New Update: Help for Teachers Going From an iPad to a Chromebook
Mar02

New Update: Help for Teachers Going From an iPad to a Chromebook

Updated March 2017 – with good news! I am a huge fan of iPads AND Chromebooks. I think both can be integrated purposefully into the classroom in ways that are very powerful to the learning experience. Both devices can accomplish almost any form of masterful technology integration, boost critical thinking, and help to make student thinking visible. As many classrooms and teachers move between the two devices, they often struggle to find similar applications – to supplement the one they came to love on the opposite machine. To help those teachers moving from an iPad to Chromebook, here are a few ways you can use the Chromebook to do some of the great things you’ve grown to love on an iPad. When you get a Chromebook, you have the power of Google Apps for Education, in all its glory, right at your fingertips!  So Rejoice! You can now use Google in ways you could not with the iPad. You might be sad at first, but once you see the new power of  Google on a Chromebook, you will be so excited by the new possibilities. Your favorite iPad apps should have been Explain Everything and Book Creator – and if they were here is some game-changing news!  Explain Everything is now available on Chromebooks!!! – Stop jumping up and down, and keep reading! The only feature missing is the ability to work collaboratively in real-time…but that is small. All other features are there and ready for students to make their thinking and learning visible. Stop reading, go get it. It will change the way students demonstrate understanding in your classroom. I have even better news! Coming in June 2017,  Book Creator will be available for the web, and thus Chromebooks!! You gotta tweet this – this is huge! If you are trying to do ebooks –  Don’t do anything – don’t try and do any hacks… just wait for the release! It will change teaching and learning in your Chromebook classroom guaranteed. Since iPad teachers love Book Creator… I got seen a sneak preview. I promise you will love it…here is what you will see more of soon.                 Click and Listens: More on this fun strategy coming March 6th. – Check back Making Movies: Do you love iMovie on the iPad? Me too, but WeVideo is one of my favorite Chrome Apps ever!  It is an easy to use video creation program. I find that students who can make iMovies quickly figure out the controls and navigation of WeVideo. The best part about WeVideo is that students can work together from different machines on the same movie...

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Find…Validate… Now Use
Mar02

Find…Validate… Now Use

Having students think about validating information they find on the web is a highly important and critical digital literacy skill.  In the past, my students used a framework called  R.E.A.L- (described  below) taken from Alan November’s Web Literacy for Educators book. It was a great way to start students thinking about validating information they found online.  I began using these concepts with my students in 2008, and nearly ten years later it seems time to make some updates to this framework. Here are a  few steps to help students gain more information about the author and the website. The adaptations are in bold. The Framework For Students Read the URL  – what does it tell you about the author or the source of the article? Look for things like Smithsonian or New York Times – in the address. Can you tell, from the address, if this is on a private blog or from a reputable organization? What can that tell you about the information you are about to examine? Read and click through all the navigation tabs to see what you can glean about the source of information, the site and anything that will help you start thinking more critically about the content. Examine the content – this is an essential step. The student must look over the content paying specific  attention to any strong language, out of place wording or things that don’t seem suited for the title. This is a good time to use “Command F” to search the page.  With this feature, a small search bar will appear in the upper right hand corner of the screen –  and students can search for certain words or phrases that they might be looking for specifically. This can give students good information as to whether this is a rich information source or not – for their research needs. If there are comments, examine them closely.  Pay close attention to  what they tell you about the agreement and/or disagreement with this content. Can you get a feel for any opinions that dominate the thread? What does this tell you about the source? Examine the images. Can you do a reverse image search to find where they come from? Does this tell you anything important?   Ask about the author –  try Who is.com –  and place the address of the site into the search bar to see who owns the site. This does not always produce rich information so one may have to go a bit deeper. Look for the about section – or maybe the author is directly listed on the first page. If you can find the author, dig into their their social media  presence… search for their social accounts and...

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Are You Ready to Disrupt Learning?
Mar01

Are You Ready to Disrupt Learning?

In late 2015, my best friend’s daughter was going through something really horrific at school. She would come home and cry about math tests and she was beginning to show signs of  hating school. Tanya and I think it was because her teacher was so caught up in making sure she delivered certain content in a timely matter, that she had failed to notice that some of her students were not understanding the information. In addition, her daughter was becoming frustrated with what she thought was her inability to learn. One evening while saying her “good-nights,” this sweet seven year old girl confided in her  mom about a punishment she had received for talking during class…and as she told her story, her mom began to cry. It is from this story of an unjust punishment – a public humiliation really – that this TEDx talk was written…   Share...

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Disrupting A Culture of One Right Answer
Dec21

Disrupting A Culture of One Right Answer

Disrupting A Culture of One Right Answer In my 17 years of teaching, I have come to understand one truism. Multiple choice questions WILL NOT, HAVE NOT and DO NOT give us rich information about student learning and growth. Period. Full Stop.   This epiphany has haunted me for years because of the countless multiple choice tests I gave, and the subsequent judgements I formed about a student’s abilities based on how they answered. I wish I could say…that was the way I was taught… so in my defense, I didn’t know any better...but that would be complete bullshit…and you might want to stop reading this blog,  if you want me to play nice with schools still teaching students to regurgitate answers. I knew better… Truth is I knew better!  I was once a student. I knew that multiple choice questions didn’t show my real understanding – and that I could easily manipulate, even sell my learning short, to meet the needs of a test. I knew that if a willing teacher might have asked me a question in a different way – my explanation of the event, or problem, would have been so much more illuminating and profound. So I knew! This is why the guilt started to get the best of me.   I knew instinctively using multiple choice questions to gather real insight about what my students knew, understood  and could do – was not teaching and learning at its best.  Sadly,I found countless reasons to ignore this fact. Maybe I used multiple choice questions to chase after an easy grade  – but when I did – I settled. By my second year of teaching, I had developed a real passion for teaching and learning  and it broke my heart to continue the facade. So, I stopped… or I tried to stop, but  one big impasse stood in my way. The status quo of school got in the way Like a boulder blocking a mountain road, what stood in my way, was the status quo of school itself.  The administration (district level admin) who wanted my grade level PLC (Personal Learning Community) to discuss every month how our students did comparatively on identical unit tests we administered in our classrooms. That meant,  based on examining students answers on a multiple choice test, we could somehow grow as teachers and improve our instruction (it hurts me to even repeat this line of thinking). This was based on an underlying fallacy that all students learn in the same way – and that their chosen answers somehow gave us insight into our teaching abilities.  In addition, there was always this pressure to have a lot of grades I could post in my gradebook, because as we went to online grades –...

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Google Introduces Expeditions for the Classroom
Sep29

Google Introduces Expeditions for the Classroom

Take your students places a school bus can’t go! Nestled at the bottom of South Australia sits a town known for it’s amazing wine and beautiful beaches – Adelaide. This week, however, Adelaide took on a new distinction, it became the home of the world première of Expeditions, Google’s new virtual reality learning tool. (Think of it as Google Classroom, meets Google Cardboard, meets Google Streetview ) Luckily, I happened to be in Adelaide at the same time, so I attended a session. I entered the Expedition classroom with a healthy dose of curiosity and skepticism – but with one look at the table of “cardboards,’ all I could feel was pure anticipation – and I could sense the collective excitement from the other teachers. It was as if we all instinctively knew that this could become one of those educational tools that might just change the way students see themselves and the world. What are Expeditions? Simply put, they are field trips from your desk. Using Google Cardboard as a catalyst, Google has put together 100 initial Expeditions so students can explore the world. These “Expeditions” are made with 360 degree cameras by a host of Google partners who have created amazing imagery of international landmarks such as the Great Barrier Reef, El Capitan in Yosemite, and the ice-covered land masses of Antarctica. Google hopes to open up a world of knowledge to students – allowing them to visit different locations, experience underwater geographical features and learn about lands far, far away. Someday, it might give young learners the ability to virtually experience a day in the life of an unknown cultures Hopefully, this will allow students to develop an empathetic view of the world and a healthy respect for the cultural differences that makes our world great.     To help teachers guide students through the Expeditions – a “script” is provided from the Expedition content (if the teacher needs it), and he or she can begin reading about the important events in the expedition and point students to important details using the touch of a screen. This touch will deploy embedded arrow markers on the screens of the students. These markers help students find the spot being highlighted. I got a chance to run my own expedition – and saw first hand the power of this evolving virtual learning tool. How can we use them in the classroom? Learning about coral reefs? Why not visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia? Students can look around as the teacher explains the importance of the reef and how it is supported by the fish and animals (that you can...

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