Friday, August 11, 2017

Google Certification

As part of our professional development, the technology integration specialists in my district have decided we should all become Google Certified Educators. I love everything Google, and I am really excited about this opportunity. I have been working towards preparing for the test to get my certification and thought I would share some resources that I have come across for anyone else who might be interested. Would you have any interest in becoming a Google Certified Educator? Why or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

This resource is my favorite. I found it on It is a table with the different Google apps or concepts and resources to click on for each to familiarize yourself with them. There is a section where you can also mark your comfort level, so you know which apps you should review or spend more time on before taking the test. 

This link is exactly what it sounds like, a checklist of all the skills you will need to master before taking the certification exam. 

This blogger shares her Google Certification process. 

I haven't actually taken these practice exams yet, so I don't know how helpful they will truly be. They are free, so I plan to try them out in the near future.

This link is probably the most trusted and reliable resource as it is straight from the source. Google offers trainings to prepare you for the exam. There are thirteen units with multiple lessons including videos and other resources to help you be successful when taking the exam. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Classroom Management with Devices

Today, I attended a meeting with all the building Technology Integration Specialists in our district. One of the things we are really focusing on as we go back to school is training our teachers on how to effectively manage their classroom while students are using devices. I made a list of some of the topics we covered. I would love to see what else you have to add!

1. Teach procedures from the very beginning

  • Decide how you want students to use devices in your classroom and teach those procedures at the very beginning. If you do not set your expectations at the beginning of the year, it is going to be really tough to get students to follow them later. 

2. Have rules for using technology posted in the classroom

  • Choose your top rules for students as they are using technology and post them in your classroom. Keep the list manageable so that students can remember the rules. If there are too many, it is hard for students to follow them and hard for you to monitor. 

3. Be mindful of your room arrangement

  • Different room arrangements work well for different activities. If possible, choose the room arrangement with your goal in mind. Make sure there is room for you to walk around, stop and help students, and see their devices. 

4. Walk around the room

  • This one is super important. Technology does not replace good classroom management. You have to walk around and monitor what students are doing with their devices. 

5. Partner students for some activities

  • Sometimes it may be beneficial to pair students up with one device. This limits their ability to pull up different screens than whatever is being used for your lesson, and they can help hold each other accountable. 

6. Create engaging lessons

  • If students are enjoying the lesson, they are less likely to be off task. With that being said, engagement is not the same as entertainment. Engaging students means getting them involved and making them do something. 

7. Don't pretend to be the tech expert

  • You don't have to know everything there is to know about technology. Encourage your students to find answers to their technology problems and allow them to help each other. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Online Learning Platforms

My school is starting to push the use of Google Classroom because we often use the G Suite Apps. Personally, I loved Google Classroom when I used it this past year. I found it really easy to use, but there are always good and bad things about every platform. The one thing I don't love about Google Classroom is that there is no grade book. There are some teachers in our building who really prefer Edmodo and would rather not switch to Google Classroom, but there is concern about trying to make the students learn and use multiple platforms for different classes/teachers. What online learning platforms do you use and like? Tell me your favorite below. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Every Kid Needs a Champion

Many of you have probably seen this Ted Talk before, but I think it is a great reminder, especially as we are about to begin the new school year. There is a big push to use technology in the classroom, and I am definitely one of those behind that push. However, we have to remember that technology cannot replace relationships, and building positive relationships with our students is so very important. Enjoy the video!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Excuses for Not Integrating Technology in Education

Excuses, excuses... we have all heard them. Click below to hear my thoughts on some of the most common excuses I hear for not integrating technology in the K-12 classroom.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Back to School Meetings

chalkboardI can't believe the back to school season is beginning already. Next week, I have my first back to school meeting with all of the building technology specialists. We are hoping to come away from the meeting with a concrete plan as to how we are going to encourage and train teachers to use technology in their classrooms. We do not want teachers to use technology just for the sake of using technology. It should be used in ways that will benefit students and improve the learning experience. One thing we really want to focus on is creating meaningful professional development for our teachers. What are some of the best PD opportunities you have had and what made them so great?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Digital Natives?

I have always been a bit skeptical as to the notion of digital natives. The term itself suggests that today's children are born knowing how to use technology. This is certainly not the case. Just a few days ago, I asked my eleven year old brother to email something to me, and he did not know how. Sending an email should be easy for a digital native right? Children and students might be able to pick up on and learn how to use technology more quickly than many "older" adults because they have likely had more exposure to it, but that does not make them native to technology. They still need to be taught about digital citizenship, online safety, how to email, netiquette, how to use the G-Suite, etc. They are most definitely not born with this knowledge. 

I found the information from Professor Thomas C. Reeves to be really interesting. There is such a push to change the face of education and to use technology in instruction, but Reeves contradicts this idea. That is not to say we shouldn't be using technology in our classrooms, but there is a time and place for everything. I love how Reeves suggests we should not be tailoring our instruction to a particular generation, but rather we should "identify the needs of any given set of learners" and design a learning environment that would be most beneficial to them (Reeves, 2006. p.21). As educators, part of our job is determining how to best meet the needs of our learners, and this is going to look different in every classroom because no set of learners is the same.

Reeves, T.C. (2008, January 22-25). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Be Our Guest

Today's guest blogger post is a little different than most. As a technology integration coach, I am obviously heavily pushing the use of technology in schools. I thought it might be fun to hear from the other side, so this guest post is brought to you by a fifth grader.

At my school we don’t use much technology. If technology is being used it is
for a test, research, or reports. Technology is a huge resource to everyone
especially on homework, but in school it might be a good idea for these few
reasons. When you become an adult you use technology daily if you teach
students how to use technology in their youth that could help them tons in their
later life.
Technology is full of websites that children could use to learn and help them in
their school work. In my school the younger kids do that all the time. My school
has a computer lab that maybe you might like too. We use our lab for research or
big end of the year tests, but only with supervision from our teacher. For some of
the younger kids the lab is used for learning websites for children but still with
adult supervision.
As you can see technology can be a good thing but if you use the wrong way it can
be dangerous. My school is very safe about technology and it has helped my grade
and everyone else learn and progress throughout the years. If your school uses
technology and is safe about it, it can be very helpful.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Online Safety: The Responsibility of Schools or Parents?

I recently read a blog post on why parents should be concerned with teaching their children about digital safety. (You can find the link below if you would like to read it.) Many people believe that it is the schools responsibility to teach students about online safety, but in his post Corey Tutewiler suggests that it is more of a partnership between schools and parents. He argues that children begin learning in the home before ever coming to school and most children, whether good or bad, tend to exhibit behavior more similar to their parents than any teacher or educator.

I tend to agree with Tutewiler's point of view. I definitely think the responsibility of teaching children about online safety falls on the shoulders of both parents and educators. It is important for students to be safe while at school, but once students leave school grounds, educators cannot be solely responsible for what students do online. Parents need to be aware of what their children are doing on their devices.

I recently had a colleague hand me his phone because he was on Facebook and couldn't figure out why an inappropriate account was showing up on his feed. He said he had denied adding the account to his friend list. As I took his phone, I looked at his feed and the account wasn't showing up because he was friends with the person. It was showing up because his daughter had accepted a friend request from the account. My colleague was shocked that his daughter would add someone to her social media that she did not know and was clearly inappropriate. We talked about how as parents we assume our children know how to be safe online because a lot of times they know more about different sites, apps, etc. than we do. He determined that when he got home, he would sit down with his children and talk about online safety and make sure they got rid of people they do no know on their accounts.

I think this is an important discussion all parents should have with their children. Social media was not a very big thing yet when I was in high school, but my parents only allowed my siblings and I to have a MySpace (I know, old right!?) and later a Facebook account if they had our passwords. We also knew that our parents could take our phones whenever they felt like it and read any texts on there. My parents did not do this in a malicious or overbearing way. They explained that it was for our safety, and they tried to respect and allow us some privacy while still making sure we were being safe. Technology is going to continue to change, so as parents, I think we have to stay on top of the parental controls and tools that are available to keep our children safe.

Gaggle Speaks - Safe Schools Begin at Home: Why Parents Should be Concerned about Student Online Safety

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Learning Spaces...What Do You Think?

Learning spaces were mentioned multiple times during the P20 Conference I attended this past week. The discussion focused around the idea that we should create learning spaces that are more authentic, comfortable, and allow for creativity. We were shown pictures of students sitting on large yoga balls, bean bags, and laying on the floor while working. One of the sessions focused on the idea of caves, campfires, and watering holes shared by the ISTE after a study tour in Australia. Caves are an area for students to work when they need to have quiet to think and work alone. Campfires are for students to share their work, discuss, and collaborate. The watering hole is where students come for instruction, whether that be to the teacher, a video, or text. To learn more about this idea, check out this short article.

What do you think? Should we try to change our learning environments and get rid of desks in straight rows? What does your learning environment look like? To what extent do you think learning environments impact student achievement?