Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Conferences 2015


The first summer conference I attended after our district finished was Midlands Summit. This was my first year attending the conference. I was very impressed by the featured speakers that included George Couros, Alice Keeler, Michael Jaber and more.
Kristen, Jessica and I presented three sessions:

  1. Turning the Tables: Reverse Panel on Edtech
  2. Roll the Dice with App Smashing
  3. Discover, Transform, Excel @ PD
Jessica created this really cool Thinglink instead of the traditional slide style presentation.


For Roll the Dice I define app smashing, show several examples and then challenge the group to create their own app smash product to share. When time allows we have a little app smash award ceremony for the best examples. This was a session Kristen and I did with our school two years ago and is a fun, interactive lesson. The challenge we faced at Midlands Summit was the variety of devices in the room, some tablets that I had never even seen before. I tried to share more than just ios apps, but there were many beginners in the room that had trouble getting started on their own product. I even had a few teachers sneak out when I turned my back. I guess I was pushing them way out of their comfort zone!
You can see the slides here.

In Discover, Transform, Excel @ PD we share some of our favorite professional development plans from this year. We were hoping to reach other instructional technologists with this session because so few conference sessions are created just for this group. We had two people attend. There was lots of competition with featured speakers or at least that is what I'm telling myself. But we had a great time and both attendees left talking about how inspired they were with our PD ideas. Yay!
You can see the slides here.

At the Upstate Technology Conference we shared these same sessions, Jessica offered a session on Flipboard, and Kristen Hearne led a session with our iStudents. I was so excited and proud to see so many of our iTeachers and teachers presenting at the conference.

I enjoy attending conferences to connect with my PLN face to face, learn new ideas and share our experiences.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

A1 Digital Innovation Conference 2015: Transform


This year's end of the year conference was one of our biggest projects. Our PD remains focused by reexamining our three word brand, Discover, Transform, Excel. Throughout the year our PD was about discovery, and our conference was about transformation. We called the conference Transform 2015 and used butterflies for our logo. Here is an example on our Wow! Cards. Each teacher was given a card when they arrived. We had a yellow bag on the help desk where they were turned in. At the awards ceremony at the end of day two we pulled cards out and awarded prizes to both nominating teacher and presenter nominated. After the conference we sorted the cards and gave them to presenters. I saw this idea at the NC School Library Media conference and loved it. It was a huge success and definitely something we will do again.

At the Transform conference I led several different sessions. 

Teachers had an option of joining the Appmazing Race to earn an extra technology hour. Teams of teachers completed ten technology tasks and then put them all together in an iMovie that was shared on Twitter. Our winning team video is below. Here is the task list.




Our app gallery was a huge hit. Here are pictures of some of the tables. We contacted app developers to request swag for the tables and each iTeacher created a table for their favorite app with examples and links to resources for using the app. Teachers stamped a card as they visited each table and were entered into a drawing for prizes as well as earning a tech hour for the session.


Our closing session featured our version of the Family Feud. A group of teachers and librarians did a session like this at ISTE a few years ago and I've wanted to do a similar session for our district since then. Everyone LOVED it! I emailed a Google Form surveying our teachers about favorite apps and a few funny questions about having devices in the classroom. These were the top questions that we used for the show. Our teams were able to take a prize from our prize table at the end of the game. The Secondary Team were the winners. We had over $3,700 worth of prizes to give away to Appmazing race teams, Wow card drawing, and App Gallery drawing. We invited teachers to nominate themselves or others for the Transform Award. We asked teachers outside of the district to judge the nominations and we awarded a prize to our elementary, middle, high and district level winners. The prize was a Cocoon Grid It with lots of iPad accessories included. 
Our iStudents did a great job helping us at the conference, manning the app gallery tables and help desk, running equipment to speakers, hanging signs, handing out materials to teachers, taking pictures and all sorts of other jobs that made the conference run so smoothly. 
There are so many details to share about the conference that I'll have to cut myself off, but if there is anything you'd like to know more about just ask and I'm happy to share. We had a wonderful time and our teachers enjoyed themselves while learning.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Collaboration

One of the sessions that I taught at our end of the year conference was Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for Collaboration. Like many tools, the best way to learn is to use it.
I created a folder in Google Drive and shared it with everyone in my session. The first task in the session was to log in and go to a Google Doc with a Get to Know You Bingo table. Participants were asked to find the cells that applied to them and add their name. I wanted to them to see how multiple users could edit the same document. While they looked it over I explained share settings.

You can see an example here.

Then I asked them all to log into a Google Sheets page and add their name, favorite session attended so far, and one take away from the session.

Finally I asked everyone to contribute to a Google Slides presentation of ideas for using Google with their students. You can see the final slide deck here.

We only had 45 minutes so that was as far as we were able to go. Now I am looking forward to going into more depth with these tools next year. My go to resource for these tools is Alice Keeler's blog, Teacher Tech. If you haven't seen her blog, check it out. You can spend days there!

Tech for Tots: A Special Session for our K-2 Teachers

In preparation for our end of the year conference we carefully looked at each time slot to make sure all of our teachers had a few choices of sessions. We saw a weak area for our K-2 teachers so we decided to add a session just for them. We called it Tech for Tots.
There were three parts to our session.
1. Kahoot game about iPad Cart Management
2. Literacy Stations
3. Math App Dice Station

Our K-2 teachers have shared iPad carts so we wanted to go over ideas for managing the carts. In order to make it a little more fun we used Kahoot. To find the game search for me on Kahoot (tamaracox) and the game (Tech for Tots session).  We shared tips for getting work off of the ipads, restrictions to add, app organization, and tricks for keeping students on task. We put funny teacher memes on each question for a little laugh.

We were inspired by Tony Vincent's Learning in Hand blog post, Spruce Up Your Centers with Technology. We created literacy station cards so that the teachers could learn a few new apps and see how they could create instructions for their centers. You can see the ones we put together here.

For the math station we created a station task card (final slide of the above presentation) and three app dice to expose them to new math apps for their students. You can find our app dice here.

The teachers really enjoyed the session and appreciated our effort to offer something just for them.

Technado: 60 Apps in (less than) 60 Minutes

After every PD session we closely read the feedback from our teachers. Inevitably we get feedback that we are moving too fast and others say we are moving too slow. This session for our end of the year conference was for those that think we are moving too slow.
Each of the three instructional technologist choose twenty apps that we wanted to share. We knew this would be a fast paced chaotic session so we wanted a name to fit. Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian, to the rescue! I remembered seeing one of her amazing graphics and knew it would be a perfect fit. Thus was born our Technado session.
You can see our Google Slides presentation here.

We incorporated a few brain breaks to model that strategy and get people up, moving and having a good time. After my 20 apps we watched and danced along to the Dover policeman jamming to Taylor Swift's Shake it Off. We also shared the Safe Share tool for viewing Youtube videos in class.



The video was a hit with lots of laughs! After Jessica shared her 20 apps we played a version of Would You Rather? Jessica demonstrated silly movements to go along with the two choices and the audience had to dance along to make their choice. Even our superintendent played along. It was a good time.
After Kristen shared her 20 apps she asked everyone to contribute to an Answer Garden and share their favorite tool from the session.



Technado: Share you favorite new tool.... at AnswerGarden.ch.

This was a super fun session and we received tons of positive feedback. We will definitely do this again. In fact I've already started my list of apps to share. If time permits we may add an open mic portion to the session so the audience can share their favorites.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

2016 Mock Caldecott Project


Caldecott Medal
I saw this tweet from Mr. Schu sharing his 2016 Mock Caldecott list on Goodreads and knew immediately I wanted to do something with this next year. I shared the tweet with the reading coaches and elementary librarians and got to work.
I sat down with one of the elementary librarians and we made a plan. Next year each class will print out this poster to display in their room. As they read the titles with their teacher or librarian they add a star or sticker to the poster. When they are finished they will vote for their favorite as a class. The librarian can display the books and the classes favorites. When the ALA Youth Media Awards are announced the classes will find out if their favorite was the winner.
The titles are going to be shared with the art teachers so that they can tie in the books with some of their lessons as well. In addition, reading coaches will have the opportunity to use some of these titles with their lessons.
I'm going to work on reading each of them over the summer and make a list of some technology tie-ins for each title. This is my working document. I would love for you to add any ideas or suggestions you may have.
Do you host a mock Caldecott in your school? I would love to hear all about it.

Get a Jump on Technology: Summer PD

After reading this post from Alice Keeler's blog, we were inspired to put together a summer technology professional development course.
We decided to use Google Classroom so that our teachers would also be exposed to using this amazing, new tool. We wanted each task to be something that would help our teachers get a jump on next year so we named our class "Get a Jump on Technology"

The four tasks that we are asking our teachers to complete are:

1. Google Forms
Create a useful form for next school year. Example: a student introduction form, reading interest survey, learning styles inventory, parent night survey, etc
Create a QR code for your form. Post QR code to Google Classroom.

2. The 4 Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking
Watch this video that summarizes the 4 Cs. Then take one of your lessons and increase the use of the 4 Cs using this lesson template. Share your lesson on Google Classroom.

3. Technology Stations/Centers
Watch this video from Learning in Hand. Using some of the examples provided create at least three station task cards and share in Google Classroom.

4. End of Summer Presentations
Use one of the following apps to create a presentation about what you did this summer, Adobe Voice, Adobe Clip, Adobe Slate, Book Creator, Haiku Deck, Flipagram, Pic Play Post. Share your presentation on Google Classroom and on Twitter using #a1summerchallenge.

Immediately after sharing this challenge I had 8 teachers sign up in Google Classroom and a few that already finished their first task. I'm looking forward to seeing the amazing things that the teachers create this summer.

What do you do for PD over the summer? I would love to hear your ideas. Thank you Alice Keeler and Tony Vincent for inspiring us!