Sunday, November 27, 2016

Your Technology Plan Isn't about Technology

Rock, paper, scissors. The game we all know and love. The game we all grew up with. The game that is very much an analogy for educational technology plans.

Rock, paper, scissors isn’t a game. It’s a means to an end. The game isn’t the purpose, the game decides what comes next. No one plays the game to simply play the game, the game is usually played to decide an order for the bigger game; who goes first, who gets the better seat, all those important childhood decisions.

The other key point to the game is here. No one element; the rock, paper or scissors, is greater than all of them. Each is better than one other but none better than all, and most importantly they all need to be part of the game.

Technology Plan: Rock, Paper, Scissors

Thursday, September 22, 2016

On the eve of Spirit Day...

Today I left work, as an educator.

I drove home.

I then went to my daughter's school, as a parent, for Family Night.

I left Family Night feeling disheartened, angry, and sad. But I also left hopeful.

Tomorrow I go to work, as an educator, on Spirit Day. And it makes me thankful and hopeful...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Gearing up for Day 1

Tomorrow is the first day of the 2016-2017 school year.

My 14th first day of school as a teacher.

I'm excited. These last few years I've been re-energized about the profession and my place in it.

My students and colleagues have pushed me a lot these past two years. I hope I've pushed them too.

I've been thinking a lot about the why and how of what I do lately. I want my students to think about their why too. To not just do. But to understand the purpose, the why of what they do.

I think I'm going to make this a poster in my lab this year...

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...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cultural Comics with Google Slides: a 3rd grade experiment

It was the beginning of June and my colleague Ms. Conklin and I met to talk about a final project. A project the students could have a lot of fun with through the last month, but also a project that would also incorporate their cultural universal unit of study.

We decided to take their research on a location and turn it into a comic book style travel guide. A comic book they create from the ground up and build collaboratively.

We decided to use Google Drawing and Google Slides to make comic books...

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...