Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tales of the iCoach 2015

At this time of the year you can either do a year in review, or goals for the next year. I am going to do the year in review. I especially like blogging as a reflective tool. I feel it is important to know where you have been in order to know where you are going. One of my major goals for 2015 was to present outside my district. While I don't have a fear of speaking in front of big crowds, presenting outside the district really pushed me outside my comfort zone. I had to be organized and succinct, two things that I always aspire to do better. I was able to present 6 times to a broader audience! The summer was especially great. I did a Birds of a Feather session at ISTE entitled Tech Coach Therapy.

One of the best things about my job is that I get to go to many different classrooms around our district. I enjoy watching staff and students grow! Growth and change can be messy or difficult at times. That is why I enjoy being there to support the staff in my district.

After I look back at 2015 I can set my goals for 2016! Here are some pictures and commentary. 

I worked in the primary grades the majority of the time last school year. For many of the teachers that I work with integrating QR codes into center time or workshop time just makes sense. It is a good place to start integrating tech. The teachers usually start with free lessons from Teachers Pay Teachers. Then I work with them to create their own. The kids really like doing QR codes too. QR codes can be done on mobile devices or computers.

I took +Jordan Garrett's place presenting Integrating Tech Into the Reading Writing Workshop at the Waukegan Google 'n More Conference. Jordan and I presented Bringing PLCs to Life with Google + at ICE our state conference. It was great to have the entire team there to support us! We continued to refine our presenting skills.

My FAVORITE projects of the year were the animal Touchcasts that I did with 1st graders. I wrote all about the process here

In April I finally got to work with middle school students. We made non-fiction magazines for 4th and 5th graders. The great thing about this project was giving the 7th graders an authentic audience. They changed their approach to the project based on their new sense of audience. It was really amazing to see. The final product and the platform that we used to share out the projects can be seen here

May was great!  +Michael Saracini and I took 2 of his students down to our state capitol building in Springfield to show our legislators how tech in education supports learning. Mike's kids did interviews and made Touchcasts on the fly! 

Berwyn South School District hosted its 1st Ed Tech Conference, iEngage-Berwyn. On Friday, May 8th we had site visit tours, so that our guest could see 1:1 in action in the classrooms. At night we had a social gathering with a Color Alive demo by +Brad Waid (@TechBradWaid) and music by Big Data, a band comprised of tech directors from across Illinois. On Saturday we had breakout sessions of a traditional conference mostly presented by our own staff. Jordan and I did Bringing PLCs to Life with Google + again. I wrote about the conference and so did +Carl Hooker. Carl says it is An Inspiring Event Every Educator Should Experience.  

In June I did a Birds of a Feather session at ISTE (read my blog post). This was a huge honor and I was so glad to be selected to have a session. I also was able to make some extra money working for a fabulous company, Ed Tech Teacher. I worked with the amazing +Beth Holland and +Shawn McCusker. I was the assistant in the room for Chromebooks in the Classroom and iPads and Google respectively. Watching Beth and Shawn gave me so many pointers on how to present PD. I was honored to be a part of their sessions!

In July Jordan and I presented 4 times over 2 days at iPadpalooza Indiana in Noblesville. We were able to perfect our skills. We were again surrounded by some amazing educators. Thanks to Carl Hooker for the great conversation and the awesome advice!

In August we presented at the Transliteracy Conference in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Jordan and I used Periscope to broadcast our presentation this time. I enjoyed attending a small local conference similar to iEngage, again surrounded by amazing educators! Thanks to +Corey Holmer for inviting us. 
I enjoyed traveling and sharing Berwyn South's story this summer!

Always exciting to start another school year, my 26th in the business! I helped 8th graders set up their blogs on Blogger for iPads and use Touchcast to create newscasts. My big push this school year is to help teachers find apps that let them and their students show their thinking and demonstrate their understanding! Touchcast is a perfect app for that purpose. I am also the Google Apps Admin for our district. The Tech Director, +James Kloss and I worked to create 4,000 student Google Apps accounts.

October and November seemed to blend together. The school year was in full swing, I was presenting PD during contract time, after school PD and traveling. In the beginning of October I went down to Tampa Bay/Clearwater Florida for Launch Me with Brad Waid and Ed Camp Tampa Bay. Both amazing experiences! At Launch Me I was surrounded by like minded educators who are risk takers, always pushing the boundaries. Everyone in that room wants to change the world for the better. Brad talked about his path, his challenges and gave us pointers on how to make ourselves better. It was a real eye opener for me about what it really takes to be a national or international keynote speaker. Once you commit you can't be wishy-washy. You are either in 100% or it won't work. 
I thoroughly enjoyed my Ed Camp experience. It was a very relaxed atmosphere with great conversations. All of the people that I met over those 4 days were so great! Thanks to the Ed Camp crew for letting me help with set up. I came in and asked if I could help in any way and they put me to work. I was happy to see how the set up works, esp since we have been transitioning to a true Ed Camp model for our in district institute days. Oh and if you look closely at the 1st pic above you will see a Tesla symbol. The lovely and talented Fran Siracusa let me drive her Tesla, icing on the cake!!! Thanks Fran! 
I would like to give a shout out to the wonderful educators who I met in Florida. They continue to influence and support me! Wonderful educators and human beings!
Nikolas Chatzopoulos @chatzopoulosn
Sean Gaillard @smgaillard
Katrina Keene @Teachintechgal
Natalie Krayenvenger @NKrayenvenger
Andi McNair @mcnairan3
Bryan Miller @Edtechnerd
Fran Siracusa @la_Profe_S
Susan Wells @wellssusan
Kara Welty @Kara_Welty
Jen Williams @JenWilliamsEdu
Please follow them on Twitter if you are not already!

As a district we are working on a project to embed SAMR as a common reflective instructional language into our school culture. I need to write a proper blog post about the entire process soon. In sort my team and I spent 6 weeks in October and November talking to staff about SAMR and its use in planning instruction. I'm working on a video that we used during our PD. I need to finalize it and include the link in my blog post.

I also coached a 2nd grade teacher to integrate more technology into her instruction. I really enjoyed teaching the kids to use the new features of myOn. They were able to annotate text right inside the web version of the app. 

During December I started working with +Virginia Burdett . As I observed in her room I realized that she is doing amazing things in her instruction, but that her students were hardly ever in their seats, at their tables, or in the classroom. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. With the way that Ginny teaches and the way her students learn they don't need to be in their seats. They need an even more flexible learning space. Ginny and I worked over winter break to make the room look like the blue print pictured above. We have run into a few budget issues. It has slowed us down a bit, but has not stopped us. When the process is all done I will definitely blog about it. It has been an uplifting experience! We both can't wait till it is done.
One last thing about December - Mike Saracini and I were named Touchcast Ambassadors for 2016. I look forward to spreading the awesomeness that is Touchcast!

Wow! When presented like this I realize that I have accomplished so many things in 2015! Kara Welty asked on Instagram today what is one thing that you were proud of in 2015. I don't think I can choose just one! That's where I've been over the last year. Here's to more great things in 2016!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Delivering Quality Professional Development in a 1:1 School District

Delivering good professional development these days has become a challenge. I have seen posts on Instagram and Twitter that say something to the effect of - Students don't need professional development when they get a new device or buy a new app. Meaning they don't so why do teachers? Kids don't call it professional development, but they afford themselves time to learn the app on their own. They keep "driving" the app till they have it figured out. They go to You Tube, a blog, or a site when they are stuck because they know someone else has already figured it out if they can't. The number one complaint I get from the staff is,"I don't have enough time to get everything done." My reply to that is usually, "Sleep is over rated" while it's meant to lighten the mood, I know that many teachers have trouble finding the time to learn one more new thing.

So the question becomes, how do we provide quality professional development for teachers? It is a process. As your district grows and changes in the 1:1 environment, so will your professional development (PD) sessions. As part of the Instructional Coach team I am also a member of the professional development team in our district. I have helped provide after school and summer PD for the last four years. Our PD has evolved just as our teaching and learning has evolved since we went 1:1.

Solid professional development is paramount in a 1:1 district. Our PD on institute days used to be sit and get. Those days were targeted to classroom teachers. If you weren't a classroom teacher it was very painful. Then we started doing breakout sessions similar to a conference. Staff members could pick sessions that were relevant to their skill level, or what they were teaching. We had very few outside speakers. Teacher leaders were paid to prep and present. All types of teachers stepped up to provide PD to their peers. Now we have moved to a true ed camp model. We are all experts at something and we can all learn from each other. We will still have to have some whole group sessions at our institute days since there are some things that are not negotiable like disaster drill prep, summative assessment in-service, and other whole district initiatives.

I really wanted to talk about how I do my after school sessions now (sometimes I do them at outside conferences and institute days too). The sessions are 90 minutes long. Teachers get continuing education units for attending. When I am prepping I keep in mind the fact that teachers say the biggest thing they lack is time. I make my presentation a resource that they can refer back to at a later date. The following slides are examples from a session called - Integrating Technology into the Reading and Writing Workshop. These slides deal with using Evernote to conference with students. In this instance the app is used for teacher productivity.  First, I discuss how the app will improve teaching and learning. If there are members of the audience who have used it I ask them to share their story as well. Again, we can always learn from each other. They may have some insight that I had never considered. This one way to bring in and engage your audience right from the start. I think it is very important to do that at any PD session.

Next we look at features of the app or what makes the app unique. In this instance I explain the difference between a note and a notebook, attachments, sharing, syncing across devices, etc. Also at the bottom of this slide you see the word augmentation. I try to tie in the SAMR ladder for all my presentations. In this example the app is a direct tool substitute with functional improvement. I don't like those wheels that show different apps for different levels of the SAMR ladder. It is not the app that determines the level. It is the objective of the lesson, and what skill(s) you are assessing that determine where the app is on the ladder.

I also give the attendees a challenge. This gives them a chance to have "sandbox" time with the app. This is what I was talking about previously that students do. They always afford themselves some "sandbox" time to see what the app can do. I find that the challenges give the teachers a structure to work with instead of saying, "Just try the app". It is exploration with a purpose. The logo of the app in this slide is linked to the official You Tube channel for Evernote. If there is not an official channel then I will search for a quality video for the app. This way teachers can refer back to this tutorial later. Under the logo is the link to the apps Twitter handle (if they have one). I have been able to tweet at app designers, and get answers to my questions in minutes or hours. Generally app designers are eager to hear from their users, especially teachers.

I do my presentation one of two ways depending on the topic, audience, and amount of time that I have for the presentation. The first is to introduce the first app and then give the challenge, introduce the second app and do the challenge and so on. The other way that I do it is to introduce all the apps and then allow for one large chunk of work time at the end. I allow for work time in all the training sessions that I present. It is better for teachers to work while all the information is fresh in their minds. I then act as facilitator, and walk around the room answering questions while they are working on the challenges.

I do all my presentation slides in Google Slides, publish them, and then make a bitly link that I share with all attendees. This way attendees can go back to the presentation at a later date to get the information they need.  

I have gotten good feedback using this method in my PD sessions. How do you do PD? I would love to hear how you give or get PD that meets your needs.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Where Are You In Your Tech Journey?

I started this post approximately 11 months ago and let it sit. I think that the beginning still holds true, so I decided not to delete it.

Written November 2014
My first reflection on +EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston was about being a presenter. This post is about being a conference attendee. There is a huge difference and I did not want to bore anyone with a really long post about both at once. It is always good to go to a conference. It is rare that I don't leave feeling re-energized, and I always come away with new ideas. I was definitely re-energized from attending this conference, but I did not get as many good ideas as I thought I would. The keynotes were outstanding and really made me think. Over the two days I only attended one breakout session that resonated with me. It was entitled, Student Lead Conferences: Using the iPad to Create Portfolio Driven Discussions with the Families. Of course there were many good sessions with good titles and good descriptions, but I couldn't be two places at once and sometimes the title and description don't always tell me everything I need to know about a session. At many of the conferences I go to these days, I here this phrase, "Go where you grow." Meaning that I should get up and walk out a of session if it is not meeting my needs. Typically, I don't do that. When I am in a session that I'm not getting a lot out of I usually think to myself, "It will get better." or "You will get something out of it." I'm just not comfortable leaving a session in the middle. Although it does not bother me when people walk out of my sessions. Why is that of the eight sessions that I attended over the two days, did I only find one beneficial? It really bothered me for two reasons. First, my district spent a lot of money to send me to a conference in another state, I had to bring something back to share. Secondly, I'm not a know it all. There is always room for improvement. I went up to Laura Botte, one of the presenters, when they were done and told her how great the presentation was. She seemed surprised and said, "Thank You". At that moment it dawned on me why I liked their presentation so much. The reasons are two fold. We are discussing rolling out some type of portfolio system in my district and this seems do-able. The second is because of where I am at in my 1:1 journey. The portfolio session is what I need for where I am in my journey now. I was ready to hear that message at that time. Be ready. You never know when you are going to hear a message that you need. Sometimes they come when you are not expecting them.

Written September 2015
I help plan and provide professional development for my district, Just like the way we deliver content for our students, our content for professional development must meet teachers where they are. That is what makes planning and delivering meaningful whole group professional development so difficult. If I have 20 staff members in the room I have to meet them in at least 10 or more different places. When I plan professional development now I spend very little time talking at my staff. I include articles, videos and hands on challenges, so that teachers can work on the things that they need to work on.  They can pick and choose from the relevant materials that I have provided. This seems to work well and I have gotten positive feedback on the sessions I have provided. I circulate the room answering questions as they move through the tasks provided. This strategy helps meet them where they are in their journey.

As a coach I also need to meet teachers where they are to help support them as they plan and carry out student instruction.  Our Apple Trainer Dan Schmit told us in the fall of 2012, "Honor where you are and make a goal to move to the next level." It is ok to be where ever you are on the SAMR model or in your tech journey, whether you have only done work at substitution or have done projects with your students that have been at the redefinition level. Here's the thing about redefinition. It is a moving target. The definition of redefinition is - Tech allows for the creation of new task previously inconceivable. What was once inconceivable is now being done. At one time QR codes redesigned the task of inventorying car parts in a warehouse in Japan. Now in education I generally consider them augmentation on the SAMR ladder. (Remember you have to look at task design along with the lesson objective.) When I realized that redefinition was a moving target it was a big ah-ha moment. I knew then that I need to use the SAMR model as a reflective tool to keep me moving forward when evaluating my tech skills and working with teachers to improve theirs. One of the other things that I have learned in my role as a coach is that most people can't skip a level on the ladder. It truly is a continuum.

Where are you in your tech journey? What resonates with you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

Friday, August 14, 2015

My Thoughts on the Periscope App

Periscope is a relatively new app from Twitter. Actually Twitter purchased the app for a reported $100 million. The iOS app launched on March 26th not long after a similar app called Meerkat was launched. The Android app was released on May 26th. 

So what's all the fuss about? People are using it to stream copyrighted content, like the Game of Thrones premier and the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight. +Carl Hooker wrote a blog post about his concerns regarding using the app to stream content without the providers consent. I hadn't really thought a whole lot about the use of the app until I read his blog post. I watched him all last week try it out in various places. It's been a good experiment and forced me to think more about its use. 

I think what makes this app different from others like, Google Hangouts, Skype or Facetime, is ease of use. Once you install the app, you connect it to your Twitter account. That's it! You are ready to go. Then you press 1 button, give your broadcast a name and your off! There is no one to invite. No plug ins to install. Nothing to log into (again and again). This makes it easier than Skype or Google Hangouts and of course better than Apple only, Facetime. 

My colleague +Jordan Garrett and I did an in-district professional development session, at the end of May, on using Schoology (our newly adopted LMS). Our district director of professional development streamed the entire session for those who could not be there. We did not have a lot of experience with the app. It was done on her iOS device, so I'm not sure how many viewers we had at that time. The app was only about 2 months old at the time. There weren't many people using it yet. We did have a few staff members who were able to tune in and see part of what we were doing that day! I consider that a success. I think this is a great use of Periscope! At this time replays are available for 24 hours after the original broadcast. I'm not so sure this was the case in May.

I don't use notifications very much on my iPhone. I find them very distracting, but I thought I better set up notifications for Periscope because it's all about the here and now. I saw that more and more people where streaming and, I noticed that a lot of educators that I follow on Twitter started following me on Periscope. I also have an Instagram account. I follow a lot of TpT educators on Instagram. I don't buy anything from TpT but, I like to see the ideas and freebies they offer. There are also quite a few good bloggers who do TpT. Anyway, I noticed that a lot of these teachers started advertising their Periscope broadcasts. It was as if they had just been given their own television stations. Personally, I thought most of what they were scheduling to share was worthless self promotion. I wondered, "What does this add to the educational conversation? Does it have value?" I didn't think so, again just my opinion. I also realize that if it has no value for me I can choose not to watch it. I get that.

I've done 4 Broadcasts. The 1st was from an Ed Tech Teacher Workshop where I assisted in downtown Chicago this summer. The participants were on a video scavenger hunt. It was a fun experience for the participants but, it didn't really add a whole lot to the ed tech conversation. Next, I streamed Jordan Garrett's 1 in 3 ISTE presentation on iSWAT for the folks back home! Then, I streamed Jordan and I presenting Incorporating Tech into the Reading/Writing Workshop at the District 47 Transliteracy Conference this week. That was interesting because I had my phone sitting on the tripod in the landscape position for part of it when the app doesn't work in landscape position. Thanks to Carl Hooker for giving me the heads up on that one during the Broadcast (and some inspiration to write this post). The Broadcast was 1 1/2 hours long. There were many people who came in and out. A few that we knew and many that we didn't.  I noticed that after that Broadcast it is now possible to save your Broadcast to your camera roll on your device. This is new feature implemented on August 1st. I think this is a game changer and will attract more people to use the app. I downloaded the video to my phone's camera roll for now, but I'm not sure what to do with it yet. Perhaps I will edit it down and put it on my You Tube Channel. Finally, I Broadcasted our family playing mini golf this afternoon for 3 minutes. I suppose if my audience was family and friends this would be a great use of the app, but my followers are all ed tech people. They probably don't care to see me and my kids playing mini golf. 

I love that we have used it to stream professional development for all. I think if we do it again we have to be a little more deliberate about having resource links in the background. In the end I have really been thinking a lot about how to use this in the classroom with students. I teach in a K-8 district so kids can't have their own social media accounts, except for a few 8th graders, but this could be used with a classroom account. I had a few ideas about how students could use it. They could stream a tour of their school or neighborhood. Students could stream an animal dissection and then use Twitter or Today's Meet to have a back channel chat to answer questions or just do Q & A through the app. I think if you left it up to the kids they would probably come up with the best ideas. I think I will do just that and blog about it again after we see what THEY create! 

Here is 1 more new feature that I think is great. This comes from the Periscope blog.

iOS/OS Handoff
You can start watching a broadcast on one device, and transition to watching it on another seamlessly. Simply ensure both are running iOS 8+ or OS X, have Bluetooth turned on, and are logged in to the same iCloud account. This is great for when you’re watching a broadcast on your Desktop, and want to quickly switch to watching on your iOS device (or vica versa).

In Summary
I think this app is popular because of its ease of set up and use. 
I think the Broadcaster needs to be sensitive to their audience and not broadcast just for the sake of broadcasting.  
This app has some great features and lots of possibilities for use in the classroom.


Monday, July 20, 2015

iPadpalooza IN 2015 - #iplzaIN15

I attended and presented at iPadpalooza IN in Noblesville, Indiana on July 16th and 17th. It was an amazing experience. iPadpalooza IN reminded me in some ways of iEngage-Berwyn. A low key local ed tech conference. After the hustle and bustle of ISTE this was a welcome change. The swag in the conference bag was outstanding. We received a t-shirts, a travel mug, and device cleaner! 

+Jordan Garrett and I presented Integrating Tech into the Reading/Writing Workshop and Bringing PLCs to Life with Google +. Both are presentations that we have done before. We had never done the Reading/Writing Workshop session together. The Reading/Writing Workshop was a 2 hour hands on session. That means we presented for 3 hours each day. That left us time to only attend one additional session on both days. We were able to attend the opening Ignite session. +Shelley Coover rocked it and so did +Sarah Thomas. I especially like Shelley's Angry Birds analogy. We presented to a full room on Thursday morning for our 1st Reading/Writing Workshop session. It's funny I didn't feel so good about how the session went and Jordan thought we did really well. I have to say I was not that impressed with the keynote speaker Jared Stein. I was a little turned off by the fact that he was from Canvas (an LMS provider). I prefer to listen to educators not industry people. The food trucks were outstanding! Great lunch! Next we did our Google + presentation to a small crowd. I believe this was our fourth time doing this presentation together. I like this presentation because it really tells a story while talking about the power of an application. The story is a part of the story of District 100s 1:1 journey and how we use Google + as a communication platform for our staff. It is a way for staff to communicate with each other and share student work with the outside world. I am learning that the power in presenting, especially in keynoting, is being able to tell a story. After our session we ended up hanging out in the sponsor area with Bryan Bennett from its Learning. He gave us a short demo of the product. We took an usie because Jordan and I had every intention of completing the AppMazing Race. In the end we decided to forgo the Race because we were so busy presenting.


The one thing that iPadpalooza IN was missing was an evening social event. After hosing iEngage an going to them at ISTE they really add another dimension to a conference. 

On Friday I went to Jay McTighe and listened to him talk about UbD and Standards Based Grading. Even though our district is doing sbg it was good to hear the information again. I tried my hand at sketchnoting the presentation. It is clear I need much more practice. A good stylus will hopefully help. We did our presentations again. This time we felt just the opposite. I thought it was more polished and Jordan thought we could have done better. Carl Hooker's lunch time keynote was outstanding! According to him, I heard some of it at iEngage-Berwyn. To tell you the truth I was so involved in tweeting and worrying about the conference in May that I did not really hear his message. I got up on stage as a volunteer to help him out with a participation and movement exercise. Of course I messed up! 

In the end I wish that I would have been able to go to more sessions. I was glad I went to Jay McTighe's session. I was really looking forward to hearing him speak. I met John Smith @theipodteacher, and Reshan Richards @reshanrichards, saw Kyle Pearce again, @MathletePearce, and Sarah Thomas @sarahdateechur, but missed Ann Feldman @annfeldman1, Don Goble @dgoble2001, and Tammy Worcester Tang @tammyworcester. 

Food Trucks - Yum!
The conference committee did a fabulous job. You should put this one on your radar especially if you live in the Midwest. 

Here's my Storify as a slideshow. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

ISTE 2015 - A Reflection

I attend ISTE this year for the first time in about 12 years and it has really changed. The Expo floor was amazing and there were definitely way more people. During the opening keynote, I believe that it was stated that there were 20,000 in attendance.

So I was asked, by an ed tech friend who was unable to attend, what was the big buzz at the conference. I believe that the big push is for visual literacy. What is visual literacy you ask? It is the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image. Have you noticed the explosion in infographics and other images on the Net? It's the reason Instagram is so popular! A picture is worth a thousand words. Meaning we can convey complex ideas through a single image. In order to navigate the Net kids will need these skills to be able to read and create in a visually rich media. We need to teach these skills. Making good visuals and pairing it with reliable information will be so important to our students in the future. 

What the Journey to Success Really Looks Like - Carl Hooker

I attended quite a few sessions. Seems like I was always running somewhere. I don't know how you can work for a school district, and justify going to a conference if you don't attend at least some sessions. 

They are in no particular order. Opening Keynote: Soledad O'Brien; Digital Parenting: Carl Hooker; ISTE Ignites Round 3; The Changing Role of the Cheif Technology Officer: Kevin Honeycutt, Brad Waid, Susan Beardan, Alice Keeler, Matthew Miller, David Maline; 1 in 3 Session: Round 3; GripCase SAMR Session: Shannon Soger; Successful Parent/Educator Partnership in the Inclusive Classroom: Luis Perez, Shannon Soger, Christine Southard, Jack Gallagher: iPad: An Out of the Box Look: Tim and Kathy Yenca; Developing an Innovator's Mindset: George Couros: Closing Keynote: Josh Stumpenhorst. 

from George Couros's Session

I presented at the conference. It was a phenomenal experience. My session was called Tech Coach Therapy. The session was a Birds of a Feather. Basically, this a round table discussion format. I prepared a very short presentation about the way I feel about the power of coaching, how I coach teachers and the resources that I use to support my craft. I prepared a Google Slide presentation, but I'm not sure that too many of my 23 attendees used it. Instead they just talked to each other about their jobs. I was able to give the attendees a framework to support meaningful conversation around their job titles. That doesn't always happen when you are sitting in the Blogger's Cafe at ISTE. There is so much power in telling your story. People want to connect by their similarities and even their differences. This group was able to learn what works and what doesn't in other districts, and make connections with other educators that will support them in their mission. They can continue to connect through social media or email to share and grow. I heard and participated in discussion in all the groups. The talk was very powerful, very productive for all of them.  I was shocked when one group stayed about ten minutes past the sessions end time, especially since it was the last session on Monday afternoon. Sometimes we, as coaches, are like the therapists in a school. Even real therapists need therapists. 

The other lens in which I viewed ISTE was through that of someone who has planned and hosted an ed tech conference, ie iEngage-Berwyn. After all, ISTE is the grand daddy of them all. They do it right. I found myself looking at traffic patterns, floor layouts, signage, maps, all the small details that make a conference user friendly. I made a few notes to share with the iLead team. 

The fabulous Jordan Garrett working the Swivl booth

One final note - the social events in the evening are another great way to connect with those that you can learn from all year long! I met a lot of my #edurockstar heroes too. I wish I could follow all of the great people that I met at ISTE, but I'm in Twitter Jail. So if you have a Twitter account and you are not following me PLEASE do so, @rmbtowner_tech or click on the follow link at the right. 

Drew Minock, Brad Waid, George Couros, Kevin Honeycutt

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer PD Plans

I'm going to try to stick with +Michelle Brezek of Big Time Literacy  and write every day for the rest of the month. Yesterday's prompt was PD plans for the summer. This is an easy topic for me to write about.

We can start with iEngage Berwyn in May. I presented on using Google + as district communication tool. I presented with the fabulous +Jordan Garrett. Our session went very well. See this blog post for more info on iEngage - Berwyn!

Apple Action Research Project in District 100
The Team updated administrators and SAMR Model Action Research Team (SMART)
staff on the Apple Action Research Project in District 100. We are doing some very interesting things with this project. Stay tuned for more information.

Ed Tech Teacher Summer Workshops 2015 in Chicago
I assisted for one week for Ed Tech Teacher Summer Workshops 2015 at Roosevelt University. I helped educators learn how to Use Chromebooks in the Classroom and iPads with Google. I had an amazing time working alongside the wonderful Beth Holland and fantastic Shawn McCusker, but the best part of the week was meeting all the amazing teachers from all over the United States. One woman even came all the way from Thailand for the sessions. 

ISTE 2015 - Philadelphia
In June I attended ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia. I went to many sessions including the Opening Keynote by Soledad O'Brien, Digital Parenting by +Carl Hooker, Panel: The Changing Role of Chief Technology Officer with +Shannon Soger+Brad Waid and +Kevin Honeycutt among others, Panel: Successful Parent Educator Partnerships in the Inclusive Classroom with Louis Perez, Jack Gallagher, Christine Southard and Shannon Soger, ISTE 1 in 3 Sessions: Round 1, An iPad Out of the Box Look by Kathy and Tim Yenca, Developing the Innovator's Mindset by George Couros, Ignites: Session 3, and ISTE 1 in 3 Sessions: iLearn iSWAT given by Jordan Garrett. Finally, I presented Tech Coach Therapy. It was a Birds of a Feather session which is the same thing as a round table discussion. There were 23 people in attendance and I think it went very well. I talked a bit about we coach teachers in District 100 and showed them some of my "go to" resources. The rest of the time was for them to tell their story and build relationships with others in the group. I think there is real power in sharing your story with others in the group, esp for a tech or instructional coach. May times they are the only one with this job description in their buidling or unfortunately entire district.

iLearn Summer 2015 - District 100
This week I am giving 2 in-district PD sessions for the iLearn Summer 2015 series of District 100. Monday is iPad 101: What is Your One Screen? During this session we will look at 20 apps that all teachers in our district should have on their iPad. The goal of the session is to explore apps that will help students demonstrate their understanding and make their thinking visible. I am excited to give it. We are going to have a full house. On Wednesday I am doing a session on the Google Apps and Add Ons that are part of our GAFE domain. There are so many ways to use Google in our classrooms! I hope to post both of these PD on my You Tube Channel.

iPadpalooza IN 2015
On Thursday and Friday I will be presenting with Jordan Garrett at iPadpalooza IN 2015. We are presenting Integrating Technology into the Reading and Writing Workshop and Bringing PLCs to Life with Google +. I don't know how many sessions we will be able to attend since we are presenting for 3 hours on both days. I am really looking forward to doing the AppMazing Race this time around. I was unable to do it at iEngage because I was so busy.

Transliteracy 47
I am also presenting at the District 47 Transliteracy conference August 5th and 6th. Jordan and I are once again doing Integrating Technology into the Reading and Writing Workshop.

New Teacher Training - District 100
I'm sure I will also be a part of training our new staff during new teacher week in our district as well.

Thanks +Michelle Brezek for encouraging me to write more!!!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

iEngage-Berwyn...We did it!

Hosting a two day Educational Technology Conference is a lot of work! We spent 10 months planning for it and it seems like it was here and gone in the blink of an eye. I was on the sponsorship and PR/social media committee for the planning team, dubbed iLead. Here we are at our kickoff which took place at one of our institute days.

There were many committees and we learned a lot along the way. On my committee we solicited sponsors. Then we got the word out about the conference. It is important to keep really good notes, admit when you are wrong, and reflect after the experience about what went well and what did not. I'm not going to air all of that here.

Friday, May 8th
On Friday morning we arrived early. There was nothing left to do except let the people show up. The LaVergne Gym looked fabulous and we were ready to go. We started with an overview of what makes +South Berwyn 100 special. The site visit welcome was given by +Shannon Soger. She talked about our state report card statistics and the five categories that make us an Apple Distinguished Program; visionary leadership, innovative teaching and learning, flexible learning environment, compelling evidence of success and ongoing professional development. She did a fabulous job! Next we were on our way to start the first of two site visits for the day. I was assigned to Emerson School. I taught in that building for 17 years, so I was glad to showcase it. The visitors were able to go to different classrooms and see 1:1 computing in action. One of the visitors remarked after seeing the first grade bilingual teacher, "Let's stay here. I could watch her teach all day." It was so great to hear that. 

Site visitor talking about 1:1 with one of our 1st graders
We traveled back to LaVernge by bus to see the lunch time keynote speaker +Carl Hooker of Hooked on Innovation (read his blog post about the conference here). His keynote was thought provoking, interactive, and funny. Carl also brought with him the App Mazing Race - iEngage-Berwyn. It was a big hit! 

Activity during Hooker's keynote

Waid & Hooker

In the afternoon we went back for another site visit with a different group to see more teaching and learning in action. As our superintendent +Stan Fields always says the devices are not the magic of our district - it is the people; the teachers, the support staff, the secretaries, the custodians, the bus drivers. It is a true group effort. The other thing that makes our district different is that we are not afraid to change, to innovate. We didn't just bring in computers and iPads for everyone. We changed almost everything! At the same time as adopting 1:1 we started full day kindergarten, adopted the co-teaching model, purchased furniture for flexible learning environments, changed the food served in our lunchrooms, made our schools safer, adopted standards based grading, dual language, and so on. 

Afternoon site visitors to Emerson School

To finish the afternoon we had a debriefing panel of "experts" from our district. It included (left to right) +Stan Fields superintendent, +Jeremy Majeski building principal, +Jim Mukite technician, +Shannon Soger director of 1:1 program, +Jen Lehotsky middle school teacher, +Jordan Garrett instructional coach and +Christina Betz elementary teacher. Here visitors were able to ask questions and get detailed answers about what they saw during their visits. 

Brad Waid demonstrating Color Alive
On Friday night we went to the Carleton Hotel in Oak Park for the social event associated with the conference. +Brad Waid decided early on in the planning that a good social event was a must. We worked with myOn and +DAQRI Education to plan the event. Students, their families and conference attendees were invited. There was a viewing party for videos created using myOn books. myOn is an interactive digital library from Capstone Publishers that we use in our district. The student and class videos were phenomenal. Click on the myOn link above to see the winners. My favorite was Noor's video! Then we had an adults only party featuring Big Data, a band made up of Tech Directors from around the state of Illinois, and +DAQRI Education. +Brad Waid demonstrated the augmented reality magic of Crayola Color Alive. It combines just the right amount of hands on and tech for our students. It's the simplicity of a coloring page with the magic of DAQRI's 4D app. No social event these days is complete with out a photo booth. We used our Double Robot and the Simple Booth app. A good time was had by all. 

Anne Truger, Jordan Garrett,
Kevin Honeycutt, Brad Waid

Dancing to Big Data

An aside - While we were waiting for the festivities to begin we found ourselves in the bar attached to the hotel, Poor Phil's. It was here that the iCoach team had their first team meeting in Spring 2012. I knew at that moment that the entire event was going to be a success. 

Saturday, May 9th
We slept quickly and arrived at Heritage Middle School on Saturday, to do the conference portion of the event. There were poster sessions put on by the students and teachers. These were summations of successful tech projects from the school year. They were outstanding! John Antonetti gave the opening keynote. He talked about student engagement. He was wonderful!

Emily & John Antonetti

Student poster session

After the Keynote it was time for the concurrent sessions. There was time for two in the morning. +Jordan Garrett and I presented our Bringing PLCs to Life with Google + . There were many great sessions. You can find the presenters' slides and picture archive in the iEngage Google + Community. Next it was time for lunch and the leadership panel.

Dr Leonard, Mr Polyak, Dr Hutton, Dr Voltz
One more session in the afternoon, and then the closing keynote by +Kevin Honeycutt. Kevin's keynote was exceptional. He covered so many points. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak you should make it happen. 

Kevin Honeycutt with Shannon Soger is the background
The entire two day period I was tweeting and posting to Instagram. I was also monitoring the hashtag #iEngagebwyn for activity for our social media contests. We had plenty of great prizes to give away thanks to our generous sponsors. Here is a link to the Storify for Friday and for Saturday. We generated so much traffic on Twitter that we were a trending topic for Chicagoland on Friday!!! These Storifys give you a very good picture of both days. There are over 1,000 Tweets and Instragram posts from both days!

Shannon - Thanks for Dreaming Big!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

ICE TECH 2015 in Springfield

On Thursday, May 7th +Michael Saracini and I took 2 students down to the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield. Mike applied months ago for the opportunity and the day was finally upon us. It is a 3 hour ride from suburban Chicago to get to Springfield. We left early and the children were anxious to get there. When we got there one of our students remarked that they had never been through a metal detector before. That's when I realized this was a very new experience for both of them. We got there early, so we set up our table in the south hall on the 1st floor. I have recently broken my leg, so I watched our stuff while Mike and the kids looked around the Capitol Building.

The visit is set up by the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE). The goal of TECH 2015 is two fold, the first is to spotlight the use of technology in the classrooms as a vital tool for students. The second is to shed light on the need for increased funding for Illinois schools.

$3.00 green screen!
Our goal was for the kids to use the +TouchCast app to create a news video about our visit to the Capitol Building that day. It was Mike's ideas and it was brilliant. I was just there for moral support and to schmooze with the legislators.  I have been doing a lot of Touchcasting lately. It is such a versatile app, as I have said before. Natalie and Angel went around and interviewed participants in our area. They interviewed the president of ICE, Charlene Chausis, a teacher from Murray Elementary Language Academy in Chicago and Senator Napoleon Harris.  They had been practicing and developing their interview style for quite a few weeks and it showed. They both did a great job of creating and asking questions spontaneously of their guests. I was so impressed with their skills. 

Angel interviewing Charlene Chausis
Natalie showing Senator Landek how to use Touchcast
These kids were fearless and they did such a wonderful job interviewing different people with different perspectives on being at the Capitol Building. Sometimes it is hard to believe they are only 5th graders! 

If you are from Illinois and you want to apply to have your students attend, it is really easy to fill out the application form and send it in. The applications open around the first of every year and close in early February. Schools are notified in mid-February. The event is always in May. The ICE committee and its members did an outstanding job organizing and running the event. Thank you to all of them.

Here is the link to their final product! Great job Angel and Natalie! We are so proud of you! 

For more information on the use of Touchcast visit their website or read this blog post