Well we all made it to the New Year and our school is one week away from getting all new computer equipment to spruce up our communal computer labs. But the best part is that we will have 5 Chromebook carts for checkout. I am super excited about that but I was a little skeptical about whether or not more teachers would jump on the technology bandwagon or not. Our faculty seems to be a pretty even mix of people that are set on doing things one way and people who are open to changing and improving.
I am have been impressed with the overwhelming number of new teachers I have coming to check out carts. Above and beyond that I love the ideas that they are coming up with for the use of Chromebooks in the classroom. I wanted to share just a few ideas that have come about--none of which are Chromebook only ideas but it makes it super handy when you can turn a website into a clickable app-especially for those younger babies. So any who I digress, here are some neat things happening with educational technology at Greenville High School:
1. Miss Harris is getting ready to begin a project on the Industrial Revolution and she asked me to help introduce her to the Chromebook. The neat thing is that we found out most of the programs she has incorporated into the already friggin' amazing technology infused bunch of awesomeness are in the Web Store on the Chromebook. So now all her kids are going to have to do is click whatever program they need to complete a part of the project.
***This menu she created is based on the Multiple Intelligences and brain based learning. You should Google this stuff. It can revolutionize how you do Project Based Learning***
2. Ms. Moore (L.) is using the Chromebooks to go paperless to some degree in her Law Enforcement Classes. Instead of wasting those precious copies printing practice police reports for her students, she and I worked together to get those bad boys scanned into .pdfs. Now her students are able to use a Chrome App Extension called Kami to annotate directly on the documents and then send them back to her electronically through Google Drive.
So I challenge you to think of your next big project and how you can integrate the Chromebooks into the classroom for more than just a glorified search engine. Use this stuff...it is awesome, engaging, and rewarding to the students!
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
Well, I have come across something that might make things a little more interesting and a little bit more calm. Here lately I have been doing a lot of research into applying and integrating technology into the secondary field (which is so foreign to me). Anywho, I came across PowToon. I don't know if you are familiar with the Common Craft website, but PowToons reminds me very much of the presentations you can find here. There are several different templates to choose from. I have made two presentations myself to use with my teachers and I keep going back and editing them and adding more to it. What a great way for both teachers and students to make their presentation WAY more interesting while at the same time tying in some audio-visual and programming skills.
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!
Have you ever wondered how to get those cute little graphics that appear in the tabs at the top of your browser? Right now mine has a W beside the word Weebly. A favicon is a little image that represents the website. Another example is the Google Drive triangle.
If you are interested in how to add one of these to your website to give it a more polished and personal look, I am providing the website that I used to convert my image to a .ico. I am also providing a link to the instructions for how to add it to both your Google Site and to Weebly.
Creating a Favicon
Uploading Favicon to Google Sites
Uploading a Favicon to Weebly
So, I guess we were a little spoiled in one aspect at the elementary level. We all had iPads. But like with all technology when you have 1 iPad and classroom of 15-24 kids it's like "what do I do with 1 iPad." Well, now that I am working with high school teachers at a non-Title I school, I have quickly realized that 1) not all teachers have an iPad to work with and 2) teachers who are lucky enough to have an iPad have no idea what to do with them either.
I did some hunting around yesterday and today and tried out some products. So far, Mirroring360 is my fav! It allows your iPad to be mirrored onto your computer and ultimately onto an interactive whiteboard. If you are familiar with the ActivSlates its just like that but better! So now teachers you don't have to be standing in front of your interactive whiteboard in order to write on it--YAY! And now you can pass the iPad around the room or in small groups and get the students in on the fun-YAY!
I highly recommend you 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---
I want to tell you about theses fabulous "desk chairs of the future:" The Node by Steelcase. These chairs are so awesome and versatile they have a place in any classroom K-College as well as in the workplace. I first heard about these chairs in the article "Collaboration on Wheels: 21st Century Classroom Furniture at Work" by Laura Bradley (it's an awesome article-you should read it!). Basically this company have revolutionized the old, boring, worn out wooden desk of yesteryear and designed a desk that encourages collaboration AND (this is my favorite part) organization for students and colleagues.
Here are just a few of the desk configurations I can remember from my public school days: the
conglomeration of wood and metal that I swear were created by someone who really did not care about our rear ends--am I right? Oh my the painful hours I can remember sitting at my desk having to listen to my US History teacher go on and on and on about the history of our country which was already painful and then add in the fact that my rear had completely gone numb and my back spasms were keeping rhythm with the painful ticking of the clock on the wall. In other words, these desks stunk BIG TIME!
And for my teacher friends, if a kid is uncomfortable in any fashion at their desk or table you can bid a sweet farewell to their attention. All they are really thinking about is how soon they can get the heck out of there and move their aching extremities.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Node. Don't they just look cool? The biggest draw for me is that these are not desk, they are not chairs, they are collaborative vehicles for learning. Each chair base is on wheels allowing your students to quickly form collaborative groups. There are several different models but this one is my favorite and the one pictured at the top of this entry. The desk part can swivel down to the side of the chair when not needed and their is storage at the bottom for bookbags--OMG no more having to go to the bookbag in the middle of the day and interrupt the WHOLE class (am I right elementary people?)!! The model at the top also includes a water bottle holder-EUREKA--no more water spills all over everywhere. I love, love, love that these provide a way for our overly active sweeties (you know who they are) to stay active without drawing attention to themselves. I personally think that these chairs belong in every classroom in America and I would love to help someone find a grant to write for these little beauties!
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.