The EdTech Bites Podcast Turns 1 Year Old!

Can you believe it? One year old? They grow so quickly (sniff, sniff)…

On June 28th, 2017, the EdTech Bites podcast launched episode 1 with Edward Zelarayán from Nearpod. I had the idea to do a podcast for a couple of years but for one reason or another, never got it off of the ground. I knew I wanted to do something different from the other podcast offerings in the edtech world. I knew I wanted to incorporate food somehow. After some discussions with Edward and some motivation from my wife, I decided to go all in with EdTech Bites. I interviewed Edward at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio and then interviewed Brian Smith the very next day. After that, Edtech Bites was born and began to grow in front of our very own eyes!

I’ve made some great connections through the podcast and am thankful for each and every guest I’ve had on the show. I’ve chatted with listeners and they are thankful for the content that I’m able to provide them with no matter where we may be (It still blows my mind that I can record an interview in person or via Google Hangouts in my den and be able to make it available to the world within a few minutes). I’m thankful for each and every listener and subscriber of the podcast and I want to thank you for telling a friend or colleague about EdTech Bites. I am not a published author or edtech evangelist but I thank those who have included me and my podcast into their own PLN. I hope your learning never stops as I know mine will not anytime soon. I hope that I can be a source of learning for you as many of you are a source of my own professional and personal growth. Thank you for this awesome year and there is much more in store for the future of EdTech Bites. I hope to break bread with you in person one day. Cherish your time at the table. Turn off those devices and have a conversation with each other while you eat. Remember, great conversations happen when we break bread with great people. Buen provecho!

Flipgrid Out Of Office Voicemail

I’m an Instructional Technology Specialist so teachers will come to my office at times and find me not there. I travel to 3 different schools so in some shape or form, I’m not there when a teacher needs me. In August 2017, I decided to create a Flipgrid Voicemail sign and place it on my office door when I leave. This way, teachers could leave me a “voicemail”. I realized that since I support three campuses, I would need 3 different signs with 3 different unique barcodes that pointed to 3 different topics. This way, it would be easier for me to track which schools needed me. Now, this is how I’ve done mine and in no way am the originator of this idea. I saw it with fellow #flipgridfever community members and put my own spin on it. 

I created mine in Canva with their free tools and using the “Oh No” Bitmoji. I went into Flipgrid, created my topic, and saved the QR Code for this topic. With the new updates to Flipgrid regarding their new privacy policies (and the other 900 emails we’ve all been receiving regarding updates to privacy policies), I will be adding the Grid Passcode to the sign making it easier for teachers to leave me a voicemail.

There it is! if you have any questions regarding this, please leave a comment down below or tweet me @edtechbites. Also, don’t forget to follow the EdTech Bites Facebook Page to be notified when new posts are added. Deuces!

Nearpod iOS Camera Integration

Unless, you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time, you already know that Nearpod is one of THE BEST lesson delivery, assessment, and overall engagement tools out. But did you know that on iOS devices, you can turn it up a notch? Peep this!

While working with some math teachers a while back, I showed them all that Nearpod can do for them and how it can change the way the teacher and students engage with a lesson especially since our district has a BYOD infrastructure. In doing so, we had a mixed bag of devices we were using and noticed that when a student gets to a Draw It slide on an iOS device while using the Nearpod app, they have a nifty feature that is not available on any other device, the ability to use the camera! See the camera icon below?

Nearpod Camera Icon

Is that hamster in your head beginning to turn the wheel? Good! Here’s what you can do with this tool:

  • Have students take pictures of items that begin with a certain letter and have them draw the letter with a highlighter after (Pre-K, Kinder, ELL)
  • Bellwork/Warmups: have students take a picture of a sentence and make the corrections/edits on the fly with the drawing tools.
  • Have students take a picture of a math equation/problem and have them work it out using the drawing tools
  • Have students answer more complex math problems on a sheet of paper and have them take a picture of their work (see my work below)Nearpod Drawing

The possibilities are endless and so much can be done with this tool. If your schools have BYOD, iPhone/iPad users can easily use this on their own iOS devices (Nearpod, please make this available for Android and Chromebook users). There it is folks, another way to get the best use out of Nearpod and iOS in your classes. What will you do now that you know this information? Remember, it’s not about the tools… it’s how you use it!

STAAR FlipGrid For Parents

As a parent, I’m nervous for my children to take the STAAR test and pass (or other equivalent state test for those of “y’all” outside of Texas)! I cannot imagine how my children must feel! As parents, we want to be by their side and help them relax and focus. As teachers, the last thing we want is for a mob of parents to come into our class and attempt to accomplish this task. There has to be a way for parents to be able to do this without being too intrusive.

Flipgrid! That’s how! Teachers, email a topic to your parents asking them to wish their child luck on the test and give the students a couple of minutes in the morning to watch and listen to their parents give them words of wisdom. Parents, open this topic using the Flipgrid app for Android or iOS and tell your child the words they need to hear. How easy and convenient is that?

Teachers, here is the link to a pre-made topic in the Flipgrid Discovery section if you don’t want to start from scratch. Enjoy and good luck on the STAAR Test!

Make Yourself Uncomfortable

Untitled designIt’s no secret that as humans, we tend to stay in our comfort zone. We shop at the same stores, go to the same restaurants, have go-to outfits for certain occasions, and teach using the same tools year after year. We tend to fall into these “comfort traps” and find it very difficult to accept something out of our norm as “acceptable” if not better than what we’re used to. One thing to always keep in mind is the second we stop learning, we stop growing. If we want to continually grow and truly live a growth mindset, we need to make ourselves at home and make ourselves uncomfortable.

Untitled design (1)I’ve always preached Twitter as a means of learning for all educators from any and every grade level and content area. It really didn’t dawn on me as to how small of a percentage of teachers actually use Twitter as a PLN until I gave a quick professional development session at one of the schools I service. I asked for a quick show of hands of those teachers who were active Twitter users and out of about 45 teachers in the room, only about 3 rose their hand, two of which were the building administrators. It was then that I began this mission to help teachers realize that Twitter is not just “another thing to learn” however, a means to learn from those outside of their building as well as share the great things that are happening in their own four walls. In order to do this, I got with my colleague and friend Laura Moore to develop an online Twitter class for teachers in our district. We planned and mapped out a course that taught and modeled the use of Twitter for developing a PLN. We gathered resources, created video tutorials, and asked our colleagues to help publicize the class prior to us making it available. We delivered the class through Google Classroom and baby stepped the participants towards the end goal of the class which was to participate in a Twitter chat. We even developed and branded our own hashtag, #NEISDTweechers. In my personal and professional opinion, the class was a success! We had an overwhelming amount of participants (with many more on the wait list) and received nothing but great feedback on the course structure but more importantly, the Twitter chat. They loved the fact that they could use the platform as a way to engage in a conversation regarding a topic and add to it and consume the information within it as well.

Untitled design (2)What’s the moral to this story/blog post? We got people out of their comfort zone and introduced them to what I feel is the most powerful digital tool available to us educators. Many of them made mistakes during the Twitter chat as well as expressed how difficult it was at time to keep up with the tweets. Some of them even tweeted how new and different the platform was during the chat. But by the end of the chat, they all had such positive things to say about the experience. Many of which continue to add the the chat a week after it officially ended. Why? Because they made themselves uncomfortable and vulnerable just enough for their trusted colleagues to baby step them to using an unfamiliar tool. And now, they are comfortable with this new tool. So to wrap this up, if you want to grow and continue to learn, be prepared to be uncomfortable. Just know that this feeling will slowly go away as you familiarize yourself and make mistakes with it. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. Remember that first time you tasted a new food? You might have been uncomfortable at first but now, probably have it in your regular rotation. Thank you, #NEISDTweechers for being uncomfortable and now, making Twitter a part of your regular rotation!

#NEISDPLN Twitter Chat

On February 5th, 2018 from 7:30pm-8:30pm CT, I will be moderating the #NEISDPLN Twitter Chat. Take this opportunity to grow your PLN and contribute to the conversation. The topic for the evening is “Implementing Technology In The Classroom.” Stop in, say “hello”, and contribute. We’d love to hear what you have to say. Also, spread the word to fellow educators to make #NEISDPLN part of their PLN. See you Monday!

“Integrating” Technology

What’s up folks?! It’s officially 2018 and educational technology is booming at an alarming rate. In other words, there are options available to teachers, students, and parents that didn’t exist just 10 years ago. Apps, web tools, and devices that are now becoming faster, smaller, and less expensive. Students no longer need to view a screen from 30 feet away to see the content being presented to them (Thank you Nearpod and Google Cast for EDU). Students can reflect on a topic or question from the privacy of their own home with their own personal device (Thank you Recap and Flipgrid). Peer collaboration and feedback can be done from any internet-enabled device from anywhere in the world (Thank you GSuite and PeerGrade). Anyone can create a professional video to be seen by a global audience with a Smartphone and free web tools (Thank you WeVideo, YouTube, and SoundTrap). Professional development is now at our fingertips on demand with podcasts (Thank you House of EdTech, The EdTech Take Out, Cult Of Pedagogy, and all other educational podcasters). With all of these tools at our disposal, if someone was to walk into a random classroom in any school district in any state, student devices would probably be used to consume and not focus on the 4 C’s.

Why is this? Is the term “Integrating” too broad? Do schools and districts not teach what these look like in the classroom? Do school district network block many of these tools because of what they can “possibly” bring? What are the “possibilities” that these tools can bring to a classroom? Authentic experiences. That’s what they can bring.

Sure, someone who wants to use these tools for the Dark Side will do so. That’s where classroom management comes into play but that’s another topic for another day.

Integrating technology means students are creating content for others to view, evaluate, and possibly augment. Integrating looks like students using classroom and personal devices to create videos to be used in student-created lessons for virtual presentations. Students are not in rows but in pods around the room. The teacher is not teaching whole group rather, facilitating and working with small groups to check progress. The class is a bit louder than a “stand and deliver” environment because students are engaging with each other, collaborating with others, and engaging in feedback. Students, for the most part, want to come to class because of the authentic experiences that occur and the ability to tap into their creative side they normally cannot do in the typical classroom setting. If this is what true integration looks like in a classroom, ask yourself this, what does YOUR classroom technology integration look like? If you’re not a teacher, what does your child’s classroom look like when you walk in? What do you want it to look like?

Teachers, if you’d like to truly integrate technology do something you haven’t done or are possibly scared of doing. Step out of the comfort zone and understand that you will be uncomfortable. That’s OK. There are many others feeling what you are feeling and more importantly, there are many people who can hold your hand along the way. Twitter is a PLN. Connect with teachers who can assist you with this virtually and in your building. Your district probably has coaches who are more than willing to help you and model integration for you. Start off by taking one day a week without handing out worksheets. #worksheetlesswednesday. This is an achievable task that can be done with minimal effort. After doing this for a couple of weeks, beef it up by aligning what you’re doing with one of the 4 C’s. Continue checking in on Twitter and collaborating with others in your building and possibly outside your building. Listen to podcasts (such as EdTech Bites) and build your knowledge during your commutes, walks, workouts, or while cooking (Thank you Amazon Echo and Google Home). These baby steps towards true technology integration will bring you closer to the classroom teacher you’ve always wanted to be. More importantly, will create authentic experiences for your students. After all #kidsdeserveit right?