Friday, December 15, 2017

Be Internet Awsome

Teach it: Be Internet Awesome

Recently I had the privilege of attending Google’s Be Internet Awesome training at the Google headquarters in Chicago. Not only was this an opportunity to learn, but also a check on my bucket list of AWESOME things to experience. Google tools and resources have become a huge part of many schools.  They are constantly adding, updating and listening to educators as they work to improve and meet the needs of educators and students.  Besides all of the tools in their Suite, they have many other awesome things to offer.  Speaking of AWESOME...
Access: This is the first time in history that a generation is growing up with constant Access to the Internet.  In fact, 79% of teens (and younger) have their own smartphone.  Students (and adults) have access to information at their fingertips. Today technology is being used both personally and educationally.  Schools across the country are purchasing and providing devices for students.  With this access, many are thinking about digital citizenship and how to reach and teach the importance of being a digital leader, managing digital identity, engaging in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior and understanding/respecting the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

We: When it comes to Digital Citizenship and being Internet awesome, We are in this together.  As educators, we need to embrace the teachable moments regarding digital leadership and building a positive digital presence. According to the Family Online Safety Institute, educators are the most trusted source to maximize benefits and minimize harms of technology for children. It is important to remember Digital Citizenship IS citizenship!! Google has done an amazing job with their NEW: Be Internet Awesome curriculum.  Aligned with the ISTE standards for students, Be Internet awesome creates opportunities to learn and explore the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety in an interactive environment. Be Internet Awesome is a FREE online resource with no login or account required. With easy access students and families can learn together. Together WE can be a team and promote, model and teach digital citizenship.
Edtech: Edtech Defined: Education technology, or “edtech,” is the study and practice of teaching and learning processes and strategies that incorporate devices, apps, programs, and media. Edtech can be used in traditional classrooms, at home, and as part of learning in almost any setting. Many schools have devices for students and many of them have a device for each student.  Not only does this provide access to so many resources, but also opportunities for students to connect, collaborate, create and think critically.  Edtech is creating opportunities to transform teaching and learning.  Students do not need teachers to deliver all information as so much is at their fingertips.  
Security: Security is not always on the  top of the list with students, but as parents and adults we often think and wonder about security with accounts, devices and social media use.  One thing I learned during my Be Internet Awesome day at Google was that security is priority.  Whether you are using a Chrome enabled device or account, Google is on point with security features.  Did you know they even offer $100,000 if you can hack a Chromebook?  
Opportunities: It seems as if we always talk about all the opportunities our students have when it comes to devices, apps, tools and extensions.  These opportunities are only as good as the purpose.  Google has Nailed it with Be Internet Awesome.  Not only do they have specific lessons focused on Being Internet Awesome, they break it down into Five key parts associated with being a responsible digital citizen.  Students learn the importance of Being SMART, ALERT, STRONG, KIND and BRAVE.  Included in the curriculum are lesson plans for the five topics, with activities and worksheets that were designed to complement Interland. Kids can play their way to being Internet Awesome with Interland, an online adventure that puts the key lessons of digital safety into hands-on practice with four challenging games.
Me: Being Internet Awesome is for adults too.  So many times we focus on what we are telling our kids and we forget that they are watching our online actions too.  It is  important to reflect on these questions: Are you internet Awesome? Do you portray yourself as a digital leader? Have you Googled yourself? What does YOUR digital footprint look like? How secure is your password? These are just a few things to consider when reflecting on your digital presence and what you model for kids.  After all, they learn from both our successes and failures.  
Education: Education is key!  There is no other way to put it.  Assuming because students are “digital natives” that they can appropriately operate and navigate a device is a false assumption.  The access and possibilities related to technology cannot be underestimated.  IF we can get teachers and students excited about what access to technology can do for learning, the safety and digital citizenship will come along with it.  In education when our kids do not know how to read, we teach them, when they do not know how to write, we teach them, when they do not know how to practice online safely….. We NEED to teach them. We need to partner with families, be a model, and together teach and promote digital leadership and online responsibility.

So many great things were shared and discussed at Chicago’s Be Internet Awesome event. Of all those things, a stand out to me is partnering with parents.  Whether we bring them in, share resources, or have conversations to learn together, we need to be a team.  Below are some of the amazing resources shared by some of the presenters. I would love to chat more and work with others who are on a similar mission to collaborate, educate and create digital leaders in their communities.  Together we are better!!

Connect Safely Guides- Collection of short guidebooks for parents about popular apps, services, and platforms popular with kids from Connect Safely who host Safer Internet Day.

How Secure Is My Password- Check your password strength and how long it will take for your password to be hacked.

Family Online Safety Institute- Resources and toolkits for talking to parents and students about digital safety. Schools may request a free presentation to share to help you have positive digital parents.

LEAP Innovations- Within the LEAP personalized learning framework there are samples of contracts to have with students about good digital citizenship and rules to keep them safe online. There are also strategies for being a learner connected.

Be Internet Awesome - Games and curriculum to help teach students to be internet smart, alert, strong, kind and brave! Kids can play their way to being Internet Awesome with Interland, an online adventure that puts the key lessons of digital safety into hands-on practice with four challenging games. Teachers can download the curriculum to use with students.

Digital Citizenship & Safety Course for Educators- Learn why we teach digital citizenship and safety, online safety on the go, savvy searching, how to stay safe from phishing and more in this short certification course.

NEW: Family Link (for Android devices)- Create a Google Account for your child that's like your own and lets parents manage apps, keep an eye on screen time and set timers on the device.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Day in My Life with Google Keep…

A Day in My Life with Google Keep…

It’s Fall in Education.... How’s is your productivity and organization?  Are you feeling like a leaf in fall and blowing from one thing to the next? Are you sharing multiple docs with various “To Do” lists and can’t keep track of which is which?  Do you feel like you are spinning and just need a kickstand to ground you to catch up?  Well, do I have a deal for you…

Let’s pop out that kickstand and take a look at Google Keep.  Google Keep has become my Go to when it comes to notes, lists, audio recordings, and so much more.  Let me take you in on Day in My Life with Google Keep.

5:00: Alarm goes off…I push snooze but cannot stop thinking of today’s task list.  I grab my phone and open Google Keep.  I create a simple checkbox list of things I need to remember today. Now I can rest a bit more. Keep to the rescue!

6:00: Coffee time and I am out of creamer… lucky for me I have a Google Keep list going for groceries.  Keep to the rescue!

6:30: Kids up and dressed and one mentions she wants me to remember her math website Zearn.  I will never remember it, so I save a link to Google Keep for later reference.  Keep to the rescue!

7:00: Text comes in from teacher.  Question: Do you remember the random name picker mentioned by @John Unruh-Friessen at Google Summit in July? Noting this was a while ago, I know I took notes in Google Keep during the Summit.  I simply search the labels I have in Keep for Google Summit17 and find it instantly.  Even better I can simply share that Google Keep note to her via text!!  Keep to the rescue!

7:30: Preschool drop off.  Reminder appears saying I need to sign permission form. A simple location based reminder kept me on track even when dropping off at preschool.  Keep to the rescue!

8:00: School...  More Reminders popping up:  An important task list reminder is set to notify me at 8:00 daily.  Again, a nice feature of Google Keep to Keep me keeping on.  Keep to the rescue!

9:00: Photos for Science Lab:  Open Google Keep on my iPad, select the camera icon and take photos of Science lab in action. Photos populate in a Keep note that you can edit and add text to as you wish! Keep to the rescue!

10:00: Collaborative NETA Meeting.  Open meeting agenda Google Doc and View/Pull Keep notes into the Doc using Tools menu and  Keep Notepad.  This is handy because all the notes I’ve been taking on the go related to NETA can be accessed or reference or even added to the collaborative document.  This is my FAVORITE feature. Keep to the rescue!

Bonus: Have a photo in Keep that you want added to a document… simply drag it over from the Keep Notepad and you are set!! Keep to the rescue!

11:00:  Image Text:  Have you ever taken a photo of a poster, sign or something similar because you love the quote or saying and want to  have it for future reference?  Maybe you just want the text from the image… Well, check out ‘grab image text’ from the image menu in Keep.  Simply select your photo in Keep, choose the three dots in upper right and choose grab image text.... Prepare to be AmAzEd!  Keep to the rescue!

12:00: Doc Stickers:  Decided to spend some time over lunch providing feedback to student assignments.  As I open student assignment documents I again select tools, and keep notepad.  Using my label titled “stickers” I can easily add feedback via stickers  (my favorite is bitmojis.) This is a super fun and easy way to provide quick feedback and students love it!   Keep to the rescue!

2:00: Google Keep Chrome Extension: Have you ever received an email with an awesome resource link that you do not want to lose so you just kept the email?  With the Google Keep Chrome Extension, you can save that website link as a note, tag it, and easily find it later.  Keep to the rescue!

3:00: Category Tabs Chrome Extension:  No time to research Google Keep notes… with Category Tabs for Google Keep, I can sort your new and existing notes by category. Each category represents one color. Adding a note to a category is very easy, just change the color of the note. When you want to view the notes you have sorted by color, simply click on the note color you wish to view. Keep to the rescue!

4:00: Pin note: Ready to call it a day but want my “to do” list at the top of my notes… by simply “pinning” the list it will show up at the top of my Keep notes and greet me first thing when I open Keep the next time. Keep to the rescue!

5:00: Voice note:  Random thoughts sometimes require a note…. How about a voice note.  With the Google Keep app I can voice record a reminder or note for playback later.  Sometimes the voice recording is easier and a better resource than a typed note! Keep to the rescue!

6:30: Location Reminder:  Stopped at Hy-Vee for some groceries and before I could even open my Google Keep shopping list I received the list via location based reminder…  Keep to the rescue!

As you can see Google Keep has become my favorite Google tool both personally and professionally.  Whether I am making lists, providing feedback, collaborating, or simply taking notes, Google Keep has me covered.  Maybe Keep can rescue you too. Go ahead, put your kickstand back up, hit the ground running and take Google Keep along with you!   

Keep to the rescue!

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Tall and Short of ISTE 2017

The Tall and Short of ISTE 2017


ISTE 2017 proved to be yet another amazing experience.   Just as any conference there are always “Tall” things you take away and “short” things you take away.  The “Tall” things are the big picture ideas that you wrap your mind around bringing back to your school and district. The “short” things are the quick takeaways you can implement right when you return.  Let me share with you the “Tall and Short of ISTE 2017.”

The “Tall” things I takeaway at conferences are the overarching themes, ideas consistently mentioned throughout sessions and keynotes.  This year “sharing your story” was a statement I heard several times.  New ISTE CEO, Richard Culatta  shared this message several times when addressing attendees.  Whether you blog, tweet or use other social media, everyone has a story and it is worth sharing. This is a message we need to send to students as well.  Our stories show our successes, failures and our journey to grow and improve.  What is YOUR story and how are you sharing it?

Another “Tall” takeaway is the connections.  Whether it’s meeting face to face with those who I know on Twitter or making new connections, ISTE is full of like-minded educators striving to connect, learn and grow.  There is just something awesome about the post session conversations that continue well after the conference.  For example, upon arriving at the airport for my return flight, I was greeted by the not so fun “delayed flight” notification.  The disappointment was quickly erased as I made yet another connection, Andrew from Alaska!! Due to a flight delay I was lucky enough to extend my ISTE experience with conversation and reflection with Andrew. We shared ISTE takeaways, school district stories and thoughts and ideas about education in general.  This is just one example of the value of connections and how learning at conferences extends beyond the specified calendar days.

The “Short” takeaways  are tips, tricks and tools that I takeaway and can share and implement with ease as soon as I get home. The first short takeaway is new features in Kahoot.  With the launch of a NEW app, students can now see the questions and answer options on their own device!  This is huge for younger students using Kahoot. Another takeaway involves  Book Creator.  Book creator is now available on the WEB!!  Those using Chromebooks have a reason to celebrate this recent update!!  Still looking for more short takeaways…. Let’s celebrate messaging in Seesaw.  Not only can you share stories and projects with parents and teachers, Seesaw now has the ability to send direct messages or reminders to those parents who are linked to your Seesaw class!  

And last but not least, let me share my “Tall and Short” takeaway.  You may recall last year’s release of updated ISTE student standards.  This year ISTE launched the updated teacher standards.  As we embrace the idea of learning to learn over learning facts, provide more voice and choice in learning and focus on pedagogy and leadership, there was a need for improved educator standards.  As an empowered professional, learning catalyst, thee ISTE standards for educators are designed to inspire a vision for pedagogy-driven digital learning and teaching. You can find more information and downloads of the new educator standards as well as those for students and administrators here.

Whether you take away tall or short things from conferences, always know that we all start our learning journey at a different level.  You may feel short, you may feel tall.  We take away both.  Take time to reflect on the short and the tall, challenge yourself to grow taller, take risks and share the story of your journey. After all, we are better together. Thank you Corey Dahl for the opportunity to take frequent “tall/short” photos and allow me to use this humor as a way to reflect on my ISTE 2017 experience.

Photo credit: Corey Dahl

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer Sip Share And...

Well, I am not sure how many times I have said I was going to blog more consistently.  I feel like I reflect on this near the end of every summer.  I will not view this as a failed attempt at learning but rather a work in progress. That being said, let me share: 

Summer Sip Share And... 

SIP: I love opportunities to collaborate and learn from others especially over coffee. Twice this summer I had opportunities to visit local coffee shops to collaborate share and learn together. I did attend a few conferences this summer and learned a lot, but love the opportunity to reflect, share and collaborate following a conference.  
Share: Sharing ideas, tips and tricks with others is a big part of my job.  Much of what I share comes from others. I truly value the opportunities to learn from so many.  Whether you challenge my thinking, reply to my email, ask a question or give a compliment you are helping me grow personally and professionally.

And: Here we are ready to start another year. I am starting  my 20th year in education. I am still trying to blog more frequently. I am still trying to get my inbox to zero.  I am still trying to choose the best tools to manage workflow.  Cheers to a new year, friends.  I look forward to Sipping Sharing And... smiling!!  :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tech is Nice and So is Pumpkin Spice...

Tech is Nice and So is Pumpkin Spice... Yes, I know you are reading a lot about pumpkin everything these days so why not connect that seasonal sound to my latest blog post!!

To some of us coffee is coffee and to some of us tech is tech. However, there are those of us who anxiously await the seasonal coffee favorites such as Pumpkin Spice or Peppermint Mocha.  Just like these seasonal trends, there are some tech related trends as well.  Some tech tools or trends may seem like the regular coffee and some are that special treat or the Pumpkin Spice.  Just to stick with the seasonal trend I will share four of my "Pumpkin Spice" tech tools.

1. Google Keep: This is Google hidden gem.  Google Keep has that hidden "spice" that helps keep my desk free of sticky notes, my phone organized with important reminders, and syncs on all of my devices.  Google Keep allows me to take pictures, record my voice, color-code, share and track lists, notes, links and so much more.  This tool has the "caffeine" I need.

2. Boomerang: Boomerang for gmail allows you to schedule emails to be sent or returned on a certain date!  This is like the whipped cream on my Pumpkin Spice Latte... It just hits the spot for productivity.

3. Seesaw: Nothing says top notch in everything like this student driven digital portfolio.  The possibilities with this app are "steaming" and your cup never goes empty on ideas here.  You just have to see it to believe it.  Whether your students are in Kindergarten or High School, this tool will keep you craving for more.  No need to watch your calories with this one... here's MORE.

4. Canva: A "must-have" creation tool.  This tool allows users to easily create documents, flyers, social media posts, graphics, invitations, and so much more.  Canva puts a lot of "flavor" into any shared creation.  And if you want a little more check out the design school feature.

Just like my seasonal coffee favorites, technology tools come and go.  It is always hard when a favorite retires or is replaced by a new one.  Whether you are set on a few of your own favorites or looking for new ideas, I hope some of these turn out to be that "special treat" your tech tastebuds needed.

Have a great start to September!!

Friday, February 19, 2016

"That Lesson"

One of the best parts of my job are the opportunities to share and collaborate with teachers.  Another favorite part is the opportunity to go into a classroom to work with and support a teacher as he/she teaches the lesson we collaborated on.
Photo credit: +Michael Herzberg 

It is with great excitement and pride that I write and share this post referencing +Katie Pfanstiel the 4th-grade teacher I recently worked with. Last week Katie and I were chatting about her upcoming Math lesson on money and sales tax.  She wanted to change things up and find a more engaging and interactive way to teach and reinforce this skill.  She brought up the idea of QR codes.  I loved the idea and knew that we could come up with something.  During our discussion, we decided that it would be fun to create some note cards with practice problems for her students to complete.  The answers would be created using QR codes and on separate note cards for them to check after completing the problem.  During the activity,  students would get the problem cards from Mrs. Pfanstiel and they would solve the problem and then locate the answer card (QR code) in the room to check their answers. With a simple 1-10 numbering system, she was able to keep the cards and answers organized for easy checking and referencing.  

Yesterday, I was able to be part of her class and provide support as she introduced the topic and her students worked through the engaging and interactive practice problems.  After leaving her room yesterday, I was beaming with excitement.  I found myself texting, emailing, and chatting with others about how awesome the entire lesson was.  So... let me share some of the highlights and things that resonate with me about this amazing lesson:

1. Katie: When Katie and I collaborated on this activity, her last words to me were, "Yes, I have time during conferences to work on things to better my classroom. I will create the note cards and share them with you.” I thought, "Go, Katie, Go!" Of course, later that evening I received a  text showcasing her completed project.  I could not wait for the lesson.

2.  Student Names: We all know that "sample" problems in the book use random names and they are generally not too exciting.  Katie's practice problems consisted of some "book examples" and some of her own, BUT each practice problem used a student's name.  This was a simple engaging addition to her activity that just meant the world to these kids.  It was very evident because as they worked through a problem and went back for another, they were referencing the cards by student name rather than card number.  #nailedit

3. Introduction: Introducing a lesson (especially in math)  in a way that students can relate to is so valuable.  Katie's introduction was a simple copy of two receipts she had.  Each student had a copy and worked together to find subtotal, tax, and total on both.  This was a great introduction into cost and sales tax and students were able to relate to her example.

4. Homework: The word homework itself is a "hot topic" in general, so I find it important to reference here. You may have picked up on the fact that these note cards were truly practice problems or "homework."  However, her students did not pick up on that.  After all her students finished each of the practice problems, (which we had not planned for them to finish) they asked what the their homework was.  When Katie informed them that that was their homework, they replied, "Awesome, that was fun."  

5. Conversations: This may have been my favorite part.  I loved listening to the conversations in the room.  Some conversations centered around comparing names on the practice problems, others were collaborating to find the QR code answer, and all of them helped each other work through errors or simple calculation mistakes.  The classroom environment was full of excitement, engagement and learning.   

In closing, I would just like to note that none of the five highlights from this lesson actually mention the technology used.  The technology was engaging and effective, but just a part of what the purpose was. I love that this lesson was planned and executed around the skill and topic and that the technology was used to enhance what she was teaching and asking her students to practice.  

Thank you +Katie Pfanstiel for allowing me to be part of something awesome yesterday!  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Goals, Learning and Podcasts...

It's that time of year again... everyone is setting goals for the new year and brainstorming ways to reach them.  Personally and professionally, setting goals and reflecting on them is important to me. Until earlier this week, I honestly hadn't thought of any particularly "new" goals for 2016, I was still reflecting on recent goals/progress.  When I read +ShakeUpLearning (Kacey Bell) blog post titled "16 Things Teachers Should Try in 2016" my mind was spinning.  Not only was this post a way for me to reflect, but a great way to focus on new goals.  It also fits perfectly with some information I recently shared with teachers in our district regarding all the FREE professional development and learning opportunities surrounding us. I love YouTube. I use Voxer to learn daily. Twitter is my favorite PD. I learn from students all the time.

Looking at this list... as crazy as it sounds, I have not been one to dive into Podcasts.  Several  EDU friends +Kristina Peters +Brent Catlett +Josh Allen +Craig Badura +Devin Schoening participate, share, and discuss podcasts that they love, learn from and recommend.  So.... I have decided that I am going to take the plunge into Podcasts as another way to learn and reflect.

So.... Bring it on, friends!  I am excited to hear recommendations from all of you. What are your favorite educational and/or edtech podcasts?  Maybe we can start a Voxer Group for sharing and reflecting!!  Here's to more learning!!