Tech Badges Program Year 2 Successful Start

#edtech #atomiclearning  


Well the kids came back to school and the new and revised tech badges program is up and running smoothly. The kids are excited at the possibilities of earning the tech badges that interest them, after they have earned the required ones, of course.

A few changes for this year:

- I now only hand out badges once a month. So on the last week of each month they get the badges they have earned that past month. Handing them out as they earned them was too disruptive to the class.

- Also on the last week of the month I allow students to work on projects that are one level up from where they currently are. This is to help some of my students that are stuck in a rut -- usually with keyboarding. This once a month chance to work on other projects gives them the motivation they need to kick it into gear and get to the next level.

- I have moved all of my lessons onto the Atomic Learning servers. The students now log-in and get right to work with everything in one place. I would say about 75% of my content is from AL, with the other 25% my own video that I have uploaded to their "custom training" side of things. The nice thing about Atomic Learning is that it is reliable and safe. Sending kids to YouTube for video tutorials can be risky at best. I have had videos that start off nice (on Excel formulas) but the person then drops the F-Bomb about half way through it when a formula doesn't work how he wanted it to. With AL videos I never need to worry about it.

So far so good with this year's launch. Next week they will work on their own badges, so keep your fingers crossed and we'll see how that turns out.

More updates to come...

Brad Flickinger Tech Teacher Bethke Elementary School, Colorado

Kids Helping Kids Results


This past year some my fifth grade students participated in an 80s cover band in which they only played iPads as instruments. They did it as part of a fundraising project to help end child poverty in Nicaragua. There efforts were very successful and this past week I have been in Nicaragua to check on the projects they helped to fund.

One of our biggest concerns was for proper sanitation at an orphanage. On Sunday I visited the orphanage and I am happy to report that they now have a flushing toilet! Watching water swirl in a toilet bowl might not seem exciting to you, but to these kids it is a big step in the right direction to a better, more healthy, life.

To me this is just more proof that many of the problems our world faces can be fixed with some of the simplest of solutions, like how a bunch of kids singing 80s songs can improve life to some orphans thousands of miles away.

For me this started out as just a tech project that I wanted an authentic purpose, but what I got back was so much more.

Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary


Summer Sale on iPad Boot Camp

#edtech #ipaded #mlearning

I have just posted three iBooks as e-courses for my after-school iPad Boot Camps that I give at my school. In these e-courses I show everything that I do to teach these fun and amazing courses.

  • E-course 1: iPad Rockstar Boot Camp
  • E-course 2: iPad Artist/Photographer Boot Camp
  • E-course 3: iPad Filmmaking Boot Camp


These iBooks are on sale for 50% off until July 7, just use the discount code summer13.

Have a great summer,

Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary



Starting Your Own iPad iBand - Part 1

#edtech #ipaded #mlearning


August 20, 2012 - iBand Journal Entry No. 1

I met with three fifth grade students this week to see if they could even play a few chords on the iPad. So I downloaded some lyrics that showed the chords for Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day, I know nothing about music so I hoped this going in the right direction.

I started up my iPad and launched GarageBand and selected the smart guitar, I set it to the correct key (F minor) and showed the kids how to strum the guitar on the iPad.

I was surprised at how fast they picked it up, especially John, he had no music experience but played the chords well. After 15 minutes it actually started to sound like the real song. There might be something to this after all so I went to and ordered some lanyards for our Band, you can't have a band without some '"All Access" lanyards.

Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary.

The iPad mini and the Common Core Standards

#edtech #mlearning #ipaded

So unless you have been living under a rock (cue old GEICO ad), if you're an educator then you've been hearing a lot of fuss over the adoption of the Common Core Standards, and if you're connected to technology like myself, then you have been waiting for today for the launch of the yet un-named iPad Mini.

But what on earth do the two have in common?

This morning I started my daily churn of the edtech news by reading about Atomic Learning's new program for addressing tech components of the Common Core standards. Which comes on the heals of an article I read in Edudemic magazine on the same subject. Now you combine this with the news that Apple's introduction of the much-rumored iPad Mini press event today will focus on this new iPad and education then you might have some connections.

Although I believe that much of the iPad Mini and education connection today will focus on iBooks and pricing, I am holding on to the hope that the iPad Mini will be a great publishing tool, much like it's bigger brother.

You see, much to do to with Common Core standards and technology centers around students being able to publish their writings, through blogs, wikis, podcasts and such. But I also hope that today we see some changes with the iBooks Author. For example, I hope that students can publish directly from their iPads and not need to use a computer like with the current iBooks Author. Come on Apple let's publish iBooks from our iPads, computers are so pre-iPads.

So with fingers crossed and my breath held, I wait for today's Apple event.




How to make a student iPad podcasting studio.

#edtech #ipaded #mlearning

This past summer I converted our conventional podcasting studio with PCs over to iPads in hopes of improving the workflow. To be honest, I amazed at how easy podcasting is now for my elementary students. Here are the basics:

iPad number 1: Sound Effects. The host of each episode has this iPad his/her desk in the studio, this iPad used the Soundboard app from Ambrosia for all of the different sound effects that we use to make a show; laughter, applause, ohh-ahhh, etc. Before converting to iPads, the sound effect were handled by a different students, which often led to some mis-timed sound effects, now that the host Han control his/her own sound effects, the show is much better.

iPad number 2: Music. Before each show we play about 10 minutes of music while students come into their classrooms, this allows teachers to adjust the volume of the show. We mostly play Kidz Bop songs from the Music app since the lyrics have been scrubbed clean for our young audience.

iPad number 3: AudioBoo. We connect our sound mixer's USB cable into the bottom of this iPad through the Camera Connection Kit. Each show is recorded into the AudioBoo app and then we add album art and upload to our AudioBoo account which is then picked up by iTunes within an hour. AudioBoo also sends out a Tweet using our school's Twitter account.

That's it. What used to take us about 13 steps to get each episode from our studio to iTunes, now happens in three. Here is a link to our show on iTunes.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary


The Modern School's Library


#edtech #elearning

The local newspaper just wrote an article about the changes I made to my elementary school's library. This is not the school library you grew up with...

- Brad Flickinger, Bethke Elementary


On the Road to Podstock 2012

#edtech #podstock

The drive today from my house in Northern Colorado to Wichita, KS for Podstock is 9 hours. Which has given me a lot of time to think. I am finally in Old Town, Wichita at the tasty restaurant Cafe Moderne taking advantage of both their incredible menu and their free WiFi.

You see, this Thursday I give the opening keynote for Podstock, which has caused me to rehearse it over and over again in my head during the drive out here. I am sure that the people on the interstate with me thought I was nuts talking to myself as I cruised across the pains of Colorado and Kansas.

In this keynote I am giving is totally new information that I have not shared before. Some of the ideas I am presenting are things that I have been working on for years. I am going to finally share some of the secrets that I have been using to get my students to do amazing edtech projects like movies and podcasts.

I have been reluctant to share these ideas in the past because many of them were unproven - and maybe just a flash-in-the-pan - and not a sustainable program. I have also struggled with how to articulate these ideas into something that is easy for other teachers to replicate without being just another "program."

I am happy to report that everything has come together for me in the past 90 days. I finally have such a large body of evidence that supports my ideas and beliefs, that I now have all the missing pieces in place.

I even got a few new insights as the corn fields passed by - who knew that corn fields could be so inspirational?


What to do about ISTE 2012?

#iste12 #edtech


As I sit here in the San Diego airport waiting for my flight to leave for home I can't help but reflect upon my five days here at ISTE 2012. Each year, as it turns out, ISTE is a little bit different than the previous years. In part, I believe, because I change and also because the world of edtech is such a moving target. Although every year has a theme, and this year's was "Expanding Horizons," there seems to be a few sub-themes that aren't published, it is something that just happens. Here are some of the sub-themes that I saw...

This was the year about mobile computing or BYOD. Although we talked a lot about mobile computing and BYOD(in theory) last year, this year we seemed to now know what to do about it. There we're tons of sessions dedicated to this topic, with many success stories to be shared and duplicated.

There was also a lot of informal discussions about edupreneurs (educators who are entrepreneurs). I never knew this crowd even existed until this year. And when I say informal discussions, I mean what people are talking about at lunch and in the hallways between sessions.

This was one of the most positive years as far as the vibe among edtech educators. I don't thing we feel as beat up as in years past - I think we are finally coming into our own. And we are a force to be reckoned with. Most of us are turning into our own advocates for change - I think we feel not so alone after attending this ISTE.

I just checked my idea list from this year and there are 42 items on it, and over the coming weeks I will narrow it down to about 4 or 5 things I will try in my school with my students, but it is these ideas that are going to change things, these are the big things.

Thank you ISTE for another great year - well done and I can't wait until next year. Watch out Texas, here we come!

- Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary


ISTE 2012 Tweet Up


Tweet ups gives all of us who follow each other virtually on Twitter a chance to meet face to face in the real world, something that I find a bit awkward to tell you the truth. Online is one thing, but in the real world it can be a bit difficult to measure up. This year's ISTE Tweet Up started slow but then grew quickly with educators offering the normal "Great to finally meet you in person." salutations.



Movie Making With Kids and the New iPad

#edtech #mlearning #ipadded

Yesterday we finished another two scenes of our new movie The Ghost of Bethke. I was surprised at how well the students did the makeup for the ghost. Filming and editing on the new iPad is a breeze.

Here is a photo from yesterday of the ghost getting ready...



Webinar: Forging the Technology-Curriculum Link

#edtech #mlearning #edchat

15 FebI just heard from my wife that she will be on the panel for this webinar...

To ensure the best results for students, it's important to be deliberate and thoughtful in the way technology is incorporated into the curricula. Just layering tech on top fails to take advantage of the technology tools' full potential.

Join this complimentary webinar to hear how those 'in the trenches' are working together to find the best ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning.

Thursday, March 1st at 2:00 EST | 1:00 CST | 11:00 PST

Register now.

My wife is the district tech training and curriculum person for the district I am in.

- Brad Flickinger

Update 2-29-12: My wife just informed me that she is part of a webinar later in March and not tomorrow's. Oops!


Flipping your classroom starts with screen recording.



Like many of you I have started to consider the idea of flipping my classroom. But in order to do it right you need to become a master at screen recording, and to do that if you are on a PC the go-to program is Camtasia. So imagine my delight when I found out that the folks over at Atomic Learning recently updated their Camtasia training series. It's like those guys in Little Falls are reading my mind -- freaky.

Here's their description:

Empower your training by easily creating effective videos using Camtasia 1.2. In this online training series, you'll learn how to precisely edit screencasts by cutting, splicing, adding transitions, and captions. Also learn how to record PowerPoint® presentations, Web sites, Web cams, and software demos. Learn how to produce your video in many formats to share on video hosting sites such as YouTube™.

- Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary School


Teaching Kids with iPads - Part 4 of 5

#edchat #mlearning #ipaded

Some times when I am speaking at a conference about iPads in education teachers will share a concern that they have about every student getting an iPad. They are worried than the students will just work in isolation and our society will become even more fractured and self-centered with students never learning to work together.

They imagine a room full of kids with headphones on just plugged into their iPads like a room full of zombies. I had this same concern when I started to design my lessons that used iPads. I made sure that most of the lessons involved team work and collaboration (a 21st century skill).

Take a look at these photos for proof.