Themes from ISTE2014


Post-ISTE my brain has been spinning–so many amazing ideas to make my way through. But that wasn’t before a long-needed vacation in Puerto Rico. There’s nothing like some time on the beach to sort through my notes and figure out my next steps.

Isla Verde, Puerto Rico

The one theme that held true for me at ISTE2014 is something I’ve always believed in: that it is about the children, our students. The content and the technology are the way that we engage them, but the teaching and the relationships are the most important thing in our field! Without relationships with the students in our classrooms we have nothing. Without relationships with the teachers around us we have nothing. Without relationships with our PLN we are less than we were before.

I believe so strongly that passion is the first thing we have to have as educators –whether we are teachers or administrators. The content-knowledge and the technology-knowledge help us deliver the information and reach our students but without that love for our students and that passion for what we do….it won’t matter a bit what we know.

So with these thoughts, I will continue to sort through all my session notes.





 Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Hannah Rosen

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Hannah Rosen


As I reflect, I’m not even sure how I’ve gotten to this point. It has happened so subtly…. Several years ago I opened my Twitter account, followed a few people, and that was about it. This past summer that all changed. I don’t remember the catalyst for the change. I started following more educators and education organizations. I started reading feeds regularly. Then I discovered THE TWITTER CHAT. Oh my! How has it been possible that I didn’t know these existed? This simple one-hour-of-learning has revolutionized my week –okay, truth be told, most weeks, it’s much more than one hour. It’s #edtechchat on Mondays, #edchat (if there’s not tennis) on Tuesdays, then I have to choose #PTchat, #ATPLC, #SBL or #STEMgenius, then there’s #GAED, #BYOT,   #1to1ipad, and finally one my favorites….can’t seem to start the weekend off without it and my coffee #satchat. To think that a year ago I didn’t know these existed, and now I have built relationships WITH HUMAN BEINGS on Twitter. This is such a difficult thing to explain to people; I’ve spent months trying to explain the power of learning that can happen when I get to choose my own learning. I have done mini-chats with my own faculty, so they could experience one and feel confident enough to try it on their own. I pretty much scream it from the rooftops: TWITTER CHATS ARE POWERFUL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES…….. to anyone who will listen.

I know for me, I need to implement what I learn immediately. When I was in graduate school. my lesson plans often changed the next day to put something into practice. When I saw Jeff Anderson –one of my writing idols–speak one morning, my lesson plans changed for my afternoon classes. With the articles I read and discuss in these Twitter chats, I implement what I learn as I’m learning it. As an administrator, I get an idea and give it a try the next day. Sometimes I can directly utilize it; other times, it’s something for me to pass on to my teachers; other times still, it’s a way of thinking about something or a way of leading that will take me into the future.

I am looking forward to ISTE14 because there I will have the opportunity to put faces to many of the handles I have come to recognize. I value the relationships and the learning that has taken place in TwitterLand. I look forward to the daily and weekly inspiration that I cannot get any other place except there.


More Web 2.0 and Apps

 Victor Svensson Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Victor Svensson
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

There was so much to say about teaching using the web that my first blog post didn’t come close to covering it. So here are some more of my favorite resources.

Blendspace makes it so much easier for teachers to collaborate. Drag and drop ideas, documents, Promethean flipcharts, YouTube videos, Educreations, Flickr pictures, Google Drive, Dropbox, PDFs, and more into the timeline. It’s organized for multiple users so that the entire team can work on the project. Makes life so much easier. And as busy educators, this is what we need!

Users create three-dimensional pop-up books with ZooBurst. Don’t let the fact that these are pop-up books hold you back from using them with older students. These could easily be used with intermediate and middle school students to create advanced content. They are so interesting to create that even this age will be intrigued!

Educreations and Show Me are both apps. Educreations has a bit more functionality for older elementary while Show Me is more for the younger student. This is basically a white board on the iPad that students create on or voice record. At my school they use it for math and content areas to explain their learning. It is perfect for delving deep into content. With this web 2.0 you can send students or parents a text while keeping your phone number private. You can moderate the group message with one or more curator. Very cool!

With ScreenCastomatic you can create a video of your computer screen and your voice. It can be uploaded to a blog or YouTube or Vimeo. You get 15 minutes free on each video. Then you have to pay.

Sock Puppets is an App that allows students to create puppet shows. They can create voice overs, backgrounds, etc. Using their imaginations they could retell a story or go deeper to do inferences or tell a sequel or you name it! The sky is the limit!

Augmented Reality

My new FAVORITE techy thing is augmented reality! The implications for these apps in a classroom are amazing, so test them out then use them with your students –of all ages.

With Aurasma (see a video at the link) you can use pre-made Auras or create your own. Auras are three-dimensional animations or videos that are captured within a frame on the app. This app is available on IOS or Android. Imagine students for whom English is a second language creating videos of words they are learning so that when they frame the word, the video plays.

The ColAR app is free and some of the coloring pages are free; others you have to pay for. Students color the page and hold the frame in the app over the colored page to make it come to life.

PopAr has a series of children’s books that “come to life” through this augmented reality experience. This is a new way to interact with books and it is so cool!

Spacecraft 3D is put out by NASA. Students learn about the solar system and earth as they interact with them in as an authentic way as possible….without heading into space on a shuttle.

Web 2.0 and Apps….Let’s Get them into the Classroom

 (CC0 1.0)

(CC0 1.0)

I’ve been planning a series of technology learning for my staff. I will highlight some of my favorite web 2.0 and apps to use in the classroom. I like to keep in mind that integration and the process of learning is the most important thing with technology use –not the end product. Here goes.

A student and teacher favorite is Padlet. With Padlet, you, the teacher, set up a wall that you send a link or QR code to students, so they can access it. They can write on the wall, upload pictures, YouTube videos, you name it! You can even embed the wall onto your web page. Students can collaborate on an assignment in class or out of class. If they are stuck at home because of weather (imagine that!), primary students could document what is happening outside their homes. They could respond to a piece of literature of share travels over a vacation. Endless possibilities.

My next favorite app is NearPod. This is great for the classroom –either independent student technology or small group work that you as the teacher want to be in control over. You can have a PDF or a presentation that you display on your computer. The students launch the app and sign in to the session to see what you show them. You have control over their device and what they see, but they have the ability to annotate and add to whatever you share on their screens. So many options with this one! Whatever you are doing, you can have the students follow along but with additional interaction.

HaikuDeck is a perfect presentation app /Web 2.0 for students. It is currently on IOS but is coming for Android soon. It has beautiful Creative Commons licensed pictures for background so students don’t have to worry about copy written Google images. As students type onto the slides, the words get smaller, thus teaching them that presentations are about them talking and not the bullets on their slides. It’s web-based, so they can go from device-to-device and school to home seamlessly without a –gasp–thumb drive. is an easy way to shorten URLs. Go to the site, type in the URL, and BAM! You’re done. Well, you need to type a code to prove you’re a human first. Once you do that….BAM. You’re done.

As Voice Thread puts it on their main page, “text can’t replace you.” This is cloud-based; students can upload pictures or documentations that they in turn collaborate on. This has nice implications but does come with a cost of $79 for a single teacher.

Infuse learning is a favorite assessment tool at my school. It is perfect for BYOT because it is web based not an APP, so students can access it from any device –SMARTphone or tablet. Teachers can prepare questions ahead of time or create them in the moment. It has a draw feature, so math teachers might ask teachers to draw an isosceles triangle, for example. It doesn’t limit to multiple choice. You can pull in pictures like a map for the assessment. It also has language options for ELL or foreign language classes.

In terms of technology integration tools for the classroom, the options are endless. I will continue with more good ones later.

1800 or 2014?

Over the years in education we have learned a lot. We have moved from worksheets to hands-on learning; from independent work to collaboration; from tests to multiple methods of assessment. We use formative assessments as we go through the learning cycle. Our classrooms have interactive boards and computers and iPads. But what has really changed in our schools over the past 200 years?

We know that students should be immersed in learning; that they can show what they are learning throughout the process; that the project should be the largest component of the unit rather than THE TEST. We know that children learn through play and by interacting with their environment. We know that their attention span in minutes is only as long as their age is in years; yet we still demand they pay attention to boring tasks for much longer than this. And truly, the classroom today still looks very much like it did 200 years ago. There are a few additional pieces of technology; sometimes students sit in groups rather than in rows; but for the most part, we deliver instruction in the same manner we have for hundreds of years.

What is it that is holding us back in education? We are supposed to be the innovators, the people to change the world, yet we are ignoring basic child development when it comes to making our classrooms meet the needs of those who most need it. What will it take to wake us up?

Responsible Digital Citizens

CC0 1.0 Universal


I cannot help but believe that we must teach and model the use of social media for our elementary students. Those of us in elementary education have a responsibility to model for our students the proper use of twitter and blogging before they hit middle school and are setting up their own accounts. We have the unique opportunity to mold their minds before they begin using these on their own. Not to mention the huge positive classroom implications they have — twitter allows our classes to become schools without walls; learning becomes so much more global as students reach across the continent and over the oceans to students everywhere. These give students an authentic purpose to write and spell well. We all know that when students see a purpose in what they are writing, they do a better job of elevating the standard of their writing. So many possibilities are out there for our students when it comes to using social media under the watchful eyes of teachers. I look forward to moving my school in this direction of authentic digital learning.

Marketing Our Schools

I have been working to grow as an educator and grow my school in this area throughout the past year. In today’s world I cannot help but think that we must take advantage of social media to effectively market our schools in the positive light that they deserve. By tweeting, blogging, and using a variety of other apps we can quickly share with parents what is happening in the classroom almost in live time. Parents are able to share in their children’s experience. We have to capitalize on this.  Here are a few that I have started using; please share what you are using in your school.

Twitter: I tweet what is happening in classes, events to come, and live from events. I have made the decision to have two different twitter accounts. I use one for my “home account” and as my PLN and other things. The other one I use exclusively to tweet as a school administrator. Not everyone does it this way, but this is what is working for me.
Yapp: I post the school calendar on this free app; parents can download it and have access to the school calendar from their phone
SchoolCollabo: This is a private blogging site that parents from our school created, but they market it all over; it allows teachers to blog to about their classrooms as well as post their volunteer needs so that parents can sign up right there; then our front desk PA has access to that and pulls the volunteer list each morning to know who is allowed in the building; our principal blogs to teachers and only they can see that blog; she blogs to the community and they can see that blog; it’s nice because this is private so posting pictures isn’t an issue for some parents.

Technology Integration

I enjoy the perspective that this brings. Even though change makes us nervous, we cannot allow those nerves and what-ifs to hold us back. We have to open ourselves to the present and future and as difficult as it sometimes is, use the resources at our fingertips: social media, BYOT, to name a few. They open our classrooms to the world and endless possibilities in our schools. I am working with one team in my school currently as we implement a BYOT pilot and determine what it will look like. They are excited to pilot this endeavor but know that they will be the guinea pigs as they iron out  issues as we move forward with our technology roll-out. I cannot help but think that we have to look at change as opportunity not blocks.

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