Monday, November 10, 2014

Digitize that Project!

Most of our teachers at Norfolk Senior High are getting their first taste of teaching in a 1:1 classroom this semester. We have challenged our teachers to try one thing with the Chromebooks. Do one assignment or project. Do a bell ringer or exit ticket. Use the Chromebooks for assessment. But we have left it up to each individual teacher on how they would make use of the Chromebooks in their classroom.

Recently a math teacher came to me and said that she wanted to digitize an old paper and pencil project. She had Geometry students create a storybook for a first grader using if this then that statements--along the lines of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." She shared the original project and rubric with me and asked if I could help her digitize it. In looking at the project, I determined it would be simple to add a digital element to this project. And the bonus was that she wouldn't really have to alter her project requirements or rubric that much to make the project digital.

So I turned to my Free Tech Tools for Teachers LiveBinder because I knew I had a tab on storytelling. I picked out three storybook creation sites that I thought would be easy to use and shared them with the teacher. After evaluating the sites she also agreed that these sites would be good choices to give the students. These are the sites we settled on:

The students were to write out their if this then that statements before they started on the story. I was in the classroom the day the students started their digital storybooks. I answered a few questions but as I suspected, most students were able to figure out the sites on their own.


We created a Google Form for the students to submit the URL or address of their completed storybooks. We embedded the form on the teacher's website so students would be able to easily access it. We could have just as easily done the submission through a Google Classroom assignment. Either of these options eliminates individual emails from students to submit the assignments and the teacher has all of the assignments linked in one spot.

Not all paper and pencil projects will digitize this easily but this is a good example of one that did. Digital projects don't have to be complicated or involve a lot of time and effort on the part of the teacher.

Do you have an old paper and pencil project that could be digitized? Want some help on the digitizing part? That's my job! Let's get together and work out the details!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chromebooks at Other Levels

As you know, we rolled out around 1,200 Chromebooks to our 9-12 students this year. Friday marks the end of our first quarter of our Chromebook initiative.

Before entering in to a full 1:1 rollout, we did a pilot program last year with ten classrooms at the Senior High. Ten teachers each had a set of Chromebooks to use in their classroom. We did this for a number of reasons but obviously, this let us test the water on a smaller scale before doing a full rollout.

So what became of those carts now that you are 1:1? Good question! Six of those carts went to the Middle School (5-6 grade) and four carts went to four of our elementary buildings. In the last month I have helped get the Chromebooks ready for delivery and then train the teachers who will be using them. Getting the Chromebooks ready meant powerwashing every device and re-enrolling them in our domain as well as organizing them in the carts. I have spent a lot of time in Chromebook carts this month!

Because we are a Google Apps for Education district and our teachers are pretty well versed at using Chrome, training on the Chromebook was minimal. If you can use the Chrome browser, you can use a Chromebook. But there are a few little nuances to using a Chromebook that I do need to go over with teachers (students will probably pick this up much faster). For example, to scroll up and down on a Chromebook, use two fingers on the touchpad and move them up and down. This is a new tip for many first time Chromebook users and many are glad to get this tip after struggling to scroll up and down! And to right click on a Chromebook, two finger tap on the touchpad. We talk about tap to click and the fact that you do not need to physically depress the touchpad to click on a link. (Check out my Chromebook Classroom site for more tips.)

Which elementary classrooms will be using the Chromebooks? Primarily 3rd and 4th grade classrooms although that does vary from building to building. Could students younger than 3rd grade use a Chromebook? Sure. The difficulty becomes in accessing the Chromebook. Students must enter their username (email address) and password to access the device the first time. After that, they just need to put in their password. Our student email addresses are set up as firstnamemiddleinitiallastname@students.npsne.org which is a lot to remember! So for now, we are going to stick with 3rd and 4th grade.

So what will our 3-6 teachers be using the Chromebooks for? When I asked them this, most of them immediately said for Wonders tests or for IXL Math or for Spelling City. This will make it easier for teachers to get tests done at these sites or for students to practice. Each elementary building has one traditional computer lab which can be hard to get in to. Elementary classrooms have one or two desktop computers in the classroom and most have some iPads to use for these things. The addition of the Chromebooks will allow more students to practice/test at the same time.

I am hoping that our teachers will start Googling with their students also. Fourth grade will be a perfect time to introduce Google Docs for writing short papers or Google Slides for doing presentations. We might not be there yet but maybe by the end of the year I might cajole some 4th grade teachers into this. Baby steps right now!

What about your 7th and 8th grade? We are in our second year of an iPad 1:1 at the Junior High. Each student has an iPad to use during school. Right now, some 8th grade students take the device home. The JH was not interested in adding Chromebooks to their building at this time. If teachers want students to use a traditional computer, there are computer labs available in the library for teachers to reserve. Students at the Junior High are still using Chrome and Google Drive and Google Classroom--they are doing it on an iPad instead of a Chromebook.

But enough about Chromebooks. I think I might switch gears in my next post and talk about something else. And I have Craig Badura and Bob Dillon to thank for my next post. Read Craig's post here. Until next time!

**Update**
Our first fourth grade classroom used the Chromebooks for the first time yesterday! Woot woot!




Friday, September 19, 2014

Chromebook Update

We are exactly one month in to our Chromebook 1:1 initiative at Norfolk Senior High. I cannot believe that one month ago today we passed out our first devices. So one month in, what have I learned?

Most kids are respectful of and careful with their device. But we still have had some kind of Chromebook damage almost daily. The screens are our biggest issue currently. Putting the Chromebook inside a book bag full of books really isn't a good idea. Fortunately, replacing a screen is a fairly simple fix. And if we have them on hand, turn around time is within a day. We do have around 1,200 devices deployed so one or two damaged per day is a pretty low rate.

Our system of students bringing damaged Chromebooks to the library for appraisal seems to be working fairly well. The ladies in the library have done a great job of being our first line of defense and diagnosing problems.

All of our Chromebooks are engraved:



And this engraving has come in handy. Fortunately we live in a city of honest people. One Chromebook was left at Dairy Queen and returned and another was brought to our Central Office. Without that engraving clearly marking the Chromebook, I think those Chromebooks would have been lost for good.

We used the Chromebooks for MAPs testing and it seemed to work fairly well. The issue wasn't with the device but more with the proctors. Many teachers were proctoring this exam for the first time. 

Our wireless network has held out with an additional 1,200 devices connected. We had been experiencing some drops in connectivity at specific times of the day both at the SH and at the JH where we are 1:1 with iPads. This has been diagnosed as a filter issue and we are currently working with LightSpeed to correct the problem.

We also experienced our first Google Drive outage this week. Now that teachers are reliant on Google Apps, especially Classroom, the outage although brief, was difficult for teachers and students. It is one thing to plan for a technology snow day but when it just happens unexpectedly it can really put a crimp in your day. Fortunately, most of our teachers are troopers and did other things while Drive wasn't working. As with most Google outages, it wasn't widespread and affected some of our accounts but not all of them. And it was resolved within a few hours. (Not sure if it is you or Google? Check the Apps Status Dashboard for information on service disruptions.)

Our teachers have been amazing. Lots are using Classroom. Others have set up Google Sites. At least one is using Nearpod. We have math teachers using Google Spreadsheets. Others have tried Kahoot. I heard from a middle school teacher yesterday who also happens to be a parent of a sophomore that her daughter is using her Chromebook every night for almost every class. I was thrilled to hear that!

I spent the entire day at the Middle School (MS) yesterday training on Chromebooks and Google Classroom. Last year we did a Chromebook pilot at the SH with ten carts of Chromebooks. Some of those carts have gone to the MS and others will be distributed to some of our elementary schools. The MS teachers are definitely excited about using the Chromebooks. So the use of Chromebooks will be almost district wide. 

It has been a fast and furious month. We have learned a lot and I'm sure we will continue to learn on this journey. It is an exciting time to be in education. We are very fortunate to have this opportunity. So I am definitely willing to go through some growing pains because I know this is the right thing to do for our students.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chromebooks, Chromebooks and More Chromebooks!

I go to bed thinking about Chromebooks. I wake up thinking about Chromebooks. I go to work and deal with Chromebooks. Chromebooks have become my life lately! And I love the Chromebook, don't get me wrong. I just didn't realize they would be all consuming as we have gone 1:1 with Chromebooks.

This week I finally had time to breath and work on things not directly related to our 1:1 rollout. But I have worked on a few Chromebook issues this week that I thought I would share.

This first one actually happened last week but I didn't share it in my post. We offer both French and Spanish. These teachers obviously want their students to use the correct accent marks when using Docs, Slides, etc. So I was tasked with figuring out the best way to do this. I came across these sites spanish.typeit.org/ and french.typeit.org/ to use as a temporary solution. And for first year students, that might be all they need. The other options you have are to enable foreign keyboards on the Chromebook. But if students aren't familiar with foreign keyboard layouts, that is not going to be a good solution. So I finally came across this site that used the US international keyboard to create Spanish accent marks. And this site showed how to create French accent marks using the international keyboard. Creating a screencast of how to add the US international keyboard was a challenge as our Chromebooks are not powerful enough to create a good screencast. So I ended up taking screenshots and using Explain Everything (yep, the iOS app) to create this video to show students how to add the US international keyboard.


This week the band director came in and needed a way for students to use the Chromebook to record themselves playing their instruments. I had first pointed him to WeVideo. However, the free version of WeVideo only allows for a two minute record time. Most of the pieces the students needed to play last longer than two minutes. So we needed to find a better way to do this. I discovered this morning that you can use YouTube to record from your webcam. You just need a YouTube channel. Go to Upload and select Webcam Capture. Easy peasy! Here are the instructions for webcam recording in YouTube.

Google Classroom continues to be a big hit with my teachers. It is so simple and easy to use and saves so many steps. Even teachers who have been hesitant to get into document sharing with students have embraced Google Classroom for its ease of use. If you haven't seen Google Classroom yet, check out this webinar by my friends Lisa Pospishil and Corey Dahl for an overview.

Finally, today we are having our first Chromebook Health Check. Teachers will be physically examining the devices for any damage. Students who have damaged Chromebooks will report to the library and the library will assess the damage and determine what to do next. We hope to do this periodically to keep our Chromebooks nice and healthy!

Friday, August 29, 2014

1:1 Rollout End of Week 2

We are almost done with our second week of Chromebook deployment. By the end of today we will have approximately 1,101 Chromebooks in the hands of our students. The deployment has gone fairly smoothly. Students needed to submit a user agreements and pay a technology fee before a Chromebook was issued. We had a cut off of August 15 to get the Chromebook the week of August 19 and a cut off of August 22 to get the Chromebook this week. The Chromebooks were sorted by Advisory teacher and handed out in Advisory (similar to a homeroom). Not everyone's fees and paperwork got recorded properly so IT ended up passing out some Chromebooks individually this week. But all and all, we feel our staggered deployment was successful. We have about 189 students left to pick up a Chromebook. So starting next week as soon as a student submits his or her user agreement and pays the technology fee, they will be issued a Chromebook. We will be doing this on an individual basis rather than doing another mass Advisory deployment since we have so few Chromebooks left to distribute.

This week, we created a troubleshooting flowchart for our teachers. Teachers were sending students to IT and to me for every little issue that came up. In reality, most issues with Chromebooks can be handled with a restart. We are funneling all Chromebook issues through our library. Library personnel have a fix it ticket to fill out when a student comes in with a Chromebook that is damaged or not functioning. The fix it ticket is a Google Form that when submitted goes to IT. All repairs are assessed a fee and the student must pay the fee before they will receive their repaired device. We have had to replace screens, hinges, keys, keyboards. A few issues have been sent in for warranty work but most devices have been repaired by IT.

In retrospect, we should have instructed students to physically examine the Chromebook the day they received it and immediately report any damage to the library. As it is, we are getting students who are saying the machine was damaged when they received it and they waited two weeks to report the damage. True or not, we can't be sure. So we are fixing the device and in most instances, charging a fee for repair.

At the end of week two we have learned a lot. I'm sure we still have much more to learn. I hope now that the deployment is mostly over, I can get into teachers' classrooms and start helping them take advantage of the device that students have. It is an exciting time for Norfolk Senior High!

Friday, August 22, 2014

1:1 Rollout End of Week 1

Yowza! I cannot think of a busier, crazier start to a school year in my 20+ year career! We are one week in to our Chromebook 1:1 deployment. I've decided to share some of my thoughts on how things have gone so far.

I don't think there is any one right way to do a 1:1 deployment. You just have to make a plan and power through it. Deal with things that come up but keep going. We decided to do our deployment after school had started and been in session a few days. For any student who had their Chromebook agreement paperwork turned in and fee paid by Friday of last week, they received their Chromebook this week. We decided to pass Chromebooks out in our advisory period which meets the last period of the day. We also decided to do a staggered deployment and pass out senior devices on Tuesday, juniors on Thursday, sophomores on Friday and freshmen on Monday. (So technically, we are not really through with our first full week of Chromebooks as we have Monday yet to go.) The reason why we chose to pass them out by class was so that we didn't have 1,200 devices hit our wireless all at the same time--not that we think that will be an issue but better to be safe than sorry. So we chose to do a class at a time. Our seniors and juniors had a relatively low submission rate of forms and fees. Sophomores and freshmen much better. (Our freshmen are coming from a 1:1 device situation at the Junior High. They know they want a device!)

We will repeat this process next week. For students who have submitted the Chromebook agreement paperwork and paid the fee by Friday of this week, they will receive a Chromebook next week using the same schedule. Once next week is over, we will see if we need to do another mass advisory deployment or we will handle individual students as they submit the forms and fee.

We knew there were some things we still needed to work out. Things like what happens when a student has a broken device. We didn't think we would have to decide this on day 2 but we did! Where do students go when they have a device that is broken or not working? How are we going to keep track of repairs and fee payment for those repairs? How do we determine if a student receives a loaner Chromebook while his or her Chromebook is being repaired? What happens if a student loses their charger? Yep, happened on day 3. We thought we would have a little time to work out some of these issues before they came up.

Now, what to do about students who do not pick up a Chromebook? In my opinion the fastest way to get students to pick up their Chromebook is for teachers to start using them! If there is no other way for a student to do the work required in that class, they will pay the fee, fill out the paperwork and pick up their Chromebook. Teachers absolutely have the power to control this!

We've had some bumps. We've had some hurdles to clear. Other things will come up. The important thing is to keep moving forward and to maintain our focus on why we are doing this. For Norfolk Senior High, issuing our students Chromebooks will ensure equity and access for all students and will help us to maximize student potential and transform teaching and learning. If we maintain our focus we can handle any issue that may come up.

That's it for Week 1. I will be updating our progress as we go through our deployment. Wish us luck!

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Thoughts on Going 1:1 Part 8

This is the final post in my summer series, My Thoughts on Going 1:1.

Have you seen this commercial?



Now you are probably asking yourself, what does Domino's pizza have to do with going 1:1? Well, it wasn't the pizza you should have been focusing on but instead the message: "Failure is an option." "In order to get better, in order to move ahead, you are going to make mistakes." "If we gave up after every mistake, we wouldn't come up with something new..." "We cannot be afraid to fail." I think all of this rings true for the journey we are about to embark on.

As much as Jake and I have planned for this rollout, we know there are things that are going to come up that we haven't planned for. We know that we will probably fail on a few things. But we also know that like Domino's if we give up after every mistake, we won't come up with something new. Ultimately we know that what we are doing is the right thing for our kids

Fail shouldn't be thought of as a bad word. I think in education we need to rebrand the word "fail." Fail should really mean First Attempt In Learning.



As teachers we are afraid to fail in front of our students. We are afraid to not be the smartest person in the room, the one who has all the knowledge. In reality, the smartest person in any room is the room itself. Our students will now have the answer to almost any question at their fingertips. We need to tap into that power and take advantage of it.

As a company, Domino's has embraced the motto "Failure is an option." Their motto continues, "We must strive for greatness in everything we do. But greatness cannot be achieved without failure." Imagine what could be accomplished if we used that same thinking in our classrooms?


This year, I want you to not be afraid to fail. Take risks. Try something new. Use technology in a way you never have before. I will be there to support you, to learn with you, to grow with you and yes, to fail with you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Thoughts on Going 1:1 Part 7

This is the seventh post in a multi-part series for the Summer of 2014

I wanted to share some of my thoughts, ideas, suggestions, helpful tips on embarking on our digital learning initiative (aka 1:1 with Chromebooks) at the Senior High.

My First Classroom
Now, before you say, "What does Mickie know about teaching in a 1:1 classroom?", consider where I have been. I spent seventeenish years as a business teacher. I worked for three different school districts during that time. In each school my "classroom" was a computer lab. Each of my students had a computer to use during my classes. I was 1:1 before 1:1 was a thing! So I do think I have something to offer when it comes to teaching in a 1:1 classroom environment.

This series of blog posts will give you some "food for thought" when it comes to each of your students having a device to use during your classes. I am by no means saying "Do it this way!" Rather, I am giving you some things to consider from the perspective of someone who has been there.

Last week I shared with you the SAMR model and I gave you ideas for the first two levels, Substitution and Augmentation. Everyone should have a goal this semester to attempt something at one of these two levels.


Some of you may be ready to go further with the model. The Modification and Redefinition levels can really lead to transforming your classroom in ways that were not previously possibly without technology. So for those of you who are ready, what are some things you can do to get your students above the line?

Modification

  • Instead of students writing a paper and turning it in for the teacher to evaluate, students write a blog post and comment on each others work
  • Instead of students creating a poster on poster board that is hung in the classroom, students use Glogster to create a poster and allow other students to comment on their work using the comments feature; students could also embed their Glog into a personal website or blog to share with a wider audience 
  • Instead of students writing an essay, an audio recording of the essay is created with original music; the audio recording is played for the class and/or parents and posted on a personal website or blog
Redefinition 
  • Students create a narrated Google Earth tour and share online
  • Students teams collaborate to create a documentary exploring a particular topic and the video is posted online to get input from a global audience 
  • Students connect with scientists via Skype or Google Hangouts to share with the scientists findings of a class research project; scientists give feedback that allows for the improvement of the project
Some really creative things can take place above the line at Modification and Redefinition. For those of you who are ready to go there, I am ready to help! Together, we can design a project that meets your curricular objectives and takes advantage of the technology your students will have. I don't know about you but I am really looking forward to this year!

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Thoughts on Going 1:1 Part 6

This is the sixth post in a multi-part series for the Summer of 2014

I wanted to share some of my thoughts, ideas, suggestions, helpful tips on embarking on our digital learning initiative (aka 1:1 with Chromebooks) at the Senior High.

My First Classroom
Now, before you say, "What does Mickie know about teaching in a 1:1 classroom?", consider where I have been. I spent seventeenish years as a business teacher. I worked for three different school districts during that time. In each school my "classroom" was a computer lab. Each of my students had a computer to use during my classes. I was 1:1 before 1:1 was a thing! So I do think I have something to offer when it comes to teaching in a 1:1 classroom environment.

This series of blog posts will give you some "food for thought" when it comes to each of your students having a device to use during your classes. I am by no means saying "Do it this way!" Rather, I am giving you some things to consider from the perspective of someone who has been there.

In this post I am going to introduce you to the SAMR Model. The SAMR Model was developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura to assist teachers in integrating technology into teaching and learning. The letters stand for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. This model can also be viewed as a progression of how teachers integrate technology into teaching and learning. Most teachers start at the Substitution level and work their way up as they become more comfortable with integrating technology.

I am fully aware that some of you are already above the line at Modification and Redefinition. And others of you have yet to really dip your toe into the water yet. With the Chromebooks, some of you may feel like you are jumping head first into the deep end, especially if you haven't done a lot of technology integration yet.

So, Jake and I would like to give each of you a goal. And that goal is by the end of the first semester, you have attempted something at either the Substitution or Augmentation level. Here are some simple ideas for these levels:

Substitution
  • Instead of students taking notes with paper and pencil, they take notes on the Chromebooks
  • Instead of students taking a quiz with paper and pencil, they take a quiz using Google Forms
  • Instead of having a student ask a question and you not knowing the answer and waiting until the next day to tell students the correct answer, have students have a Google race to find the correct answer
Augmentation
  • Instead of students taking a quiz with paper and pencil, they take a Socrative quiz and receive immediate feedback on how they did
  • Instead of holding a class discussion where only the "chatty" or "brave" students take part, use a backchannel tool like Today's Meet or Padlet and have all students participate
  • Instead of students writing a report or paragraph on a particular topic, have students use Movenote to demonstrate their understanding of the topic
Still not sure about this SAMR thing? I would love to sit down with you and see how I can help you get started using technology in your classroom.

In next week's post, I will take a closer look at the levels above the line, Modification and Redefinition. Until then, the following video is of Dr. Puentedura explaining the SAMR model.


Monday, July 14, 2014

My Thoughts on Going 1:1 Part 5

This is the fifth post in a multi-part series for the Summer of 2014

I wanted to share some of my thoughts, ideas, suggestions, helpful tips on embarking on our digital learning initiative (aka 1:1 with Chromebooks) at the Senior High.

My First Classroom
Now, before you say, "What does Mickie know about teaching in a 1:1 classroom?", consider where I have been. I spent seventeenish years as a business teacher. I worked for three different school districts during that time. In each school my "classroom" was a computer lab. Each of my students had a computer to use during my classes. I was 1:1 before 1:1 was a thing! So I do think I have something to offer when it comes to teaching in a 1:1 classroom environment.

This series of blog posts will give you some "food for thought" when it comes to each of your students having a device to use during your classes. I am by no means saying "Do it this way!" Rather, I am giving you some things to consider from the perspective of someone who has been there.

Structuring a lesson involving technology can be challenging, but you have all done it before. How will this change now that each student has their own device to use every day? When I was in the classroom, I was teaching technology so my students used the computers from the time the bell rang to begin class to the time the bell rang to end class. But that was my class. The vast majority of you are not teaching technology. So your challenge is to figure out when it is appropriate to use technology in the scope of your lesson. Is it possible that you could conduct an entire lesson and not have the students use their Chromebooks? Sure. But, could you add the use of the Chromebook to your lesson somehow? Bell ringers or exit tickets are a great way to make use of the Chromebooks and could be used in every classroom, every day. Tools like Socrative or Kahoot or Geddit are great to check for understanding during class. Need to do a quiz? Why not use a Google Form? A Google Form is easy to create and can do the grading for you! Want to have a discussion? Why not try a Padlet wall? Student ask a question that no one knows the answer to? Have the students Google it and see who can come up with the correct answer first.

There are all sorts of small ways you can take advantage of having the Chromebooks in your classroom. You don't have to start with a full blown, technology only project. Just start small. It is okay. And it is okay to ask for help. That is what I am here for. Invite me into your classroom and let me see how I can help you. I have ideas! Just ask my husband!

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Thoughts on Going 1:1 Part 4

This is the fourth post in a multi-part series for the Summer of 2014

I wanted to share some of my thoughts, ideas, suggestions, helpful tips on embarking on our digital learning initiative (aka 1:1 with Chromebooks) at the Senior High.

My First Classroom
Now, before you say, "What does Mickie know about teaching in a 1:1 classroom?", consider where I have been. I spent seventeenish years as a business teacher. I worked for three different school districts during that time. In each school my "classroom" was a computer lab. Each of my students had a computer to use during my classes. I was 1:1 before 1:1 was a thing! So I do think I have something to offer when it comes to teaching in a 1:1 classroom environment.

This series of blog posts will give you some "food for thought" when it comes to each of your students having a device to use during your classes. I am by no means saying "Do it this way!" Rather, I am giving you some things to consider from the perspective of someone who has been there.

Each student will ultimately be responsible for the care of his or her Chromebook. But we can all keep a watchful eye out and help our students learn to be good stewards of school property. You can help by making sure that Chromebooks are in the school issued cases at all times. By enforcing proper Chromebook use and care in your room, we can assure that Chromebooks are being well cared for. For example, encourage your students to carry the Chromebook with two hands, lid closed. Remind students not to pick the Chromebooks up by the screen or to flop the screen back and forth--the screen and the hinges are the most delicate parts of these Chromebooks. Let students know that it is not okay to close the Chromebook lid with anything between the screen and keyboard (pencils, papers, books). Do not let students pile other books on top of the Chromebook. If you notice the student has decorated his or her Chromebook with stickers, remind them that this is against policy and report them. Most of these things are common sense but as we know with high school students, reminders will be needed.

Routine Chromebook "health checks" will be conducted but don't be afraid to remind students about proper care when you see a violation. Stopping something before it starts and constant reminding of proper use will ensure our Chromebooks will last.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Thoughts on Going 1:1 Part 3

This is the third post in a multi-part series for the Summer of 2014

I wanted to share some of my thoughts, ideas, suggestions, helpful tips on embarking on our digital learning initiative (aka 1:1 with Chromebooks) at the Senior High.

My First Classroom
Now, before you say, "What does Mickie know about teaching in a 1:1 classroom?", consider where I have been. I spent seventeenish years as a business teacher. I worked for three different school districts during that time. In each school my "classroom" was a computer lab. Each of my students had a computer to use during my classes. I was 1:1 before 1:1 was a thing! So I do think I have something to offer when it comes to teaching in a 1:1 classroom environment.

This series of blog posts will give you some "food for thought" when it comes to each of your students having a device to use during your classes. I am by no means saying "Do it this way!" Rather, I am giving you some things to consider from the perspective of someone who has been there.

My favorite apps to use with students and Chromebooks are Two Feet and Two Eyes. And they work best when used together!

When I want to know what a student is doing on his or her Chromebook, I start by using the Two Feet app. I get up out of my seat from behind my desk and I walk over to the student. It is at this point I activate the Two Eyes app and I look at the student's Chromebook screen.

Now this is of course a tongue in cheek way to look at this situation but also a good piece of advice. I learned very early on in my teaching career that if I gave students an assignment on the computer and then sat down behind my desk to monitor them, that students could/would get off task and more importantly, students wouldn't ask me questions if I was behind my desk. Once I started walking around the room, monitoring what students were doing, hands went up as I went by, questions were asked and students stayed on task. So in each of my classrooms, a path was worn around the desks because I would walk it every period of every day. (If you go down to Eric Brandl's room and look very closely, you will probably see my path.)

So if you want to know what students are doing on their Chromebooks, use my favorite apps Two Feet and Two Eyes!

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Thoughts on Going 1:1 Part 2

This is the second post in a multi-part series for the Summer of 2014

I wanted to share some of my thoughts, ideas, suggestions, helpful tips on embarking on our digital learning initiative (aka 1:1 with Chromebooks) at the Senior High.

My First Classroom
Now, before you say, "What does Mickie know about teaching in a 1:1 classroom?", consider where I have been. I spent seventeenish years as a business teacher. I worked for three different school districts during that time. In each school my "classroom" was a computer lab. Each of my students had a computer to use during my classes. I was 1:1 before 1:1 was a thing! So I do think I have something to offer when it comes to teaching in a 1:1 classroom environment.

This series of blog posts will give you some "food for thought" when it comes to each of your students having a device to use during your classes. I am by no means saying "Do it this way!" Rather, I am giving you some things to consider from the perspective of someone who has been there.

In the first post, I suggested establishing a routine for using the Chromebooks. My second suggestion is consider where your teacher desk is located. For most teachers, the teacher's desk is located at the front of the room. In my classrooms, my desk was located in the back of the room. Why? Because I wanted to know what the students were doing on their computers when I as sitting at my desk. Now if you don't care what students are doing on their Chromebooks you can leave your desk where it is at. Or if you do care and you don't want to rearrange your room, you will need to get up from behind your desk and walk over and see what your students are doing!

So think about how your classroom is arranged. Does it need to change? Do you care what students are doing on their Chromebooks? If so, how will you know?

The next post in this series will share my favorite apps for using Chromebooks with students, Two Feet and Two Eyes. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Thoughts On Going 1:1 Part 1

This is the first post in a multi-part series for the Summer of 2014

I wanted to share some of my thoughts, ideas, suggestions, helpful tips on embarking on our digital learning initiative (aka 1:1 with Chromebooks) at the Senior High.

My First Classroom
Now, before you say, "What does Mickie know about teaching in a 1:1 classroom?", consider where I have been. I spent seventeenish years as a business teacher. I worked for three different school districts during that time. In each school my "classroom" was a computer lab. Each of my students had a computer to use during my classes. I was 1:1 before 1:1 was a thing! So I do think I have something to offer when it comes to teaching in a 1:1 classroom environment.

This series of blog posts will give you some "food for thought" when it comes to each of your students having a device to use during your classes. I am by no means saying "Do it this way!" Rather, I am giving you some things to consider from the perspective of someone who has been there.

My first tip is establish a routine. And my suggestion would be for you to have your students start class with their Chromebook lids closed. Chromebooks have an 8 second start up time and that is from a completely powered off state. You will not have to wait for your students to access their Chromebook like you have to wait for students to log in to the desktop computers in the computer lab. Starting class with the Chromebook lids closed will allow you to take attendance and set the stage for the day with your students focused on you and not what is on their Chromebook.

So begin thinking about how you will incorporate the Chromebooks into your beginning of class routine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Teach Like a Pirate

So this post is going to probably start out being about Teach Like a Pirate but will end up being about Twitter--I can just feel it! So here goes!

Those of you who know me know that I love the book "Teach Like a Pirate" by Dave Burgess. I first heard about it last summer on Twitter. As a matter of fact, Twitter was all abuzz over this book. Since so many people were talking about it (it has its own hashtag, for goodness sake! #tlap) I had to check it out for myself. The book is a quick read and full of practical applications that any teacher can put into use in their classroom. Needless to say, I was hooked! And I knew that I wanted all teachers in Norfolk Public Schools to hear the PIRATE message.

So we developed our technology training for the year around Teach Like a Pirate. For the first Geek Gathering of the year we were able to purchase 20 books and give them to the first 20 people in the door at our Geek Gathering. Along with the help of Lisa Pospishil and Leann Widhalm, we introduced PIRATE to our geeks and had a great time!

Around this same time, we were looking for a keynote speaker for our January inservice. Of course I wanted Dave Burgess. So I DM'd Dave on Twitter and he replied that he would be interested. We exchanged some emails and it turned out that Dave was already booked for the day we were looking at. I was not to be deterred! I wanted to get Dave to Nebraska somehow! I forwarded Dave's speaking fees on to Bonnie Sibert at the Nebraska Department of Education who in turn sent them on to Rick Katt, director of Career and Technical Education. I was hoping that NDE would have Dave come for the Nebraska Career Education Conference in June.

In the meantime, we were ready to have our second Teach Like a Pirate Geek Gathering. This one I wanted to be special--I wanted to see if the pirate himself could join us via Google Hangout. Dave was absolutely game but he was already booked the day of our event. So instead of doing a live Hangout, Dave joined Lisa and I in a Hangout on Air which we recorded to show at our Geek Gathering. Dave was great! You could feel his energy coming across the screen. It was a great conversation that could have gone on all morning! So we showed the HOA during the Geek Gathering and our attendees were amazed that we had made this connection. The actual author of the book was there before them on the screen! I was Tweeting as I was watching and Dave who was flying to or from somewhere joined us on Twitter! How small does Twitter make the world?

Just before Lisa and I did the HOA with Dave, it was announced that Dave would indeed be at the NCE Conference as a featured speaker. So during our HOA, I told Dave that I would be in Kearney and we would definitely have to get together.

Last week was the NCE Conference. I got to meet Dave face to face. Even better, we took him out to eat one evening. The conversation was great and he even entertained us with some magic tricks. I was able to sit in on three of Dave's sessions at the NCE Conference. I think I have found someone who talks even faster than I do when I present! Dave's energy and enthusiasm are contagious! I would love to be in his classroom watching him work his magic. I tweeted during one of his sessions that I love watching a presenter who truly loves presenting. Dave is absolutely, hands down, one of the BEST presenters I have seen.

So back to the Twitter thing. None of this would have been possible without Twitter. I wouldn't have read the book, I wouldn't have had a Hangout with the author and I wouldn't have taken the author out to dinner! Even though I had never met Dave in person, I felt like I knew him since I have been following him on Twitter. Total strangers had tons to talk about because of the connection we made on Twitter.

A few things to take away from this post. Number 1: get on Twitter! You simply do not have the time to NOT be on Twitter. It is about connections. It is about people. It is about learning. Just do it! Number 2: read Teach Like a Pirate. And then read it again and again. I've reread the book several times and it never gets old. It is full of practical examples that you can put to use immediately. Number 3: if you get a chance to see Dave Burgess in person, do it! He is a great author. He is a great follow on Twitter. He does an awesome Google Hangout. But he is simply AMAZING in person!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

#neta14 The Best Yet

In my opinion #neta14 was the best yet. I have been attending NETA since 1995. And out of all of those NETA conferences, I have decided NETA 2014 was the best. And it isn't because the NETA board put together a stellar program (they did). And it isn't because the NETA board knocked it out of the park with keynote speakers (as they do every year). It is because I joined Twitter two years ago. Attending NETA in person is one thing. Attending NETA in person while on Twitter is a completely different experience.

By following the conference hashtag #neta14, I was able to attend multiple sessions at the same time. I couldn't decide which keynote to attend on Friday but I knew that whichever one I chose, I would also be able to follow along with the one I didn't choose. I could tell which sessions were "hot" simply by the number of tweets coming from them. I picked up some great tips from sessions I didn't attend just by following #neta14.

But to me, the best thing about being on Twitter and attending NETA is getting to meet all of those tweeps face to face. And sometimes the best sessions you "attend" aren't sessions listed in the program but the get togethers you have with people in between sessions or at lunch or over a beverage after the conference has ended for the day.

I loved catching up with people I've followed for a long time. Some of my favorite conversations happened Wednesday night before the conference started. I love any time I can sit down with @mrbadura, @catlett1, @odiep77, @hcallihan, @MoTechTrainer, @Coach_Sautter, @chericson. I value their opinions and love to hear about all of the awesome things they are doing.

From my business teacher days, I always love connecting with @wolfep--our paths have followed a similar trajectory over the years. And @ShellyMowinkel whom I've known forever but presented with for the first time at #neta14. I am always floored by her constant energy and love for teaching.

And I loved sharing a spot on the floor with @CynthiaStogdill. She is my absolute favorite librarian on Twitter and I was thrilled when she caught my attention as she was taking a break on the floor between sessions. I'd "cop a squat" with that gal anytime!

But my most favorite thing about Twitter and NETA is getting to meet new people face to face. At the top of my list this year was the amazing @BethStill. And let me tell you, she is just as awesome in person as she is on Twitter. I am so excited to see all of the great things she will do at Gering Public Schools next year. And I got to chat briefly with @Mr_Svoboda from Kearney. I've been following him since Kearney rolled out Chromebooks and look forward to connecting with him as Norfolk does the same. And someone whom I've only followed the last month or so @chad_ackerson was nice enough to come to one of my presentations and introduce himself. I'm looking forward to doing some #chromeappsmashing with him.

And I know I'm going to forget someone but anytime I can connect in person with @Mrskmpeters, @j_allen, @annfeldmann1, @jennykbps, @pfinneyesu17, @ASimpson_Prin, @m_hinkel is a great day!

So if you've attended NETA in the past and you haven't yet joined Twitter, what are you waiting for? You will not only add to your conference experience, you will meet some totally awesome people that you can connect with all year round!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reflection

There was a great #nebedchat last night on the topic of reflection. As I followed the chat and watched American Idol (yes, I still like the show) I came to the conclusion, I don't reflect often enough. Well, let me rephrase that. I don't reflect often enough publicly. I reflect after each training session I give: how could I have done that better, differently and how can I get more people the training they need or want. But very rarely do I put those thoughts down somewhere and allow others to see those thoughts.

So, with inspiration from @bmowinkel and the #nebedchat crew last night, I am officially dusting off my blog! And I am reflecting on the job I have done this year assisting the teachers of Norfolk Public Schools. And what is scarier--I'm going to let others see my reflection and chime in if they so choose. Maybe no one will read this blog post and that is okay. I think the important thing is I am taking the time to reflect.

I think I put together a pretty good product when it comes to tech training. I try to offer a variety of sessions on topics I think will be of use to teachers. I hold Technology Tuesdays for those who want to attend in person, hands on training. But I also provide the same training online for those who don't want to attend in person or who don't have time to attend in person. I like to think I am providing the flexibility that teachers need. And for those that can't make Tuesdays, I started Reboot Wednesdays this semester to repeat the trainings I have previously offered on Tuesdays. You can visit my current training site to see all of the training I have offered this year.

I also am willing to go to any classroom any time. I realize that large group training is not for everyone. Some prefer one on one attention and when my schedule allows, I love to do that.

But is what I'm doing enough? Are my teachers getting the training they need? Could I do more? Could I do differently? I know I'm reaching a very small percentage of our teachers. How can I reach more of them? What can I do to support the high flyers? These are the questions I wrestle with and that I need to reflect on.

Thanks to Brandon Mowinkel and #nebedchat for challenging me once again. Reflection is key for everyone but especially educators. Without reflection, we cannot grow as educators. So my goal is to blog a little more frequently and reflect publicly. Starting today!