Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back to School Checklist - 2017 edition

School - for some - has already begun. Here's our revised checklist to assist in restarting the edtech program for your classroom or school. It's a big list! Read it and decide what's more important for your circumstances, and dig in.

The start of the school year brings with it more than a few ‘gotta-do’s for a classroom teacher. For that matter, if you’re also the designated ed tech “go-to person,” there are a LOT of tasks for you to consider. With a technology program, ensuring that the various aspects of technology are ready for you, your colleagues and your students is a huge task. It’s hard to envision all the aspects of tech that you might need to worry about, and if you or the team miss something, it only creates more heartburn and wasted time later.

To help your student-centered tech program get off to a fulfilling start, we have put together this checklist. Take a look, and depending on your circumstances and role, decide what needs attention to support a highly engaging, fully functioning student-centered classroom.

With Your Administration and IT Team…
  • Confirm your ed tech budget. Hopefully, this was already done last school year.
  • Update your Acceptable Use Policy. Has anything materially changed in your school’s approach? Switching to mobile devices? BYOD? A new device take-home program?
  • Check the mobile carts – are the devices charging? Is the timer working? Are the power supplies working? Do you have spare devices?
  • Power outlets: are there enough outlets where the devices (on carts or whatever) will be stored? Has anything changed in your layout (or the number of carts or devices) from last year?
  • Device tune-up: update/refresh/re-image your tablets, laptops, and desktops. Add a website launcher like Symbaloo to your class page to make it easier for students to rapidly get to your favorite sites. Add apps to your tablets. Clean them up (don’t use harsh chemicals!), check batteries, and replace missing keys or other malfunctioning items. Do your laptops/desktops need more memory? If so, who’s doing the installation? When will it happen?
  • Tune up/check your Google Apps for Ed (GAFE aka GSuite) policies and settings. New features hit periodically, so take advantage of them! Here is a LONG list of recent updates, to GAFE, Android and iOS apps. These improvements are happening constantly. Keep abreast of what’s new by signing up for updates info from Google!
  • Confirm equipment storage location(s). Did you buy new laptops or tablets? Do you need a new cart or in-class storage unit? It’s not trivial to set up a new device (some are MUCH easier than others but all take time), and new carts can still take hours to get set up just the way you want.
  • Review/create a procedure for “resource” check in/out. This can include carts, labs, cameras, iPads, Chromebooks, you name it. Whatever can be checked out needs to be done so in an organized manner or chaos will ensue. Here’s a good Google Form add on called CheckItOut that will help you accomplish this. There are other tools – search around!
In Your Classroom…
  • Create a Tech Boot Camp agenda to train students on application basics; start rollout early.
  • Determine your go-to techie students. Get them to help (before school starts) with the cleanup noted above.
  • Develop your first ed tech integrated lesson. Try to not just substitute paper and pencil; instead, try to transform your lessons in ways only technology can (student videos, flipped lessons, etc.). Learn more about the levels of technology integration by visiting the Technology is Learning site.
  • Confirm all wireless access points and printers are operational. Have you increased your device count? Are you adding in personal cell phones, etc. that can also bog down your system? Does your network have the capacity for the bigger load? Hugely important…
  • Update student lists! Google Apps for Education, Learning Management System (LMS), Student Information System (SIS), online education sites…now is the time!
  • For online education sites, do you have all usernames and passwords?
  • Ensure document cameras, projectors, etc., are functional. Do you have a spare lamp for the projector(s)?
  • Find your digital cameras. Are they charged? Create a checkout sheet.
  • Develop a brief parent communication about your ed tech plans so they understand its importance. Include something about digital citizenship and home screen behavior. Subscribe to Common Sense Media, which has a WEALTH of tools to help your students grow as digital citizens. Get parents to subscribe as well! Great lessons on appropriate online behavior, copyright/plagiarism, treating all with respect, website and movie ratings, and more!
  • Freshen up your class webpage! Add that Symbaloo link noted above.
For Yourself…
  • Partner up with another teacher to grow your ed tech knowledge and skills.
  • Find a blog that will help you learn more about new tools, tips, and techniques. Here are some good choices:
Freetech4teachers - many excellent instructions and info on a multitude of free tools
Edutopia - wide variety of edtech and teaching strategies, tips, how to's
Catlin Tucker – Blended Learning - all about blending tech into a classroom
Alice Keeler – Teacher Tech - many more easy to understand edtech tips and how to's
  •  Add one new application to your tech tool belt. Here are some good, easy choices to add to your repertoire. They each have a “LOW” entry point – you and students can start to use them very quickly and get results FAST.
StoryboardThat – Storyboard and comic creator
Quizlet – Flashcard and study games that engage learners - also see Quizlet Live for collaboration in learning!
Padlet – Collaborative whiteboard for brainstorming and planning
Kahoot! – Fast and fun game-based formative assessment. Very easy!
Lots of items to consider, but don't be discouraged. Determine your top three or four to do's and go for it. It’s never too late. Doing anything to improve the edtech experience for your students and you will pay big dividends!  Partner up with another competent, engaged teacher and divide and conquer! Talk to you administrator, show this list, and ask for additional resources.

We are confident, if you can squeeze in some thought about edtech during this most-busy time, you can make marked improvements! And your students WILL benefit. As you see how excited your students are to be in your high-tech classroom with engaging lessons they will enjoy, you will be glad you took the time!

Good luck!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Boost Growth Mindset with Technology

Here's an article I wrote for SmartBrief Connected Teaching to help students Boost Growth Mindset with Technology.

And here's part two, also published in SmartBrief: Boost Growth Mindset with Technology - part 2.

I hope you enjoy what I've learned about applying Growth Mindset into the classroom using technology tools.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Uploading Word Docs with Tables to GSuite...successfully!

Here's a re-post of a Tech Tip I wrote recently for SmartBrief Education's Connected Teaching and Learning. You can see the original post here.


In a recent conversation with clients about how they could get more from G Suite for Education and Google Classroom, I discovered that many of them had problems uploading Word docs that include tables. The table formats changed during the conversion process. I decided to test drive it myself.
In the first test, I found a Word doc with multiple tables that included bullets, check boxes and URLs
Image from Flickr
in the cells and uploaded it. I turned off "Conversion" in the Drive settings. The document looked fine in the preview page. I then selected "Open With Google Docs" and converted it to Google Docs format. Everything was perfect -- exactly how it looked in my original.
I uploaded the document again, this time with "Conversion" turned on in the settings. The uploaded, auto-converted version came out fine.
I ran this test twice more with two more documents and each one had the same successful result.
If you have had trouble in the past with converting table-laden MS Word docs, I urge you to give it another shot. Things have changed and it's very likely that your documents will come out fine. Mine did.

You can see the original post here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Nominate an education pro


Here's an interesting opportunity. It's called "Inspired2Educate," which encourages K-20 education professionals to nominate a teacher, administrator, or staff member who inspired them to start their careers in education. 

The Inspired2Educate winners are selected each month and receive a $1,000 scholarship toward their own professional development, as well as $1,000 for their educational institution to use however it sees fit.


Check out the Inspired2Educate website to learn more about the contest. Nominations (short story or video) are accepted now through Dec. 31, 2016. 


Monday, August 15, 2016

#curiouscollab - learn about this idea from guest author Caitlin Krause


I have been procrastinating and this blog has languished in recent months. Here's my first
By Tcodl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

attempt to reenergize my effort. It's a very engaging post by our friend Caitlin Krause, and is about creativity, curiosity and learning within each of us. As Caitlin states, "Creativity seems to be about taking what I know, and collecting and connecting with what others know; seeking new knowledge out of a curious drive, and creating new meaning and new connections that are valuable."

Here's a link to Caitlin's post, which appeared in medium.com. Please take a few minutes to read this very insightful article about curiosity, teamwork, learning, and more!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Best Work-from-Home Jobs for Teachers

Here is a very interesting guest post by Joyce Wilson, a retired teacher who wrote this article for us. She also authors TeacherSpark.org Many thanks to Joyce!

If you are interested in a guest posting, please contact us at info@ccedtech.com! We're always looking for interesting submissions on a variety of topics.

The Best Work-from-Home Jobs for Teachers


home-office-336373_1920.jpg
Photo via Pixabay by Unsplash
Most teachers find themselves in a bit of a pickle when summer break rolls around and they need to find a flexible job that they can either leave after a couple of months, or keep on after school starts back up in the fall. It’s tricky to find the right place of employment, but sometimes you just have to get creative.
It is possible to find retail work or a job in a restaurant, but some need a little more flexibility than those jobs offer. If you’d rather work from home and set your own schedule, there are plenty of options, and you may even be able to continue these jobs during the school year. Here are some of the best.
Work as a writer/blogger/editor
As a teacher, you have invaluable experience and advice to give parents and other educators, so put it to good use by creating a blog or contributing freelance articles to another blog. Many writers on the web make good money with advertising, so check out several sites to get a feel for how the process works.
You can also contact publishers – especially ones that distribute textbooks – and ask if they have a need for an editor. It takes a sharp eye and some patience, but editing is always in high demand, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Be a dog boarder or dog walker with Rover.com
If you’re an animal lover and you are allowed to have pets in your home, you might consider boarding a dog or other pet. With sites like Rover.com, you can meet up with pet owners who are looking for a responsible caregiver for their animal while they’re away, and you might be able to take on more than one animal at once to maximize your earning potential. The company will even take care of the financial details for you.
Many pet owners find it difficult to make it home during the day to let their dog out, so this is a great opportunity for you to make some cash while bonding with a sweet animal if you aren’t able to board one in your home. There could be several pet owners in your neighborhood who need help with dog walking duties, so this is another job that is both flexible and offers more than one way to earn.
Tutor to help prevent the summer slide
A relatively stress-free job, tutoring can be done on a very flexible schedule, at your own pace, from your own home, and you can choose your clients. It shouldn’t be too hard to advertise your services, either; talk to parents before the end of the school year and let them know you’re available for tutoring sessions over the summer. This is another job you can easily keep during the active school year.
Give music lessons
If you’re talented with an instrument, or if you teach music at school, offering music lessons from your home is a great way to earn extra cash over the summer. Many parents are pulling their hair out trying to keep their kids occupied over the summer, and learning an instrument is a great way for youngsters to stay out of trouble and keep focused.
Finding the right summer job can be stressful, but it doesn’t need to be! Get creative and get paid to put your talents to good use.

Joyce Wilson is a retired teacher with decades of experience. Today, she is a proud grandmom and mentor to teachers in her local public school system. She and a fellow retired teacher created TeacherSpark.org to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Project Based Learning tips and tricks

I was recently alerted to a great post by Danny Rabara -- Project Based Learning tips and tricks (25 of them!). Lots of good ideas about how to effectively add PBL to classroom learning! Take a look.
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