Tuesday, December 13, 2016

TMST: Holiday Learning Edition

TRUTH:  Holidays are for family, recharging and giving ourselves a much needed break.

This break, I hope you take time for doing just that.  

Image created using Canva
TRUTH: Despite the fact that our priorities are set for the above activities, and our intent to not work might be totally real, most of us will still end up working at some point over break.

We educators are planners.  We get itchy to get a "jump" on things.  When this happens to you, keep in mind the following:

TRUTH:  No one will judge you if you don't work.

TRUTH: No one will judge you if you do.

And in that spirit, if you want to take some of that time to learn, you might want to begin one of 3 implementation challenges my team is offering through this winter/next spring.  

All of the challenges are set up so that you can learn at your own pace to earn up to 6 hours of credit, but you decide how much or how little you choose to complete.  Choose from:

You can access Blogging 2.0 and Schoology Fireside from the links above in our DLC PL course...see me for the code if you are not already a member!

Image created using Canva

Happy Holidays and for some of you,
Happy Learning because...

TRUTH: Learning in different and new ways is still learning.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

TMST: Holiday Apester Interactives

You may have noticed that it is not a Tuesday.  Welcome to the holiday season, folks.  If you aren't running behind on something, congratulations!  Tis the season for me to be a bit behind...so welcome to Teach Me Something Tuesday a day late...

Learning doesn't stop just because the holidays are upon us, though many kids might disagree.  As we dream of Santa visits, family traditions, Menorah lights and most importantly TIME OFF FOR BREAK, it can be hard to stay focused.  So this week, I am having some fun while learning about a new interactive tool called Apester.

I could tell you what it is and you could spend a ton of time reading about it, but why not take a look at the holiday fun I created using it instead?

Images borrowed under creative commons from pixabay.com and flicker.com.

Images borrowed under creative commons from pixabay.com and flicker.com.

Embed customized quizzes, polls, video polls and more to your classroom website, blog or Schoology course.  Let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

TMST: More Hour of Code FUN!

The countdown is on...Hour of Code starts on Monday!  Yes, I am a little obsessed.  In my blog here, I broke down some ways to participate and get yourself started in designing. This week, I have had so much fun talking to educators about plans and helping them work on designs that I couldn't resist blogging about it again.  

Technology Ted loves to code at code.org
The refreshing thing to me is that Hour of Code is what you make of it.  

For example, one of the houses of K-5 learners I work with is hosting their Hour Of Code playdate style - with experiences set up in each classroom each day of the week that learners of all ages can choose from. Since they do Challenge Based Learning and are actively involved in the big idea of Discovery,  their challenge for the week's activities will be  based around the challenge, "Discover how programmers think".  They are including robotics like Code-a-pillar and BlueBots, unplugged activities, and a variety of apps and sites.  Throughout the week, they'll have learners documenting the experiences so that a reflection video can be constructed and shared.

At my other campus, educators are diving into the Hour of Code in different ways.  For example, one educator is setting up a more guided experience for her learners.  They'll be introduced to the concept of coding and its role in the real world.  Then, the learners will sign up at code.org and track their process in one of the pre-made courses.  They will figure out how many lines of code they can complete as a class over the course of several days.  Once they have learned from the unplugged and plugged activities, they will have an opportunity to apply what they have learned in other apps and programs.  They too, will document in a video.

I'm excited to see what other amazing things will happen - these are just 2 ideas.  For more ideas on how you can structure your Hour of Code, check out these resources and events:

  • Read over ideas shared during the Hour of Code #cisdchat from Tuesday Nov. 29  
  • Participate in the #cisdchat "slow chat" throughout the week of Dec. 5-9.
  • Review more ideas in the DLC's Hour of Code Smore
  • Get with your DLC or other amazing educators on campus - we have ideas!

So I hope sharing these ideas helps to remind YOU that we are better when we share ideas together.  I hope some of these ideas for implementing the Hour of Code inspire you!  

Happy Coding!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

TMST: Google Webinar

I am beyond lucky to work with some other amazing Digital Learning Coaches.  Last week, our Google project team produced an outstanding Webinar.  

I attended it mainly because I wanted to support them and what I got from it was so much more.  I learned a ton about Google Forms, Drawings and Slides...even though I felt pretty proficient in them already.  

Sometimes learning surprises you.  It did for me that night.  So often we think, "yeah, I already know that tool" when we have only scratched the surface of what learning design potential can be there.  Luckily, my mindset was open and because of that, I was able to see some things in a new light.  

So today for TMST, I urge you to take time to check out the Webinar recording.  Fast forward what you know, but be open to learning what you might not.  

After viewing the recording, I'd LOVE to design with you with some new ideas in mind!  Let me know in the comments what resonated with you!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Coming Soon #Hourofcode

The Hour of Code is coming!!  A nationwide week to celebrate computer science in our classrooms, this week allows our learners to experience coding in all forms as educators set aside an hour through the week to DEAC - drop everything and code.

While we are working to embed the problem solving skills involved in learning the language of coding into our classroom experiences all year round, the Hour of Code week allows us to set aside time to learn and explore with other learners throughout the globe. 

Learning is way more fun together!
How can my classroom participate?
  • Follow #hourofcode on Twitter for more ideas and use it to share out what you do!
For more tips, check out Code.org's educator guide or check in with your DLC!  

You don't have to be an expert, just let them fly!
Your DLC can help you by...
  • acting as a thought partner when you are designing experiences
  • pinpointing age appropriate activities to add to your stations, ports or menus
  • helping you to learn more about and get access to different types of robotics
Don't forget that the DLC's have items like Code-a-pillars, Osmo Coding, Ozobots, and more that can be checked out and used by our campuses.  If you are interested, reach out early as all campuses will be celebrating the Hour of Code that week!

Many robots use block coding and written coding to come to life!
I never thought in my life that I would become passionate about computer programming, but trust me, after seeing the fire in our kids' eyes, you'll be hooked too!

How will your class be participating in the #hourofcode?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

TMST: Split Screen, Yes Please!

While I am working on a superfly post about the Hour of Code for later this week, I thought I'd give you a couple of nuggets of awesome for Teach Me Something Tuesday.

Have you ever noticed something on your technology but completely ignored it until the day where you were just curious enough to fall down a rabbit hole and tap/click around?

That was totally me and split screen for Mac and the multitasking features on my iPad.  

Split screen basically lets you multi-app, interacting with 2 apps or programs at the same time on your iPad or MacBook.  

For a girl who used to have 2 monitors in my past job, this is an efficiency game changer.  

Need to copy and paste something from Google Docs into Pages?  Done.
Need to refer to data or a rough draft while creating a final project or video? Easy.
Want to watch Netflix while working on lesson plans? Go Crazy. (Kidding.  Kind of.)

Getting ready to record a Shadow Puppet video while referencing my script in Google Docs on my iPad.

Checking up on my campus Twitter feeds on my Mac while writing this blog post.

I think you get the idea!  Learn more by following the links below:

Did you like this post? Keep your eyes open for some upcoming professional learning from your DLC's...we will be sharing more "Apple Gems" soon!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Upcoming Digital Learning Opportunities

Want to learn more about the digital learning opportunities happening this year?  Check out the link below to learn more about what is coming up!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

TMST: Twitter Sanity

I am often asked, "Alli, how do you keep up with all the things?"  While I stifle my laughter since most of the time I feel like I am drowning just like everyone else, my mind always ends up at Twitter.  

I know.  Twitter.  

Image Credit: Roobee

You either love it or hate it.  To honest, I hated it too circa 2009.  I laughed at people who felt the need to update everyone on everything in their lives.  I just didn't get it.

These days, you might say I am slightly addicted to Twitter.  It is my #1 place to get news, professional learning and discussion from others passionate about education like me.  I follow approximately 1,000 people and if I have one beef, it is how overwhelming having access to all that information can be.

So here is one secret of how I keep up with "all the things" - 


In my profile, I created lists of people and groups so that I can drown out the noise and filter only information that I want to see.  I have lists for each campus and for my other digital learning coaches.  I can follow other people's public lists too.

Take a quick look at this video to learn more about how to use lists to keep your Twitter sanity in check.

Video made with the OpenTest Google Chrome Extension  https://www.opentest.co/

What lists would you make to help you keep up with "all the things"?  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

TMST: This post is EPIC!

Have you ever wished you had a library of digital books that was customized to the interests of each learner from your class? What if those books were not only digital, but included read to me and audiobooks as well?

Well, my friends, meet Epic!

No, Epic! is not some brand new, shiny digital tool that will transform your entire classroom world with one click or tap.  One app rarely can.  In case you missed my earlier posts, learning is not about the tool.  

But Epic! is an app that provides an online digital library that is customized to learner interest.  It won't solve every problem you ever had, but it can be a great resource in your toolbelt to promote reading and provide learners with different reading choices.

It isn't new, but it has purpose.  

For the learner who's read everything in your classroom library.  For the time you wish the library had just a few more weather books.  For the reader that just isn't feeling motivated to read unless it means they get to read about what they are passionate about. For the learner who struggles to read but could listen to reading.

Epic is free for educators. Simply set up an account, set the age of your kids, and then create a profile for each of your learners. With a tap, they will get to select books that THEY want to read or have read to them.  

Fostering a love of reading is not just about technology, but when the two meet, amazing things can happen.

And that, to me, is pretty Epic!

What tool is not new to you, but serves a meaningful purpose worth mentioning?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TMST: My Recap of RecapThat

Once upon a time it was summer.  I enjoyed long days of relaxing by the pool. I stayed up late and binge-watched a ton of Netflix. Back in those lazy days, I excitedly saved a ton of things from my Twitter feed, thinking I had plenty of time to explore and tell our educators all about them later.  

And then, well, the school year happened.

As I slowly dig myself out from under the first quarter of the school year, I did something I very rarely remember to do.  I circled back.

And so...I give you...my Recap of RecapThat, a great video reflection resource that almost went forgotten in my bookmarks.  

RecapThat in Action

Image used with permission from RecapThat

RecapThat is a video reflection curation tool.  As an educator, I set up an account and class on the web version of RecapThat.  Kids are able to join the class by email address or class code.  (I chose to use the class code - so easy).   Recap lets you record and/or write a prompt question(s) to "assign" to the learners. When ready to use in class, learners access the prompts assigned to them through the RecapThat App and record video reflections that are submitted back to the educator account. 

One secret of being a DLC - it is not as much fun to test things by yourself.  So I launched a "Pryor Takeover" of my friend, Delaney Allison's class. The 3rd graders were engaged and thoughtful as they wrote a quick post it note plan of what their 30 second video would say. They joined the class using our class code, listened to my video instruction of the prompt and were OFF to record their own!

Planning is key!
As learners submitted their responses, I could monitor their submissions through the web version in my educator account.  This was helpful for pacing the lesson and to monitor the quality of what they sent.  If needed, Ms. Allison and I would have been able to leave them comments on their submissions too!
Engaged 3rd graders = success!

The Verdict

First of all, anything that lets our learners pause to reflect and is simple enough for K-5 kids to use gets a star in my book.  That being said, here are my top 3 things I enjoyed about this experience:

  • It was easy for the learners to do independently after a quick mini - lesson from me and their "Jr." teacher, Luke.  We used Reflector (Apple TV would work too) and showed his work through the process for 5 minutes before asking the kids to work on their own contributions.

Some data from the "Pryor Takeover"
  • At the end of each video submission, learners are asked to do a quick formative self check for understanding.  They tap a thumbs up, a thumb held horizontally or one that is thumbs down to indicate if they "get it" or not.  This data can be so helpful in plotting the next steps of an experience or unit.

  • Not only can you as the educator view all of the videos submitted by your class, but RecapThat compiles a Daily Review Reel for each assignment.  This showcase video randomly pulls several videos that have been submitted and can be shared with the class, parents or via social media.

RecapThat would be great for quick end of the day or lesson reflections, as a way for learners to verbally process their learning or as a tool for gathering reflection through a CBL unit.  

How could you see using RecapThat to give your learners more of a voice in the classroom?  Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

TMST: Little Kids Can

To those who know me and my obsession with puppets, this post will come as no surprise. After all, a Kindergarten teacher turned Digital Learning Coach has a huge soapbox to stand on.  Why?  

Because little kids can.

We've come a long way from sand tables and letter of the week. Why?

Because little kids can.

Our learners now have a world at their fingertips and have never known a world with no internet. They are not afraid to click and tap and explore.  Why?

Because little kids can.

Last week, I focused my learning on exploring a range of apps by Duck Duck Moose, the makers of Chatterpix Kids. They produce a bunch of easy to use apps that are FREE.  One I loved in particular is the Draw and Tell app, which lets our kids illustrate, write and record stories that can have multiple scenes.  

I couldn't just learn on my own...so I asked some 1st graders to help.  Why not?  They took
about 10 minutes with me to learn the basics of the app and some expectations for the
lesson on the iPad using Reflector (Apple TV would work just as well) and then split up to create some masterpieces in pairs.

After only a few minutes, we had recorded age appropriate facts about bats and owls were ready to share to photos and then to their SeeSaw portfolios.  THAT SIMPLE.

This awesome experience happened because little kids CAN.

But hear me when I say this...just because little kids can, doesn't mean that they should. Our kids need to be exposed to learning that is age appropriate - in both digital and analog formats. That's what I love about Draw and Tell, but remember, it really isn't just about an app. We need to be purposeful about what we share and the experiences that we design. Our kids have so much more thinking potential in them than just an app or a game or a pencil or a card sort.

They need to experience and talk and write and think and do just as much as they need to be engaged and excited.  They need us.  To guide them and learn with them.  To take risks and dream with them. 

Because if we believe in little kids and their abilities to learn, then little kids will.

And truthfully, the same is true if you substitute the word "we"  and "us" in place of "little kids" and "they".

Because we can.  And if we keep an open mindset, then we will.

I'd love to hear about a time when YOUR learners (or you) proved that "little kids can", even if they (or you) aren't so little!  Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

TMST - Writer's Block

A blank page with a dark blinking cursor sits mocking me tonight.  

The truth is, I wrote a whole post already and stocked it in my drafts for another time, another day.  It is a reflective post and I will publish it soon.  But today is Teach Me Something Tuesday and my brain is flooded with other ideas...which one to pick? 

The cursor blinks...

It's also true that even a blogger gets writer's block. Blogger's block, if you will.  It reminds me of why we should all say thanks for the special individuals that teach 4th grade writing. EEK.

Image created at imageflip.com
So in lieu of amazing written insight tonight, I give you 3 digital strategies that could help when your learners (or you) have writer's block.

Writer's Block Remedy #1: Map it out.
Sometimes thinking needs to be visible before it is coherent.  Why not draw or map out ideas using Popplet or Ideament app?  Learners who thrive when working together could use the meeting component of the Baiboard app to sketch ideas in real time with a partner. Pencil and paper can even be shared and documented digitally with a quick snap of a picture and upload.

Writer's Block Remedy #2: Talk it out.
Use a recording app or tool to talk through your ideas.  Sometimes verbal processing can unlock an idea you never knew you had.   A simple one to use would be the Voice Record Pro app.  Simply start recording, talk it out and then play it back.  One of my favorites of these is the embedded tool "Voice Typing" in Google Docs. Simply go to the tools menu in a doc and select it, allow your microphone, press the mic icon and it types what you say!  We've had 1st graders do some amazing work by talking it through and then editing the words that are typed. 

Writer's Block Remedy #3:  Try a different format.
Who said all writing has to be a long paper?  Expose your learners to some new formats for writing digitally.  You might be shocked at what they can come up with!  

  • Create a comic or graphic novel with one of these awesome tools.
  • Use the Write about This app to access picture prompts, type and record audio thoughts.
  • Create digital stories that are animated with the Draw and Tell App
  • Expose your learners to reflection through a daily blogpost!  Blogging is a great way to get in the habit of writing! Connect posts to passions and the sky is the limit!
  • Allow your learners to grow as authors by publishing stories via Book Creator or iBooks Author.  An authentic audience can be very motivating...

Speaking of authentic audiences, thanks for reading!  What are YOUR writer's block remedies?  How do you promote writing in your class?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

TMST: Becoming a SLACKer

I am becoming more efficient this year by becoming a SLACKer.

You might be thinking, wait, what?  How is that possible?  

While I am working to put my motto of "do less, better" into place as much as possible, it's not what you think.
Image made with Canva

What I am really referring to is a new tool my team is using to help us be more productive and efficient called Slack.  Through the Slack site/iOS app/Mac app, teams can work together by sharing messages, chat streams, documents and a virtual workspace.  

My team has always used Skype as a backchannel, Trello for project management and Google Drive for collaboration. For a satellite team like mine that must work closely without being in the same physical space, tools like these are crucial.   But Slack is like Skype ON STEROIDS and it integrates with other apps like Google Drive and Trello.    

Image credit: Slack
I admit, I was skeptical to try something new when my team started using it, but I can't deny now that it is a more organized way to work.  I could see Slack being very helpful for district teams and groups, vertical teams and even educators that need to have a virtual workspace for communication with their grade level teams.

Want to learn more?  Watch Slack's tour video here or ask me for a quick demo!  I am learning new things about Slack everyday and would love to share!

How does your team stay connected and productive?  Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Schoology and Parents

Schoology can be an amazing management system for your classroom digital workflow.  It also can support the home to school connection when parents are able to participate as well.  This post is designed to outline how Schoology can be used by parents and share key resources for educators using Schoology with parents.

Parents can access Schoology with their child by having the learner login at www.schoology.coppellisd.com.

Parents can also access Schoology with a parent acccount that can be set up at www.schoology.com using the preferred contact email given to Coppell ISD and going to FORGOT PASSWORD.  To learn more about setting up parent accounts, click here.

Using a parent account is beneficial because:
  • A parent can see ALL of their children in one account
  • Course updates and due dates can be easily accessed
  • Assignments and work submitted can be viewed

Interested in learning more?  

Check out the CISD Schoology and Parents Page

Learn more about the differences between parent and student accounts.

Check out the video below from Schoology about parent view.

Schoology Parent Overview from Schoology on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

TMST: Skitch

This is NOT a drill.

Y'all.  SKITCH is back. 

No, I am not referring to Lilo's friend from that cute movie.  I am referring to one of my TOP 10 favorite apps that was taken OUT of the App store for some CRAZY reason.

Skitch for iPad is officially back in the app store, which means that our learners can get back to annotating images to their hearts content without being forced to use only Skitch for Mac (which is also great, check it out here).

Why is this so important to me?  With the Skitch app, learners can:

  • Snap a picture of a text they are reading and use the highlighter to locate key vocabulary or spelling rules during word work.
  • Create captions for images to be added to a class book.
  • Practice locating and labeling non-fiction text features.
  • Locate shapes, lines, angles, etc. "hiding" in famous art or in their own photographs.
  • Label parts of  body systems, food webs, weather cycles, flowers, etc.
  • Annotate a map with regions, cardinal directions or important landmarks.

Don't take it only from me.  Check out these awesome resources to learn more about how educators are using Skitch in the classroom!

I'd write more, but some awesome images are begging me to create them using Skitch!  What can YOU and your learners create using Skitch? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

TMST: An Apple A Day

I was once told that it is important for us as educators to remember what learning feels like.  To do this, we must actively involve ourselves in learning new things.  

Last week, Apple released its Apple Teacher program, which is a professional learning challenge to help educators learn more about using iPads and Macs in an educational setting.  This self-paced challenge provides educators several modes (Multi-touch book, help site, or from the Apple store)  in which to learn about using Mac and iPad in education.  Upon successful completion of a quick 5 question assessment for different skills, educators earn electronic badges.  

To me, this was a perfect way for me to remember what learning feels like.  

I immediately went into NERD mode and began the program.  On a Friday night.   Yep, I'm super cool.  But the neat part was that a few of my awesome CISD friends were also doing it too.  Back and forth we went on Twitter and I was reminded how fun learning can be when it is "together". Friendly competition helps too. 

I worked my way through badges, sometimes skipping the resources and taking quizzes, other times studying and using the interactive activities in the Multi-touch books.  It is powerful what happens when we can choose the path of our own learning.

Sometimes, I struggled, thinking I knew a process but getting a step wrong here or there. Not everything came easily, but the feedback I got when working on my quizzes helped redirect my learning so I could try again.

And then, I DID IT.  I made it through all the iPad and Mac badges and became a 2016 Apple Teacher.  It felt good to have that recognition, like I accomplished something.  I was proud of the work I had done. 

So my Teach Me Something Tuesday takeaway is this: immerse yourself in a learning process.  You might just find that not only can you gain new knowledge, but you can deepen your understanding of how important the PROCESS of learning is.

Who's next to become an Apple Teacher 2016?  I hereby challenge YOU my blog readers...comment below when you make it!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

TMST: Schoology FAQ

Since I cheated a bit on Teach Me Something Tuesday, I thought I'd give you a bonus edition this week.  Without further ado, here is TMST:  Thursday Edition.  Our topic today?  Schoology Frequently Asked Questions.

Yesterday, I gave one of my campuses a small Schoology sprinkle at their faculty meeting. I'm excited to be supporting them as they go deeper into Schoology this year and will be providing FedEx sessions, Team Time trainings and 1 on 1 support as the year goes on.  As with all new things, this kind of follow up is essential.  

Being the believer I am in responsive teaching, however, I wanted to take this post to answer some of the questions that came from yesterday's quick sprinkle.  Hopefully it can help!  I decided to do it "vlog" style so please enjoy the quick videos below!

Do I have to use the courses made for my class in Schoology or can I build my own?

How do I get Schoology on my Schoolwires page?  What does that even mean?

What do parents see in Schoology?

EEK! Where do I even begin? What can my course look like?

Have more questions?  Hit me up in the comments section, ask me in person or if you are at CCE, check the CCE Faculty Course in the Digital Learning folder for some Schoology Gems!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

TMST: Priorities

Warning: This is not your "typical" Teach Me Something Tuesday.  I promise to get back to dazzling you with amazing digital learning strategies soon, but this Tuesday, I have something else in mind.

My Aunt passed away this weekend.  I haven't told many people.  She was 90 and lived an amazing life making her family happy and perfecting the most amazing cheesecake and strawberry pies I have eaten (sorry, Mom).  It is hard being away from my family as the service will be held in my hometown up north.

The reason I share this is for 2 reasons...

The first is an answer to a popular question I get asked a lot.  People assume because I am a digital learning coach that I am obsessed with technology.  They ask if I have always been "techy".  The answer is usually that I am naturally curious and like learning in all forms, tech included.  The truth is, what made me "techy" is the need for connection.  With my parents and family in other states, I sought ways to connect.  Technology helped me to do that.  This week more than ever, when I can't be there, I am thankful for connection and the technology that helps me "be there" without being there.

The second is simple.  We all get busy.  We all have need to dos and have to dos.  This time of year more than ever, I feel that and I know the educators I work with do too.  But truthfully, it is our connections with others that must take priority.  You don't know when you will have another chance to make someone's day.  

It seems small, but that's my message today. Take time to make connections in person, digitally, in writing, in voice, in video, in silly snapchat messages, whatever.  It's worth it.

Thanks for helping me connect today and for reading.  

Image created at https://pablo.buffer.com


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