Saturday, February 28, 2015

What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century?

There's not a doubt in my mind that technology has changed our world. Information is created, shared, and evaluated differently. People connect, communicate, and go about their daily lives in new ways with the use of technology.


Think about the impact of technology on industries like newspapers, publishers, movies, travel agencies, etc. I go online to read the news, view books, and watch movies. I plan vacations, make travel arrangements, and purchase tickets online. I find new recipes and share them with friends through social media.

We are in an information revolution. It's changing and disrupting how things are done, and requires new skills to be successful. Therefore, it impacts what it means to be literate, moving beyond reading and writing and into information and digital literacies.

New literacies

Today, students need to be taught information and research fluency, along with digital citizenship and technology operations and concepts.

Final thoughts

Even if students are "digital natives" it does not mean they know online information skills such as vetting valid and reliable sources. Students must be taught the new literacies.


Literacy is not optional, and teaching students how to search, organize, evaluate, synthesize, and share information, is part of learning in the 21st century.

  • What do you think it means to be literate in the 21st century?
  • How do new literacies change the learning environment?
  • How else does this post connect with you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Screenshots

One question I'm asked on occasion is, "How do you capture a copy of what's on your screen?"

The procedure differs a little depending on the device. The devices I most frequently use are listed below.

On PCs, this is often how I'd do it:
  • Press the “Print Screen” key on the top right of my keyboard.
  • Then open my email, PowerPoint, or Paint.
  • Press CTRL + V to paste the image.
  • Decide if I need to save the image (or crop the image). If so, I like using Paint.

On my Mac, I'll:
  • Press Command, Shift, and 4 at the same time.
  • Then pull the crossbars down and around the image you want to capture.
  • You’ll find it on your desktop as a Screenshot.

On an iPad, I'll:
  • Press the sleep button and the home button simultaneously. It will save in the Camera Roll album (see icon below).
Final thoughts

Screenshots are valuable when creating presentations or explaining something from the screen. For example, if there is an error message, I like sending a screenshot along with my request for help to show exactly what occurred. 

I am also cognizant of copyrights.
  • What questions, comments, or insights would you add to this post?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

14 Best or Worst from 2014

As I reflect on 2014, I want to share 14 of the best and some of the worst from 2014.

1) Most acknowledged blog post -- Mystery State Skype

I received the Editor's Choice Content Award from SmartBrief for my post on the Mystery State Skype. I also had the opportunity to talk with by Larry Jacobs on Education Talk Radio -- (click here to go straight to archive of radio show).

2) Most visited blog post -- Digital Storytelling and Stories with the iPad


3 & 4) My favorite post -- Harnessing Powerful Ideas: Leading One-to-One

This post was my favorite to write because it helped me collect many ideas about one-to-one, and place it in one space -- my post. Furthermore, I absolutely loved creating the graphics for this post. It was my first experiment with using Canva.


5) Favorite new(ish) tool (besides Canva) -- Pinterest

While Pinterest isn't new, it so happened to be new for me. I had an account before 2014, but it was during this past year that I really recognized the power of Pinterest, and had the insight to know when to use it. I found myself diving into Pinterest for visuals, which led to resources and learning.

6) Epic fail -- Lost many creations

Did I take the time to back it up before installing? Doh! Serves me right!


7) Most difficult lesson learned -- Leadership has a cost
"Good leadership is not a popularity contest. One of the most important days in my career was the day I realized that leading well was more important than being well-liked." -- John Maxwell
8) Most challenging idea -- Create my TPOV

Shawn Evenson, a highly-valued member of my PLN and friend, challenged me to write down my Teachable Point of View (TPOV). While this was an activity to strengthen leaders, it trickled into other aspects of my life. By reflecting on my core values, it helped me make tough decisions -- decisions that I stand by -- and helped me communicate those decisions and ideas to others.


9 & 10) Most important reminder & biggest decision -- family comes first

Family is always a priority. Always. We put family first and chose to move mid-school-year back to California to be closer to family.

11) Best gift -- John Maxwell book from Larry LaPrise

So, a gift by Tina Jada was awesome-sauce too, but Larry's note left my heart full and eyes saturated. -- Larry was the principal who first hired me in Apache Junction. He always spent time building other leaders in the organization, and invested in me, even though I didn't see myself as a leader at first. I wouldn't be where I am without his mentorship and friendship.


12) Most excited about for 2015 -- Next to being closer to family is my new role at VCOE

I was hired by the Ventura County Office of Education in the Curriculum and Instruction Department as the Technology Integration Specialist. I am surrounded by the most innovative educators and am inspired every day!

13) Bucket List for 2015 -- PhD

I've narrowed it down to a few programs, and have to get applications rolling.

14) Bottom line -- Serving, connecting, and 21st century learning

The bottom line is I'm most excited when I am serving and connecting with others, and am passionate about 21st century learning. With all the changes going on in my life, I'm relying on my PLN more and more these days. So, I thank you for connecting and learning with me.
  • What are some of your best or worst from 2014?
  • What are you looking forward to in 2015?
  • How do you communicate your TPOV?
  • How else does this post connect with you?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Formative Assessment with Plickers

Formative assessment helps teachers make data-informed decisions to plan for and/or adjust instructional activities, identify potential misconceptions, monitor the pace of instruction, etc.

While there are many ways to formatively assess students, I recently saw Eric Sheninger use Plickers during his workshop at the Ventura County Office of Education, and thought, what an easy and inexpensive way to quickly assess groups!
Purpose and benefits
  • Collect data from multiple choice or true/false questions from a group.
  • View data as a group snapshot in a graph, or view individual data from audience.
  • Quick, low-tech tool to use, especially when you don't have the budget for clickers.
Technology and prep
  1. Teacher/Facilitator creates an account at Plickers.
  2. Download app for portable device: iTunes or Google Play.
  3. Print out a set of reusable cards.  
  4. Add class(es).
  5. Create questions.
Getting started 

Click here to download as PDF
Last thoughts

Multiple choice and true/false responses provide limited data of learning and understanding. However, it can be used as a quick assessment to make data-informed decisions and to spark discussions for deeper learning in the classroom, a staff meeting, or the workshop setting.
  • How do you use technology to make you more effective, efficient, and informed?
  • What other tools do you like to use to gather information from your audience?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mystery State Skype

Mystery State Skype isn't a new idea, it's basically taking learning geography and placing it in a game format like Twenty Questions via Skype, by asking questions to guess the location of the other classroom. Not only does this connect students from across the country (or globe), but it also gives a context for students to apply geography with critical reasoning, collaboration, communication, digital citizenship, and information fluency -- 21st century skills.

Skype in the classroom
Learning standards

What should your students research? I recommend looking at your standards to know what is expected of your students as a starting place.
Create a graphic organizer to guide their research, or adapt this Google Doc for your needs.

Preparing for the Mystery Skype



Setting up the Mystery Skype

There are many places where you can sign up for a Mystery Skype. Here's a few:


Tips:

  • Check time zone differences.
  • Set up a test call a few days before the event to make sure the technology is working, and to confirm the Mystery Skype day and time.
  • Double check how the teacher wants to do the Mystery State Skype. There are several variations of Mystery Skypes such as using yes/no questions or clues. The questions your students create will reflect what variation of Mystery Skype you do.

21st century fluencies

What 21st century skills will students use?
  • Research and Information Fluency: Do students know how to search for valid and reliable information?
  • Digital Citizenship: Have they been introduced to Skype etiquette
  • Critical Thinking: After researching, organize the information as questions in a logical order. To add an extra element to the research, have students make a list of the states that fits the question and add it to the map. Then when they ask questions in the Skype ("Is there a NBA basketball team in your state?") they can use it to eliminate/include states. 
  • Communication and Collaboration: Have collaboration norms been established?
What 21st century skills might also be addressed/included in the Mystery Skype?
  • Research and Information Fluency: Do students know how to use Google Maps?
  • Digital Citizenship, Communication, and Collaboration: Will you have students typing up questions and answers on a backchannel? If so, are they aware of what's expected of them as digital citizens
  • Technology Operations and Concepts: Do students know how to troubleshoot if the sound doesn't work? Do they know how to check the Skype preferences and then the computer hardware preferences for the microphone?

Roles

The roles you assign students will really depend on what tools you have available and best fits your students' needs. It's also important to make sure all of your students are allowed to be on camera prior to the Mystery Skype (check for non-disclosures).

  • Click here for a template with the steps as well as roles.



Going deeper

When the Mystery Skype is over, it's so important to go deeper by reflecting and connecting back to the learning.


Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano created this assessment of learning graphic organizer for a Mystery Skype.



Final thoughts

Focus on the critical thinking and the learning. Help students think through their reasoning while not giving them the answers.

Mystery Skypes should be a fun and engaging way to apply their learning for a real purpose and audience.

  • What questions do you have about Mystery Skyping? 
  • What insight or resources will you add to this conversation?
  • How else does this post connect with you?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Formative Assessment and Google Forms

Formative assessment informs educators about student learning, and when done correctly, it also informs the students how to improve and move forward with their next goal. Teachers must know how to use the data to drive their instruction.


Formative Data by Tracy Watanabe - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Gleaning results from the data and providing specific feedback must be timely, which is why I like using Google Forms (along with other tools).

Why Google Forms

While there's a plethora of tools that can be used to collect formative data, I am going to focus on Google Forms.

Google Forms is an awesome time saver for collecting data in surveys, assignments, mindsets, exit tickets, etc. It aggregates the data collected into a Google Spreadsheet, and gives me a summary of the data in nice graphs as well.

For example, below is a Google Form used by a high school teacher. He told me that this tool is a time saver because he can quickly see which questions his classes have mastered and which questions need more attention. Question #6 below is an example of a question that merits more time.


Examples

Below are a plethora of examples of formatives through Google Forms. You can choose which content area you'd like to look at. There is also an area that isn't content specific.


Click here to view the examples.

Differentiated Google Forms Tutorial

Below is a tutorial for creating Google Forms. It is differentiated for your experience and comfort level.


Click here to view the tutorial.

Final thoughts

It took me a little time to learn how to use Google Forms because change takes time. However, it was well worth it because it helps me easily and quickly collect data.

After data is collected and organized, I can decide what the next appropriate steps are. It might mean I change my lesson plans and add more pre-teaching and reteaching opportunities along with enriching because that's what the data reveals. It helps me to quickly address students' needs and provide them with specific feedback.
  • What data do you collect? Why do you collect that data? How does it drive instruction?
  • What are some new ideas you gained from this post?
  • What ideas would you add or challenge?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Introduction to iPads iOS 7: Part 1--Hardware

How does a teacher start to use iPads in the classroom? This post will include the basics for getting started. Part 1 focuses on the hardware fundamentals with iOS 7, while Part 2 focuses on iPad integration in the classroom.

Hardware basics
  • Turning on / off the iPad: Hold the sleep button for five seconds until you see the apple appear on the screen to turn it on. To power down, hold the sleep button for five seconds, then  "slide to power off."

  • Putting the iPad to sleep: Press the sleep button. To wake it up, press either the sleep button or the home button. Use this feature to save the battery or to have students' full attention.
  • Open an app: Tap once on the app you would like to open. If it is not on the first page, you can swipe through the pages with your finger to look for it. If you have many apps/pages, then you can find it with the Spotlight search. Just go to your Home screen by pressing the home button, and swipe down from the middle of the screen, then the search field will appear.
  • Typing: The onscreen keyboard appears when a blinking cursor is observable. Place your finger where you want to type to move the cursor to that spot. Double-tap the spacebar to insert a period (including the space and the shift for the capital letter of the next sentence). To insert numbers, go to the number and symbol keyboard by pressing the number and symbol keyboard key.

  • Scrolling: To scroll up or down a page, drag two fingers up or down the iPad.
  • Zooming and shrinking: To zoom in, place two fingers on the iPad and stretch them apart. To shrink what is on the iPad, place two fingers on it, then pinch or pull them together.
  • Cut, copy, or paste: To cut or copy text, highlight the word or words first. To highlight, double-tap a word, then use the blue circle bracket to pull to the beginning of the desired text to highlight, and the ending circle bracket to the end of the text. Then tap copy or cut. Tap finger at desired placement to paste text. Hold finger in place to see text under a magnifying glass. In case of mistake, simply shake iPad to undo.
  • Screenshot: To create a screenshot, press the sleep button and the home button simultaneously. It will save in the Camera Roll album (see icon below).
Camera Roll icon
  • Saving images: To save an image, hold finger on image until "Save Image" or "Copy" choices appear. Then select "Save Image" to store it in the Camera Roll album.
  • Exiting apps: To minimize an app, tap the home button. To completely exit the app, double-tap the home button to view opened apps. Flick the app up to close it. Scroll through the list of running apps by swiping to the next page.
  • Basic care for iPad: Use dry microfiber cloth to clean the iPad. Don't use cleaning products or compressed air. See Tip #9 for more information. Keep iPad (especially the charging doc) dry. 
  • Troubleshooting tips: If the iPad does not respond correctly, 1) check battery to see if it needs to be charged; 2) close apps that are minimized and running in the background (see "exiting apps" above); 3) shut down iPad normally, then restart it; 4) check how much available storage is left and if it's getting close to running out, take off some apps, pictures, video, or songs; or 5) if all else fails, try a hard reboot by holding the sleep button and the home button simultaneously for approximately ten seconds, let go once the Apple logo appears.

Final thoughts

There are more tips for using the hardware, but the above includes the basics for getting started. For more details, click here to download a PDF of the iPad iOS 7 User Guide, or see Tips for iPads in Classroom.

In my experience, learning how to use an iPad is easier than other devices I've introduced to teachers and students. I'd like to hear about your experiences with it.
  • How easy/difficult was it for you or your students to learn how to use an iPad?
  • What would you add to this list? 
  • What questions do you still have?
Note: This post was originally published in January of 2013, and has been updated with iOS 7 information.