Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Parody Project

As a classroom assignment this fall I wanted to show students what can happen when you share stuff on the Internet.  Not just pictures like some teachers (see reference) but the entire idea of sharing.  A huge part of middle school technology curriculum includes responsible use of technology and digital citizenship.

I crafted a cross-curricular lesson to cover a wide-array of topics through one parody video project.

We started the project with excerpts from the Frontline video Generation Like.

I discussed with students how companies create memes to promote their products and we created memes using and Google search options for copyright free images to create memes. 

We used Google drawing to create our intro/outro drawings of technology.  Students learned about layers and using shapes, borders and colors.

Then we used to brainstorm things in our life that are Techy. 

 Then in English class students worked in groups to all create a version of Get Techy the working title of our parody.

We discussed fair use, copyright, and parodies in both tech and English classes. (see lesson plan)

Students recorded music, and videos and put together a music video with technology and dancing??  Yes dancing!  Apparently all good music videos have dancing.  

We were able to discuss getting permission to film and putting our subjects in a good light through our project. 

Now is the time to share the video: Techy 

We will continue our conversation using analytics to track our views.  Did the views come from Google?  Facebook? Twitter? Instagram?  Somewhere else?

This lesson isn't over but has included a fun journey; a journey where students from a small town don’t think they can make an impact globally but I want to show them that EVERYONE can make an impact on the world. 

The project plan:

Thank you to ALL my colleagues that made this project possible and supported the students with this all-inclusive project!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Making Sense of the PARCC “Tech Prep” Tools (Part 1)


It seems that there are plenty of tools to help you prepare your students for the demands of online testing such as PARCC but what tools should you use and when?  Can any of these tools be implemented into the daily curriculum of your class?  Should these tools be used for teachingcomputer/tech skills OR should they be used specifically to prepare for THE test?  I try to make sense of this “stuff” for my technology classroom and how to connect with classroom teachers in this post.  I’m not saying I have the answers, I cannot even say how these methods help students prepare or perform on the tests…they haven’t happened yet, but this is how I’m making sense of them.

Recommendation #1 – take the practice test yourself.  Find the grade/subject you teach and take the test closest to your course so you know what is expected and how it works.

                There are two things teachers will notice when taking a practice test. 
  1. Types of questions being asked (what content students need to know)
  2. What technology skills they need to be able to complete a task 

I will focus on technology skills in this post because that’s what I teach.  

Different online tools will be helpful for preparing for the new content assessed and the skills needed to complete.

Click and Drag aka Drag and Drop
                Practice tests ask students to find statements in boxes and click on a box and drag it to another location and drop it.  Some students will want to click on it once to select it but actually you have to click, hold in the mouse button, drag, and then release the mouse when the box is moved to the proper location. For students to practice this skill visit:
This onlinepractice allows students to practice highlighting and inserting text in a sample word processor.
Features that are holiday themed on also allow students to practice
Drag and drop features
Drag to highlight features
In Ohio Infohio resources are available for many schools/districts/communities.  Using choosing BookFlix Puzzlers will allow students to practice the drag and drop feature and allow students to practice comprehension after reading a story.

Multiple Choice/Dropdown lists
Google Forms: Sample
                       Make your own see video 
Schoology Tests/Quizzes
Join sample course: 3J9FZ-J4R4K
Make assessments see video

Scroll to see entire page
A lot of this will depend on screen resolution.  Have students practice visiting webpages and use the scroll wheel, click on the scroll bar and drag and use the mouse pad such as on a Chromebook. 
It is important that they can click the scroll bar and drag the scroll as well as use the scroll wheel.  I had a student tell me they couldn’t view the entire page because the mouse was broken…the scroll was broken but the mouse still allowed for scrolling.  Students need to be able to do simple trouble-shooting while testing.

Keying Text
Schoology Discussion Posts
Google Forms
Microsoft Word Text Boxes – using text boxes is important because the tests are not traditional word processors, they are boxes and windows.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Google Calendar for Work and Home

I used to be addicted to my Outlook calendar.  I color coded everything!  Work events, kids, holidays, birthdays, to do list...EVERYTHING!  The one problem with my Outlook calendar was I couldn't take it with me.  Think 2009.  I did not have a Blackberry or an iPhone.  I did not have money for a phone plan anyway.  So, for Christmas I asked for a PDA.  It needed something that would work with my already established Outlook calendar, and had WiFi access, you know for when I went to Panera Bread or McDonalds. It could NOT rely on a phone plan to work.  So I got a cute little Pocket PC and took it everywhere.  It worked great, and my love affair with Microsoft continued. My husband at the time was using Google calendar already.  His band dates were on Google calendar, his work appointments, and I refused to convert.  "Email me if I need to know what's on your calendar," I would say.

Then it happened.  I got a MacBook.  I went back to school to teach and thought, I need a new computer, so many schools use Macs, I don't have a Mac, I don't know how to use a Mac...I better get in the loop.  Of course the Mac needs the Microsoft Office Suite too.  And it was so.  Problem...alert! Alert!  My Mac that communicated with my PC and shared my Outlook calendar would not communicate with the Pocket PC.  My organizational world was OVER.  I needed a new plan.  That is when I learned to embrace Google Calendar.  

I have 2 Google accounts. One for home, one for work.  I have 5 Google calendars, and share 2 additional calendars, and have access to view 3 other calendars.  It's not as complicated as it sounds because they are all color coded.

One of the best things about Google calendar is my school uses Google calendar as the district calendar so I can quickly save an activity on the district calendar to my own calendar, but only the activities that pertain to me and my building if I want.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Today's Digital Shift: Touch Tech Generation

In 2004, only 10 years ago, I started a career teaching information/computer/office technology, to adults. My students ranged in age from 18-62, many of my students were entering my classroom because they had never touched a computer. 

For me as a student in high school in the 1990s I worked in a world of keyboard/DOS commands and learned word processing for the first time on an actual word processor. After taking a typing class on the typewriter of course! My printouts came out of a dot matrix printer and I was "computer savvy". Our first home computer was purchased in the mid 90s and as a computer information student in college we used Windows 3.0 and Word Perfect until Windows 95 was released.  That's when my use of a computer transformed from the keyboard to the mouse.

So back to my 2004 I'm trying to teach people how to create documents, maintain spreadsheet data, and update databases. I'm showing them that while they've been working in factories there is a world called the wide web and information is available on the Internet. While teaching classes I start to notice not only do we need to teach students how to type I need to teach them how to use the mouse, how to click and drag, and to highlight. Throughout the next 3 years I watched my students change, not the people so much but their abilities to already do the things I was teaching. My courses changed my students got younger and the digital divide was evaporating. I was able to teach desktop publishing from day one not how to use the mouse. 

Not only were my students savvy but my kids were too. Daughters born in 1996 and 2002 were able to maneuver computing tasks quickly however in depth knowledge of the the system was debatable. When I made the choice to leave the college and adult workforce development classrooms it was at a point I noticed that students were coming to me with more computer knowledge and less at the same time. They could send an email but didn't know what a network was, they could mail an attachment but weren't ever really sure where they saved it and if you said operating system they said, "what?" 

I entered new classrooms with students clicking and dragging and highlighting. Yes! And by students I mean kids 7-12 years old. Last year I took a new job as computer techology teacher in a  small rural district on year-one of a four-year rollout of one-to-one techonology in the high school, 2 computer labs and laptops AND Chromebook carts in at least 3 classrooms and 3 new carts this year. These kids have technology at their fingertips and they know how to maneuver it for access to information, online textbooks, Google Drive, and in preparation for PARCC testing. I just need to keep up with the tech, these kids just keep getting smarter.

I should have known my job was going to take another turn  back in 2008 when my adult students' cell phone upgrades now included the iPhone first released in 2007, and by 2010 my daughters NEEDED an iPod touch to survive #21stCenturyProblems. By 2010 the iPad was released so I at least needed to keep up on this iTouch techology if I were going to continue calling myself a technology teacher so by 2011 my girls had iPod touches (without cameras) I'm so mean! And finally I got an iPhone 4 in 2013 after the release of the 5.( It's cheaper that way.) While other schools are bringing iDevices to their classrooms I've conciously decided my students are ahead of the curve, they are ready and knowledgable. As I was focused on teaching students to understand the tech they were using, racing with middle school students to understand Twitter and what they're watching on YouTube, and how to be safe I realized I missed something. 

This year's kindergarten class came in and acted like the computer lab was foreign. Most of them didn't know how to use the mouse. Was I going backwards? What's wrong with these kids? That's when I realized. This year's kindergarten class was born in 2008-2009. This year's class all raised their hand that they either had a touch device or a family member had one they use. Five years olds who are familiar with Kindle Fire, and have their mom's old iPhone 4? (Humph! That's my NEW phone!) 

The Touch Tech generation is upon me and my classroom and now I have to shift what I'm teaching again. It's exciting but what do I do; teach them what we have in the lab or build a lab around what they already know how to use? #digitalshift #TouchTechGeneration


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Starting the year: An Organized "Specials" Teacher


Starting the year as an ^ Computer Technology Teacher.

When I started my position at a rural Ohio school in 2013 as an elementary computer technology teacher I quickly, as all first year teachers, found the need to catalog dos and don’ts.

What To Do
Getting room ready.
My room is a computer lab.  Throughout the day several students may share the same computer and classroom teachers can reserve the lab as well.  To get my room ready I did 3 things.
  1. Place a magazine rack at each desk for file folders and ear buds.
  2. Prepare a nametag for each student.
  3. Set the home page and bookmarks on the Internet browser bookmark bar.

Getting class webpage ready.
The most important bookmark is my classroom webpage.  I use Google Sites to create my class page but several other teachers use and in some ways it’s easier.  I prefer Google Sites because I can easily link forms that I’ve created to my page. It’s not necessarily a fancy page.  Actually it is overly simple.  

It lists the grade levels I see throughout the day and has links for them to do that day.  Each week I “catalog” the links to a side column and additionally add a section of links that the classroom teacher wants available for students.  

Students know when I tell them to visit my page that they will open Google Chrome (the web browser preferred for my class),
click on the Apple (the icon/picture shortcut for my classroom webpage), and select their grade.  Then they wait for instructions on how to use the materials.  

Student nametags.
I get the class list from the office in CSV format from their database.  You may or may not have access to get this information on your own.  Then I take the roster and sort by teacher and copy and paste student names in an Excel spreadsheet.
I created a template for this purpose. The lists are sorted by homeroom teacher name because elementary students see me by homeroom. Since our grade books are online I don’t keep grades in a spreadsheet on my desktop.  This spreadsheet is only for maintaining my seating chart.*  

I then use the deskplate file and desktag file to merge names from the spreadsheet to a document to print. The trick is that in the allclasses tab of the spreadsheet all the people in the same row need to be in the same seat for the process to work.  You can move them around but the default is set to auto populate. And just because they may be in alphabetic order doesn’t mean you have to place the tags in alphabetic order.

sample nameplate

Additionally, you will see on the spreadsheet that the default is in a horseshoe but you can select a cell and move it to configure the desks however you like.  

This is for the teacher’s use to have in a substitute binder or to take attendance.  I put my seating charts in sheet protectors and use dry erase markers to take attendance.

Student Folders/Racks
Finally, I can use the same spreadsheet to print labels for the folders or pass out folders for students to write their names.  I ask them to highlight their names on the folder per class so it’s easy to find each class even if they aren’t in the same order in the rack.

*The spreadsheet can be used for any teacher whether you only need name tags for 1 set of students or if you see several periods throughout a day or week like me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Engineering Mom, I Mean Dad, I Mean Get the Story Straight About Common Core

When I first saw this post it included a tag line…”Frustrated Parent Destroys The New Education System By Writing THIS On Her Son’s Test” 
First of all there are all kinds of grammatical errors in this title alone so we know this article is coming from a real educated source.  Didn’t you learn in 2nd grade when you learned subtraction that if the is in a title and not the first word it’s not capitalized?

Anyway. On to the math.  Yes, 427 – 316 = 111. Was that the question? Boy, the parents don't read any better than the kids apparently.

Have you ever told your children to clean their room?  I’m sure if your child is school age, and old enough for problems like the math above, at some point you said, “clean your room.”  That means do it.  You don’t care how, just get it done. It’s up to them to do it and have the final result of a clean room. Now have you ever said, “Use the vacuum to clean your room.”  This lets the child know that you want the room vacuumed and this is a specific.  
Maybe you don’t have your kid use the vacuum. 
Maybe you’ve never taught them to use the vacuum.  
Maybe then they would say, “but Mommy, I only know how to clean my room by putting my toys away in the toy box.” Fair enough.  But if you taught them to clean the room and clean it well enough that they use the vacuum then you may still get the same result (a clean room) but you might get more, the knowledge of using a vacuum. 
How about if you never use a vacuum?  Would it be foreign to you to expect your child to do so?  Probably.  Now, have you ever went into to your child’s room after they said it’s clean only to call them back to the door? 
Has this scenario ever happened in your house: 
Mom: “Billy, you said your room was clean but what’s wrong with this room?” 
Child: “I picked up all my toys mom.”
Mom: “You did that right but what is wrong?”
Child: “I dunno.”
Mom: “Don’t you see all the crayon wrappers on the floor, the doll hair, the shoes, the sunflower seeds? Why are there sunflower seeds in your room anyway?”
Child: “I see all those things but I still cleaned my room like you said.”
Mom: (In disgust) “Aggh!  I cannot believe you think this room is clean and when I asked what was wrong you saw nothing.” (frustrated)
Maybe I’m crazy but I want, EXPECT, my children to notice flaws in their logic.  I expect them to see what’s wrong with the not-so-clean room.  Fact is, I need to teach what is clean first. Right?
The question doesn’t say subtract, although that’s what Jack is doing.  It says Jack used the number line (a strategy) to solve the problem.  What did he do wrong and what did he do right? Tell him.
So in subtracting 316…
Can’t you see that Jack counted backwards 300, then he should have counted back 10 from 327, because there is 1 ten in 16. Did Jack do this?  This problem isn’t about subtracting; it’s about solving a problem.  If you see a problem that you KNOW what the final result should be, can you find the errors?  So now we are agreeing with the logic of a parent that says we shouldn’t teach our children to solve problems. We should do the work for them and let them go back to playing games on their electronic devices? That’s not going to develop new engineers, is it?

What it comes down to is there are pros and cons to every educational initiative.  There are students that thrive in various environments.  I’m not discussing all the ins/outs and rights/wrongs of Common Core State Standards, or if Singapore Math, or Everyday Math, or Connected Math aligns or doesn’t, but if you are looking at this one problem to decide if you like the “new way” of teaching math keep in mind we aren’t using this problem to teach the fastest way to subtract, this problem is about SOLVING a problem and testing a solution, and HELPING others.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Teacher Resolution: Start A Blog

For the first tech tip of the new year I suggest you start a blog. If you are reading this you can start a blog right now by selecting the B icon for Blogger or you can start a blog on another site. I like blogger because it is connected to my Google account with no new login. I can share the blog links via email or share to popular social media like Twitter and Facebook. What should your blog be about?

Your blog could be for parents. It could be an online newsletter that parents can read, or meant for other teachers regarding what you are doing in your classroom.  What works, what didn't quite work like you planned. You can blog monthly, weekly, or even daily. Best part, it's easier to maintain than a webpage. Your blog will be dated by the date you posted. You can make drafts that only you can see and publish when/if you are ready. I like how for my readers my blogs are sorted by month and year (see blog archive) and I can add pictures and links to other sites. 

Today's blog was even done on my new mini iPad through the Blogger app. I've never been successful (yet) updating my webpage with a tablet. A blog isn't quite as advanced as a personal webpage but still allows for creativity, personality, and record keeping. 

Happy 2014!