Browse Month: October 2015

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. 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.


#FOProud Twitter Challenge Kick-Off

Monday marks the beginning of the #FOProud Twitter Challenge.  The 15 day challenge runs October 5-23 (Monday through Friday) and will offer a variety of short Twitter challenges for beginning, intermediate, and advanced Twitter users.  Challenges (and links to helpful resources) will be Tweeted daily by @gilmorega at 7:00 am, and daily challenges will be included in Robbie’s daily email. (A complete list of the challenges is available here.)  This voluntary activity is designed to build collaboration and community across the entire district by using the district hashtag #FOProud in all Tweets associated with the challenge.  By following #FOProud during the course of the challenge, you will have the opportunity to engage in a district-wide conversation and connect with other Fort Osage educators.

EdCamp #FOProud will take place next Monday, Oct. 12.  Please brainstorm potential conversation topics and consider facilitating a session.  Remember that facilitating does not mean creating a presentation or being the expert.