ISTE 2017 – “Look Ma, No Hands”

After a great day at the #BadgeSummit, a good nights sleep and a quick Lyft ride, I’m here.  I registered, picked up my Volunteer packet and made my way to the “Refereshing the ISTE Standards for Administrator” session.  WOW! ISTE knows how to put on a conference. Lots of WiFi, lots of signage, directions, people, etc. I’m looking forward to the sessions this afternoon, meeting people and sharing their #edtech adventures.  Heck, it’s a ton of fun just to talk shop! So much to learn and share. 

I’ll try and keep up with the action, but things move quickly around here! I will be volunteering at 3:30 p.m. today.  Looking forward to that experience.  You know how I like to meet people and talk! More to come, stay tuned. I’ll reach out once again and ask you to stop me or message me on Twitter and share your #edtech adventures!

It’s the little things – 5 ideas for EdTech Micro-Lessons

Isn’t it always? The little things usually make the biggest impression. From just a simple thank you to a yes ma’am, the little things help define a person, a situation, an event, etc.  So why are we always shooting for the big win in the classroom setting?  Shouldn’t we make more memorable, meaningful small ones?

That’s where the Micro-Lesson comes in. Small, fun, impactful lessons that you can think up over coffee in the morning or discussion in the teacher’s lounge. Set a goal in your PLC meeting to leave with 5 EdTech Micro-Lessons in your bag of tricks.  To help you get started, here are 5 ideas to add some fun and excitement to your classroom and lessons:

  1. PODCAST – You know us and podcasts, we love them! And, so do many others. Who doesn’t like to put on their own “show?” This is easily accomplished by creating small 90-second podcasts covering whatever the current topic is during that day’s lesson. Use your laptop, iPad, etc. to allow the students to come to the “recording booth” and record their opinions, views, assigned topic, etc. Share with parents and students and watch the engagement bloom.
  2. CLASS-CREATED PRESENTATION – Let students create a group presentation using your multimedia projector or television and add an app like Buncee. Critical thinking and creativity are addressed in an open, comfortable environment where students can learn from each other and explore their creative avenues by sharing ideas.
  3. PHOTO ALBUM – This one is an easy one and can be accomplished almost every day. We recommend at least once a week, but possibly on the same day, use any digital camera in the room and document the work of the students individually and as a group. Cover that day’s work or the work from the week. Short and simple wins here. Make the creation a group event using Google Slides, Prezi, Buncee or other presentation apps. Once again: sharing excites the parents (And keeps the refrigerator less cluttered)!
  4. NEWSCAST – It’s video time! Get creative with writing: 3 to 4 topics, 3 to 4 groups. Each group has 10 minutes to pick a newscaster(s), write their summary and design their scene. Their final “report” should be no longer than 60 seconds of air time. Encourage students to get each member in the video and use props if possible. Use your device of choice, record the video (we recommend a Padcaster Setup) and put it on the class/school/district YouTube channel. This can be very informative for your parents and lots of fun for your students!
  5. GAMIFICATION – This one is a tried and true friend. Gamification has been around since the poster board and sticky stars (and yes, way before that). Several websites and apps (such as ClassDojo) help to bring the fun of achieving goals and attaining badges for a job well done. This helps increase student engagement across the board. Every student needs a “win,” and this helps to create that. Gamification can be a classroom experience or a personal one. Over time, the feedback the student receives will help foster a growth mindset, propelling them throughout their educational journey.

School starts IKEA MakerSpace Lab

The Weintraubenville North school district has taken the bull by the horns and created the first IKEA Maker Space Lab. The lab will challenge the students with varying levels of IKEA furniture builds. Principal Walter Bossman added, “Heck, have you ever tried to put together that stuff? Man you gotta have an engineering degree just to get your bookshelf built. We also need new furniture in the teacher lounges and offices throughout the campus. So this is a real moral booster for everyone involved.” Students look forward to the challenge and the benefits that assembling IKEA furniture will bring to their future. “I’m pretty sure I can make at least $100 a week when I graduate with this experience,” said junior Lance Rockwood.  The district hopes that if this maker space gains momentum they can also move forward with a few more project based, maker space ideas. Principal Bossman added, “We are really looking forward to putting our Subway sandwich maker space in motion. It also allows the instructors the opportunity to push the student’s creative sides with sandwich artist projects.” Looks like these kids will not only be creating delicious futures, but building the tables to enjoy them on.

*This piece is purely satirical. It is not meant to be taken seriously…

New Year, New Resolutions for Your Classroom

It’s 2017, and I’m sure most people have made their New Year’s resolutions. Educators do this especially after having a nice Christmas break to ponder what went right, went wrong and needs to be modified for the new year. Unfortunately, those resolutions should have been made on the fly during the previous semester. Now the attempt to implement technology, increase student growth, prepare for assessments, etc. will push back most progress made during the previous four months.  Here are a three (of many) ways to take advantage of those “resolutions” and help them help you help them.

Technology – KISS it. Keep it simple. Take a few hours and really look at what technology needs you should use in your classroom. If you just need the students to use it for creation and delivery, then just use it for creation and delivery. Don’t attempt to implement a new app, plugin or website unless you feel you could teach it to your peers in a 3 hours workshop. I know this was short, but come on, we’ve been dealing with this for almost three decades. If you haven’t, it’s time to make your Personal Technology Teaching Plan.

Mindfulness – Some stress is good for you, but toxic stress is defeating us before we ever even get in the game. Toxic stress occurs when daily demands consistently outpace our ability to cope with those demands. This gets into some really heavy areas dealing with emotions, communication, kindness, joy, sadness, fear, dread, coping, talking… well you get the picture. TONS of information at Mindful Schools  It may be something you, your school and maybe your district wants/needs to look into.

Growth Mindset – I know, you are thinking now “He’s just throwing out all the keywords in education speak now.”  It may seem that way, but a lot of this has merit.  A growth mindset is one of those. The quick and the dirty of it: when students realize they can develop their intelligence and it isn’t just a fixed element, their achievement increases.  It’s not just about effort, but helping students approach other strategies and seek multiple outcomes to their problems. The wins and setbacks in the short and long term of it prepare students to deal with obstacles and continually seek achievement and hopefully personal success (self esteem). You can find much more here at Mindset Works.

These are just three suggestions that although they may seem radical (then again what new year’s resolutions aren’t?), may help to create that spark in you and/or your students and change 2017 for you. Good or bad, change is always exciting and, if dealt with appropriately, will render a different and usually better outcome. Happy New Year and good teaching to you!


Conference Radio!

Live radio at my next conference? Why in the world would I need that?

You need it to provide your presenters, vendors and attendees an outlet to be heard and promote their agenda in a one on one setting.  We find that most presenters have much more to tell about their topic than can be conveyed in the group setting. When engaged in a one on one interview, the questions that are posed bring out a much more in depth discussion and understanding of the topics and agendas these talented people have to offer.  Vendors also like the opportunity to more clearly define the role of their company an product in education.

The discussions are then parsed out and posted as separate podcasts.  This allows the interviewee to use this podcast audio in the future for promotional or educational uses. Also, this gives the listeners a much shorter, manageable selection to acquire information from presenters and vendors. The uses of podcast interviews through social media are endless. Many people find this a wonderful addition to any conference or convention.

Contact the EduTechGuys today to find out how we can enhance your next event.



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