Sunday, July 28, 2013

RockStar Resources

Prepping to present at a "make and take" style professional development is about making sure participants have access to tools and examples.  To make sure the teachers I am working with at the CUE Rockstar Teacher camp have access to tools and tutorials, I built this Livebinder.
The focus of the session is flipped learning resources and strategies.  If you have resources you want to add to this binder, please leave me a link in the comments.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to Stop Spamming on Twitter

If you have spent much time on Twitter chances are you have been spammed and you have also been used to spam your followers.  The recent spam messages look like this: a single word and a link.
You may find that you have sent these messages to your followers.  A simple way to correct of avoid this is to be sure to audit which apps you allow access to your twitter account.  Every time you use twitter to log in to a service like the now-expired Tweet Cleaner you grant the site permission to get into your twitter account and other to send messages on your behalf to your followers.  In short you often grant these sites permission to use your account to spam your followers.
Here is a quick guide to revoking access to your account.  Note that this works best whn logged into your account through the web browser of your computer
Click the Settings Gear
Click on "Settings"

Click on "Apps"
Be amazed at how many apps have access to your account

Click "Revoke access"
When I did this I found I had over 50 apps that had access to my account, I whittled it down to 10.  Hopefully this will mean I won't be spamming my followers with erroneous Direct Messages.  If you have other tips for tweeting teachers please leave them in the comments.  Thanks.

How to Prep like a Rockstar

Next week I will be sharing a unique learning space with a bunch of great teachers.  We will be on the USS Hornet, an aircraft carrier for the final CueRockstar Teacher Camp of the summer.

I am really excited to be presenting with Cheryl Morris.  We will be talking about the tools we use to create video and audio recordings.  We will also be talking about the pedagogy of asynchronous instruction and the many ways "flipped" tools can support learning in a traditional class environment; our session is called "Flipping on the FlightDeck."

Before we put on our flight suits and face Jon Corippo for inspection, we have some prep to do, and so do the teachers attending.  Since I was thinking through all of this stuff I figured I would put it in a blog and share it.

Prepping for Learning at a Tech Conference

1. Make Room for Learning.
  • Clear your memory on your phone.  You need all the room you can for pictures, video, and audio recordings.  Upload the pictures from your Bryce Canyon trip to Flickr (1TB) now so you don't have to delete your awesome selfies later.  
  • Get more storage.  You know that 1TB external hard drive you have been thinking about getting? do it now.  Here are 5 for under 100 dollars.
  • Get more cloud space.  Google Drive (5GB), (2GB), (15GB) all offer free starter accounts.  The files you store here are also sharable.  You are going to make new friends at the conference and you will want to share.
  • Clean up your cloud.  I was looking through my cloud accounts and noticed about 3 GB of overlap.  So I took some of my triple redundant storage down to double redundant.
2. Preload Software and Apps  You don't want to be the person hogging all the bandwidth in the room to download a piece of software, so load it ahead of time.  Here are a few platforms we will be using in our sessions.
  • Camtasia (screen cast and video production software for Mac or PC)- you can get a 30 day free trial version
  • ShowME app for IPAD an IWB platform and so much more -Free
  • Snagit (screen capture and screen cast software for PC or MAC) -30 day free trial
  • Ustream Producer (Live Broadcast platform for PC or Mac)- 30 day free trial 
  • Reflector App (uses airplay yo mirror your ios device to Mac of PC) -12.99
  • Puppet Pals App (a creative movie maker that allows you to build puppet shows on your IOS device) -free all access version 2.99
  • Evernote (Mac, PC, All devices store and share resources, record audio and embed into a document then share via URL) 
Check out the notes for each session to make sure you are setting yourself up for success! Don't be afraid of over preparing. 

3. Plan for Success, Pack like a Rockstar Jon and the Cue crew have worked hard to make this even a success, but there is still room for you to do your part.  Here are a few things you can bring.
  • Power strip -grab one and put it in your bag
  • Chargers for all your devices
  • Back up battery
  • Projector, yes if you have a spare and want to bring it I am sure it will get used.  You could even launch a rouge session at lunch
  • Devices- bring all your toys, you know you want to 
  • Video camera -so many sessions are about creating video, don't just rely on your device, bring your camera.
4. PD best practices Just a few tips for successful learning in a conference space.
  • When you are not directly using a device log off of the Wifi, they are planning on wifi for each participant, but if we all have 4 devices logged in it can really slow the system down.
  • Speak up and share out you are here to learn with more than learn from.  Ask questions, tweet out what you learn, blog the heck out of the day. 
  • Stay focused on your classroom and how to use the tools presented to meet your education goals.  
  • Remember to build relationships as well as skills.  Skills are finite and need refreshing and relationships have endless potential and refresh constantly.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why do Teachers like Kidblog?

I have been talking with many people recently about Kidblog. Kidblog ended up being the center of my ISTE presentation, as well as the platform I used to teach writing in the summer bridge program, Dawson College Bound.  Crafting a post about "why Kidblog" is a great way to share this conversation with a wider audience and to get more people involved in the thinking we as teachers have to do in order to use a tech tool in a meaningful way.

I started this post on twitter, I asked teachers why use Kidblog and I collected their responses.  I also grabbed some tweets from a recent #CAEDCHAT on paperless teaching.  Check out these responses as well as the linked posts about kidblog and blogging.

I love Lisa Lund's response and that is where I decided to start this post.

Lisa says she likes KidBlog because it is safe, easy to use, no email needed,created by an educator, and free.  Her reasons closely match my own experience.

Kidblog is a blogging platform designed for teachers to use with students.  The setting allow you to restrict the level of visibility of your blog from completely private, only the teacher can see posts, to completely public, like a regular public blog.

The teacher can also choose to moderate all of the posts.  I like to do this so I know that someone has looked at each post before it goes live.  I don't do this for editing, I do this for the community.  I want to make sure that the students are posting work that in appropriate and caring.

Once the students can read each other's posts and comment on them a second level of "safety by design"
becomes visible.  All of the comments can be moderated or even disabled.  As a teacher I can leave students "private" comments that only they can see and I can edit comments others leave if I feel the need to.  So far we have been lucky and the comments readers have left on the class blog have been great, I also haven't had any issue with spam comments, which is a small miracle considering some of my other blogging experience.

Easy To Use
This summer I was successful using Kidblog with 100 students 5 days a week because it was so easy to use. When I needed my students to do something new with Kidblog I generally could make a screencast, talk through it once in class while showing them what to do and set them loose.  I posted the screencast to google drive because our web filter did not allow us to use Youtube, here is a collection of my "How to use KB" posts.
Kidblog is not the world's most flexible blogging platform, they have limited the choices down to a manageable number, this keep it from being overwhelming (or easily breakable.)  The ease of use partly benefits the students as it keeps them from being frustrated with the platform.  After just a bit of instruction they almost ignore the interface and focus on the post they are writing.  Moreso, the design benefits the teacher.  I can make changes in settings or site design quickly.  When I need to moderate posts all of that work is in the same place.  I can search posts by user, tag, or words in the post.  I enjoyed how quickly I could find a specific student post even once we had over 700 posts on the site.

No email required
Students sign up my entering a "secret code" you give them and a user name and password.  You can also register students yourself by uploading a spreadsheet of user names and passwords.  This makes it very simple to get kids on the site without the hassle of remembering which email was used or the barrier that many younger students don't yet have email accounts.
The other option it allows is signing in with your google profile.  I enjoy this as it speeds up the login process and allows me to sign in with 2 clicks and not typing.  This is another great example of how Kidblog had been developed to best serve teachers and students.

Designed by a Teacher
Matt Hardy, co-founder of Kidblog, built the first version of KidBlog to serve his own classroom.  I was lucky enough to talk with him at the 2012 EdcampSFBay.  Before our conversation OI was concerned about safety and workflow of a blog.  After our conversation I was inspired and on fire.  I knew I had to bring blogging into my classes.

At some point in the future I know we will talk again and when that happens I will have a camera rolling. Luckily Achieve MLPS had him speak for their EdTalks series.

In an age of freemium and pay to play Kidblog remains free for teachers to use with class sizes up to 200 students.  There are some great upgrades in the works for KidBlog, but their dedication to free access for teachers is unchanging.  Thanks KidBlog!

A common question about Kidblog:
This is a great question and one I had as I began using KidBlog with my 9th grade students: would they be turned off by the name?  I was impressed by how quickly they took to the blog.  While the name may be Kidblog, there are a great selection of themes that can give their blogs a personal and mature look.

What are your questions about kidBlog?
Do you use Kidblog with your class?
Do you use another platform?

Share your links and questions below.  I look forward to talking with you about blogging with students of all ages.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Go PaperlessClassroom?

I had the privilege of co-moderating the 7/14/13 #CAEDCHAT about running a paperless classroom with Jen Roberts and Ryan Archer.  The goal of the chat was to talk about the reasons why someone would go paperless and to have some teachers share their paperless journey.

Why go paperless?

There is an obvious ecological argument.  As a classroom teacher I have the potential to use an astounding amount of paper in a day.  Using round figures, if I have 3 handouts in a day and I see 100 students that is 300 pieces of paper.  The standard school year has 180 days, so if 3 handouts is my average that is (180 x 300) = 54000 pieces of paper, in my room alone.  If these students see 5 teachers in a day and they all have 3 handouts a day (54000 x 5)= 270,000.  This assumes that the handouts are one page of course, so the real numbers are much higher. When I find a news story I want to share with my class it might be 12-15 pages long.  With numbers like this, it isn't hard to see why we keep talking about paper usage at staff meetings.

Paper is woefully inefficient data storage.  We use paper to store and transfer data.  When I was talking to some teachers at ISTE I realized one of my biggest problems with paper has to do with workflow.  When we create a paper-based document we create a document that takes a good deal of time to manage.  Students have to retrieve the document one by one from the folder as they walk in the door.  Worse yet they have to wait while I pass the document out.  We have also created a document that can be easily lost or destroyed.  Paper has no undo button.  Once it is over-highlighted, crumpled in the bottom of a page, or eaten by the proverbial dog that is it, it is done.  We have to return to the source and get another copy.
Photo by Zen Leprechaun on Flicker 

Paper is hard to transport.  If you are an English teacher you can skip this part because you know there is no tote bag that will hold 40 student notebooks. As I watch the sea of turtles leave the school wobbling under the weight of their giant shells it is clear that one of 2 things needs to happen, we need to figure out how to make kids carry less paper, or we need to give them pack mules.  When I think about the number of students who have left papers behind in my class or come to me asking for another copy because they can't find the first or second one I gave them, I know this transport issue is about more than just packing the work in and out of school.  It is also about tracking the paper.  While I know we need to teach kids to keep track of handouts and use folders efficiently, when I ask them to make sure they don't lose a handout, half of them take out their phones and take a picture of it.

Paper is not searchable.  Although I am not an early adopter of Evernote, it is one of the few web services I pay my own money for and the reason I do that is the search function.  I can keyword search my PDF library using Evernote.  This is a great time saver to me.  The model I am moving away from involves binders and sheet protectors.  I would try to organize the handouts I was using in the class in these binders and store the extras with the originals in sheet protectors so I would not waste any and I could always find them.  When I look at these binders at the end of the year I am always struck by how many handouts made it into the binder at the beginning of the semester and how much difficulty I had keeping up with my own system. Finding a handout in these binders typically relies on me remembering when I gave it out or what it looked like.  I am becoming much more comfortable with a computers search function then my own ability to remember what a handout looked like.  If I created a learning guide on comma usage and I type comma usage into my Evernote portal it can send me directly to the document. As a bonus the document has its own URL that I can embed on my class website or email to students.

A paperless classroom is more transparent.  I found as I moved from handouts to documents I was talking more with parents about what was happening in my classroom and more of our learning was shared.  By setting up a class web portal I not only made a spot my students could get the documents from class, I built a platform where parents could see what we were doing.  When a student needs support on a paper or a project it is much easier for a parent to find the information on the class web page than it is to find the right handout in a backpack.  This transparency was not the first reason I tried to go paperless, but it has added the greatest value to my class.

If you are thinking about going paperless, be sure to check out the archive of the #CAEDCHAT, lots of great thinking there. Also read this post by Jen Roberts about her paperless journey, she has great perspective and experience.

Another great post about going paperless by  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Auditing My Paperless Classroom

This summer I have had the honor of teaching in the Dawson College Bound summer program in Las Vegas. I have the students writing on Kidblog (please visit their site).
I did an audit of the room and here is what I found:
I made 9 posters to keep reminders visible to the kids and I had 4 pieces of paper on my desk to keep reminders visible to me.  These quick reference sheets of class rosters and schedules keep me on track.  The student posters about how to write with detail, and how many posts we are working on keep the most needed information accessible.
The only paper I printed out were the instructions about how to log on to the Kidblog site from home, not too bad, but next time I think I will send those instructions out using Remind 101.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Best Digital Tools for Writer's Workshop

This is the ISTE produced Video of the session thanks to the tech crew for recording and producing this! This is a full archive of my ISTE session in audio, slides, Wokka's video introduction and tweets.  I am so grateful to everyone who came to my session and shared in this conversation.