Not a Box, Resolution

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Happy New Year! Hopefully, you have had some time to relax and are ready to head back to school.  In thinking about the past year I had the chance to reflect on some  of the great things I’ve seen from local educators. Below is an article I wrote for the MACUL Journal. If you haven’t heard of MACUL, this is a non profit organization that supports teachers in the effective use of technology. Check out their website for resources and information on their yearly conference.

Every April, the Jackson County ISD Ed Tech team hosts the Connected Educator Un/Conference. It’s an incredible opportunity for educators to get together to learn from the unique classroom experiences each has to offer. During the morning kickoff, I had the honor of talking with participants about a book I had recently read to my son called, It’s Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. The book is centered on thinking about seemingly ordinary things in an imaginative or innovative way – what might be a box to one person can be something very different to someone else, it’s all a matter of perspective. In the story, the main character is repeatedly told he is sitting in a box, standing in a box, or wearing a box, but to this he repeatedly responds, “It’s not a box.” To him, it is a rocket ship, a racecar, or a mountaintop he has reached. Throughout the event I was struck by the number of educators who create magic in their classrooms – those teachers who think about things differently, those “not a box” thinkers; teachers who face obstacles and challenges, yet can engage and enhance learning with what they have been given.

For example, I had the incredible experience of building my own Brush Bot thanks to Micheal Mendvinsky, a music teacher from the Bloomfield Hills school district. A brush bot consists of a toothbrush head, a watch battery, pager motor and wires. The idea is to get your bot to move in one direction. This is an activity that he has used in his own classroom to inspire and engage his students. Mendvinsky gives no direction for creating brush bots, but allows his students to play, ask questions, and explore. Students work together to create their own bot, which will then race against other bots in the classroom. This opportunity to work together effectively builds lasting relationships in his classroom and teaches the importance of failure and redesign, and the technology is neither cutting-edge nor expensive. Interested in creating your own bot? Check out these instructions from PBS Kids.

It wasn’t only educators sharing ideas Joanne VanRaden brought her Manchester fourth grade students to teach all of us how to build our own green screen videos, and they had the room full of teachers completely energized! Do-ink is an iPad app that allows you to easily design videos using images with live video or make an animated video. Students presented on how they used Do-Ink to produce their own how-to videos. Along with green screen videos, students shared their electronic books designed with the app Book Creator. Book Creator allows students to invent E-books that can be shared with others or saved as a PDF. VanRaden’s students took pride in sharing their knowledge with the adults in the room and made sure we played and created.

With a new year upon us, I challenge you to think about what is your “not a box?” Think about the tools you have in your classroom or in your building. How might you utilize what you have available to create opportunities for learning? What will your students see in a different light? Instead of thinking outside the box, think about what types of possibilities that a box can hold. Remember it’s not about the technology, but the learning.

Beyond the Classroom, Skyping With Students

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As an instructional technology consultant I have the opportunity to see first hand how teachers are collaborating in their classrooms. I get to see lessons in action, the things that go well, the things that don’t go well, and the things that make educators cringe when it comes to using technology with students.

One of the biggest challenges with technology is the ease of use. As a teacher, it can feel like technology is one more thing to add to an already overflowing plate.  Who wants to run around trying to figure out how to log everyone into their accounts?  What if there aren’t enough devices?  These questions can dissuade, even the most seasoned educator, from implementing technology.

So what is a good option for a teacher who wants to collaborate beyond the four classroom walls, but doesn’t want the hassle of multiple accounts and devices? Is there a tool that you can use right away without having to spend hours learning how to use it?  Why yes, yes there is! By using a free tool called Skype you can have your students connect with other classrooms around the globe, you can ask professionals to speak about careers, or invite guest readers to read a book virtually.  Students can hear and see speakers they may not have had access to in the past due to distance or funding. Students can ask questions and can share ideas or how about connecting with another classroom virtually? Skype is surprisingly easy to use and best of all it’s free.

To connect on Skype for your lesson you will need to create a Skype account at www.skype.com and  a webcam on your computer or device. If you don’t have a built in web camera you can purchase them online for as little as $10.  That’s it, you are ready to Skype. Still feeling a bit hesitant? Click here for how to set up your account.

Looking for other classrooms to collaborate with? Check out Mystery Skype where students from two different locations attempt to identify where the other classroom is located based on given clues his isn’t just for geography –you could create a book club where students discuss books they are reading in the classroom, or for the younger students you could play guessing games where students use clues to identify a mystery object. Other classrooms have teamed up on a science experiment…you get the picture…the possibilities are endless!

There are classrooms everyday, everywhere looking for a Skype partners.  If you are using Twitter, follow the hashtag #mysteryskype to find classrooms looking to connect or you can access education.skype.com to find lessons and other educators interested in classroom partnerships.Want to bring an author into your classroom? Check out this website for a list of authors that will Skype with your classroom for free broken down by grade level.

As always, I would love to hear about your Skyping ideas or experiences.  Please feel free to leave a comment!

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 10.35.58 AMOver the past few weeks I have been thinking about how difficult it was as a teacher to find and implement technology tools.  I would hear about wonderful online resources I could use with my students, but finding time to implement and think of ways to fit it into my curriculum was a daunting task. As an Educational Technology Specialist, I have time to research and think about how teachers might utilize some of these resources, the past couple of weeks I have been working on creating technology projects that align with the Common Core and are practical for teachers.  I haven’t been at this long, and my plan is to create content K-5, but I wanted to get your feedback and see if these lessons might be useful. The link below will take you to my Tackk Boards for Kindergarten, if you haven’t checked out Tackk I highly recommend this tool. Please take a look and let me know what you think, as always I would love to hear how you are using technology in your classroom.

https://tackk.com/board/@staceyschuh

App Mash-Up Aurasma, Flipgrid, and Videolicious

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Over the last seven weeks I have been on maternity leave.  This time has offered me the opportunity to get to know my new little one, but also given me the opportunity to go a little stir crazy.  My husband was very excited to see me return to work, as my time spent on Pinterest caused him great grief.  While making our own soap and mason jar travel mugs, sounded like a wonderful idea to me, he saw this as added work and frankly an allergic reaction waiting to happen.

Along with my diy project plans, I also had time to play around with a tool called Aurasma.  Now Aurasma has been out for awhile, but I was trying to find a way to tie together technology and a birth announcement.  Since the birth of our first child, lots of new tools have provided opportunities to share life’s moments in new and exciting ways.  While pictures are great, I really wanted to convey some emotion about this joyous occasion. I also wanted family and friends to be able to share their thoughts and words with Charley through video.  This was a tall order, but with a little playing, and with what my friend Brad (@dreambition) likes to call an app mash-up, I think I achieved my goal.

Using the site called Snapfish I ordered birth announcements, with directions for viewing a video of Charley on the back of the card.  Snapfish is a great site , you can save pictures in albums and share those albums with others, order printed pictures, cards and much more for a reasonable price.

I wanted to create a video of Charley easily without a lot of work, remember I had to make all that soap!  I decided to use an app called Videolicious.  This app is free and the best part, lets you create amazing little 60 second videos that you can save to your camera roll. They do have a paid option if you want to create longer videos. I choose a few pictures from my iPad, recorded my voice over the pictures and added music in less than ten minutes. Videolicous would be a handy tool for creating book trailers in the classroom or having students create videos showcasing understanding, lots of uses with this one.

Using Aurasma I used Charley’s announcement as a trigger image.  Aurasma allows you to scan an image and a video pops up, now when someone scanned the announcement they could see a short video of our new little lady. I was thinking this would be a great tool to use with students.  You could share reflections of work with parents and much more.  Check out this site from Two Guys and Some iPads to learn more about how to use Aurasma and augmented reality in the classroom.

Finally, in Aurasma I added an option to tap on the video to add a video message using Flipgrid.  Flipgrid is a paid tool, but they do have a free 21 day trial to test out their product.  Flipgrid allows you to put up a question and collect video responses, it is designed by teachers and has a lot of potential for having students share their ideas and understanding. It also has management options to view videos before they are posted and password protected video pages.

While this project took a bit of time and manipulation, I wanted to share my experience with all of you. Each of the tools listed here have classroom applications, but that you can blend different tools to create what you want is something I enjoy exploring. If you have an idea for using any of these tools let me know, I love to hear from readers and share ideas.

Below is the final project with instructions on how to view.

 

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Steps to view Aurasma:

Download Aurasma on your device
Sign up
Click on ‘A’ at the bottom of screen
Click on magnifying glass (search)
Search for (type in): schuh or schuh’s channel
Click Follow
Click on brackets at bottom of screen until camera shows up
Scan picture to view video

Thinglink

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 12.37.53 PMAs I start writing this post I realize how long it has been since I have added any new items and for that I am sorry.  However; there are lots of great new tools out there to write about and the first one is Thinglink.  Thinglink actually is not that new, it has been around for a few years now, but has become very popular with teachers.  This incredible little website and iPad app allows you to upload images and “tag” certain portions of that image.  This means that if students are learning about the water cycle you can create a Thinglink they can interact with in order to learn about each portion of the cycle.  You can add text, audio, video and can embed the image on  your own blog or webpage.  There are tons of great ways to use Thinglink with students.  Below you will find a video showing how to use Thinglink as well as links to other blogs showcasing how other teachers are using this nifty tool in the classroom.  As always, I love to read your comments and please let me know how you use ThingLink with your students.

Free Technology For Teachers-65 Ways to use Thinglink in the Classroom

Getting Smart-10 Ways to Use Thinglink with Students

QR Code Generator

Over the past few weeks I have been working extensively with iPads. A lot of times I will be conducting a workshop and will put up a QR (quick response) Code for participants to scan. These QR codes may contain my contact information, links to websites, or allow participants to take a poll. There are tons of different ways to use QR Codes in the classroom. Here is a link to just a few of the ideas of how to use QR Codes in your classroom.

During my presentations, a number of participants ask me how I created my codes. Finding a code creator site is pretty easy, but there are a few that I use  regularly.

Google Shortner is a great tool for shortening long website urls and it produces a QR Code for those shortened links. Along with providing shortened urls and QR Codes, Google Shortner can give you information on the number of visitors you have had to your links and will keep a record of all your shortened codes.

The other code creator I use is called QR Stuff.  This creator allows me to not only create a QR Code for a website, but gives me many different options such as vcards for creating contact information and allows users to create calendar events.  I also love that this site allows you to create a QR Code in color.

I would love to hear how you are using QR Codes in your classroom.  Please feel free to add a comment in the comment section.