teachers.

  • When planning for effective training, you have to assume that as of now the majority of your teachers have not used tablet devices before. If you are an edtech specialist or "natural techie,", think back to times when you have used totally new devices. I remember touching an interactive whiteboard for the first time in the early 2000's. I still remember the trainer saying, "Press harder, you won't break it." Breaking it was a real fear of mine since I had not used that type of technology before. Your teachers have a wide range of fears when adopting new technologies, too.
  • Staff members who own personal smartphones and tablets use them for personal reasons, which are different from the reasons and ways these devices will be used in the classroom. For example, how a person evaluates an app they are going to download for personal reasons is very different from how they should evaluate an app they are going to download for use with students.
  • Even teachers with smart phone/tablet experience do not know all of the ins and outs of the device. 
    • They may have never investigated device restrictions or accessibility settings which might be beneficial in classroom use.
    • Have they learned time-saving gestures such as the five-finger pinch for closing an app? (I learned that when I saw someone else do it, about a year after getting an iPad.) 
    • What about the hidden-characters on the iPad keyboard, such as the apostrophe you can get if you long-press the comma key or the quotation marks you get when you long-press the question mark key? I didn't know those were there until I watched training materials we had gathered for our teachers. Based on their reactions to our trainings, many experienced iOS users didn't know about them either.
    • Several teachers we interacted with admitted they didn't know how to download apps or manage an Apple ID/iTunes account because someone else in their family, often their children, managed their devices for them or did stuff for them when they asked for help instead of showing them how to do it.
  • For those who are self-taught on iOS devices, if you added up all of the little bits of time you put into learning how to use your device as you needed to learn it, I would be willing to bet six hours would be a low number for the time you invested. 
  • When deploying iPads for teaching and learning, time is not a luxury that exists in terms of allowing teachers to learn the basics "in their own time as needed." They need to be brought up to speed as quickly as possible so they will feel comfortable with starting to use the devices instructionally. Scaffold the "how to" so you can move everyone toward meaningful educational use.

In my previous blog post on iPad Basic Training for Teachers, I explained that we decided to deliver the majority of our training through self-paced online modules. Although our primary reason at the time was the need to reach hundreds of teachers with several hours of training, the online delivery of the training has proved effective for other reasons. It allowed those with more experience to quickly move past information on topics such as "The Parts of an iPad." 

The amount of material covered is best absorbed in small chunks as well. When we trained in person in two three-hour sessions on separate days, at the end of each session, the participants' eyes were glazing over. They needed to be introduced to the different concepts and then given time to experiment and play. And people with existing experience needed to be able to move forward faster. Online modules allow for personalization in learning. We received many positive comments in our end-of-module surveys regarding the ability of the participants to watch the materials online while practicing with their iPads, review the material as needed, and fast-forward through skills they already knew.

One of my favorite bits of feedback was from a teacher who had been a technology specialist on her campus several years ago and now serves as a classroom teacher. She took time to email myself and my boss. Here is what she had to say:

Well, for someone who thinks I am a know-it-all on the iPad, thank you for these trainings! I learned so many things just from Module 1. I can’t wait to finish the training! 
Thanks for all the time you put into these trainings!

As teachers are implementing iPads in their classrooms this Fall, time will tell how effective our plan was overall. But the comment above, as well as multiple positive comments in our end-of-module surveys, make me believe the approach was the right one to take. And I will continue to remind myself of the benefits as I think of the time we're going to have to reinvest to update all of the training materials now that iOS 7 is out!

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.

Friday, August 30, 2013

iPad Basic Training for Teachers

The Background
Photo Used Under a Creative Commons License

In the Spring of 2013, my school district committed to issuing an iPad to every classroom teacher. The purposes for this initiative were to give teachers an additional tool for teaching and learning and to familiarize teachers with mobile devices in anticipation of more iPads being purchased for classroom use and a grades 6-12 BYOD program coming in the next school year.

This type of initiative is exactly what my supervisor Kim (AKA @DigitalLearners) and I had been waiting/hoping for.

This is why we had been reading everything we could via Twitter and blogs and attending every session we could at professional events about mobile learning and iPads for the past three years.

And yet, when the prospect finally became a reality, it was a little overwhelming. From all of the wonderful resources we had compiled, we needed to come up with a plan to get our teachers up-to-speed and comfortable with using iPads, while planting seeds of a vision for the use of mobile technologies in their classrooms. Most of the iPads would be in the hands of teachers by the end of the semester. Time was of the essence.

Thankfully, we had had a couple of trial runs in the fall. Federal funds had brought small sets of iPads to each of our Title I campuses, and we had put together six hours of in-person training on using iPads in teaching and learning for math and reading intervention teachers at 10 campuses. Additionally, a principal at one of our elementaries had secured funding to purchase an iPad for each of his teachers. With these 35-40 teachers, we asked them to cover some basics that we had posed online, and we did an additional two hours of in-person after school training with them. You can see our training agendas for these in person sessions here.

We were about to distribute iPads to 800 teachers. The timeline and our number of staff members would not allow us to do multiple-hour in-person trainings with all of them. Yet we felt based on our fall experiences that five to six hours of "the basics" was vital to giving this initiative the basis it needed to get off to a successful start. Online training was the only viable solution.

Thankfully, in the bank of resources we had been collecting was this iPad training page from Comal ISD which included this proficiency checklist. Comal graciously gave us permission to adapt their materials, and thus iPad Basic Training for Teachers online was born.

Training Plan

We took our fall experience and Comal's checklist and divided the basics into five one hour modules. Only the first module is delivered in a face-to-face format. Here is how it is organized:

Teachers needed to receive credit for completing the modules, so we set up eCourses in our Eduphoria Workshop system which include quizzes at the end based on the proficiency checklist. Basically, it's an honor system where teachers answer quiz questions with a "yes" or "no". Each "question" is one of the proficiencies on the master checklist, such as "I can create folders on my iPad for organizing apps."

We wanted the training resources to be readily available to our teachers on an ongoing basis without the need for a password to access them, so they are posted on our public website (see links above).

You are welcome to use the resources posted on my district's website and YouTube channel in your own trainings. I ask that you credit my school district if you use any district created resources or if you use the organizational ideas of our training. I would also appreciate if you share with me how you use it!


Are any of you thinking, "Really? Four to five to six hours of training on iPads? They're intuitive, right? Kids use them with little if any guidance. What the heck?"

Good questions! That, my friends, is the topic of my next blog post!

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.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Why Do Educators Love Their Profession? #loveedu

Why do we do it? Show up day after day to work with young people and other educators? It's a job that takes a great deal of stamina and energy. We're always "on". Because we are imperfect humans working with dozens of other imperfect humans, there are challenges.

Why do we do it? Because we are wired for it. Because it fills us up like no other endeavor can. Because we love it!

I asked educators on Twitter to share why they love their chosen profession. Their answers are below. Please enjoy! And if it sparks in you thoughts on why you love education, please share in the comments!

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, August 21, 2013

Dream School?

Photo Used Under a Creative Commons License
I classify myself as a realist who leans toward the optimistic. As an example of how that works itself out in my thoughts on things, I am fairly certain that no large scale transformative change is going to take place in American education in the next decade. The current political and social climate won't allow it. However, I believe that multiple small impacts can make a difference in the current system and move education in a more relevant and modern direction for our students. I try to do my part to contribute to the small impacts, looking for ways to encourage teachers to bring technology enriched learning into their classrooms. A little dent here, another dent there, and over time we make some progress.

I am not a dreamer.

I do not have massive educational progress or reform scenarios worked out in my mind. Nor do I put a lot of stock in the dreams I have when I sleep at night. They are ways my mind processes and works out real happenings in my life, but they are not particularly impactful 99.9% of the time.

Perhaps now that you understand a bit about how I think, you'll understand why this blog post is surprising me even as I write it.

I had a very vivid dream last night about a different kind of school. So much so that when I woke up this morning I quickly recorded what I remembered lest I lose the experience back to the world of unconscious thought.

Dreams are so hard to explain to others. But I am going to try to share this dream with you.
At the start of the dream, I was a student, winding my way through an unfamiliar high school but with fellow students I seemed to know and who seemed to know me. It seems I had been absent from school for an extended period, and they were trying to fill me in on what I needed to do to catch up. Eventually, we wound up in a large auditorium, where one of the students started a movie. I caught on that it was a cinematic version of a novel we were studying in depth in our English class. We watched for a while, taking notes on the movie. And then it was time to move to the next class. The same student who had gotten everything started stopped the movie and checked in with me to see if I understood everything I needed to do to get caught up.
It was only on later reflection that I realized there was no one in this auditorium/movie setting that I would consider to be a teacher in the traditional sense. The student who started and stopped the movie and conferred with me was definitely "in charge". (And he looked and sounded like Matthew McConaughey, but I digress...)
Jump to the next class (you know how dreams jump scenes like that) and now I am in a more traditional looking classroom but I am the teacher. It was another English class, but this time I'm up at the board writing words that fit a certain spelling pattern, but writing some incorrectly to see if the students catch the mistakes. When I turn from writing on the board to begin discussing with the students, I see that on the other end of the board (which I could not see while I was writing) some of the students have added their own examples of the word pattern. And some are written as mistakes on purpose, much like mine had been. This participation on the part of the students was seamless and appropriate to the task. We discussed my examples equally with theirs, and I clarified some misunderstandings.
So in this scenario, I who had been a student in a previous class was now a teacher, and students in the class were learners and also co-teachers with me.
Suddenly, class was over (though I heard no bell) and students began leaving the room while others began to enter. I headed toward a back corner where my desk was, but not to prepare for a new class. I was just organizing myself and gathering my thoughts. Upon turning around from my desk (my back had been to the room), I saw the students transforming the room, rearranging furniture, etc. It literally had a different "front" than when I had been teaching just a few moments before. As the new group of students settled in, I saw three of the young people who had been students in the class I had just "taught" seemed to be in charge of teaching this class. Students taking the class did not seem much younger than the ones teaching it.
Again, students as teachers. Are you starting to see a pattern? I wasn't, yet. The understanding would come later when I woke up.
I turned my attention back to organizing my corner of the room, pretty much ignoring the teaching and learning going on around me. That is until the learning intruded. Two students approached me and requested help. One of the students was having trouble explaining Punnett squares to her classmate who wasn't grasping the concept of what they represented, and she asked if I would help her find a way to help him understand them better. Of course, I obliged.
Did you catch that previous scenario? I wasn't asked to help the boy understand directly. I was asked to help the girl help the boy understand. It's a subtle, but important difference.
In case you wonder who was "in charge" of this school, my next stop in the dream was the front office to fill out paperwork due to my previous absence. The office was staffed with adults. No students in sight. Or at least no young people in the traditional "student" age range.

So, there you have it. A vivid dream of a school where teaching and learning were everyone's responsibility. And did I mention the atmosphere was extremely peaceful? It was full of students who came from multiple cultures and who all seemed focused on the tasks at hand.

A dream of a different kind of school from a self-proclaimed non-dreamer. Why share it here? So I don't lose it. It filled me with a sense of wonder (as in "I wonder if ...? I wonder how...?") that I don't want to forget.

Maybe the most important reason for me to share it here is so I will be inspired to dream more...

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.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Surviving Busy at the Start of School

Photo Used With Permission Under a Creative Commons License
As I write this I realize it's been a month since my last post. That's because like most of you (in the United States anyway) I am getting ready for another school year. Although I'm no longer in the classroom, this is still my busiest time of year. The edtech team I am on is trying to plan and deliver quality staff development, help new employees get acquainted with district systems, answer questions from everyone coming back from summer vacation, and the list goes on.

Busy, busy, busy! How do we survive it and still thrive?

I'm not going to give you research backed ideas, but I am going to make some suggestions based on 20 years of experience in education. Many of these are common sense, but I've found in my own life that common sense sometimes flies out the window when deadlines and stress set in. I hope you can take away at least one idea for making it through the start of school.

Here we go, in no particular order:

  • Get your normal amount of rest. Staying up late to finish one more thing can wind up biting you in the end if it makes you too tired to be effective the next day.
  • Be reasonable about the extra amount of time you put in. Are you going to spend some weekend time getting your classroom in order or catching up on all of the questions you are getting in your email? That's reasonable at this time of year, but put a limit on it. Tell yourself you are spending four hours on Saturday at work, and that's it. And stick to it. Make an appointment to meet someone for a meal or coffee or a movie if you have to. It's important not to wear yourself out, and setting a time limit will help you focus on the most important tasks you have to accomplish.
  • Focus on what must be done for the first week of school. What do the kids need to feel secure in your room and to get to know you and each other? What do you need in place to set up routines that will make the rest of the school year go well? Do you really need to plan out the whole first three weeks/six weeks/semester right now? Maybe you should get to know your kids a little before planning too far ahead so that your plans will better meet their academic needs.
  • Martha Stewart isn't going to reward you for your room decorations. I know, your bulletin boards must be perfect. But who is the room for, you or your kids? Will your kids be wowed by the decorations, or will they be more pleased to see empty space waiting to be filled with their creations? I used to put nice paper or fabric and border on each of my bulletin boards, label the board for each class period of students I had, and leave it at that. My kids' work became our decorations for the year.
  • Get help. In my early years of teaching, my mom used to help me set up my classroom each year. She could put up straight bulletin boards and get the wrinkles out of the fabric (I could not). She made index cards for all of the books in my classroom library so the kids could check them out. My mom is no longer with me, and those days she spent helping me are some of my fondest memories.

    Who are the possible helpers in your life? An understanding spouse? A child or grandchild who is old enough and mature enough to be a helper (and not add to your stress). A non-teaching sibling or friend? Former students? A parent? A student member of an organization that requires service hours? The teacher down the hall who is already done with their room? The teacher who is already done and is standing in your room trying to talk with you? (Hand that visiting teacher something to do; they will either help or leave.)
  • When you are sitting in those back-to-school meetings/trainings, wishing you were in your room, try to focus on what is being said. Although you might disagree at the moment, the person running the meeting thinks you need the info that is being shared. Don't add to your stress later by missing out on important information which causes you to not meet deadlines. Have a note pad with you; if something you need to do pops in your head, make note of it for later and put it aside for now.
  • When the tasks seem overwhelming, step outside, take a deep breath (or two or three or four), and think of the kiddos you are about to have the privilege of teaching. Take a ten minute walk, prioritize what is left to do, and remember the reason you are doing it. 
  • Constantly remind yourself that this, too, shall pass, and within a few weeks you'll be humming along with the rhythms of the school year.

What other tips do you have for surviving back-to-school busy? Please take a moment to share in the comments so we can all learn together.

Thanks for spending some of your precious time visiting my blog. Before you get back to work, take a deep breath! :-)

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 18, 2013

What would you tell teachers new to #BYOD / #BYOT?

Photo from @AquiAmigo Presentation at SXSWEdu 2013
I've been putting this question out on Twitter, but thought perhaps I'd get more in depth responses if I ask via my blog. So, here it goes!

Here is the scenario: You have three hours of face-to-face staff development scheduled with grades 6-12 teachers who are new to BYOD. Students will be bringing their own devices to school for the first time in just a few months.

Here are my questions:
  • What is the most important information to tell the teachers?
  • What hands-on activities would you incorporate into the training?
  • What practical ideas/tips/tricks would you share with them to set them up for success?
  • What classroom management tips would you give them?
  • What am I forgetting to ask/include in my questions?
I have done research on this over the last couple of years and bookmarked tons of resources, but would like to collect ideas from front-line teachers and trainers who are experienced in teaching in a BYOD/BYOT environment.

Thanks bunches in advance for any ideas and links you share in the comments below!

I also sent a couple of questions on this topic out to my Twitter network. Below is a slideshow of their answers to what they would include in a BYOD training for teachers and what their favorite QR code creators are.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Contribute to the #ISTE13 Six Word Story Project!

Here's My Contribution! Now It's Your Turn!
Did you attend ISTE 2013 in San Antonio? Then you must contribute to the Six Word Story Project!

Technology Director Bryan Doyle had an awesome idea for a collaborative project where attendees could capture their ISTE experience in six words and a photo. It doesn't even have to be a photo you took; just one that represents your idea.

The thing is, the project started almost two weeks ago, and Bryan set a deadline of July 12th for finalization of the project. So far, there are 19 contributions. ISTE says 18,000+ people were in attendance in San Antonio, so 19 is not a very good showing!

Come on, education and educational technology advocates - let's show the world the power of collaborative project creation! And let's represent as many locations on the planet as we can!

Bryan explains the project in detail on his blog and provides a link to the Google Presentation you can add to. So don't wait or think you'll come back to this, go read about the project on Bryan's blog and make your contribution now!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Twitter for Professional Learning #ISTE13

Photo Courtesy of @mistergoode via Twitter
On Tuesday, June 25th, I presented a poster session on Twitter for Professional Learning at the ISTE 2013 conference in San Antonio, Texas. My co-worker and usual partner-in-presentations Kim Garcia was scheduled to present with me, but was unable to due to illness. :-(

I really enjoyed the format of this "come-and-go" session, where I was able to have conversations with educators who were interested in Twitter for extending their own learning as well as the learning of their colleagues. I actually have another blog post in mind on the topic of poster sessions. Stay tuned for more info!

Meanwhile, if you are interested in resources on Twitter for professional learning, scroll down to check out the LiveBinder I put together for ISTE. Whether you are a beginner or experienced user of Twitter for growing yourself professionally, you are likely to find some helpful resources here. If you are conducting PD on Twitter for others, this collection is also a good place to start gathering resources.

I hope these resources are helpful to you! Happy Tweeting!