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Communications with the OTMS faculty.

Preparing for EdTech Chef 2016

OTMS will host the second annual EdTech Chef Challenge when we return on January 4.  The purpose of this collaborative activity is providing you with time to explore ways to transform interdisciplinary teaching and learning (completing tasks or projects you could not do without 1:1 technology).  The goal of the activity is to generate ideas for a lesson that can be used in the near future in your classroom with your students.

Your “ingredients” for this lesson will be:

  • A content standard (provided by staff)
  • An ISTE Student Standard
  • Three technology tools (two must be used by students, one can be used for presentation or information)
  • A Library Resource (this is for reference, but you may choose to use a library resource in lieu of one of the technology tools)
  • Any Google Apps, textbook resources, or technology tools you regularly use in class

Remember that 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.  

The schedule for the event is:

    • 8:30 Instructions and Team Assignments
      • Each team will be given instructions containing your team assignment, content standard, ISTE Student Standard, and your tech tools.
      • I have created an EdTech Chef Home Document that contains links to all the tech tools and links to tutorials/help documents for each tech tool. (This will be linked in the Faculty Meeting Notes)
    • 9:00 Collaboration Time
    • 9:55 Presentation Links due through a Google Form (this is linked in the Home Doc and Faculty Meeting Notes))
    • 10:00 Presentations/Competition
      • Each team will have 5 minutes to present
      • Faculty will evaluate each presentation (based on the presentation rubric) using a Google Form. (vote once, and don’t vote for  your own team)
      • Celebrity Judges from central office will evaluate each presentation (based on the same  presentation rubric) using a separate Google Form.
    • Mel and Ryan will compile scores (Celebrity Judges scores will be doubled weighted)
    • Mel will award prizes to the top three scoring teams
      • 1st Lunch and Jeans Passes
      • 2nd Jeans Passes
      • 3rd Drink and Candy from the Concession Stand

I will conclude by sharing the Gamer Type results for the elective and SPED teams (the scales on the left are different again).

elective sped

If you have questions, contact Mel or me this week–or ask a teammate who participated in the EdTech Chef Challenge last year.  We hope this will be a great start to the second semester.  Enjoy your break with family and friends.

Back to Basics: ISTE Student Standards 5&6

The fifth ISTE Student Standard focuses on digital citizenship and appropriate online behavior. Although the computer lit classes devote several class periods to this topic each year, positive digital citizenship should be embedded into all online assignments and projects.  If you are looking for ideas to encorporate digital citizenship into your classroom or to complete the “Cyber Cop” task in PD Craft (Develop a written statement of digital citizenship expectations for classroom activities and assignments), here are a few resources.

The sixth and final ISTE Student Standard is devoted to conceptual understandings of technology processes, troubleshooting and informed decision making.  This is fostered when students are given choices in how they will collect, organize, and present information.  Choice encourages students to learn a variety of tools, giving them the ability to evaluate tools and choose the best tools for future technology-based tasks.  They also learn valuable technology concepts when they are familiar with multiple tools.

This week I will share Gamer Type results for Science and Social Studies.  Note that the scales on the left are different when comparing the two charts.

science social studies

Back to Basics: ISTE Student Standards 4

The fourth ISTE Student Standard focuses on critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making.  This encompasses project management, the planning process, and decision-making abilities.

 

Thanks for submitting your content standards for the EdTech Chef Challenge.  For those who did not participate last year, I want to point out that your teams 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 standard 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 presentation should be usable in an OTMS classroom.  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.

Speaking of team strengths, I will share the average percentile scores from the Gamer Type Survey for the ELA and Math departments (7th and 8th grade combined).  When comparing the two charts, notice that the scale on the left of each chart is different.

ELA

Math

 

Back to Basics: ISTE Student Standards 3

The third ISTE Student Standard focuses on Research and Information Fluency. There are multiple methods and tools available to facilitate assignments and projects that require students to “apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.”  ASCD recently published the article Research Untethered  that addresses multiple phases of the research process and how mobile devices can be used to support inquiry.  Rather than start my own list of resources, Mrs. McDaniel has already curated many digital resources and tools in the OTMS Library HomeDoc including access information for EBSCO Host and a link to the OTMS Research Home Doc.  Mid-Continent Public Library also provides many research databases that provide reviewed research material.  These are valuable guides for locating digital resources that are available to OTMS staff and students.  Edudemic recently published an article with suggestions to help students become better online researchers.  If you are looking for a few alternatives to the traditional research paper, there are few ideas shared in this blog post.

Standard 3 also addresses the necessary evaluation skills that should be applied to each source a student finds through their research.  For some ideas on teaching critical evaluation skills, here are a few resources.

EasyBib — All seventh and eighth grade students have the EasyBib Chrome Extension installed in Chrome.  There is also an EasyBib Add-on for Google Docs that works with your research document.  EasyBib allows students to quickly cite a variety of sources to create a bibliography that can be copied and pasted into Google Docs.  EasyBib also supports login with Google, so that students do not have to create an account or remember an additional password.

Mel and I are looking forward to hosting the second annual EdTech Chef Challenge on January 4 when we return from the semester break. To help you prepare for the event, I’ve compiled the  resources above. I also spent some time this week compiling the scores from the Player Motivation Survey we took on November 13. Mel and I will use the results from the Player Motivation Survey to form groups after we receive your content standards (due December 1). In the meantime, I will share a summary of the results listing the average scores for each of the six Motivation Types. Although averages don’t convey a complete picture, this gives you a broad snapshot of how the faculty scored as a whole.

Player Type Averages

OpenEd and ISTE Student Standards 2

OpenEd is a directory of open educational resources (free) that can be browsed or searched by standards, grade level, or keyword.  This could save some time searching the web for quality resources since they have already curated many videos, assessments, and activities into one place.  OpenEd recently added the ability to share the resources indexed through the site with Google Classroom.  When you find a resource you want to share with a class, click the Classroom link at the top of the resource listing and a window will open giving you the option to create an announcement or assignment and select which class you want to receive a link to this resource.  You will then have the ability to title the announcement and assignment and include any instructions before posting to Classroom.

I am sharing the article Know the ISTE Standards for Students, Standard 2: Communication and Collaboration in preparation for the EdTech Chef Challenge on January 4, 2016.  Don’t forget to submit your content standards to Mel by December 1.

Back To Basics: ISTE Standards for Students

What does effective technology integration look like?  Am I integrating technology appropriately?  How can I tell if elements of a lesson employ technology beyond replacement?  What is the next step I should take when implementing technology?  Will I know transformation when I see it?

These are some of the questions that come to my mind when I strive to be specific about instructional technology.  While attempting to answer these questions, it is easy to become quickly inundated with sources, opinions, examples, lesson plans, and philosophies–some of which do not always agree.  One of the best sources I have found as a starting place to answer these questions is the ISTE Student Standards.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) “serves educators around the world through professional development, advocacy, and the creation of standards for teachers, administrators, coaches, and students.”  The ISTE Standards are not meant to be an evaluation tool, but rather a source of guidance when asking the question “Am I effectively integrating technology into instruction?”  Think of the Standards as a compass that can help keep us on the correct instructional course, rather than a stopwatch that enforces deadlines and specific requirements.  As we strive to move beyond using technology for only replacement purposes, the ISTE Standards can serve as a guide to advancing our technology integration to the next level.

“The ISTE Student Standards describe the skills and knowledge [students] need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly global and digital society.”¹ The Standards are organized into six broad categories, with sub-standards in each group.  You can view the Standards on the ISTE website along with other supporting material including the ISTE Standards Student Profiles (the link is on the left column).  These profiles contain a few sample activities that illustrate the Standards across grades PK-12.

The Standards are focused on student knowledge and skills rather than specific technology tools.  Due to this careful planning, the Standards do not become dated as hardware and software are replaced.  The Standards are also broadly written to facilitate teacher independence and freedom.  If you are reading through the Standards for the first time, you will quickly realize that the Standards can be met through a wide variety of activities, projects, and technology tools.  You are likely already meeting many of the Standards through the activities and projects you currently facilitate in your classroom.

¹http://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards/standards-for-students

Back to Basics: OTMS Technology Goals

At the beginning of last year, the OTMS leadership team started the process of defining our goals for the use of instructional technology.  From an initial list of approximately 15 goals, we picked five that we considered to be crucial in living out the mission of OTMS.

OTMS Mission Statement

Osage Trail Middle School is a community of staff and student learners.  Our mission is to meet the social, emotional, and intellectual needs of the adolescent learner to ensure our students are critical thinkers who will effectively collaborate with, contribute to and compete in a global society.

When dealing with technology implementation, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture including mission, vision, and quality instruction.  As the leadership team prepares for SIP, our discussions often focus around defining goal and strategies to meet those goals.  Technology should never be a goal within itself, but a strategy that supports the mission, vision, and instructional practices of a learning community.  When we wrote these goals, we were careful to place instruction and student achievement at the center of each goal.

OTMS Technology Goals

  1. Teachers will use technology to transform lessons with activities that could not be accomplished outside of a 1:1 learning environment. (ISTE-T 1, 2, 3)
  1. Teachers will use technology to differentiate instruction. (ISTE-T 2c)
  1. Students will become independent learners in response to differentiation through technology. (ISTE-S 4, 5c)
  1. Teachers will use technology to collect formative and summative achievement data and provide students with timely feedback in response to this data.  (ISTE-T 2d)
  1. Students will be given the opportunity to lead in the areas of technology support and digital citizenship. (ISTE-S 5, 6)

After completing this list, I compared our goals with the ISTE Standards to ensure that our goals aligned with international technology standards.  Over the next few weeks, my blogs will focus on the ISTE Student Standards and ways to incorporate them into instruction.  And if daily instruction was not enough, we will be using the ISTE Student Standards during the second annual OTMS EdTech Chef Challenge on January 4, 2016.

Wrapping Up the Twitter Challenge

Who are five people that do your job better than you?  Are you learning from them? (@ideaguy42)

A couple weeks ago I encouraged you to think verbs rather than nouns (another idea from @ideaguy42) when applying educational technology.  The ultimate objective of the Twitter Challenge was not to make you better Twitter users, but to connect you with other educators through using Twitter more effectively.  By the time Twitter is replaced as the “spot where the cool kids hang out,” connection will be even more critical than it is now.  The tool will change, but the networks will simply be facilitated on another communication tool.  One of the most powerful transformations that technology brings is the ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime.  Through technology, there are no limits on interacting with the people who do your job better than you.  Why wouldn’t you learn from them?

More from MOREnet 2015

Here are a few more tools I discovered or became reacquainted with during the MOREnet Conference.  Michelle will be sharing some of her favorite finds next week.

Now that Google Classroom creates a calendar for each class, you can share classroom calendars with parents.

  • In Google Calendar, find the class calendar listed under “My Calendars”
  • Click the down arrow to the right of the calendar name
  • Select Share this Calendar from the menu
  • Click Make this Calendar Public and click SAVE
  • On the Calendar home page, select the drop down arrow next to the calendar name and then Calendar Settings
  • Find Calendar Address at the bottom of the page and click the HTML button to the right
  • Share this link with parents in email or newsletters

You can create appointment slots in Google Calendar and invite people to schedule for an appointment slot through Google Calendar.  This could be useful for scheduling conferences or tutoring.

Link Chooser is an  add-on for Google Docs that allows you to quickly add links to documents or folders from your Google Drive into a Google Doc.

If you haven’t discovered this already, you can send forms with pre-filled fields to help ensure students select the correct answers on certain questions.  This could be useful when you use the form for multiple periods and you want to send each class a separate URL with information for that class pre-filled.  If you prefer a video tutorial, check this out.

 

MOREnet 2015 Take Aways and Reflections

Attending an educational technology conference usually results in an overload of new tools and innovative ways to use familiar tools.  I will share a few of the best finds now–with more to come next week.

Soudnation.com allows students to create their own music from sound samples and loops (there are 700 available).  The free version does not support recording audio, but Soundnation might be useful for students wanting to create their own background tracks for videos.

Chrome Bookmark Manager is an extension that adds some functionality to your bookmarks.  After installing the extension, you still click on the star to bookmark a site.

Google Trends displays current internet trends, but also allows users to search by topic to discover interesting data on interest in the trend over time, regional interest in the trend, and related searches.

Google recently added an Explore Button in the bottom right corner of Google Sheets.  When you click the button, Sheets opens a side panel displaying graphs based on the data contained in the Google Sheet.

Tips for using existing tools more efficiently or effectively

#comments4kids is a hashtag used on Twitter by teachers seeking people outside the school to comment on their students’ writing.  This might be a way to build an authentic audience for your students.  Check out some of the Tweets using this hashtag to get a feel for how it is used.

I attended a session hosted by two teachers (@bmcd25 and @jackiepickett07) who adapted the Six Trait Writing system to video production.  They shared their presentation slides and rubrics on the MOREnet conference site (the resources are linked at the bottom of the page).

Google does not currently offer a desktop publisher (Microsoft Publisher) as part of their apps, but Google Slides can be used as a desktop publisher by setting the page size to 8.5×11. It is much easier to insert and configure text boxes and images in Slides than in Docs.  LucidPress is a great online Desktop Publisher, but this work-around in Slides may be useful in some projects.

One of my favorite parts of conferences is listening to other presenters share their insights into technology integration.  The following reflection question was raised by Bob Dillon (@ideaguy42) and is worth repeating.

When you think about educational technology, do you think about nouns or verbs?

Which is more important . . .

  • Google Hangout or collaborate?
  • Document or create?
  • Kahoot or assess?
  • Chromebook or research?
  • Twitter or connect?
  • LucidPress or design?

If we focus on the nouns (web tools and devices) we center instruction on the tools, and we have to change the nouns often as websites are shut down or replaced and devices become outdated.  When we focus on the verbs (skills and outcomes), our instructional focus is student centered and the nouns become secondary–they are the strategies we use to support students as they practice and master the verbs.

 


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