Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Office Mix





PowerPoint, PowerPoint, PowerPoint – it’s a love/hate kind of thing. Almost everyone has created, used or watch a PowerPoint presentation and know that there is great potential to use PowerPoint creatively and powerfully, but the tendency is misuse. We watch one boring slide after another, with too many words using the same templates that have been seen since the 1990s. There’s help on the way! Microsoft has created a really cool add-on to PowerPoint that will knock your socks off. It is now the best of all presentation worlds – it’s interactive, shareable and easy to learn because it still has all the familiar interface of regular PowerPoint. This “tuesdays” is a glimpse at Office Mix, which was released last May. Why isn’t this making a greater impact?



A creative website

Office Mix is an add-in for PowerPoint that is a game changer. After you install Office Mix, it will add a tab to your ribbon in PowerPoint with all of its features. With Office Mix, you can record yourself with audio and video, write or draw on your slides using inking, you can add quizzes, live webpages, and more. You don’t even have to start with new PowerPoint, but instead, you can take pre-existing ones and add life to them. It’s so exciting. If you have Microsoft Office 2013 or Office 365, you will be able to use Office Mix. As an educator, you may be eligible for a free Office 365 account. It’s worth your time to check it out. If there is one thing I am all for, it’s getting away from PowerPoint because it’s so 90’s. However, add Mix to PowerPoint brings it into the 21st century. Teachers and students have a much greater opportunity to make polished interactive presentations that can be shared easily. It is presently exclusively Windows so if you are a Mac users, you will not be able to use it. For most Mac users, it’s not a big deal because Keynotes have always had more features than PowerPoint, yet Office Mix is definitely worth thinking about for the sake of the students.


An image to share


Office 365 on an iPad

A proverb

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”


John Ford


An encouragement

I would like to encourage you to watch the introduction video on the main home page at https://mix.office.com. It’s hard to grasp just how much can be done with a PowerPoint that seeing is believing. You can add a picture in picture video to your slides, record the whole presentation with live video and active websites right within the slide. You can even have your students watch video, add a quiz and even see time on task with the powerful analytics built in to the product. Microsoft has a HUGE winner for us as educators. Be sure to check out the educational section of the site. Along with the introductory video (way down the page), you can also sample presentations including one made by Bill Gates.






How do you do that?

Since I am not a user of Office Mix yet, I can really speak to “how” you can use it so instead I would like mention the potentiality of this new add on. For teachers, please consider turning the learning of Office Mix over to your students. Have your tech people add Office Mix to all the student computers and give them content topics to create and let them discover all the Mix features. They will come up with more ideas that we ever can. For students, give them options for presentations: Animoto, iMovie, Movie Maker, Picktograph, Discovery Education Board Builder and PowerPoint. If they choose PowerPoint, insist that they try the Office Mix add-on. Don’t be under pressure to try to teach the tool. Just give it as an option and watch them rise up to the occasion. It will be so nice to see more samples of this power new upgrade to PowerPoint.




As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K





Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lodge McCammon




Iron sharpens iron. I love getting together with creative teachers, especially when Discovery Education brings us together as a team.  Dr. Lodge McCammon returned to our team to share his energy, enthusiasm, creativity and love of education. Five years ago he taught us how to create paperslide videos that has been a hit with most of my teachers and three years he brought his theory of the “flipped classroom” along with Katie Gimbar, the teacher in the trenches, flipping her Algebra 1 classroom totally around.  I just had to turn you on to his genius because his true art is making things simple.  This “tuesdays” is all about Dr. Lodge McCammon and just a few of his ingenious ways to engage teachers and students.

A creative website

During his keynote presentation, Lodge McCammon tweeted everything he was demonstrating while he put us to work. His purpose was to encourage all of us with 5 principles of modeling:

  1. Use video
  2. Move
  3. Create
  4. Discuss and collaborate
  5. Make follow-up resources available after/during the training or lesson
He certainly practices what he preaches. You can check out our 2 hours with him. I am always amazed at how he can get teachers to do things like no one else. Dr. McCammon is also well-know for paper slide videos and the art of flipping the classroom. Flip classroom teachers record “one-take” videos of their lectures and then assign application activities for class time rather than homework. This style of learning engages. is more rigorous and touches all the multiple intelligences.  It’s self-paced, differentiated and collaborative. Most importantly the students collaborate, create and publish their own videos in class which allows them to reanalyze their learning, refocus understanding and republish content. 



An image to share (video)

Video of a paperslide video designed by my husband, Jack and created by Bradford County teachers.
  

A proverb 
"Teachers need to stop saying, “Hand it in,” and start saying “Publish It.” 

 Alan November

An encouragement
So many have asked why would you take the time to video your lessons when there is YouTube and Khan Academy?  According to Dr. McCammon, we know that student success depends upon great teachers and that teaching is largely about having a personal relationship with the students. Students also need to trust their teacher.  When students watch videos created by people they do not know, they may make connections to the content, but when your teacher takes the time to video their instruction, it sends two great messages: I care and I know my content.  When we send our student somewhere else, we are actually outsourcing our teaching.  I want to encourage you to watch the videos I have linked for you in the creative website section and consider the “flip classroom” as a model of engagement for your students.  Let me know if you need some help.  I would love to be a part of the process. (Katie Gimbar’s reason for doing her own videos)


How do you do that?

How can you ever make the time to create video content? First, recognize that you do not need tech skills or video editing equipment.  All you need is a simple video camera, like a FLIP camera or your phone and a tripod. You are going to deliver a lesson, so why not video it and have it for remediation, enrichment or review for absentees? Draw your lesson out on the board, SMARTBoard or paper and record it in one take.  Don't worry about perfection. Pretend it’s first period (you know how we always practice on them!) The value of creating your personal instruction library is priceless. It may take time, but you will have a collection that your students and parents will treasure. How exciting. Kudos to Dr. Lodge McCammon for his creativity and tangible ways to make it all happen.  Most of all, thank you so much for sharing, Dr. McCammon.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Expert Sykpers






Being able to visit so many schools is such a privilege. The good news is that no matter where I go there is genuine interest in integrating technology in the classroom, but so many teachers either feel that they are locked down from using certain programs or are overwhelmed with preparing for high stakes tests. I don't often put my opinion out there about educational trends, but all this testing is just too much. I watch the teachers be over concerned about preparing the students. I watch the students lose interest in learning while simply regurgitating test taking strategies. I was teaching a group of students how to create an editable video using a computer and the students were confused because they thought that computers were only for testing. Now that's sad. We have much better technology in most of our schools now due to testing, but they are so guarded that the students rarely get to use them for researching, collaborating and creating original works. In my dream world, we would go back to one standard test a year and it would be given in the last week of school. What's so hard about that?  This week's "tuesdays" is a look at my favorite private school, Conchita Espinosa Academy,  that is not burdened by the constant testing we are seeing in the public schools and has be able to grow in technology integration.

                         
A creative website

A simple example of classroom engagement with technology is the use of video conferencing. This was next to impossible to pull off just a few years ago, but now with platforms such as Skype, students are connecting with classroom around the country and even around the world. Skype is FREE software that you download to you computer so that you can talk, chat or even make video calls for FREE!  Skype in the Classroom makes video conferencing simple, challenging and relative to any classroom setting. Most states/district require a global project at some point. Skype in the Classroom offers countless opportunities.  Lynda, the technology specialist at Conchita Espinosa Academy, has encouraged a number of teachers to try Skype in their classrooms at this K-8  This is her description: We are an arts-based, bilingual K-8 school in Miami, FL. Our 4th grade classes have been studying about the US in terms of geography and culture. We are looking for similar classrooms around the country who would be willing to Skype with us, asking and answering a series of yes/no questions, to determine the location of the mystery classroom. It was especially fun to watch a 3rd grade class participate in Skype this year. This research that the students did before the call was excellent. Formulating the right questions was key and they were proud to figure out their opponent's location first.


An image to share
3rd grade class in Miami, FL guessing the mystery location of another classroom





A proverb
"We have just started, and if you compare the number of people using Skype to the number using a telephone network around the world, we're still just starting.”

Niklas Zennstrom


An encouragement
I would really like to encourage you to become a Skype user because everything we do in education really comes down to relationships.  If you could make a quick Skype call to an expert or another classroom to collaborate, you will bring an engagement level to the classroom unlike mere text.  Please understand that most districts still are unsure of how to handle Skype. Does it require a lot of bandwidth? Will it affect the network? I would like to see teachers utilize Skype like a field trip with permission slips and preplanning so that everyone is aware that a Skype interview/conversation/collaboration is happening on campus and test its potential first before blocking it immediately. As a teacher, make sure that you clear this with your administrators before doing anything at school, but in the meantime, try it at home with family and friends and think of the possibilities! 

How do you do that?
How do you get involved in a Skype in the Classroom project? Research Skype classroom projects or visit a few of these ideas from others that I’ve compiled for you.

Project Collections on Skype – projects from Skype ready to join

You can even search for certain teachers, projects or just areas of interest.  The bottom line is that Skype in the classroom is the most amazing way to collaborate and learn from others.  


Please consider joining Conchita Espinosa Academy’s Mystery Skype where you have your students try to guess where they are from before you reveal who they are to each other.  What fun! To get involved, please tell me know and I'll send them your contact information.





As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

National Teacher Appreciation Day





National Teacher Appreciation Day is today! (Funny that it fell on Cinco de Mayo too!) It’s so awesome that so many people appreciate just how important it is to be a teacher. How do you show appreciation?  How do your students show their appreciation?  One of the most powerful ways to be grateful is to tell that person just how grateful you are.  It may be in the form of a card, a gift, a special hug or an audio recording. “Adding a Voice” to presentations is a great skill to teach children. Equipped with headsets and big imaginations, they record their messages in audio or video format and demonstrate their understanding of a concept.  Why not consider having them create an audio recording of what they learned this year.  That would be one of the greatest appreciation gifts because you can hear in their own voices what kind of impact you have made.  Have a great week and make sure you spread the appreciation to your colleagues also. This is a special appreciation card I made for you at the Jacquie Lawson website.
                         
A creative website

Discovery Education is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week. Edutopia is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Day. Reading Rockets has some great ideas on how to celebrate Teachers. I really like Edutopia’s You Tube Channel with a variety of videos created for Teacher Appreciation Week. My favorite so far is Taylor Mali’s “What Do Teachers Make?” During this Teacher Appreciation Week, please be sure to celebrate by encouraging your colleagues, paraprofessionals and administrators on your campus also. Teaching is an incredible profession and worthy to have a national day of recognition. I am also hosting daily blessings on the 16-9 Movement blog in honor of all the great things teachers do.



An image to share


Ms. Stauble, ESOL/LA teacher in Miami-Dade Public schools, with permission

A proverb
“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann”

An encouragement

I recognize that none of us go into teaching for the recognition or the salary, but it does feel great when your students come back and tell you how much they appreciated you.  There’s really nothing like it.  Have you considered letting your students know how much you appreciated them this year.  In these last few weeks, we tend to forget the gains and the progress made, the relationships formed and the intense amount of time we spent with them. Why not frame your last days around appreciation for them?  Why not tell them what you would like them to remember this school year?  If we don’t remind them of all the good things that happened, there is little chance they will come up with it on their own.  

How do you do that?

How do you make an audio recording for your students?  Think about the power of putting a message to your students in your own voice.  Even if you took time in class to remind the student about all the good things you did as a class, they are so ready to bolt out the door that very little, if any, may be absorbed.  What if you wrote out a heartfelt script, then recorded your message on an mp3, Smartphone, in Audacity or GarageBand and saved it as an mp3 file? You could give the students access to a website where they could download the file to their computer or mp3 players (don’t worry, they will figure it out) and then they can listen to your closing message whenever, wherever and as many times as they choose.  It may sound selfish to remind them of why your class was so important this year, but isn’t that our job?  Isn’t that the whole reason we poured our heart and soul into everything we taught them this year?  How could we not remind them?  Don’t worry about a professional format.  So what if it has a few bloopers in it?  It’s a message from the heart that they may treasure for years. 

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K





Tuesday, April 28, 2015

4MulaFun





In these times of high stakes testing there seems to be less and less creativity in the classroom. It doesn’t make sense to me. We are concerned that our students pass the test yet we all know that the things they remember are the things they create or the things we do. Think back to when you were in school. Often the most vivid memories of schools are usually field trips and projects. We will remember how our teachers treated us, but it is unusual to remember what they taught us. Seems crazy, right? We pour our hearts into preparing them for what we think will yield the highest gains on a test, while sacrificing the things that truly stick. It Is my hope that we have a lot less emphasis on standardized testing and a lot more emphasis on what the students are doing and creating to help them remember content beyond the test day. This “tuesdays” is for the entrepreneurial, creative teachers who yearn to have their students more engaged in their own learning.


A creative website

I bumped into Jennifer Smith-Sloan’s blog by accident the other day and was intrigued at the depth of her creativity (particularly for math). 4MulaFun is an extensive blog written by a teacher done entrepreneur. She is a huge fan of Teachers Paying Teachers and provides resources galore for teacher both free and paid. Her blog however, it VERY creative and she is more than will to share ideas. One area that caught my eye, in particular, is her Math in Art blog entry written earlier this year. Most of the math ideas are middle school level, but she gives hint and encouragement to help adapt her projects to elementary and high school. She has a very active Pinterest page that highlights her beautiful student samples. Her passions are interactive notebooks, workstations and Math. Kudos to Jennifer for such a great idea blog.


An image to share


Cutting and pasting are hands-on skills, too.


A proverb
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

Albert Einstein









An encouragement

I realize that so much of what is left to the school year is so disjointed due to testing, field trips, assemblies/programs and interruptions that it’s hard to keep a sense of routine in the classroom. This is the perfect time to be more project-based. I am not purposing projects for the sake of projects (that will make your students and parents – crazy!) I am encouraging you to provide time in your classroom for Make and Take type learning. Giving the students opportunities to explain what they know in creative ways engages not only the brain, but the senses and a sense of well-being. Giving students options means you are taking a risk, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Students will often surprise us with their creativity and able to “get things done” while working on a well-defined project. (Note: Speak to your teammates to make sure the students don’t get “over” projected. (is that a word?) – not too many projects!





How do you do that?

How do you have a creative classroom in the last weeks of school? Search the internet for ideas.  Read blogs, check Pinterest, Donors Choose, Teachers Pay Teachers and more. Ask permission to have a professional learning day by arranging to visit each others’ classroom. It’s incredible how much you learn from your colleagues when you can spend ½ hr. or more just observing. Look around at everything hung on the wall, listen to the way your colleague interacts with the students and look for classroom management ideas particularly for stations. Incorporate stations with one as the creative station of some type.  When doing things in stations, you can have every student experience the technology or supplies if you have limited availability. Most of all, get creative and share.



























As always, I am 
Ubiquitously yours,
K