Monday, August 26, 2013

GOING GOOGLE... How Long Does it Take to Change A Culture?

As many of you know, our district went Google two years ago.  It was a monumental leap of faith by our Superintendent to trust our judgement and go for it.  Our vision was this:  less printing, more sharing and collaborating, and increased production for both teachers and students.  We are on year three now, and I think we are starting to see a change in the weather. It has taken a long time to convince teachers to use google Docs and Google Calendar, but I am beginning to see the rainbow at the end of the storm!  

Many days I have felt like a salesperson for Google, walking around saying things like “Oh, did you know you could do that in Google?” or “Let’s load that to Google and then share the link.”  I've got
used to the stares and weird looks, because in the end I knew it was the best workflow for everyone! Now I love learning from some of our experts in the schools- the students!

Just today, as I was coaching a teacher in how to utilize Google Docs with his students I saw a student doing a math outline on a doc.  She was using superscripts to write equations!  It was great! Her teacher is one that we haven’t even worked with.  How exciting to know she was using Google Docs with her students all on her own.  That is the kind of things I love seeing these days.  

I know it isn’t everywhere in our district, but it is happening more and more.  See below for some hard data.   

Change is slow, but it is happening.  I know the students appreciate their tech savvy teachers, and I know the teachers love the no-excuses available philosophy of Google Docs.  Going paperless is one advantage, but the real advantages are increased collaboration, efficient use of time, and immediate feedback.  Keep dockin’ and rockin’ Bellevue!  True change is just over the rainbow!  It was Socrates that said the following:

Written By:  Jennifer Krzystowczyk

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Let's Run to School

As I listened to @angelameirs keynote at #ettipad in Atlanta this spring, I related to many things she said.  At one point, she made a point of saying, “don’t you wish school was a place that kids want to run to?” and then she popped a photo of her young kids beaming faces on the first day of elementary school and contrasted that with them on the first day of high school.  As a mother of four of my own kiddos, I can relate!  I want each of them to run and skip to school and come home so enthralled with that they learn that they self start and keep learning.  Students enthusiasm for school seems to decrease as their age increases.  It begs the questions, how can we create a school where kids want to get up and run to it each day?

Creating a student centered learning environments is the key.  Twitter was my go to place this summer to learn more about personalizing and individualizing instruction from experts around the world. I learned more about the flipped classrooms, student centered classrooms, project based learning, authentic assessment, and genius hour.  Thanks to my PLN, I joined a MOOC, read Teach Like a Pirate , and found the #tlap chats on Monday nights where I lurked as I sat at baseball games!  

What did I learn?  

Three things:

1.  Kids need to be able to use tools from this century to explore, create, collaborate, and learn course objectives in the order they wish when they wish (asynchronously) .  
2.  Teachers need to be able to individualize instruction and create a classroom environment to make this happen. Often this means letting go and allowing students to take the lead.
3.  Time, revision, choice, trust, and collaboration are essential to student centered classrooms.

Creating this environment. iPads are the tool that can make this happen!  We can provide students their own individualized learning plans (IEPS’s) and let them choose how they learn, what they learn, and when they learn.   Teachers are the key to crafting the learning environment, conferencing with students, providing students the content to interact with, enabling them to teach others, share what they learn, and as a result, teach them to love to learn.

This means teaching and learning looks different.  

Instead of this….
Transformed to this...
teacher curates content and pushes it out to the iPads via  ITunes U courses and iBooks
teacher in front of the room
teacher conferencing with students individually on creating artifacts that support their learning on the iPad while others are working independently
grading papers during plan time
assessing projects together, providing critical feedback, providing time for revision, and publishing to the web
failure is frowned upon
failure is the springboard to growth and risk taking is embraced
students in desks, sitting most of the period
students choose to learn where they will learn best, movement is encouraged
a few students share
a connected classroom where all students are have voice with back channels, collaborative docs, and connections to the world
covering objectives sequentially
freedom to work on any objective and move through the curriculum asynchronously
the teacher is the fountain of knowledge and main person delivering information
reciprocal teaching a regular occurrence; teachers teaching students, students teaching students, and students teaching teachers.  
working with classmates physically in the classroom
working with classmates virtually around the world; sharing and creating projects that are web worthy with others who may or may not be in the physical classroom
course work created for a teacher to assess
course work created, revised, discussed, revised again and published to the web
teacher centered
learner centered

Written by Ann Feldmann


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

13 Ideas to Start the School Year

Idea #1 – Improve Google Search Skills
Have students hone Google Search Skills using GoogleA Day at

Idea #2  - Get Kids Blogging
Publish student work to a real audience using KidBlog at . 

Idea #3 – Use Google Docs
Use Google Docs to create a running agenda of class work and assignments.  The Doc is easy to update and available to students via Google Drive.

Idea #4 - Pinterest
Join our collaborative district Pinterest boards!   Pin resources you love and inspire others. 

Idea #5 - Twitter
Connecting professionally with other educators is a fantastic way to learn and grow.  Some of the best FREE PD I receive is from Twitter.  Get started by creating an account and follow a few hashtags like #tt4t, #bpsne, #edchat, #flippedlearning, and #nebedchat to name a few.  You can also follow your tech trainers:  @annfeldmann1, @jennykbps, and @catlett1.

Idea #6 – Google Drive Workflow
Go paperless with student writing using Google Drive.  Have students create a folder for your class.  Call it something fancy like writing or period 2 and their last name.   Have them share the folder with you.   From this point on, they create a Google Doc in the folder and it is automatically shared with you.  Grade these documents paperless-ly by accessing the shared Google Drive folder and use the comment feature to provide comments AS students write, not AFTER. 

Idea #7 – Google Forms and Flubaroo
Utilize Google Forms and Flubaroo for formative assessments to automatically grade quizzes. Results are e-mailed to students with feedback. They know within minutes how they performed.  Spend time teaching what they don’t know instead of what they do know.  Check out details here:

Idea #8 – Backchannel
Use  to create a backchannel.  What is this?  It is a way to have a private class discussion in 140 characters.   This gives all students a voice.
Easy to set up and use!

Idea #9 – Screencasting
Create screencasts and team teach with yourself.  Use quicktime player on the mac and upload to your YouTube channel. Too complicated?  Use or and share the link to your videos on a Google Doc!  (your running agenda, see idea #3) !  Here is a link to Four Great Tools for Screencasting .  

Idea #10 – Video Feedback
Use your screencasting skills and give students video feedback on electronically submitted work.

Idea #11 – Field Trips
Take your students outside of the classroom on a virtual field trip.  Create a virtual field trip with a Google Doc and share it with students.  Use links that take advantage of the web has to offer.  For example, link to Google Maps and utilize the powerful street view feature. Provide links to videos so students can see and feel the adventure.

Idea #12 – Connect Globally
Connect your kids to other kids with #comments4kids and #quadblogging.  Bring in experts with Skype and Google Hangouts.  Collaborate with other classrooms via Google Docs.  Host a classroom debate with classes from around the world.  Check out and get connected today! Hear @catlett1 talk about eduhangouts on .

Idea #13 – Create a YouTube Channel for your Classroom  

Create a YouTube Channel for your classroom! Add those screencasts to your YouTube Channel and they are accessible anywhere Internet is!  For details on creating a channel and organizing playlists, click HERE.

Written by Ann Feldmann