New School Year…New Learning

While our students restart the process of learning new concepts and skills for the new school year, it’s a good time for us to get energized about adding to our own technology skill set so we can be efficient with professional productivity and effective with instruction.

Macworld put out three great articles this summer about the essential skills everyone should know how to do with word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software. The articles apply to both Mac and Windows users using a variety of software on each platform. They can be a great instructional tool to help you learn about a new skill or remind you about features you may not have used recently that could save you time and create better quality documents.

Check out the articles at these links:

Ten things everyone should know how to do with a word processor

Nine things everyone should know how to do with a presentation app

Nine things everyone should know how to do with a spreadsheet

 

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Spring Cleaning

It’s spring, a time of renewal. In that spirit I have decided to do a bit of spring cleaning on my blog, clean out my closet of old technology to make room for new tools, and planning my spring and summer professional development schedule.

On my blog, along with the new visual layout, I am consolidating the information about Social Media and Standards onto the Resources tab. If you have not checked out the Resources tab lately, be sure to have a look. I have added several new Symbaloo web mixes including topics on Formative Assessment and Bring Your Own Devices information. I will be hosting another series of webinars for the spring, the schedule will be available in early April. Send me a message if you have any requests so I can try to work them into the lineup. For short little training bits and highlights of great technology use in the classroom, I will be adding a more tutorials on my YouTube Channel. Keep an eye out for new videos around the end of April.

I am excited to be a new Google Glass Explorer. I have been testing out the functionality of the device and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my prescription lenses for Glass, so I can wear them on a more regular basis. You may see of more random Tweets from me testing out the features. Good thing for sites like eBay, so I can sell my old iPad and other out of date gadgets so I can afford to buy the new ones. I’m still saving up for a new iMac. I love that large screen and my 2007 iMac is lagging a bit with the Mavericks OS.

I am planning my professional development schedule for the spring and summer. I will be adding new items to the Live Sessions tab of my website as I confirm dates and locations of sessions. I have already added events for this week, Technology Demofest at the Downtown Learning Center followed by #brewCUE at the Container Park and iPads in Learning Mini-Conference at Southwest Career and Technical School. I look forward to seeing many of you at those events. Be sure to also check out the Webinar section of the site to hear about online events that you can watch online or view as a playback. I am putting together a reading list for myself to continue my own professional development. I will be adding titles to my Professional Bookshelf section on my Pinterest page. If you are reading the titles as well, we can have a chat online about our learning. Finally, I am booking my trip to Atlanta for ISTE. If you are planning to attend, I look forward to seeing you there. If attending in person does not fit your budget or schedule, remember that you can always sign up to attend ISTE Live and view the sessions remotely from home.

Let’s make it a great end to the 2013-2014 school year and renew and refresh to start next school year even better than ever.

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Aging technology not keeping up with student learning needs?

As I work with teachers and share with them all of the great ideas about how to use technology in their classrooms with students, one pharse always creeps into the conversation at some point, “The technology in my classroom is out of date.”

Certainly, we can still provide lots of great educational opportunities to our students with little to no technology in our classrooms, but it can be frustrating when aging technology fails and we have to change plans at the last moment.  Talk with your colleagues about the strategies that you would like to use in the classroom, blended learning, project based learning, or flipping the classroom.  Come up with a vision for how you see this working in your classrooms and think about tools that could make it happen.  You may be surprised to realize that you may be able to start small with your plan using what you already have.

When the tools you have just won’t get the job done, consider teaming up with your colleagues for a grant writing blitz.  Spend a hour after school one day with a group of motivated teachers just searching the web for grant opportunities that fit the plan you would like to implement. This a session just to make a list of as many grant opportunities as possible.  It may be a good idea to have the group compile a list of the grants with a short description and deadline information in a Google document.  In an hour each group member should be able to find at least four or five that may fit.

The next step for the group is to narrow the field and decide on two or three grants from the list that are the best.  Ask each person to look more closely at all of the grants in the brainstorming list over the course of a week and pick their top three choices.  Score each grant opportunity based on the number of people that picked it as their top choice and decide to apply for at least one if not a few grants from the list.  The whole group can meet to write the grant together, or each person or pair can choose to write an application for different grants and have other team members edit them.

After your administrator reviews your grant application, it’s time to submit it and hope that it is accepted.  Grant writing is like applying to college.  Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  Apply for your favorites and a few easy wins too!  You may not win them all, but as you get more practice, you will win more and more.  You never need to start from scratch each time.  Use what you learn about previous applications to help you develop a better application each time.

 

Here are a few places to find just the right grant opportunity for your school:

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Jump Out of That Slump—–> Get Gritty!

Success does not happen overnight.  Even when you see the next big rock and roll start jump up to the top of the charts, they were not an overnight success.  Many years of blood, sweat, and tears went into the planning and preparation to become a success.  What’s more is that all of that work and effort must continue at an even higher level to avoid being a one-hit-wonder.

 

The same is true for every other successful person you know.  Hopefully you are one of those successful people.  Remember also, the measure of you success in the ability to accomplish the goals that are important to you, not the goals that are important to others.

 

Check out this TED Talk from Angela Lee Duckworth about how grit is the key to success. It’s both inspiring and insightful.

 

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Hour of Code

This is Computer Science Education Week.  To celebrate, students across the country are participating in an Hour of Code.  I have include a few links below to resources if you would like to talk about programming in your class this week or next week.  If you plan to dive deeper, there are even online lessons that students can participate in either during the school day with their class, or outside the school day on their own.  Also, Apple is offering Hour of Code Youth Workshops at many of their stores on December 11th.  Advance registration at the website below is recommended.

 

 

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Learning to Skate

As a kid growing up in Alaska, it was practically a requirement to learn how to ice skate.  The joke is that we are born with skates on our feet and a hockey stick in our hands.  The reality is that we all learn by accident or we take a class.

 

I remember my first ice skating class. I was probably about five years old.  All of the kids were lined up along the wall, hanging on for dear life, skates strapped to our feet.  The teacher told us that for the entire first class we were going to learn to do the unthinkable.  We were going to learn to fall.  As a kid, this sounded crazy, and many adults I talk too, think that this is nuts.  It was the teaching best method ever.  My teacher knew that if we spent 30 minutes doing the one thing we all feared; falling and failing on purpose, we would lose the fear of falling and failing.  She knew that once we were good at falling, it would seem like a normal part of learning all of the other new skating skills: gliding, turning, crossing our feet in from of each other, etc.  She also knew that we would get good at falling, meaning that we would adjust the way we fell to minimize damage to our little bodies.

 

I always relay this story to teachers that are reluctant to try using a new technology tool in their classroom for fear of failure.  We push our students to practice new skills everyday, with the distinct possibility of failure, so we have to be willing to take a similar risk in our teaching practice.  Certainly our hope is that we do not fail, but we have to plan that it may happen and know how to turn that into a learning opportunity for ourselves.

 

Next time you are fearful of implementing a new tool or technique in your classroom, imagine that you just strapped on a pair of skates and you are ready for the possibility that you might fall and rejoice when you complete the double twist jump and land on your feet.

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CUE NV Tech Event 2013 – A Great Opportunity for PD

 

Computer Using Educators of Nevada is hosting its annual Tech Event this weekend on November 1st and 2nd.  If you are not already registered to attend, I encourage you to review the information below and consider registering on site.
I know your personal and professional schedules are packed with important events, and I hope the learning and networking opportunities available this weekend will fit into your calendar.  You will find sessions about iPads, student clickers, web 2.0 tools, blended learning and more.  The keynote speaker, Leslie Fisher, is nationally know and will provide an informational and entertaining presentation titled “Technology Time Machine” along with offering several other breakout sessions.  I will be presenting several sessions that fit into this year’s STEM theme, Sowing the Seeds of Innovation.
The registration fee ($45) also includes an annual membership to CUE-NV, along with CUE-CA benefits.  Check out those details at the link below.  When combined with these benefits, it’s well worth the registration fee, even if you can only attend a few sessions.  I look forward to seeing you at the Tech Event.
Register for the Tech Event
https://techevent2013.eventbrite.com

View the Schedule
http://cuenvtech2013.sched.org

Leslie Fisher’s Speaking Schedule
http://cuenvtech2013.sched.org/speaker/geek#.Um6I3JEk83E

Carole Moreo’s Speaking Schedule
http://cuenvtech2013.sched.org/speaker/cmoreo#.Um6HY5Ek83E

CUE-CA Membership Benefits
http://www.cue.org/memberbenefits

CUE-NV Membership Benefits
http://www.cue-sn.org

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Gearing up for my own PD

‘Tis the season for summer PD. I am heading out to San Antonio today to attend ISTE 2013. I have been attending this conference for about the last six years and I always come away with great new ideas to energize me for the new school year in the fall. I will be tweeting out my “ah-ha” moments and cool tidbits over the next few days so that you can get in on the fun and learning too. Be sure to follow me on twitter @nvtechgirl to keep up with all that I have to share live from the conference.

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Putting Content First

Have you ever been out shopping and bought something just because it seemed cool or it was on sale?  You were not sure how you would use the item, but you knew you had to have it.  I have a few shiny tools in my shed that I bought at the big box home improvement store that I was sure would be useful in fixing up some part of my home and I have a few dresses in my closet that I bought on sale just in case I was invited to something that required fancy clothes.  The reality is that most of my home improvement tasks require simple tools and I don’t have time for complex projects, so I hire a contractor.  I don’t attend many fancy events, so the dress I bought a few years ago does not even fit.  If I get invited to a wedding, I will need to buy a different dress.

As teachers, we can get the same feeling about using technology in the classroom.  Technology is shiny and new.  It creates a wow factor for the students and we think that if we can squeeze it into every aspect of our lessons that it will magically transform learning.  The truth is, learning is not transformed by technology.  It is transformed by addressing the standards with quality lesson design.  Learning should involve technology if and when it benefits the outcome of the of the lesson.

I encourage teachers to take note about how and when they use technology in the classroom.  Before you design your next lesson or unit, take a look at the resources available regarding the TPACK model, graphic show below.  Begin your lesson planning with the content and pedagogy in mind.  Then weave in the technology as it enhances the lesson.  You may find that whether you use technology more or less often, the use of the technology will then transform learning for students in the classroom.

 

Image is property of and shared by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.org.

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