Saturday, September 28, 2013

Using Snagit for Teachers

Using Snagit for Teachers 

Snagit is a screen capture software that lives on your computer. It allows you to capture still images, as well as live video, of you computer desktop. This is called “screen capture.”

Often, when teaching in a computer augmented environment, it is handy to have a program that allows you to take pictures of your desktop or make a quick video.
Some examples are:
A picture of an error message to send to help desk
A picture of a menu to show which button to click
A video that walks your student through the steps to create a document
A video of you reading and responding to a piece of student work on your computer

Here is a video walk through of using the program from the main program screen

Another way to use Snagit, is by launching "One Click" this parks a small control panel on your screen to make it really simple to create a full or partial screen capture at any time with still photo or live video.

To take a picture of all or part of your screen with Snagit

To make a video of all or part of your screen with Snagit

You can set up profiles in Snagit to automatically format your screen shots to a set size or boarder style.  And you can also access the programs other options quickly using the "gear" button.
From the onscreen applet you can also launch the classic capture window (featured in the above video) or you can open the Snagit editor to prepare your images for posting on a blog or including in a Camtasia video

Snagit 30 day free Trial

Friday, September 27, 2013

Resilience, a Key Word for Connected Educator Month

This morning I am blogging from my tablet using Blogsy, a pretty great blogging app that will allow me to submit this post to a blog on several different platforms. I don't usually blog from my tablet. I like the full functionality of my Laptop, the ease of finding links, direct access to locally saved images, and the comfort of habit.
This morning when I powered on I got a frightening error message from Microsoft about something being broken inside my machine and they assured me they were working hard on fixing it. I expressed my disappointment and moved on the plan 2.
As we move into Connected Educator Month, we have already started to hear about what it means to be a connected educator, or what it takes. From my perspective being a connected educator is a process of trying things out. While I always want everything I do in my class to work, I have become willing to take chances on tech. Sometimes this means that what I am working on fails in front of all of my students. When this happens I explain what is going on and move to plan B, or C, or D. The class period are short, so I rarely get past plan D. While I am teaching I share the process with my students, after I teach I share the process with my colleagues. Sometimes this means I spend my whole day explaining to others what I messed up or didn't know.

One of My FLL team
Early in my teaching career this would not have been comfortable for me. I was building my teaching identity, a knowledgable and caring persona. All of that is still there, but now I take the opportunity on a daily basis to model resiliency for my students. When something doesn't work we trouble shoot it together or just move on to the next idea. Failure is not a stopping point, just a chance to regather forces and ideas and try again.
Now that my laptop has rebooted (again), it seems to be working. I will switch over to it to check all my morning stops (Twitter, Message me, RSCON4) and get on with my day. As a connected educator I expect some glitches just as I expect that my students will try things in my class they have never tried before. I hope that you can join the conversation about being a connected educator this month and every month on the Tech Educator Podcast.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Could Your School Go Paperless?

Why Should a School Go Paperless?

Going paperless on the classroom level is difficult and ultimately in the best cases it is never truly paper-free.  There are always tasks that are just better suited to paper than to tablets (drafts, quick notes, a brainstorm, a group poster ).  Going paperless on a school level can be equally challenging, but on a different scale with some significantly different considerations.
If you want your school to go paperless, it is best to approach this project as a long term one, and begin by examining your motives for going paperless.  Keep in mind that going paperless may transform more problems than it solves.  In my discussions I have heard 3 main reasons for going paperless:
  1. The Environment -Schools use an UNREAL amount of paper.  
  2. The Economy -Copies are cheap individually, but really expensive when you add them up.
  3. Because We Can-Tech is finally at a place it is possible.  This often hides the assumption that paperless is better in all cases.  I like to name this assumption early in the process so we can keep an eye on it. 

Can a Whole School Go Paperless? 

Even at the start of the process I would recommend approaching this task as "How can my school be more mindful about the paper we are using?"  Keep you goals clear and focused on the needs of your community.  I know at my school we have parents that don't read email and other parents who don't look at the web site and others who have a really hard time returning a piece of paper sent home for a signature.  No one system will serve all of the school's needs.  My question is simple,  is there a better way than sending giant mailers and manually collecting back hundreds of forms and manually entering that data in the school's system?

Where do you start?

Change is hard and if you want a school community to change their procedures you have to make a good argument for why, and you have to be prepared to help the community adjust to the new procedures.  If the school is going to launch an app be ready to hold an app class.  If you are redesigning the web site, hold a launch party and teach people how to use the web site.  Before you begin dreaming about solutions, your first step is to get to know your current situation.

Conduct an audit

Find out how many copies your school made last year.  If possible get separate numbers for classroom and non-classroom functions.  If the problem is that teacher are running off too many worksheets, don't try to solve it by creating online versions of your permission slips for off campus trips.  In your audit be sure to include numbers for print jobs you send off campus.  Also include mailing costs, and some evidence about the number of person hours spent entering data collected on paper and returned to the school.


Dig deep and discover what isn't working. Are there forms that are not being returned?  Do you have incomplete emergency information files?  Is it difficult to share information with other schools? Do internal memos get read and responded to?  We use paper to communicate, so look at each of these acts of communication and see which are working and which are eating up your resources chasing down forms or entering in data.


Once you find your problem areas, create a plan and test it out with the key stakeholders.  Keep them involved in the process and as you identify areas you can improve, have the key stake holders help shape the solution.  A little committee work can create much-needed supporters during the full scale roll-out.  Design you plan in phases, try not to change everything at the same time.  Plan to roll out and assess each piece of the plan as you go.


Don't make this an all or nothing process, roll out each piece and assess as you go.  Create one piece of your workflow at a time with an eye toward integration of all the pieces at the end.  If one of the pieces doesn't work, redesign and try again.  Work with your staff to prepare them for a transition period and listen to their feedback as you go.  None of the new systems will work without the staff's buy-in and endorsement.


Set a time frame to conduct follow up audits of paper consumption and workflow success.  Do this regularly as you roll out new pieces of the plan.  Post the audit results to everyone can see the difference they are making by working differently.  Maybe even have the trees on campus write thank you cards to your staff.

Some Logical steps in developing a paperless school

  • Buy scanners or multifunction machines instead of printers.
  • Upgrade your wireless network to support more devices
  • Evaluate you school website, could it better support a paperless mission?
  • Invest in secure storage, either on your school server or using a cloud storage company.  Make sure this meets the standards for keeping confidential student information secure.

Share your Journey

Have someone on staff record you paperless quest and share it with the broader educational community.  So many schools are trying to solve the same problems in isolation, even sharing frustrations can help others chart a more clear path.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

JedCampSFBay, Hack your PD

10/27 join us for a mindful day of discussion and learning.  We are so excited to invite you to attend JEDCAMPSFBAY, an edcamp unconference in the San Francisco bay area for Jewish educators.  (Are you Jewish and teaching? Are you teaching in a Jewish context like a Day school or synagogue? Do you teach Jewish students?, Do Jewish values impact the choices you make in your teaching? Then you are a Jewish Educator)

Need more information? visit our edcamp Wiki page.

What it is

Why you should go
The unconference model is a powerful way for educators to meet and discuss the issues, ideas, and tools most important to them.  This works because the participants set the agenda when they show up.  The connections you can make ay a conference like this are amazing.  The people I met at Edcamp have become the active foundation of my Personal Learning network.  I am so excited to go to Jedcamp to make these same deep connections with collaeagues in Jewish Education.  I want to add people to my PLN who know the difficulty of establishing a class community at the beginning of the year when the holidays are early.

How to register
Reserve your spot now by clicking on this eventbright link.

JedCampSFBay a mindful day of discussion and learning

10/27 join us for a mindful day of discussion and learning. We are so excited to invite you to attend JEDCAMPSFBAY, an edcamp unconference in the San Francisco bay area for Jewish educators. (Are you Jewish and teaching? Are you teaching in a Jewish context like a Day school or synagogue? Do you teach Jewish students?, Do Jewish values impact the choices you make in your teaching? Then you are a Jewish Educator)

Need more information? visit our edcamp Wiki page.

What it is

Why you should go
The unconference model is a powerful way for educators to meet and discuss the issues, ideas, and tools most important to them. This works because the participants set the agenda when they show up. The connections you can make ay a conference like this are amazing. The people I met at Edcamp have become the active foundation of my Personal Learning network. I am so excited to go to Jedcamp to make these same deep connections with collaeagues in Jewish Education. I want to add people to my PLN who know the difficulty of establishing a class community at the beginning of the year when the holidays are early.

How to register
Reserve your spot now by clicking on this eventbright link.

Learning about Clouds with Sonic Pics

Cumulus clouds in fair weather. Photograph taken by Michael Jastremski.
Today in first grade we are learning about clouds.  The students have been learning about the different types of clouds and today in tech time we are going to teach them how to use Sonic Pics to create a slide show so they can showcase their knowledge of Clouds.  They have studied Cumulus, Nimbus, Status, and Cirrus clouds.

My Prep Steps:
1. Gather cloud pics, I used an advanced image search and loaded the images onto my hard drive
2. Get the pics to my devices.  I have a class set of 6 iPads, and 6 loaner iPads from the tech department.  In order to push this photo set to all the devices I first created an evernote link holding all the pictures.  I then opened all the iPads I was working on and opened the chirp app on each of them and used the app the send the evernote page to each of the iPads.
3. Open the document and save each of the pictures onto the camera roll
4. Delete the un-needed pics off of the camera roll, this is an attempt to minimize distraction.
5. Verify Sonic Pics is installed.

In Class:
While students are seated on the floor, show them how Sonic Pics works.  They do not have iPads in hand when we are showing them the app.
Be sure to show them:
1. How to add pictures to Sonic Pics
2. How to move from one picture to the next
3. How to record
4. How to stop recording
5. How to delete and start over
6. How to save and send to Camera Roll

We wrote a script on the board for the students to follow:

"This cloud is a ___________ cloud.  It looks like a __________."

The students worked in pairs to plan and record the movie. Here is a link to a sample Sonic Pics.

Here is a sample of a student created video
NOTE: Sonic Pics export seems to be mistimed, I am looking into this.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What is the Cloud and Why Should Teachers Care?

used by permission
The other day I was talking with someone at school about sharing photos from an Ipad and I mentioned "the cloud" and they stopped me.
"Hold on a minute, what is 'The Cloud?'"
I realized that this was a great question and one I had assumed everyone knew the answer to, but why would they?

The short answer I gave was that 'The Cloud' is a metaphor for remote storage that you can access from anywhere that you have an internet connection.  Once you SEND a file to the cloud you can SHARE it with others either privately or publicly.

SEND and SHARE what is the difference? 

Most of us have sent a file to someone via email.  Typically word files,  small PDF's, and small pictures work well with emailing.  When we send a file over email upload or attach a copy of the file to the email and then we send it.  While this works for smaller files large files are often now allowed by the mailservers.  I started using youtube to send colleagues links to videos instead of emailing the video directly because often the mail system would not allow me to send the large video file.

In this case YouTube works as a type of very public cloud storage for videos.  As a user I upload my content to an account I own in the cloud and then I share the content with someone else by sending them an address that lets them view, download, or collaborate on the file.  Files stored on,,, or in Evernote or Google Drive all get their own URL, or internet address.  This means if you want to email a video to 24 pairs of parents for your class you can just send them all the link.  You can also post the URL as a link on your class web page or blog.

What is free, what isn't and why it matters

Each of the sites above gives away some frethe files e space and hopes your needs are such you will buy more space.  Copy, Box, Dropbox, and Drive are files storage stites that spacialize in file storage and sharing.  They each allow you to create password guarded access to you files and they are require the person signing in to have an account with the site.  Each site also allows you to share a link openly requiring no password, and thus allowing anyone with or without a site membership to view and in many cases download.
Shared with Me in DRIVE

Free account usage
Dropbox -2GB
Copy -15GB
Drive -15GB
Just doing photos? Flickr gives you 1TB of free storage

Sharing versus Collaborating 

The greatest reason for getting your work in the cloud is collaboration.  I love Google drive for the awesome power it has to create shared documents.  When I click on the "Shared with me" tab in drive I can see all the documents others have started and shared with me.  At the top of the list is Jeff Bradbury, it seems like doing the Tech Educator podcast has really taught me a great deal about using Google drive as a collaborative platform.

This summer I had the students at Dawson College Bound working in shared docs and it was amazing.  Evernote also allows for co-editing of documents as part of their $45 per year premium service.

So in short :

The cloud is remote online storage.
You should care because it allows you to share big files, like videos to large numbers of people quieckly without actually sending the file to people.

As a bonus, some cloud storage systems like Google drive have built in tools for collaboration, and collaboration is a powerful life skill.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How Blogging Helps me Think

Early in my teaching career I was lucky enough to connect with the San Diego Area Writing Project.  Larning with the amazing teachers in the writing project summer institute taught me many things and each day different lessons come back to me.  This morning as I try to get moving after a great weekend of learning (and driving) the lesson that comes back to me is "How will I know what I think until I see what I wrote."
As I look through my blog posts still in the draft stage I see lessons I am in the midst of learning.  There is a post about using the Cloud that was initiated by one of my teachers asking me "What is the cloud."  There is another post about how a school can go paperless.
When I open these posts there are headings and small knots of detail.  I am figuring these things out in pieces.  There are other posts I have not yet drafted.  I was at EdCampPS this weekend and I had the chance to learn with many great teachers.  I need to process those sessions and get them posted.  I learned a great deal about using blogger on a school level, and the challenges of working with an iPad cart in elementary.  Sitting in the room and listening, asking questions, connecting with people is only part of the learning.  By writing about these topics I get the knowledge ready to share.  Nothing helps me see what I don't know like trying to write about it.
In my new tech integration position I feel like I have more to write about them ever, but so many of the posts feel weightier.  These posts have more heavy lifting to do because I am learning new things everyday and turning around and teaching those things to other teachers.
Even a post like this helps sort out my thinking and learning, although I am under no illusion that this post will be a blockbuster or game changer.  Actually it can be a game changer for me because writing is thinking.  Taking the time at the head of my day to think about the thinking I have to do creates the space I need to approach the day's challenges mindfully.
I know I have a great deal of writing to do, conference proposals are coming due, I have at least 3 blog ideas that are not yet realized.  I also know I should be running each morning.  But today I am going to be grateful that I got this writing done, and maybe I will make it to the gym this afternoon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Learning to Lego

So many things about my new job are amazing, I could write a series of posts called "Hate me, I found the best job." I am quickly finding my feet as an elementary ed technology Integration Specialist, although I think the title should have the word "Pedagogy" in there somewhere as so much of what I do is plan with teachers and develop lessons.  I have never collaborated so openly, or actively co-taught with others.  I am in 10 different classrooms in a week, last year I made it to 2 per week and there was never another teacher there.  Sharing the planning and the space has been amazing.  But that is just another topic for a "Hate me" series. I want to reflect and plan a bit about the School's FLL teams.  

 I have 14 students in our afterschool lego group.  I have been told this is a BIG PART of our schools "tech profile" and after meeting the kids, I believe it .  They are fired up and ready top build!
What We do
Each year Lego sponsors a series of design and innovation competitions at several different grade and skill levels.  For my happy band of 4th-8th graders the First Lego League is a great match.  The FLL competition has a couple components.  There is a project and the robot Game.  The robot game is really cool, a great deal cooler than the project, at least at face value.  In the robot game the kids design and program a robot to do a number of tasks on a game field.  We get to build the challenges, or missions on our own game field.  We will also create a local project connected to disaster preparedness or recovery.  The students will interview people and create a needs-based response.  They will then present about that at the regional competition.

Why it is a great idea
I am loving that 1/3 of the students in this club have some programming experience already.  I am gonna have to up my game FAST.  This project gets kids working on real problems, I should say working together on real problems.  The challenge model is good for this, creates a finite time frame, and a common goal.  It is not free, it is worth the expense because of the amount of engaged group-based problem solving the kids have to do.
The project asks them to engage in real research, you could even say it puts them in the role of an ethnographer, but then they go beyond that roll and create a solution.  This puts them in the roll of an innovator, a designer in a way that is of service to a broader community.
What my goals are
I hope all of these students have a great time and learn more than they know they can.  I am loving the informal environment .  The kids are tuned in, even 14 of them in a room full of Lego and computers after school.  My challenge is to keep the kids moving and learning.  We are doing a great deal of exploring with the robot kits and programming.  Next we will be exploring the project, looking for good ideas, deciding which communities we will serve.
If all goes well
My teams will be proud of the work they share at the end of November and they will be committed to continuing to design and program robots.  We will be using Hopscotch to explore programming as well. IF they are tuned in and up of the challenge, I dream of robot puppets.