Monday, September 30, 2013

6 Compelling Reasons to Use Technology

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why use technology?  How is technology going to benefit the learning in my classroom?" If so, you are not alone.  Finding useful or relevant reasons to use technology can sometimes seem like a stretch and only possible for those with an incredible imaginations or lots of time on their hands to create technology rich lesson plans.

UEN (Utah Education Network), however, has created a list of 6 Compelling Reason to Use Technology with links to a variety of resources within each topic, making it easier for teachers to begin using technology today!

One of my favorite reasons to use technology?  Real Time Data!  Real time data is data generated at the time the request was made.  Real time data can take the form of recent earthquakes locations (to the minute), video cam pictures from around the word, weather patterns and stock rates, to name a few. Nearly every topic has some form of data that is collected.  Using real time data is one way to add meaning (real world examples) to your curriculum.


Investigate where earthquakes occur and why?

Examine animals behaviors in their natural habit.
(A herd of Zebras came into sight just after taking this photo-Amazing!)
Wild Earth Cams

Predict weather based on satellite images.

Analyze world statistics.


Additional resources to start your journey with "Real Time Data."  ENJOY!





Thursday, September 26, 2013

Report Card Support-Numbers for the iPad

I have certainly learned a lot about how important it is to download your files to your iPad.  That way, you have everything you need for the new elementary report card.  A great idea is to use Numbers for the iPad to download the checklists that are published in Canvas.  These checklists can easily be changed to suit your individual students and your needs.

I have captured a screen shot of just how slick this is.  Janae Hunt has done this for all of her schools as well, and so far, my teachers are loving it.  As you can see, a teacher can just tap on any square to show mastery for that skill.  The tabs along to the top allow you to go from one standard to the other.  It's simple to add more rows and columns, too.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Magic Of Keynote

Did you know that Microsoft’s PowerPoint isn’t the only presentation software that you have access to
in Canyons on your Mac laptop? You also have Apple’s Office suite available to you and part of that suite is the Keynote application.

Keynote is an excited software because not too many students have seen it. It is so easy to put a presentation together and it does everything PowerPoint does and more. One of the features that I just learned about is the animation of Magic Move. You place the object on the slide where you want it, then you duplicate the slide and on the second slide, you move the object. Then when you start the show, Keynote will move the object on the first slide to where you placed it on the second slide. It is really cool. This short video will show you how easy it is to use this animation. I hope that you like it and that you will want to use Keynote in your classroom soon.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Remind 101

Remind101 is a free and safe way for teachers to communicate with parents and students through text or email.

It is as easy as 1, 2, 3...

1. Teachers can sign up for a free account.

2. Teachers create their class or classes.

3. Once a class is created the teacher can send out a text/email to invite subscribers to receive texts/emails.

After parents and/or students have subscribed the teacher can start messaging.

Remind 101 generates a domestic phone number and a class code.

Any phone that receives text messages can subscribe to receive class reminders.

The great thing about Remind 101 is that this is all done without ever sharing a personal cell phone number. Subscribers can not reply to the messages that are sent.




Theres an app for that...Teachers can access Remind 101 through the Internet or through the app. Teachers can schedule messages to be sent out at certain times. This is an awesome feature for the "night owls" who compose messages at 12:30 AM, but don't want to send messages out that late!



Every time a text message is sent out using Remind101, the teacher's name will appear at the front of the text. This will remind parents and students who don't save your Remind101 number into their phones that the text is from their teacher. Whoever receives the message can NOT reply.



Communicating with students and parents has never been easier with Remind 101! Hope this has been helpful!

Monday, September 23, 2013

UTIPS nearing the End!

For over a decade now teacher have been using the state sponsored Utah Test Item Pool Service (UTIPS) to do formative testing with their students. The item pool is built around the 3 main core items, Math, Language Arts, and Science, that students are tested on in end of level tests. UTIPS is going to be replaced with SAGE.

That being said, what about all the tests that have been written by teachers that are not based on the item pool? What about CTE teachers that have their tests and still want to administer them this year? The answer is they will be able to still use one of the 2 UTIPS services, but there needs to be a plan to get their tests moved and backed up.

Currently My.UTIPS.org is still functioning and has years of teachers' content on it. It was scheduled to be put out of service this past summer but has been extended for one more year, expecting June 30, 2014 to be the new shut down date. It will not be maintained or updated. Districts wanting to use it need to set up terms and schools so that they can collect the student data. No student accounts will be uploaded as they have been done in the past, so if you want a quick way of adding student data, please see the video below. Tests can be imported from here to the Core UTIPS server, (more on this below) and from there they will be available to move forward to SAGE.


The Current version of UTIPS is Core UTIPS, found at www.utips.org. This version is the replacement for My.UTIPS.org and is capable of importing tests from there. It is really quite simple, once you have your account, simply login and go to the settings menu where you will see the import option.


This version is being updated and supported fully. To get started you do need and enrollment code from your district UTIPS Admin, which in Canyons is your school Ed Tech. Test are usable in this version for an undefined amount of time. It is expected though that over the next few years that you will upgrade to SAGE. More information on how to use Core UTIPS is available at: http://utipscore.wikispaces.com

Do you need to do anything now? Well, if you only use UTIPS for your core item tests, then no. SAGE will be available for practice tests soon and in Feb 2014 you will be able to write your own tests. But for those of you that have depended on UTIPS in the past we have a solution that is easy and fast for you now. If you have questions, feel free to send me an email, robert.gordon@canyonsdistrict.org.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Virtual Field Trips

Ever wanted to take your students on a field trip but couldn't afford the bus, admission fee, or time away from the classroom?  Now you and your students can participate in Virtual Field Trips!

iTunes U has a section dedicated to virtual field trips, such as national parks and museums all around the globe!

Mr. Linde at Corner Canyon High School is taking advantage of these programs and is partnering with the Greenville Zoo that provides live web conferencing.

Other virtual activities include live feeds from various zoos.  The San Diego Zoo offers live feeds of their elephant, panda bear, polar bear, koala bear, and condor exhibits.  Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has a live feed of their zebra habitat, and you can even watch the activity of the African safari without the danger!  Animal Planet also partners with zoos, aquariums and shelters for live feeds of sharks, sea turtles, brown bears, penguins, as well as domestic kittens and puppies available for adoption.  Be sure to check the time zone before connecting with a live audience!


Take a virtual field trip today!


Flipping the Classroom with Edmodo

Flipping the Classroom is a popular teaching model being used in education.  The idea behind the flipped classroom model is to deliver instruction at home through instructional videos and using class time for application and practice.  Many teachers are interested in using technology to enhance classroom instruction and flip their classrooms, however they aren't sure where to start.

Miss Erb, a 5th grade teacher at Oak Hollow Elementary, decided to start with one subject.  She has begun flipping her science lessons through the use of the site Edmodo.  Edmodo is a free social learning platform for teachers, students, and parents.  Teachers can create their private classes and enroll their students in them.  It is possible to post assignments, create student response polls, embed videos and resources, create and assign quizzes, and provide opportunities for student collaboration.  Teachers can also provide  feedback to assignments and post grades for parents and students to view.

The above mentioned teacher has begun to embed instructional videos, articles, and resources for students to view and read at home.

She is then able to use classroom time for science experiments, higher order thinking application, and real world scenarios. Student engagement and motivation when using Edmodo is high. We are finding new ways to enhance instruction and assess student learning every day through the use of this site.

To get started with Edmodo, watch the short demo and begin building your teacher account today!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Engaging and Exciting Vocabulary Lessons with Prezi

Learning a new vocabulary can be not only difficult, but boring!  Unless you have a background knowledge of the words being used, or an authentic experience to which you can attach these new meanings, it can be a long and tedious process to memorize new spellings and meanings.

With the free online tool Prezi, www.prezi.com, you can break free of the bonds of PowerPoint to create a spinning, eye catching, and attention grabbing visual presentation.  Check out the "Descriptive Words" Prezi below used to introduce adjectives to a group of 4th grade writers.  By breaking down the words based on the human senses they effective, students can then think about the adjectives they are using in their own writing.



Prezi isn't limited to only elementary topics or classrooms, it can also be used in any subject area or secondary grade level.  The example below demonstrates how a Social Studies class at the middle school level can introduce and review a new set of words for a unit about the Middle East.



Using Prezi is easy.  First set up an account at www.prezi.com with your @CanyonsDistrict.org email.  Then get started with one of the templates and add text boxes for each word.  You can spice it up a little with some images, add links, even videos from YouTube and other online media sites.

To get going with Prezi, check out their three step process at http://prezi.com/support/

Monday, September 16, 2013

Using Evernote in the Classroom to Track Student Progress

I have been using Evernote (iPad, Mac PC))for about 5 years off and on. However, I made it my go to note app about 2 years ago and haven't looked back. I believe that Evernote is a great tool for tracking student progress. Evernote allows typed notes, handwritten notes, images, and even audio recording. There are other apps that Evernote can sync with that provide an even broader use of the Evernote platform. My two favorite are Skitch (iPad, Mac), (allows you to annotate on photos) and Penultimate (allows handwritten note, drawings etc.). These apps have been purchased by Evernote over the past two years allowing for great integration with Evernote.

One of the other reasons that I love Evernote is that it is available over most computing platforms and it syncs very well between them all. That means that as I create and add to notes on my iPad, that information is automatically synched to my Evernote on my laptop and on the web. To me the ever in Evernote means everywhere which is where my notes end up. I can access those notes from any devices.

This means that a teacher could be working with a small group in language arts for example and as they are working with the group and students are reading out loud, the teacher could not only take written notes, but record the student reading, all in Evernote. There are many such uses for Evernote. For more information on general use of  Evernote, you can visit their tutorials at http://evernote.com/evernote/guide/mac/

Teacher Nicholas Provenzano used Evernote heavily in his classroom last year and detailed that experience at http://www.thenerdyteacher.com/p/the-epic-evernote-experiment.html

Here is a brief video showing a few of the things that Evernote can do.

video


Friday, September 13, 2013

The Courage of Teachers with Technology



This year is becoming quite an opportunity for growth for me as an Ed Tech.  At Mt. Jordan Middle School, they are beginning an ambitious 1:1 technology program.  This has involved massive coordinative efforts on the parts of several district departments and school administration and faculty.  The people that have impressed me the most are the teachers.  They have such tremendous desire to use the tools taught them in these trainings as quickly as possible.  Technical problems have not stopped their drive to integrate technology into their teaching as much as possible.  We are teaching them to use an app/computer program called Doceri. 

Many used this amazing program with their iPads the day they learned about it in Faculty meeting.  I look forward to seeing the engagement of students and teachers as they provide unprecedented access to technology in all classroom activities!  Stay tuned for more news of how they are doing at Mount Jordan Middle School in upcoming blog entries!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Individualized Keyboarding Instruction

I recently sat at a table with a group of middle school social studies and language arts teachers discussing how Google Docs and Chrome Books will be utilized in their classrooms this year. One of the teachers chimed in saying, "Do you know what our incoming 6th graders really need before they get to middle school? Keyboarding skills. Teaching my students to write would go so much more smoothly if they knew how to input their thoughts fluently on a computer."

I couldn't agree more. For several years now I have been tasked with supporting the Canyons School District keyboarding program. I have become convinced that the need for students to be fluent on a computer keyboard has not gone away and will not go away any time soon. In fact, our increased use of computers and other technology devices in education has increased the need for students to be able input fluently on a keyboard.

The Canyons District keyboarding program is outlined on the Ed Tech Department website found at prolearning.canyonsdistrict.org. Teachers in grades 3-6 are required, according to Utah state core curriculum, to teach keyboarding. Teachers in younger grades are encouraged to begin teaching basic keyboarding concepts early, and teachers in older grades are encouraged to review and re-emphasize proper keyboarding technique.

All elementary schools should have begun their focused 20-day Keyboard Chatter instruction on September 3. Read more about Keyboard Chatter here. 6th grade keyboarding teachers are using Keyboard Craze in their classrooms. Read more about Keyboard Craze here.

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching any subject, including keyboarding, is differentiating instruction. In keyboarding, teachers should be evaluating and assessing student keyboarding skills on a regular basis to ensure each student is being challenged to improve first their technique and then their accuracy and speed. Following are several ways teachers can differentiate keyboarding instruction:
  • Use pre-assessments to set individual technique, speed, and accuracy goals for each student.
  • Use a technique name card to celebrate individual technique strengths and correct individual technique problems. (See image)
  • When dictating keyboarding drills, invite those who need to be challenged to try typing each letter or word twice each time you say it rather than just once like the rest of the class.
  • Make a game out of specific mistakes you see students making. For example, one time a line is dictated celebrate students who were able to get all of the commas typed correctly. The next time celebrate students who correctly keyed difficult letter combinations. The next time, celebrate students who were able to get all of the capital letters keyed correctly, etc.
  • Use warm-up software that allows students to progress at their own rate. (Canyons District uses Keyboarding for Kids and Keyboard Mastery.)
In the near future, I will be posting video examples of great keyboarding teachers showing how these techniques and more work in their classrooms. Stay tuned, and keep keyboarding!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Infuse Learning: formative assessments at your fingertips.



Infuse Learning is a web-based student response system that works with any mobile device or computer. Where a typical student response system requires a hardware and software investment that can range anywhere from $1000 to $2500, Infuse Learning is free!

Teachers can create impromptu surveys and quizzes utilizing 7 different question formats (see image to right.) All of the text in Infuse Learning can be translated into multiple languages and students can also hear audio narration of questions and possible responses. Teachers can also create quizzes that can be saved, shared, and a summary of responses can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet.

Another great feature of Infuse Learning is that teachers can create classes and add students so that they can regularly monitor student progress.

Infuse Learning can also be used to push out a website or other weblinks, so you can help keep your students on task.

Learn more about Infuse Learning in the video and instruction guide below.


Overview of Infuse Learning Video Highlights
  • Quick assessments with little setup/prep.
  • Real-time results.
  • Language translation (text and audio.)
  • Draw Responses (can annotate images.)
  • Self-paced quizzes.
  • Share links (videos, websites, images...)
  • Image annotation.
  • Share quizzes with other teachers.



Also Check out How to Get Started With InfuseLearning by Infuse Learning on Snapguide. Click on the image below to start the instructional guide.


Skyward Online Assignments


 

Canyons School District has had Skyward since its beginnings.  Yet most teachers are not aware that students can take online assessments, which Skyward calls Online Assignments. 

The beauty of Skyward Online assignments is twofold: scores assignments automatically adding the score to your gradebook (see below for restrictions) and allows the use of the assignment from year to year or to share it with others.  These features help save time grading, reduces taking papers home and time recreating the test. 
The question types Skyward has available are multiple choice, true/false, matching, short answer, and essay.  The first two of which Skyward will grade, automatically entering the score into your gradebook.  Students are able to complete the online assignment at school or at home.  To find out more about Skywards Online Assignments please see your EdTech or print off the step-by-step “how to” PDF


For more Skyward resources please visit http://prolearning.canyonsdistrict.org/skyward-resources.html.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Inbox Zero

At our opening department retreat this year each of us was asked to present a 3 minute presentation on something we were passionate about.  However odd this may seem, I chose to present on productivity, and more specifically, email.

Most of the world’s email traffic is work or business related. In 2012, the number of businesses emails sent and received per day total 89 billion. This figure is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 13% over the next four years, reaching over 143 billion by year-end 2016 (radicati.com).



No wonder I often feel like my email is out of control! One thing I have learned is while technology is wonderful, and can help us improve productivity, it can also be counter productive, if not used effectively. Email for example, can be far more efficient than snail mail.

One way I have found to help me increase productivity is Inbox Zero. Someone shared the idea with me of having an “Action” folder for items that require my attention, but will take more than a minute or two to address. If an email comes, and I can take care of it in less than two minutes, I do it right then. If it requires more focused attention I place it in my “Action” folder. I set aside time either after lunch, or the end of the day to address those messages. This has helped me be more organized and to respond in a timely matter. This strategy has helped me achieve Inbox Zero.

After my presentation to the department, some of my colleagues were inspired and have applied this same technique. Dustin Worm took the challenge and said, "Two words, productivity increase! While I am new to the idea of Inbox Zero, I have a small sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Not to mention I answer every email within 24 hours which makes my peers happy."

With the rapid growth in use of technology, and huge amounts of data we deal with every day, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Give Inbox Zero a try...I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what a difference it makes!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Continuing Education Through Reflection

Canyons School District emphasizes continued education for their educators.  Therefore, the district provides many PD experiences throughout the year to help teachers improve Instruction. Although teachers can gain an immense amount of knowledge through PD, they can also learn through personal reflection.  One great way to  reflect is by recording a lesson and watching it back. Sarah Brown Wessling from Johnston, Iowa explains this type of reflection in the six minute video-
Using Video to Improve Practice: Do It Yourself!

At Edgemont Elementary, the BLT (Building Leadership Team) will be helping their teachers put the idea of personal reflection through video into practice.  With the use of an iPod connected to a Swivl, teachers will record themselves teaching a lesson. Then, the teacher will watch it back and reflect.  She can either watch the video back individually or reflect with her team.  After the teacher has reflected on the lesson, she will meet with the principal to discuss her findings. Together they will figure out a plan to further enhance her classroom instruction.

(Click on the picture above
to visit the Swivl Website)
The Swivl is a great way to record a lesson for further reflection. With its 360 degree rotation, Swivl allows the iPod camera to record the teacher anywhere throughout the classroom. The teacher wears a marker with a microphone, and it allows the iPod to record video as well as voice, so the teacher can see and hear the entirety of the lesson.

Applications Now Being Accepted!


The Education Technology Department is excited to announce that applications are now being accepted for the Educational Technology Endorsement Program that will begin January 7, 2014. This year-long program is designed to help teachers, administrators and Achievement Coaches in the Canyons School District become educational technology leaders in their schools. Using the NETS for Teachers as a guideline, the focus of this endorsement program is to teach educators how to provide learning environments that take students beyond the walls of their classrooms and into a world of endless opportunities through the use of various technologies.

What role does technology play in making a positive difference in learning and teaching? 
Let the teachers who completed the Canyons School District Educational Technology Endorsement Program tell you. These teachers were asked to think about what made their endorsement experience worthwhile for themselves and their students, and write a one-minute PSA. They reflected on what was most meaningful, most helpful, or most useful.


Applications will be accepted through November 15, 2013, and notifications of whether or not you were accepted to the program will be sent via email by December 6, 2013.  You can click here to access the 2014 endorsement application, or if you would like more information about our endorsement program you can view the endorsement brochure or visit the endorsement page on our department's website.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Google Docs with School Psychologists

I am very pleased to say I successfully got a school psychologist set up with her CSD GooleDocs account.  I had used GoogleDocs but never set up new accounts and shared so many of the features.  As a school psychologist, she was so excited that the content could be add on her phone and iPad quickly, but then later on her computer.  Once all the teachers have been trained, she looks forward to sharing Documents and Spreadsheets with the teachers.  She also looks forward to creating Forms for  surveying the students once they are set up and ready to go!
                               
                                     

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Year of Change

The year of change is upon us as grade reconfiguration, the opening of several new schools and new technology tools throughout the district are in place to kick off the 2013-14 school year! While everyone in Canyons District is excited, we are also very busy this time of year, so this blog is a place to come for quick tips, tricks and ideas for using technology in your classroom. 

Dropbox

In keeping with the "short and helpful" theme established, a good start of the year reminder is to make sure you have downloaded Dropbox to your new devices and have updated old documents. Especially with so many changes (if you are on a new team, teaching a different grade/ class/ subject or switched schools) it is a good idea to double check before adding new files and sharing them.

If you are new to Dropbox, it is a free tool that allows you to bring your documents, images and videos anywhere and easily share them with others without having to e-mail them. Sign up HERE and start connecting today! (For help with this contact your Ed Tech.)

Good luck and have a happy school year!