Friday, December 19, 2014

Reflections, tips, and ideas

Virginia Society for Technology in Education Conference 2014

Last week I had the privilege of attending the VSTE Conference in Virginia Beach.
The weather was horrible but the conference gave me lots of ideas to share.

The big idea I left with is that when we talk about technology sometimes teachers and administrators feel that they have to know it all before they have their students use it. In Albemarle County there is a single vision of what is best for the student that guides everyone’s practice. The Director of Educational Technology and Professional Development explained the philosophy that:

“School is the Safest place to make a mistake”
Both adults and students in education  should be able to make mistakes and learn, we want to “teach and trust” .

Other useful tidbits:

  • In Google Classroom create an assignment spreadsheet and give students editing permissions. The students will create the “wiki” of resources for that assignment for the whole class to share.
  • Create a group on Diigo for the team or the staff- Diigo is a  free bookmarking service that will also annotate. You can place sticky notes or highlights on a website or website article for the group to pay attention to and the annotations stay attached to the link when it is shared.
  • Create fake email addresses for your students when they need to access a program that requires an email with Dispostable or GuerrillaMail. The emails are temporary.
  • This one is great for meetings - Decide already - enter a question and you and the team will be prompted make a decision; and the best part is the team does not have to be in the meeting!
  • Use Timeline from ReadWriteThink and the lesson plans that come with it for student research on any subject.
  • Try Countable with your students as a starting point for discussion or a topic to start research. This site tracks the bills and issues that our Government Representatives are working on now. You can vote on the issue and then track how the congress person voted.
  • Use a wireless mouse and keyboard to allow more students to interact with the SMART or Promethean boards.
  • Wolfram Alpha is great for getting answers to math problems (and any other question). The pro service gives access to the Wolfram Alpha Problem Generator which will generate problems to solve with step by step answers.

Special Recommendations for Administrators:
  • Studies show that parents get much of their information from social media. Start a blog or twitter account to keep communication going with all the interested stakeholders. Include your schedule for the day, sub lists for the day, changes for the day or other information.
  • Use HassleMe to set up reminders or Remind to notify parents and teachers of emergencies or upcoming events.

Speaking of Twitter:
  • Use tweetymail to tweet right from your email
  • Set up Tweetdeck to view the hashtags you are following in columns, create a list in tweetdeck to narrow tweets shown to students.
  • Tweet faster from websites with
  • Use tag sleuth to visualize the tweet trends and explore graphs of trending topics.
  • Share this with students: TwitterFall will display a preselected list of tweets, like a “waterfall”, with geolocation tags.

Networking news:
  • Information from the Virginia Department of Education: An initiative called the  Education Superhighway designed to get us all high speed broadband and connectivity by 2016 and  a heads up for new technology goals for 2016.
  • Goochland County is a 1:1 district that has told its teachers to stop teaching "to the SOL’s" and concentrate on project based learning, what will be the results?

Amazon echo and the future of education? This new device will answer any question.

This is just a small amount of the information shared at this conference. More ideas worth a mention are the virtual worlds Unity, Kitely, and MinecraftEdu where students can create content.

Rob Furman, Principal of South Park Elementary School in Pittsburgh  describes the idea of changing the "classroom” to a “classworld”  What do you think?

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