Teachers Must Do a Tech Inventory - #edtech #elearning #teaching

When it comes to teachers and integrating technology, it is all about what you have -- not what you don't have. But some teachers get hung up on the later. "But I don't have any Flip video cameras at my school, so my students can't make movies."

BERLIN - SEPTEMBER 04:  Visitors look at minia...
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Teachers need to do a tech inventory to see what is available for them when they go to integrate technology into their lessons and projects.

There are three specific areas that teachers must do a technology inventory...

  1. The Classroom: Write down every piece of technology you have in your classroom. ie: teacher's computer, one student computer, tv, etc.
  2. The School: Now go and find all the technology in your school. ie: 1 laptop cart with 28 laptops, 5 digital cameras, computer lab with 32 computers, student response system (clickers), etc.
  3. The District: Some districts have technology just lying around for teachers to check-out. ie: video cameras, USB microscopes, etc.

Now that is a list you can work with! Now you can begin to integrate technology into your lessons and projects.

And for the teacher that said she doesn't have any Flip video cameras, it turned out that she could just use the 5 digital cameras in her school in "movie mode" to record video or check-out a video camera from the district. And she thought her students couldn't make movies.

Let's not fall into the trap of thinking; "I would teach my students 21st Century Skills and technology, but I just don't have the equipment." Look around you, you might be surprised at how much technology is in your classroom, school, and district.

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Leadership Day 2010 - Exploit Their Passions - #edtech #leadershipday10

Today's post is part of the Leadership Day 2010 campaign, a day when bloggers post ideas about how school leaders can advance technology and 21st Century Skills for students and teachers. A How-To Guide To Exploiting Your Teacher's Tech Passions

I believe that one of the most effective ways to get your teachers to embed technology and 21st Century Skills into their lessons and the culture of a school is to find and exploit their technological passions.

Let me explain...

Imagine with me a beginning of the year meeting between a teacher and a principal (minus the chit-chat for brevity):

Principal: Thank you so much for meeting with me. Today I would like to talk about ideas for bringing more tech projects into our school.

Teacher: Okay, great, how can I help?

Principal: Is there anything about technology and teaching that you would like to see in our school?

Teacher: I don't understand?

Principal: Well, is there anything that you like to do with technology, or that you have heard about other schools doing that you would like to try here at our school.

Teacher: I don't know if this is what you are thinking... When I was in college I minored in acting and filmmaking, something I have not thought about for years, but a few months ago when I was watching a few YouTube videos I got a few ideas?

Principal: Ideas?

Teacher: Well, my first idea was about how bad most of the videos were -- from a production and acting point of view. I thought that if only these kids had a few tips about filmmaking and acting, they could do so much better. Tricks that I learned while I was in college. Then I started to think about how my students would love to make videos and put them online, especially for units like the one I teach on the California Gold Rush.

Principal: A video about the California Gold Rush?

Teacher: I imagined that the students could do the research, write a script, and them make a short movie acting out a few scenes from the unit. I think they would have a lot more fun and learn a lot more that filling out the current worksheet.

Principal: What would you need to be able to do this?

Teacher: I think just a cheap Flip video camera and some video editing software.

Principal: Let's give it a try, I think the students will love it. We still need to work out some details like parent permission forms and let's make sure to cover all the 21st Century Skills in the project so we can make it a model projects for other teachers to follow next year. I can use $200 of our tech budget to buy the things that you need and you can take it from there.

Teacher: Wow! That would be great, I'll get started on the lesson plan and rubric right away.


Voila! Happy teacher = happy principal = happy students.

This teacher will now spread his passion for this project to the other teachers in the school, within a few years there could be many great videos being made in this school.

Passion is contagious -- use it.

#edtech - Website Review: Monster Exchange

First off, you can't help but love the name of this website -- Monster Exchange, the name will make sense in a few moments. Monster Exchange was started way back at the birth of the Internet  in 1995, the work of a parent and a teacher that got together to promote literacy among younger students. I love it because of using 21st Century Skills like creativity and collaboration.

Here is how it works: teachers register their classrooms and connect with another classroom in the program, students then email each other descriptions of monsters, which they must then draw, and back and forth things go until a story is written about this monster. There is even a chat room for students to meet and discuss the project. This is a perfect example of schools using technology to promote stronger literacy and edtech skills with their students.

I can't wait to try this with my students this upcoming year.

#edtech - School Technology Survey Shows Slow Growth

The recent Vision K-12 survey given by Software and Information Industry Association shows only a margin of growth by our schools in our students acquiring 21st Century Skills (overall less than a 1% improvement). This got me thinking about my own elementary school and how we would fair in this survey. The survey tracks five different areas of school technology progress by using 20 questions to get a national average of what is happening in our schools with regards to technology and 21st Century Skills. I now want to take a lot at each area to see how my school might fit it.

21st Century Learning Tools: We have worked hard this past year to embed and integrate 21st Century Skills into our lessons. This next year we plan to use Atomic Learning to help fill in any gaps that our teachers might have in their general tech skills. (My score: B+)

Anytime/Anywhere Access to Technology: We are really fortunate in my school that all of our students have access to computers at home. And since we have moved over to using Google Docs, our students can now get to their work from any computer in the world with Internet access. (My score: A)

Differentiated Learning: The teachers in my school have a strong focus on differentiated instruction, it is part of our teaching culture -- so we have no problem with this one. (My score: A)

Assessment Tools: In the past we have done nothing but now that we have subscribed to Atomic Learning we have access to both their teacher and student 21st Century Skills assessment so we hope that this one will be improving this next year. (My score: F)

Enterprise Support: I am going to interpret this area as the support systems for both teachers and students learning these edtech skills. We are working hard in my school to make sure that teachers have access to online professional development that they can access anytime or anywhere that they need, as well as good one on one training to ensure that they use their current classroom technology correctly -- like SmartBoards and document cameras.

Admittedly, I do not have access to the real 20 questions, but the survey did cause me to pause and reflect upon my own school and plan for some improvements.

What do you think of this survey and how would you score your own school?

Teaching Creativity Through Projects

Today I would like to focus my blog post on what I believe is the best what to teach 21st Century Skills and school technology to our students -- projects. The school I taught at before coming to my current school was a PBL or Project-Based Learning school. This meant that most of the concepts and skills that were being taught to students were part of a larger projects -- students love to learn this way. Although most schools really do work this way, this school had made it part of it's formal identity. Just to be clear, my current school teaches a lot through projects as well.

Here is a rough idea at how project-based learning works...

Step One: Define -- give your students a real-world problem or process and ask them to make things better, easier, faster, cheaper, more effective or more enjoyable. This is usually done through a question. For example, in fifth grade this coming year my question might be: "If you lived during the Renaissance, what would you have done to get your work noticed? So that people would be talking about your work hundreds of years later."

Step Two: Plan -- students need to take time to understand information about the subject, through study and research students can use school technology to be better equipped to answer the above question.

Step Three: Do -- using different techniques students then do the project, in the case of the Renaissance question, I will ask my students to produce a podcast.

Step Four: Review -- student finish the project by reviewing each others work and by posting their projects online for the world to see.

If has been my experience that project-based learning can be one of the best ways to teach 21st Century Skills and technology to our students. Rather than just teaching them a random skill like how to edit audio -- just make learning the skill part of a much larger project.

Tech Integration Workshop - Watch Last

Note: Do not do this lesson until you have watched the Watch First video.

Lesson + Action Guide Video:

Once you have watched the video please complete this step in the Workshop Checklist.

Return to the Table of Contents for the Technology Integration Workshop.


Updates to these videos:

Transcription of Videos:

Watch Last Video

Wow I can’t believe it’s over!  I can’t believe the Tech Integration Workshop has now been completed.

So, hey, I hope you have had a great time learning all the things together with me on how to really integrate 21st Century Skills and Technology into your Building.

I just want to review a couple of things because I have got my little worksheet here in front of me, and so… Back in the beginning we really talked about the big picture, and how to understand the need for 21st Century Skills.

I made you order all those books that I hope you have enjoyed reading up until now. And I hope every year you order a few more books on 21st Century Skills.

As well as I hope you are participating in the Nings and the groups, and listening to podcasts, and doing all those great things!

Alright, let’s take a look at a couple of things.  We talked about how you have got to take the lead in it; that it is up to YOU, as the Tech person for your Building, to do all these things.

We talked about the speed bumps of really Time, Money, People and Systems.  Now I hope you feel that all that has been fixed, okay.

So, Time: I have told you all the tricks that I do to try to reduce the amount of time as well as not wasting other people’s time.  You know, I have used the tricks of Atomic Learning for all those things that people can just help themselves to, as well as the other websites and programs that I use.

Money:  We have talked about using only seven items; seven cameras and seven tripods - those types of things - so that you don’t have to buy thirty of something but you can really work on a minimal type of a set-up so that you can save as much money as possible.

People: This has all been about how to work with the people in your Building - how to work with your teachers on getting them to come along.

And I hope as far as Systems are concerned I hope you feel that this is the system that you really need to make this all happen.  So those speed  bumps hopefully have been flattened out and you can go as fast as you want now.

We talked a lot about grade level artifacts and how to design perfect ones for your students in your Building.

Of course the K-T-E-C System:  You have got to Know it, Train it, Embed it and Check it.  And that has been a big thing that we have gone through all those steps to make sure that happens.

We talked also about getting that buy-in from Administration so that you have go the backing of the Principal in your Building so that you can make sure this thing really does go forward.

You should have presented the Technology Plan to your Building so that everybody has kind of bought into it and they are all supporting it.

And then as well as supporting the teachers and everything that they do and learn. You have gathered lesson ideas and then you have embedded digital artifacts into lessons and then given those back to the teachers to be able to teach to the children; as well as combining whatever YOU might do as far as bringing it into your computer lab and those types of things.

We finished off with ideas like continual professional development for your staff, for your teachers there, and how I have got about twenty-five different courses that my teachers sign up to and take with me so that we can get all of that stuff done.

And then finally we gathered a body of evidence; all the proof that our students have 21st Century Skills.  Because remember, that is really how you prove it, you know; you have a student and you have the proof, and that really equals a 21st Century Skills student right there.

And then we finished off with the last video there; just being able to make improvements.  So you take what you have and make it better every year.  And I PROMISE you, I tell you, it just gets so much better!  I look back at the first couple of videos and animations and podcasts that I did with kids, and they were SO bad!  But we had to start somewhere.  And every year we would just get better and better and better because those kids see what is possible and then they want to do BETTER!  And it makes it so much more… it just brings so much more to the table because the kids bring so much more.  And it is just awesome to see!

So I hope all the best for you!  Once again, you can use the contact information on the “About” page if you need to get ahold of me for anything.  But other than that, it has been a great pleasure working with you and I hope all the best for you and your Building - and your students especially, so that they have got the skills that they so desperately need in the upcoming world that they are going to face when they graduate.

Tech Integration Workshop - Step 12: Make Improvements

Note: Do not do this lesson until you have watched the Watch First video.

Lesson + Action Guide Video:

Once you have watched the video please complete this step in the Workshop Checklist.

Return to the Table of Contents for the Technology Integration Workshop.


Updates to these videos:

Transcription of Videos:

Lesson & Action Guide

Hello again everyone.  Welcome to the Tech Integration Workshop here at SchoolTechnology.Org.  My name is Brad Flickinger - and welcome to Step 12 of the Tech Integration Workshop, which is called “Make Improvements.”

Now this is the last Step and we only have one more video after this, which is called the “Watch Last” video.  But this is really it; this is the last come-together for everything to work out - and that is “Make Improvements.”

Alright!  So, for improvements to happen, you need to record data along the way.  So you need to have some place where you start and some place where you are going.  So for me to be able to reflect back over time I use my reports that I have.  And so every month I give my Principal a monthly report basically saying the things that are happening this month technologically, and with 21st Century Skills, in the Building - just so I can keep track of what happens in October or what happens in November.

And then on that report is a little line I have on there for making improvements - like, “Allow an extra week for podcasting,” say, or, “Animation happened a lot faster than we anticipated so subtract a week off of that - those type of things; so I have a little list of improvements.

And then, although my Superintendent hasn’t asked for it, I send him an annual report of basically the state of the school that I am in with regards to technology;  so the great things that we are able to do.  And then on that report I will send links to the website to show off some of the great things that the students are doing. And really I just want it so that the Superintendent knows that in our Building 21st Century Skills are being taught.  So if he is ever asked when he is out and about and doing all of his superintendent things, like, “Hey, what are you doing about 21st Century Skills in your schools for your students?” he can say, “You know what?  I was just looking at something the other day and I saw this incredible animation that happened in one of our elementary schools…”  Just for those… and it is very brief - “This is what we’re doing.  This is what’s happening.”

But, again, it allows me to be accountable and to make improvements by seeing what happens from year to year and from month to month.

Now, you HAVE to keep the digital artifacts fresh - meaning that, you know, what is “hip” and cool, and the students are into it this year, it might not be that way a few years from now.

Let me give you an example: Right now in 2010 Facebook is the thing to have. Kids are using Facebook all the time. But if I was to be still teaching lessons on MySpace, it would be a joke!  The kids don’t use MySpace any more! I don’t know who’s still left using MySpace but it is certainly not the kids around me!

So you see, you have to… even though one social media has just been replaced by the other one, they are very similar - you HAVE to keep with the freshness of what you are teaching. Because the last thing you need are kids coming into a classroom and rolling their eyes going, “Are you kidding? We’re going to learn about 5 ¼ inch diskettes?” or something, you know?  Things like that - you have got to keep it fresh.

Not meaning that you start from scratch every year - but you take a look at your digital artifacts and just say, “Hmm, okay.  Animation - yes, still good, still really good for my kids to learn. Let’s see… podcasts - yes, still very relevant...” - those types of things.  You just take a quick look at it; make any final tweaks to it - just to keep things fresh.

And, boy, I tell you, any time there is a change or anything you have GOT to always be there for the teachers saying, “Oh, you know, we kind of adjusted / we got new software for recording audio - let me come in and teach you, show you…” whatever differences there might be with what they are familiar with - those types of things. You have got to support the teachers one hundred percent in any little minor changes that come through the curriculum or through the program - those types of things.  So always do that.

As well as take a look at those twenty-five to thirty different courses that you offer your teachers and see if any of THOSE need to be updated and refreshed to keep them current.

And then finally, I spend my summers taking all this together and making whatever improvements that might need to happen on these projects.  So for example, right now it is summer 2010 and I am really digging into the web show that my kids have produced - and you can see a shot of it right here.

I didn’t like how some of the things were coming together but I LOVED a lot of the other parts.  So I am just trying to tweak a couple of those things.

So I have a list of I think about forty / forty-five items, of just little improvements I want to make across the whole gamut of things that I take care of for technology.

And the great thing about having the summer is that when the kids start I get a whole new crop of kids that come into these certain programs and then it is just like, “Okay, now this is how we do it this way…”  And I am not trying to get out of them the old system because they might not be familiar with that.

So I really do spend my summers doing improvements.  And that is what I am recommending for you to do too.

So, hey, welcome to the end of the whole Tech Integration Workshop.  I will see you just for a couple of parting words in the “Watch Last” video.  But other than that, good luck with everything! I hope you have learned a lot and I hope your school is improving all around you with 21st Century Skills. It is something that you can be really proud of.

And thanks again for being with all this.  My name is Brad Flickinger, with SchoolTechnology.Org.  See you!

Tech Integration Workshop - Step 11: Gather a Body of Evidence

Note: Do not do this lesson until you have watched the Watch First video.

Lesson + Action Guide Video:

Once you have watched the video please complete this step in the Workshop Checklist.

Return to the Table of Contents for the Technology Integration Workshop.


Updates to these videos:

Transcription of Videos:

Lesson & Action Guide

Hello once again and welcome back to the Tech Integration Workshop here at SchoolTechnology.Org.  My name is Brad Flickinger, and welcome to Step 11 of our 12-Step series here - and it is called “Gather a Body of Evidence.”

Now, as we have talked in the past, back in the first couple of Steps, we use a K-T-E-C System, so K is for Knowing, T is for Training, E is for Embedding - and now we are finally at C, which means to Check on the work that has been done.  And this is what this is all about:  A body of evidence is all those little pieces you put together that PROVES your teachers and your students have 21st Century Skills in your Building.  And that is what it is all about - that body of evidence.

Because remember, for the most part - I mean, it is starting to get a little more popular out there - but for the most part none of the skills that you have taught these students will show up on a standardized State or National test.

Now, 21st Century Skills are being added to a lot of State testing.  But for right now, like in my State of Colorado, everything I have taught them about podcasting, and creativity, and collaboration - all those things like that - would just not show up in a normal standardized test.  So you need to have a different way of collecting the data.

And really we said 21st Century Skills deserves 21st Century assessment - and so we get little artifacts; digital artifacts are what you are looking for.

So we want to celebrate the successes of the students.  So students that were shy are now suddenly doing podcasts, or movies - those types of things; that had a hard time in other academic areas can excel in animation and… you know, it just… So you want to find all those moments when the whole system is working and students are having a great time, teachers are having a great time, and you want to celebrate those with either an evening of showing things off, or an assembly - whatever - but find a way to celebrate the successes in your Building.

And of course I don’t mind putting in a little bit of a competition and awards.  Now I spread out my awards; so for example when we make a documentary, we have “Overall Best Documentary,” we have “Best Cinematography,” “Best Sound…” So we have different categories so that there are different winners in there.  And it is not like we are trying to give a blue ribbon to everybody for participating because I don’t think that is authentic.

But I think if someone really has exceptional, let’s say, cinematography; how they film everything is so beautiful, see you can use that the next year when you show the upcoming students, and say, “Now, why did this one win Best Cinematography? Why did this one win Best Sound?”  And all the kids are like “Oh, you know, because we can understand everything that’s being said, and the sound track’s not too loud…”  All those things you collect, all those things - and of course these students walk home with an award for doing something really, really good on a project.

And so we have competitions in my schools with all these digital artifacts, and then we have little awards; and we just get simple trophies and those types of things to give out.

Now, you can see I crossed out here this whole idea of “Audience of One.”  And that is because these kids work hard to produce all these things and now it is time to put them out there for the world to see, in a SAFE way.  So you don’t want to be putting their full name and address and those types of things.

But your school website should have some type of an area where you show off the best of student work.  So you show all the best web shows and podcasts and documentaries and animations and all those things; best writing, best photos… those types of things all should go in some type of Showcase so that these kids can get home and realize their aunt and uncles can come to see it; everybody in the WORLD can come to see it - and they just LOVE that idea of being open to the whole world.  And it is great that way.

And also it is really important to gather what I am calling “Best of” examples - again going back to the awards that are given out for like cinematography and sound and stuff.

But think of it from a teacher’s point of view, not a student’s point of view.  So if you have a teacher working on a great digital product, you want to get like the BEST example from the school so when NEW teachers come in, they can go online and see, “Oh! THAT’S what it means when we were going to do an animation about cell structure!” because you are showing them the best possible one there is.  Don’t show them the cheesy ones - show them the really GOOD stuff, so that the teacher goes, “Okay, we are going to use clay, and we’re going to do it this way; and we’re going to take photos, and it is going to end up being an animation.”  They will get it once they can see those “Best of” examples.

And I also like to survey my students with just a simple little survey, just asking how much they enjoyed these projects, what could we do better, what could we do different; what would they do if they were in our shoes - those types of things.

Because, you know, when I gather them all up and look at them over the summer, when I make all the changes to the curriculum and to the ideas, it’s good to look at them with, well, you know, you have got to kind of weigh it out for how much weight you might put on a student survey because sometimes they might be very opinionated in one way or another; just because student doesn’t like to write they might go, you know, “Way too much writing.” Now, that doesn’t really play out.

But you should look for trends though.  So if all of them are saying, “Oh, the project was just way too long,” you go, “Well, okay, let’s not do a five-minute documentary - let’s do a three-minute documentary.  Those types of things are what you are looking for.

And most importantly, when my teachers go back and take the self-assessment that is on Atomic Learning, this is what I am really looking for, is them to come to me and say, “Mr. Flick, look at where we’re at now.”  And you know, I don’t have access to what their information is, but they voluntarily bring it to me and say, “Look at what has happened to ME! I had no idea what a Wiki was..” or a blog - all these things.  And now their classroom is doing all these things and they can show their results from their self-assessment, and they are very happy with it.

And number one is that the STUDENTS are very happy with being able to acquire 21st Century Skills.  So THEIR self-assessment is way up, that they take on Atomic Learning.

So suddenly, you know, we are seeing these big, huge leaps in one or two years of students now having great 21s Century Skills.  And THAT is what it is all about.

So gather all this body of evidence - because in Step 12 we are going to talk about making just those minor improvements that you need to do to it.

Tech Integration Workshop - Step 10: Continual Professional Development

Note: Do not do this lesson until you have watched the Watch First video.

Lesson + Action Guide Video:

Once you have watched the video please complete this step in the Workshop Checklist.

Return to the Table of Contents for the Technology Integration Workshop.


Updates to these videos:

Transcription of Videos:

Lesson & Action Guide

Hello everyone.  Welcome back to the Tech Integration Workshop here at SchoolTechnology.Org.  My name is Brad Flickinger - and welcome to Step 10 which is “Continual Professional Development.”

This one is going to be another one of the combo videos where we are going to have the lesson as well as the action guide kind of put together all in one.  And you will especially see that near the end of the Steps here, just because so much at the beginning was based on action; there is so much work to do; where now it is more just inspirational-type stuff.  I am going to show you what I am doing and then you can just replicate that in your own school.  So this is what we are going to get here.  There is only one vide on this one here.

Alright, so what I want to start off with is just giving you a taste of the professional development that I offer in my school.  And I offer about anywhere from twenty-five to thirty just topics that go on all the time.  And these kind of change from year to year, but most of them stay the same.  And you will get an idea what they are, and if you have worked with teachers you will agree with what you see here.

And they are in no particular order - but these are what I offer my Building.  And again, they can come Tuesdays before school, Wednesdays after school; I can meet with them one-on-one during planning times - all those things, so that they have these ready to go.

So the first of course being district email.  Because new teachers that move into our district, they need to know how to use the district email because we do so much of our correspondence through that.  So we have a quick little course on how to use our web-based district email and that goes pretty quick.

Now the other thing I really go for right at the beginning is how to use our Atomic Learning subscription, because SO much of the professional development they might want is on Atomic Learning.

So if they want to learn how to do a podcast they can go to the Workshop there.  If they want to learn how to do a Wiki; Workshop.  If they wan to do… you know, all those types of things.  Blogging; go see the blogging workshop.

So it just saves up so much of my time that I don’t have to sit there and meet one-on-one with all these teachers to cover the same subject.  Now there are some things that obviously are not covered by the Atomic Learning subscription, like my district email.  So I have to do that one-on-one.  And other things, though, I send them right into here.  Especially the “How to find an answer to a Tech question” - so that they can solve their own problems very quickly and easily.  So that works out great that way.

We spend a lot of time to make sure that our teachers understand, know and embed 21st Century Skills.  And we do that with a lot of mixture of different things.  We want to make sure that there are 21st Century Skills being taught all the time in their classes.

We spend time on making sure that they have a nice classroom website that is informative and fresh and current and not getting stale.  We want it always to be updated all the time.  So we work on how a classroom website should be, as well as being able to use Google Docs.

For most of this I send them right back into Atomic Learning but there are a few things that are particular to our Building and how we share things within our Google Docs.  And they need to know how to get in, use it, share it, print it - all those types of things.  And that is what we cover in a couple of quick lessons.

We have SMART boards in our classrooms; they are a type of interactive whiteboard.  So of course they need to know how to use the technology that comes in their classroom.  So we have some SMART board basics as well as advanced things - so how to REALLY use their interactive whiteboard effectively in their classroom.

We REALLY like using Google Earth at our schools.  So anyone new coming into our Building who doesn’t understand how to use Google Earth, we give them a nice little refresher course on this, and again then send them back into Atomic Learning for some more particular “How to use it in the classroom;” how to use Google Earth that way.

Ah, using ePals:  Now we love it when our classrooms connect with other classrooms all across the country and all across the world; and they can Skype to each other, and just exchange emails, comment on each other’s blogs.  And so teachers need to know how to get into ePals, how to search for another classroom and how to communicate using the ePals platform.

Now, again, every one of our classrooms comes with a document camera so teachers have got to know how to use their document camera in their classroom.  And it’s funny because when people first come in and they maybe have not used a document camera before - a new teacher - they are like, “Oh, do I really want to have this?”  And then you check back in two months later, after they have been trained, and they are like, “Oh no, this is the BEST thing I have ever had in my classroom!”  They just LOVE document cameras!

And also our classrooms come with a sound system that have both a wireless mic and then a landured mic that goes on them; and they need to know how to use that system effectively so that when they play a video off their computer, that it plays through the whole sound system; or put a DVD in and it plays through it, as well as the microphones in the room.  So they need to have an understanding of that.

And then also we share what we think are the best websites for - depending on what Grade you are talking about or what subject - but, you know, Math websites, Social Studies.  You know, if you are studying all about Columbus; “Well here is a great website…” - and so we keep track of that on a bookmark, social bookmarking-type website so that we all know and share what the best websites are.  So we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we start taking out a subject every year.

And now let’s kind of finish off with this one here.  And many of you are sitting back going, “Okay, those are some really great things - but how do you get teachers to do it?  How do you get teachers to show up and to take these things?

Well, I am really fortunate in being in a fantastic school where the teachers just WANT to do it.  But I have been in other schools where it has been like pulling teeth sometimes, to get teachers to come and take professional development when it comes to technology.

And so I have a little one-word answer for you here - and that is “Bribe!”  And when I work with administrators, we all agree that money is going to be spent on technology in a Building. All the time.  Even if you are broke right now, I mean, money does come.  Technology money comes the way of buildings and schools all the time.  And it might take a couple of years - but essentially you get it.

And then what we tell administrators is, “Since you are going to have it, you spend it where it is going to be used.”  And you know it is going go be used if someone is taking professional development.  So it is kind of a bribe.  But let’s see you take all these classes.  Well of course, when it comes time to buy a classroom set of flip video cameras, well they are going to go to YOU because you have proven that you use 21st Century Skills and you have done all the other things, and you have a classroom website.  And you need this kind of stuff.  And that goes for all the kinds of things like document cameras and SMART boards and all those kinds of things - put the resources where they will be used.

This isn’t about spreading it out evenly among all the people.  If you have got people that are refusing to learn technology, then you just can’t be dumping technology in their classroom.  And I would rather use a carrot than a stick; so it is just great that when administrators come in and they already planned for the future, and they know that they want to get let’s say a digital camera for every classroom, so they can do that.  And then they might say, “Okay, once you have built your classroom website, and that’s up and running and you have had it going for three months, and I can see that your blog is always up-to-date, then you will get a digital camera.  Because then you can use it to add more photos to your classroom website.”

So make sure the bribes tie in with what you want to do there.  I wish there was an easier way that I could do it for you - but that is how I have done it in the past.

So that is kind of a review of the continual professional development that goes on in my building week after week, month after month during the school year, so that they are always staying on top of this.  And they might take a course like on Google Docs with me in the beginning of the year, and then they might again take a couple of refresher classes on Atomic Learning just before they need to teach a lesson - those kinds of things.  So it really is interesting to see how it all comes together.

Tech Integration Workshop - Step 8: Gather Lesson Ideas

Note: Do not do this lesson until you have watched the Watch First video.

Lesson + Action Guide Video:

Once you have watched the video please complete this step in the Workshop Checklist.

Return to the Table of Contents for the Technology Integration Workshop.


Updates to these videos:

Transcription of Videos:

Lesson & Action Guide

Hello everyone, and welcome finally to Step 8 which is “Gather Lesson Ideas” of the Tech Integration Workshop here at SchoolTechnology.Org.  My name is Brad Flickinger - and let’s get right into it!

But before I do, this is kind of a bit of a hybrid type lesson because I am going to put together the lesson part and the assignment part all into one mix-up right here. And you will see why - because I will talk a little bit about what I do, and then I’ll talk a little about what you should do.  And it only kind of works for this Step.  You’ll get an idea what we’re doing here!

Alright!  First part I want to REALLY get clear here is PLEASE do not work in isolation when it comes to you and the technology for your building and integration, and 21st Century Skills.  It will drive you crazy, okay?  Don’t try to be a little “island of technology in the sea of your school!”  You want to DEFINITELY work with your teachers!

So what I do is I put aside some time, to be able to come into their classrooms, help them out a little bit, work with their students, work with them, talk to them about what they are covering and how they like to teach things.  It gives you that connection so that in Step 9 when you go to embed these 21st Century Skills into  the lessons you will get their style, you will get their kids.

And that only happens by going in and interacting with the teacher AND the students to see what is going on.  And you will be surprised - because you will be like, “Oh, I really kind of see this different style here. That would be really good for my projects I want to do with presentation software,” or “Oh, I see these kids are really like this - and that would be great when I want to incorporate spreadsheets into it.”  Maybe you are covering the Math department and you want to go in and see the things there, and you can go see and, “Oh, we can do graphs, we can do charts…” - all those great things.

So, interact with your teachers and observe what is going on in their classrooms.  And make sure - well actually probably don’t call it an “observation” because that sounds very “Administrator-ish!” - just tell them you want to come by and see what is going on.

And what I like to see is how the students actually interact back with the teachers, and get a feel for what they are capable of. Because sometimes, if you just see them in the computer lab, they are only doing one type of thing and you don’t really see what they are capable of. And you can say, “You know what? I can really push these little Third Graders to do bigger and better things because I have seen what they have done in their classroom.”  Those types of things you will learn.

And once you have done those observations, then it is time, like I do, I sit down with my teachers one-on-one to kind of discuss what I want to do, as the Tech person, and what they have.  And usually at the time they bring out their curriculum map for the whole year; they lay it out and say, “Well is this is what I cover in August, and September and October…” - so you get an idea.

And you can point to something and say, “Okay, here I see that you teach about Russia, right here.  Well that is about the time I want to be able to teach the students how to use podcasting AND Google Earth - so how about I take some of that from you and I do like the Geography section, and then they can do some of the History of Russia, those types of things. We will make it into a podcast, and I can get that back to you and you can grade that and maybe we can replace this little Quiz area right here?”

And then you’re working together!  That’s perfect! That is how you can take some workload from them and at the same time you get that classroom connection that you so desperately need because, I mean, if you just teach them podcasting without the classroom connection, there is not really any BANG behind it, and there is certainly not even the grading and those type of things - where THIS finally the kids get it because it is coming at them from all these different angles and it has purpose behind it.  And teaching without purpose behind it is USELESS.  So put some purpose behind it.

And then I also like to work with the whole Department.  So I might meet with the Third Grade team or the English Department or Math Department in the older Grades, so that you get an idea and can say, “Oh, you’re covering Math. Okay, I can work into my spreadsheets these types of things during this month here…”

And then you get that nice little mingling.  Because you are going to need this type of information for Step 9.

So watch your teachers; meet with your teachers - and then what you are going to be surprised is how great it all comes together when you have done all these Steps because, you know, here are some students with their teacher going, “Hey look!  We’re studying the Renaissance.  We’ll check out our Renaissance Blog that we did in Computer class that matches what you’re doing in here!  And here’s some Artwork here, and here’s our comments on the Renaissance Art.  And here’s our comments on Leonardo da Vinci; and here’s a blog about him...”  All those things.

Everybody gets connected - and THAT’S what you are looking for.

So do those things for Step 8, like I said:  Watch your teachers, meet with your teachers.  And then in Step 9  we will be able to put all those ideas together.  And try to get any bits and pieces of information you can, like their curriculum maps and those types of things so that for Step 9 you are well ready to go on.

Thank you very much!

ISTE 2010 Denver - Edtech Geeks Unite!

This summer ISTE's annual conference will be practically in my own backyard -- Denver, Colorado (it used to be called NECC if your are confused).

This is the event to be at if you are into technology and education.

There will be tons of workshops on everything you could possibly imagine and even a few that you never thought were possible. Thousands of people just like you an me are at one location for three magical days. You will finally not feel alone in your struggles with school technology integration. (It's okay to wipe away a tear now.)

One of my favorite parts of the conference is to see all the exhibitors -- to see the latest and greatest in education technology. I usually get my best ideas from talking to the many vendors. Last year I got interested in Atomic Learning and LEGO WeDO from the demonstrations I saw the conference when it was in Washington, D.C. I have already started my list of exhibitors I want to see this year.

I always return from these conferences with my edtech-batteries recharged and ready for another year of teaching and integrating school technology. The ISTE annual conference is probably the singular most important event I do for my career as a teacher.

So you can see why I got excited when Atomic Learning asked me to speak at their booth on Monday and Tuesday on integrating 21st Century Skills and on teaching with netbooks and iPads, now I get to be able to share my ideas with the attendees (a chance to pay back for all the ideas I steal each year). So stop by if you get a chance, you'll finally get to meet the man behind the blog.

See you next month.

The Power of USB Microscopes

A few summers ago I was asked to teach at a summer camp for young gifted and talented students. The class I was teaching was CSI, so the students got to play with all sorts of things like evidence and special equipment. I had almost everything I needed to teach the class except a microscope.

I was working with a budget so I knew that I couldn't just go out and get a $1000 school microscope that I was used to having. So in a crunch I went to a local toy store and bought a $70 Digital Blue USB microscope and boy was I shocked when I started to use it.

First off, USB microscopes are way cooler for students to use than those regular laboratory-type ones. This one was light and plastic, with see-through parts so you could see all the insides of the microscope.

Next, the software that runs the microscope is the best part about it. You can turn on the top or bottom light, record video or just take a photo. Try doing that with a regular school microscope.

You can even pop the microscope off the stand and use it on a person's head to check for lice!

I used these features in my CSI class; students had to find certain parts of key evidence and then take a photo and email me a copy of the photo. For example, they had to match dirt found on a victim to six different dirt samples. This little $70 microscope did the job.

The lesson that I learned from this is that school technology does not have to be expensive to be good. It is not always the rule as you get what you pay for. Sometimes the best solutions to a school technology problem can be the cheapest.

Chasing School Technology

Many times I feel like I am just chasing school technology, an idea that I am never going to catch.

The world of school technology changes everyday so I look for hardware and software that has the longest classroom life possible. If I can get three to four years out of technology I feel successful -- not guilty.

Sometimes I get emails from media/tech people complaining that they had a piece of hardware for only five years and now it needs to be replaced. Or better yet, "We have been using that math software for only ten years."

Come on people! Ten years. This is technology for crying out loud.

Trust me, by the time my hardware or software are getting over three years I am itching to get new.

We need to accept the idea that every time we buy new school technology, we need to budget to replace it in three to four years. For example, let's say your school just dumped $30,000 into new laptops, what are you doing about replacing them in four years? We always need to be thinking about replacing expired technology in our schools, instead of being surprised every time it comes up again.

When I work with administrators about this I usually get them to commit to putting some money aside every year for this very purpose. I ask them to show me what they are doing to keep their school technology fresh and current.

So put your running shoes on and get chasing.

The evils of the Audience of One

I have been ranting about the evils of the "audience of one" for a few years now, but in case you haven't heard about this I shall explain...

Often students are asked to do great projects that are only seen by their teacher or as I call it: the audience of one. Sure they might take it home to show their parents but the students of the 21st Century want so much more.

A lot of the project that are done at my school are posted online. This changes everything. When student realize that the world might see their work, they really step up their game. Some might say that I am crazy for posting the work of elementary students online, but I am not, in fact I am just the opposite. I take the online safety of my students very seriously and I balance that with the student's need to be creators of web content. We constantly review our web safety guidelines as we work on digital projects and in return I get the most amazing results. As you know from previous blogs, we have over 2000 subscribers on iTunes of our daily podcast.

The other night we hosted a red carpet night at the school where we showcased all of the digital video work using different school technology that is done at our school. Projects like claymation, animation, web-shows and our 5th grade movie. Not only were our parents blown away by the incredible work of our students but I think the students were really amazed at what impact their work could have on an audience. They made people laugh, cry and take notice. Something magical happens when a crowd does a standing ovation to something that the student was a part of.

So please, with every chance you get, give your students a larger audience for their projects than just you and your classroom -- you'll be surprised at what you get back.

The iPad in Schools - Week 3

Today I want to talk about the educational apps that I like for my iPad. A few weeks ago I wrote about how I hated that there were so many pre-school educational apps and not a lot for older students. Luckily, a lot has changed in only a few weeks.

Here is a list of apps I like for schools and students:
Drawing Pad - a great little app that allows students to draw anything their little imaginations can think of.
Magic Piano - a fun piano app that have different types of keyboards for students to tinker with music notes.
Math Magic - an app for the younger students who want to practice their general math skills.
PianoMan - a guitarhero-esk type app that allows for dueling piano keyboards, it is loaded with a lot of classical music.
The Elements - if this is the future of textbooks, then count me in. When I want to amaze people with my iPad this is what I show them.
Star Walk - another beautiful app that shows what is possible.
SoundPaper - this app allows student to record lectures and classes while they take notes.
PaperDesk - better than SoundPaper because you can sketch on it as well as make different notebooks.
iBooks - reading books on the iPad is incredible, the screen is crystal clear and easy to follow.

I still believe that the iPad is a game-changer when it comes to school technology. I imagine a day when the only thing that students will need to bring with them to school is a tablet PC. I don't know if it will be the iPad but it is going to be a fun competition to watch.

School Technology Book: Disrupting Class

I am currently reading the book Disrupting Class by Clayton M. Christensen and I am finally not feeling like such a freak. Let me explain...

The tagline to this book is: How Disrupting Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. Which is what got me to buy the book in the first place and, I am happy to say, I was not let down. You see, I have always felt a bit like and outsider looking in, I want to try things differently, I hate the status quo. I want more, new and innovative ideas when working with school technology for students and teachers.

The premise of the book is that the way we learn doesn't always match up to the way that we are taught. So if we want our students to be able to make it in the new digital and global economy, we need to rethink our understanding of intelligence. Which means we need to overhaul our educational system.

I believe the perfect place to start is with school technology, after all we're expected to be constantly changing. If you are still teaching the same tech lessons that you did five years ago -- it is time for a change. Every summer I look at my tech curriculum and throw out the old and add the new.

For example, a few years ago when I was teaching middle school technology and taught a lesson about social media, which at the time it was about MySpace. If I was to give that same lesson today it would be about FaceBook instead. If I was to teach middle school students about MySpace they would make fun of me: "MySpace is so 2008 Mr. Flick."

What is innovative one year, can be a joke the next. So make sure your tech lessons are current and fresh.

Once when I was visiting a school they took me on a tour of their "modern computer lab" the students at the time were working on a worksheet about technology (for the record I hate worksheets) and one of the questions was to have the students label different computer parts, one of which was a diskette. Really -- a diskette. Come on people, we can do better than this.

Tech curriculum should always be in a state of innovation and change, we must keep up with the times.

Podcasting Students - The Lazy Way

I got quite a few emails about yesterday's blog on students that podcast, it seems that a lot of you want to know how my students podcast everyday.

First of all let me just say that my 5th grade students practically podcast by themselves, I am usually just outside the podcasting studio working at my desk. Here is how it all happens...

The assigned students show up at school 15 minutes early. I assign each student a certain day for two months, this gives them enough time to get past being nervous. So for example, one student might be the host for every Tuesday show and another might be the sound-tech for every Monday show. It only takes two students to do a podcast.

The students come into our studio (a room just off of our media center) and start to get the show ready.

The Host:
This student takes a new fill-in-the-blank script and starts by putting in their name and the sound tech's name. Then they fill in the date, announcements, what the hot lunch of the day is and then the sound tech will look up the lunch recess weather and they fill that in as well. They look up any birthdays and finally they look for a joke in a kid's joke book.

The Sound Tech:
This student sits down to the studio laptop, looks up today's lunchtime weather and starts up a soundboard program. The soundboard is loaded with our sound effects and music tracks (royalty-free music). The student does a quick sound check and the waits to do a rehearsal.

Both students do a rehearsal about 6 minutes before "show time."

The Show:
Just before the show starts the sound tech will start our digital recorder and then signals the host to begin. They do the show, complete with music and sound effects and then bring me the digital recorder as they go off to their first class.

Post Show Production:
I take the digital recorder and copy the MP3 to my computer and upload to our website which is connected to our iTunes account which means the show is listed on iTunes with a few hours of being posted on our website. Done, my time is about three minutes to do all of this. I told you I was a lazy podcaster! Podcasting is one of the easiest pieces of school technology to incorporate into your schools.

To check out our podcasting, go to iTunes and search for KBOB or Bethke Elementary.

Podcasting 10-Year-Olds

Today I had the chance to show off my podcasting 10-year-olds. It was part of a demonstration I was giving on what 4th grade students are capable of doing with current school technology.

So in front of 450 local business leaders my two little podcasters did it. I am telling you, I have never been so proud. They were fearless.

I have been podcasting with my students for the past year. Every day they do a podcast of the school announcements each with a little personal twist of their own style. At first it was difficult to get it all together but then we started to work out the bugs and now the students run the whole show. They have over 1700 subscribers on iTunes -- students from all over the world.

The digital natives of today are so used to seeing the world as a potential audience.

You just wait, it won't be long before they are wanting their own dressing rooms with a star on the door.

If you would like to hear our podcasters, go to iTunes and search for KBOB.

My Hatred of Flash Drives

When the idea of students using flash drives (or thumb drives, or USB drives, or whatever you want to call them) first occurred to me I thought "This is going to be great! No more troubles with students taking files to and from the school to their home computers."

This year every student came to school with their own flash drive...

Oh, how wrong I was!

Although my idea was great, the practice of this idea was horrible.

Have you ever had to deal with any of these situations?

1) Student: Mr. Flickinger have you seen my flash drive? It has my report on it and I need to print it out and turn it in. Me: Does your report live anywhere else but on your flash drive? Student: No.

2) Student: Does a flash drive still work if it has been through the washer and dryer?

3) Student: Mr. Flickinger my flash drive doesn't work any more. Me: What are these marks? Student: Oh yeah, my dog chewed on it a bit. Me: Are you kidding me, you are trying the ol' THE DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK line?

By trying to solve one problem with technology, in this case a simple flash drive, I created an even bigger one. Welcome to the world of a tech integration specialist.

The Technology Integration Workshop Q & A

Many visitors to my blog have asked me questions about the Tech Integration Workshop, I would like to spend a few minutes answering some of the most asked questions...

Question #1: Who is this workshop for? The workshop is for anyone who is in charge of educational technology for their school or district.

Question #2: How long will the workshop take? Most people take about six months to complete the workshop. You set your own pace and schedule.

Question #3: What do I get out of the workshop? By the time you are done the workshop you will be an expert on technology integration and embedding 21st Century Skills into lessons. You will also have a School Technology Plan up and running.

Question #4: How much does the workshop cost? Although the workshop is free, I do recommend different books and products to buy, plan on spending a couple of hundred dollars on books and supplies just to get started.