Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Newsletter Article

NEH Ed Tech
Leslie Pralle Keehn
Over the last two months I’ve been working on a self-designed internship for my graduate coursework that is based in educational technology.  As a part of this project I have gotten to be a part of some amazing projects with the teachers and students at Northeast Hamilton. The following are some examples of the kids’ work.

(See example in previous post)
These are word clouds that Owen Jones (K) and Lillian Chamness (9th) and Rylee Keehn (K) and Kyler Rapp (9th) created. The Kindergarteners read books to the 8th and 9th graders (who practiced new technologies and citizenship skills) and created hats shaped like the hat from the Cat in the Hat to go along with their study of Dr. Seuss and word families. The third graders joined in on the fun, as well so they could learn about making this type of word cloud in the future.
The first and fourth graders have been working on writing stories based on pictures they found in magazines. Mrs. Schimp, Mrs. Smith, Dylan Greenfield, and myself are getting the students set up to load pictures for their stories onto a computer program called Little Bird Tales so the students could record their stories to share as e-books. The Kindergarten will be working on a similar project using Mr. Bunny and his journal so that they can all share in his adventures. 

Several teachers were also able to get together to Skype with Shannon Miller from Van Meter school district to learn about the different types of technology that they are using in their one-to-one school. 
Mrs. Leksell has created a Wikispaces page for her English students to use for discussion and collaboration, Mrs. Brandt uploaded her concert videos to her teacher page so that her students could view them and reflect on the concert, and the 8th graders are creating Google Maps that encompass the highlights of the Civil War. These are just a few examples of the ways that NEH teachers and students are coming together to use more technology in the classroom to really enhance student learning.
The Trojan Tech Team also came together to work with the teachers at their professional development meeting earlier this month. Several members, including Jacob Brim, Tristan Nicholson, Hunter Dilley, Tyler Dilley, Dylan Greenfield, Taylor Olson, and Mark Frohwein came into school early to lead sessions and work with me to offer training in Google Apps, Wikispaces, and Twitter. These students have also stayed after school to work with teachers in a one-on-one setting.
I have had a lot of fun getting to work with new classes and different teachers over the last two months, and I cannot thank the students, staff, and administration enough for the experiences. Seeing students creating, leading, and volunteering has truly been the highlight of this process, but it wouldn’t have been possible without our amazing staff, who have all stepped up to the challenge of including new opportunities for students in the classroom.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Kindergarten Chaos

Having never taught elementary, although sometimes I think my seniors revert back to those days - just kidding guys - kinda :) having 20+ 5 & 6 year olds in one small computer lab was a new experience. Plus 25 8th & 9th graders, and a few 2nd & 3rd graders! It was loud, it was busy, and it was FUN! My favorite way to learn!

We ran into some time constraints, so not all of the Kindergarten students got to type their own project, but they did all get to read their words to the older kids, and create a picture like the one in my previous post.

We have another join venture using Build Your Wild Self when the Kindergarten students start their zoo study before their big field trip. I definitely have some adjustments to make before then, but Mrs. Oakland was a great sport, and the kids had a good time, so she wants to do it again!

So we all learned something, and we have ways to make it better for next time!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Elementary Opportunities

Thanks to the amazing Shannon Miller (@shannonmmiller) at Van Meter the NEH elementary teachers are super excited to try out some new technologies. I have 3 new projects that I'm working on over the next week.

1. This afternoon my US History students (9th grade) will pair up with both a 3rd grade student and a Kindergarten student to collaborate on a project. It is a good "citizenship" activity for the 9th grade, a great teaching/technology/learning opportunity for the 3rd grade, and a great technology/literacy opportunity for the Kindergarten!

The Kindergarten has created a list of word families during their study of Dr. Seuss. The 3rd graders are going to share their class wiki with the older and younger kids to access the Tagxedo website and a graphic of the Cat in the Hat's hat. The US History students will mostly be around for technical support, but it's a good chance for the students in our PreK-12 building to make connections!

The Kindergarten students will then get to practice their typing skills and enter their word clouds into the Tagxedo program. Tagxedo will create for them a hat made out of their words! I will share my daughter's hat later, once we have completed the activity.

2. The 1st graders are paired with a 4th grade buddy. Earlier in the quarter the students cut out pictures from a magazine and created a story about the pictures. Now we are going to upload their pictures (magazine and some that they drew) into Little Bird Tales, type their stories, and then record them reading their stories. The first grade teacher plans to share these digital versions of the books with parents at conferences. The parents will then also be able to access them and share them with family anywhere in the world!

3. This last project idea came from the first grade project. My daughter Rylee is in the kindergarten class here at NEH and she has been thrilled to bring home the class pet, Mr. Bunny. Each kid in the class brings home Mr. Bunny, takes care of him for the night, and then writes about him in the Mr. Bunny journal, chronicling their adventures with the pet. The activity is great, and assuming that the other kids have half as much fun with Mr. Bunny as Rylee does, the kids learn a lot and have a blast with it, too. The first time Rylee brough Mr. Bunny home she wrote 4-5 sentences (they are asked to write 3). This time she wanted to log every minute detail of their time together.

The other thing she was excited about was Little Bird Tales. While I was exploring the program for the 1st/4th project she was watching the tutorial video over my shoulder. Her immediate response was, "I want to do that!" First, I told her to write and illustrate her own story and we would put it online. Then the following idea came to me:

Anyway, so my project idea was this (and thank you Mrs. Oakland for running with it): The kids each drew (this morning) a picture of their adventures with Mr. Bunny. Tomorrow we will upload their pictures, and next week I will pull each of the Kindergarteners out individually to share their story about Mr. Bunny. I'll type this into Little Bird tales, record their version of the story, and we'll be able to share this version of Mr. Bunny's journal with the entire class. It's something they'll have ten years from now and maybe even twenty years from now. My goal is that Mrs. Oakland (NEH Kindergarten teacher) will be able to share this digital version of the kids' journal with the parents at conferences much like the first grade teacher will be doing. I know Rylee will be excited to share the journal with her grandparents, and I hope the other kids will be excited about it, too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How will I know I'm successful?

Last week my mentor asked me how I would know that I had been successful in my project. I decided that in the short term, it will be if I can get 50% of teachers to incorporate a new technology into a lesson plan for students - AND successfully teach the lesson. In the long run I would like to see at least 25% of teachers continue down a journey of slowly but steadily increasing their technology use in the classroom - beyond my practicum! If I can inspire even a handful to continue down a journey of meaningfully incorporating technology into their content lessons, and to continue on the path of bettering themselves as educators with new practices, thinking outside the box, and creating new ways for students to learn, I will consider myself successful.

So far I have had the choir teacher help me upload videos of her concert for students to write reflections, and I'm doing a joint project with the Kindergarten, 3rd grade, and my freshmen, and I helped the English teacher get her students set up with wikis. This is a step in the right direction - all of these are lined up within 1 week of having done the initial professional development day. I look forward to continuing this journey with my colleagues!

Developing my PLN

  1. Personal Network examples
*Scott McLeod - Director of CASTLE, Iowa 1:1
*Karl Hehr - Tech director at Ames CSD
*Shannon Miller - Teacher librarian/Tech Integrationist - Van Meter CSD
*Andy Crozier - Superintendent at Andrew CSD, ITEC President
  1. Subject matter experts examples
*Monte DeArmoun - IACoPi leadership team, Social Studies teacher, Big History Project pilot teacher @nksocialstudies
*Nancy Movall - Ed Tech/Innovation leader for Grant Wood AEA, project leader, IACoPi visionary @nmovall
*Jen Sigrist - Social Studies department leader/curriculum at Van Meter CSD @jensigrist
  1. Professional resources that can contribute to ongoing learning 
      *ITEC - Iowa Technology Education Connection
  • C-SPAN Classroom  - digital resources for the classroom from C-SPAN
  • #edtech Twitter feed - Those interested in educational technology
  • History tech blog - Social Studies teacher and tech enthusiast
  • IACoPi - Iowa Community of Practice and Innovation - Blended-learning support, Social Studies branch is specific to my needs, great teacher-leaders and resources provided, including Project Based Learning training
Topics of interest for continuing learning related to educational technology.
*Flipped classes - continue to look at providing the “lecture” outside of class so that we can do hands-on activities and assignments IN class - is this a better way of providing lecture or just “another” way of providing lecture, and is it meaningful?
*BYOD - Bring your own device: In a school that is not one to one, but trying to keep up with those who are, giving kids access by any means possible is an area I am interested in. 
*TPACK - Continued learning about creating meaningful, not just flashy, lessons that incorporate sound teaching strategies, technology, and content. 
*1:1 - As we continue looking at going to 1:1 as a district and with our sharing partner, it will be essential that i stay up to date on current trends and what is working and what is not. Being prepared and having realistic expectations means that we will be able to create a positive experience for our students.
I created a list feed of the top technology people and resources for my Tweet Deck. I also follow specific hashtags that relate to educational technology. Some of my favorite people to follow and favorite hashtags are listed below.l

Hash Tags
#IAEdFuture - Governor's blueprint currently being discussed
#IACoPi - Iowa Community of Practice and Innovation

#sschat - Social Studies
#ssia (IACoPi)
#engchat - English
#elemchat - Elementary
#midleved - Middle Level
#mathchat - Math
#iamathalg - Math (IACoPi)
#spedchat - Special Education
#tlchat - Teacher Librarians

Active Schools to Follow

People to Follow
@jasonglassia - Dir. Jason Glass (Iowa Ed)

@mcleod - Scott McLeod, Iowa State/Ed Tech
@jerridkruse - Jerrid Kruse, Science Methods, Drake

@cariteske - Cari Teske, Admin
@johnccarver - John Carver, Admin
@phock66 - Pat Hocking, Admin
@prallekeehn - Sara Keehn, Admin
@derondurflinger - Deron Durflinger, Admin
@acrozier22 - Andy Crozier, Admin/ITEC

@B_Wagoner - Bridgette Wagoner, Curriculum/Technology
@mctownsley - Matt Townsley, Curriculum/Technology
@shannonmmiller - Shannon Miller, Library/Technology
@karlhehr - Karl Hehr, Tech

@SMGHogan - Patrick Hogan, CR Gazette Reporter

@eolsonteacher - Erin Olson, English
@shfarnsworth - Shaylyn Farnsworth, English
@mrsashleyjdavis - Ashley Davis, MS Language Arts/SpEd
@LPralleKeehn - Leslie Pralle Keehn, Social Studies
@nksocialstudies - Monte Dearmon, Social Studies
@mhock21 - Melissa Hocking, Science
@marciarpowell - Marcia Powell, Science
@jonniebecker - Jonnie Becker, Science
@tammymassman - Tammy Massman, Elementary (3rd)

@betamiller - Andrew Miller, Project Based Learning
@tracepick - Trace Pickering, Edugaming
@robertjmarzano - Dr. Bob Marzano, Author
@rickwormeli - Rick Wormeli, Author (SBAR)

*There are too many to name, sorry if I missed you on my list!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Guest Blog - Dylan G

Dylan is a sophomore and member of the Trojan Tech Team

I feel the Tech Team teaching practice went exceptionally well this morning. I was a little nervous to begin with, but I think I did a very good job helping the teachers learn more about Wikispaces. Each of the Tech Team members taught one different teacher. At the end of the practice all three teachers understood Wikispaces and I believe the overall reception was very good.

Tech Fears and Concerns

I asked my staff to write down their biggest fears and concerns today in terms of using technology in the classroom so we could recognize, discuss, address, problem solve, etc. How would you address any or all of these? We'd love some feedback/comments!

*Server Speed, outdated computers and software
*Making it beneficial to student learning
*That I am so far behind the times that it will actually double my prep time
*My classes are hands on and performance based, it makes it hard to incorporate technology
*Monitoring student use to make sure they are on task and not wasting time on other non-educational material
*Getting a lesson to work on a website, finding the right application to use
*Knowing what programs work the best, are easy/user friendly
*Using it to replace knowledge & mechanical skills
*Teachers not educated enough to meet the needs and level of competencies students have in technology
*Lack of technology access or speed of access
*That I won't find something that sparks my interest to sustain in the long term. It needs to be easy to use
*Being forced to put it into lesson plans
*I know there is a LOT out there, but what will benefit my students' learning?
*Not being able to answer someone's questions, puzzles I can't solve, availability to everyone
*Updated information and training
*That when I am trying to do something I'm going to hit the wrong button and have NO IDEA how to fix it, and then have to bother someone to help me
*Not knowing what is out there, keeping up with the students, and fear of messing up in front of the students
*new, time consuming, how to find balance
*Not knowing the technology well enough to introduce new and exciting technology to the students
*I will never have enough training to keep up with current trends. Too hard to adjust.
*I "get it" when shown something, but then when I'm on my own I freeze. COST

Help us address our fears and concerns!

Better together

The night before I was to lead my first all staff development (3/7/12) I was up half the night. I didn’t want to be the presenter at the front of the room who looked back at people on their cell phones, people rolling their eyes, and people waiting to argue with everything I said. Don’t get me wrong, discourse is great. If three people in a room all agree, two of them are irrelevant. I get that. But when you are so close to a project and someone hates it, it’s hard not to take it personally.
So there I am, sitting on the couch with my dog, prepping the handouts, going over my notes, texting my friend (@mrsashleyjdavis) about how stressed out I am. She, of course, is being wonderful and reassuring. I, of course, am being ridiculous and not very reassured. All I want is for people to understand how truly important this work is. At this point in my head (which for any of you that know me is its own chaotic mess at any given point in time) I’m playing out one of those scenes from a television show where the kid is day-dreaming about being taunted at school, and at first the insults hit hard, and everyone is more mortifying, and then they all blend together into a horrible, embarrassing blur! Whew!
Side bar - do NOT get me wrong, the people that I work with are WONDERFUL, these are my own neurotic insecurities at play!
So. The blur in my head is making me dizzy as I continue to stress, when all of the sudden somebody hits pause on my mental DVR (because even in my head I hate commercials). 
Why not EMBRACE the concerns? When people are concerned or nervous or disagree they just want to be heard! In my head I start listing drawbacks and concerns or fears that teachers might bring to our meeting. I can address all of these. 
Now why not take it to the next level? Let’s just put all these fears and concerns on the table. Literally. Each staff member gets a note card. Each person lists a fear or concern. Let’s work TOGETHER on addressing them. Nancy Moval (@nmovall)l, an amazing leader and educator, started the mantra “BETTER TOGETHER IOWA”. Aren’t we all better together? So let’s be “BETTER TOGETHER NEH”. This project isn’t just my baby, this should be OUR baby. I care about this because I put so much time into it. I am invested in it. Now it’s everyone else’s turn to invest in the project.
We have an amazing group of teachers. We can only get better by working together, so that’s what we’ll do. And I’m bringing the students along for the ride - they get to lead 2 of the 3 breakout sessions. 
I am different from the presenter who stands in front of a new crowd of teachers for the 15th week in a row. I’m not asking teachers to invest in my theories. I’m asking them to help me - and each other - invest in OUR school. OUR kids. OUR future. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Blog - Tyler D

Tyler D - Trojan Tech Team President

As president of the Trojan Tech Team I help run meetings, organize events, and represent the club. We have enjoyed working with both staff and students during the day. It's important to have our school tech savvy. By the teachers and students learning and applying technology in class, we will be prepared for 21st century jobs.

Guest Blog

Jacob B - Trojan Tech Team Vice President

In the Northeast Hamilton Trojan Tech Team we have done many things that I've been involved in as the Vice President. I really enjoy and am looking forward to helping the teachers and student body at NEH. I've already helped in ways like fixing printers, and teaching some of the underclassmen about things like Twitter and Wikispaces. I will enjoy teaching the teachers and providing them with a better understanding because it will make classes more technological, which is what I am looking forward to.

Google Apps Handout

Google Apps for Education
Google Docs is one of several popular online tool suites. The idea behind this online suite is to eliminate saving to a specific server. Documents and files can be accessed anywhere internet access is available. At Northeast Hamilton this means that students and teachers can work, save, and share files from school laptops, computer labs, home, work, or even their phone - this eliminates document incompatibility, saving errors, and printing problems among other things. Working “in the cloud” is more efficient and effective. 
Google Docs are great for peer editing, file saving
  • While it may take time to learn, you will ultimately save time by having everyone using the same terminology, steps, and if multiple groups use the technology, training time for students rapidly decreases
  • Multiple users can edit, read, or share documents
  • The chat function allows students to “discuss” changes, goals, or questions
  • Offers nearly every function of Microsoft Word
  • Observe student work and learning as it happens
Forms are great for quizzes or surveys
  • Forms allows responses to be recorded as check box, multiple choice, text, or paragraph text
  • Leave it plain or add a background to make it more interesting or connected to your topic
  • Make certain questions or responses “required” (like names!)
  • Email the form or put it on a website using “embed” feature when you share
  • When you edit a form it happens in real time
    • If you email it out and realize you made a mistake, just fix it. When the recipients open it it will already be fixed (worst case scenario they will need to refresh the page)
  • Responses are immediately fed into one spreadsheet
  • Students can work collaboratively on a project outside of class
  • Changes are saved in real time - no saving multiple copies
  • The chat function allows students to “discuss” changes, goals, or questions
  • Offers nearly every function of PowerPoint
  • Observe student work and learning as it happens
Google Calendars can be shared publicly via email, Google, or on another website 
  • Share a calendar with parents so they can see lesson plans, upcoming projects or activities, or field trips
  • Calendars can be shared with older students with alarms and reminders attached for big events, tests, or project deadlines
  • Google Calendars can by synced with Smart Phones so events go straight to your phone and can be carried with you wherever you go - great for students, parents, teachers, administrators or personal use
Student Accounts
Julie has set up a Google account for every student in the district
  • Parent permission must be obtained prior to the students using the accounts
  • Teachers may obtain an account upon request (if you actually plan to use it)
  • Google account manager has access to student passwords, documents, and email accounts
Lesson Ideas
The idea behind Google Apps isn’t necessarily to change or create a new lesson, but to offer teachers a collaborative, safe way to share files with and between students. It should enhance the lessons you are already have and make your life easier!
*Create a calendar that you can share with parents! Send the snack/party/field trip calendar home once, but provide a digital place for parents to find it when it gets lost. 
*Share class, party, and field trip photos in a class photo album!
*Let students work together on a writing activity using a collaborative Google doc
*Create “AR” quizzes using Google Forms for books that may not be in the system
*Import your documents, spreadsheets or presentations that you’ve already created and save them to your Google account (just like uploading to a flash drive).
*Create quick formative quizzes (reading comprehension, math facts, science or social studies concepts, etc) that students can take at home or in the computer lab - data is immediately fed into a spreadsheet for teacher analysis
*Find another district and use Google Apps (presentation or docs work best) to work collaboratively on an assignment or project (Twitter is a great place to find a partner district)
*Encourage students to work/save on Google Docs, Presentations, Spreadsheets as a means of eliminating  problems with saving to the server, forgetting an assignment at home, or not having a flash drive.
*Peer editing works great with Google Docs
*Import your documents, spreadsheets or presentations that you’ve already created and save them to your Google account (just like uploading to a flash drive).
*Create quick formative quizzes that students can take on a laptop, iPad/Pod, or phone - data is immediately fed into a spreadsheet for teacher analysis

Sharing & Evaluating the Process

I started this blog as part of one of my early graduate courses. I have maintained this blog, posting challenges and triumphs, ever since. The blog has collected a few followers, and received a few comments, but it was not until recently that I have begun posting my blog entries on Twitter to try and gain more readers and followers. As I continue my journey through the ever-changing world of educational technology I hope to continue blogging and documenting the process. 
The stakeholders with whom I will share my findings, successes and shortcomings include my mentor and professor, my students, my fellow Northeast Hamilton teachers and administrators, the parents of my students, community members, and school board members. As a direct result of this project the primary stakeholders are students, teachers, and parents. As I continue the professional development of our staff and general awareness of educational technology it is important to share the results with those directly affected. 
One way I will do this is through this blog. I will also look for an opportunity to share at a school board meeting, prepare a piece for the school newsletter, and will be contacting the local paper about our community night. This is in addition to staff emails, student meetings, and staff and student trainings. Finally, I continually tweet my progress, making myself accountable to my professional learning network and opening up my work and writing to critique and public opinion.
I introduced this project on my blog already, have begun staff emails, and continue to tweet about my project. The newsletter article will take place at the end of March, and the board meeting is yet to be determined. I am working to make my students and parents more aware of my blog, and parent-teacher conferences fall at the end of this practicum, at which time I will have a greater opportunity to share with parents the work that their children and myself have been collaborating on.
The final step of my planned project, although I expect the work to continue throughout the year, is to host a community night in mid-April. It’s difficult to add something to the calendar this late, but with the continued support of my administration I am hoping we can find a date. This will be the final step in sharing information. The community night, however, will be more of a night of celebration and education than information. We will celebrate student achievement and educate parents and community members on the new practices that are taking place within the classroom. 
The blogging, newsletter, emails, and tweeting are a continuous process. I have been documenting my work, taking notes of meetings, and collecting data and survey responses. These things will be transformed into what I hope will from here on out be weekly blog posts. In order to successfully complete the community night I will need to meet with my building principal within the next week. We will need to arrange a date, location, and advertisements, as well as identify potential participants and stakeholders. My concern in that this may be overwhelming to my administrators. This is something I will discuss with my mentor in the coming days. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Trojan Tech Team

The group of students that has come together to make up the Trojan Tech Team is phenomenal. I could not have asked for a better group of kids. We work together to address tech issues, provide learning opportunities, and discuss new ways to use technology.

Most recently I have had a great group who has volunteered to do before and after school trainings for teachers. First we did Google Apps, led by the students, with my support, and next we are planning a PD late start. Next Wednesday I have 7-8 students who will be in EARLY to lead 3 different 45-minute break out sessions for teachers as the teachers work to create #edtech lessons.

They seem to be just as invested in this project as I am. That means a lot to me! I hope we continue to have these successes along the way.