Chopped Challenge, Blended Learning

One of my goals for this year is to become more transparent about my own personal growth. In my role as a developer of professional development, I often try to think of ways educators can explore and reflect on their own learning especially in regards to blended learning.

Along with my passion of learning, I also have a love of food. One of my favorite shows is Chopped which can be found on the Food Network. Chefs compete against each other to create a dish using mystery ingredients found in a basket. This got me thinking about how we could add an element of fun to professional development.

In one of our workshops we asked participants to be transparent about their learning, we asked them to create a blog to share ideas and reflect on their experiences. One of the requirements is to write a post about blended learning, but with a bit of a Chopped twist. We asked participants to use items from a mystery basket we provided (see picture) to write a blog post describing what blended learning means to them using all of the “ingredients” from the basket.

Last week I had the opportunity to listen to a keynote from the Global Read Aloud creator Pernille Ripp. One of the big take-aways for me was to do the homework you assign to students, to see what works and what doesn’t. So with that in mind, here is my attempt at doing my own homework.

Blended Learning, Recipe for Success

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Mystery Basket Items: Marshmallow, Legos, sunglasses, string and pencil

When I’m asked what blended learning means to me, I think about the importance of building on what you are already doing in the classroom. Similar to Legos, we start with our basic blocks, the things that have stood up over time. We don’t throw things out that are working, but think about how you might modify or change things that are challenging and are not working for our students.

There will always be traditional ways of teaching that work best, just replacing a pencil with a device doesn’t change the learning, using a device doesn’t mean the experience is any better.

Blended learning also challenges us to be pliable, think of a marshmallow, sometimes you will try an activity and it will go well, but at times you may need to manipulate and change that activity- make a Smore! For those students that need a challenge, push them to think deeper.

Finally, blended learning challenges us to make learning applicable and authentic. How can we string together all of our content areas and experiences in a way that has students deepening their own thinking as well as challenging other’s ideas?

Blended learning is a journey, sometimes things will be messy, but in thinking about how blended learning is personalizing and supporting all students, I have to say, the future is so bright, I think I might need to wear shades.

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolution

Create your own Bitmoji by visiting https://goo.gl/ugZtPL .

One of my resolutions for this new year is to write and share. It has been a year since my last post, so as you can surmise this whole resolution thing doesn’t always pan out for me, but if given the choice of “give up cupcakes” or “write” I will definitely be writing more, I’ll probably be eating a cupcake while doing it.

When working with educators I get asked frequently about how I keep current on all the changes in the world of educational technology. My answer is always, “It’s my job and I have time”.

Most teachers can barely eat lunch during the day, let alone search the web for resources. As a teacher I could never find time to learn about..well anything! When I wasn’t in my classroom I was preparing for being in my classroom.

I loved teaching, but decided I really wanted to work and learn from other educators. As a blended learning coach, I have an opportunity to see how teachers are using technology to change learning. It’s amazing what students are creating and how teachers are changing the traditional classroom landscape.

One set of tools I can’t live without is Google G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Education).  Below you will find a presentation with a correlating handbook on different ways to use Google products in the classroom.  In each of these items I have added screenshots and ways you can use Google products in your classroom. You will also find resources from other bloggers and educators who I think do a great job of sharing.  I hope you will find this useful and as always let me know what you think. Happy New Year!

Click here for copy of the handbook that supports this presentation.

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.

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

Read a test to students using an iPad

This week I had an opportunity to talk with a teacher about supporting her classroom instruction through technology.  One of her biggest complaints was that she didn’t have time to read tests to students in her classroom.  She wanted to help all of her students, but was being pulled in multiple directions and wanted to find a solution.  This particular teacher has an iPad in her classroom and in talking with her we found a way that would allow students to have tests read aloud to them.

Now this teacher does not have a classroom set of iPads or banks of computers, but by using this one technique she was able to save herself time and help her students.  Below is a video outlining how we  used the iPad to fit her classroom instructional needs.

Read Text to Students from stacey schuh on Vimeo.

Go Animate

Want to create your own cartoon?  With Go Animate you can easily and quickly create cartoons for students on a variety of different topics. You can also have students create their own videos to share ideas or give life to writing pieces.  To show you how easy it is, I have enlisted the help of my three year old son. Below is a video we created in our dining room in about two minutes.  Please excuse the under developed plot:

Check out our Go Animate here

Go Animate Tutorial from stacey schuh on Vimeo.

Booksource Library Organizer

I’ll be the first to admit it, I am not the most organized person. In my classroom I had a large library where students could borrow books.  The problem with my classroom library was keeping it organized. I could never keep track of the books and worse I wasn’t able to recommend books for different student reading levels.  I tried many systems that were time consuming and difficult to manage, I lost books constantly and students couldn’t identify books that were best for them.

Recently, I stumbled upon a site from Booksource that helps with organizing your classroom library. As I looked over the site and features I knew it would be a hit. The Library Organizer allows teachers to use their smart devices to scan ISBN codes from the back of books or type in ISBN codes.  The Book Organizer keeps track of books using this scanning system, but it also provides information on reading levels and possible AR points, page counts, and more.  Students or teachers can return books online or by scanning the ISBN.  This tool is amazing and a huge time saver with many features and best of all it is free.

Below, you will find an introduction video along with a video from the company, I would love to hear how each of you is using this resource in your classroom or any issues you may have with this resource.

BookSource’s Book Organizer from stacey schuh on Vimeo.