Tuesday, August 9, 2016

CapCon! 2016 - a capstone learning conference

Every year the 5th graders of Scarsdale participate in Capstone. Capstone is the last two months of school, post-standardized testing. Students choose a topic, research it, and create a final product. It is designed to be a self-directed, passion/interest based assignment. And it ends with a tri-fold board...

This year our school decided to turn it on it's head.

No more tri-folds.

We created CapCon! a capstone learning conference. The vision was to create a professional learning conference experience driven by students, their research, and their work.

We spoke a lot about Ignite talks, TED Talks, professional quality documentaries (we used 60 Minutes and Real Sports as reference points). We created flyers, posters, and all the traditional marketing material associated with conferences like ISTE, ASCD, FETC. We wanted our students to create professional-quality research projects, so we treated them as professionals. Professional learners, creators, makers, and presenters.

And the students were amazing!

Here's how we did it...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Thinking about my why: I am a purveyor of geekery

I am not a computer teacher.

I am not a technology teacher.

I am not an integrator, facilitator, technician, or guru.

I am a purveyor of geekery.


I am a purveyor of geekery because I am more than any of those first items listed. I am more than a pigeonhole of knowledge or experience. I am a teacher, a techie, a learner, a nerd, a student, a person with a passion. It is that passion, for the geeky side of life, for the things that aren't limited to electronics but still wave the geek flag with pride, that makes me a purveyor of geekery.

I've been reading Simon Sinek's Start with Why and it has really opened up my thinking and my approach to what I do.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

School Technology Summit 2016 presentation - #NYCSchoolsTech

Welcome to my portion of the School Technology Summit 2016, presented by the New York City Department of Education.

This is the fourth year for the Tech Summit. And just like the previous events, it was a great day of learning and connecting. It was also day of great conversations, and a reflection will be forthcoming, but the purpose of this post is simply to share the resources I used during my sessions...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Twitter Startup Guides

Twitter is an amazing tool and very simple to use. However, simple doesn't always mean easy or intuitive. Overall, Twitter is one of the easier platforms to use but with anything there is always a learning curve. 

I created these 3 infographics to help guide new users as well as serve as a refresher to current tweeters.

I hope folks find them useful...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pushing the limits of presentations with 5th graders

Toward the end of every school year the 5th graders embark on their Capstone Projects. They choose an area of interest, develop a main inquiry question and related sub-questions, seek out experts in their field of interest, conduct interviews, go on site visits, and do a ton of traditional book and web-based research.

It is an awesome undertaking and the students are immensely engaged. It is a project that they drive, based on an area of their interest. It's part traditional research project, part passion project, and an epic culminating activity.

In the past all their hard work resulted in traditional tri-fold board. Printed pictures, printed slides with questions and answers, and students waiting for people to come around ask them about their project during a parent open house...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Live streaming 1st grade egg hatchings! 2016 Edition

Every year the 1st Graders get eggs and learn about the process of chickens hatching.

We are live streaming the eggs and the hatching process!

For the technically inclined here is how I set it up:
(last year's specs were slightly different)
  • MacBookPro "mid 2012"
    • 2.5 GHz Intel i5
    • 8 GB 1600 MHZ DDR3
    • OSX 10.9.5
    • these are old, stripped down, refurbished systems
      • former teacher machines
      • battered and bruised
      • essentially solely running the encoder
  • Used my lab's YouTube channel to set up a Live Event
  • I did not use Google Hangouts because they have an 8 hour stream limit and we were looking for a 7-10 day continuous, 24/7 stream
  • Installed Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder
  • required for YouTube Live Events not using Hangouts - allows for 24/7 feeds
  • Set up my stream specifics
  • YouTube walks you through it
  • Preview the feed
  • Started streaming
  • Emailed links to teachers to share with parents & posted feeds on lab blog
A couple a quirks:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Koko's Kitten: a layered collaboration in 2nd grade

Recently, two Second Grade classes read Koko's Kitten by Dr. Francine Patterson. 

To extend the experiences and add a technology component we had both classes work in layered partnerships to create their own reflections on Koko's Kitten, as a group book.

Students worked in teams of two to create a "page" of this new book. Both classes came to the lab simultaneously and each student partnership worked on a single computer, using a single Google Slide. Once each student partnership was finished with their page they were all printed out and the class partnership built an amazing bulletin board to showcase this collaborative reflection on Koko's Kitten.

The board looks amazing...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Internet Safety Resources for Parents...

How do we keep students safe while still allowing them access to the amazing tools available in 2016?

This year I led two Parent Coffees about Internet (and Technology) Safety geared toward the parents of students K-5. The sessions were broken up into two, one geared for the parents of K-2 students, the other for parents of 3-5 students.

Thank you to all the parents who were able to attend, we had a great conversation. Attending in person is not always possible, so to ensure the entire community has access to the conversation I am posting the presentation for all to share and use...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

3rd Grade Google Slide: The Year Long Reflection

The Project:

Using Google Slides 3rd grade students will create a 13 slide presentation, one month at a time, over the entire school year.

The Why?

It is never too early to start building a digital portfolio and not every portfolio will look the same. But one great way to show true growth and progress is not to publish the best of the best, as most portfolios tend to be, but rather show real, individual progress and growth though the eyes, and words, of the students themselves. It's important for students to think about, and voice, the things that stand out to them the most, their "a-ha" moments of clarity, their personal triumphs. It is also important for students to keep a record of such things and look back on them. It's one thing for us as teachers to say "you've come so far" but it's far more powerful for the student to look at a body of work and say "this is how I've grown."

The How?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Addressing Twitter concerns...

I am often asked about social media’s role in education, Twitter in particular. These questions are often brought about by parent concerns, which often mirror the initial concerns of teachers.

When addressing parent concerns I approach it just as I do with teachers:

  1. concerns are normal
  2. I’m happy we are discussing concerns as opposed to flat out rejecting the concept
  3. concerns are a learning process for me as much as for those bringing them to me, as they help me reflect on my practice as well as see what I do through an external lens

I have written many things in the past about social media in schools but there are always new questions that aren’t addressed by old posts.

This post looks at the two most recent concerns I’ve received:

  1. There is a time stamp if you follow it. One can piece together a class schedule.
  2. Why are teachers stopping instruction to take photos?

Let me address each of these one at a time…