Educreations - The App, The Website. Let's Capture Learning

There are a few iPad Apps that are exciting for all content areas. Educreations is one of those Apps everyone should download on their iPad!  

Educreations Part 1 - Teaching supply & demand curve (4:17 long - Fast forward through what you already know) was created just for you here: 

Educreations Part 2 - Eric getting excited about the possibilities of Educreations.com and sharing recorded lessons with students: 

You don't need an iPad to use this tool. Log in with your Google Account at educreations.com 

**If you need help downloading apps or getting your iPad setup to use, email me! 

PS. Do you use an App that does the same thing? (Such as Explain Everything-$2.99), let's start talking about what seems to be the most meaningful strategies to capture learning! 


My First Tweet

Yesterday I was writing a short discussion post for our instructional Technology Coaches about Twitter becoming the most meaningful PLN I have ever found. To explain that I haven't been addicted to social media in general before finding it to be a useful venue for professional learning, I decided to look up the date I sent out my first Tweet.

While there is definitely a much better way to do this, I pressed the page-down key through 1,500 Tweets until I reached the bottom. The picture above is what I discovered as the first thing I chose to share on Twitter.

Watching other educators much more experienced and inspiring than myself in 2011 talk about the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) on Twitter was relevant and exciting enough to me that I wanted to take a shot at participating in the conversation. Looking back on March 14th, 2011, less than three years ago, I am impressed I knew enough to use a hashtag in my first tweet. While I could write about how GTA was an awakening experience for me and helped make me much more aware of the great teaching happening around me to learn and grow from, this was written to promote Twitter was a Personal Learning Network.

If you're an educator, sign up for Twitter it's free and low-commitment. 

Search some Hashtags used in Education. 

When you are ready, even if it takes over a year, start adding to the conversation and engage other teachers. Checkout the schedule of PUBLIC talks about education on Twitter. I'm sure there's one for your content area. 

Need to a more basic start? Here is @RaeFearing's self-paced course on Twitter for Educators.


High Impact Instruction Breakout Day 2

Midwest Leadership Summit @ St. Paul RiverCentre  


"Thinking Prompts: Any device a teacher puts in front of students to prompt thinking, discussion, and dialog."

Effective thinking prompts are
  • Provocative, complex, concise, humanizing, varied
  • Catch emotions 
  • Not necessarily controversial, but stirs multiple thoughts in different people 
  • VARIED - do not use the same type of thinking prompt all the time
What Kind of Question are you asking for your discussion prompt?
Open or Closed 
Right/wrong or Opinion 

The more open ended or opinion questions you can form, the more rich the discussion and engagement will be. 

Level of Question asked (Jim Knight uses in lieu of Bloom's Taxonomy)
Big idea 
  • You should ask about 4-5 good questions per period during direct instruction 
  •  Closed ended questions to affirm understandings - WKRP: Venus Explains the Atom
Playlist of videos used as discussion and inquiry prompts during session


Create a learner-friendly culture 
Changing the look of your classroom is an easy way to restart a different method of classroom management or instruction strategy.

What we say about the culture: The norms, rules, expectations within a classroom. The way everyone interacts during different activities in all part of classroom cultre.

Have power with, not over, your students. 

Use your power as a teacher to:
  • Build connections, 
  • Get to know a lot about your students, 
  • Offer choices, 
  • Meet one-to-one, 
  • Admit your imperfections, 
  • Continually ask, "How are my students' feeling now?" 
  • Ask for anonymous feedback
Use Freedom Within Form

  • Tightly structured routines and rituals
  • Attention signals, timers
  • Cooperative learning structures
  • Dialogue structures 
  • Structured choices 
  • Cues - such as thinking prompts - for transitions

Identify & teach expectations


High Impact Instruction breakout Day 1

Midwest Leadership Summit @ St. Paul RiverCentre  

Content Planning

  • Provides a learning target
  • Supports differentiation 
  • Supports formative assessment
How to create great guiding questions
  1. Identify knowledge
  2. Identify skills 
  3. Identify big ideas 
Standard: c. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes. 

  • Able to reflect on student understandings
  • Use a collaborative tool to explain some concept
  • Reinforce support student understanding and thinking 
Big Idea: 
  • Student reflections can be used in 
Guiding Questions: 
  • How do you promote student reflection on understandings? 
  • In what ways are students able to explain their thinking and planning of concepts? 

Learning Maps
Start with the pre-organizer - students complete the pre-organizer at the beginning and end of every class that answer these four questions: 
  • What did we learn already? 
  • What are going to learn today? 
  • Why is it important? 
  • What's coming next? 
Formative Assessments
Provide students a CLEAR picture of where they are, and where they are going. Goals and feedback are crucial to engagement. 
As our skill gets better, the challenge has to go up to get us engaged. 
WHY formative assessments? 
  • Increases engagement
  • Increases hope 
  • Increases learning
Thoughts to start creating formative assessments: 
What's the guiding question? 
What are the answers to the question? What are the little specific proficiencies that you can measure and assess for knowledge? 

Use assessments effectively 
  • 5:1 ratio to positive attention corrective attention 
  • Ask questions of all students
  • Connect and redirect
  • Non-verbals
  • Signals 

Autonomy, accountability and instruction with Dr. Jim Knight

What do we mean by Autonomy?
Autonomy: All teachers need to recognize that we are all working toward the same goals. We have to allow teachers to be professionals, and give them many choices in their work. Compliance is not an effective way to have teachers respond to feedback and professional learning. 

Equality: We see each other as counting the same. Not that we are all doing the same things, but that we are all working on or with the same things. 

Choice: deciding what we should evaluate, and how we evaluate, is extremely important to be effective. When we give people the freedom to choose what they evaluate on a regular basis, what they evaluate and the feedback provided will be more useful. Be firm on the standard, but flexible on how you get there. 
Also, providing the choice to learn or not learn as a teacher is part of being a professional. 

Reflection: What does it actually mean to be a reflective practitioner? You need to think for yourself. Even though you might have built the curriculum over the summer yourself, others should be included in evaluating and reflecting upon the curriculum and teaching as a whole. 

Dialogue: A back and forth conversation about the thinking of teaching and learning. All teachers need to be a part of the thinking, not simply the outcome of the the thinking. 

Voice: I want people to tell me what they think - what are your thoughts about what I am doing? People count the same, not one more powerful than the other in regard to your professional practice as a teacher. 

What do we mean by accountability? 
Teaching is almost as personal as parenting. Goal setting and critism can be hard as a teacher, but avoiding the conversation avoids the truth. 

Partnership coaching is much different than top-down coaching. In the partnership coaching model, teacher sets goal, both the coach and the teacher have a dialog about the data, goal and experiences. Goals need to be a student goal, such as 70% of the students involved in discussion, instead of a teacher goal. 

Very clear goals involve; a clear picture of the current reality, and what can happen in to reach the goal. 

Article from Dr. Gawande on coaching that inspired Jim Knight: 

Video is a one of the best ways to help teachers understand the current reality in their classroom. Goals will not be effective if a teacher does not have a clear picture of current reality. 
In regard to the current reality, can a school move forward without; Understanding, agreement, and commitment? 

Formative assessment: take the guiding question, break those into specific understandings, and figure out how to assess them. Planning formative assessment needs to be clear on what you are assessing, but also needs to include what you are going to do to make up for those who are not reaching the understandings. 

Community building: set clear expectations, reinforce positive interaction, and use the power of the group to interact and engage within the group. 

Closing Question from Dr. Knight: what would happen if we really respected the autonomy of teachers and provided professional learning experiences that relate to engagement? 


Update to Google Drive iOS App - Worth taking a look

The Google Drive iPad/iPhone app was updated a few days ago to make your life easier. I normally wouldn't send out information about app updates, but I really think Google Drive's new layout will allow me to make more use out of using Google Drive on my iPad. 

Checkout the highlights on their blog post here: http://googledrive.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-completely-new-look-for-drive-on-ios.html

Download Google Drive with your own Apple ID for free here: 


Three Rules to Spark Learning: Ramsey Musallam

As we start a new school year and begin down the journey that is your curriculum, instruction and the student learning that takes place in a classroom, I encourage you to watch this six minute TED talk about three rules to spark learning from Ramsey Musallam, a chemistry teacher in San Francisco. Technology, used purposely and thoughtfully, can help spark or engage students can be very meaningful to the learning process.


Learning Forward Leadership Summit with Dr. Robert Marzano

How do you monitor the desired outcome in your classroom? A level of monitoring is what has shown to be the deciding factor to push teachers from simply using instructional strategies as a "mechanism" at the developing level of a strategy, into applying and innovating that strategy.

Observed score = true score + error 
Error in how we measure student work can come from many places. Discrepancy in almost all assessments, if not observed, can imply correlations that do not necessarily exist. Compare all scores and data available. We live with error in most sciences, education not excluded, including how both teachers and students are assessed.

Teacher Evaluations
Video of classroom instruction is one of the most powerful professional development tools we have available today. You will be the most critical evaluator of your own instruction through self-reflection. Marzano's teacher evaluation model allows teachers to use powerful feedback on specific instructional strategies during specific parts of a curriculum. To help someone's skills move from Developing (2) to Applying (3) on Marzano's teacher evaluation scale, adapting to successes and challenges of strategy effectiveness should be taking place.


Creating online professional development that works #ISTE13

Link to Dianna Benner and Miguil Guhlin's website for creating a roadmap to e-learning. 

Problem based learning activity: How do you provide training to new teachers both online and face-to-face? What LMS to use? Social media? Needs to be easy to design content and accessible to all!

Crowd-sourced ideas to answer or define this problem:
What is the overall objective? Create content outline to determine scope.

Dianna explains that online staff development is implemented the same as all other implementation plans, planning a complete plan that includes all stakeholders when creating the plan. One of the biggest factors is focusing in on your audience. Schools can and sometimes do get hung up on what platform to choose to go with during this part of the plan, as there are many. It seems that a majority of districts are still using and prefer Moodle as their LMS of choice, but exploring other ideas outside of what the EdTech world would traditionally consider a Learning Management System, such as using Google Sites, Twitter or a blog as the main web tool to communicate professional development content. Obviously this conversation ends up larger, but should not be the entire focus of the professional development plan, as the content and learning are the larger portions of the implementation.

One thing that sticks out to me is that it is important for stakeholders to create a defined list of the needs and goals that the online learning will fulfill. Everyone comes in to a plan with their own preconditioned thoughts about what the best deliver tool is for learning, instead of working on common learning outcomes and greater good ideas.

Many teachers or building leaders wanted to create online professional development for their own buildings and staff. Miguel and Dianna followed these seven steps (from the pixelated photo below) to get staff started building online learning activities for their staff:

Steps for Deployment (from presentation website https://sites.google.com/site/elearningmaps/deployment )

  1. Develop a strategy 
  2. Identify content and users 
  3. Build processes, tools and standards 
  4. Create pilot course
  5. Develop marketing plan 
  6. Launch the course
  7. Assess and improve 
It is helpful to point out to staff that online professional development is not created to model learning activities for staff, but it does allow staff to learn and utilize instructional resources and collaborate more with each other. Online PD is not trying to force everyone into all-the-time online learning, more or less simply a method for teachers to connect when they would otherwise not be able to.
All staff completed a basic online-learning course called Digital Citizenship that focused on what kinds of content and activities are appropriate and well-used with students that are always connected today. Revisiting course evaluations, along with authentically evaluating existing courses on a regular basis, are essential.

Example professional development courses were presented on a variety of platforms.

A big question came up, "How do you measure if teachers are actually learning the ideas you are trying to teach?" Such as differentiation. Migul referenced a rubric to Classroom learning activities, located here.  



Create a YouTube Channel!

Over the past two weeks I have had more teachers ask me for help uploading video to YouTube than any other school year. It is great to see so many teachers utilize YouTube as one of the easiest places to both share their own classroom experiences and to discover new ones. 

Most staff are uploading video straight from an iPad which seems simple, and it is, but you need to setup a YouTube Channel before you can upload video and discover the vast learning possibilities YouTube offers. 

Q: "But Eric, I don't have a YouTube account. Aren't those only for privileged kids who have complicated cell phones?"

A: NO, everyone will need a YouTube account in the future. Turns out, having a Google Apps for Education account is only a few steps away from uploading video to YouTube. 

1. Go to YouTube.com from a computer
2. Click on the dropdown arrow on the top right, and select My Channel (See below)

3.  Fill out the required information (Your birthdate does not need to be the real month/date/year, just make sure you are over 13 years old).  

4.  You have successfully created a YouTube Channel and will be able to upload from any device using your email address and password!


Send websites to your iPad to use offline with the Chrome to Mobile Extension

I just started using the Chrome to Mobile extension when I found out it lets you "print" a webpage to your iPad to read offline when you don't have internet. 

You have to download and sign into the Chrome iOS App on your iPad, and install this extension:

You will get a button that looks like this in Chrome: 

Then all you have to do is open Chrome app on your iPad before you are without internet, and it will download the webpage, article, PDF and you will have an offline copy to use offline. 


Add Images to Google Forms for formative assessments, surveys and more

After years of anticipation, Google Forms has added the ability to insert pictures right in your Forms.

It is very timely, as we spent a large part of last Friday's Staff Development day focusing on creating formative assessments, using Google Forms as the tool to collect data and many teachers discussed how embedding photos right in forms would be helpful. 

Adding images to Google Forms is as easy as simply clicking on Add Item and then Image.

Check out this link for 


Can you answer this question: What the heck is Google Drive?

Over the past week, New Ulm students and staff
  • Edited 454 documents in Google Drive 
  • Created 163 NEW documents in Google Drive 
  • An average of 4 students and staff per day created their FIRST Google Drive document ever!! 
Data from 4/9/2013 - 4/16/2013

Google Drive is a place to store private and collaborative documents online. You have 5GB of storage, which is roughly 71,000 Word documents, use some of it. 

You can also safely store SMART Notebook files and many other file types in Google Drive to access from any computer at any time. 


Two-Part Friday Special - Evernote for web and iOS

Evernote is both an App and a website that I find very useful to use because Evernote works on just about EVERY device or computer you can find. 

"Device-agnostic" is the term I use for tools that work on any device and I can count on everyone having access to. Device-agnostic technology is great to start using today because you don't need to depend upon having an iPad, iPhone, Android, or other particular device to utilize the tools. 

Why to use Evernote on iPad:

Evernote.com as a writing and organization tool: 

~60 seconds each


What does your school and city look like on Wikipedia?

Not much there, right? Guess what?, One of your classes should update this Wiki. Maybe a few classes working together to build content for OUR site?? Athletic and fine arts achievements could be a start? A complete history of how our school got started and the buildings we have been in?  Adding to this Wiki could be incorporated into so many of our content standards that reference community, communication, all forms of local history.

A Web site developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content.

Your students could create a whole new Wikipedia page for our school district as a whole, and one for each building! The only school in New Ulm referenced is New Ulm High School. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Ulm,_Minnesota  and even New Ulm's city page could use some more content added to it. 

Start a meaningful project that is shared with a greater audience on the web. What a wonderful way to showcase student work!

Want help getting started? Ask me. Want to take the project on your own? This is how easy it is to edit Wikipedia and share how your students experience New Ulm better: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Editing


Q: I think I want to start a blog A:

BLOGGER.com (or blogspot) is a great tool to publish thoughts and ideas online, and improve writing! There is a lot of research out there (find some here) that those who blog gain composition and comprehension skills that are difficult to teach without authentic experience writing for a broad public audience (online). This blog post by Chris Betcher, an australian educator I met at the Sydney Google Teacher Academy in 2011, references a project I heard Chris talk about that began to get me motivated to utilize blogs more in my classroom.

What's great about Blogger: You can worry about the content and make it look sexy later. Really, the reason for blogging is to focus your thoughts and ideas in writing, while giving you a venue (and reason) to share the idea - at least that is one way to look at it. 

Write down a few ideas (Posts) and THEN play with layouts and templates to make it look good.  I can definitely help you out with this, just give me a few times I can stop by if you want help. 

If you can sign in to blogger.com with your Google Account and find the orange pencil button, you will have your space to beging writing


How to watch a 30 Second tech tip

Now that you have seen a few of these 30 second emails from me, Today's 30 second tech tip is actually shorter than 30 seconds. It is a 20 second video that explains how to get the most out of a 30 second tech tip. 

Watch video here: http://goo.gl/92zBN

Why are these tech tips 30 seconds? Even though your life is full of planning, organizing and creating inspiring experiences for others, everyone can find 30 seconds to learn a quick tip that might make them more productive. Spend less time on the tasks you need to do everyday, and more doing what you want. 

If you can't take 30 seconds today, will you really spend more time another day to catch up?  

Things you do every day that take longer than 30 seconds and are less meaningful than tech tips: 
  • Peel an orange
  • Hold the door open 
  • Wash your hands
  • Pour cereal 
  • Open mail 
  • Brush your teeth 
  • Check voicemail 
  • Print anything 
  • Dial a number and listen until it rings 
  • Staple papers
  • Refill a water bottle
  • Take attendance
  • Open your garage door 
  • Tie your shoes

What's your excuse? 


Working with the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS)

As a part of our spring staff development day, teachers were asked to complete a self-assessment on the International Society for Technology in Education's (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards for teachers.

Educators work with standards on a daily basis. No matter your political opinion on state or federally mandated learning measurements, any measurement of learning across the board can be considered a standard group of measurements. 

ISTE's measurements for teachers are a set of standards for all educators working and living in today's world, and beyond. I was first apprehensive to use ISTE's NETS for Teachers because the general morale around standards in education always seems to carry a negative connotation along with it. As an everyday learner, having both goals and feedback on where you measure on working toward that goal are basic vitals to successful learning. 

With that, the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers are not a group of standards developed by a bureaucracy disconnected from education and what teachers do in a classroom on a daily basis. Just like many of the other content-specific educational organizations, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is an organization made of up of global educators focused on increasing learning through the power of technology (Read more about ISTE here)

Now that the mystery and negative atmosphere around standards have been debunked...

What is the point of ISTE's standards for Teachers? 

To quote ISTE

"ISTE's NETS for Teachers (NETS•T) are the standards for evaluating the skills and knowledge educators need to teach, work, and learn in an increasingly connected global and digital society.
As technology integration continues to increase in our society, it is paramount that teachers possess the skills and behaviors of digital age professionals. Moving forward, teachers must become comfortable being co-learners with their students and colleagues around the world." 
International Society for Technology in Education. NETS For Teachers. From http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-teachers on 3-3-2013. 
While no one can expect teachers who have not worked with these technology standards to speak fluently about them, it IS a basic expectation as an educator to be both reflective on instruction and a continual learner, identifying the ways an individual's technology skills either support or inhibit the role and purpose of an everyday classroom teacher. 

Just as the students in your classrooms grow on a constant basis, so does technology. (This probably won't change any day soon...) 

How does reflecting on educational technology standards for teachers help?? 

It gives educators a standard for measuring and reflecting upon effective educational technology, not simply technology skills for the sake of using tech tools. 

As a district leader, it provides the framework for technology implementation, professional development and staff support into the future. 


60 second Tech Tip: Graphic organizer and mind mapping tool

60 second Tech Tip:  
Watch on YouTube
I found a great new graphic organizer and mind mapping tool last week called Lucidchart.com 

It allows you to both easily create and collaborate on graphic organizers that look like this: 

You can share and collaborate in real-time on mind maps, just like a Google Doc. You don't need to create an account, you are already signed in with your Google Account. 


YouTube Part I: For Sharing and Learning

Yes, YouTube can be a place to find video of cats singing Christmas songs, watching home-made bicycle jumps turned into horrible accidents or college spring break videos. 

GUESS WHAT?!? That's not all that's on YouTube. 

YouTube is the #1 place to learn how to do seemingly anything in the world. From simple how-to's for a math problem to large home renovations, you can find step-by-step knowledge to learn things you never knew were possible. If you didn't know this, I challenge you to go to YouTube.com and try it out.
(A large reason YouTube is the #1 place for video is because YouTube is the easiest place to upload and share video from basically ANY device... computer, iPad, smart phone, etc.)

Five Steps to Your First YouTube Upload

Step 1:  Create a YouTube Channel (Google Doc) 

Step 2:  Upload video
Step 3:  Set video Privacy Settings 
  1. Public on the web. Videos show up on YouTube and other search engines. 
  2. Unlisted - Best way to share classroom videos. Can share with anyone by sending them the link to access video. Videos do not show up on YouTube search. More: What is an unlisted video? 
  3. Private - You need to sign into your account to view. Can only share with others if you manually enter in each email address. 
Step 4:  Share video

Step 5: Create YouTube Playlists to save and share all your videos

Grow your YouTube Powers: 

    Search YouTube for what you need: Search Tips

    1.  Use YouTube Filters

    2.  Searching for videos ~4 minutes long. We don't have all day here.

    3.  View count, Upload Date, Rating, Relevance

    4.  If using video for class projects, encourage Creative commons videos.

    5.  Videos in HD (high definition) are better. Younger people are used to it, older people can see it better.


    January 2013 New Ulm Tech: Our TAR Score

    Doug Johnson, Mankato Public School's Technology Director, recently wrote a post on teacher's access to both use and fit technology to their needs.
    Checkout Doug's post here.
    In his post, he spells out an assessment to grade what he calls a TAR Score is, or, your district's Technologically Anal Retentive score.

    While I can fully agree with every demerit a school technology department can receive, I wanted to see where New Ulm's TAR score was at, at the present moment. While I am constantly trying to support classroom teachers willing to take steps toward the future and utilize

    My district does not allow staff to use their own devices on the network.
    1. My district does not allow students to use their own devices on the network.
    My district only supports one operating system.

    1. My district does not give teachers the choice of a laptop computer they can use outside of school.
      • In planning stages for 2013-14
    2. My district does not give teachers administrative rights to their computers (the ability to add software, access control panels. etc.)
      • In motion to redo computer setup, Summer 2013
    My district assigns passwords.

    My district blocks (1 point each):

    1. Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+
    2. Youtube
      • We still get a point for this because it is being opened only for High School students this spring



    Non-school email sites
    Blogs and wikis (including Wikipedia)
    Anything Google (apps, sites, search, images)
    • My district must approve all software I use.
      • Can't completely stop this thought until teachers have administrative rights on computer
    My district does not allow student work to be published to a public website.
    My district does not allow access to the student information system outside the district.
    My district does not allow students and parents access their grades and other information online.
    My district only offers technology training by technology department members, not staff.
    1. I need more than one password to get into my gradebook. You only need one, but it's 16+ characters long and set by IT.
    2. I feel my district actively monitors my e-mail and computer use without cause.
      • Apple Remote Desktop is used to install software, so I imagine teachers feel this way
    Bonus 5 points: If your technology director cites CIPA, FERPA, or another mysterious acronym as a reason for blocking anything.

    Total Score: 8 Result (Based off Doug Johnson’s writing) for a score of 5-15: “Your school needs to figure out a better collaborative process for determining what should and should not be blocked.”

    I feel that we need to take a few more drastic actions, both in the realm of staff development and IT infrastructure, to qualify for this nicely-worded description of what we as a district need to move toward. I am impressed with the willingness of many staff members to step out from the dark and ask for help and support to try using new tools for projects in their classrooms, which for me says something about where we can go into the future... which includes lowering our TAR Score.


    TIES 2012

    Cross posted on 12/21/2012 New Ulm Technology

    Minnesota's annual Technology in Education Conference took place December 10-11th, who had . New Ulm had six staff members participate in two days of fast-pasted technology focused conversations in Minneapolis.

    Part of the beauty in educational conferences is the obvious willingness (well, need) to share and learn from those around you. A framework of collaboration at the TIES Conference is built on their CONFERENCE WIKI , which is a website build by the teachers presenting at the TIES Conference. 

    Check out the conference wiki here for the schedule, breakout session descriptions, websites, presentations, videos and handouts from almost every session at the conference. If you see something on the schedule and want to know more, click on the links or search the web and you should find the presentation. I "virtually attend" many conferences for the free learning you can get just by lurking on a conference schedule and watching the links people post to twitter during sessions. 

    The opening Keynote speaker Simon Sinek, talk about how to help those around you inspire one another to take positive action. Author of the book, "Start with Why," Simon's message was very well received and challenges everyone to ask themselves, "Why do you do what you do?" on a daily basis.  

    Here is Simon Sinek's 18 minute TED Talk called, How great leaders inspire action, and is definitely worth a watch. 

    When I attend a conference I use an approach taken from the Google Teacher Academies and the Superhero Tech Conference here in Minnesota, spelled out is this post by Sean Beaverson, Secondary Technology Coordinator in Bloomington, MN, I look at finding the Big Three take-aways from any education workshop:

    #1 - AHA! What is one idea that you can implement in the next week. This is your aha moment. An idea that you’d been thinking about or working on suddenly became clear to you and you’re ready to implement it.

    #2 - BIG IDEA - this is something you’re thinking about, but it will take some more planning and even learning to plan it. This is likely a collection of new ideas that you are working to synthesize into implementation.

    #3 - Your Dream Project - You don't know how to do it, but you're pretty sure it can be done. You have new information and new ideas that get you closer to implementation, but it's a long term project and there is still more to learn. You let this one simmer.
    Above Big Three Quoted from seanbeaverson.com/2012/10/superhero12_23.html

    Here are my "Big Three's" from TIES 2012

    1. Simon Sinek’s speech really connected with me when he was talking about how we need to purposely be using technology to solve a problem in our classrooms. I think his definitions and explanations for why it is so important for educators look at exactly how we are teaching in our classrooms and schools and what technology can be used to more or less speed-up or enhance daily tasks. To me, this pressured me to revisit the learning initiatives we are focusing on in the technology department in New Ulm, and look at how we need to do more with staff to support how first and foremost Google Apps can be more efficient and effective in how we communicate and collaborate with staff, but also share with and support teachers more to show how student learning can be enhanced by engaging and manipulating content in ways never before possible. While our district is working more with the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) Model below, his speech reminds me that it is always important how we implement, train, model and support technology throughout the district.

    2. Tips for Staff: Technology is constantly changing and I often find or hear simple tech tips and tricks that might help someone. Right now I am only sharing these on a blog and emailing them out to staff in a list. I know that there is a limit to the amount of emails someone will read from you before they just create a filter for the emails and forget about them and I want to hit the happy medium for how to do share this with all staff. I want to follow the lead of a few teachers I met at TIES and create short videos that are 45 seconds or less that show 1) How to do something 2) Put it on YouTube where it can be accessed from anywhere.

    3. Kite Aerial Photography: I realize I’m not in the classroom anymore, but I really want to do an Aerial Photography project (or find a classroom teacher interested) and stitch that photography to an interactive map. I listened to two teachers from Brainerd present about the photography balloons they have been launching with different classes around twice a year and think it would be a great way to explore the area immediately around you. The equipment includes a large weather balloon, a camera set to take pictures every 5-10 seconds (or flip camera), and some cheap prepaid cell phone that can text it’s GPS coordinates on a regular basis. The actual “thing” you launch in the air ends up created and being flown by your students. There are many sites with how-to’s and programs to make cameras take the pictures every 10 seconds, as well as stitching the aerial photos to an interactive map. General website info here: http://www.arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/kaptoc.html

    What if the 2012 class picture was an Aerial Photo of every student standing outside the high school from a floating balloon-camera-gps they designed?

    Jefferson's 3rd Grade Teacher, Travis Raske pumped out this long list of websites, Apps, and other links for his staff right after the conference. Link to Travis' Resources

    We are collecting more "ready made" TIES resources to share our learning with you soon.

    Have a great break!

    Revisiting Keyboard Shortcuts

    After a brief holiday break and observing how people from age 3 to 84 interact with technology, I think it it worthwhile to revisit keyboard shortcuts and look at the daily tasks these can simplify. Here is a list of shortcuts everyone should have exposure to by 2013. I've included shortcuts up to Junior Varsity because I wanted to leave room for the future. Keyboard shortcuts are guaranteed to help you live a happier life (citation needed).  
    Copy/Paste, Select All, Save
    Command-C        Copy 
    Command-V   Paste 
    Command-A   Select All 
    Command-S   Save 
    Undo/Redo, Find
    Command-Z                      Undo - Undo typing or accidental deletes in almost ANY program.
    Command-Y                Redo 
    Command-F                   Find - Finds a match for words, numbers, or letters on the current document - A great way to jump to a student's name in a list OR find a topic or word on a website. 
    Zoom In/Out, Internet Browser Shortcuts (Firefox, Safari, Chrome)
    Command- + (Plus)Zoom In - Zoom in most programs, very helpful when projecting websites
    Command- - (Minus)Zoom Out 
    Command-T                Opens a new Tab
    Command-N            Opens a new Window
    Command-L                 Highlights the URL bar to type in a new address or search
    Command-Click (Link)Opens the link in a new tab in the background

    I consider the FIND function (Command-F) to be one of the most versatile basic keyboard shortcuts around. From searching for a student name in a 24 page spreadsheet, to looking for one specific word on a webpage, use FIND by pressing Command-F to jump to what you want to find and save precious minutes scrolling around looking for keywords. 

    Note: These are MAC shortcuts that use the Command key, formerly known as the Apple Key, and looks like this. All of these shortcuts are PC Shortcuts as well, simple replace "Command" with PC's "Control" key!

    Click on this link for a more extensive Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcut list