Tag Archives: edtechteacher


Your Technology Plan Isn't about Technology

Rock, paper, scissors. The game we all know and love. The game we all grew up with. The game that is very much an analogy for educational technology plans.
Rock, paper, scissors isn’t a game. It’s a means to an end. The game isn’t the purpose, the game decides what comes next. No one plays the game to simply play the game, the game is usually played to decide an order for the bigger game; who goes first, who gets the better seat, all those important childhood decisions.
The other key point to the game is here. No one element; the rock, paper or scissors, is greater than all of them. Each is better than one other but none better than all, and most importantly they all need to be part of the game.

Technology Plan: Rock, Paper, Scissors

A technology plan should be like rock, paper, scissors. It should be a means to an end, not the end all be all. It should help decide something bigger. Just as rock, paper, scissors facilitates a greater activity so should the technology plan. It shouldn’t be about the plan but rather what it help get to, where it takes you.
And the three elements; the rock, the paper, and the scissors? No one should be thought of as more important, no one should be kept out. And what are the three elements of a technology plan? The tech, the training, and the support. A 1:1 device plan looks great on paper, but how you do fund it? How do you implement and support it? How do you train the staff and students to get the most out of it?
A technology plan shouldn’t be about technology. It should be about access and opportunity. It should be about the people, the students. It should be about supporting curriculum. It should be about something far greater than the tech; it should be about giving students the ability to go places they can’t otherwise, the ability to create like they can’t create without, to share beyond the walls, the ability to be engaged creators of content and curators of their digital footprint.
Rock, paper, scissors facilitated the greater purpose. A technology plan should do that too. The greater purpose is open and equitable experiences that we can’t achieve without technology.

Want to learn more? Come hear Chris next week at the Innovation Summit!


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3 Ways to Use the Snapchat Discover Feature in the Classroom

“Your job is not threatened by a machine, but by your coworker who knows more than you do about how to use the latest tools.”

This quote is from an article I read this morning from The Economist. I don’t subscribe to the publication. I don’t have it delivered to my home and even though I follow them on Twitter, I miss probably half of what they send. So why today did I spend so much time reading their articles? They were able to hook me. They were able to do so not through email, not through an ad, not through a tweet, but by creating an incredible Snapchat story.

If you have heard of Snapchat, you’ve probably heard about the disappearing messages and the filters, but you may not be as familiar with the “Discover” section. Discover is the “news” section of Snapchat, and it has media outlets engaging in the art of visual storytelling.
Today, The Economist did an excellent job of sharing a story on Discover that had me not only enjoying the visual aspects but also had me subscribing to the publication. Moreover, they told a compelling story using data. This story highlighted how to build a story that encompasses the why, the how, and the what. Take a look.

With over 150 million daily users, Snapchat is the medium that is transforming how we communicate and share ideas. Why is this important for educators? Here’s three reasons

Snapchat Lesson Ideas

How many of you have your students do writing assignments? Who is reading those essays other than you? Probably no one. Does this mean the content isn’t interesting? Absolutely not. Are there opportunities for your students to develop an authentic audience? YES! Visual stories are fast becoming the new headline. We know that headlines are key to getting people to read your content, and as the way in which we share ideas evolves, so must our medium. Tools like Keynote, Pages, Canva, and Adobe Spark are great ways for students to create short visual stories and/or infographics that hook readers to keep them scrolling through their content.

Current Events

The short yet informative visual stories in the Discover section of Snapchat can be a great way to discuss current events with your students. This doesn’t mean that you come into class and ask all your students to open up Snapchat. It means that you as the teacher can share the article and model how the platform can be used to help students be critical consumers of content. One of the options when looking at a Discover story is to share it with others. You can’t share it to your Snapchat story, but you can share it with as many people as you like, sparking a conversation. Too many of us get emotional and angry when discussing current events, teaching students how to have constructive conversations is an important skill for any citizen of a country – especially in a democracy.

Sharing Your Story

The more I travel and work with different schools and organizations, the more I realize not enough of us are strategically sharing our stories. Waking up and watching these stories serves as a daily source of inspiration for how I can share mine and how you can share yours.
Watching visual stories unfold on live video can be quite inspiring. How might we use visual stories to make learning more engaging, memorable and visible? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

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3 Ways to Use the Apple Teacher Program in Your District

Charles Schwab once said, “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.“
For those of us working to support teachers with the integration of technology into their curriculum, each scenario is unique. There are no guides or play-by-play of what to do, and so we often turn to one another to share best practices such as Twitter chats like #TosaChat. With everyone’s plate relatively full, it can often be challenging to arouse enthusiasm for reimagining teaching and learning.
Every once in awhile a resource comes along that gets everyone excited. With the social media buzz around the Apple Teacher Program, we’ve definitely seen how this resource sparks enthusiasm for learning new ideas. A quick glance at the #AppleTeacher posts everyone has been sharing on Twitter, prove that despite not having grown up with technology everyone can learn how to use it.
As someone who works with teachers on integrating technology, I immediately ask, “How can we use the enthusiasm generated by the Apple Teacher Program to encourage teachers to transition from consumption of ideas to creation of their own.”
I’m often inspired by a mantra used by one of my colleagues, Maria Maldonado, at the USC PA program, “See one, do one, teach one,” an approach often used in the teaching of medicine. So how might we apply the see one, do one, teach one, model to the Apple Teacher Program?

Apple Teacher Program: See One

The Apple Teacher program offers two tracks: one for iOS and one for Mac. Each module begins with a starter guide focused in on a specific area, such as Keynote, Pages or Creativity. As you work through the different starter guide you learn about all the features and create your own product. If teachers have access to both devices, consider having them choose one track to work with initially. Simply seeing the design and structure of the associated iBooks is a powerful experience that can give teachers ideas for how to share their own content with students.
Each module ends with a series of quiz questions. The questions present scenarios that not only test your knowledge of the different features in the app, but also give you ideas for how you can use the apps when planning your lessons.
Teachers have a full plate, so be sensitive when creating a timeline for completion. Talk with teachers about their schedule and set a realistic time frame for when this portion can be completed. Moreover, instead of working in isolation, consider creating cohorts of teachers that teach the same content area across your school, district, or beyond who can work together to add a collaborative and social element to the process. Create an online space, like a Seesaw class for example, where they can share their learning, ideas and reflections throughout the process. Once the teachers have completed the modules they will receive their Apple Teacher badge that they can proudly share, so don’t forget to celebrate success!

Apple Teacher Program: Do One

Once your cohort of teachers has completed the modules and received their Apple Teacher badge, the next step is for them to “Do One” by creating their own teaching scenarios, similar to the ones that were presented during the quiz portion of the module. Begin by exploring what problem they are trying to solve. Use this opportunity to discuss learning objectives, challenges and opportunities in the classroom.
Teachers could do the planning of these lessons independently or collaboratively. As the instructional coach, work side by side with teachers to plan the lesson, if needed. While brainstorming, have them browse the Inspiration for Teachers and Learning Resources for Teachers sections to get ideas.
Once the teachers are ready to launch the lesson in their classrooms, be there to offer support and take pictures/video that you can use to publish in a blog post on the lesson to share with a global audience. These pictures and video clips can also be used in the final part of this process.
Encourage teachers to share resources and inspiration they found online in Seesaw with their peers. As always celebrate success! Create your own badge that you will give teachers upon completion of this milestone.

Apple Teacher Program: Teach One

In the final stage, imagine taking the framework presented in the Apple Teacher Program and having teachers build upon it. Like we say we should do with our students, provide teachers with choice for what and how they would like to create. Here the goal is for the teachers to take the lesson they have created, or an app they have used and, “Teach One,” to another colleague. For example, a teacher could use their newly acquired Keynote skills to create a short slideshow as seen in the “real stories” section in the Apple Teacher website, highlighting how to carry out the lesson they designed.
If anyone is feeling more ambitious, they may even like to create a “Starter Guide” to an app that they use. To support any teachers who may want to consider this option, create a template that teachers can then build on. The template could be built in either iBook Author or Book Creator. To accompany the book, the teachers could create a short quiz and design a badge that others will receive when they have completed their module.
As always, let teachers decide whether they wish to work independently or collaboratively. Once the teachers have completed this step, present them with their badge (you will have to create your own). Publish these books to share with others and celebrate their success.
If you are working to support teachers on integrating iPads and Macbooks, how have you been using the Apple Teacher Program? Perhaps an interesting topic for discussion at the next EdCamp or meetup could be, “how might we build on the enthusiasm generated by the Apple Teacher Program to encourage and appreciate teachers as they see one, do one and teach one?”

Don’t miss the chance to learn from Sabba and other Apple Distinguished Educators at the Innovation Summit next month in Boston.

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5 Ways iPads have Changed the Classroom

When a cart of iPads was first delivered to my classroom, my first thought was, “Awesome, now we can Google stuff!” Fast forward 7 years and my students are now publishing iTunes U courses, authoring multi-touch books, and last year we collaborated with the Dallas Zoo to create educational resources to help protect endangered species.
What have I learned in the last 7 years?

iPads have changed the teacher’s role in the classroom

I no longer need to create presentations to deliver content. With a blended approach to the classroom, I can provide multiple resources for my students to learn class objectives. I can create a post in our iTunes U course that includes videos, multi-touch books, and web links from which to learn. Students can decide how they learn best and use the resource of their choice.

Assessment has changed

With so many ways to formatively assess my students, there is no longer a need to give a multiple choice end-of-unit test. I can use platforms and apps such as Quizizz, Kahoot, TodaysMeet and Quizlet to quickly assess the learning in my classroom. I can then easily gather data and use it to guide where we go next as a class.

Our classroom can be anywhere

iPad allows us to easily take our classroom out of the building. We can go outside and take pictures of our environment and contribute to citizen science through the iNaturalist App. We can visit the local pond and do water testing using Pasco probes and the SparkVue App. We can visit the local farmers market and create a promotional video using iMovie or Spark Video to encourage others to buy local.

Students can choose how they share their learning

When I want to know what my students know, I ask them to create something. I don’t specify an app or type of assignment, just create something to show me what you know. No longer do all assignments look the same. One student used Sketchbook to create original drawings of the cell to illustrate our multi-touch book while another group built a plant cell using Minecraft and videoed a voice-over tour to teach others the parts of the cell. Taking away guidelines and restrictions allows students to think creatively.

We learn from experts around the world

With FaceTime and Skype, we can connect to experts around the world. When learning about endangered elephants, we connected with students in Thailand to learn more. We met Princess the Penguin in South Africa and talked to a rehabilitation specialist about adaptations of seabirds. This year we talked to students in Iceland about their environment. Connecting with schools outside of our community gives students a different perspective on the world and shows them that kids all over the world really are just like them.
This year, my students are collaborating with schools across the world to tackle the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Students are working together with others in Maine, California, Virginia, South Carolina, New Zealand, and Turkey to develop a plan that will make a difference in their community. Our students all access the same information in our iTunes U course, Global Problem Solvers, co-authored by Mia Morrison. They are using apps such as FlipGrid to globally collaborate and peer review each other as they ideate their plan. Once the plan is developed, students will use iMovie to film a short documentary to promote their cause. Classes will vote on the top ideas to move on to the implementation phase beginning in January.
While we still “Google stuff,” iPad has completely transformed our classroom from a teacher centered environment to a student designed and student-led classroom that is globally connected and making a positive impact on the world.

Don’t miss your chance to come learn from Jodie and other Apple Distinguished Educators at the Innovation Summit in Boston!


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How to Become an Apple Teacher

The all new Apple Teacher program launched recently alongside the iPhone7 and Air Buds, though to significantly less fanfare outside of the education community. This free program offers teachers with four distinct sets of resources as well as the potential to earn badges towards an .

Learning Resources for Teachers

In the Learning Resources Section, you will find fantastic starter guides for both iPad and Mac all curated into the Apple Bookstore. Topics include Getting Started with the iPad/Mac, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, Garageband, as well as Productivity and Creativity. I particularly appreciated the fact that the resources are geared towards both beginner and proficient users. Each guide not only has a wealth of information presented as text, videos, and even interactive images, but the structure of the guide gives you an opportunity to apply everything that you learn.

Apple Teacher Guide

Self-Paced Learning Modules & Badges for iPad and Mac

This is an outstanding resource for both beginners and advanced users of the iPad and Mac. Despite having taught in a 1:1 iPad environment, and being Apple Distinguished Educator, I learned so many new tips, tricks and ideas to take back to my classroom and to the teachers with whom I work. There are eight modules for both the iPad and Mac that you need to complete in order to get your certification.
Apple Teacher Badges
What I enjoyed most about the experience was the scenario-based quiz questions. These quizzes test your knowledge from the iOS Starter Guides found in the Learning Resources section. As you begin going through the resources and answering the quiz questions your mind will be buzzing with ideas. These are excellent to use to advance your own learning about how to use the iPad and Mac and are a great resource to craft learning experiences for your faculty during professional development. For example, once teachers have received their badge ask them to create scenarios for how they could use the different apps in their classroom. This is definitely not something to rush through! You could spend the entire year mastering the different apps, focusing on one module each month.

Inspiration for Teachers

You’ve mastered the apps, and you’ve earned your Apple Teacher certification, so what’s next? This area will provide you with lots of lesson ideas and inspiration that you can use to apply everything you’ve learned to transform the teaching and learning experience in your school. Whether you read stories about how other teachers are using the different apps with their students or watch video tips, this is a great resource to stay up to date with new tips about how bring iPad and Mac into your classroom. For example, you can learn about how to use the new Classroom app to view your student’s screens as well as how to use the multitasking features of an iPad. You’ll also find a variety of resources to spark new inspiration for how you can reimagine teaching and learning.

Everyone Can Code

“Everyone Should have an opportunity to change the world.” -Apple
This is the driving vision behind the new coding and app development curriculum recently launched by Apple, a story beautifully told in this video. There are two parts to this new initiative – Swift Playgrounds and App Development. From elementary to higher ed, there is something for everyone. This is a great resource for anyone looking to integrate coding and app development into their courses, and what I really appreciated were the teacher guides that accompany the curriculum.

Swift Playgrounds

The Apple website describes it as:

“Swift Playgrounds is a revolutionary new app for iPad that makes learning Swift interactive and fun. Solve puzzles to master the basics using Swift — a powerful programming language created by Apple and used by the pros to build many of today’s most popular apps. Then take on a series of challenges and step up to more advanced creations. Swift Playgrounds requires no coding knowledge, so it’s perfect for students just starting out. It also provides a unique way for seasoned developers to quickly bring ideas to life. And because it’s built to take full advantage of iPad, it’s a first-of-its-kind learning experience.”

Some highlights include 45 hours of lessons, enhanced and interactive activities, review and reflection activities and grading rubrics. You can click here to download the Swift Playgrounds Course iBook.

App Development with Swift

In an interview, Guy Kawasaki – former evangelist from Apple – once said that one of his regrets was not learning how to code; not because he wanted to become a programmer but because understanding the language would have given him a unique perspective in the work he does. For students in middle school and up, the app development course with Swift helps them to create their own apps. If you have an idea for an app, the App Development with Swift guide will help you create it from start to finish.

Like most things that come along, these tools are only as great as we make them. Socrates reminds us, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” As the stories from the Inspiration for Teachers section show us, iPads and Macs present an opportunity to truly reimagine what is possible. Share your story and how you use what you’ve learned from the eight modules to reimagine learning in your classroom in the comments below.

Looking for more inspiration? Come join the EdTechTeacher Innovation Summit in November!

  • Learn from Apple Distinguished Educators, Google Certified Trainers, and national thought leaders.
  • Get hands-on with iPads, Macs, and Chromebooks, as well as concepts like coding, making, and design thinking.

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Telling the Story of Learning with a “Kid Cam”

Given the ever-changing philosophies in the educational landscape, proving that learning is happening in the classroom has been redefined. Sure, traditional worksheets and formal assessments can still be shared and sent home, but other options to display students’ learning now exist. Digital work, audio clips, and videos can easily be shared by students and teachers through emails, the cloud, and social media. However, despite these newer trends and tools, it still seems that telling the story of learning remains concentrated on the finished product… when it should do just the opposite.
There is always more to the story. The behind-the-scenes processes, enlightenments – and yes, failures – encapture so much more to students’ learning than displaying and assessing only the final product. There are simply too many unique experiences and discussions going on within the classroom walls to let it go undocumented. But how can all of these moments be captured?
Being intentional with sound and video clips can certainly help documenting a process. Progressional pictures of student work and interaction can also help showcase a learning experience from beginning to end. There are countless variations and combinations of how to document process. Each teacher can find and experiment with their own personal styles and talents. However, there is one tool above all that can help redefine the documentation process for any teacher: a Kid Cam
While action cameras were largely invented for action sports, recently they have also proven to be an effective documentation tool in the classroom. Yes, it may sound silly at first, but attaching action cameras to students’ will do so much for the classroom experience.
Before diving into the three major ways a Kid Cam can help out a classroom, take a look at what this looks like in action. Here is an example of a girl navigating through the prototyping process of an inventions experience.

Noticeably, the footage was cut down to little snippets to try and give a little window into what the girl was experiencing: the successes, failures, and everything in between. So what does it do for educators? Why bother with all the time, effort, and money to make this happen in classrooms? Here are the three best reasons for installing a Kid Cam into the classroom.

Kid Cam for Teacher reflection while editing

Recording a student’s point-of-view for a significant amount of time can unveil plenty. When editing the raw footage, teachers will become entranced in student dialogue that is not normally overheard (it’s quite remarkable how quickly students forget that a camera is recording). Teachers will also get caught reflecting on personal successes and failures as a teacher. If open to self-critiquing, editing opens up opportunities to become an even stronger teacher.

Kid Cam for student reflection while watching

Once the footage has been curated and created by the teacher, it can be shown to the class for even more reflective purposes. For one, the student that is wearing the camera gains a better idea of movement throughout the class and how conversations with peers go. In addition, and very importantly, the student gains an idea of what he or she actually sounds like. All of this rolls up into teachable moments where students begin to understand that they should not be ashamed of who they are. Even though it may not seem like it at times, this is how the world sees them, so they need to embrace it and be proud of who they are.

Kid Cam to foster understanding between teachers, parents, and students

It opens a window for parents and other educators: Being able to experience the classroom through students’ points-of-view is a powerful thing. It helps improve parents’ empathy for what the students go through on a daily basis, as well as gives a better understanding of the classroom culture. By sharing Kid Cam videos, trust is built between teacher, students, and parents alike. In addition, other educators that are always looking for ideas can utilize the shared window into the classroom to see how the process flowed, and then adapt it to personal preferences.
A win-win for all parties involved. So go ahead and give it a try!
One more for the road? Sounds good. Here is a class giving the classroom some wallpaper.

kid cam

Come learn more from Tim Kaegi and other great educators at the Innovation Summit in Boston!

Featured image via Flickr

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3 Social Studies Lesson Ideas for the New School Year

The start of the school year is a great time to engage your students and get them excited about the possibilities your social studies or history class might bring while encouraging them to develop their creative and critical thinking skills. When I taught high school history, I worked to create active and engaging lessons in the fall that would capture the attention of my students for the rest of the year. Here are three ideas for you to try out as the school year begins.

Tell your History Using Adobe Spark

This lesson is a great ice breaker to start the school year. The students reflect back on three events that have shaped their lives: one from their grandparents’ time, one from their parents’, and one from their own personal history. The objective is for the students to understand how events of the past have shaped who they are and how the events can affect life in the present. As my students researched, I was surprised to discover how personal their work became. I learned a lot about my students as they reflected on grandparents surviving military service, parents enduring hardships, and personal trips that ranged from the hospital to Grandma’s house every summer, that may have shaped who they had become today.
There are many tools that can be used in conjunction with this activity, but the Adobe Spark products lend themselves to an easy introductory assignment. With the ability to work as an iOS app as well as through the web-based spark.adobe.com, Spark Video allows students to import images from their selected events and record a voiceover describing the effect of that event. For an example of using Spark Video for this assignment check out my Tell your History assignment.

Analyze a Primary Source with a Visible Thinking Routine Using Google Drawing

Analyzing primary sources is an essential skill in social studies classes; however, it can be difficult for students to understand the process and what they need analyze. By implementing visible thinking routines, like the ones suggested by Project Zero, students are better able to actively process the information presented to them.
An example of this activity is presenting students with Howard Chandler Christy’s Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States. The students could take the image, create a Google Drawing, identify important figures depicted in the image, and then complete a visible thinking routine designed to encourage inquiry – such as See-Think-Wonder Routine – to analyze the image. Students could use the tools within Google Drawings to draw shapes as they identify objects in the painting, and create text boxes to answer the questions of the thinking routine. For an example, view this sample Google Drawing: Signing of the US Constitution

Create a Custom Map in Google My Maps

Inside of Googlelittle-knowns a little known feature called My Maps. With My Maps, users can create custom maps that are directly integrated with their Google Drive. These maps can be created with multiple layers, allowing for vast amounts of data to be displayed on the map. Students can then share these maps with their teacher or their peers, just as they would share a Google Doc.
My Maps lessons can be incorporated into a history class in a variety of ways. One of my favorites is to create markers on a map detailing events of the Civil War, though you could choose any historical event from the start of the school year. Students could choose a battle from the war to analyze, and with a check of Wikipedia, they are able to find the latitude and longitude coordinates for that battle. Dropping those coordinates into their custom map then creates a marker, allowing them to add information about the battle, including images. This example Google My Map shows Sherman’s March to the Sea
These three activities engage students in a wide range of areas and skills by encouraging them to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and creative in the social studies classroom setting a great tone for the start of the school year.

Looking for more ways to ignite your students’ creativity? Don’t miss the Innovation Summit!

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4 Reasons To Publish Student Writing As Videos

Writer’s Workshop is a magical time in the primary grades. There are students all over the classroom. They’re standing, sitting, wobbling, or laying on their bellies relaxed. They’re thinking, sketching, writing, reading, sharing with partners, adding details, and more. Everyone is at different stages in their writing, and our iPads are in use. Infusing Writer’s Workshop with the creative possibilities of the iPad is powerful. They’re used to plan and publish our stories in many ways, however, our favorite has to be publishing our writing as videos. Here are just a few reasons why your students should too.

Videos Showcase Collaboration

I always start the year with a few collaborative writing projects. It’s a great way to teach iPad publishing skills while building and creating community. Sometimes each student makes a page in Book Creator App and then we combine them. Book Creator lets us publish as an eBook and a video. We usually do both, but the video is the easiest to share!
Other times, we work on creating a book together. Social stories are especially great subject matter! Collaboration gives everyone in the room ownership over the finished product. This collaboration then turns into an excellent tools for when they need a reminder about different social subjects.

Increase Audience

The reality of paper is that it only travels so far. When students can take what’s on their paper, transform it into digital content, add their voice, and publish it, magic happens. Suddenly, their words reach not just their peers and parents, but grandparents, class Twitter friends, blogging buddies and more. Increase the audience of your young writers and you’ll see an increase in student ownership and pride. They relish the comments from those outside the classroom! You never know, your most reluctant writer might just turn into your most productive new author.

Showcase Creativity

Publishing writing as videos gives students a license to be incredibly creative. As we work on the craft of writing, we build our app fluency while getting to know the tools we’ll use. Publishing writing starts with our own short narrative stories and morphs into the publication of How To’s, informational writing, poetry, and more. Sometimes the writing we publish as videos is simple, just new information learned, but the videos turn out incredible. Other times, the actual writing is so important that it needs to be the star, and pictures of the writing turned into video is best. It’s up to each author to decide whether the video is just a way to share hard work or is going to be an extension. I love that choosing our own purpose and iPad tools allows each individual author to shine in their own special way.
Videos allow students to think outside the lines of their paper and incorporate their passions. Do they love playdough, legos, or coding? Encourage creative mixing of tools. Use an app like Koma Koma to make a stop motion video and share new learning or bring a story to life.

Encourage the Writing Process

Not every piece of writing will be published. Choosing a piece to turn into something special is a great incentive for young writers to complete the entire writing process. The story they choose to publish is going to be shared. It’s a prized production and needs to be just right. Before we turn our writing into a published video, it’s gone through many steps. Writing is read out loud many times, a publishing conference has been held, details added, words fixed, and more. Then, as the young author publishes to video with their chosen tool, it’s edited some more. Is their voice clear on the video, or is it all scratchy? What could make it better?
To some children, the publishing process can be difficult. Learning to look at your work and make it better is hard. They’ve already given it so much just getting the words down. Adding incentive elements like creativity, choice, and opportunities to share outside the classroom makes the process worth all the work and fun! I especially encourage the choice part. As students learn more iPad tools, publishing writing as videos becomes an opportunity to add “a layer of awesome” and mix apps to get just the result they want.
Videos are worth the work that you and your students will put into them. They are so easy to share afterward. Get creative and mix up the production tools or keep it simple. Even just taking pictures of writing pages, adding voice, and publishing with a tool like Spark Video can be exciting. Whether your students do some amazing app smashing or keep it simple, they’ll have a way to share their creative work. The possibilities are endless.

Come learn more from Meghan at the Innovation Summit in Boston!

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5 Ways to Use Screencasting to Build Stronger Home-School Connections

Screencasts are typically short video recordings of what is taking place on the screen of a computer or mobile device. They provide students with a dynamic way to make thinking visible, as they can demonstrate what they know through a variety of modalities such as drawing, typing, voice narration, and video. It´ll even have videos about home improvement, like cooking, decoration, or even hot water repaired by curl curl plumbing or by the 24/7 plumber san francisco company, who can easily fix anything and will teach you how. However, what is sometimes overlooked is the power of the screencast in the hands of teachers. As the new school year begins, consider these three ways to utilize screencasting to facilitate communication and foster a stronger home-school connection.

Add Life to Introductory Letters & Weekly Newsletters

Many teachers send notes home to parents and students at the beginning of the year as a means of introducing themselves, sharing information, or describing classroom policies and procedures. Additionally, many teachers and administrators create weekly or monthly newsletters that are sent via email or posted on school and classroom websites or blogs. Educators can bring these communication tools to life by screencasting themselves reading the letters or narrating the navigation of a website. Sent home via a shortened URL in an email, a paper note, or posted on a teacher website or blog, the video can be a way that parents and students can hear the teacher or principal’s voice, making them seem more approachable and creating the precedent for open lines of communication throughout the school year. Before I go on any further, I just wanted to mention that it is very important to have a safe and a good quality environment for your children to work in, so make sure everything is working like the electricity or plumbing. Visit plumber near me if you need any inspections in your house. For an example, watch the video below.

Capture, Preserve, and Share Your Parent Night Presentation

Many schools organize Parent Nights and Open Houses to share information, help parents learn about school and classroom policies and procedures, and more. And yet, often there are parents who aren’t able to attend due to work, travel, or other obligations. Additionally, many times parents would love to be able to revisit ideas that were shared during those presentations several months later. By talking through the slideshow presentation via a screencast, teachers can then post the video on their blog or website. Parents or other caregivers who couldn’t attend can now feel as though they participated. As an added benefit, the video provides a constant reminder for everyone throughout the school year.

Utilize the Power of Voice to Deepen Understanding

When it is time for a project, essay, or any activity that will take place both at school and home, teachers often share a written description of the project design to help parents understand the expectations. Unfortunately, when students go home and explain, even with the written description, sometimes the teacher’s expectations and the project’s scope are lost in translation. By taking the time to explain the project via a screencast, teachers have the opportunity to truly talk to their students’ parents, explaining the project design and expectations. Not only does this augment communication, but it also provides parents with a point of reference that can be bookmarked and repeatedly referred to. Plus, screenshots can never get lost in a book bag!

Screencast Creation is Easy

Whether using a MacBook, PC, or Chromebook, an easy way for Google Chrome users to create a screencast is by using the Screencastify Chrome Extension. Screencastify quickly and easily records screen activity within one or several tabs. The videos can be saved to your hard drive, Google Drive, or uploaded to YouTube with just a few clicks. Screencastify also has the added benefit of having a webcam feature that allows for a video of the presenter to be in the bottom right corner to accompany the screencast, creating an additional personal touch. The free version of Screencastify allows for up to 10 minutes of recording, but there is a paid option for people who want to create longer videos. Techsmith’s Snagit and Camtasia are also wonderful paid options for screencasts. Camtasia has many additional features including text overlays, video and audio editing, and closed-captioning capabilities. For Mac users, the built-in QuickTime Player app includes the ability to create screencasts and even do minor editing.
While screencasting is a wonderful tool for students in the classroom, when utilized by educators, it also has the power to support the vital home-school connection, bringing life and personality into teacher-created communications. Hear this article read to you…and watch it come to life!

Get More Screencasting Tips from Avra at the Innovation Summit in Boston!


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6 Steps to Media Creation in the Classroom

As we prepare students for the unknown work environment of the future, it is important that we, as teachers, work with them to develop a foundation of skills that will help them become successful in avenues beyond our school’s walls. While we may not know exactly what the future skills in the workplace may be, we can foster this particular skill set in our current classrooms. According to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, employers desire workers with an increasingly demanding skill set including: problem-solving, digital literacy, leadership and creativity. To that end, creating media content in our classrooms can foster all of these skills. By having our students create content using voice, images, video, or any combination of the three, we are allowing them the opportunity to express themselves in ways that may not be possible in a written assignment, while developing the skills necessary for the future.
As I travel to schools and work with teachers to discover new ways to engage students in the the creative process, there is a single question continually asked by teachers: “how can I help my students get to the end product efficiently?” I encourage teachers to look at media creation as a six-step process. Each step engages the students in a new way, allows them to use several different skills, and supports their creation of a media product. Through this process, the students can take ownership, be proud of their work, and have fun!

Step 1: Research

During the first step, students should seek out and collect new information on their topic. Teachers can encourage students to go further than simply looking up facts on their topics and inspire them to ask questions that can lead to further development and understanding. During this step, students can sharpen their reading and research skills.

Step 2: Write

After collecting their research, students will need to set the foundation of their end product. If creating a video, this step would include writing a script for the participants. If creating a podcast, this would include writing a series of talking points for the hosts to discuss. Writing may seem unnecessary when creating an image, however, a written description or reflection of the image will deepen student understanding of the topic.

Step 3: Organize

This step may be one of the most crucial steps in the process. During this step, students should work to ensure that their research and writing are organized as they head into the creation process. In regards to a video project, many are unsuccessful or take too much time because students do not organize where their filming locations are going to be or who will be appearing in the video. Students should outline or create a storyboard for their video or podcast before heading out to create their products. By creating an outline or storyboard for their video or podcast, students have a greater opportunity for success.

Step 4: Create

One of the most exciting steps involves the creation of the media content. Once students have sufficiently covered the first three steps, it is time to turn their creative minds loose. When I was a high school social studies teacher, this was the step when students would venture out of my classroom. My students often found quiet places to record podcasts or open areas to film footage for their videos. Note that during this step, it is probably best to ask your administration if they will allow students to roam various places in the school. I also found that it was helpful to notify fellow teachers that there may be students walking around and creating. They appreciated the courtesy.

Step 5: Edit

While teaching media creation, I noticed one glaring difference between media and written work: the amount of effort in editing the product prior to publishing. It seemed that some students would take very little time editing a written assignment prior to submitting it as the only audience of that paper would more than likely be me. When creating media content, students understand that there is a publication factor involved. Their content may be viewed by peers or a larger audience. This authentic audience often results in increased ownership in their work and can be a very powerful thing. Giving students an appropriate amount of time to edit their media is very important as many will strive for perfection.

Step 6: Publish

As mentioned above, media creation allows for publishing to a wider audience. This audience may be as narrow as displaying created images for their peers on a Google Site, or as wide as publishing a video on YouTube for the world to see. Students may be able to create content that impacts their community or beyond. During this step, encourage students to reflect back on the process. This reflection may deepen their connection to the content and the experience of creation.
The first few adventures into media creation in my class, prior to developing these steps, were unorganized and chaotic. While the student creations were done well, the timing was inefficient and often took longer than necessary. After reflecting on the practices, I realized the students needed more guidance. Using these six steps efficiently structured the media creation process with my students. Consider using these steps this school year as you look for new and exciting ways to engage your students with multimedia technology in the classroom!

Get more media tips from Ben at the Innovation Summit in Boston!


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