Okay, I'll admit, we have a lot of technology out there. Like. A. Lot. But not all technology is bad. And not all technology is good (don't even get me started on SnapChat..just don't). However, I was presented with a new piece of technology yesterday, and I am having a really hard time deciding if I like this or not. As we move to more integrated technology (making everyday objects a wee bit "smarter" ala the Smart Watch), I have to stop and wonder if there should be a point that we stop trying to make EVERYTHING a computer. So, with that said, a web developer in New York has figured out a way to turn a mirror into a smart phone. Don't get me wrong it looks super neat, but I have to stop and question: Why did he do that? Here's what I like about it. You can be putting on your makeup or shaving your face and at the same time you can be checking email, texting, etc. I like the efficiency. Here's what I don't love. We are becoming SO tethered to technology that we literally cannot put on makeup or shave our face without [essentially] our phone stuck up our nose. And I am basically calling myself out because I am guilty of having my phone in my face A LOT. In my defense I need my phone at work so that I can actually get up from my desk every once in a while and go to the bathroom or make sure my legs still work. I try to be more conscious of NOT having my phone near me at home unless I am looking up a recipe or something, but sometime it is so hard to do that! So, herein lies my dilemma. Do I love this smarty mirror or not? I really can't decide. Maybe you can decide for me?
So , I am sitting here doing my monthly round of nerding out as I read through the Tech & Learning magazine, always with teachers on my brain. Some of the stuff in here is a bit too nerdy for me, I admit (particularly when they start using the big words like "extractor" and "interface"). But every month I do get lots of ideas to share...and I get Mary Katherine Gallagher excited about it (ha not really...no plaid skirt splits...but close). The April issue did not disappoint. The biggest thing that has caught my eye as far as being a usable tool for my teachers is ViewPure. Sweet genius where was this little piece of techno goodness when I taught second grade. I always, ALWAYS, no matter what video I was trying to show from YouTube, ALWAYS ended up with some inappropriate ad or video suggestion at the end of it (way to go school district filters, right?). Eventually, I learned how to download videos from YouTube to work around some of these issues but that is not a skill I like to pass around to just anyone because of copyright and people getting their feelings hurt and yada yada yada.
Enter, ViewPure. Before, you would see a lot of ads on the right hand side of your screen while watching a YouTube video. This made it challenging for some students to focus on the content at hand. It also made for some awkward moments in my primary classroom (especially at Halloween when all kinds of "ghosts caught on camera" video suggestions would pop up when I would show anything even remotely related to Halloween).
So, now with ViewPure you go and grab the URL of the video you want to show. Then, click Purify.
And BAM...video with no ads, no junk floating around to distract. Just your video. GENIUS!
But WAIT!!!! That's not all this little beauty does. Now, you can use ViewPure as a YouTube search engine and cut out the middle man. You can search videos on YouTube through ViewPure and instantly you have beautifully uncluttered videos for your viewing pleasure. And you can customize the search settings (strict, etc.). Love, love, love this!!!
Two really important things have happened this week in the world of public education. First off, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Law yesterday. This is HUGE!!! Teachers are you listening??? No longer are students being viewed as these cute little cookies that all look the same, act the same, and most importantly LEARN THE SAME. Can I get an amen? More power is given back the states to determine things like what tests they administer to students and when AND how they adminster it. You could actually see state testing being divided into quarterly testing before long...that's right...no more waiting until the end of the year and hoping and praying that little Suzie remembers that unit on main idea from the beginning of the year because little Suzie will now have been tested on that...wait for it...wait for it...at the end of the first quarter. What?! Crazy I know. Giving students bite size portions of a HUGE test is like common sense. I mean really who likes spending a whole entire week testing your students? Umm, no one. It is an overall win win for the Department of Education and every single teacher in America. Yay us!
The second HUGE thing that happened this week is that the Department of Education has released the National Education Technology Plan for 2016. I am only running the highlight reel here but I am pretty excited to see what the future holds for educational technology:
There are not many days educators get excited over what lawmakers are doing in education but today is an exception to that. I am excited to see where the future of educational technology and public education are headed.
USA Today Article
Video About UDL
Some of you may already know how to do this, but I have had several teachers ask me how to access PowerSchool both on their mobile devices and at home. Since leaving the classroom I have not had to face the beast that can be PowerSchool but I know how nice it is to be able to put grades in at home. So, thanks to Daniel Brown at Wade Hampton we have a solution. Follow the steps below whether you are at school or at home to access PowerSchool:
Accessing at School on Mobile Devices
1. I recommend that you restart your computer or device everyday.
2.Make sure that you are using the GCSD wifi not GCSDGuest.
3. Visit the GCSD Authenticate website at: https://gcsid.greenville.k12.sc.us/cb/ if you are using a personal (non-district issued) device. *Note: a district iPad should have the GCSD Authenticate icon on it already.
4. Enter your username and password and select a length of time (I always do the maximum-6 hrs.)
5. Click Log In.
6. Now access the Power Teacher website: https://powerschool.greenville.k12.sc.us/teachers/pw.html
Have you ever had a day where you are like...WHY AM I JUST NOW FINDING OUT ABOUT THIS??? Well, I have those a lot in this new job of mine. I come across stuff all the time now--primarily because I actually have time [insert smiley emoji] to research so much more than I did when I had 20 7 and 8 year olds requiring my undivided attention everyday.
Today I lucked across AppCrawlr which is kind of like an organizational site for everything apps. I hit up on this little gem while looking for another free mirroring app to share with my teachers. AppCrawlr had like a bajillion different ones to choose from AND you can instantly see if it is compatible with your mobile device. LOVE!
There are several different categories you can choose from or you can enter a search in their engine.Once you select an app to inspect you can see reviews, related apps, and screenshots of the app itself. It is pretty neat. You should check it out!
Has anyone else heard about Coursera?? I just lucked up on it when I realized that I totally missed EdmodoCon this morning (thankfully I can watch the videos later and still get CEU credit). So, I haven't felt good all day and was tired of laying down on the couch so I decided to look for a free professional development online. In the past I have gotten a decent amount of hours from Teacher Created Materials. They send out or you can check their website at the beginning of each school year for a list of the free online PDs they offer each year. They are really good and I highly recommend them. However, just doing a little Google search lead me to a website that had 5 free courses related to educational technology and one of those was through Coursera. So, I perused the site a bit and found a free course (yes, all of their courses are FREE!!!) on Copyright Laws for Educators and Librarians that is presented through Duke University. It is a 5 week long course (you can pick it up and start it anytime). At the end of the course you can purchase a certificate of completion for $49 if you so desire. I don't know if I will need this at the end of the course or not. I did not have to have a certificate in my county to prove that I had taken the online courses with Teacher Created Materials, but I don't know if it is the same in all districts. Although I am not 100% for online education, I do like the concept and convenience of online professional developments. I like having the option of sitting in my jammies in my living room to learn more about my craft way better than having to drag my worn out tail to the media center EVERY Wednesday for 2 hours of sheer torture as we hear yet another presentation that does not either pertain to me or interests me one bit. Yes, I know that they are necessary (some of the time). Yes, I know you have to bring your faculty together occassionally to perpetuate the "team" atmosphere (having food there helps!). But I love the idea of "Choose your own Adventure" style professional development. Why not have your teachers bring their laptops to the library on Wednesday along with headphones and have them locate a course they are interested in taking to better themselves. And then instead of hearing yet another boring presentation, do something that will actually impact them. Just a thought. Check out Coursera!
Today I had the priveledge to learn more about Google Forms today at the Upstate Technology Conference. I have to admit I am not new to Google Forms and realistically before now I was a Survey Monkey junky. With that said, they have made Google Forms a lot more user friendly with a LOT more design control of graphics and such. I like that it is a Google product and for those who are in Greenville County, you can access this easily by clicking on your Google Menu (see picture below) in the top right hand corner of your Google screen.
I am thinking that this would be something very easy for teachers to use to create those pesky PAS-T surveys we are all TOO familiar with that students are supposed to complete for your notebook each year. I have done this in Survey Monkey and very similar to that, once all the surveys are in you have instant data, instant graphs (that are so, so colorful and look so, so pretty in your notebook). Boom!
For my primary teacher friends, I used Google Forms this year during our camping unit to send out food and supply requests to my parents. They were able to sign up for the products they wanted to send in while at the same time making everyone else aware that they had signed up for that item. This was awesome for me and maybe I am nerding out a little bit over this option, but I literally loathe sending home those little letters for school parties and what not because there is a good chance that parents never get those letter. Google Forms cuts out the middle man (in this case your sweet precious babies).
Here is the form I created for parents to sign up for things---and it was my Outer Space Unit, not camping---
Hi! My name is Allison Barton, a former elementary school teacher turned Technology Integration Specialist at Greenville High School in Greenville, South Carolina. I have been teaching for 11 years and have relied on technology during that time to excite, engage, and educate my students (both young and old). I also enjoy very much sharing my knowledge about technology with other teachers.