Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why Type When You Can Talk?

Did you know that it is possible to voice type more than 2 1/2 times faster than you can type with your fingers?   According to the article, Can Dragon Speech Recognition Beat World Touch Typing Record, if you type around 20 wpm, a 1,000 word report will take you around 50 minutes. If you can speak it at 100 wpm, it’ll take around 10 minutes.  By utilizing voice recognition software, you become more efficient, increase your accuracy, and capture more ideas.


Gain valuable minutes back in your day you  voice typing. Instead of spending all of your time painstakingly typing a document, voice type and give yourself the gift of time.


Well finger typing, it's very likely to make a mistake it’s easy to hit the wrong key. Use voice typing and become more accurate. Accuracy will decrease the amount of time needed to edit the document.


When voice typing, the ideas continue to flow just as if you were having a conversation. The voice recognition software makes it easier to focus on the content instead of getting caught up in the keyboard.

Google recently added voice typing as a standard feature in Google Docs.  It’s free and easy to use voice typing on any device: laptops,tablets, and phones.   Check out this short video and learn how simple it is to get started.

In the spirit of voice typing, I used Google's voice typing on this entire post. I challenge you to start using Google Voice.

Written by Ann Feldmann

Works Cited
"Can Dragon Speech Recognition Beat the World Touch Typing Record? |" ITProPortal. 10 Mar. 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Who Moved the Front of the Room?

I walked into a 1:1 elementary iPad classroom and knew it had happened. There was a happy hum in the room, kids were working independently in soft spaces, and the vibe in the room was productive and calm. Where was the front of the room? Where was the teacher?  

What I am describing is a disruptive blended classroom as defined by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker in the book Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. “There is a simple rule of thumb for spotting a disruptive model of blending learning: if students are learning in a blended setting, and you can’t figure out where the front of the classroom is then it’s probably a disruptive model (Horn, Staker (p.76).”    I have witnessed this shift happen several times as we have implemented 1:1 iPad classrooms in my district.     Teaching and learning looks very different from the traditional model we envision when we think of a classroom and school. Instead of finding a teacher delivering content in one unifying message from the front of the room, teachers are crafting a personalized learning environment grounded in pedagogy, choice, and creation which shifts the teacher from the front of the room to working alongside students and a shift from desks to soft spaces throughout the room.  

How does a shift like this happen?

Developing a blended learning culture within the classroom day is the key. Blended learning is defined as, “A formal education program in which a student learns: at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace; at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home; and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience (Christensen Institute)."  As an iPad coach, I work in classrooms alongside students and teachers.  From Day 1, we begin to craft this blended environment.  

Here are a few steps to get started.

  1. Set up a blended classroom workflow using tools such as iTunes, Google Classroom or a learning management system such as Schoology or Canvas so students can have control over time, place, path, and/or pace. This is the place to design the content and deliver course materials.  Once this workflow is in place, it is easy for students to access and submit assignments anytime, anywhere.  Not only is this great workflow, but it also provides feedback and privately differentiates for every child seamlessly.
  2. Leverage the audio and video capabilities to provide students choice and independence in how they learn and how they demonstrate mastery of objectives.  Both teaching and learning is now multi-modal where students have more options for creation that includes audio and video.
  3. Create soft spaces in the classroom and give students the freedom of movement and collaboration so they can work individually and with one another naturally throughout the day.
  4. Let go and let them learn. As you shift to working alongside your students, take advantage of the time to conference individually and provide guidance to small groups.  
  5. Be patient with yourself and your students. It takes time and perseverance to craft this environment.

How are you creating a blended learning classroom for your students?

Leave us a comment below.

Written by Ann Feldmann (@annfeldmann1)

Works Cited
1. "Christensen Institute." Christensen Institute Blended Learning Comments. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.
2. Horn, Michael B., and Heather Staker. Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. Print.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Learning Never Stops with iPad Anchor Activities

What do they do when they’re done? This is a question that so many teachers have as they begin to let go of their classroom and students begin to take ownership of their learning. As students move at their own pace through guided instruction or learning activities they will inevitably finish at different times. One of the biggest fears of teachers is that students will have nothing meaningful to do during the transition time. This has always been a challenging moment unless they have an engaging task for students to work on while they wait for their fellow students. So, how do teachers continue the learning process for their students during these times?

The iPad offers multiple answers to this challenging moment for teachers. One of the biggest advantages of having iPads in the hands of our students is that anchor activities are right at the their fingertips. There are so many quality apps for different ages that allow students the opportunity to practice basic skills, review material, or even extend their learning acquire new skills. One advantage is that this can happen at the student’s own pace and level. Another advantage is that there is no prep time for teachers. Anchor apps can be used at any level, however, the use in elementary classrooms is particularly powerful throughout an entire day of transitioning between activities. 

So what are some great apps that our elementary teachers are using to keep the learning process going during these times? Check out the list below and please comment on any apps that you feel our students should be using as well!

Math: Front Row Math, Teach Me Kindergarten/1st/2nd/3rd
Writing: Teach Me Kindergarten/1st/2nd/3rd, Handwriting Without Tears 
Reading: Front Row Reading, Epic, Raz-Kids 
Vocabulary Work: Keynote, Quizlet
Coding: Kodable, Lightbot, Hopscotch, Scratch Jr.

Written By Jeffrey Bernadt  |  @jeffreybernadt

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Creating a Student-Centric Classroom at the iPad Academy

The Tech Trio, Jeanette Carlson, Jeffrey Bernadt, and Ann Feldmann joined Beth Holland from EdTechTeacher, as she interviewed us about the iPad Academy Model in Bellevue Public Schools.  The webinar aired on December 2nd at 2PM central time.  Here is the link to the webinar and the video is also embedded below.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

7 Reasons to Use Instructional Videos in Your Classroom

Ever wondered how you could create a situation in which you were in multiple places at one time within the classroom?  The power of technology opens up possibilities for teachers to do just that!  One of the best examples is taking advantage of the ability to create and share instructional videos with your students.  

Here are seven reasons why you should be using instructional videos in your classroom.  
  1. Students Work at Own Pace
One of the most powerful aspects of having students watch instructional videos is they can learn at their own pace.  Allowing students to pause, rewind, and even fast forward instruction provides students control and ownership over their learning.  Not only can they control the video, they can also adjust the speed of the narration.  This helps in comprehension.
  1. Students Choose the Time & Place
Creating instructional videos allows your students the opportunity to choose when  and where they learn.  Although you may require students to watch the videos before coming to class as homework or doing during class itself, the choice is there for both the teacher and the student.  In addition, the student can always go back and view the videos while working on homework or studying for the tests.  Having instructional videos also support students when they can’t be in the classroom, for example, home sick or out of town with family.  With the increase in mobile devices students and teachers have way more freedom on when and where learning takes place.  

  1. More One on One Teacher Student Interaction
Teachers often assume that by creating instructional videos they will lose their interaction with students and that their relationships with students will diminish.  In my experience the opposite is true.  First, students are still hearing your voice in the videos and it is more personal as you are talking directly to them.  Second, as students plug into your instructional video, you have just digitally cloned yourself, which means you are now free to work with students individually or in small groups.  Now instead of talking to the whole class you are able to have individual conversations with students that are more personal and powerful.  
  1. Frees Up Classroom Time
Whether you have the students view the video before they come to class or during class, instructional videos actually create more class time for guided practice and other learning activities.  A lecture that may normally take 15-30 minutes of class time can be easily condensed into 3-10 minute instructional video.  This happens because during whole class lectures teachers generally get students actively involved through question and discussion strategies.  Taking those out and focusing on the skills and content being taught reduces the length of guided instruction dramatically when put into video format.

  1. Opens Up New Opportunities
Not only does instructional videos create more classroom time but they open up new learning opportunities in the classroom. Class time can be restructured completing whether class be broken into stations or more choice is embedded into the classroom.  Simply put, teachers have more freedom to create new learning activities because they are no longer tied to the front of the room doing whole class instruction.  

  1. Provides Support to Parents
One of my favorite parts of creating instructional videos is the support that it provides parents.  Parents now are given the help they need to support their children at home by now having access to the same learning their student are given.  I am amazed how many parents actually watched the videos with their students or on their own.  Some want to be able to better help their children study while others simply want to learn.  

  1. Provides Support to Special Education Teachers
In the same way it provides extra support to parents it can do the same for other teachers and support staff within the school.  Special education teachers appreciate the instructional videos because they now had access to the same information, and therefore, can better support the students in their learning.  Now paras, special education teachers, and even study hall teachers can better serve and support their students.  

Written by Jeffrey Bernadt

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Digging Digital Portfolios: Seesaw and Weebly

Portfolios are not a new concept, even digital portfolios are not a new concept, but the tools to create and build a portfolio have come a long way. There are numerous ways to use portfolios in the classroom and a number of different tools to create them. After presenting at a few conferences last week on digital portfolios and some of the tools available to create them, I came to the conclusion that there are two that I believe offer some great options: Seesaw and Weebly. Each one has unique qualities and each can be used with in different ways.

Before jumping in and having students begin setting up their portfolio, it is important to determine your “Why”. Why do you want your students to create portfolios? Who is the audience? How do you want it to shape their learning? Next, determine what type of portfolio you would like to have students create.  Here are four types of portfolios that you might consider.

Process/Developmental Portfolios
This type of portfolio documents learning along the way. It lends itself to peer review/editing, revisions and the process of learning. It is great to use for giving feedback and “watching” your students learn.

Best Works/Showcase Portfolios
Different than the portfolio above, this type is a collection of the student’s highest level of achievement. With this type of portfolio you don’t see the learning take place, you see the end product after it has been reviewed and revised. (Example of Portfolio Assignments)

Assessment Portfolio
Yet another option, assessment portfolios, document what the student learned based on specific outcomes/objectives. These are very specific in what the teacher may be looking for and assessing.

Unit/Project Portfolio
The fourth option allows the teacher to have students create a portfolio for one or two units or projects created in class. For example, a senior research paper in English class or the habitat unit in elementary science.

Once you have your why and your type of portfolio determined, it’s time to get started. Below are two wonderful options to try out with your students.


Seesaw is both app-based and web-based. It allows students to upload audio, video, photos, images, writing and artifacts from a variety of apps. Students as young as kindergarten can easily navigate the app. Seesaw is unique in that students do not have to have logins, they log in by scanning a QR code. No QR code on your iPad? No worries, you don’t need one, Seesaw has a built in scanner. If desired, students can like classmate uploads and comment on them to give feedback and feedforward. Teachers are also using Seesaw to provide feedback to individual students through comment or voice/video recording.

Another plus of Seesaw is the ability to share the portfolios with parents. Parents can sign up for free and get notifications through e-mail or a mobile device when students add work. You can easily add a co-teacher and create folders in the app also. Don’t worry if you aren’t a 1:1 classroom, there are many ideas for using Seesaw in classes with one device or a garden of devices. Seesaw is being used in K-12 grade classrooms.


Weebly is a website builder that has been around for a while. It is one of the easiest builders to use with it’s drag and drop interface. Secondary students like that it gives you the freedom to customize your website but the process isn’t overwhelming. Sites can be created very quickly and be up and running in no time. Weebly allows students to upload and share text, audio, video, images, buttons and more. One of the great features of Weebly it that it has a blog component. So, students can add a blog page to their website to use for reflection of their learning and they don’t need to create a completely different site. With an educator account you can have up to 40 free student accounts that allows for a little more control.

As I stated before, portfolio creation is not new. Sometimes taking a look at a few of the different tools available, refocusing on your why and determining the type of portfolio you want your students to create will give you a different perspective. Go ahead, give it a try!

Written by Jeanette Carlson

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tech Up and Transform Your Workflow

The new school year is well underway and it is time to ask ourselves a couple of questions.  What can I do to be more efficient and effective in my daily workflow? What tools can I use to target instruction? How can I connect with other educators?  

The first step is learning more about available resources.  As you read this post, think about your current workflow. Which of these tools would be most beneficial to your workflow?  

The second step is taking action. Start with the tool that will be the biggest difference maker. Set aside a plan period each week initially to learn the tool and then use the tool regularly.  

Finally, keep a journal and reflect on the impact the tool has made on your workflow. How did students respond?  What were the benefits? What are your future plans to continue using the tool?

Here are six tools to tech up your classroom.

1.  Remind
Text students reminders with ease using Remind.  This is the perfect way to send information to students for both academics or athletics. This is a free site that creates a simple, yet powerful way to connect your students to the classroom and opens a new channel of communication.

2.  Voxer:
Want a quick way to connect and collaborate with colleagues? Voxer is a walkie talkie type app for iPhones and Androids that streamlines communication and is quick and easy to use.  In addition, you can send text, images, and videos too!  The group feature allows for multiple people to be on one Voxer message which makes it a fantastic app for teachers.  Imagine having your PLC in a Voxer group. When you have a great idea, just hold down the middle button and send an audio message.  If another teacher is in the app, they will hear you in real-time, just like a walkie talkie. If not, your message is stored as an audio file that can be played at a later time.  This is a great app to use with family and friends too. For more information, check out this post on Voxer: A Vehicle for Collaboration and Communication

3.  Google Forms
Tap into the power of Google Apps for Ed (#gafe) and Google Forms.  Google forms are a quick and easy way to collect data to provide targeted instruction for students.  Google Forms are quick and easy to create and even easier to share with students.  Feedback is immediate and can be used to impact instruction as the lesson evolves.

Another way to use Google Forms is to get a feel for the classroom vibe.  For example, you can create a reusable Google Form and ask students a few simple questions.

Check out this blogpost from Garrett Sims (@gtwitsims) who uses Google forms every day to see how his students are feeling. Create a QR code for even faster student access to the form.  The results may surprise you and give you great insight to your students.

4. Google Hangouts and Skype
Tired of driving across town to collaboration meetings?  Want to share an idea with a colleague? Connecting with other teachers in your building or educators from around the world with either of these free video conferencing tools can become part of the daily workflow.  Both are easy to setup and use.  

Why not connect with other classrooms or bring in a guest speaker.  To start connecting your classroom, go to Google Plus and join the Connected Classrooms Community and/or get involved with Skype for Education at .

5. Padlet
A visually pleasing way to brainstorm, share photos, files, and videos is using Padlet at .  This tool is free, simple to set up, and can be shared in a variety of ways. One simple way to share a Padlet is embedding it on a website. Students can access it quickly on any device.  Not only is it free, but Padlet is accessible on any device: computers, tablets, and phones.

Here are some ideas for using Padlet in the classroom: journal prompts, book discussion, brainstorming, curating students artwork, collaborate and share with other classrooms, and more!

6.  Target Instruction with YouTube Workflow

Have a concept your students struggle with?  Use your data to target instruction and create educational screencasts to support student learning.  Students can listen to these in whole groups, small groups, or individually.  Find and/or create videos that target instruction and personalize the learning for your unique students needs.  Here are the steps to using the YouTube workflow.

  1. In order to tap the power of YouTube for organizing and sharing videos with a playlist, you must first have a channel.   Click here for a tutorial video on setting up a channel.
  2. Adding videos to a playlist is just a click or two away.   Click here for a tutorial video on creating and adding videos to playlists.
  3. Search for videos on youtube.  Here is a list of 100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for educators you may want to explore.
  4. Share your playlists via a link or embed them on a blog or website. Click here for a tutorial video on setting up and managing playlists.

Give some of these tools a try this school year and tech up your classroom workflow. Keep your journal of the growth you experience this year.   When you take a look in the spring, it will be amazing to see how your daily workflow transformed over the course of just one school year by integrating these tools into your routine.  

Add a comment and share examples of how you are using these tools in your classroom. Feel free to share other tools you use in your everyday workflow.  

Written by Ann Feldmann