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TCEAMG Learn with Me! Blog

Welcome to my TCEA Learn With Me! blog. It is where I keep scratch notes on articles that will appear in TCEA's TechEdge or TechNotes. Think of it as a "look behind the scenes" of my writing and composition process, rough and unfinished.

Google Hangouts for Educators

posted Apr 1, 2016, 2:45 PM by Miguel Guhlin   [ updated Apr 3, 2016, 10:27 AM by Miguel Guhlin ]


Image Source: Color and Dust Gallery - http://tinyurl.com/h95euku
Does your school cultivate a "culture of thinking?" That is, a culture where educators make their thinking visible to each other and students? We often expect our children to just "know how to think," but our role as educators is essential as we work to make our own thinking processes transparent. Yet, doing that only with our students, if at all, may not provide us with enough practice. After all, students are "supervised" by adults who, because of the institutional authority they wield, may not have to explain their thinking. This problem--getting educators to slow down, make note of how and why they are thinking, then share that with others in a way that's understandable--can be solved with more practice. Solutions like Google Hangouts, Microsoft Skype, Blab.im, Appear.in, Voxer chats all present opportunities for us to trot out our thinking in front of others...and see what happens! In this blog entry, we will explore Google Hangouts for Educators as one example of a technology that can help make our thinking visible.
Note: The term--"cultures of thinking"--comes from Ron Ritchhart, Senior Research Associate at Harvard's Project Zero, as cited in Katrina Schwartz' article, When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges.

What is Google Hangouts?

If you are not familiar with Google Hangouts, it is a communications medium that works on your computer, your mobile device, enabling you to video/audio chat, involving up to 150 people if necessary! There are many ways to use Google Hangouts. You can get started with them quite easily. The best way to get started is to jump in and connect with a friend, like me!

How can Google Hangouts Connect Us?

Since some may find it difficult to understand how Google Hangouts could be useful in the classroom, consider its power to connect people across time and space. Here are two specific examples, but there are many more:
  1. Google Hangouts in Education: From the Google Plus community (17,139 members strong!!), "This is a community for educators who are using Google Hangouts in their classrooms. My hope is that this becomes a hub for teachers to connect, collaborate, and discuss how they are using Google Hangouts to enrich the learning experiences of their students." Some of the hangouts include Ask a Meteorologist , 2nd grade Culture Exchange, an 8th Grade Class in Minnesota interested in a Mystery Hangoutand a third grade, Spanish-speaking class. As you might imagine, the possibilities are ending for connecting with educators passionate to connect globally, and what a great opportunity for your students!
  2. Mystery Hangout: What an amazing idea! This 4,823 Google Plus Community--all educators--play a game with these instructions:Mystery Hangout is a social game played with two groups of students. It's a mix of Battleships and 20 questions. 1. Two classes prepare by writing clues or questions about their geographical location for the other class. 2. Classes do a G+ Hangout. They take turns giving clues about where they are or asking questions about the location of the other class. 4. The first class to guess the other's location wins. This is an incredible blend of familiar games we know and love!
Again, these two examples are only the tip of the iceberg of educators connecting with each other. Each is replete with wonderful ideas to connect teachers and students across time and space.

How can Google Hangouts Make Thinking Visible?

Favorite among the ways people are using Google Hangouts is for live professional learning opportunities. These "Hangouts" are facilitated by educators for educators. My all-time favorite Google Hangout is the School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program...From their web site, here is the rationale for SAVMP program which employs Google Hangouts to bring people together and create digital cultures of thinking:
"Looking to help develop administrators to lead innovative school environments that meet the needs of students today, we have decided to start the “School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program” (#SAVMP). This program is to pair a new administrator with one that has more experience." I had the opportunity to participate with fellow Texan and organizer, Amber Teamann--who also happens to be a TCEA member!--discussing crucial conversations. What a powerful experience to make thinking visible around such an important topic.
Another powerful tool that educators are using to harness the power of Google Hangouts is the Unhangout via MIT. It is described in this way:
Unhangout is an open source platform for running large-scale, unconferences online. We use Google Hangouts to create as many small breakout sessions as needed, and help users find others with shared interests.
On April 2, 2016, organizers and participants in the #EdCampCoachOL were able to connect to other educators via Google Hangouts. Using UnHangout tool, they were able to participate a series of "breakout room sessions," each powered by its own unique Google Hangout. UnHangout provided the organizational structure ("The Lobby") from which multiple Google Hangouts--the breakout sessions--were launched. Make thinking visible by engaging yourself in conversations with other educators, not just in your school but also globally. The conversations can help expose fallacies in your thinking and also enable you to share wonderful ideas with a world waiting to hear and see what you have to say. Google Hangouts for Educators can make that happen!
Need professional learning, either face to face or in a virtual space? Contact the TCEA! We'll be happy to provide professional learning and guidance that will help you create a visible "culture of thinking" in your school, region, or state!

Top Mobile Apps for Reading & Creating eBooks #ePub

posted Apr 1, 2016, 12:43 PM by Miguel Guhlin

Rediscover books in digital format with this blog entry. Not only are there new ways to interact with ebooks on Android, iOS and Windows Mobile devices, but you can also easily create ebooks for sharing! This blog entry offers suggestions on where to find ebooks, how to make ebooks, as well as how to read them on popular mobile devices. Are are you an avid reader? Or, perhaps your students are creating ePubs using GoogleDocs built-in ePub exporter? If so, you can definitely take your reading on the road with these mobile apps.

OBTAINING AND CREATING EBOOKS

Finding non-Digital Rights Management (a.k.a. non-DRM) can be a challenge for schools. This may be why OverDrive is heavily used in many libaries, and solutions like BiblioTech are quite popular.

Obtaining Books

Below, you will find some sites I have used in the past to find non-DRM-formatted ePubs.
Note: As in any library or book store, there exists content that may be inappropriate for younger readers. Have learning conversations with students and parents when counseling that they "find free stuff" to read on the Web. That caveat in mind, I have tried to link to the Children's/Juvenile section of each ebook distributor below.
Remember that the best books often can be created by students, for students!

Creating eBooks

While the options for creating eBooks, especially those in the standard ePub format, have grown, here are my top two favorite eBook creation tools:
  • GoogleDocs ePub export - This provides for an easy way to create ePub formatted ebooks.
  • Book Creator - If you haven't used Book Creator, it is an excellent ePub creation tool--boasting over 15 million ebooks created!--for Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices, allowing you to create a simple ePub without media, as well as an enhanced ePub with video, audio and more embedded. This versatility means you can create content on an iPad/iOS device and share it with a wide variety of audiences.  You can also shared it to various cloud storage (e.g. Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or iCloud). It also supports the creation of digital comic books!

READING EBOOKS ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICE

Depending on your mobile device, you will want to consider the following apps. For me, these are "best of breed" and top picks among apps available. Remember, I read a lot on my mobile devices, and these have been the ones that have been most trouble-free.

Device #1 - iOS (iPad/iPhone)

  • iBooks (Free) - The Apple iBooks app is the default ebook reading app on most Apple devices. Some folks may never want to use anything else, but for avid readers who may not want to be locked in, the next recommendation may be worth your consideration.
  • Readdle Documents (Free) - The Documents app makes it a cinch to read non-Digital Rights Management (DRM) ePub/PDF ebooks.  Loading up ePub/PDF files onto your iOS device is a cinch with Documents.
  • Google Play Books (Free) - Google Play has a ton of free content available, much of it falling into the "classics" collection. What's neat is that you can easily drop content into Google Play and it will sync across devices. For Districts using Chromebooks, this may be a welcome addition. And, the Google app works great on iOS devices. If you are moving across devices in the Google ecosystem, then definitely consider Google Play books.

Device #2 - Android

For Android users, the choices are fairly clear:
  • Aldiko (Free) - While Android tablets have ample access to ePub/ebook readers, Aldiko reigns supreme as the free, no-cost reading tool to use on tablets running some version of Android. A version of it can also be "side-loaded"--quite easy and legal--onto the Amazon Fire tablet, as well as the Barnes and Noble Samsung tablet. In this way, you can load ebooks on an SD card or use an app to copy non-DRM ePub files.
  • Google Play Books (Free) - Google Play has a ton of free content available, much of it falling into the "classics" collection. What's neat is that you can easily drop content into Google Play and it will sync across devices. For Districts using Chromebooks, this may be a welcome addition. And, the Google app works great on iOS devices. If you are moving across devices in the Google ecosystem, then definitely consider Google Play books.
Having used both these, I must admit that I keep them loaded on my Android tablet all the time! I use Aldiko when I have non-DRM content that I intend to read only on one device, but use Google Play Books when I have non-DRM content that I want to read on multiple devices, whether it be my Android tablet, iPhone, iPad and/or Web (e.g. Mac/Windows/Chromebook). Most folks will just use Google Play Books and never both with Aldiko, but the latter is worth the mention because it is free, open source.

Device #3 - Windows

For Windows mobile devices, consider the following ePub book readers:
  • Bookviser Reader (Free) - A friendly, easy to use ebook reader for Windows Mobile.
  • Freda (Free, ad-supported) - This is a free Windows mobile ebook reader that allows you to access ebooks stored in a variety of places (e.g. Dropbox, OneDrive, SD cards).
  • Ebook Reader (Free but $2.99 version available for more features) - Another Windows mobile ebook reader.
As a veteran reader, I encourage you to read and write more! More importantly, encourage your students to become authors to a global audience.

MIE Classroom Spotlight - Online Surveys

posted Mar 31, 2016, 7:31 PM by Miguel Guhlin

Are you an Office 365 school district? If so, then you may be missing out on some awesome uses of tools you have access to! In this MIE Classroom Spotlight, we focus on how to collect data using Excel Online. 

"You can't do online surveys," said a colleague to me recently, much to my surprise, "in Office 365 like you can in GoogleForms."  A newly minted Microsoft Innovative Educator, this didn't seem accurate, so some quick investigation revealed that you CAN create online surveys using Excel Online, which is a component of Office 365. If you are a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE), or your District uses Office 365, then you will want to explore this!

Classroom Spotlight: Online Data Collection

In a previous blog entry, we discussed how powerful infographics can be to illustrate data. What if students (or staff) were to collect actual data using an online survey tool then use that data for their infographic? Gillian Riley points out the following:
The benefits of spreadsheets are that they help students manage working with complex sets of numbers and save time by allowing for quick calculations.  This frees students to ask more “what if” questions and may increase motivation because students can manipulate spreadsheet graphics.  Spreadsheets have four main functions students can explore: data collection, creating graphs, plotting timelines, and recording surveys results. . .For students data collection can be used to record homework grades, class assignments, and test scores to keep a tally of the overall class grade.  Spreadsheets can also be used to keep track of a budget for a hypothetical business, club, or personal living expenses, or specific information from a science lab. (Source: Using Spreadsheets in the Classroom)

With Office 365 for staff and students, you and your students can use OneDrive.com and Excel Online to create an online survey with data being fed into an Excel spreadsheet automagically! Read on to see how!

Quick How-To: Create an Excel Online Survey
Step 1 - Go to OneDrive.com and select Excel Survey from the drop-down, as shown below:


 
Step 2 - Create the Survey and Add Questions


 Then...when you complete it, you will be able to View the Survey...
And, then you can SHARE SURVEY and CREATE LINK, which you can shorten to something manageable (like http://1drv.ms/1VWGCBE):

This is what that looks like:

Finally, you can see data online in your spreadsheet:

Step 3 - Modify the Survey
If others need to be able to interact with the data, you can SHARE the Excel Online spreadsheet with them! If you need to modify the survey itself, that's pretty easy, too!


And, that's it! If you'd like to see a video of the process, you can watch this one.

Resources


Lesson Planning: 5E Model + Technology

posted Mar 31, 2016, 1:16 PM by Miguel Guhlin

While lesson plans may have fallen out of favor in some districts--replaced by online curriculum management systems--the lesson planning process represents an excellent opportunity for collaborative planning and development. When the opportunity presents itself for co-planning, it's important to have a common framework for lessons that enlists the expertise of classroom teachers and campus curriculum guides. One popular approach to lesson planning is the 5E Model, yet enhanced with technology. In this blog entry, we will briefly explore 5E and how it might look when enhanced with technology. If you have other examples from your own work or online, please share them in the comments!

THE 5E+T MODEL - Sample Lesson Plan As you can see in the table below, there are the 5 Es themselves along with a technology connection, then a brief description of what success looks like.

5 E

Technology Connection

What Success Looks Like

ENGAGE

Activities that capture the students' attention, stimulate their thinking, and help them access prior knowledge.Students become engaged in the process of inquiry. The teacher can ask questions to find out what students already know, or think they know, about the topic and concepts to be covered. These questions typically start with "how" instead of with "why.”

_ Problem-based Learning (PBL) component or Online Simulation

_ Collaborative Projects with GoogleApps

_ Concept map creation

_ Create interactive web sites that others can connect and interact with.

_ Create video/audio explorations of a topic, responding to questions.

Teacher creates a problem narrative/engagement scenario, video, or resource that engages students, then helps students develop questions and identify what and KWHLT.

EXPLORE

Enable students to explore their ideas, singly and in groups, in classroom or at a distance. Provides students time to think, plan, investigate, and organize collected information.

_ Video

_ Blog or GoogleSites

_ Podcast/Vidcast

_ Data collection (GoogleForm/Sheet)

Students conduct advanced searches using Boolean operators (and/or) after having developed effective questions/search queries, blog journaling, curate content and add comments (e.g. Flipboard), video, vidcast/podcast, remixing another product, create a GoogleHangout or VoxerChat.

EXPLAIN

Students acquire opportunities to connect their previous experiences with current learning and to make conceptual sense of the main ideas of the topic being studied.

_ Digital storytelling

_ Podcasting/Vidcasting

_ Presentation (Google Slides)

_ Blog or GoogleSites

_ Collaborative Product Creation

Create a media product (e.g. video, podcast), digital story or plan a web site using storyboarding and script-writing to share their learning and help others understand it.

ELABORATE

Students apply or extend previously introduced concepts and experiences to new situations. Students apply their knowledge to real world applications.

_ Forum (GoogleClassroom)

_ Product creation

_ Virtual field trip

_ Ask an Expert video chat

Students develop a solution to a real problem that incorporates their knowledge, communicating that in a variety of media formats.

EVALUATE

Students, with their teachers, review and assess what they have learned and how they have learned it. Students can be given a summative assessment to demonstrate what they know and can do.

_ Video Feedback on product

_ OneNote notebook with feedback

But wait, there's more! Let's also include what this might look like with a lesson in mind.

Learning Objectives:

Students will learn to conduct investigations to differentiate among different forms of energy, including mechanical, sound, electrical, light and heat / thermal energy. Students will also accomplish the following:

  • design and conduct a descriptive investigation to test the effect of force on an object.  Forces may include pushes, pulls, gravity, friction, or magnetism.  
  • select appropriate equipment, collect and record data using the metric system, and construct simple tables, charts, bar graphs to organize, examine, and evaluate data.  
  • communicate valid oral and written results supported by data.  
  • Draw inferences and evaluate accuracy of services and product claims found in advertisements and labelssuch as for toys.  
  • Record scientific data and observations in their science notebooks and practice safety during investigations.

 

TEKS Connection:

4.6(A) Differentiate among forms of energy, including mechanical, sound, electrical, light, and heat/thermal.

4.6(B) Differentiate between conductors and insulators.

4.6(C) Demonstrate that electricity travels in a closed path, creating an electrical circuit, and explore an electromagnetic field.

4.6(D) Design an experiment to test the effect of force on an object such as a push or a pull, gravity, friction, or magnetism.

 

And, here's what the table might look like:

5 E

Technology Connection

What Success Looks Like

ENGAGE

Activities that capture the students' attention, stimulate their thinking, and help them access prior knowledge.

 x  Problem-based Learning (PBL) component or Online Simulation

_ Collaborative Projects with GoogleApps

_ Concept map creation

_ Create interactive web sites that others can connect and interact with.

_ Create video/audio explorations of a topic, responding to questions.

Problem Engagement: 

 

KSAT 12 has contacted the school and asked us to investigate exploding hoverboards. What they are asking is, simply speaking, “How do hoverboards work and are they are safe?”  

EXPLORE

Enable students to explore their ideas, singly and in groups, in classroom or at a distance. Provides students time to think, plan, investigate, and organize collected information.

_ Video

_ Blog or GoogleSites

_ Podcast/Vidcast

_ Data collection (GoogleForm/Sheet or Excel Online survey)

Students create a GoogleForm-based survey, or a survey with Office 365's Excel Online product to gather data on how many hoverboard there might actually be in people's possession at school.

EXPLAIN

Students acquire opportunities to connect their previous experiences with current learning and to make conceptual sense of the main ideas of the topic being studied.

_ Digital storytelling

_ Podcasting/Vidcasting

_ Presentation (Google Slides)

_ Blog or GoogleSites

_ Collaborative Product Creation

Create a media product (e.g. video, podcast), digital story or plan a web site using storyboarding and script-writing to share their learning and help others understand it.

ELABORATE

Students apply or extend previously introduced concepts and experiences to new situations. Students apply their knowledge to real world applications.

_ Forum (GoogleClassroom)

_ Product creation

_ Virtual field trip

_ Ask an Expert video chat

Students develop a solution to a real problem that incorporates their knowledge, communicating that in a variety of media formats.

EVALUATE

Students, with their teachers, review and assess what they have learned and how they have learned it. Students can be given a summative assessment to demonstrate what they know and can do.

_ Video Feedback on product

_ OneNote notebook

Students create a video that summarizes what they have learned, embedding it as a Microsoft Sway in their OneNote Class Notebook.
As you can see, using the 5E+T Model can simplify lesson planning and help you develop classroom activities that do more than cover required essential knowledge and skills.
 

3 Strategies to Create Infographics for the Art-Challenged

posted Mar 30, 2016, 12:11 PM by Miguel Guhlin   [ updated Mar 30, 2016, 1:55 PM ]

https://sites.google.com/site/tceamg/blogs/TCEAMG-Blog/_draft_post/6majordeserts.png
Want to join the cool kids with infographics that spellbind and inform but afraid your art skills aren't up to snuff? Don't despair, read this blog entry for 3 strategies to creating infographics with quick, free tools, while "silencing your inner critic" for good measure!  I don't remember how it happened, what I was working on, but the "F" in Art on my kindergarten report card painted its own picture. And, that "painting" hangs on my mental wall of shame, a constant reminder that I am terrible at art.  In fact, we probably all need to be a little more conscious of grading policies that are letter-focused and their negative effect:
...if the purpose of academic grading is to communicate accurate and specific information about learning, letter, or points-based grades, are a woefully blunt and inadequate instrument. Worse, points-based grading undermines learning and creativity, rewards cheating, damages students' peer relationships and trust in their teachers, encourages students to avoid challenging work, and teaches students to value grades over knowledge. (Read More)
In that context, that is why the act of creating infographics can be stressful and frustrating--nothing you create will be good enough to meet the standards of your inner critic. That inner art critic may be saying any of the following to you:
  • You can't draw.
  • Stick figures will be as good as you ever get.
  • You don't know enough to make an infographic.
By taking action against the inner critic, you can silence that inner voice that stops you before you begin! But how DO you take action?

3 Strategies to Creating Info-Graphics

While chatting with Peggy Reimers (Director of Professional Development) during a TCEA Lunch & Learn (available only to TCEA members), she made the following recommendations and I have followed each strategy with some reflection and ideas from the Lunch & Learn chat:

Strategy 1: Voice & Choice

Voice and choice are powerful motivators. Just thinking about the TCEA Area 20 supported events, like #edcampsa, and it's easy to see why it has grown so popular--conference attendees have voice and choice about the sessions in this "unconference" conference. In fact, when planning the TECSIG Spring Meeting, having a portion of the day be an unconference immediately stirred people's creativity. That sense of ownership can be quite beneficial when designing infographics, whether alone or as part of a team!
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"] #edcampsa - Participants identifying session topics[/caption]
When creating an infographic, voice and choice may manifest as you having a say about what information you are sharing, finding a way that uniquely expresses who you are and intersects with the content. As an infographic creator, do not forget to ask yourself, "What could I create that would make this more helpful to viewers?" To do that, I ask myself, "In each of my respective roles as a teacher, administrator, parent, how could I make an infographic that answers my questions and meets my needs? Once you have overcome your fear, consider using a site like Daily Infographic as inspiration...not for examples that you may never be able to replicate ("Be silent, inner critic! Silent!"), but for examples of design elements you can incorporate into your own creations.

Did You Know? TCEA Lunch and Learn webinars are FREE for TCEA Members and membership is only $49 a year! Wow! And, you get access to LOTS of resources that might take you days to find via your favorite professional learning network! And, reflecting on building your PLN, have you considered adding these accounts to those you follow on Twitter? @preimers, @diben, @drbruceellis, @mguhlin and, of course, @TCEA ?

Strategy 2: Start with a specific topic

Starting with a specific topic, the more specific the better, you are able to shed the vague unease of creation. It enables you to carefully select what would be most helpful and engaging. This is useful because of information-overload, it may be hard to make sense of it all. One of the ways I narrow in on a topic is to make a semantic web, or concept map (spider map). This is a relatively simple approach that makes it easy to focus on key concepts, information and data. And, while I may not use all the data in one creation, I can still develop it in another.

Strategy 3: Use easy tools

In Peggy's presentation at the TCEA Lunch & Learn held on March 30, 2016, several TCEA members shared some of their "go to" infographic creation tools. For example, Casey Phelps recommended PiktoChart--which Laura Howard said World Geography students in her district also employ--and Infog.ram for use with students and staff. Smore was another easy tool Casey recommended, saying, "We use Smore as our Instructional Technology newsletter for our staff! On Smore, multiple users can collaborate... they just have to be signed in using the same account."  Others suggested Canva iPad app, and especially their infographics site. And, finally, for overcoming your inner critic when it comes to infographics, Alison Berquette suggested beginning with Thinglink to start. Combining PiktoChart (used to create the infographic) and Thinglink (add interactivity for web posts) can extend the reach and usability of your new creation!

References

Infographic. Average Temperature of Six Major Deserts. Created with Infog.ram

3 Steps to Leverage Technology for English Language Learners (ELLs) (Draft #2)

posted Mar 24, 2016, 8:06 AM by Miguel Guhlin   [ updated Mar 24, 2016, 8:19 AM ]

"¿Como podríamos mostrar lo que hemos aprendido?" It's a question every teacher could ask students--what are some ways that we can use technology to show what we have learned? Since technology can change the way students communicate--via rich multimedia that amplifies their voices--in the classroom, it introduces new patterns of discourse. Students have the opportunity to develop a "dynamic understanding that is collaboratively constructed in discussion among students" in the target language (Source: Handbook of Discourse Practices). In this blog entry, we'll briefly explore some ways to leverage technology that enable students to collaboratively construct dynamic understandings of a second language with technology.

LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY FOR ELLs

While the first impulse may be to buy content and/or apps that have technology components, my experience as a bilingual/ESL education technologist indicates that those materials are seldom available for purchase when needed. Unfortunately, "access to a rigorous curriculum continues to be a critical issue for Latino and other minority students....[researcher] cited evidence that Latino and other underrepresented students are more likely to be assigned to low curriculum tracks" (Source). How can ELL, and/or dual language, educators have an impact?

By leveraging technology to enhance second language learning opportunities, instructional professionals can create new patterns of discourse in their English Language Learner (ELL) classrooms with "off-the-shelf" technologies. These "off-the-shelf" technologies will seem commonplace to digital coaches, and offer increased interactions between students keen on technology and learning.

KEY WAYS TO LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY

Some ways to leverage technology include the following:
  1. Students have increasing access to digital tools, especially as they enter middle and high school. For example, most standard mobile devices are smartphones that include a built-in camera capable of still photos and digital video, multiple communication apps. Consider inventorying what technologies students have access to, such as smartphones, level of network/internet access on devices, home technology, computer access.
  2. Increase home access to technology through programs that transfer school computers unusable for education purposes--such as older desktops and laptops that can't be upgraded to run the latest software needed for high stakes assessments--to students. Encourage your school district to follow in the footsteps of districts like Abilene ISD, Arp ISD, East Central ISD, RoundRock ISD, and Weslaco ISD, which have technology take-home programs in place.
  3. Students and teachers can use digital devices as tools for authentic communication and for accomplishing intellectually challenging, nonremedial tasks in the context of culturally appropriate whole activities. We have already discussed in the TCEA TechNotes blog tools like Voxer ("Ready, Set...Vox!"), Appear.inGoogle HangoutsMicrosoft Skype, to facilitate real time collaboration. It is heartening to know that students, in flipped and blended learning settings, take advantage of apps like Adobe Voice, SnapchatYouTubeKikCelly to connect with each other already. Even with home internet access at less than 70% (as cited in this study at a Texas school), students at intermediate campuses and above may enjoy a higher rate of access to connected, mobile devices.
  4. Students can use technology to produce theme-centered, multimedia slide shows, electronic hypermedia books, and publish their poetry and written pieces. More on apps in a minute.
  5. Students can use technology to graph real life data and explore--with audio recordings--the relationships between data and their graphical representations using programs like GoogleSheetsMS ExcelLibreOffice, and/or Haiku Deck app for iOS.
  6. Students begin to learn the words for the graphics they wish to incorporate in their slide show, as well as the processes of modifying, saving and retrieving their work. Students learn to interweave audio narration using the microphone on their digital device, with some experimenting in the target language by reading or translating their work
 
Here are 3 easy steps you can follow in any classroom, but especially, a language learning class:
 

Step 1 - Create Content:

The tools for creating content have never been easier to use. Consider the following:
  • Narrated Audio Slideshows  - (read more)
  • Create eBooks - Students can create ebooks that incorporate audio, video, and text. (read more)
  • Digital Storytelling - Students can approach storytelling from two perspectives - oral composition or written composition. Remember digital storytelling approach can be used for any content area, not just text. And students reading peers' context while listening to audio is powerful and supported in the research.
    • Oral Storytelling - Focus is on audio recording. Take pictures and then add audio narration. Or, simply record audio of a child's story, then have them prepare text to match it.
    • Written Composition Approach - Students write a script, match pictures to main events in the script, then narrate it, combining all the components into a narrated slideshow.
Step 2 - Publish Content
If your district doesn't have its own online space where staff and students can publish video, audio and images, you can take advantage of GoogleApps for Education with its unlimited storage--or, Microsoft for Education's OneDrive with 1 terabyte of space--to house content and/or YouTube. There really isn't any reason why you can't share content with a global audience!
 
Step 3 - Share, Share, Share
Once content is shared online, consider creating a district (or classroom) clearinghouse for awesome content in a GoogleSite (web site), Microsoft Microsoft's OneNote, or a web-based sharing platform you feel comfortable with and enjoys your organization's support. This can be organized by grade level, reading level, etc.
 
Conclusion
The main benefit of these 3 steps is that it removes the some of the pressure of finding materials in the target language, and instead helps students and staff create content--while collaboratively constructing a product that embodies their dynamic understandings of academic topics--that are relevant, appropriate, and engaging, while building on students' key learning experiences.

Image References
Key fob. Available online at http://blog.caranddriver.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Key-Fob-626x382.jpg

3 Steps to Leverage Technology for English Language Learners (ELLs)

posted Mar 22, 2016, 11:12 AM by Miguel Guhlin

Technology can change the way students communicate in the classroom. It can create new patterns of discourse. 

Looking for some ways to leverage technology to enhance dual language instruction? While the first impulse may be to buy content that has technology components, often materials aren't readily available for purchase. District and campus staff can leverage technology to enhance dual language instruction by using it to create content, facilitate communication between classes, and, then, facilitate sharing.

Some ways to leverage technology include the following:
  1. Students and teachers can use digital devices as tools for authentic communication and for accomplishing intellectually challenging, nonremedial tasks in the context of culturally appropriate whole activities. 
  2. Students can use technology to produce theme-centered, multimedia slide shows, electronic hypermedia books, and publish their poetry and written pieces. 
  3. Students can use technology to graph real life data and explore--with audio recordings--the relationships between data and their graphical representations.
  4. Students begin to learn the words for the graphics they wish to incorporate in their slide show, as well as the processes of modifying, saving and retrieving their work. Students learn to interweave audio narration using the microphone on their digital device, with some experimenting in the target language by reading or translating their work

Here are 3 easy steps you can follow in any classroom, but especially, a language learning class:

Step 1 - Create Content:
The tools for creating content have never been easier to use. Consider the following:
  • Narrated Audio Slideshows  - (read more)
  • Create eBooks - Students can create ebooks that incorporate audio, video, and text. (read more)
    • On iPad/Android tablets, use Book Creator app ($4.99)
    • On Chromebook and/or laptops/desktop computers, create ebook with GoogleDocs and/or LibreOffice, respectively.
  • Digital Storytelling - Students can approach storytelling from two perspectives - oral composition or written composition. Remember digital storytelling approach can be used for any content area, not just text. And students reading peers' context while listening to audio is powerful and supported in the research.
    • Oral Storytelling - Focus is on audio recording. Take pictures and then add audio narration. Or, simply record audio of a child's story, then have them prepare text to match it.
    • Written Composition Approach - Students write a script, match pictures to main events in the script, then narrate it, combining all the components into a narrated slideshow.
Step 2 - Publish Content
If your district doesn't have an its own online space where staff and students can publish video, audio and images, you can take advantage of GoogleApps for Education with its unlimited storage to house content and/or YouTube. There really isn't any reason why you can't share content with a global audience!

Step 3 - Share, Share, Share
Once content is shared online, consider creating a district clearinghouse for awesome content in a GoogleSite (web site). This can be organized by grade level, reading level, etc.

Conclusion
The main benefit of these 3 steps is that it removes the some of the pressure of finding dual language materials, and instead helps students and staff create content that is relevant, appropriate, and engaging, while building on students' key learning experiences. 

On the Horizon - Digital Signage

posted Mar 21, 2016, 7:10 PM by Miguel Guhlin

"How do I create digital signs that I can update easily? "  Imagine having to physically manage computers, logging in remotely to each machine, installing anti-malware software, trying to avoid the blue screen of death from popping up instead of scheduled announcements. If digital signage is a concern for you--whether as a classroom principal, campus technology coordinator or district technology director--then this post shares some solutions! 

Let's quickly review what "digital signage" is:
Digital signage is a form of electronic display that shows Television programming, menus, information, advertising and other messages. Digital signs (such as LCD, LED, plasma displays, orprojected images) can be found in public and private environments, such as retail stores, hotels, restaurants and corporate buildings.
Source: Wikipedia

WHAT WILL I NEED TO PUT IN PLACE TO SUPPORT A SOLUTION?
Before working to implement a solution, you will want to consider these questions:
  1. Do you want all displays or some displays to show the same content?
    Some solutions may only allow you to broadcast the same content to all displays, while some systems will allow you to send different content to various displays.
  2. Have you budgeted for cost of electrical cabling (e.g. electrical outlets)?
    Often, some want to place displays in places where electrical cabling has not been placed. Cost for an electrical outlet can begin at $250, so it's worth thinking strategically about placement of these displays. In addition to the display's power source, the mini-computer or device "serving up" the content may need power. While some devices will rely on built-in HDMI or USB on the display itself, a separate power cable for the device may be needed.
  3. Who will be your primary point of contact and support for this on campus?
    Empowering someone on the campus to maintain the software, technology and update displays often results in more responsive support that campuses need. This will eliminate someone calling the Technology Department asking for help and enables campus staff to take greater ownership of the displays at their location.
  4. Will there be sufficient WiFi signal to support these displays and content streaming?
    Along with electrical cabling, one potential obstacle to digital signage involves not having sufficient wireless signal to support streaming of images, text, and video. You should always plan for video, since as displays grow popular, the expectations for what the display can showcase will rise.
  5. Will you be able to secure the mini-computer or device?
    Given how enterprising some students and/or staff may be, failing to secure (or lock) the mini-computer or device could be fatal. While these devices are relatively inexpensive, replacing them periodically could become expensive. As such, finding a way to "lock" the devices may become necessary.
  6. What size monitor display will you need?
    You will want to find an appropriately sized monitor that includes HDMI/USB connections, as appropriate. Again, what size monitor you get really depends on pricing options available.

WHAT SOLUTIONS SHOULD I CONSIDER?
There are various solutions you could invest in. The solutions mentioned below have all been considered by Texas school districts:

SOLUTION #1 - Texas Digital
One 5A school district has invested and deployed a solution from Texas Digital (NCR). Cost estimates--based on a count of 22 monitors--are attached to this email and vendor would like to do a walkthrough--with your approval--to provide more detailed information.
Recommended Equipment: 42inch wall-mounted monitors (less expensive than ceiling-mounted), each has their own media player managed remotely via a web interface.
Cost estimates are attached for 22 monitors, one for 32inch ($64K) and 42inch ($72K) monitors; courtesy of Matt Wheat, National Sales Manager for NCR Corporation 
(Phone: 979-329-6203 | www.txdigital.com). The main selling point of this solution is that it's supported/managed by an external vendor at cost. 

SOLUTION #2 - RiseVision - "Free"
This solution is in use in multiple districts. Dr. Joy Rosseau (Arp ISD), shares, "
It allows you to add apps like news feeds, weather, Google slides, streaming content from TV or Radio, etc. We have found it to be limitless. You can schedule your displays and use multiple templates on multiple displays. It is cloud-based and can be used across the district."  One of its main selling points is that it is no-cost except for the hardware itself. There are no additional support/vendor costs. It is also centrally managed. 

Eustace ISD's Rusty Meyners makes these points:

As it happens, our high school principal asked for a digital signage solution and he had a budget ready for it. It fell to me and I went to town, trying RiseVision.com and two other solutions on inexpensive flat panel TVs from Wal-Mart fitted with Android dongles from Amazon.com. RiseVision was the one most prominently recommended by Technology Directors in the State and I can validate it as the best choice with some caveats. Just this week our first two displays went live - one 32" and one 47" with another 47" in the queue and probably a 40-42" to be added soon. 

Think this solution would be worth trying in your situation?

SOLUTION #3 - Chromebox with Google Slides or Chrome Sign Builder
This solution, growing in popularity, involves using a Chromebox (Dell Chromeboxes are about $149-$349 depending on specifications, but you can also find others online) to manage content. Of course, you will need to include an HDMI friendly monitor display. In regards to what is providing the content, some districts like to use Google Slides, while others use Chrome Sign Builder. Google describes Chrome Sign Builder describes itself in this way:

Chrome Sign Builder makes it easy to show web content content such as restaurant menus, images, and YouTube videos and playlists–as well as Google Presentations, which can be edited by anyone who has access to the presentation.
You configure Chrome Sign Builder once. In initial setup, you create schedules and specify the URLs for content that will be displayed according to the schedules. Later you might need to change the content at those URLs, but you don’t have to reconfigure schedules and settings in Chrome Sign Builder. 

Timothy Ezler (Ricardo ISD)--check out his example--shared, "I played with Chrome Sign Builder but the use of Google Slides was much easier." Bland ISD also does the same, eliminating the need for a device: "Students actually maintain the presentation under supervision of classroom sponsor. Difference is presentation runs on two TVs with built in wireless. No need for connected netbook or other device."
You decide which is the best approach!

SOLUTION #4 - Next Unit of Computing
Next Unit of Computing (NUC) provides a low-cost affordable option for school districts. NUCs usually run the full Windows operating system and provide a level of familiarity for staff. A NUC is a small form factor and is appropriate for use in displays. 

SOLUTION #5 - Flat Panels displaying Powerpoint
Other districts have simply hooked up flat panels running in kiosk mode to a "video multiplier." The video multiplier is connected to a computer running Microsoft Powerpoint.

CONCLUSION
Next time a campus principal asks you, "How can I setup digital signs?," you will have a starting point!

5 Paths to An IoT Powered Learner #iotlearn #iot (DRAFT #2)

posted Mar 19, 2016, 7:59 PM by Miguel Guhlin   [ updated Mar 19, 2016, 8:12 PM ]

The Internet of Things (IoT) : a network of physical objects--enhanced with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity--that give it identity, and allow it to collect and exchange data over the Internet. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020. (Source: Adapted from Wikipedia)

"How cool is that?" asked my son, as we walked the aisles of freezers at the local Target store. They lighted up as we walked towards them to pick up frozen strawberries and blueberries for protein shake mixes. In the near future, this data is relayed via the internet to Target Headquarters, keeping track of the frequency with which thousands of customers access their products. What if learning could be like that, each book/ebook students reach for feeding data into what was most used or accessed? 

The real challenge isn't in that there are so many physical objects--50 billion by 2020--being enhanced, but will your children--and mine--be able to create and control them. An example of practical use could include "smart" digital highlighters that enable you to highlight paper documents, then transfer highlighted text from the printed page to your favorite repository of data (e.g. GoogleDocs, Dropbox, OneNote/OneDrive). Or, you can scan text with your digital highlighter and it will read the text aloud to you (Source). But preparing our children for this "just around the corner" future involves doing more than buying IoT devices pre-made.

Let's briefly explore 5 paths you can assist learners walk to achieve IoT Powered Learning:
  1. Embrace the language of things
  2. Unlock the Future with hands-on, digital experiences
  3. Build digital connections into physical spaces
  4. Make the Future
  5. Create augmented learning experiences
Ready? Let's get started!

#1 - Embrace the Language of IoT through Coding.
How many of us began learning to play a musical instrument, then stopped because someone said, "You know, you're never going to be that good at it." At a time when each of us can contribute a small, unique part to a whole concerto or our voices to a global choir, we need to reject that thinking. For IoT, embracing the language of connected objects involves learning to program, or in today's parlance, code.

Many of us have already become familiar with the "HourofCode.org" resources. These resources make it possible for our children to learn programming that is essential to enhancing each physical object. What a tremendous WHY--learn to program so you CAN have a voice in a world where every thing is connected to one another. Go back and read that again. We're not learning to code because it's popular, because it's what the President said to do. Rather, we are doing so we can each have a voice in an interconnected world of things. What will your song be in a world of connected things? Consider the following quote in light of the Internet of Everything:

Those who cannot claim computers as their own tool for exploring the world never grasp the power of technology... They are controlled by technology as adults--just [they were]...controlled [by] them as students. 
Source: Toward Digital Equity: Bridging the Divide in Education Editors: Gwen Solomon, Nancy J. Allen, and Paul Resta

It should come as no surprise that coding is only the first step. The next is as powerful--interacting with simple computing devices.

#2 - Unlock the Future with Hands-On, Digital Experiences
When I purchased my first Raspberry Pi, I was shocked at how simplistic it was. "What's the point of working on an under-powered computer?" I said to myself. Still, I soon had it powered up and working.  The experience opened my eyes...what learner wouldn't want to jump into the command line to get this technology to work? Later, as I observed students during a Summer STEM Academy with the Raspberry Pi, I realized it was Raspberry Pi's simplicity that offers a learning opportunity to control devices that are far less powerful than my smartphone, but that when taken together, can do much more. Simple devices that, combined, enable learners to accomplish great things--that is just Raspberry Pi and the Internet of Things (IoT). That is the lesson

And, don't limit yourself to Raspberry Pi. Find what "turns on the light" in your students' eyes. That can include a plethora of "kits" to get you started (thanks to Nicholas Keith, TexasEdTech Blog, for the list!) such as those listed below:
Already, students around the world are unlocking their future with these hands-on experiences while your students may be sitting clutching pencils and filling out high-stakes assessment prep packets. Who do you think will control the ubiquitous 50 billion IoT devices in 2020?

#3 - Build digital connections into physical spaces in Your Classroom
As shared in these videosproximity-aware experiences--through  iBeacon technology--enable you to connect physical objects to digital feedback in ways that are special and unique to each student. These serve as a way to introduce your students to the increasing "other-awareness" of physical objects, like books, a writing center, a technology center in your classroom, specialized rooms in a library or classroom. Some quick ideas for bluetooth-powered iBeacons in classrooms. Here are a few: 1) Using the beacons as digital bulletin boards for courses or buildings for students; 2) See if a child is in class, keeping better track of when s/he arrived (this can be controversial, as one district discovered); and, 3) Teachers can broadcast information about their classes or exams (Source: 100 Use Case Scenarios for iBeacon). Applications abound for assisting special needs children (and adults) as they move around campus, access physical objects.

#4 - Make the Future Real by Creating a Classroom MakerSpace
If you aren't familiar with classroom makerspaces, you may want to watch this video introduction from K-3 students. Remember, the focus is on helping students create devices they can program. It's OK if they aren't the equivalent of your computer or smartphone, but rather, serve as an introduction to the internet of things. Students become makers, persons who create and share. And, your classroom can become that space where students learn by doing, creating, and printing. For example, kinder students in Mark Simmons' school district use iPad apps like TinkerPlayand 123D to design robots, share them via cloud storage. Mark makes them real by 3D-printing kindergarten students creations using. You can start small--with a Makerspace in a box or a "MysteryBag", pop-up Makerspaces, --or big with a wealth of ideas online.

Note: Would you like an introduction to Makerspaces? Why not attend the April 14-15 Spring TECSIG Meeting in Austin, Texas? And, if you really want more hands-on experience, consider attending the day-long TCEA Makers events in May, July, and September!

#5 - Enable students to Create Augmented Reality Experiences
"Virtual, 3D objects appear," says Digital Tech Frontier of augmented reality, "in the real world, attached to real objects." Augmented Reality (AR) enables students to bring reality and the Internet together (Watch this short video intro to AR from CommonCraft). Augmented reality is real time view of a physical environment that is augmented by a computer-generated sensory input, including video, images, sound, and/or global positioning system (GPS) data. Students are able to create a real-time, digital view of a physical environment using powerful, simple apps like Aurasma AR FlashcardsAR Toolkit, Crayola Color Live!Fetch! Lunch Rush!, Quiver, and NASA 3D Spacecraft. You can see that AR is directly tied to the Internet of Things, such as Daqri's 4D StudioSome sample augmented reality experiences include recording video reviews of content (e.g. books, movies), then adding a tag to the physical object (e.g. book). This makes it possible for students to get an advance preview of the object (Source). Another possibility could include students explaining how they solved a problem, overcame an obstacle, and making that available in the physical space where the problem appears. And, getting students designing AR prepares them to create a holographic way--perhaps, using Microsoft Hololens--of interacting with each other. Can you imagine how excited students could be about designing holographic games, such as combining Minecraft with MS Hololens?

Intrigued by a Path Yet?
Worried that this is too technical? Don't feel bad about getting a late start! One of the benefits of starting down the road after others have begun is that these 5 paths are clearly marked. Yet, since human creativity is boundless, how these components are put together can be quite powerful. Allow yourself--and your students--the opportunity to become IoT empowered learners, creators, makers and collaborators.



The IoE Powered Teacher, er, Classroom, no, Learner! #iotlearn #iot (DRAFT)

posted Mar 16, 2016, 8:55 PM by Miguel Guhlin   [ updated Mar 16, 2016, 9:01 PM ]

How connected is your classroom, really? Everyone that walks into your classroom is connected in some way to their significant others (e.g. my children, my lifelines are a text, Telegram/Voxer, email or call away). These are person-to-person connections that transcend location, enabling networked learning that make every person you know a node on the network. In this type of network, each person is a source of ideas and information, and access to stored knowledge is a google search away. IoE moves from people being connected to each other to having a network of physical objects connected to the Internet. These objects transmit data via the Internet to cloud storage. The intent is that this data is used to provide a "smarter" service or experience for the user (Source: Huffington Post). But, wait, there's more!

Gartner reports that there are already 4.9 billion connected "things" in use in 2015, and predicts 25 billion by 2020, although various sources forecast even higher levels of connectivity for physical objects. But what does this have to do with your classroom? Let's take a quick moment to explore what IoT (a.k.a. IoE) is before jumping into classroom applications. Or, if you already know about it (watch this TED talk or this one), skip down to the "What Can IoE look like in My Classroom?"

Image Source: Growth in the Internet of Things - Bernard Marr, 17 'Internet of Things' Facts Everyone Should Read, Forbes.com

What is IoT or IoE?
The Internet of Everything is in wide-use for surveillance, healthcare, inventory systems, energy conservation, and, home appliances. IoE involves technologies that require little power to operate (e.g. WiFi, Zigbee, Bluetooth), or no power at all (e.g. RFID chips). This means that wireless sensors can be added to any device, including clothing (a.k.a. wearables), books, people, and, well, anything. This means that IoT can turn anything into a data point that can be sent to some data repository in the cloud for aggregation, analysis. This simplifies information collection and access. Intelligent agents are being developed to sort through the data gathered via IoT, then take appropriate action. 

Aside: Star Trek helped many of us understand new technologies (e.g. Star Trek Communicator-->Flip phone, and tricorder --> Smartphone). One series of books that did the same for me with IoE is Daniel Suarez' books, Daemon and Freedom...they thoroughly terrified me but provided a way of understanding IoE.

Imagine these scenarios to get a better idea of IoE practical applications:
  • Shipping: According to one source, "A shipping company that attaches tracking devices to containers can more easily follow their movements and better understand its operations. If that same company installs temperature sensors inside chilled containers, it can guarantee food and drink shipments will stay cool and charge a premium for that service."
  • Healthcare: A wearable monitoring device is plugged into a device that sends sensor data for your heartbeat, electrocardiogram (ECG) waveform, and breathing rate. The physician part of the app receives and displays the data for evaluation. This data is transmitted transparently to your healthcare provider. You may have already begun to see this in the grocery store blood pressure checker that offers to create an account for you. IoE takes the next step and uses that wearable device on your wrist to securely transmit critical health information to your doctor. Find out more.
  • Surveillance: A video camera connected to an IoE device enables you to monitor the performance of people and/or machines. This data, collected automatically and submitted to a giant database in the cloud, can be searched. What's more, the data can be used by intelligent agents to learn about what is normal and identify what the variants are, then take appropriate action. For example, if a machine is designed to perform a repetitive action, that is normal. When it deviates from that action, that is a variant. Any variants can be reported to law enforcement or to whomever is monitoring.
What Can IoE look like in My Classroom?
IoE for Education (IoEE) (#iotlearn) can involve any one of these scenarios:
  • Use note-taking devices--like "smart" digital highlighters--to enable you to highlight paper documents, then transfer highlighted text from the printed page to your favorite repository of data (e.g. GoogleDocs, Dropbox, OneNote/OneDrive). Or, you can scan text with your digital highlighter and it will read the text aloud to you (Source). 
  • Create digital interactive whiteboards that store everything written on them in digital format, making them easily accessible to staff and students.
  • Use of "iBeacon technology" that work as indoor positioning systems--enables you to create "proximity-aware experiences"--to access physical resources, while also providing access to digital resources. You can see several videos illustrating this. Some more ideas for using beacons:
    • Add "a beacon that provides a greeting when people enter. The greeting is like the home page of a library site but limited to the very basic information you would want a visitor to see: names and photos of staff, a map of book sections, and information about the library itself. As visitors move toward the center of the library, the beacon could push more direct location information regarding sections of the library (fiction, non-fiction, biographies, etc.)" (Source: Joel Adkins' blog).
    • Use augmented reality (AR) that enables the learner to view an overlay map on their camera view of where to go for a particular type of book or access to a computer.
  • Enable teachers, students, and with IoT, things to sense, control and communicate a view of the world through a digital lens that brings more information (such as the image above which may allow for gaining insight into how our bodies work).
How Can I Introduce Myself and My Students to controlling IoT?
The real question, though, is much simpler than all that--How can my kid learn to create, control, and manage IoT devices and the data they generate? Or, to make the first baby step, how can we begin programming our own devices? Several tools include the following:
  • Carriots - This tool enables you to build IoT apps.
  • Groovy - This is a Java enabled coding language.
  • AllJoyN - Provides a programming language for the Internet of Everything
Introducing students to Arduino, Raspberry Pi, programming/coding, help them get comfortable with the technologies needed to get ready to control the things that are increasingly being networked. These open source solutions enable students to get started developing IoT/IoE applications.


 

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