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Posted by on in Education Technology


This year I have been creating my own screencasts using Screencastify, the free Chrome extenstion available on the Chrome Web Store. Unfortuntately, my screencasts would not play for me or my students in Google Classroom, until today. 

How to Have a Screencast Play in Google Classroom:

1. Record and name your screencast

2. Create a new Google Doc

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Posted by on in Education Technology

A picture is worth a thousand words

Teacher: No, no, no, no. Like this.

Student: I got it. I got it.

Teacher: No, not like that. Like this. Now do you have it?

Student: Yeah, I got it now.

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Posted by on in Education Technology

Currently in my district we’ve had some preliminary talks regarding if/how digital portfolios could be implemented on a wide-scale. Of course, while the focus shouldn’t necessarily be on the technology, one of the first questions asked by everyone (both in and out of district) always involves what type of platform we have in mind.

While these portfolio talks are only in their infancy, and we currently have no certain idea what will actually happen (in regards to what technology is chosen and with the portfolios in general)…I do strongly feel that, if possible, we should always be looking to use an authentic tool (e.g., self-hosted WordPress or WordPress.com) as opposed to one that has been made for school (e.g., Kidblog or Seesaw).

Here are three reasons why:

  1. Teaching digital citizenship is now a non-negotiable, and this upcoming school year we are rolling out the Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Curriculum across all grade levels. Now, if we’re then simultaneously having students leverage “safe” made for school technology because we’re afraid what might happen, they’re missing out on valuable opportunities to apply what they’ve learned. In fact, in this context, I would go as far to say we’d be a bit hypocritical by first declaring, “Digital citizenship is important; let’s practice it!” and then saying, “Use this, because we don’t want you to experience what’s out there.” (Of course, the exception would be if we’ve chosen a certain tool due to it’s lower cost, because we want a simple interface for lower grade levels, etc.) Nevertheless, experiences with authentic tools allow for students to apply what they’ve learned in settings that very much mimic the real world. And, at the same time, teachers are present to turn mistakes into beneficial lessons.
  1. Teaching entrepreneurialism is quickly becoming a non-negotiable, and we’re doing our students a disservice if they’re simply handing in all work for an audience of one, the teacher. Not only should students be learning how to do their work, they should be learning and experiencing how to share and market their creations. While this idea may begin with students simply “copying and pasting” their finished products into their portfolios and then sharing them out (pretty much worst-case scenario)…in time, students can be creating and promoting their own businesses, publishing and marketing eBooks, gaining loyal audiences with podcasts, etc., all of which are only possible with an authentic platform…Everyone, no matter the age, has access to the same “business growing” technologies (many of which aren’t all that complicated, by the way). So, if it’s what adults “do,” our students should be doing it as well.
  1. The resumé is dead, or dying. If our students are applying for colleges without digital footprints, we’re doing them a disservice. (And, if we’re applying for jobs without digital footprints, we’re doing ourselves a disservice). Need convincing? Hop over to Google and search for “resumé is dead” or check out this article right here…In short, we need to make sure our students are searchable. So, when their names are plugged into Google by a prospective college or employer, not only will no damaging content be found, but students will be given a leg up on the competition due to digital footprints we helped them build…Kidblog won’t show up on a Google search, and neither will Seesaw. And, while programs such as Weebly and Wix are easy to use, I would rather have students get acquainted with a tool that’s used on 25 percent of all websites. In fact, once they graduate high school, with a few clicks they can easily export their portfolios from a district or company server (if necessary) and upload the content to their own website and server space, independent of any district or school.

Let me be clear…I’m not against anything that’s not WordPress, a variation of WordPress such as CampusPress, or an authentic tool. In fact, when I taught fourth grade, my students and I used Kidblog on a regular basis. But, when it’s time to choose a platform for digital portfolios (and blogging), I do believe the conversation should always start with authentic technologies. As previously mentioned, there may be limiting factors such as high costs and/or a tool’s complexity, and a different platform may be necessary for younger students at the elementary level. (Many of the elementary students and teachers in my district do amazing work with Kidblog and Seesaw!) But, in the end, I do believe we are severely limiting the possibilities if we play it “safe” and only consider technology made for school.

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Posted by on in Education Technology

game plan

Football season is almost here, and coaches and players everywhere are working on their game plans for their seasons. Some plays will become teams' "bread and butter" plays as the year goes on, while a few "trick" plays will be thrown into some games here and there depending on the situation. 

Much like football, school is almost here, and it is time for me to sit down and reflect on everything from the successes and failures of previous school years to all of the readings and preparations I have done this summer in order to finalize my game plan of "Bread and Butter Plays to Use" and "Trick Plays to Try" for the 2016-2017 school year. My game plan is as follows.

Bread and Butter Plays to Use:

360 Degree (or really 270 degree) Classroom

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Posted by on in Education Technology

2e1ax elegantwhite entry Stop Banning Cell Phones

I often think of the great book On Their Side by Bob Strachota when working with students, especially those who are hard to reach. I recently read an argument that claims phones don't belong in school. Looking through the lens of On Their Side, it is difficult to imagine scolding students for using phones and outright banning them are effective ways to engage our audience.

If schools are supposed to prepare students for the next steps in life, how is banning phones justifiable? Neither phones nor students' addiction to them will disappear when they arrive on college campuses and at employers' doors.

In a time when many students prefer to take notes and write papers on their phones, schools can establish themselves as archaic dinosaurs by resisting their students' preferences, or they can utilize phones to reach students.

Some Awesome Apps

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