Thursday, January 18, 2018

Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar
Why Digital Device Training Is Needed in Public Education

I started my teaching career as a 20 year old football coach 16 years ago for Alta Sierra Intermediate. I was hired to help out with the offense and defensive lines, setting up drills, and planning our defensive strategies. I loved the 5-4 defense since I played nose guard in high school and believed the pressure would work well at our level. Needless to say, over time, keeping the same defense scheme game-in and game-out just didn’t work. I discovered the importance of preparation, and realized using a defense I loved didn't always work. I discovered my defense needed to change for the offense that lay ahead, not the formation I knew best. I discovered my coaching skills needed to evolve and expand to ideas outside of my comfort zone so that my players had the best possible chance to be competitive.

Let me keep my sports theme going a bit before I get to my point. Hypothetically, let’s say there is a high school track and field coach and they have coached the high jump event for their entire career. They are in fact the best high jump coach in the state, and have produced many top athletes through their instruction. They are approached by a new head coach and asked to also train his/her high jump athletes in the pole vault. For the purpose of this hypothetical, we will say the pole vault is not an event which scores any points for the team. In an effort to get the coach willing to take on this new responsibility, the head coach shows him the side by side description of the “high jump” and the “pole vault” events as seen below:

High Jump: The high jump is a track and field event in which competitors must jump unaided over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights without dislodging it. In its modern most practiced format, a bar is placed between two standards with a crash mat for landing.

Pole Vault: The pole vault  is a track and field event in which competitors must use  a long, flexible pole (which today is usually made either of fiberglass or carbon fiber) as an aid to jump over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights without dislodging it. In its modern most practiced format, a bar is placed between two standards with a crash mat for landing.

The coach insists he/she loves the high jump for its practicality and unaided format. Only human will and skill are needed to do well in the event. The coach explains that with the pole vault, the athlete needs a device to do well, which can distract from the true skill of the athlete. If he/she takes on this other task, he will not have enough time to truly train his athletes in the event that matters and gives the team points in the actual competition. The coach also explains that he has coached the high jump for many years and all his athletes do really well at the end of the year championship meets, so why train them in this new skill? Why change a good thing?

This seems like a very reasonable argument. Why should a seasoned  high jump coach change and try something else? Why train athletes for an event which is not even counted at the schools competitions?  Well, let me put a new spin on this situation. What if the coach was informed that only 11% of his athletes would be competing in the high jump in college and 89% were being asked to compete in the pole vault. On top of this, none of the athletes would be given coaching instructions on how to compete or prepare in their new event. Now do you think the skills gained through high jump would prepare the athletes to compete in pole vault? Sure, some would instinctively adjust to some degree, but without coaching, many would struggle. Because of this, “College Studies” would show that incoming athletes perform better in high jump competitions than pole vaulting competitions. Is this a fair comparison? These are two different events, with very different skills needed to be successful.

Of course this is an extreme hypothetical situation. No high school track and field program that I know of has a high jump event and not a pole vaulting event. But think about this for a second: if our goal as educators is to prepare our students for what is to come, shouldn’t we include the skills in our everyday instruction to prepare them for this change? If the hypothetical situation above was in fact real, shouldn't the coach be preparing his athletes for the event they will most likely compete in while in college?  Of course by now you are beginning to see where I am going with is post. In college today 89% of our students are using digital devices to complete work, create notes, and communicate with other students and faculty on a daily basis. Most of these students have learned how to use the devices, for better or worse, themselves with no coaching, support, or guidance on best practices. If we know the challenges that lie ahead for our students in college, why do we insist on not truly embracing the digital device in our public K-12 system?

Now I know this is a generalization. There are many schools and lone wolf teachers truly embracing the digital device. But the reality is the vast majority of public K-12 classroom instruction is still paper & pencil, fill in worksheets, and drill-kill-skills practicing. Many teachers feel the digital device becomes a distractor for their instruction and antagonist to their students’ learning. But the digital device IS NOT GOING AWAY. It will always reveal itself outside of your classroom and in the halls of instruction at college institutions.
I say to you now, WE NEED YOU to help our students understand how to take your mastery concepts of reading, writing, and arithmetic and port those over to tools we know our students will be utilizing in college. We need you to get out of your comfort zone and #DitchThatFEAR of change to better help our students succeed once they leave our instruction. If we continue to ignore the device they will be using to learn tomorrow, we are shackling the skills we hoped would empower them today. As with high jump and pole vault, we need to RAISE THE BAR and do what is right for our students.

Now let me address the elephant in the room. Without a doubt, studies have shown handwritten work to be more beneficial to student recall than typed work. I do not refute these studies, but I do wonder “Why?” Why are these the results we are getting? Is it the way the brain works? Is it the tactile feel of the pencil in one's hand? Or is it something else? Maybe it’s because the students have been solely trained to high jump, then asked to pole vault with no instruction. You see, these studies take students who have taken notes using paper pencil for 10+ years and put them against students who are using a digital device with possibly no educational training. We are asking high jumpers to compete in a completely different event, with a device they must learn how to use on their own. Maybe the reason these studies are so consistent is because K-12 teachers see them and use it as a reason to not allow/use devices in their classroom. This completes a feedback loop, a self fulfilling prophecy, limiting the usage of devices in many K-12 classrooms. I would love to see a study from students who have been properly trained how to use a digital device for 10+ years… hmmm doctorate thesis anyone?

Now I could very well be wrong. After years of testing and studies we may find that indeed, handwritten work is be the best form of learning. Fantastic! But this fact will not detour our students from using their devices to learn. This fact will not reverse the tide. Our students now and forevermore will be using digital devices to communicate, collaborate, create and complete work. So even if the studies show paper and pencil to be best, we STILL need to train our kids on using digital devices in their everyday learning. If we don’t  they will be left to their own devices (pun intended). They will be left to fend for themselves. The will become an athlete without a coach. For this reason I applaud AVID.

AVID, as many of you know, has a mission to prepare all students for college readiness and success. When AVID noticed the growing number of students utilizing a digital device in college, they had to rethink some of their methods in implementing their strategies.  As a result AVID has created a Digital Teaching and Learning (DTL) pathway to help students and teachers maximize their strategies through digital means and proper educational training before they set foot on a college campus. This forward thinking approach helps to bridge the learning gap created in that great leap from high school to college.

One final caveat; technology is NOT the savior of education. YOU are. What will have the most powerful impact on your students is your willingness to evolve year after year to be the best teacher you can possibly be; your willingness to see the world changing and your eagerness to change with it; your sensibility to see what our students will be up against and take the challenge head on. We need not to change the way we TEACH our kids, but rather, change the way we REACH our kids. We need to see past the noise, past the studies, and see clearly the path that lies ahead for our students. The digital device is not going away. Our students are not reverting back to paper and pencil. We need to do our best to prepare our students for THEIR future, not our past. We need to truly ask ourselves, “If we know our students will be competing in pole vault in college, would we continue to only train them in high jump?” I hope the answer is no. I hope the answer is clear. I hope you will raise the bar.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017



An Essay on Change and Innovation

As an educator I believe that every lesson should come alive and connect with students on a personal level. I also believe that all teachers should have a drive in connecting with their students. It is up to teachers to ignite a spark that is going to catch fire with their audience. Just like a fire needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to create a spark, a teacher needs to test out different combinations of ingredients to catch the interest of their students. For me, technology has been the spark to ignite learning and innovation in my classroom and on my campus. With the inclusions of technology in our everyday lessons, we are being given amazing opportunities to reach the “unreachable” -  to reach those students who have not yet discovered the joy of learning. Our goal is to create a spark and have it spread across not only our campus, but our district, state, and country as well.

As educators we need to be leaders and innovators both in and out of the classroom. Change doesn't come from institutions. Change comes from individuals who buck the system and don’t accept the status quo. When individual teachers take risks, others take notice and a movement begins. Yet change can bring about fear of unknown challenges ahead. When we ditch that fear, anything is possible. We search for and create lessons that allow us to discover the best ways to engage our students, while building upon our high goals and standards year after year. We strive to create student-centered lessons, and where appropriate, integrate technology into the classroom to help limit distractions, as well as motivate and engage our students to learn and create. As an educational technology innovator, I strive to encourage my colleagues to integrate more ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards into their direct instruction, which incorporates not only common core standards but also integrates tools, strategies, and ideas to draw students into learning, collaborating, and creating. The implementation of technology is a critical need in the 21st-century classroom, increasing student learning during instruction in the midst of our fast-paced digital world.

In our ever-changing digital society, the modern classroom has become a breeding ground of distractions or boredom for thrill-seeking youngsters. Many classrooms have become a place where students fiend for their digital media fix, only to be told to put their devices away. How can we for a moment believe that because a bell rings our students digital life comes to a pause? These distractions can also arise from the improper implementation of technology by educators, stemming from a lack in professional development practice, and in turn resulting in loss of interest from the students, who then resort to using their own technology during class in improper ways.To limit distractions in our classroom environment, we must present information in ways that will truly engage our students. It’s not about changing the ways we teach our students, it's about changing the ways we REACH our students. Utilizing the tools our students use for communication outside the classroom inside the classroom provides a great opportunity to reach them. This task can prove to be beneficial when realizing each student learns at a different pace and in different ways. We wish to create a non-static environment, rich with ever-changing student options, incorporation of differentiation, and one that encourages a project-based learning/collaborating mindset which our students need. The goal is to have our students  become the creators of content, not just educational consumers. Students need to become so engaged that they can’t  help but to pay attention in class. In this  “living classroom” setting,  information is constantly being supplied to, or discovered by, students through many different mediums, all the while allowing the lesson to be malleable from hour to hour, period to period, and day to day.  These living classrooms create an environment where students do not have the time to become distracted or board. It is up to us as teachers to create an educational space where our students can’t help but become collaborative communicators emboldened by the opportunity to become creative citizens full of curiosity.

In our ever-changing world, it is becoming more and more evident that no student should be utilizing more technology outside the classroom than they are inside of it. We should not be overlooking the strengths that our students have been cultivating since birth. Technology is a known commodity to our digital natives, and to tell them they are not allowed to use it is analogous to tying their hands behind their back. The use of technology in our classrooms can empower teachers to engage and motivate students using the most advanced and appropriate technology the world has to offer, using the tools our students have grown up using. Through the integration of technology we can become a new and different kind of teacher- one who takes problems head-on with a fresh set of eyes, who does not back down from a challenge because they deem the situation to be too hard.  We have become educators privileged with an opportunity to share with many of our students the joy of learning for the first time.

By all means, I am not saying technology is the savior of education. I am also not saying that a completely digital classroom is the answer. What I am saying is that a blended learning classroom is what we should all strive for. I understand the studies that state handwritten notes are shown to provide more memory retention than typed notes, and I agree with the studies. However, I do not believe these studies are completely applicable to all the uses of technology available in classrooms today. We are not talking about a student in solitude typing away as a teacher lectures. We are talking about students collaborating, sharing, communicating, and creating within our classroom walls and beyond. I am saying we should encourage our students to complete a sketchnote by hand, but then UPLOAD those notes to a blog or resource where ALL students can see, learn, and utilize them. I am saying we need to let our students read and highlight an article, but then have them share their thoughts in a digital backchannel, collaboratively create a presentation, then screencast their findings to the class and to the world. By including technology in the way our students learn, we are building a community, opening communication, displaying citizenship and encouraging meaningful social interaction through digital media, exactly the same way our students LIVE their everyday lives. Students now control their own learning. As educators we need to cultivate student differences and allow them to thrive the best way they know how. Technology has changed the world in which our students live, so why can’t it change the classrooms in which they learn?

As educators we need to remember that using multimedia and technology is a great addition to traditional methods, but all technology should be looked at through the goals and achievements you have in mind for your students. Going digital does not mean going 100% paperless. Going digital means to begin to leverage the digital techniques our digital natives are already using outside the classroom walls.  As stated before, studies may show writing notes to be more effective than typing notes, but that is not what we are doing here. In fact, the integration of integrated/manipulatable/hands-on technology use is still in its infancy and studies are just beginning (such as the study HERE). Data is hard to gather based on the many variables at play with technology use, such as the tools being used, who is teaching/implementing the technology in the classroom, and the activity being studied. Blended learning is the best model to look at when implementing technology into the classroom.  Correct use of technology in the classroom allows for the instructor to make the learning more meaningful by allowing their students to interact with the lesson, not just consume it. It allows the students to become creators of content, not just members of a passive audience. When used correctly, technology can become a powerful tool to enhance and empower student growth. Anything new can cause pause in our educational community, but remember - no one ever created change by following the status quo. We need to be leaders in change, but you can’t be a leader if there is no one following you.

Through learning to implement new technologies in the classroom, we can consistently uphold our mission as educators: to be lifelong learners and to prepare our students for tomorrow, not just for today. I consistently try to honor our mission by creating meaningful multimedia videos through apps like EdPuzzle, creating engaging assessments using Kahoot and Quizizz, creating interactive digital labs and presentations allowing collaboration through Formative and Nearpod, enhancing student voice through screencasts or Flipgrid, and Interactive Digital Readers (IDR)/ Interactive Digital Notebooks (IDN) using the power of Google’s GSuite tools, following AVID and ISTE standards. You can even smash them together to create the ultimate APPsmahing lesson, an amalgamation of awesomeness! If you are reading this and are saying to yourself “This seems like a lot of work”, then yes, you are correct. No one ever said making a difference would be easy. Anything worth the time is also worth putting in the effort. Once you start seeing the power of incorporating technology through blended learning lessons, you will never see technology as one more thing to add to your plate. You will begin to see that technology IS the plate! You will no longer see technology as another brick in your lesson, but rather, it becomes the mortar holding the lesson together. I know change is hard, but as educators we have pledged to be lifelong learners. We have pledged to be the best educator we can be, not for awards or accolades, but for the advancement of our students. John Dewey said it best over 100 years ago, “If we continue to teach our students today the same way we did yesterday, we are robbing them of tomorrow.” Change does not mean we are doing anything wrong, it only means we have a chance to do more for our kids. By producing meaningful and engaging experiences for our classes, and through the use of our online collaborative environments, we can continue to provide positive experiences, increasing engagement, motivation, creativity, community and a continued joy of learning in this 21st century.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Google Salon: Let's Add Some Extensions!

Welcome to the Google Salon! Let's give your chrome browser a much needed makeover. Chrome extensions are great ways to highlight and brighten up your browser through useful tasks for both teachers and students. See how to maximize your workflow and minimize common headaches. Add these extensions to turn chrome into an interactive whiteboard, easily add common notes to any assignment, quickly create and share a list of important web links, and so much more. You work hard, let the Google Salon pamper you!

Did you know your chrome browser is actually an extremely powerful customizable application? You can add extensions, which extend the power of your browser, to enhance the learning goals of your students and the classroom capabilities of you the teacher.

Below are awesome chrome extensions for you and your students which have been used and tested in classes at Alta Sierra and beyond.

These links are for the chrome browser only, they will not work on internet explorer or edge browsers.

To use them just click on the link, then select the blue button that reads "add to chrome" in one click it will add the extension to the upper right corner of your chrome browser for easy use. 

1.Dualless: Split your chrome screen per tab in any shape, then bring them back together. Great for any reason to split your screen such as grading student work and imputing grades into Google Classroom. Great for research for students or keeping the instructions visible while working on an assignment. You could also use "Tab Scissors" extension, but Dualless allows you to predetermine how the tabs will be split in size. CLICK HERE TO ADD

2. Boomerang: Sometimes we need to be reminded of an email we have received in the past or we need to send an email to someone at a later date. Boomerang allows you to schedule emails to be sent to yourself or other at any future point! CLICK HERE TO ADD.

3. Awesome Screenshot: Capture any webpage in any fashion, whole page, the whole site, whole screen, you name it. This also has built-in info blur to protect any sensitive information. CLICK HERE TO ADD.

4. Web Paint: annotate over any webpage. Turn your Chrome browser into an interactive whiteboard. Have students practice their annotation skills on any article from any website. Use this in conjunction with "Awesome Screenshot" above and have them screenshot their annotations and turn in via Google Classroom. CLICK HERE TO ADD

5. NoteAnywhere: Leave a "Sticky Note" on any webpage and it will be there when you return. I always bookmark webpages, but forget why or how I was going to use the information. Not anymore! With this extension leave a sticky note on any webpage and it will be there when you return. CLICK HERE TO ADD

6. Screencastify: Record your screen to document a lesson or have students record their screen to show proof of Knowledge. Super great tool to allow a student to share their knowledge and growth. The free version allows up to 10 minutes of recording. Use this in conjunction with Flipgrid to create a whole classroom of student tutorials. CLICK HERE TO ADD

7. EdPuzzle: EdPuzzle is a great tool to truly monitor your student growth and learning in any video. The problem is when you find that great YouTube video to use in EdPuzzle you may not have the time to make the assignment, then forget about the video all together. With this extension, a new EdPuzzle button is added to ALL YouTube videos allowing you to easily start and save the lesson for easy editing later. CLICK HERE TO ADD

8. EquatIO: This is a great tool for any math classroom. EquatIO allows you to add any math equation to any GSuite tool via handwriting or voice. Who says there are no good equation editors in Google? CLICK HERE TO ADD.

9. ColorPick Eyedropper: Have you ever needed an EXACT match of a color for a project or website but cannot quite find it? Let ColorPicker do the work for you. Just hover over the color you like and boom the color #code is revealed. Just go to any color menu, choose custom, then past in the #code. CLICK HERE TO ADD

10. OneTab: Have you ever been to a conference or training and end up with too many tabs open to bookmark and/or count? No fear, OneTab is here! Use one tab to collapse ALL your open webpages into an easy to archive list. Bonus: Save the list as a webpage and send it out to your colleagues who could not make the conference or training. CLICK HERE TO ADD

11. CraftyText: If you ever need to "Blow-Up" text or information so a large audience can view it, CraftyText is your tool. Inlarge text on your screen, shorten a url, or create an instant QR code to be "Blown-UP" to be easily seen on your projected screen. CLICK HERE TO ADD


Monday, April 3, 2017

Flipgrid Fever! Hacking The Grid

Hacking the GRID!

Flipgrid Unplugged #3: Hacking the Grid with Joe Marquez from Flipgrid on Vimeo.

Flipgrid is one of the best educational programs to come out with in the last few years. At first look it seems to be a simple student video response program, but when you look at it through a hackers eyes it becomes much more. The more I look into the program the more usefulness I find for it and the more creative my students get with this. This post will be a live living post where I will update, add, and tweek all the ways I find to hack flipgrid within my classroom:

Flipgrid in YOUR Classroom:

  • Intro Ticket/Exit Ticket
    • What do you remember, what did you learn
  • End of Lab Summaries
    • When you ask a student to write a short summary of what they learned in the lab, the only question they tend to ask is "How long does it have to be?" 
    • When you ask a student to do a Flip, they ask how many people are going to see this. It becomes a community post and because of this they tend to take thier time and trully investigate the best way to explain what they have learned. In fact they may record thier post 3 or 4 times, unprompted, to make sure they look and sound good to their peers. 
  • Mini-Movies
    • ex: Newtons 3 Laws
    • Using the Flipgrid mobile app our class has been able to create some creative "Vine" type Flips of classroom topics. The mobile app allows us to get outside and record the science around us instead of being couped up in our four walls.
  • Group Science Scavenger Hunts
  • Lab Station Responses
    • I love doing "Station labs" in the tune of "Speed Dating" The groups need to get to their station, conduct their Mini-experiment, then explain the science behind it and its relation to the world around them. By creating a Lab Grid and a Flip Topic per station I have been getting truly insightful responses, much different than having them write a few sentences of explanations at each station.
  • Classroom to Classroom connections! In school or beyond!
  • Student Tips to incoming grades
  • Back to school night parent introductions
  • State of the Classroom Updates for parents
    • I used to use YouTubes quick record feature to give my parents weekly classroom updates in a "State of the Classroom" sort of way. With the quick record feature removed, Flipgrid is perfect. Just record a quick weekly wrap-up of the week and use the date as the thumbnail. Great way to keep All Parent in the loop.
  • Get to know the class activity
  • Science Fair interviews
  • Upload Screencasts!!
    • Screencastify
  • Clamation/Stop-motion Models
    • Get your AP High School Students to Tutor your Jr. High Students

Flipgrid on your Campus or School Events:

  • Get to know the Staff/Teachers
  • Whole School interviews
  • Virtual PixelPal
  • Senior Legacy Posts
    • Have senioirs (12th or 8th) lave a memorable event from thier time at the school, or leave the incoming students tips on how to survive.
  • School Rules
  • Sports Clips
    • Upload your school best sports highlights to a grid topic
  • Great for EL and Foreign Language
    • create FlipPals; join classes from other countries of students who speak the language you are studying.
  • Flipgrid Booths at School Dances
    • Forget photobooths! FlipBooth is so much more! Leave comments about the dance, or messages to friends who are or are not there.

Flipgrid in YOUR everyday Life:

  • Birthday/Wedding Wishes
    • Dont go around asking people to say a quick wish to the man/woman of the hour, leave the flipgrid code/QR code in the program and let them wish them well on their own time. Even people who cant attend can participate!
  • Conference Presenter Quick Looks
    • record 30 sec presenter slams for each session so your attendees know what to expect from the session and the presenters style!
  • Neighborhood Watch
    • Upload thos videos of the strangers on your block
  • Twitter PD
    • #FlipgridFever

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Kahoot! vs Quizizz

Kahoot vs. Quizizz

I am often asked: Are you Team Kahoot! or Team Quizizz?
I reply I play for both teams!

Both apps have as place in my class and they should have a place in yours as well. I like to use Kahoot! for Monday review of games that are no longer than 10 questions. I like to use Quizizz for reviews that are up to 40 questions. Let me tell you why and give you a quick over view of each.

Create a Kahoot! HERE
Play a Kahoot! HERE

Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform where the teacher controls the pace of the review and puts a timer on the length of the questions. The students view the question up on the main board, and the students select the answer with the corresponding question on their device. After each question the students are ranked and the top five leaders appear on the main board. 
  • The teacher can select the game to be played in classic mode, where the students play individually or Team mode, where the students play in a team of three. 
  • I only play Kahoots with questions of 10 or less to prevent students who are in last place from giving up and dragging the game on for as long as possible.
  • Teachers are provided with instant feedback of correct vs inccorect after each questions to review the material right there for the students to understand.
  • Teachers can create their own lessons from scratch OR use/modify pre-existing reviews from the community.
  • Teachers are provided with a spreadsheet of analytics if they wish to review the students progress for their records. 
  • Have students create their own Kahoots to show their knowledge. Only downside is that they have to create their own accounts so this could be a sticky situation with student privacy Laws.
  • Easily put a Kahoot Play button on your Google Classroom as a Topic Item.

Create a Quizizz HERE
Join Quizizz HERE
Quizizz is also a game-based learning app, the difference here is that students pace themselves, student directed, and can be played with the class as a whole using the live function, or as "Homework" to be played when the student is ready.
  • All is true about Quizizz which I said above about Kahoot, but since it is student paced and they have the the game on their machine, they have more ownership of the review and can last form longer sessions than Kahoot.
  • On the live version there are three different types of analytics to view on the teachers dashboard:
    • Overall Correct vs Incorrect answers
    • Individual Student Progress on the "Racetrack Screen"
    • Individual question correct vs. incorrect.
  • Integrated with Google Classroom, easily push the game with the code to Google Classroom for easy one click access.
  • Homework mode can be played in class or at home. They play against all students who are reviewing the material, but at their own time. Great to use for team teaching across the hall, across the state, or across the world.
  • You can create your own quiz, or copy/edit from the gallery. You can even create your own by borrowing individual questions from multiple pre-made quizizz. 
  • Crowd Source questions from your students with this easy trick:
  • This trick prevents the hassle of students needing permission to create their own account. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Augmented Reality. AR, is used in the classroom to enhance a student's learning and increase engagement in the classroom setting.  I have found that the use of Augmented Reality can motivate, excite, and give equity of a lesson to the students. Here are a few ways I have encouraged my students and staff to incorporate AR into school activities.

Aurasma Projects:

I love Aurasmas ability to allow the teacher and or student to overlay a multimedia aspect on top of a selected target image. Because of this I have used aurasma in a variety of different ways throughout the year in and outside the walls of my classroom.

  • Interactive Classroom\Lab Rules

    • In class I find that over time the walls of my classroom become static. The pictures and classroom rules which seemed to be placed in the perfect place at the beginning of the year, become white noise as the months progress. Because of this I decided to allow students to create short videos which represent what the poster or rule is trying to convey. These short videos can be something as simple as a motivational pep talk from one student to another, or a “do and don’t” set of rules for the laboratory setting. I take these student created videos and overlay them with Aurasma on to the posters on the classroom wall. Throughout the year i change the videos based on student submission, creating a changing classroom environment throughout the year. With this process I have student coming into my class at lunch with their Aurasma phone app to see if the posters have been changed.

  • AR Digital Yearbook

    • A few years back I noticed that our student yearbook team had a lot of free time in class once the yearbook went off to the publisher. This left one to two months of free time for the normally busy crew. As an Idea I introduced our team and their advisor, Sheryl Milhous, to the idea of “Aurasmatizing” our yearbook. I explained that since the yearbook was already done we can get with our videography team and match already made videos to their pictures in the yearbook. After a short explanation the team was off and running, “Aurasmatizing” as many pictures they could. The result was an amazing journey, in both print and digital, our our students amazing year. It was such a success that we brought back the “Aurasmatized” for our most recent yearbook. The yearbook advisor, Mrs. Milhous said “This makes our yearbook unique and special, as well, because students love connecting technology and digital devices to everything around them. I realized that using Aurasma helps get even more students “in” the yearbook.  While a photo may feature one, two, or even a group of, students, the video covers several seconds of the event or the context of the photo, and shows even more student faces as they enjoy that moment of the school year experience.”

  • AR Digital Sports Program

    • Last year after seeing that the Alta Sierra yearbook had be augmented with Aurasma, our High School (Buchanan High School) asked if I could create an Augmented sports program for their football games. I assured them it could be done with some help and planning in advance. We got together and planned to get our Senior Football players to do a short 1 minute interview on the same days they were getting their team and individual photos taken. Doing the photos and interviews on the same day ensured the photos would transition well into the videos. We asked the seniors to tell us about their position, where they were headed to college, and any message they wanted to tell their parents and/or coaches. Once this was completed I “Aurasmatized” the senior photos with their one minute interview to allow the parents and fans to see their favorite athletes come to life. We also augmented our program dedication page, producing a short video on the life and accomplishments of our districts founder Dr. Floyd “Doc” Buchanan.

  • Back to School Digital Gallery Walk

    • Last year one of my teachers, Brooke Valenzuela, mentioned to me that she wanted to do something amazing for her parents for open house. She wanted to have her parents experience her students work rather than just seeing it. After a few discussions, the idea of using Aurasma to bring the work to life was decided on. Mrs. Valenzuela had her students create a video of their work, the experience of creating it, and why they were proud of it. Once the video was created they used a picture of their work as a “Target” image, then overlaid their video on top of their work. The night of open house her parents took a digital gallery walk through their students work, experience their work first hand in their student’s own words. After the night was over Mrs. Valenzuela said “Both the students and their parents were amazed with how the auras worked. They loved being able to hover their smartphones over the pictures and see them come to life.  It was a really unique and memorable showcase of all the students work.”

  • Personal Tutor at Home

    • Early on in my teaching career, I used to handout paper worksheet to assess my students growth on a particular topic. A problem with this practice was what I asked of those kids who did not finish the work in class. I told them that if they did not finish the worksheet in class it would have to be finished at home as homework. Looking back I know this was not a good practice because one of the many reasons the students did not finish the work in class was because they didn’t know how to do the work in the first place. If they didn’t understand the work while in class, why did I expect them finish and understand the work at home. As a remedy to this problem I would video myself using a DocCam, completing and explaining how to successfully complete the various problems asked in the worksheet. I then used the worksheet as a trigger and overlaid the recorded help video onto the worksheet in Aurasma. Now when my students got stuck on a portion of the worksheet, they would use their aurasma app to a personal step by step guide on how to complete the problems. I became a digital on demand tutor.

  • Science Fair AR

    • This past year we toyed with the idea of augmenting our students science fair boards for our county and state science fair participants. We decided it would be a good idea to have our students record and document the trials, experiment, and data explanations. On the board our students placed pictures in the necessary locations and augmented them with their hypothesis, data/graph explanations, and results. The result was a board they dug deeper into the results than a normal type and printed project would have done. This coming year we will dig deeper into how AR can transform our boards like no board has ever been put together.

  • Student created Book Review AR videos

    • Our library has lots of posters to encourage kids to read. These poster were like movie posters to me, which got me thinking about movie trailers and movie reviews. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if a student could see a review of the book by a student or a trailer of the book to decided if they should read it or not? So we decided to ask students to record reviews, which we would then Augment over the poster so students would be able to listen to the advice of one of their fellow students about the book. Once the poster was taken down, the poster was removed as the trigger image of the review and replaced by the book cover image. This way over time our books will have more and more reviews attached to them right off the shells. This coming year I plan on working with our teacher librarian to introduce green screen videos to see if we can get students to create creative trailers for the books as well.

Elements 4D

  • AR Element Bonding Lab

    • Elements 4D is an AR app from Daqri that brings elemental blocks to life right in the hands of the students. Because of the power this app has to inspire awe and amazement in my students eyes, I was trying to figure out a way to convert its use from a demonstration into an actual lab. After trial and error I decided to put together a bonding lab that incorporated covalent/ionic bonding, equation balancing, and the students favorite digital device. I asked my students the night before to download the Element 4D app from the play/app store while they were at home. When they came in I randomly handed out the the element block templates, there are six different templates with six different elements on each one, to each of my students printed on card stock. I asked my students to lightly shade in the elements which would have a positive ionic charge one color and also shade in the elements that would have a negative ionic charge another color. Student would then walk the classroom with their blocks placing them next to another students block. If the elements were able to bond the app would transform them into the compound they would create in real life along with the compounds balanced equation. For example, if a student had the element sodium (Na+) and touched it with another student with the element chlorine (Cl-) they would see that it makes the compound salt (NaCl). The student would record their bonding results on their lab sheet, and then find another element to bond with. Soon the students started to see that elements with opposite ionic charges formed ionic bonds. This was a fun and exciting lab for both my students and myself.


  • About me ARt

    • On the opening week of class I like to get to know my students through a little art project called :About Me Art. In this project my students would be given a blank piece of paper and asked to draw five things that represent them. I thought it would be fun to use this project as a way to introduce my students to augmented reality by instead of handing them blank paper I gave them a choice of a Quiver Flag, Starbucks cup or Dot Day target. In the targets blank space they would draw in color five things that represented them. For the flag I said to imagine that they were a country, what five things would represent you as a country. For the Starbucks cup I said what if instead of your name the barista had to list five things that represent you and that what they would call out to give you your drink. My students had a blast finding the quiver app and watching their drawings come to life. What great ARt!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hacking Remind

Ok, before you start reading let me let you in on the idea of hacking and educational tool. I am not referring to the tactic of breaking into a digital location and lurking around. I would never want any of my favorite edu-tools to be hacked by you or anyone. When I use the work "Hack" here I am referring to a practice of turning the tool on its head, and begin utilizing it in a way that it was not original attended. I believe ALL of our educational tools can and should be "Hacked" in this fashion to best benefit our kids each and every year. Below I will layout some of the ways I have used remind in the past to increase student engagement even when they are not in my class.

Lunch Time Scramble
I love keeping my student on their toes, both in and outside my classroom. Because of this I am know to throw out lunchtime questions via remind to keep my students thinking. These questions can be as simple as "What is Newtons 3rd Law" or as complicated as "What is the balance equation of Photosynthesis?" Regardless, I throw these questions out to my students during lunchtime. My students are instructed that if they know the answer and are the first to write the correct answer on the board in my room, they will win a prize. It is hilarious to see the door burst open with 5 to 10 students rushing to the board to answer a science question with a white board pen in one hand and a burrito in the other. 

Lunch Time Photo Scavenger Hunt
No that remind allows students to message you back via the remind app, scavenger hunts are so much fun. At Lunch I will ask my students: "Science is all around us, look around. Try and find any instances of Newtons 1st, 2nd, and 3rd law in action right now. Take a picture and tell me how it represents one of the three laws. Best picture and description wins a prize." It is great to see our lunchtime photo journalists out in the field surveying the field of their fellow students trying to find science in action.

Vacation Photo Chasin': Random Acts of Science
Just because our students are on vacation doesn't mean they have to be away from learning with us. Charge your student to think back on what they have learned so far and take pictures during their vacation and post them through the remind messaging feature in the remind app. Its fun for the students to see science in their favorite vacation spot, and fun for you to get random acts of science from your students over vacation. And why just do this over vacation? Encourage Random Acts of Science throughout the whole year!!!

 I do not claim to be the only educator in the world utilizing Remind in the hacked fashions listed above, but I had not yet seen a blog post listing these learning opportunities. If you are an educator who uses remind as told in the descriptions above AWESOME! Let me know and share out with the community. If you use remind in a way I have not listed PLEASE share out and let us know, I will update this post with any new ideas and be sure to link your info along with the addition. Now Lets Get Hacking!!!