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.  

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