Floating In-Service: Day One

We get a floating in-service day at the beginning of the year, at least the last couple of years have afforded us this option.

I use the time to prep my room and wrap up loose ends before the year starts. My best assistant, Arianna, usually comes with me to help out with my tasks.

Day One went much better than last year, when my room was not done being cleaned and put back together.

This year, my iPads were already in the cart, not all the way updated, but close enough. They have new management software on them and apps can now be pushed out remotely.

Arianna pushed out the new iOS update to each iPad, so they are all good to go. I just need to submit an email as to which apps need to be pushed out to the class set. That will be a future post.

While Arianna updated the iPads, I set up my desk and unboxed my class resources from storage. There were some class documents that needed updated, along with setting up my Edmodo groups for the year. My online gradebook was set up and rosters printed and converted to Google Sheets as needed.

We spent several hours organizing and setting up. I have to return for a second day, so we wrapped up our work and headed to Hank’s for tacos.

All in all it was a productive first day.

Motivation

My daughter has supplied a huge amount of motivation for me to improve my blogging efforts and overall writing endeavors.

Last night while I was posting to my personal blog on Blogger, as opposed to my professional blog you are reading now, she asked what I was up to. When I told her I was writing a blog post, she asked to read it. Her reaction can be found here. The post she read can be found here.

I hope to finally ensure I make time to contribute ideas regularly across my social media sites. The goal is to add positively to the world around me, leaving it in better shape that I found it.

More Blogging Please

I have tried several times to begin blogging more frequently.  Unfortunately, I have failed on each occasion.  This summer I plan to try again, however I wish to not just blog more often, but post more often with relevant and high quality posts.

I will be updating several of my websites that contain educational resources;  maybe…just maybe…I can combine the two endeavors into a lasting behavior.

PAECT Radio: Member Showcase Rachelle P

Last night we interviewed Rachelle Poth, PAECT member and foreign language teacher at Riverview School District.  You can access the show recording here.

This is the Storify of our Twitterfeed from last night.

 

Admittedly, we have not had a lot of Tweets, but we will continue moving forward.  It will catch on.

 

Hour of Code 2014: Day Two

On Friday, December 12, 2014, four of my Honors Civics students stayed after school to participate in an Hour of Code.  I would have had more students, however many students had an early release for the Christmas Dance which was later that evening.

Two of my students came back from the previous day’s activity to continue their work.  This was the first time the two new participants were available to stay after.  All four worked on iPads and used one of the free Lightbot apps available for an Hour of Code.  We continued to use an Edmodo group dedicated to this endeavor as the platform for communication and organization.

I stood back after a brief overview and let the students discuss the events of the previous day.  The two students who participated Thursday opted to continue on with the Lightbot puzzles instead of creating code via PageStudio.  The new students joined in and they began working on individual tasks.  I mirrored one student iPad onto my Interactive Whiteboard, IWB, using Apple TV.

The students were very quiet as they worked on their tasks, which was not what I was hoping for.  The students were super-focused on what they were doing which was good, but I was hoping for more teamwork.  As I observed what each was doing on their iPad, the student who was mirroring her iPad onto the IWB hit a snag and was stuck on a puzzle.  I encouraged her to ask the others for help and reiterated that I was hoping for a group effort.  As she asked for help, the students realized that they were all around the same puzzle and having similar issues.

JACKPOT!!!!

The four students began to talk, collaborate, and test out possible solutions on their individual iPads, sharing their ideas with each other using the mirrored iPad.  This went on for the rest of the sessions, almost the full hour.  Their ability to work through the increasingly complex tasks increased in speed and the tasks were less tedious as they joked and talked out the solutions.

Overall, the session seemed to be a success.  I posted an assignment in the Edmodo group to add to the enrichment assignment; write a reflection blog post on the Hour of Code, or record a short podcast reflection of their efforts.  I am looking forward to seeing their thoughts on the activities and hoping for honest opinions.  I would like to expand upon this event and getting their opinions on how to improve it is key.  I also offered to continue with activities like these throughout the year if they are interested in doing so.  Hopefully I will find out soon via blog post or podcast if they thought the effort was a success.

My major epic fail for the project was forgetting some Christmas cookies on my dining room table at home that I bought as a snack for the participants.  I did remember to bring juice pouches for them, and had some animal cracker/cookies for snacks, but forgetting the good treats bothered me.

Hour of Code 2014: Day One

Thursday, December 11, 2014, we made our first attempt at Hour of Code 2014.  Hour of Code is an optional enrichment assignment for my students.  To organize the efforts of my students I created a group for them in Edmodo; which I used to survey them via the quiz feature and poll feature.  Links to all resources were also posted there, though I just used Code.org‘s site as the main resource.

Due to scheduling conflicts we all agreed that the only two days this week that we could meet would be Thursday and Friday; with the majority of students only being able to attend one after school session.  For our first day, I had two students stay after school, both have had experience with coding.  They participated in CodeHS last year when they were in Middle School and this November they participated in a Hack Day, I was not the teacher of record for these activities.

The two students came in and jumped on the class iPads and off to Edmodo they went.  Once in Code.org’s site they chose to use Litebot as the tool to complete exercises.   The apps are/were free for Hour of Code.  Both students were gracious enough to answer all of my questions about their coding experience as we worked through Litebot.  They will actually be the main facilitators for this with other students, since they understand coding much better than I, you can see my previous post on this topic.

We were having technical issues with the school wireless that had crashed several times during the day and was currently running rather slowly.  I handed off my iPad to a student and they worked on tasks while I tried to get Litebot downloaded on other devices.  I was successful, but it took most of the time we had to get the iPads set up.  This will make tomorrow easier, although it limited what we could do today.

We projected my iPad screen over the Apple TV, practicing for the larger crowd expected on Friday.  Overall, they seemed pleased with the effort, they will be back for Friday’s session.  For Friday, they can use other code apps to actually work on creating code, while my other students can focus on levels that match their ability level.

I hope to have more to post soon.

Hour of Code 2014: I Hope I Have a Safety Net

This year I am stepping way out of my comfort zone and attempting to learn something new with the help of my students:  CODING.  I have been a technology coach in my district, starting with Pennsylvania’s Classrooms For the Future initiative, CFF, then through an EETT grant.  I would like to think that I am fairly knowledgeable with using technology in an educational setting.  I have had extensive formal training through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, a second Master’s Degree in Instructional Design for Online Learning, a rockin’ global Professional Learning Network, PLN.  I have presented at numerous local, regional, and state conferences about ways to effectively use technology in the classroom, not to mention many, many, many Twitterchats, and global virtual discussions on using technology.

That being said, I am not well versed in fixing devices, my Dr. Who Sonic Screwdriver aside, nor do I have much experience building apps and tools for educational use; that is what tech support and edupreneurs are for.  My app building experience stops with the what used to be Google App Inventor and my old Android Droid X phone.  I used the drag and drop technology to make several apps that would take me to predetermined websites using two clicks on the screen.  Oh yeah, I was cutting edge until App Inventor went away, though now it is with MIT I believe.  I also moved on to an iPhone, no App Inventor for that device.

I have been wanting to learn how to CREATE tools that I can use and to understand how the educational tools that I use actually work…no more man behind green curtain mystique.  I am also working with other educators on organizing maker-areas, gamification in the classroom, and planning how I need to adapt to the future of education.  I need to get my head wrapped around coding.  This year I happen to have a great group of Freshman who have been learning the concept of coding, I saw a fantastic opportunity…I need to learn what they either know or are cureently learning.  My plan is to try and learn the how to create code and discuss my progress with them; sharing what I am learning and asking questions about concepts that are difficult for me.  Basically I will be modeling learning, which I have done before, but never with a concept so foreign to me.  My starting point is this week with The Hour of Code.

I am am hoping my students are willing to provide a safety net for this old dog who is trying to learn new tricks.

 

PAECT Radio: Our Twitter Journey Begins

Last Spring, a friend of mine, Michael Micco, @mrmicco, thought it would be a good idea to start an Internet radio broadcast highlighting what PAECT members are doing in their classrooms.  We did some background research and a few trial and error exercises with different platforms looking into the logistics of creating a show.

This Fall we came up with PAECT Radio, hosted on BlogTalkRadio.  Our show page can be found here, along with archives of our past episodes.

Last night’s broadcast was our first excursion with using Twitter Hashtags to communicate with our listeners.  We use #paectradio, obviously, as the hashtag.  We did not have many responses for our first attempt, but we also gave short notice about the broadcast.

Here is the Storify from our first endeavor: