Monday, March 16, 2015

21 Day Twitter Challenge

For this blog post, I'm actually linking you to another blog post on my Learning Commons website. It's a 21 Day Twitter Challenge! I'm challenging the McGowen staff and anyone else who feels inclined to join us. In fact, it would be much more powerful if other campuses (RJE:)) joined us so there is more collaboration and we are connecting with more people. The power of Twitter really becomes evident when you collaborate and connect with people you've never met F2F (that's face to face, but in Twitter language).

I hope we have great participation in the Twitter Challenge! It starts THIS THURSDAY, March 19 and runs through April 8, 2015. The 21 days includes weekends, because Twitter truly is anytime, anywhere learning:)

If you're going ALL IN with us, use the hashtag #21daystwitter when you post. During the challenge, I'll post to this hashtag with (hopefully) other helpful hints and links that can make you a Twitter pro!

Have fun! Reach out to Melanie Burford or Laura Bates if you have any Twitter questions.

Here is the link to more information about the challenge and your daily tasks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Googlicious Apps, Extentions, and Add Ons

I was fortunate to go to the Google Academy at TCEA this year.  I learned sooooo much about how we can use Google tools to create engaging and authentic learning experiences by collaborating and accessing their work inside and outside the classroom!  One of the concepts I was able to explore was Google Apps, Extensions, and Add Ons.  Google Apps are software programs that you can install to your Google account, and Google Extensions are mini programs that modify and enhance the Google Crome browser.  Add Ons are features within Google products that enhance its functions.

I went to a session at TCEA where Monica Martinez (Google GURU), shared a Chrome Webstore Extension and App Database sorted by content areas.  Check it out!

At last week's Technology Committee Meeting, Denise did some further teaching on Google, then she had them spend some time in the Google Chrome store exploring Apps, Extensions, and Add Ons as well as taking a look at the above database link.  Denise shared a Google Doc for them to add apps and extensions that they felt would be useful to our students and staff.  You can access the RJE's Favorite Google Apps, Extensions, and Add Ons list and feel free to add any that you come across that you think are especially useful!

Jan wanted to share something, so she is my guest blogger!

I discovered a cool Google App called Loupe Collage.  You can create a photo collage in many different shapes using your pictures on your computer or those on your Facebook or Instagram page. You can even use photos that you upload from the web.   It is so easy.  Try out Loupe .  It's LOTS of FUN.

Jan will get 5 stars on her cape for sharing and being a guest blogger.  If you find something share worthy, you can add it to the RJE's Favorite list or write up a blurb, and I will make you a guest blogger.  Sharing is caring (and remember, every 5 stars on your cape is a chance to win a iPad mini on June 5th)!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Contact Groups in Google Drive

Hello Everyone!
I recently learned another Google Drive tip that is definitely worth's Contact Groups. If you ever want to share folders, documents, presentations with a group of people (like your class), you can do it by sharing it with a group, rather than sharing it with individual people and having to keep up with anyone's email or Google username. Watch this video to find out how to create your own contact group within Google Drive:

If you give Contacts a try, let me know! I'd love to know how it's working with your students, your grade level, or your PLC.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Laura's New Favorite

Hello!  Last week we heard about Melanie's new favorite,
so I wanted to share my new favorite with you this week!
It is a web based design site called Canva.  It is FREE and super cool!  You can design presentations, posters, cards, invitations, photo collages, and much more!
It has a design school, tutorials...looks very professional.  After you finish your design, you can download it as an image, a pdf, or get a link to it.  There is even a free iPad app!  
I showed it to Michelle, and she was all over it!  How could you use it?  Let me know and I will give you a star for your cape!

Friday, October 24, 2014

I think I Have a New Favorite...

App for the iPad! It's really difficult for me to commit to saying I have a "favorite," but right now Shadow Puppet EDU is the winner! I am thinking of so many uses for it!

In a nutshell, Shadow Puppet allows you to create a slideshow very easily and quickly. Features of Shadow Puppet that I love:

  • You can add photos and video clips
  • You can overlay text
  • You can draw on the screen as you're recording with an emoji or a "magic wand" (This is my favorite part!!)
Here is a video created with Shadow Puppet, demonstrating how to use Shadow Puppet:

I've been looking for a good "slideshow" app for awhile - one that was user-friendly, that didn't have "hiccups" and worked seamlessly. I've had great luck with this app! Also, be sure to look for the magic wand feature - definitely something sets this app above from the rest - IMO, of course:)

Check out the Shadow Puppet EDU website sometime. There are lesson plan ideas, sample projects, etc. You can also follow Shadow Puppet EDU on Twitter - @puppet. I've tweeted a couple of times about the app and they always reply or mention it on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Class Dojo

Sarah Kile is our first guest blogger of the year!  She wrote this article on Class Dojo.
Class Dojo is a fairly new app that allows teachers to recognize both positive and negative behaviors in real time during class.  Good behavior, such as working hard, helping others, or participating, earns points and a high-pitched game-show chime for all to hear.  Behavior that “needs work”, like disrupting others, being off task or wasting time, results in a loss of points and a sad, out-of-tune bass sound.  I have been using this app as positive reinforcement.  Every time the high-pitched chime sounds, each student is looking at the board eager to see if it is them that earned points.  I have noticed that the amount of hard work and on task behavior has heightened since using the app.

There’s several great features of this app.  One is obviously acknowledging those students who do the right thing and behave accordingly.  Another fun feature is that the kids can choose their avatar.  They can choose a purple bear with yellow lips and a horn, a one-eyed furry gray creature, a blue fluid octopus, and many more.  This allows them to take ownership of not only their avatar, but also their behavior.

Another great feature is that parents can log into the site at any time during the day and see how their child is behaving at school.  They are able to view what challenges their child is having, as well as what they are consistently doing that is viewed as positive.  When teachers reward points and take away points, there is a comment box where teachers can get more specific in case the parent does log in and looks at their child’s behavior.  It’s a great communication tool and could come in handy during parent/teacher conferences.

So to summarize:
What I LOVE about Class Dojo:
1.  Students pay attention and try to earn points!  They are excited!
2.  Just by rewarding positive points, students exhibiting poor behaviors will usually stop them without me having to recognize the negative behaviors.
3.  I can keep track of a point system electronically!
4.  There is even an app for your iPad or phone so that you can use Class Dojo everywhere!
5.  When you award or take away points, there is a space each day to write a note about the behaviors.  This is great to keep track of behavior management records or parent conferences.

6. It's FREE! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Year THREE of MCG/RJE Tech Superheroes!

It's time to kick off year three of Technology Superheroes! The purpose of this program is to encourage the integration of technology in your classroom, to introduce you to new tools and ideas and to encourage you to problem solve and help each other with technology-related issues. For anyone who is new to McGowen or RJE, here is a brief explanation of this blog and our program:

1. Email Laura Bates (RJE) or Melanie Burford (McGowen) to let them know you want to participate. We will put a sign by your classroom door on which stars for your superhero cape will be displayed.
2. Watch for an email with a update to our Technology Superhero blog. If you try a tech tool mentioned in our blog, email Melanie or Laura with evidence that you used that tech tool. It could be a picture of a student product, a screen shot on your computer, etc. (McGowen is also implementing another way to "turn in" projects this year via a Google Form. More information about that later and in a separate post or email.) Once you have submitted your evidence, you just earned a star for your cape! Laura or Melanie will come by to add it to your Technology Superhero sign.
3. If you help a staff member with troubleshooting a technology issue (that would have been a potential Technology Help Request), have the staff member you helped send a brief email to Melanie or Laura telling us how you were at Technology Superhero Problem Solver! You just earned another star for your cape!
4. You will earn your first star just by accepting the challenge to participate!
5. You may use the blog archive to look at posts from last year and use those ideas. (Example: I LOVE Thinglink and strongly encourage you to try that tool, but I won't write a new blog post about it...yet.) If you read an old post and implement one of those ideas, it will count for a star on your cape.

5 Stars- Jeans pass!
10 Stars- Fuzzy Fingers to clean your laptop/iPad screen, or a decal for your laptop (We will have several for you to choose from.) 
15 stars - choice of a Hub Man (has flexible arms and legs with a USB port at each to allow you to use more tech gadgets with your laptop or Mac Mini) or a USB memory stick. **  

For each 5 stars collected, a raffle ticket will be earned toward a chance to win an iPad Mini*. Drawing will be held on the staff workday, June 5th. 

*The iPad will be checked out to you and it is intended for professional and classroom use. In the event of your transfer away from McGowen or RJE, the iPad must be returned.

And, have no fear, because your Technology Committee is here! Please let your Technology Committee know how we can support you. 

“If the prospect of living in a world where trying to respect the basic rights of those around you–and valuing each other simply because we exist–are such daunting, impossible tasks that only a super-hero born of royalty can address them…then what sort of world are we left with? And what sort of world do you want to live in?” ~Wonder Woman

**Prizes for 10 stars or 15 stars are subject to change without notice, depending on what cool techy goodies we can find at WalMart:)