Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What Else Did I Learn at iSummit?

Ok . . . I promised I would share some of the other things I learned at iSummit so here goes . . .

First up is News-O-Matic.  This is an free app that delivers current informational text to your students on their iPads. I can't wait to include this as a regular part of my reading workshop next year. Have a look.

Animoto-  This is so awesome! I have used the lite version and created 30 sec. videos of my class.  I have wanted to upgrade many times to record longer videos, but this girl is on a budget.  So I was excited to learn that I can record up to 10 minutes free with an Animoto for Education account. It's free to sign-up. With the Educator's Account, you also get a code so your students can create videos as well.  If you haven't used it before, don't worry, it's so easy.  You just click on the pictures you want to include and select your theme and music.  So simple! This is one of the 30 sec. videos I created last year.

Science Rocks!

Green Screens- I found out how easy it is to create movies and photos using a green screen effect.  You don't have to have an elaborate screen.  You can use green (or blue) construction paper for your background. Here is a picture I took using my iPhone and the app Green Screen Mobile Effects.

True, there are only 2 background choices with the free version of this app and you probably want to use iMovie to record your videos.  What I learned is that is important to have students plan their project.  Deciding on the background and completing a script before they even say "Action" is the way to go. I won't be winning any academy awards, but I am ready to give it a try.

iBooks- I am excited about the possibilities of creating my own books for my class using iBooks.  This is a great way to compile all the information, resources, videos, etc. in one place.  The only problem is I have to get a Mac.  Students can consume the material through iTunes University on an iPad, but you have to create it on a Mac.  I'm working on that.

SAMR Model- I learned that when using the SAMR Model to guide you with technology integration, substitution is not necessarily a bad thing.  Just know the higher up you go on the scale, the greater the student engagement. If you notice the line between "Enhancement" and "Transformation" on the scale, you will find that the greatest benefit occurs "above the line".  The important thing when planning activities is to start with the task in mind, not the app.  Don't just use an app for the sake of using an app.  Use it because it enhances student learning.

Click on image to get a full sized view
Image from DigitialLearningTeam.org

Augmented Reality- This is something I really need to learn more about.  I currently use QR Codes, but that is just scratching the surface of what's possible. TagWhat is an app that you use to give information about things or places nearby.  Imagine using it to find out about historical events that occurred around your school or even using it to provide additional information to students while on a field trip. Are you using AR in your classroom? Please share some of your ideas. 

Google Docs- Finally, if you haven't used Google Docs in your class, you just might want to give it a try. It would put an end to the problem of leaving work at home or losing a flash drive.  Everything is in the clouds. I started using Google Docs in my writing workshop last year and I am loving it!  I wrote a post earlier in the year about how I was able to conference with my students during the snow storm. Well, I learned a few new things to enhance my writing program for next year.  I may have students do more collaboration because I can check the revision history and see who contributed what to a project.  Just go to file, and check revision history.  Click on "tools" and "research" to find images to add to your work or click "Quotations"  and Google will cite your sources at the bottom of your paper. I also learned that I can right click on a folder to change the folder colors.  I know, I know, this may seem trivial, but I love it!

I learned a lot at the conference, but I also know I have so much more to learn.  If you have never attended iSummit, you should consider going.  There is so much great information and the food is delicious!  Next year iSummit will once again be held at The Westminster Schools during the month of June.   Make plans to attend. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

iSummit . . . Take 2

Last year was my first year attending iSummit.  Well, it was so good, I had to go back this year.  Last year I posted my Top Ten Takeaways, so I thought it was only fitting that I share what resonated with me from the conference this year.

image from thewpchick.com
Let me start with the Keynote.  Angela Maiers asked the question, "How Big is Your Brave?"  Think about that for a moment.  If children truly believe they could do anything they set their mind to how different this world would be!  What would you do if you were not afraid of failure?  She went on to share how she encouraged students as young as kindergarten to find our what their genius was and what exactly it was that only they could do for the world. They made posters introducing themselves with the message: "My name is ________ .  I am a genius because _______.  The world needs me to ________." This message was so powerful!

Image from Geniushour.com

Now, everything I had been reading about "The Genius Hour" on Twitter was starting to make sense.  What if kids were given time to explore their passions, to truly believe they could make a difference in the world.  Imagine!  Would we have less violence among our youth, less shootings, less suicides, less bullying?  If children truly saw their purpose and realized they were the only ones who could fulfill that need, I believe it would make a difference.  Think about that.  I have always believed that hurt people, hurt people.

All this made me think of my favorite poem by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
image from choose2matter.org

She went on to talk about Choose2Matter.  Students discover what breaks their heart (poverty, homelessness, abuse, pets) by making heartbreak maps.  From that they form common groups and begin to research and discover how they can make a difference in the world. Then guess what happens next.  They do it!

image from seeabeautifulworld.blogspot.com

There are some teachers at my school who understand this. These teachers have helped students discover their passion and used it to make a difference in the world. Through  See Beautiful Dr. Alicea's 5th Grade Target students held a book drive and collected over 1,000 books for the St. Anne's Homeless Shelter. Another teacher, Mrs. Ernstes, sponsors a Homeless Pet Club to teach children about the importance of caring for pets and raising awareness about homeless pets.  They have collected supplies to donate to a pet shelter.

So what is it you are passionate about?  Better yet, what are your students passionate about?  Help them discover their genius!

image from inspiremebeeutiful.com

What else did I learn at iSummit?  Lots of great things that I will share later.  Oh yea!  I almost forgot.  I also got an opportunity to present about the flipped classroom.  You can view my presentation by clicking here.


Wow! I can’t believe I have not posted anything this entire school year! I’m not sure what that means. I have decided that I will be retir...