Thursday, August 21, 2014

Edina Teaching & Technology Cohort

Thirty teachers from Edina just finished a Teaching & Technology Cohort through Hamline University. The Teaching & Technology cohort focused on improving their leadership and technology skills through four blended courses.

The focus of the classes was to enhance practice of integrating technology into Edina’s curriculum as well as build leadership skills in teachers in the field of technology and learning. The cohort gave participants the opportunity to collaborate with Edina colleagues from different grade levels and buildings. The cohort was taught in a blended format where the cohort met face to face once a month and then completed the rest of the work online.

Here are a few of their final reflections about the cohort

Angela's Reflection

Brit's Reflection

Debi's Thinglink

Reflection from Eric
I came into the year and the cohort as a user of technology, but a hesitant one at that.  My ah-ha moment came when I realized that using technology is about jumping in and play, play, play.  I feel that this is the best way to get kids using technology and programs, it also works for adults.  When you play, the overwhelming pressure that comes with learning something new that is previously unfamiliar goes away.  From my participation in this cohort I feel that I have changed as a learner and teacher.   I have changed because if you want to learn new technology you have to take the time and play with it.  I have seen this in my students the past year.  When they are given the time to play and explore with an application their success level greatly expands of they are given time to explore and play.  I would like to take some time to highlight one project that I worked on in particular and that is coding.  You can see my link to the work that I did with this project on this website.  Coding is a fantastic activity to have your kids work on collaboratively or as individuals.  Students learn industry, problem solving and critical thinking skills all in a fun and non threatening environment.

You have to Read and Experience Kristen's reflections here!

Leslie's Kids are now a Community of Collaborators and Problem Solvers!

Mary's Popplet

Megan's Adventures in Digital Age Learning

This Blew the lid off the possibilities - Shandra

I didn't know what I didn't Know - Sarah

Thanks to all the amazing reflections from the Edina T&T Cohort!  Another cohort will begin October 2014!  Edina teachers, stay tuned for more details!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to School with Chromebooks

Many of you are heading back to school this year with more devices in the classroom that you’ve ever had access to!  Chromebooks have spread like wildfire into schools all over the world and now students have the world’s information at their fingertips!  Let’s make sure that we use those devices for engaging, real world learning in the digital age.

Here are a few things to think about as you head back to your Chromebook Classroom.

1.  Make sure to review Chromebook vocabulary together in the first week so that you are all on the same page when you talk about the OmniBox, Tabs and Extensions.  

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We’ve even had fun calling the navigation array - the Waffle and the Chrome menu bar the three hotdogs.  
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The refresh button above the number 4 key on your Chromebook - we call it the Google Magic Button - because REFRESH usually solves most of our Google hiccups.  

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Create a common language of vocabulary with your students and establish those terms early.

2. Customize your Chrome Browser with these extensions and teach the students how to use them.  It’s probably a good idea to also have a conversation with your students about when it is appropriate for them to download something from the Chrome Web Store.  We like to create some rules about searching and downloading extensions.  Have a conversation and set expectations clearly.

  • Read & Write for Google - Accessibility extension for emerging or struggling readers and writers.
  • Google Dictionary - View definitions and hear pronunciations easily as you browse the web.
  • Awesome Screenshot - Capture a web page or any portion, annotate the image and save to drive.
  • Clearly - Clearly makes blog posts, articles and webpages clean and easy to read.
  • Shorten Me - Instantly shorten links with, copy them to your clipboard and generate a QR code.
  • SpeakIt - Tired of reading? Select text you want to read and listen to it. SpeakIt converts text into speech so you no longer need to read.
  • TechSmith SnagIt - Take a screenshot, screen capture, or screen video recording. Collaborate and show what you know.

3.  Make sure to talk about Chromebook Care the first time you take the Chromebooks out of the cart.  James Sanders created this fun Chromebook Care video that you can share with your students to encourage proper care of your precious devices.

4. Be proactive with talking about Digital Citizenship!  We don’t expect our students to go throughout the year with out issues out on the playground or at recess so we can’t expect that students are going to get through the year without a “digital citizenship” situation.  Start the year by enrolling the students in Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport (good for grades 3-5) or by committing to teaching the Interactive Scope and Sequence with your students.  Each unit has student assessments built in as well so you can make sure the students understand what they are learning.

5.  Digital Age Learning is using devices to ACCESS CONTENT, COLLABORATE and CREATE.
Here are a few great websites and tools for Digital Age Learning in these specific areas..


6. Finally, remember that we are all LIVING IN BETA.  Launch things early in your classroom and work with the students to make them better.  Have a bias towards action with Digital Learning in your classroom and use all of the hiccups, mistakes, and failures as a way to create a community of problem solves in your classroom.  The world's information is at the fingertips of your students - make sure that we are asking questions that the students don’t just have to Google to find an answer to!  Ask questions where the kids are CREATING the answer!

Have a GREAT start to the school year!  More Chromebook info coming soon!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

White Bear Lake Cohort Reflections

I just finished teaching two Cohorts of teachers who earned a Graduate certificate in Teaching & Technology from Hamline University.  In this cohort, teachers complete four courses for the certificate. 

1. Creating a Community of Learners with a Global Perspective
2. Curriculum in the Cloud
3. Authentic Assessment using Technoloyg
4. Emerging Technology and Trends

The following are a few final reflections from the teachers in the White Bear Lake Cohort.  It is fun to see how much they have changed as teachers and learners and they ways that learning will change in each of their classrooms.  Enjoy!

* Edina Cohort reflections coming soon!

White Bear Lake Cohort Reflections





Elizabeth's Final Reflection

Jacob's Final Reflection in MoveNote

Jeanne's Thinglink

Reflection from Jim
My aha moments included signing up (I almost didn’t) and finishing each class (which I also almost almost didn’t).  My growth is in not just getting by but doing the homework (which is really hard for me), presenting to other teachers (which also is really, really hard for me).  The assignments were great and the the technology options covered was at times overwhelming, but truly awesome.  The motivation to keep trying to improve and to always be thinking of how I can be better for students, is my aha moment keeping motivated and always looking for ways to motivate students.

I have grown in my confidence, skill base, and am becoming more organized in using more resources efficiently.  To say that technology is a powerful learning, is an understatement.  Using technology in the classroom will increase independence and empower students to be better learners, in school and out.

My classrooms include more independent learning with increased options, both of which are very important for my students.  Students have many chances to learn in a variety of ways with support when needed and freedom to be more independent when they progress.  My classrooms have always been differentiated, but now I can do it in a much more organized fashion with much more meaningful collaboration.

I have always been willing to try new things, but I have gained skills and knowledge of resources that will increase the learning potential for students and and maintain more purposeful outcomes.  I have gained knowledge of tools, resources and ideas. Learning is forever and challenging students to do more, be more independent, and increase their ability to learn with technology will help them be more prepared for their future (the expected and the unknown).

Joshua Lane (Prezi is embedded below, but if you can't see it click on the link)

Lindsey's Voki

Melisa's StoryJumper

Book titled 'Teaching & Learning Technology Cohort'Read this free book made on StoryJumper
Deep Thoughts by Seth

Shannon's Favorite New Tool and reflection


One of my favorite tools is Symbaloo. Symbaloo is a free visual bookmarking site that gives you access to anything you bookmark with a tile from any computer. It takes bookmarking to a whole new level.
Here’s a video that explains what Symbaloo is. There is also a free app for your phone or ipad.

You can create tiles to create a webmix which is a collection of websites for a specific subject. Each tile is a link that will take you directly to the website.

I have created a webmix for each unit in our textbook. I then share these with parents, students and colleagues so they have easy access to helpful websites. Here is an example of one of my units. I have also made a webmix of my favorite classroom resources. This tool has made my website organization a breeze!

Here is an interesting article called 11 Ways to Use Symbaloo in the Classroom that may give you some ideas.

Shawna's Reflection on Collaboration

Allison's Final Reflection