Monday, December 14, 2015

Fall & Winter PD Projects

A lot of emphasis is placed on professional development before a big technology initiative. That time to prepare is so important for teachers to feel ready. However, we are facing a possibly larger task: keeping the teachers interested in technology PD.
This year is a particularly stressful year because of a change in teacher evaluations on the state level and a district accreditation review. I think in some minds that has allowed technology to take a back seat. Our instructional technology team is trying very heard to keep technology PD in the spotlight and push our teachers to go beyond the substitution level with tech use. Some of the PD I have offered recently include...

Simple K12

Our district purchased the Mobile Learning webinars for our teachers so we wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this amazing resource.


Now that we are set up for Youtube in Education our teachers can approve videos for our students to view. This also opens the doors to tools we have not previously had access to like Edpuzzle and Educannon.

Teachers loved learning about this tool because it strips the ads off of Youtube so they can safely share the video to the class without worrying about an underwear ad popping up.


Our high school students needed practice using graphs and data so I shared resources like Daily Infographic, Human Face of Data app and infographic creation tools like Canva, Piktochart,, and Google Slides.

Creation App Practice

Our teachers are always looking for more choices for projects so I shared this session with my middle and elementary teachers. Thanks Kristen Gunter for sharing.

A few apps I've shared recently that were well received:
Schoolkit Math
Learning Tools
Flashcards NKO: our middle and high school love this app purchased by the district

I've also had sessions on Seesaw and Showbie for those that are still not using one or both of these tools. They are very popular district wide.

Last month our district hosted the Digital Innovation Institute. We invited administrators and teachers in to visit classrooms, hear about our technology journey, share our professional development and give teachers ideas for their classrooms. We had a good turn out and enjoyed sharing and learning with districts from all over the state.

Our second annual Tech the Halls bulletin board contest will be judged in the next few days and we'll deliver prizes this Friday. This was a lot of fun last year and I look forward to seeing the displays this year.

On a personal note, I've finished my first semester of classes for my Doctorate in Education in Curriculum and Instruction with the University of South Carolina. This is a three year plus dissertation program so I'll have lots of time ahead where I'll be juggling work, school and family. The struggle is real! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Google 911 and Tech Tricks and Treats

Now that the school year has settled in and our technical problems are at a minimum I'm able to focus more on professional development, my favorite!

For September I visited each of my four schools and offered a day of Google questions and answers called Google 911. Most of the questions I've had from teachers are about the subtleties of Google Drive, such as share settings. The teachers were very appreciative and happy to have their questions answered. They loved the little shortcuts and tricks I was able to share to make their daily tasks a little easier. Sometimes these informal sessions are the most helpful to the teachers.

For October I'm offering a session called Tech Tricks and Treats. I started a Google Slides presentation and shared a few tricks that I think they'll enjoy. I'm encouraging each of them to add a slide and share a trick of their own. I'm bringing hot chocolate and a few prizes as I travel around to each school. This should be a low stress PD option for our weary teachers. We have a new evaluation system this year and extensive required reading training in the elementary schools, making the enthusiasm for scheduled PD wane.

The iTeachers have been offering bimonthly PD sessions. While attendance has been small, the feedback from these sessions has been overwhelmingly positive. They've shared presentations on Book Creator, Google Forms, Art Apps and more. I'm especially excited about November's session on "Becoming a Digital Pirate" from one of our amazing teachers, Hope Meares.

I found out that my Donor's Choose project, "I Can Show You the (Virtual) World" was funded. Yay! Now I'll have several Google Cardboard glasses to use with my students. I can't wait to try them out as soon as they arrive. Thank you, College Football Playoffs Extra Yard for Teachers program!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Becoming a Lifelong Reader

If you haven't read Jennifer LaGarde's post, Learning to Read Alone is Not Enough. Your Students Need a Reading Champion, and Gwyneth Jones' response, Reading: A Passionate Love Affair, go immediately and read them.
Gwyneth challenges her readers to write their own reading story, highlighting those teachers that influenced us, and those moments and book titles that touched us. Here is my story.

I can not remember a time when I wasn't around books and reading. My mother reads all the time and she took us to the public library regularly. I used to love participating in the summer reading programs and browsing through the shelves. The smell of that building brings those feelings rushing back even now.
I don't remember reading instruction strategies, but I distinctly remember my first grade teacher, Fran Mauney. I still see her a few times a year at conferences and we exchange big hugs. I credit her with teaching me to read although she claims I already knew how. I was placed into an advanced reading group with two other girls in my class. I felt so special every time we were pulled out to read something different in the hallway. One of those two girls became a math professor at a university nearby and the other is a guidance counselor in one of the schools I serve. I don't remember a specific book title as my favorite. I read anything I could get my hands on.

Throughout elementary school I read everything by Judy Blume and Betsy Byars, all the Ramona books, and all the Babysitting Club books. I remember rummaging through the stacks at a local flea market hoping I would find a title that I had not already read.

In middle school I had another amazing reading teacher,Vicky Galloway.We read Across Five Aprils which peaked my interest into all things Civil War. I devoured every novel set in that time period. I read Gone With the Wind in three days and read lots of adult historical fiction that school boards would probably not approve of for an 8th grade girl.
I hit a dry spell in high school when I did not enjoy any of the assigned novels. I hate you Silas Marner! I continued to read, but friends definitely took a higher priority. I came back to reading more in college. After finishing my assigned work I would read for fun: titles I felt I should have read in high school but didn't, philosophical novels my "intellectual" friends recommended, and mysteries loaned to me by my favorite college professor, Meredith Uttley.

If I'm not in the middle of a book I feel like something is missing. Sometimes life catches up with me and I don't have a lot of time to read, but it is a huge part of my life and always will be. None of my love for reading came from the traditional reading instruction strategies. My love for reading came from teachers and titles that reached my heart.

Teachers, please keep this in mind as you prepare for another year with your students. Read Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, and dare to change your classroom in order to reach out to your students.

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Day of School Signs

I'm sure you've seen the First Day of School signs on Pinterest and Facebook. A neighboring district created custom signs for parents to print and use. We loved this idea and made some for our parents as well.
I used my son as our model to advertise the signs.
Embedded image permalink
You can see the signs here. We're hoping our parents will share their pictures using the hashtag #a1firstday and we can repost on our district Facebook page and website.

Does your district make signs to share with their parents?

iTeacher and Induction Training 2015

This summer we had a fun time planning two special professional development days: iTeacher and Induction Teacher/New-to-District Tech Day.

For our iTeachers we started the day painting wooden apple signs for their doors. Thanks to Burlap and Ribbons for coming in for this activity. Teachers were so excited and the apples turned out adorable!

We also had Kristen Hearne's husband come in and take head shots for everyone. The goal was to have a nice picture to use for social media sites and our Google domain.

After checking out all the adorable apples we moved to the library and started discussion about model classrooms.

Our goal is for our iTeachers to be considered model classrooms. We used Answer Garden to brainstorm what a model classroom looks like. Then we used a model classroom rubric shared by Mooresville Schools. The rubric uses the 5 ISTE Standards. Our iTeachers were divided into groups and tasked with narrowing the evaluation statements down to 10 for each standard. This is the final product. Our iTeachers made a copy of the rubric, used it for self assessment then broke into grade levels groups to discuss weaknesses and share ideas for addressing the weaknesses.
We plan to use this rubric with teachers that we are working with to create technology goals for the year.

After a lunch break we discussed building a Twitter culture. I used ideas from Gwyneth  Jones' Tweet Like a Ninja presentation and this Edutopia article to help our iTeachers create or update their accounts. We were also inspired by Alice Keeler's Twittervention. We made our own Remind group for our teachers to receive Twitter tips and tricks throughout the year and another group for Google tips.

For the final hours we divided into two groups: Social Media/Bloggers and Professional Development. Our iTeachers completed a survey before attending telling us their preference and then we made sure each school had at least one iTeacher in each of the two groups.
Kristen Hearne took the blogger group and helped them log into our iTeacher blog and write their first post. Kristen Gunter, Jessica Preisig and I worked with the PD group brainstorming ideas for this school year. We introduced our new PD series called "Lead and Learn Tech". These sessions are bimonthly, optional sessions after school led by our iTeachers. We decided to do this after our iTeachers expressed interest in being more involved in presenting PD.

We got a great head start on the year and had a really fun time with our iTeachers.

Our next special day was working with our induction and new-to-district teachers. Each of us read Teach Like a Pirate this summer and our plans were influenced and inspired by the ideas in this book. If you haven't read it, go buy it now!

We created custom nametags with the agenda, hashtag, QR code to surveys and app icons for the apps they need for the day. We color coded the nametags by level.

In the pirate spirit, we put out tiny containers of Play Doh and asked each teacher to create something that illustrated where they were on the technology spectrum then share a picture of their sculpture on Padlet. You can see their creations here. I was impressed with their creativity: buckets, smiley faces and flowers. We took this activity even further to teach a few tech tools and the SAMR model.
Posting to Padlet was a Substitution level activity. Then they were asked to use Pic Collage to add to their sculpture picture; explanation of their Play Doh, name, school, etc. This is an example of Augmentation. For Modification, the Pic Collage was put into Thinglink so a link to a school website and Twitter account could be added. Finally for Redefinition we asked them to tweet out their Thinglink using our district hashtag. You can see a few examples by searching #a1digitalinnovation.

We had 5 breakout sessions planned for the day.
1. First Day of School with Kristen Gunter
2. Classroom Management with Jessica Preisig
3. Core Apps with Kristen Hearne
4. Google with me
5. App Gallery with some of our iTeachers

In First Day of School, Kristen shared a Google Slides template that could be used to make a door sign including picture, name, and QR code links to important websites. She also shared a few apps.
Jessica shared a few tips for managing a 1:1 classroom. In Core Apps, Kristen shared tips for using purchased apps like Notability, Showbie and Book Creator. I shared Google mail and calendar basics, then used a shared Google doc to talk about share settings and Drive features. We also took a little brain break using Go Noodle and I shared information about Seesaw to the K-2 and 3-5 groups.
In the App Gallery our iTeachers helped teachers explore displays about lots of different apps.

Just for fun we shared this video from Veronica Pooh Nash and we gave out our new iPad badge sheet and a badge for attending.

We enjoyed getting to meet our new teachers and letting some of their enthusiasm rub off on us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Conferences 2015

The first summer conference I attended after our district finished was Midlands Summit. This was my first year attending the conference. I was very impressed by the featured speakers that included George Couros, Alice Keeler, Michael Jaber and more.
Kristen, Jessica and I presented three sessions:

  1. Turning the Tables: Reverse Panel on Edtech
  2. Roll the Dice with App Smashing
  3. Discover, Transform, Excel @ PD
Jessica created this really cool Thinglink instead of the traditional slide style presentation.

For Roll the Dice I define app smashing, show several examples and then challenge the group to create their own app smash product to share. When time allows we have a little app smash award ceremony for the best examples. This was a session Kristen and I did with our school two years ago and is a fun, interactive lesson. The challenge we faced at Midlands Summit was the variety of devices in the room, some tablets that I had never even seen before. I tried to share more than just ios apps, but there were many beginners in the room that had trouble getting started on their own product. I even had a few teachers sneak out when I turned my back. I guess I was pushing them way out of their comfort zone!
You can see the slides here.

In Discover, Transform, Excel @ PD we share some of our favorite professional development plans from this year. We were hoping to reach other instructional technologists with this session because so few conference sessions are created just for this group. We had two people attend. There was lots of competition with featured speakers or at least that is what I'm telling myself. But we had a great time and both attendees left talking about how inspired they were with our PD ideas. Yay!
You can see the slides here.

At the Upstate Technology Conference we shared these same sessions, Jessica offered a session on Flipboard, and Kristen Hearne led a session with our iStudents. I was so excited and proud to see so many of our iTeachers and teachers presenting at the conference.

I enjoy attending conferences to connect with my PLN face to face, learn new ideas and share our experiences.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A1 Digital Innovation Conference 2015: Transform

This year's end of the year conference was one of our biggest projects. Our PD remains focused by reexamining our three word brand, Discover, Transform, Excel. Throughout the year our PD was about discovery, and our conference was about transformation. We called the conference Transform 2015 and used butterflies for our logo. Here is an example on our Wow! Cards. Each teacher was given a card when they arrived. We had a yellow bag on the help desk where they were turned in. At the awards ceremony at the end of day two we pulled cards out and awarded prizes to both nominating teacher and presenter nominated. After the conference we sorted the cards and gave them to presenters. I saw this idea at the NC School Library Media conference and loved it. It was a huge success and definitely something we will do again.

At the Transform conference I led several different sessions. 

Teachers had an option of joining the Appmazing Race to earn an extra technology hour. Teams of teachers completed ten technology tasks and then put them all together in an iMovie that was shared on Twitter. Our winning team video is below. Here is the task list.

Our app gallery was a huge hit. Here are pictures of some of the tables. We contacted app developers to request swag for the tables and each iTeacher created a table for their favorite app with examples and links to resources for using the app. Teachers stamped a card as they visited each table and were entered into a drawing for prizes as well as earning a tech hour for the session.

Our closing session featured our version of the Family Feud. A group of teachers and librarians did a session like this at ISTE a few years ago and I've wanted to do a similar session for our district since then. Everyone LOVED it! I emailed a Google Form surveying our teachers about favorite apps and a few funny questions about having devices in the classroom. These were the top questions that we used for the show. Our teams were able to take a prize from our prize table at the end of the game. The Secondary Team were the winners. We had over $3,700 worth of prizes to give away to Appmazing race teams, Wow card drawing, and App Gallery drawing. We invited teachers to nominate themselves or others for the Transform Award. We asked teachers outside of the district to judge the nominations and we awarded a prize to our elementary, middle, high and district level winners. The prize was a Cocoon Grid It with lots of iPad accessories included. 
Our iStudents did a great job helping us at the conference, manning the app gallery tables and help desk, running equipment to speakers, hanging signs, handing out materials to teachers, taking pictures and all sorts of other jobs that made the conference run so smoothly. 
There are so many details to share about the conference that I'll have to cut myself off, but if there is anything you'd like to know more about just ask and I'm happy to share. We had a wonderful time and our teachers enjoyed themselves while learning.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Collaboration

One of the sessions that I taught at our end of the year conference was Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for Collaboration. Like many tools, the best way to learn is to use it.
I created a folder in Google Drive and shared it with everyone in my session. The first task in the session was to log in and go to a Google Doc with a Get to Know You Bingo table. Participants were asked to find the cells that applied to them and add their name. I wanted to them to see how multiple users could edit the same document. While they looked it over I explained share settings.

You can see an example here.

Then I asked them all to log into a Google Sheets page and add their name, favorite session attended so far, and one take away from the session.

Finally I asked everyone to contribute to a Google Slides presentation of ideas for using Google with their students. You can see the final slide deck here.

We only had 45 minutes so that was as far as we were able to go. Now I am looking forward to going into more depth with these tools next year. My go to resource for these tools is Alice Keeler's blog, Teacher Tech. If you haven't seen her blog, check it out. You can spend days there!

Tech for Tots: A Special Session for our K-2 Teachers

In preparation for our end of the year conference we carefully looked at each time slot to make sure all of our teachers had a few choices of sessions. We saw a weak area for our K-2 teachers so we decided to add a session just for them. We called it Tech for Tots.
There were three parts to our session.
1. Kahoot game about iPad Cart Management
2. Literacy Stations
3. Math App Dice Station

Our K-2 teachers have shared iPad carts so we wanted to go over ideas for managing the carts. In order to make it a little more fun we used Kahoot. To find the game search for me on Kahoot (tamaracox) and the game (Tech for Tots session).  We shared tips for getting work off of the ipads, restrictions to add, app organization, and tricks for keeping students on task. We put funny teacher memes on each question for a little laugh.

We were inspired by Tony Vincent's Learning in Hand blog post, Spruce Up Your Centers with Technology. We created literacy station cards so that the teachers could learn a few new apps and see how they could create instructions for their centers. You can see the ones we put together here.

For the math station we created a station task card (final slide of the above presentation) and three app dice to expose them to new math apps for their students. You can find our app dice here.

The teachers really enjoyed the session and appreciated our effort to offer something just for them.

Technado: 60 Apps in (less than) 60 Minutes

After every PD session we closely read the feedback from our teachers. Inevitably we get feedback that we are moving too fast and others say we are moving too slow. This session for our end of the year conference was for those that think we are moving too slow.
Each of the three instructional technologist choose twenty apps that we wanted to share. We knew this would be a fast paced chaotic session so we wanted a name to fit. Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian, to the rescue! I remembered seeing one of her amazing graphics and knew it would be a perfect fit. Thus was born our Technado session.
You can see our Google Slides presentation here.

We incorporated a few brain breaks to model that strategy and get people up, moving and having a good time. After my 20 apps we watched and danced along to the Dover policeman jamming to Taylor Swift's Shake it Off. We also shared the Safe Share tool for viewing Youtube videos in class.

The video was a hit with lots of laughs! After Jessica shared her 20 apps we played a version of Would You Rather? Jessica demonstrated silly movements to go along with the two choices and the audience had to dance along to make their choice. Even our superintendent played along. It was a good time.
After Kristen shared her 20 apps she asked everyone to contribute to an Answer Garden and share their favorite tool from the session.

Technado: Share you favorite new tool.... at

This was a super fun session and we received tons of positive feedback. We will definitely do this again. In fact I've already started my list of apps to share. If time permits we may add an open mic portion to the session so the audience can share their favorites.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

2016 Mock Caldecott Project

Caldecott Medal
I saw this tweet from Mr. Schu sharing his 2016 Mock Caldecott list on Goodreads and knew immediately I wanted to do something with this next year. I shared the tweet with the reading coaches and elementary librarians and got to work.
I sat down with one of the elementary librarians and we made a plan. Next year each class will print out this poster to display in their room. As they read the titles with their teacher or librarian they add a star or sticker to the poster. When they are finished they will vote for their favorite as a class. The librarian can display the books and the classes favorites. When the ALA Youth Media Awards are announced the classes will find out if their favorite was the winner.
The titles are going to be shared with the art teachers so that they can tie in the books with some of their lessons as well. In addition, reading coaches will have the opportunity to use some of these titles with their lessons.
I'm going to work on reading each of them over the summer and make a list of some technology tie-ins for each title. This is my working document. I would love for you to add any ideas or suggestions you may have.
Do you host a mock Caldecott in your school? I would love to hear all about it.

Get a Jump on Technology: Summer PD

After reading this post from Alice Keeler's blog, we were inspired to put together a summer technology professional development course.
We decided to use Google Classroom so that our teachers would also be exposed to using this amazing, new tool. We wanted each task to be something that would help our teachers get a jump on next year so we named our class "Get a Jump on Technology"

The four tasks that we are asking our teachers to complete are:

1. Google Forms
Create a useful form for next school year. Example: a student introduction form, reading interest survey, learning styles inventory, parent night survey, etc
Create a QR code for your form. Post QR code to Google Classroom.

2. The 4 Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking
Watch this video that summarizes the 4 Cs. Then take one of your lessons and increase the use of the 4 Cs using this lesson template. Share your lesson on Google Classroom.

3. Technology Stations/Centers
Watch this video from Learning in Hand. Using some of the examples provided create at least three station task cards and share in Google Classroom.

4. End of Summer Presentations
Use one of the following apps to create a presentation about what you did this summer, Adobe Voice, Adobe Clip, Adobe Slate, Book Creator, Haiku Deck, Flipagram, Pic Play Post. Share your presentation on Google Classroom and on Twitter using #a1summerchallenge.

Immediately after sharing this challenge I had 8 teachers sign up in Google Classroom and a few that already finished their first task. I'm looking forward to seeing the amazing things that the teachers create this summer.

What do you do for PD over the summer? I would love to hear your ideas. Thank you Alice Keeler and Tony Vincent for inspiring us!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

iStudent Technology Group

The instructional technology team will be taking over our student technology group for next year. We wanted a fresh start so we changed the name to iStudents. Our teacher technology leaders are iTeachers so we thought that name was a natural fit.
We sent out an application form to all of our rising 9-12th graders. Besides the basics they were asked to share an example of when they were responsible and to rate their leadership, punctuality and attitude. Applicants had to submit two teacher's names for recommendations and to create a multimedia project explaining why they wanted to be in the group and how they would contribute to the team.
This is the flyer that was sent out to the students.

After reviewing and scoring the applicants we selected 20 students from our three high schools. This is a Thinglink we put together to introduce them.

We spent one of the staff development days in March working with the group. This was the schedule for the day:
8:30 - Selfie PicCollage posted to Padlet Wall
Intro Questions
9:15  - Create Presentation for Goals for iStudent
9:45  - Share Presentation
10:15 - White Elephant App Gallery
11:15 - Introduce School Project
11:30 - Lunch (discuss school project)
12:00 - Troubleshooting with the Techs
12:30 - Group Multimedia Project
2:00  - Share Projects
2:30  - Moving Forward, Expectations, and Survey

After sharing their introductory Pic Collage to the Padlet Wall and a few icebreaker questions, students were randomly split up into group based on which tool they would be using to present to the group. The options were Haiku Deck, Thinglink, Keynote, Flowvella and Smore. They had to share their goals for the group, expectations and a few fun ideas for the conference.
Each group presented and we were impressed with their goals. Every group shared the concern that they felt the iPads were not being used to the fullest potential in the classroom yet and they wanted to help our teachers and students learn to use them in more powerful ways.
We told the group about the App Gallery planned for the conference and they used the White Elephant game to choose which app they wanted to work with at the conference.
After lunch and some basic troubleshooting with our three iPad technicians we grouped the students by school. They were asked to decide upon a project for next year and put together a short presentation to share with everyone.
My area's group decided to bring back the news show to the high school and include tech tips and apps regularly. Another group decided to create a monthly newsletter using Smore to share with teachers that would include apps and tech tips and tricks. The final group decided to create professional development to lead teachers away from Power Point. Each group had to share their idea and include the ISTE standard(s) their project addressed, how they would implement their idea and a timeline for their project.
Finally we wrapped up the day by assigning jobs for the conference such as help desk, photographer, lead blogger, app gallery tables, etc. The two fun projects they chose for the conference were a green screen booth on the morning of day one and karaoke at lunch on day one.

I'm looking forward to working with them at the conference in a few weeks, presenting at state conferences with them this summer and helping them implement their project next year.

Teacher Technology Badge Update

The instructional technology team wanted to recognize those teachers that went above and beyond in their participation in the training we offered this year. We have been giving out badges for participation. Here is the original post for all the details on the badges. We sent an email asking all of those with at least 5 badges to take a picture of their badges and tweet using the hashtag #a1techabadges
We are going to select one of these teachers at random from each of the three areas and give them a new iPad case at our conference in June. You can see the hashtag feed here:

I was very happy with the number of teachers that have already shared their badges. This is definitely something we will adapt and use again with our PD next year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week I sent this Buncee card to all of my teachers and gave them these adorable, home button stickers from Amazon. They were a big hit! How did you celebrate?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Meanwhile in K-2...

Next week our state testing begins, which means our teachers from 3rd grade and up will be unavailable. The instructional technologists decided to use this opportunity to reach out to our kindergarten through second grade.
I made this Buncee card and sent out to all of my K-2 teachers.
I now have fourteen lessons lined up next week. I'm so excited. The lessons range from Shadow Puppet animal research projects, green screen in Keynote, Popplet character descriptions, Buncee books, Chatterpix opinion writing to Telestory weather reports. Next week will be tons of fun.

Honoring Choice in Professional Development

Giving our students choice is important for engagement in our classroom. It is equally important when planning and offering professional development sessions for teachers. The instructional technology team is currently planning the district end of the year conference and we wanted to ensure that our teachers had plenty of choices. In addition to offering several sessions for each time slot we also have some exciting non-traditional activities available.
1. App Gallery
2. Innovator's Lounge
3. Share Sessions
4. Appmazing Race

With the help of our iTeachers and iStudents, we put together an App Gallery. The app gallery is similar to a vendor hall at a conference, but instead of selling a service or product our teachers will be highlighting their favorites apps. iTeachers were asked to choose one app, then create a short presentation sharing what the app will do, resources, and ideas for the classroom. Our conference participants will pick up a card upon entering the gym. On the card there are ten stars. They will have the stars stamped as they visit at least ten different app booths. Teachers will earn a technology renewal credit for visiting the stations. We contacted the app developers and requested swag so that we could have freebies as each table. The apps that are included are: Showbie, Kahoot, Padlet, Tiny Tap, Thinglink, Stick Around, Venn, Timeline, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, Shadow Puppet, Smoop, Buncee, Canva, Doceri, Pic Collage, Word Study Apps, Pear Deck, Haiku Deck, Flowvella, SeeSaw, Digitwhiz, Socrative, Desmos, iTunes U, Charades,, Blendspace, Stop Motion, Remind, and 3D Gallery. I will share pictures and feedback after the event.
Too often we hear about lots of tech tools at a conference, but then never have time to meet and plan with our colleagues about how we can use them in the classroom. This year we wanted to offer our teachers a time to do this. The instructional technologists will be taking turns facilitating the Innovator's Lounge so that our teachers can meet with one another and put together ideas for next year.

Last year was the first year that we offered SHARE sessions for our teachers. Each grade level and subject area was scheduled a time and given a room so that they could get together with their peers from other schools and share favorite lessons, tips and tricks and plans for next year. They were a big hit last year so we are offering those sessions again this year. One change is that our administrators will be facilitating those sessions to help get the conversation started and keep it going.

We were inspired by this article in Edutopia to put together an Appmazing Race. The race consists of 10 different tasks that teams of two or three teachers complete to earn an extra technology renewal credit. We will also be recognizing the winning team with prizes at our awards ceremony on day two. You can see our task list here. One of our iTeachers will be monitoring Twitter that day for submissions and answering questions for teams that have any kind of problem. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the teachers put together. It should be a lot of fun.

How do you honor choice in your professional development offerings? I would love to hear about your ideas.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teacher iPad Walk and Twitter Blitz

In a previous post I shared our Admin iPad Walks. These have been extremely successful. The iPad Walks have allowed our administrators to see and share ideas with their teachers and also for each school we visited to be able to "show off" and brag about the amazing things going on in the class with technology. For some it has even been a motivator for encouraging teachers to use technology more.
The instructional technologists wanted to recreate the iPad walks for our teachers, but ran into challenges quickly. We can't possibly get enough substitute teachers to cover so that our teachers can visit another school and there isn't enough planning time to travel to another school. We finally decided to host a walk within their home school and have them visit classrooms just down the hall. We combined this day with our goal of promoting Twitter.
Teachers were surveyed so that we could make a schedule for each school showing which classrooms were open to visitors and what tools or apps they would be using. We distributed the schedule to the teachers and asked each of them to visit at least two classrooms. Teachers then had to share about the visits on Twitter using our district technology hashtag, #a1digitalinnovation.
These sessions were a big success. I have seen much more activity on our hashtag feed, one school created a school Twitter account and a hashtag, and many, many teachers told us that they loved getting to see the other classrooms and take those ideas back with them.
This PD session was completely free and very effective. I encourage you to give it a try and celebrate the innovation going on just down the hall.
Our Twitter efforts will continue. I sent a #ff email to each school sharing the handles of everyone in the building that tweeted so that they can follow each other. We also plan to have Twitter activities during our June conference and we've been regularly asking our teachers to tweet something they've learned at the end of a PD session as an exit ticket. There is an excellent article from Edutopia that lists other Twitter ideas.
Do you promote classroom visits or Twitter? I would love to hear about your ideas.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Teacher Technology Badges

As part of our Discovery PD series, we have been using a badge system with our teachers. You may have read about badges or gamification of professional development before or seen it used on sites such as Smore, Graphite or Foursquare. We wanted to use this as a motivational tool for our teachers. We discussed using virtual badges, but thought they no one would see them if we only shared on the teacher websites. Instead we decided to go old school and use paper. Each teacher received a tech badge sheet that looks like this:

We made these in Keynote, nothing complicated. Teachers display them on a bulletin board in the room or outside their doors.
Then for each session or activity we have given out badges. The response has been surprising. I worried that some teachers would think it was too corny, but most teachers have enjoyed it and some are VERY competitive. They want a badge for everything and have told us that if they knew certain activities earned them a badge then they would have been more likely to participate.

This was a very easy component to add to our scheduled PD sessions and has proven to be a worthwhile and cost effective way to recognize those teachers that go above and beyond.

This is one of our iTeacher's almost full page now. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Teacher Technology Leaders: iTeacher Program

Last week the instructional technologists had the pleasure of working with some of our technology leaders in the classroom. We have a group of iTeachers that serve as our model classrooms, professional development presenters, and first line of defense for technology assistance in our schools. This year we received approval to increase the number of iTeachers from 1 to 2 or 3 per school. We were very excited to increase our numbers.
For our first official session together we wanted to explain the program, discuss presentation skills, and begin planning for our summer conference.

We utilized Google Classroom to deliver presentation slides and materials so as our iTeachers entered the room, there were instructions on how to join the group. We also asked those without Twitter accounts to create one. Kristen created these awesome place cards with all of their information, including name, agenda for the day, Google Classroom code, spot for Twitter handle, our district hashtag, and an icon of the presentation tool they would be using that day.

After a round of icebreaker questions we shared the pencil metaphor and talked about how excited we were to have such amazing teacher leaders with us. We shared some of our plans for the June conference and explained their role in the conference. We shared the different types of presentations we need their help in presenting. We had already created intentionally diverse groups based on presentation tool so we asked them to get together with the others with that same tool on their place card. We gave them the option of using Flowvella, Haiku Deck, Prezi, Nearpod/Classflow or Keynote/Google Slides. We thought that we could avoid a PowerPoint flooded conference if we shared alternatives with them.

After breaking into their group we shared their assignment: Create a presentation using your assigned tool. Include your goals for being an iTeacher, strengths, presentation ideas for professional development and fun ideas for the conference. We gave them plenty of time to create their presentation. I loved hearing them share their technology experiences throughout that creation process.

Each group shared their presentation and then we asked them to read this article from Lisa Nielsen:
We looked at the plans we had made for that day and talked about how we intentionally used her advice in creating our session and we asked that they consider this advice when creating their presentations for June. Before breaking for lunch we asked each teacher to summarize the morning in a tweet using the district hashtag.

Our iTeachers from last year joined our new group after lunch. We played "Switch Sides if..." as an icebreaker. This is where I found that idea. Then we shared a Padlet we had created with our session ideas and some from the morning's presentations. We decided to choose topics using the White Elephant/Dirty Santa game. If you've never played here are the official rules. We had several steals and lots of laughs, but I think everyone ended up with a topic they liked. Click It to Win It was the most stolen topic!

Then we explained our idea for an App Gallery at the conference. Instead of a traditional vendor hall our iTeachers will create a booth advertising an app that they recommend. Teachers have a stamp card and they have to visit a certain number of booths, listen to the explanation and maybe even create something using the app to earn a stamp. After some time in the App Gallery to explore teachers will choose one of the apps and go to a breakout room with the iTeacher where they will go into more depth about using the tool. We created a shared spreadsheet in Google Drive so that our iTeachers could select the app they want to share.

Finally we gave them some time to begin working on their presentations and asked them all to share another tweet about the day. I left full of excitement for the conference. We are lucky to have so many amazing teachers in our district.

If you have a similar program for your tech leaders I would love to hear about it.