Browse Month: January 2016

Curating Your Professional Learning: Evernote

As you locate great news articles and blog posts through Feedly or Twitter, it becomes increasingly difficult to organize and archive them for future reference.  Bookmarks are a possible solution, but your bookmark folders can quickly become packed with entries, and if articles are removed from the web or moved to a different location, the Bookmark will no longer work.  Plus, it is difficult to scan through a stack of Bookmarks finding the perfect article you remember reading two months ago.  The best tool I have found for curating web content in an organized and searchable format is Evernote.

Evernote is a versatile and paperless note-taking tool that can help you accomplish the following tasks:

  • Taking Notes (you can also attach files or pictures to notes)
  • To Do Lists
  • Clipping Content from the Web (I will focus on the Evernote Webclipper next week)
    • web pages
    • articles
    • PDF Files
    • Bookmarks
    • Screenshots
  • Reminders
  • Adding Tags to notes, lists, and Web Clippings
  • Combining notes, lists, and Web Clippings into Notebooks to organize similar notes
  • Combining Notebooks into Stacks to organize and combine similar Notebooks
  • Sharing Notes and Notebooks through a URL
  • Notes and Web Clippings are searchable, making it easy to search the whole text of the note or clipping and not just the title.

Your notes and webclippings in Evernote can be accessed through a browser, iOS and Android mobile devices, or through a Windows or Mac application and Evernote has compiled several tutorials and guides on their help page.  Take some time to create an account and explore Evernote; next week I will introduce the Evernote Webclipper (a Chrome extension) as a quick way to save websites and articles in Evernote for future reference.

Google Expeditions Pioneer Program Visit

The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program will be visiting the OTMS library next Wednesday, February 3.  Google Expeditions are virtual reality field trips using Google Cardboard.  Google has created several virtual Expeditions to locations around the world, and OTMS students will have the opportunity on Wednesday to visit a few of these places in a virtual environment.  Students will be participating in Expeditions from 7:30-10:25 and 11:30-2:10; feel free to stop by anytime during the day and join a class on their Expedition.  You are also welcome to attend the teacher training session at 7:00 in the library if you want to see how the system works.

Curating Your Professional Learning: Feedly

If you follow a number of blogs, educational information sites, or news sites, the process of visiting each page soon becomes time-consuming.  Rather than going to each site individually, I recommend using Feedly to collect all this information into one place where you can skim headlines and read what interests you most.  By adding blogs and websites to your Feedly page, you create a custom newsfeed that regularly updates as new information is added to the sites you follow through Feedly.  There are free and paid versions of Feedly, but the free version has enough features to make it a useful tool.  Feedly has created a guide to set up and customize your account.

Feedly is a web-based service, but there are also Chrome, Android, and iOS Apps available, allowing you to access your curated information on a variety of devices.  Feedly allows you to login with existing Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Windows accounts, making it unnecessary to create a separate Feedly account and password.  There are also several Feedly Chrome Extensions available that add additional functionality (be careful in adding too many as over-notification could become a problem).



Curating Your Professional Learning: Nuzzle

Nuzzle is another tool that curates an overwhelming Twitter feed by summarizing the most popular links shared by those you are following.  Even if you don’t have time to scan your TweetDeck columns, Nuzzle will quickly give you links to the most popular articles and blog posts shared by the people you follow on Twitter.  Nuzzle also shows you which Twitter users shared the article.  Nuzzle can also give you a summary of shared links from Friends of Friends if you want a bigger picture of what is trending on Twitter.  Using Nuzzle is very easy–just sign in with your Twitter account and it automatically scans your Twitter Feed and displays the most popular shares.  Each shared article includes a Tweet button that allows you the option of Tweeting a link to the article yourself.

If you prefer to use a mobile device, Nuzzle also has an iOS and Android app.  Nuzzle can also be configured to send you daily email digests contianing the most popular Tweets.

EdTech Chef #OTFalcons

The faculty of Osage Trail Middle School recently completed our second annual EdTech Chef competition.  During the challenge, faculty were encouraged to stretch and transform their technology integration through a collaborative activity and competition based on sessions from ISTE 2013.  Each collaborative team used the following ingredients to create a lesson or unit (in one hour) that could be taught within the next few weeks at OTMS:

  • A content standard (provided by the staff)
  • An ISTE Student Standard (given to teams the day of the competition)
  • Three Technology Tools (given to teams the day of the competition)
  • A Library Resource (given to teams the day of the competition)
  • Any Google for Education Apps, textbook resources, or technology tools that teachers already use in class

In full disclosure, I could not have designed this activity without help from our Instructional Facilitator, Melanie Bosch (@MBosch34) who provided ideas, support, encouragement, and redirection at every point in the planning process.  Designing the second challenge was easier for both of us due to the lessons we learned while planning and executing the first EdTech Chef Challenge in 2015,  While much of the process remained the same, we took time to reflect on our first experience while designing the sequel and made changes along the way to improve the experience.

Before the day began, all faculty were given instructions along with a schedule of the event in a blog post. Most faculty members participated in the first EdTech Chef Challenge, but there were also several new staff who were not familiar with the procedures and goals of the activity.  The following instructions summarize the purpose of the activity.

. . . you are not producing a complete lesson plan script, but a general plan including the why and how you will use your technology ingredients.  The main focus of the competition rubric addresses WHY technology is used.  Why is it used to transform? Why is it used to differentiate?  Why is it used in the formative assessment cycle?  Does this technology use truly enhance the lesson or simply replace another tool or process–or worse yet, hinder learning through unnecessary use?  As you participate in the event, don’t get bogged down in all the details (the “how”) of making the technology work perfectly or figuring out every step necessary to setting up a successful assignment–there won’t be time for that.  Begin with your content standards and ISTE Student Standard, then get an idea of what the tech tools can do, and then ask the question “How can we meet our content and ISTE standards along with the requirements of the competition rubric using these technology tools?”  Utilize the strengths of your team and create a truly collaborate result that can be shared with the entire faculty.  Be creative and have fun, but remember that your lesson or activity should be usable in an OTMS classroom.  (The rubric for the presentations will be the same as last year.) We hope that the preparation and presentation portions of this competition will be valuable learning experiences, helping us reflect on why and how we currently use technology within instruction, and where our next steps in the process of transformation lie.

In an attempt to describe the process of designing this activity in a linear fashion, I will outline the steps we took to prepare for the event.

  • Set the date and schedule and invited “Celebrity Judges” from our central office to participate in the presentation phase of the event
  • We designed a rubric based on building instructional goals–we were careful to ensure that technology was used to support instruction, rather than designing instruction to support a particular technology
  • After announcing the event in a November faculty meeting, all faculty completed the Quantic Foundry Gamer Motivation Profile (this was a new step this year).  They reported the results of this survey through a Google Form.
  • Each content area submitted a content standard they would cover in class during January or early February 2016.  We wanted the lesson developed during this activity to be useable soon after it was created.
  • Melanie and I created collaborative teams based on the content standards we were given.  We matched standards from different contents based on a logical connection between the two standards.
  • We created a reference document with links to all of the technology tools, along with a short description and links to help files and tutorials. (I wanted faculty to spend time exploring the tools rather than finding help documents or tutorials).
  • On the day of the event
    1. We started with instructions for the event and announced the teams
    2. Each team received a paper copy their technology ingredients and last minute instructions, along with copies of their library resources
    3. Teams had 55 minutes to prepare their lesson and any presentation slides/documents
    4. Teams submitted links to presentation slides/documents through a Google Form that closed at a specific cutoff time (using formLimiter)
    5. Teams had 5 minutes to present their lesson to the rest of the faculty and celebrity judges (we assigned a time-keeper to keep strict time)
    6. As each team presented, I displayed the information they submitted through the Google Form in step 4.
    7. Using the rubric, faculty and “celebrity judges” (Central Office) evaluated each presentation. (We learned from the first year to instruct the faculty to vote only once and not for their own team.)
    8. We asked a math teacher to help tally scores (using a Google Spreadsheet to do the calculations), and our principal awarded prizes to the three teams with the top scores
    9. Faculty completed an evaluation through a Google Form

Curating Your Professional Learning: TweetDeck

EdTech Chef

Thanks for making our second EdTech Chef Competition a success.  Even with a few added challenges created by working in interdisciplinary teams, the lesson plans and presentations proved once again that the staff of OTMS can work together to transform student learning.  Thanks for your positive attitudes and creative mindsets as you worked together and shared your ideas.  Hopefully you found or developed something you can use in your classes during third semester.  Feel free to refer back to the EdTech Chef Homedoc for links to any tools you want to investigate further.

Professional Development and Curation Tools

Over the next few weeks, I will shift the focus of the tools I share from instructional to professional development.  Rather than suggesting a resource you can use in class, I will discuss a tool or website you can use to find instructional tools and resources or connect with other educators to grow your personal learning network.  Although many of you find my weekly suggestions helpful, sharing one a tool a week isn’t always the most efficient way of finding the perfect tool you need to meet your learning goals.  As teachers, our instruction should enable and encourage students to become independent learners.  As an instructional coach, I should be giving you the resources to become independent learners as well.  Some of the tools I share may be familiar and some will likely be new to you.  If the tool is familiar, take some time to reacquaint yourself, update your account profile, discover a updated feature, or learn to use a new function of the service.  If the tool is new to you, I encourage you to set up an account and explore the tool to see what it has to offer.  After experimenting with a few different curation and communication tools, you can make educated decisions about which tools work best for you and contain information that you find useful as you transform your teaching through the integration of technology.

Tool #1: Tweetdeck

I have introduced Tweetdeck in the past and included a few challenges pertaining to TweetDeck in the October #FOProud Twitter Challenge.  One of the biggest challenges of using Twitter is keeping up with the constant flow of information; TweetDeck uses your existing Twitter account and organizes Tweets in columns sorted by hashtags, keywords, users, Twitter Lists, and more (you get to configure your own columns).  TweetDeck can be configured for Twitter Chats, allowing you to keep up with the fast-paced nature of Twitter Chats.  TweetDeck also allows you to manage multiple Twitter accounts and schedule Tweets for the future.  Scheduling Tweets is especially useful when you want a Tweet to post at a specific time that you will be unable to access Twitter.

Here are a few resources to help you setup and explore TweetDeck: