Sunday, December 23, 2012

Apple TV

Happy holidays. 100% of the 4th/5th grade floor is now equipped with Apple TV and the changes are instantly noticeable. We all know that the device is immediately transformative but for the longest time I did not see one in action. My room was the only one with Apple TV. Now, with three more, I can see how other teachers are using this simple but powerful tool. I have noticed a more collaborative atmosphere as students and teachers engage with the information on the screen. The classroom appears to be a more “natural” space. Teachers are sitting with their students and having conversations. The teacher’s body language is that of community exploration and discussion rather than information dissemination. Lessons appear to be more fluid as notes and apps can be organized ahead of time and stored “behind the scenes.” Lastly, the tool has added instant depth to conversation because the power of the iPads is at our fingertips and clearly visible to all. Our challenge will be to reflect on how we implement this device and how we can use it to transform the way we teach and how students learn but I think we are on our way. It will take a great deal of tinkering, trial and error, and a great deal of reflection. We are at a pivotal point in education and can begin to redefine how learing and teaching happens in classrooms. I think positive change will start to occur only when the teachers see themselves as learners. Here is an opinion on that matter.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Math 7 iPad Project

It is Monday, and my Math 7 students began a project today on the iPads. This is my first venture in using the iPads in the classroom. Using Explain Everything, I have asked them to create a teaching video (in groups of 2) about solving equations containing integers. Not daunting at all because I have been using the app to create my own videos for the few times I have flipped the classroom. So, I got a chance to learn it through using it before asking my students to dive in. Their audience is another 7th grade student who knows how to work with integers, but not how to solve equations with integers. I have given them some structure, but the rest is up to them. For example: 1) they need to teach all four equation types, 2) they need to narrate each slide, 3) they need to create a rough draft of each slide before getting on the iPads, 4) and I have encouraged them to include an original song/rap about solving equations. In my head, I think we can be done with the project in 4 days. After today, I am not so sure. It took some groups 30 minutes just to get the intro slide the way they liked it. :) Nonetheless, once they become more familiar with the app, I think they will fly through the set up. I can't wait to see how they narrate their slides! It is fun to watch them switch into teacher mode, something I think they are all capable of doing. I think this is a project that is accessible to all students. I am choosing to do this project for two reasons. It is different that our normal routine, and I think adding a little spice to the classroom is a wonderful way to keep students engaged. Secondly, when students are asked to explain something, it further embeds the idea in their brains. Being able to communicate their math ideas, strategies, and reasoning is important to me, and this skill is a cornerstone of my curriculum.

In terms of assessing this project, I did not create a rubric. In our TLC2 meeting last week, Sarah mentioned that she didn't give her students a rubric for a recent iMovie project in her English 7 class. Instead, she put more emphasis on a self-reflection/assessment sheet they did at the end of the project. This got me thinking. I put pressure on myself to have a checklist/rubric for every project I introduce, and that can be hard. I like the idea of giving them an open ended project and letting them end up where they end up. At this point, I am planning on assessing them on their effort, completion of the project, and a reflection sheet at the end. And perhaps there doesn't need to be a grade at all-- who says something has to be entered in my grade book? Interesting how this project has brought up the idea of assessment for me. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012


My turn! So I now have solid footing on the Notability train. Woo Woo. I have been using it for my class notes and it seems to be working nicely. The best part is now I can organize my notes with ease and access documents right into my notes. I usually save them as PDF files and then import them so that I can write on them. I have emailed the notes to students that are not in class which I could do before from my tablet but now it is just that much easier. I also have downloaded an ap on my iPhone that acts like a scanner. I can take photos of documents and then upload them as PDF files. The jury is still out as to if this is a worth while ap. What I do like about it is I don't have to go over to the copy room to scan. I can do it from my desk here in HURD. Please let me know if you want to chat more about these aps. Love to hear more info on them too if you have any. Happy Monday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Project Help

The young writers in the 4-5 Program are putting the finishing touches on their descriptive writing piece and will soon start work on a non-fiction piece.  Students will be interviewing members of the Waynflete community who have immigrated to the United States and writing an "article" based on that interview.  

The teachers would like to make this writing public but we are unsure of the best way to accomplish that.  Currently, we are thinking about capturing the recorded voice of our writing groups.  We would then like to take the recording and link it on a map so that there is a visual representation of where the subject of the interview is from.  

Our initial brainstorms led us to garage band but we are unsure if we can embed those recordings on a map.
We could also use Voice Thread and hyper link the map.
We could create individual Explain Everythings with maps as the background slide.  We could then post those recordings on the web via YouTube.

We know there are other possibilities but cannot think of them.  WWTLCD?  (What would TLC do?)  Share your thoughts with us.  We would appreciate the help.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Today's Meet

In preparation for the Lower School retreat, Page, our fearless leader, showed us a platform that allowed for real time communication a la Twitter without the account.  The web-based site is called Today's Meet and I have been implementing it in my 4th and 5th grade classroom.  The site is simple to use.  You set up a chat room by creating a room name.  This name is then added to the end of the url.  Participants can then enter the room using the url and engage in conversation.  Entries are limited to 140 characters and the chatroom can last for 2 hours up to one year.

I have used Today's Meet as part of my literature conversations.  I pre-loaded the page onto the iPads and asked small cooperative groups to share their predictions about the book.  When one group made a bold prediction, other groups would notice and evaluate the validity of the statement looking closely at their own books.  As we began reading, I placed iPads around the room.  As students stumbled upon major discoveries, formulated questions, generated connections, or made predictions they were encouraged to add to our chat.  I also sent a note home letting families know about this tool so students could record their thoughts while doing their homework.

I found that our conversations are more active and students are more connected with "digging" into their text.  Students have reported that the ongoing chat helps them focus since they can relieve their working memory of the big ideas and not carry them around until our next scheduled conversation.

Check it out!

Monday, September 3, 2012


"Using technology effectively in education requires much, much more than just technical skills. Instead, through the use of technology we have the opportunity to sculpt educational visions that address the real needs of children entering a new world."  -Sam Gliksman's Blog, iPads in Education

It's Labor Day, the last official day of a relaxing, yet busy summer spent mostly in Maine. Although I still connected to news and extended friends and family via the internet on the computer and iphone (also my favorite way to take and modify pics these days), until a conference I attended in late August at the Bancroft School, I spent very little time using my newest tool, the iPad (except for reading blogs on my favorite RSS feeds, Zite and Flipboard). I was able to enjoy much more time connected to my family, my garden and the sea. I spent lots of "unplugged" time listening to my own brain, more music (mostly on my iphone) and to the sounds of nature; I felt more balanced! But this healthier balance I feel today is not attributed to less "plugged-in" time, it is just attributed to more leisure time and the choice to plug-in or not. I am so grateful for this time!

By the end of June last year, I was convinced that the iPad had become an invaluable tool in most of my classes and it was my student's "virtual language laboratory." Last week, the Bancroft School iPad Institute absolutely confirmed my belief that this little device is/can/will be an invaluable learning tool that will lighten all of our backpacks and book bags and reduce the amount of paper flow in our classrooms - not to mention all the other tasks it will help us perform, the lessons it will help us learn and the ease of collaboration it will allow!  I am envious of Bancroft's journey because I believe that for this tool to be most efficient, it needs to be in the hands of all learners in the community.  Check out Bancroft's iPad Initiative page and Richard Bryne's Free Technology For Teachers page (he was the keynote speaker at the conference), or the iPads in Education Ning to read more articles on teaching with this tool and asking "WHY?" this tool might work for you.

During the conference at Bancroft, some teachers were still taking notes by hand (I, proudly, did not...this is HUGE for me), there were technology glitches, there was also the normal anxiety one usually encounters; however, there was something else, too!  There was a room full of about 40 teachers and 15 students who had (mostly) made a commitment to teach, learn and collaborate on this device.  Many of my generation (40 and above) were doing what Cathy Davidson writes about in her introduction of, "Now You See It."  They were "Unlearning" old habits.  However, I was profoundly moved by their willingness to jump out of their comfort zone and experiment with the mind boggling amount of "there's an app for that" choices in each of their disciplines (not to mention that many of them will be teaching with etexts next year).  The sharing and collaboration was inevitable and wonderful, and although everyone carried an iPad, people still talked, looked each other in the eye and moved about the spaces is such a portable, collaborative device!  Thankfully, the school was able to make some choices about apps that everyone would use for note taking and document writing this year.  Like us, they have moved to google to communicate via email and, like us, they still upload important docs on a school portal.  However, all students in grades 6-12 have a school gmail account.  All students and teachers take notes in Notability (I LOVE this app!) and everyone uses  iPages (word processing), Numbers (like Excel), Keynote (like PowerPoint).  Here is full list of required apps that the school found most successful last year.

As I begin to think about next year in my classes at Waynflete and my continued collaboration on TLC, I will return to and tweak what I have already created on my wikis, google sites and iPad app presentations, but I will also look forward to some new additions and creating a full year course with 1:1 iPads in Spanish I (so excited for this!).  This does not mean that I will not make a huge commitment to speaking with, engaging with and collaborating with my simply means that I will attempt to use the tools I have (so gratefully) at my disposal to enhance our already engaging conversations, projects, etc...  I will make mistakes, there will be technology glitches and I will fail at some of the new ways of facilitating my lessons, but I know my students will be there to help me find my way in my emerging 21st Century classroom.  I am excited to begin a new year!

For those interested in exploring, here are some of the tools (some require building/creating on the computer and some are just apps that can be used only on the iPad) that I will use in my classes:

Notability (note taking, storytelling, organization...wonderful!)
Explain Everything (storytelling...fabulous app!!)
Quizlet (vocabulary practice...LOVE!)
Voicethread (storytelling and far one of the best out there ;-)
QWiki (a visual, audio wikispaces...just learning about this, but it looks promising)
Sound Cloud and Audioboo (aural/oral practice...our virtual language lab)
CloudOn (microsoft word...links to dropbox)
Dropbox (storing/sharing)
Mental Case (vocabulary flashcards with audio)
Teacherkit (a teacher organizational tool)
GDrive (a direct link to goodle drive)
Animoto (fun, quick and simple video app for showcasing your own photos:  check out one I made with photos I have taken over the years in Spain: EspaƱa)
wikispaces and google sites (all of my classes have a class page...check out our Spanish 7 Site:)
TedSubtitle (watch ted talks with subtitles in many languages)
WordReference (a Spanish/English Dictionary)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Year of TLC

The support of the Technology Learning Cohort was invaluable in helping me stay focused and motivated to integrate more technology into my classroom.  I spent a lot of time reading blogs, researching, and testing applications, and while some were useful on a short-term basis and / or for specific rote skills, I did not find the majority truly beneficial (specifically for upper level math).  This was frustrating – I was fortunate to have access to a classroom set of iPads, yet I could not get past substituting them for what could be accomplished with a graphing calculator or the Internet on a laptop.  There were a variety of factors at play, but one that I returned to on a regular basis was that “integrating technology” into a classroom and a curriculum implies supplementing what I already do with some technology.  But instead, it was the ‘what I already do’ part that needed to change.  This change involves re-thinking how I teach, defining what it really means to be a digital-classroom, and working with our math curriculum within this new framework.  One of the main differences I can imagine is utilizing myriad technologies as tools for students to demonstrate what they know.  For instance, students could describe their evolving understanding of a topic by regularly contributing to and commenting on blog posts or they could show their mastery of a concept by creating a video tutorial.  I have a long way to go in thinking about this re-design, and potentially implementing it in a program that is not 1:1, but I do believe that the change would be essential in effectively making use of technology.
I learned a tremendous amount from some specific trials / experiments.  Early in the fall, I attempted the flipped classroom model with both my 7th grade class and my Precalculus classes.  Essentially, for a given lesson, students watched a video tutorial at home as homework.  After watching the video, they completed a basic online survey as a way for me to check that the assignment was completed.  Then, in class, we worked together on problems – effectively doing the “homework” in class.  I was excited about this model, since I know students gain a lot of understanding from working through problems with each other and with me.  However, students were very resistant to the flipped classroom idea.  Their thinking was surprisingly traditional; they felt that it was wrong for a YouTube video to teach them what I am suppose to “stand and deliver.”   Possibly the result would have been different had I created the video myself, which I plan to attempt this year.  But, I think a large part of the tension was connected to Waynflete culture and the value placed on relationships.  In all instances, the students insisted that I re-teach the concepts from the video before we jumped into examples; they seemed to feel strongly that I convey the information to them.  Part of the challenge, too, may have been connected to the skill of learning from resources, such as textbooks or videos.  Often, students reacted with, “I didn’t get it at all,” or “the book / video didn’t make any sense.”  This experiment highlighted the importance of helping students become more confident and comfortable communicating mathematics and in being receptive to learning the subject from a variety of resources.  I found more success with projects that involved students using technology as a tool to experiment and / or create.  In the fall my Precalculus students completed the Face Project as their final assessment with the conic sections unit.  Using each type of conic section equation, students built the face of a cartoon character on a coordinate grid.  While there were some technical difficulties that resulted from the first run-through of this project, overall it was a success.  One of the most significant benefits was that students became even more familiar with the equations for the three types of conic sections through trial and error.  Students thought about the shape or curve they wanted to create, built a possible equation, then received immediate feedback as to whether or not their thinking was sound when they saw the graph.  Then, students modified their equation one or more times to get it to behave as they expected.  Learning through this kind of de-bugging would not be practical without technology.  While teaching my 7th graders to program with Scratch I realized a similar benefit.  Their ultimate goal was to write a program to draw the coordinate grid on the screen, including tick marks every five units.  It became a good challenge to think through different combinations of code that might work, run the program to test it out, and the modify the code as necessary so Scratch the Cat behaved as they predicted.  Students approached this challenge as a game, and in the process they became very familiar with the coordinate grid.  Finally, in the last month or so of school, the juniors in my Precalculus sections were issued iPads.  Both the students and I learned a tremendous amount from this one-to-one experiment (everything from iPad etiquette in the classroom to the best note taking app).  We certainly faced many challenges, like figuring out how to share large video files, but I left most excited about the use of one app: Explain Everything.  This app provides a user-friendly environment for creating videos where students can do just what the name of the app implies… explain their understanding and thinking.  As a math teacher, I have always valued the problem solving process and insisted that students ‘show their work.’  This app compliments this approach nicely; an assignment could be as simple as creating an Explain Everything (EE) video for a single problem or for a summary of a whole unit.  My students even admitted that while they did not always love creating EE videos, the process of doing so helped them gain a better understanding of the material.  Yes!   
            I am very energized about the year ahead!  I feel like I played around a lot last year (and learned a ton) and now I’m ready to use what I learned to build upon the successes, make modifications where necessary, and get a few steps closer to being more like the digital classroom I described above.  My two sections of Algebra 2 Accelerated will be issued iPads for the year.  I’m both anxious and excited about living in a one-to-one classroom environment.  I hope to utilize the devices to their full potential to problem solve, calculate, create, collaborate, share, critique, and summarize.  I also hope to not use them when it is appropriate to take a different approach.  Naturally, I have been thinking about the best ways to assess students in a one-to-one environment – reverting to traditional quizzes and tests with paper and pencil seems like the wrong direction!  Throughout the semester I imagine I will provide assessments with lots of variety and choices, and I look forward to conversations with colleagues about the type of midterm and final exam experience that might make the most sense.  In my other classes (the ones without issued iPads) I hope to continue to build upon some of the units and projects that I started this past year, as well as incorporate some ongoing components like a scribe blog and some EE creations.  With all this said, I am most nervous about finding / making the time to accomplish all that I would like.  I think it will be a challenge to adequately plan ahead (especially when so much trial is needed).  And, with a tight curriculum already, I envision needing look closely at what is covered in each of my classes and figure a way to balance the traditional content with more of a digital approach.  Stay tuned…

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The “Uh oh!” scale?

Although I’m curious about it, I’ve never gone sky-diving.  If you have, I’d like to hear your thoughts.  One of my biggest curiosities is about that exact moment when you jump.  What are you thinking?  “Uh oh!”?  “What a rush!”?  “Oh $%#!”?  “Why am I doing this?” “Here we go!”?  Probably all of the above. I grew up in a educator’s household and, after 28 years of teaching , I have come to think of September as the first month of the new year more than January.  It isn’t jumping from a plane, but it may have some similarities.  There is an excitement in the air as we talk about “Opening” this and “First” that.  There is the disappointment that summer wasn’t quite long enough or that the “to do” list is still “to be done,” but here we go into a new opportunity.  Stepping off.  Where are you on the “Uh oh!” scale?   

Here are my thoughts on TLC from last year into this one:
The two most important things that happened for me last year in TLC were 1) that I got to learn a great deal about what my colleagues were doing in their classrooms and how they think about education, which provided me with both language and deeper understanding to examine my own philosophy, teaching and approaches.  2) was that I learned about “simple” technology.  I learned that setting up a class blog not only wasn’t the big daunting project I thought it would be, but also that it was useful for some of my students as another means to wrap their minds around the material and concepts we were addressing.  Cathy D. and I ran parallel projects on this in our PreCalculus classes and I was surprised and impressed by how some of the kids used the blog, both as a sounding board and as a study guide.
My biggest failure last year was becoming the TLC “resident skeptic.”  I am a skeptic, but I dislike being a wet blanket.  I was really excited about being part of TLC and still am.  I was and am so impressed by the ideas and approaches and discoveries that people brought to meetings.  It turned out that the process of reframing the question in my own head that I was trying to answer – “so, how is this better?” – played out in meetings as “I’m skeptical, prove it.”  I wish that I had been quicker to recognize how limiting my initial internal central question was.  At least that I had realized it before I felt like I had fallen behind in the wonderful discovery learning that was taking place.  I hope this won’t be that hard to turn around this year.
I’m always rethinking my classroom practices - this can be a bit exhausting at times, along with invigorating. I came into TLC with too narrow a focus.  The only question I had allowed myself to consider was “how will the use of technology augment the instruction in my classroom?”   The biggest area of growth for me was recognizing that the question really was, “here’s a powerful tool, what can it do to make things easier/better?”  I picked up a number of organizational tools for both me and my students and, more importantly, I began to realize that even though I haven’t found out much about how to use a computer to improve instruction yet, the ways in which technology gives kids access to another means for expressing what they understand is powerful.  It isn’t a new idea to me that different forms of presenting student understanding access different kids’ learning styles, but I needed the change of mindset to see how technology opened up the possibilities even wider.
I’m pretty liberal politically, but I have learned that I am pretty conservative educationally.  I want to really believe that what I am doing is making something better before I am willing to go for it.  In that sense, the biggest “preventer” to my progress as a TLC’er is my own perspective.  I am scared of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”  I also have a pedagogical style that has apparently “worked” for a long time, and, while old dogs can learn new tricks, they sometimes do so more slowly.  I also feel confined by time.  Personally, I can’t think about big educational matters as successfully in snippets of time and I have a great deal of trouble carving out longer blocks of time in the often chaotic realities of a school week and year.  For example, I wanted to produce a video for my responses to these questions and I thought I had some great ideas about how I was going to do it, but when push came to shove, I was unsuccessful in making the time to do it, which disappoints me a bit.  I have recommitted myself to making the time weekly this year to change this, I hope I can! 
The idea of “changing” one’s teaching and how one thinks about it is a tough one.  I’m me in a classroom, and I can’t really comprehend changing that.  Being personally authentic is an important part of teaching for me. On the other hand, my teaching has had to evolve over the years to address changes in curriculum and what is perceived to be important.  As I pick up things in all areas, they work their way into my technique, my choices, and how I try to reach my students.  As I mentioned above, incorporating more technology in the presentation of understanding for students is a way that my teaching has been changed by my participation in TLC.  That isn’t really a change in thinking about teaching so much as an evolution of my understanding of how to better access an existing tenet.
What would I say to teachers that have resisted using technology?  - “Me too!!!”  I would start with trying to better understand the genesis of their resistance.  A lot of mine is fear that I won’t be good at it.  Some is fear that I will have to do a lot of extra work to learn new things that don’t really make me a better teacher, but simultaneously make me less confident and competent in the eyes of my students. Reframing the question is how I am getting past these things.  Small steps of incorporating things that clearly DO help make things more efficient or access a student in a new way seem to work best for resisters.  Also, allowing those teachers to feel that they won’t be looked down upon, in fact that they will be supported, when they know less or less well.

I have three personal goals for my TLC involvement in 2012-13:
1)   I want to figure out how to make my classroom blog piece from PreCalculus Acc last year work in my Calculus classes this year.  Most of the kids have had an experience with it already, but we sort of had to bribe them into participation by offering points for it.  I want to try to make it more interactive and build on the effort of last year. 

2)   I am teaching Geometry Regular for the first time in a number of years and will be collaborating with David Neilan and Cathy Douglas.  They both use a software program called “Geometer’s Sketchpad” and will want to use it in this class, I’ve used it occasionally in the past, but my goal is to get proficient with it and be able to use it effectively in the classroom, ultimately developing my own suggestions to them for ways it can be used in certain projects.

3)   I want to find ways to address my skepticism without feeling like I am slowing positive momentum.  I want to unleash the curiosity!

TLC  and the beginning of school!
Summer is a strange time warp; there is loads of time, yet not nearly enough time. I especially felt this phenomenon this summer because it is the first summer I have been a mother. Now the only “free” time I have to garden, cook, catch up on organizing photos, prep for the upcoming year, clean or do other chores is when my daughter is napping. And as all parents know, a nap can be very long, or very short depending on anything really- so there is no way of knowing what you can actually get done. Some days it was tempting to try and nap myself, but I think that may have only happened once this summer! So although our opening TLC workshops are only a couple of days away (what??!!), I have been ruminating over the leading questions for much of the summer.

Despite being gone for 4 months this year due to maternity leave, I still had experiences with new technology within the classroom. At times, I felt like an iceberg in the ocean- part of something bigger, but very isolated. I am the only science team member on the committee. This slows progress down, and since I am a very goal oriented and check off the list type of person, I have to take a step back and remember that I am really just trying out new things still. There is no immediate success! And at other times I really felt like I was part of a team, the TLC team. Even though we are from different disciplines there were many ideas and aps that could be used in any subject.

My biggest success this year was the implementation of my websites for my classes. They are simple, but they cut down tremendously on paper usage and the students got used to checking for their homework there. What I enjoyed most about the websites was that it took away the excuse of not writing down the homework, writing it down wrong, leaving something at school etc. It put more responsibility in the student’s hands (although now they don’t HAVE to write down their homework while in class). My 9th grade websites were used all the time. The 7th graders did not use the websites very much. They often admitted that they had not been to it at all. I will try and incorporate more of my material onto their website this year.  I also had one great project in 7th grade where I had previewed youtube videos on different types of intertidal organisms and created questions for the students to answer. Each student got an ipad and a set of headphones, listened to the youtube videos and filled out questions on a google form. The only drawback to this was that the students who did not finish could not edit their form (they do not have email) and they had to start over again at home in order to answer all of the questions! 

My biggest failure this year was when I used an ap that navigated through the parts of the cell on the ipads with the students and I could not regain control with one of my 9th grade classes. We never used the ipads again in that class. There were too many of them, and they were too immature as a group. The other two 9th grade classes did great.

My experiences this year have helped me to broaden the approaches that I use in teaching. This is an area where I need to continue to expand and develop in order to have a varied and interesting classroom. I still have a long ways to go here, and I am confident that in time I will be able to use more and more tools to keep my teaching practice varied. I currently do a lot of notes, on the whiteboard in 7th grade and with powerpoints in 9th grade. I want to incorporate some more flipped classroom exercises, more use of the ipads, google forms and really use some of the aps that I did not get into last year, such as explain everything.

The largest roadblocks to incorporating more technology into my classroom have been time. Since last year was only my 3rd time teaching  7th and 9th grade sciences I am still also working on curriculum, homework assignments, my classroom policies, classroom management and staying on top of advising! I find that sometimes I have just enough time to get what I need to done, and not much time for additional or “extraneous” endeavors. This brings me to my goals for this year:

1.     Continue to use, update, redesign my classroom websites.
2.     Incorporate 1 new use of technology per unit in each class. This could be poll anywhere, ipad activity, you tube, flipped classroom, a new ap etc.
3.     I would love to touch base with another Biology teacher who has used ipads in their classroom and see what they use and how they use them.
4.     I would like to become more adept at using my ipad and even my mac. I feel like I know how to use them, but I want to know all the tricks!

If you are a teacher that has resisted technology in the classroom I would say to you- find someone who loves it and ask them for a couple of ideas and instruction. Then use these ideas until you are very comfortable with them and they go well. Only then try something new again. Start slow!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting ready for year 2!

As I type, I am entering phase 3 of the submission of my video blog (the path has been longer than needed, I fear...from iMovie on iPad to Camera Roll to iPhoto on laptop to TLC blog- to prove it was done!- to iMovie on laptop to Quicktime on desktop to unlisted on YouTube).  Phew!   The process has certainly been a good reminder to me of what I have to learn and the fact that every process takes me one step closer to knowing how to "do it right" the next time.   No doubt my second video blog will be an improvement.
I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on last year, and look ahead to this year.  I am not sure the merit of waiting until the "new" year is about to start to finally do my reflection, but I have to say it seemed like good timing.  I feel newly energized and excited to talk "tech" and I am looking forward to spending some time this week putting some concrete goals (and means to those goals) in place this week.    I am not sure I would have felt that same energy at the end of June.
I really look forward to the conversation and work ahead this week and as we embark on a second year of TLC and I move forward on my "tech-no to tech-know" initiative. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

iPad Tote and Other Summer Stuff

I'm sure you are all feeling like I am right about now - wondering where the summer has gone.  I think this feeling creeps up on me every summer when I begin to see August 1st approach.  Summer has been busy for me - after a wonderful, sunny week on a lake in July, I returned to work to get ready for September: new computers, old computers, new phone systems, iPads, Macbook Pros, endless installs. Fortunately Abshir and Laurel have been wonderful workers all summer and have plowed through a huge pile of work!

I wanted to share one project that Laurel helped me out with (she actually assembled them all): an iPad tote and charger.  These will be in classrooms that have sets of iPads for students.  They can be charged; they can be carried from home station to home station; and they can be locked.  Here are some pictures - hope you can see them ok:

What do you think?  It was waaaay cheaper than anything I could buy :-)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Nearpod and Slide Shark

One of my summer goals was to experiment with interactive presentation apps on the iPad.

To date I have tinkered with SlideShark which some saw at our end of year Tech Camp.  It allows your Power Point presentations to be accessed on the iPad and shared via AppleTV.  There are some fun features in that slides can be rearranged and you can "hide" slides allowing you to cater for a specific audience without recreating an entire presentation.  

I have also experimented with Nearpod.  I sense that Nearpod will have the most impact on our work in the classroom, and I am very excited to share it with you.  Like SlideShark, Nearpod takes your Power Point presentations as a PDF.  Once in the Nearpod cloud, you can rearrange slides and add new content from your files or from the web.  This content may be PDF files, video, or images.  Once everything is in order, you can present using the Nearpod Teacher app.  What makes Nearpod stand out is that your presentation is linked directly to your students' devices that are using Nearpod Student.  The presentation starts off as teacher-paced in that you control the swiping of the slides.  However, the application allows you to embed a video, a poll, Q & A, quizes, and draw-it slides.  For these portions of the presentation, the students take over.  Students watch the video on their device, pausing as needed.  Students take the quiz you created, whether it be multiple choice, free response, or short essay, at their own pace.  The same is true for answering polls or responding on the "draw-it" slides (student diagram any PDF,  jpeg, or blank screen that you embed).  After these interactive slides have been completed by the students, teachers receive instant feedback on their devices.  You have the opportunity to see students' answers, their diagrams, and their poll choices on your device.  You also have the opportunity to have the results sent to you via e-mail and converted to a spreadsheet.  You can also see when students log off.  This morning, I sat in on a free Nearpod Webinar and left pretty amazed by the platform.  For now, both the student and teacher apps are free.  Grab it and experiment and see if more free webinars are being offered (July 5th, 10th, and 12th.)  Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hey TLC'ers! This is my first EVER blog post, so we will see how it goes. I have had fun the last two weeks playing with my new iPad, and I just came across an app that I had to share. I was attracted to it initially because I am a science and math teacher, but I also gave it a try because I am the mom of a very curious amost-8-year-old boy. It is called Monster Physics. We just played around with it, and the app is awesome! It is the perfect combination of education and fun as you build objects to get the monster across a finish line. I think it could be fun for all ages as it has different levels of difficulty that you can choose. It was so fun that we lost track of time and before we knew it, it was 40 minutes beyond the normal bed time. This gets two thumbs up from me as both a parent and an educator.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tech Camp

The students have packed up and left the building, and teachers are picking up and documenting the pieces of a successful school year.  Though the rooms are quiet, there is still a buzz as we reflect on the past nine months and think ahead to the next school year.  A welcome addition to our end of the year culture is Tech Camp!  It is a great opportunity to explore new ideas and experiment with new technologies.  I will facilitate a workshop focused on iPad applications, and have a number of apps that I would like to share with people who are itching to jump on the iPad train.  If you have any apps that are instrumental to your work in the classroom, let me know by posting a comment. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I am thrilled that the Lower School will have dedicated faculty meeting time next year to better explore and apply iPad use in the Lower School.  It became very clear this year that in order to make the best use of this technology in our classrooms, we needed adequate time to work together and learn from each other about what the iPad has to offer.  I feel that this focus is a logical next step to what has already been established this year.  The School has made an investment in adopting this technology initiative.  With the addition of dedicated meeting time, we will be able to better honor this investment.  Thank you Ben, Page and anyone else responsible for facilitating and supporting this valuable, pertinent professional development focus.      

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Time Travel in Augusta
Last week I went to the Jum$tart Financial Literacy Conference for Teachers at the Civic Center in Augusta.  I went for professional development, I went because the conference invited our Reserve Cup Team to attend as student ambassadors, and I went to present a session myself (first time!).  I made my powerpoint and then decided to show it as slides from the iPad rather than bring the laptop.  I find that I don't ever want to bring a laptop anywhere anymore - iPad or bust!  When I got to the Civic Center I was anxious to check out the room for my presentation.  The room looked normal enough, you know the "conference" look that you see in hotel conference rooms, or civic centers.  Confidently I took my iPad and dongle up to the front to plug in and test the equipment.  Ok, no projector that I can see.  That could be an issue.  But what I saw next horrified me.  Set low on the far wall below the electrical outlet was a panel of ports for connection.  But these ports were shapes and sizes that resembled something out of the original Star Trek series!  There was no way any technology produced within the last 20 years was going to fit into any of these plugs.  I think the room, no the entire building itself was uncomfortable with an iPad being in the house.  I asked a few people what they knew about the setup and it was clear that the iPad/Apple/2012 language I used was not getting me anywhere.  In my mind I had visions of me holding my iPad over my head and walking around the room showing my presentation like John Cusack in "Say Anything".  Just then, one of my colleagues from the Jum$tart Board arrived and told me that they had a new projection kit that they could bring.  Saved!!!  In the end the technology worked great - even though I needed some help from Addison to set it up :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

School Visit

I had a fantastic visit at Bancroft last week.  The Spanish teacher I visited with is using iPads in her classroom with enthusiasm and she allowed the US students to share their favorites with me (as a way to review for quizzes the next day).  She has changed her teaching style to incorporate the flipped classroom approach and uses class time like a workshop allowing collaboration, feedback and questions and avoiding "lecturing" or giving information.  She has found that her students are more engaged with the material and talking to each other and with her more often in the target language.  She will be a wonderful colleague for me to collaborate with in the future!!   Here is a link she shared with me regarding flipping the classroom (and some info about a workshop in Chicago in June): 

Here are some apps that all of the students use in all of their classes:

Notability or Pages for note taking and writing/composition
iHomeowrk or Todo for Organization

She uses PDF Expert to send quizzes to students and they take their quizzes on the iPad.
The also do a lot of real-time Google Docs work together

I was impressed by how willing students were to share and comment on each other's work and progress!  I also got to visit with 2 teachers I had 33 years ago!

Thanks for this connection, Page!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lower School Tech Night

On Thursday, April 26 a number of interested parents joined the Lower School TLC members, Page, and Ben for a conversation focused on technology in the classroom.  It was a great opportunity to share how we approach the use of technology in the classroom and what we are experimenting with.  I was not surprised that our reservations with integrating technology in the classroom are the same that parents have regarding technology at home.  However, I think we did a good job of expressing that we see technology as another tool to be used along with traditional tools.  Ultimately, each tool available to us should enhance student learning and our teaching.  Our visuals showed students using paper, books, hands on manipulatives, maps, scissors, iPads, and laptops and our conversation stressed that technology is integrated in a thoughtful and considerate manner.  I was very impressed with my colleagues use of technology in their learning spaces and am eager to learn more.  It is clear that we are using the tools to guide our learners in age appropriate ways and have found positive uses for technology in the classroom.

In preparing for the evening I asked a few of my students what they thought about the use of technology in school.  Here are their thoughts:

This morning I stumbled across the following article using my favorite personal app called Zite.  How Mobile Technologies Are Shaping A New Generation The article, written by Tammy Erickson, explores the idea that a new generation of children, perhaps dubbed Generation i, is emerging.  Unlike a few from Generation X  and most of Generation Y, these children are "the first participants in an era where everyone has access to everything, everywhere, at every time. This is the generation of mobile technology, wireless communication, and clouds of constant content."
  • Two-thirds of 4- to 7-year-olds have used an iPhone or iPod
  • 6% of 2- to 5-year-olds have their own smartphone
  • 50% of 11 year olds have own cell phone
  • 10% of households with children aged 6-12 have iPads (compared with only 3% of other households); 35% of these households with young children plan to buy some brand of tablet computer in the next year
  • 72% of the 100 top-selling education apps in Apple's iTunes App store this year were aimed at preschoolers and those in elementary school
  • One of the first products aimed at putting an iPhone into a baby's hands (Fisher-Price's oversize case, providing coverage against drools and tantrums, while doubling as a rattle), rapidly sold out on Amazon; the three apps designed for the case have been downloaded more than 700,000 times
  • Kids 11 to 14 spend, on average, 73 minutes a day texting
  • The average teen sends more than 50 texts a day
  • Over 25% of 2-5 year olds and over 40% of 6-8 year olds use the Internet
  • 88% of 6-8 year olds use the Internet to play games; 37%, to get help with homework; 25% to get the "inside scoop" on what interests them; and 22% to read and write email
  • 90% of tweens (10-12) play online games
  • Younger children spend over 10 hours a week playing video games
  • The amount of time all kids spend online daily has tripled in the past 10 years

In viewing these statements it is clear that education is at a crossroad.  We can continue to utilize traditional tools and deliver legacy content or we can truly prepare our students by offering a rejuvenated curriculum with carefully implemented technological tools.   

Monday, April 23, 2012


It seems like it is a pretty good time to be a math teacher.  Every week, I see several new resources for math problems, math projects, and real world math applications on Twitter and various websites.  These resources along with the potential for programming online and game access at the click of a mouse could produce a much-improved, more relevant math class.  Ahhh - if it were only that easy!  I'll save that for another post.

I thought I'd share a few resources that I've seen in the last few weeks:

  • Bedtime Math - - I read to my two boys before bed.  We cuddle up and read a few pages from a book before bedding down for the night.  But, being a math geek myself, I have also added something additional -  just before I leave their room, my son prompts, "Math problem please..."  Music to my ears - I give him a quick multiplication (or now, we are moving on to division) problem for him to figure out before I leave.  The site, Bedtime Math, picks up on the idea that we don't just have bedtime stories but we can throw some math in there too.  The site provides a math word problem everyday broken into different age levels, like this:
Wee ones (counting on fingers): If 2 cars, 2 trucks and 1 bicycle drive past your home, how many vehicles is that?
Little kids: If 32 cars and trucks drive by in an hour, and 12 are trucks, how many are cars?  Bonus: If half the cars have a dog riding along, and half of those dogs are sticking their heads out the window, how many dogs are hanging out the window?
Big kids: If 47 cars, 15 motorcycles, 4 buses and 2 ice-cream trucks drive by, how many vehicles is that?  Bonus: How many wheels is that in total? (Assume the trucks and buses are 4-wheeled like the cars.)

  •  NCTM Twitter Feed -!/nctm - While we are on the subject of daily mathematics problems, check out the Twitter feed from NCTM (the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics).  The provide a challenging problem everyday (except for Mondays, I think).  What a great way to start off class or challenge those students who seem to always finish before the rest of the class.  Here's a sample:

  • Finally, you can now touch algebra.  Algebra Touch is an app for the iPad/iPhone and it allows you to interact with algebra equations.  The app takes advantage of the "touch" of the iPad and you can swipe, tap, slide, and move terms and equations around the screen.  I know there are some students who will be relieved to use this app.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Digital Storytelling

A cool offering at the Telling Room as part of their Night Owl sessions.  A noted illustrator will discuss using art work to promote writing.  Some of his instruction will focus on iPad use and digital storytelling.

As a participant in the inaugural year of TLC, my goal was to experiment with digital storytelling, and to provide a new way to share student voices.  My experimentation started with how to best deliver student voices.  I used literature responses from our year-long independent reading project as test cases.  My students were familiar with the writing format, and the independent nature of the project led nicely to the experimentation with apps. Students generated book reviews using Voice Thread, Puppet Pals and Toontastic.  Many integrated Hello Crayon and attempted 123D Sculpt to provide more visual pizazz.  We have also branched out into Educreations to share mathematical problem solving.  Now students are about ready to try My Story, Book Creator, and iMovie on the iPad.  Examples of some of these experiments can be found on our fledgling 4-5 blog: 

Some may be worried that technology is eroding the quality of writing, but I am finding the opposite result in my classroom.  The quality of their writing is improving.  My learners are engaged in the same writing process (drafting, editing, revising, conferencing, and delivery) as writers were thirty years ago.  The difference is that they know their voice will be heard, seen, considered, and in some cases responded to by individuals outside the classroom.  As a result, they are taking more time with their work and are more apt to collaborate with one another.

This continues to be an exciting experiment, and I am thrilled to be learning alongside my students.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mind Reading and Other Stuff

 I loved Jess' post from yesterday.  Was she reading my  mind?  She is so right about waiting for an "aha" moment, how that may not come, and how that isn't really important.  So, here was one of those little moments of realization for me last week:
On Friday the Head of School Search Committee met with RG175, the search consultants who had been fact-finding visit for two days.  They were sharing their observations about the many strengths of Waynflete (and they really glowed about them), as well as what they saw as a few of our biggest challenges.  One of the challenges that they saw, and I know they saw it because I pointed it out to them, as I'm sure many did, was that technologically, we may not need to get ahead of the curve, but we need to work our way closer to the crest of the wave.  Several of the members of the committee nodded at this observation, but others took issue.  The consultant asked one of the dissenters, "well, who are the leaders on campus who are making implementation happen and energizing others?"  The committee member said, "Well, Tom is one."  I happened to be sipping an iced tea, and I almost spit it out!  "Believe me," I thought,  "if I am a leader in this area, we are all in trouble!"  It was interesting to me, because I assume that the comment came from the fact that this person knew I was in TLC (and probably didn't know that I was at least a week late on my responsibility to post on this blog!)  So, here's what I wanted to communicate to my fellow members of TLC: that we are perceived to be leaders in our school community in technology implementation, and that whether we feel that way or not, others do.    We don't need to be so critical of the limitations of our efforts and can just recognize that others are looking to us.  That gives us a lot of influence.  I know I need to remind myself of that periodically, so I'm reminding you too!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

So Far, So Good

Ever since I embarked on the TLC adventure back in June, I have been waiting, patiently, for an "aha" moment; the moment that I find clarity on the "how" and "why" of technology use in the classroom. Until now. And no, I have not had my moment, but I am no longer waiting for it. "Aha" implies that there will actually be a moment of clarity, but I can come to realize that implementing technology into the classroom, like teaching anything, is a continual series of exploration and discovery, not a trip from Point A to Point B. So, instead of an "aha" moment, I will share a few "yippee" moments that I have celebrated so far this year:

1. K-1 students create
Puppet Pals story of their trip around Portland on Metro Bus 8. Using their own maps, buses, and writing each student created a 20-30 second movie of his/her experience. And, it was the first jump into iPad use for some of my colleagues!

2. Global connections Part I: A
Google Earth lesson as a launch of our Global Focus week that included "traveling" from a zoomed in image of Waynflete, out to Portland, over the ocean and zooming back in again on the American Academy of Casablanca, Morocco. Which brings me to...

3. Global Connections Part II: A fantastic pen pal (or "cyber pals"?) experience with a first grade class in Morocco. Back in August, at EdCamp Keene, I created an account on the
Skype Education website ( and sent an email off to a first-grade teacher at the American Academy Casablanca. What ensued was a series of correspondence between the two of us that culminated, 7 months later, in an email exchange of questions/answers between our classes and a Skype video-chat date. Seeing our students in K-1 talking directly to students in a classroom 3400 miles away (and teaching each other songs!) was magical!

There have been other moments, many of which have just been snapshots in time when I have had the iPads out and seen the collaboration, creativity, and discovery of the students as they explore the iPad. I do struggle with carving out that time for exploration (mine and theirs)...time is so hard to find! Looking ahead I am eager to try out
Book Creator and think about the potential for students to participate in documentation and creation of a digital library of the learning we do in K-1. I also just discovered Skitch and see some potential in using it as a way to document/label images of 3-D student work. Voicethread remains on my "to do" list.

Finally a link to an article about the importance of time for PD, training and exploration by teachers. Thanks to Tim for posting this link in our TLC
Diigo group (I have not mastered Diigo, but between TLC and an ECETECH group I joined, I have more tech/iPad articles than time to read them; what a great resource!). For Waynflete, TLC is a step in the right direction and I am thankful to have benefited from time this group has been given to devote to technology work.

"When it comes to Technology, teachers need as much scaffolding as students"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

iBird research in Early Childhood: I experienced another reason to support iPad use for my young students this morning. Two young girls put their heads together over an iPad trying to identify a tiny plastic bird model. They spent 40 minutes poring over the hundreds of bird photos in iBird north. They found one bird that looked quite similar to the model but was lacking certain details. I explained that toy manufacturers sometimes don't paint their toys "correctly " and that it might not be possible to identify this model for sure. They listened respectfully to my explanation but then elected to continue their search. They spent another 30 minutes and found another bird that seemed to be an even closer match for their model. At this point they felt that they had gotten as close as they could to identifying their bird. But still not satisfied, they asked if they could repaint the bird model to supply the missing details. They were able to identify the deficient areas of detail on the model and specify the colors they needed to correct the model. Then they did it! This little bird toy is less than an imch square. I was able to capture some of their process on film. Wow. Every day I discover another reason to LOVE the power this iPad allows my students. Thank you Apple and thank you Page!
Technology and the classroom....while on maternity leave.
I finally have a moment where I am caught up on most emails, the house relatively clean, and my little one is asleep. Her naps are very erratic, sometimes when I think she is headed down for a 3 hour slumber her eyes pop open 10 minutes later. Even though the sight of her eyes gives me so much pleasure normally, when they "pop" open it can be VERY disheartening. I have been able to leave my school respnsibilities at home during maternity leave, but as the end of it nears, I am starting to think about returning to the hustle and bustle of school. At times I think it will be less tiring than staying home with A all day(!), but I will miss her very much, and I am sure that I will long to be back with her for these blissful days! Anyway, here is some insight coming from someone who has not been in the classroom for a few months, so I have been less engaged in bringing technology into the classroom. I think I may write about how I have brought technology into parenting as that is what is crossing my mind all the time. 
I have found that even when I am not at work I am fairly screen oriented. I got the iphone this fall, and I have the ipad through the TLC group. I have stayed on top of deleting or responding to my work emails (30-40 a day most days!), and I have been reaching out to friends more while I have had this time off. Reaching out to friends these days is completely screen oriented. Even just to organize meeting up with someone local I will text, and to talk to a friend from afar, who also has children we will face time or use facebook. With the frenetic schedule of a newborn and almost no time to oneself I find myself using nursing time to connect with people in this way, or to go through emails. I even use a breastfeeding ap that times how long I feed, how long between feedings and is complete with an alarm to remind me to feed if A has not initiated it yet (this never happens). Then I can tap on another page of the ap and get analyzed data...average # of feedings per day/per week, average length of feedings, average amount of expressed milk etc. It is pretty amazing, and I have loved using it- it sure beat writing it down like I did for the first 3 weeks because I had not thought to look for the ap. That was a reminder- there is probably an ap for everything, we just need to take a look! I can use my Iphone or Ipad with this ap and sync the information on icloud- everything is just at the touch of my finger tips. Despite the convienance of this ap and being able to use my devices while breastfeeding (they are portable and can be held in one hand rather than a laptop) I often think about if I am missing an interaction with my baby during nursing. I will often have "screenless" feedings to make sure that we are connecting and I am enjoying the time fully and completely. Other times when I feel stressed and "behind" or "out of the loop" I will use the time to catch up or reach out with my phone. Sometimes it is the only chance I get to talk to my Mom, which I also find important as I venture into this world of parenthood. I am torn, I really like being able to use the technology I have, but I also think it can take away from the organic nature of parenthood. Thoughts anyone!?
 I know that I want to be present for my child, so a majority of the time I am putting away my phone (which is so easy to click on mail when I see a red number on the icon, and because of my type A personality hard to leave a number there). I want to be cognizant of really listening to someone without a phone in hand. I see so many conversations between people where one person is actually looking at a screen, or "just checking something quickly". I want to make sure that I do not do that with my husband, children and students. When they want to tell me something I want to give them all of my attention to set a good example, and to let them know that I am listening. This is where I see technology getting in the way of clear, completely present communication. At work this is true as well. At faculty meetings people are looking at their ipad screens. Somehow having an ipad is more polite than having a laptop out....but is it really?
I hear stirrings from the crib so I have to sign off, but hopefully I given some food for thought. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snow Day

Happy snow day, everyone!
OK, so it’s my turn to add to the blog post - yikes! I am not a Blogger or a Tweeter or a Facebook member, so I have no experience putting my thoughts out there into cyberworld. Here goes!
What a great experience it has been being part of the TLC group this year and having the opportunity to explore the use of iPads in the classroom. In 2-3, we feel fortunate to have six iPads for our program in addition to each teacher iPad. Having iPads easily accessible in our space certainly facilitates our explorations. We have all found that Futaba, Pyramid 13, Pop Math and Telling Time are useful tools for practicing Spanish and math skills. Some of us have used PuppetPals and Toontastic to enhance story writing. I have used Phonics to customize decoding practice for a couple of students who benefitted from the extra reinforcement that the App provides. I have also used VoiceThread with some students.
Just having an iPad nearby enables us to do a quick search for information to add to something we are reading about or studying. Yesterday, while working with a small group of students on telling time, I was able to provide each student with an iPad to look up Leap Day and explore the reason why we need to have an extra day added to our calendar every four years. With each child able to have their own iPad, we could access the information in a more interactive way than just having me project the site on the SMART Board. We all went to the same site; each child could view the information and graphics on the site as we read the information together. The kids were fascinated with the math involved and with a graphic that showed the elliptical rotation of the Earth around the sun that creates the need for the extra day. The information sparked some calculations and discussion of how our Gregorian calendar was devised and what Leap Year is all about.
I played around a bit last weekend with the Explain Everything app after reading the “iPad Screencasting” article on Diigo. I thought Explain Everything sounded familiar and discovered that I already had it on my iPad. I must have installed it when it was mentioned by someone, but never took the time to try it out. So I made a little presentation about my trip to Tucson with Cindy and Michaela over vacation to visit Shyla. I included maps, photos, text and voice. It was not too tedious a process to put it all together. Now I just need to show it to the kids to test it out. I would like to further explore other uses of this presentation app in 2-3, keeping in mind, of course, that a premade presentation is no substitute for teacher-student connections/interactions, as mentioned in the “ ATech-Happy Professor…” article. Thank you to everyone who has sent along articles for us to read.