Friday, January 25, 2013

Edtechkit Weekly Report - The #Educon edition #scc21c

In the news

This week/weekend I’ll be attending the Educon conference in Philadelphia. This annual conference hosted at the Science and Leadership Academy and spearheaded by Chris Lehman is unique because of it’s conversation driven format. Make sure to look at the Conversation descriptions and pay close attention to the Conversational Practice descriptions that outline the strategies each facilitator intends to use in their session.

iPads vs. Chromebooks - Are you evaluating which tools you’ll need to support student learning in your school and are at the stage of picking a device. This article by Beth Holland articulates how she is evaluating both iPad and Chromebook in the search for that elusive perfect machine.

Apps for publishing ebooks from the iPad - Here’s a nice infographic and app matrix breaking down the features available across several ebook creation apps for the iPad. Creating your own ebooks or having students create ebooks can be a great way to make engaging and accessible learning resources. This article will help you to pick the right app for you.

Technology enhanced, not technology driven - Need some integration inspiration? Take a look at this semester review strategy written by Carolyn Durley. Notice that the technology plays a background role and that the driving force behind this activity is to have students conversing about and categorizing terms. Yes, there is some implied technology expertise running in the background but technology doesn’t trump the learning strategy, one that is decidedly rooted in live interactions and physical manipulatives.

Upcoming events

One more plug for Educon January 25-27. You can attend virtually by following the #educon hashtag on twitter. Watch for links to the livestreamed events as well.

Digital Learning Day  February 6~ *Free*  Digital Learning Day is a national campaign that celebrates learning and shines a spotlight on successful instructional practice and effective use of technology in classrooms across the country. The inaugural Digital Learning Day boasted tens of thousands of teachers representing nearly 2 million students.

EdCampOAISD ~ *Free*   February 23 ~ A day of connecting, learning, collaborating, and networking for all educators! Follow @edcampoaisd on Twitter!

New apps to check out

Ask 3 - Ask 3 is the latest iPad screencasting app from Michigan based TechSmith with a collaborative twist. Now you can have threaded class discussions that encourage participants to remix or respond to any screencast posted to the Bulletin Board. The app is more or less a mashup of their Screenchomp app and a threaded forum discussion tool. For a good overview be sure to check out John Sowash’s post about Ask 3 here.

Last week I featured Trading Cards by read/write/think. They also offer a free magnetic poetry type app called Word Mover that has a few unique features. One important feature is the ability to set up individual student profiles. This is a much needed option for those who are using iPads in a shared setting. The app gives the option of letting students remix word banks that draw from famous historical writings like the Gettysburg Address or by adding their own words. This might be an engaging way to work with vocabulary lists, spelling lists, or brainstorming ideas. The ability to resize and reposition words on the board opens up interesting possibilities for doing word sorts and categorizing activities.

Roll your own PD

I’ll be working on a series of teacher and student focused tutorials centered on using Google Drive in the classroom over the next few weeks. This week I added a student tutorial for Google Drive on the iPad. Do you know of any comprehensive resources geared toward students using Google Drive? Feel free to share any links in the comments section below.

Thought for the week

I’m finishing this week’s update from my hotel room in Philadelphia after a morning of conversations and a tour of the Science and Leadership Academy. The big takeaway so far is that it can be done - whatever vision or dream we have of what learning truly is and should be - it can be done. Perhaps not perfectly but what is?. Will it be done? Are we bold enough to step out of our limitations? Stop seeking the universal solution that will fix everything for everyone and make your vision a reality to any extent that you’re able.

On the right - my guide today at SLA

Saturday, January 19, 2013

#Educon Conversations: A first read - Wanna help a newbie figure out what to attend?

I am fortunate to have received a conference scholarship this fall from our Michigan RITS organization, a group that supports the efforts of instructional technology specialists in our state. It's a fantastic bunch of educators and I'm honored to be representing this group as I attend this year's Educon conference in Philadelphia January 25-27th.

Today I've done a first read of the conversations offered this year. All I can say is Whoa! While I've culled a few sessions from the nearly 80 being offered, I still have a substantial list ranging from design thinking and learning spaces to questioning standardization and building the schools of our dreams. I love this kind of stuff. I'd make this my Masters degree if I could. I'm definitely going to have a difficult time deciding which conversations to attend.

So I've thrown together a Google Doc, pasted the conversations from my first read in and hope to work through the pruning process this week. I'm linking to it here and leaving the commenting features open if anyone cares to chime in. I know y'all can't really make up my mind for me, but I'd love hear what sessions you would attend.

Philly here I come!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Edtechkit Weekend Report - 1/18/13 #scc21c

There's Nothing New Under the Sun

Without making any promises, I hope to begin sending out a weekly update of news, events, and reflection. Yup, a newsletter. But if you've made it here for the first time or been following my blog for a while then why not. Don't forget that you can subscribe to my blog via your favorite format by clicking on the subscribe button on the side bar.  

Upcoming Events in Michigan

Even if you can't make this event in person, the conference website and hashtag #Miflip will be well worth checking out this weekend. Wish I could go!

Ottawa ISD Edcamp - Saturday, February 23

Another great participant driven professional development event happening on Michigan's west side.

New Apps to check out

Do you need a presentation app, but can't afford to put Keynote on all of your student devices. Take a look at Haiku Deck and ScrollShow for some free alternatives.

Graphic organizers are a proven method for helping students grasp and retain information. Trading Cards is a high quality FREE app from the folks at Read/Write/Think. Think of these as digital baseball cards for vocabulary, characters, and historical events. 

Roll your own Professional Development

Have you been thinking about getting started with Google Apps for Education and it's suite of online document creation tools (Drive), website builder (Sites), and calendar? I've created this overview page to help teachers new to Google Apps for Education understand what it is, why schools are using it, and how to sign in for the first time if their school has a Google Apps for Education account. The page includes a screencast and step-by-step notes to help you or your staff get started.

Thought for the week

I've been focussed on gratitude this week. As I sat in my parked car on the shore of Lake Huron last night I reflected on the magnificence of water and let the sounds of the waves remind me of the simple beauty of nature. Take time to be aware and present in the moment, calm your thoughts of past and future, and be grateful for whatever it is that you have to be grateful for.