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Final Day ISTE13

The scenery on the walk to the Convention Center

The scenery on the walk to the Convention Center

Reflections: I am coming home with no free books, devices, or any other give-aways. Perhaps I am unlucky or more aptly, I spent no time in learning how to acquire these things. My time was spent in sessions and in between, I reflected and began planning for new school year. I am bringing home many things but they are all in my mind: a new way of structuring class so that students are more in charge of their learning, a better way to plan instruction where students actually create, a whole new look at Google Drive, and I finally think I can make an infographic!

“Infographics” by Carmella Doty and Renee Henderson,

“The Creation Myth, Creating With Technology is Not Enough” by Heidi Beezley and Jason Thibodeau,

  • Taxonomy of Thinking Skills:
  • How does Bloom’s Taxonomy and the new tools connect?
  • Creation Swatches (Add these elements to the essential question): Decision, What if? Prediction, Problem-Solving, Analogy/Metaphor, and Piecing Together/Induction
  • Creation requires that the answer cannot be found on Google.

Day Two ISTE 2013

The River Walk by the convention center in San Antonio

The River Walk by the convention center in San Antonio

Reflections: I heard someone say today that this is their second year of attending ISTE and they have learned that it is the contacts they make that are more important than the sessions. This same person gave a shout out for Twitter as a primary learning tool. I must say that I couldn’t relate to this thinking. I have great regard for those presenters who have traveled (sometimes a long ways), often spending their own money to share what they think and know. I enjoy Twitter but by its very nature it contains short snippets of information. I need to see the big picture and yes, I really enjoy the long list of resources that I have bookmarked for future use.

“Cool Google Tools for the BYOD Classroom” by Tammy Worchester SDE

  • Favorite tools Google Forms and Blogger
  • Blogger can be interactive:Get response from students using comments; set to approve so that you can moderate comments
  • Exit Card – learning journal about what has been learned.
  • Dear Abby – respond to class problems.
  • Make an assignment and post to the blog, using email post function. Thru settings, post reaction
  • Google Forms and Spreadsheet – making interactiveCollect information from students
  • Then use information and aggregate with tools like Wordle (for a word cloud) or BatchGeo (to see on a map).
  • Fast quiz – ask a question and see who answers first. (Delete rows to do again)
  • Tip #81 will show you how to set up a multiple number quiz

“Photo Safari: Using Cameras to Raise Student Engagement” by Dr. Larry S. Anderson and Mr. Craig Nansen – download of free book on Photo Safaris

  • Photography is a superb way to connect with nature and it works in three ways,
  • Connecting with the subject when you make the picture
  • Connecting again with the subject when you look at the photo later
  • Helping others connect with photo subject
  • “Make” a photo rather than “take” or “shoot,” words that have taken on a negative connotation.
  • Focus on subject and use prepositions to photograph it (under, over, beside, etc.)
  • Research: Learn about your town, people in the town, and architecture
  • Change of venue for students
  • Document new places, techniques, etc.
  • Value of collecting for purpose of sharing
  • Photography Assignment Generator – find at App Store

Visual Literacy Through Infographics by Shirley Farrell, Alabama Department of Education

  • – infographic of her vitae
  • Nonlinguistic Representation – mental pictures, graphics, physical sensations
  • What is an infographic? Graphic representation of text, data, and pictures. Complex information is presented quickly and clearly. Would be unwieldy in text form.
  • Benefits: excellent for visual/spatial learners, less intimidating for non-to low- readers, adds creativity back into the learning, can be static, interactive, or animated, collaborative or individual projects
  • Interactive infographic –
  • Animated Infographic –
  • Types: diagrams, timelines, mind tools/graphic organizers, maps, word clouds, tables – need to put together to tell a story
  • A Street Through Time by Dr. Anne Mildred or How Things Work by David Macauley
  • High Quality Infographics: Skeletons/Flowcharts, Color Scheme, Graphics, Research/Data, and Knowledge (
  • You are telling a story, create a good question, research the answer, keep it simple
  • What? So what? Now what?

New App, Neat App

Screen shot from my iPhone


Not owning an iPad, I haven’t really gotten into the app world much. I have installed a few on my iPhone but none for educational purposes until I ran across a description of Book Retriever. This nifty app allows you to scan your classroom library and then students will be able to check out your books.

I own thousands of books and encourage my students to check out as many as they want or need but when a Newberry Award winner went missing last year no one wanted to own up to it and I was disappointed. So it got lost, things happen, but I wish the student would have helped me by admitting that he or she had been reading the book. Book Retriever will help me to know who last had the book.

Of course this takes time. I have decided to only scan multi-chapter books, and only those set out for check out. That will allow me  to have the entire school year to go through my inventory. It also took me some time to add my students. All the entering of data is into my iPhone and for me it is a tedious process. BUT after all of the entering of data, the fun began. A student brought me their book, I scanned, chose their name and knew then who is currently reading this selection.

The creator of the app, Ben Conn, is an email away. I was having trouble logging into the app and asked for help. He quickly got back with me and corrected my thinking.

If I had one picky complaint, I wish Ben had a way to enter Scholastic Books into his data base. I had to manually enter most of my inventory that I purchased through warehouse or book fair sales. Perhaps though, that is not possible since Scholastic purchases these books from other publishers.

The app is $.99 and available for Android devices as well. If you want to know who is reading what, as well as keeping track of your inventory, check it out!

Google Docs

After the third inservice espousing the wonders of Google Docs, I decided that perhaps it was time to introduce this tool to my students. With some excitement (and dread) I announced my decision and began the process. First of all remember that my students are 7th graders, not really used to regularly using usernames and passwords.

Our school district assigned email addresses (usernames and passwords) for the first time this year but unfortunately they are very long and require the learning of several number combinations. Step one – log into for the first time the email site. Step two -after getting comfortable with this tab over and go to Google – more – documents. Use long email address again and  the same password (so as not to have to remember a new one) and select “sign in.” Sorry password is not long enough. OKAY…. add these numbers to the end of it. Of course write this down so that you don’t forget.

After several attempts to read the illiterate combinations of letters and numbers to confirm their humanity, students began accessing their very own Google Docs account. Success! Everyone shares a response with me. End of session one.

The next day I placed a template for all of my classes to use. Everyone logged on and began to work. I realized instantly that something was wrong. It seems that my inservices never actually got beyond setting up an account and how the tool could be used. I quickly surmised that making a copy was in order and advised students to do that but no one renamed their documents. Their “All Items” folders as well as mine were filled with each other’s copies of the templates.

After some reading on my own, I made some changes in the process. I renamed a template with class name and sent it only to the students in a particular class. I also taught them to rename the document after making a copy. Success!

By the fourth day, almost everyone could access their account on the first attempt. We all had a better understanding of the share (or not) process and students quickly (and creatively) worked on their assignments. I finally got a little of the bliss that is Collaborative Word Processing. No wasting of paper by printing. Easy accessing of student work and a much better way to help students revise and edit work.

Using Thinkquest

I began using Thinkquest in January of 2008. Coincidentally this was also the beginning of a month of sick leave for me. I used it as a way to keep in touch with my students.

Thinkquest was developed as a way to connect with students from around the world through projects. I have never used it for that objective though. I enjoy the tool for these reasons.

It is extremely gated. You must go through a screening process before approved. Only K-12 educators (and their students) are allowed to have access. All teachers can flag inappropriate content and have access to their own students’ accounts to delete it. Any word can be added to a “bad language” list to disallow their use. When Paris Hilton was all the rage, I found myself adding the word “hot” on the not to use list.

Thinkquest comes with a messaging ability and any messages to teachers can be made private while all others are public. Students have the ability to communicate with the teacher even though they may have no email. Each student receives a private “web page” where they can construct and create. There are interactive components so that you can build a poll, have a debate or encourage brainstorming.

I have had students vote, debate, answer an essential question, build a reader profile, and create a book talk. A fellow teacher uses it as a place for independent lessons. All of these ideas (and more I am sure to discover) are great ways to have students participate in a read/write web experience.

Here is the downside. The site was developed for young students and looks like it. I teach 7th graders but anyone older may be offended.

Uploading media is extremely easy and encourages students to “steal” from anything on the net. I find that most educators using this tool allow it, making it even harder to help my students understand what being a responsible digital citizen is all about. The teacher is able to approve/disapprove the media but this can be a time consuming process if you have very many students.

The easy to communicate process makes it seem like  “My Space” for the younger set. I really hate this because I want everything we do in class to be perceived as a way to learn the standards. By perceiving Thinkquest as play I have to really monitor when it is being used otherwise the point of the lesson may be lost.

Technology sure does make our job easier and more relevant but with it comes a whole new set of behaviors for students and teachers.