Sunday, March 29, 2015

Who's missing from this picture? You are! Fourth Annual Technology Institute June 17 & 18. Chose from 22 Pre-Conference workshops!


Who's missing from this picture? You are! The window for breakout session proposals for the Fourth Annual Technology Institute on Thursday, June 18 is now open!  Please join us and share your great ideas and stories of innovative technology integration!  The conference encompasses all ed tech - Google, Schoology, Chromebooks, Moodle, iPads, flipped classrooms, online learning, coding, and much more! Wednesday, June 17 pre-conference half and full day workshop registration is open, too.  Register a group from your school today before sessions fill.  

Thomas Murray, Digital Learning Director at Alliance for Excellent Education, author of “Leading Professional Learning: Tools to Connect and Empower Teachers,” and founder of #EdTechChat will keynote on June 18. Greg Kulowiec and Beth Holland from EdTechTeacher will lead AppSmashing and Elementary iPad workshops on June 17 and breakout sessions on June 18. Minnesota TIES staff will lead workshops and breakout sessions, too, plus all the other presenters and attendees will make this year’s conference a great event! 

Wednesday Full Day Workshop Options (Limited Seats available):

  1. iPads in the Elementary Classroom: Beth Holland, Instructor & Communications Coordinator, EdTechTeacher, Chestnut Hill, MA 
    From recording reading fluency, to developing storytelling skills, to demonstrating problem solving, iPads can be used in myriad ways in the elementary classroom. This workshop will focus specifically on iPad innovation at the K-4 level. We will explore apps and strategies specific to young learners to empower them as creators of their own learning artifacts.  
  2. App Smashing & App Fluency (Advanced): Greg Kulowiec, Presenter & Instructor, EdTechTeacher, Plymouth, MA
    In this hands-on, intensive, workshop, partici
    pants will explore advanced topics in classroom iPad integration such as App Fluency, App Smashing, curation, and collaboration. Advanced workflow strategies will be covered as well as multi-app combination scenarios to create new multimedia content. Participants in this workshop will push the boundaries of what is possible with iPads. 

Plus 18 More Wednesday Half Day Workshop Options (Limited Seats available):

In addition to the two days focused on technology, there are also thought-provoking speakers to accelerate professional development and growth in your district starting Monday, June 15.  Each day of the institute will feature an important area of interest for educators as well as engaging experts who will offer keynotes, workshops, and other special opportunities:

Monday, June 15, 2015 – Interventions and Achievement Gap

  • George Batsche (from the RTI Action Network) 
  • Yvette Jackson (author of Aim High, Achieve More and The Pedagogy of Confidence) 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015  – Innovation in Education

  • George Couros (Blog: The Principal of Change) 
  • Heather Staker (author of the new book Blended with Michael Horn) 
  • Eric Scheninger (author of the new book Digital Leadership) 
  • Patti Drapeau (author of the new book - Sparking Student Creativity)
  • Athletic Directors Institute

Wednesday, June 17, 2015  – Assessment and Grading

  • Doug Reeves (Director of Leadership and Learning Institute) 
  • Rick Stiggins (Director of the Assessment Training Institute – appearing via live feed) 
  • Nicole Vagle (national speaker on the topic of standards-based grading) 
  • Jeff Erickson (Minnetonka principal and author of scholarly articles on standards-based grading)
  • Mark Barnes (author of the new book Assessment 3.0, and the recent book Role Reversal)
  • Plus Preconference Technology Workshops

Thursday, June 18, 2015  – Technology 

  • Thomas Murray, Digital Learning Director at Alliance for Excellent Education
  • Breakout Sessions

Don't miss this great opportunity to network with colleagues while learning from some of the nation's most prominent thought leaders. For more information and to register, visit the Institute for Leadership website.  Discounted registration discounts are available now as well as for those who register for multiple dates! Register your team today! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

March Madness Boss Button: Adults Get Distracted Online and Multitask, too!

I'm not a basketball fan, so March Madness has never been something I give much attention.  I prefer hockey and am excited about the Minnesota Wild's upcoming Wildcard spot!  My two sons like basketball, so there were a lot of games on TV this weekend in our house and conversations about brackets, including the question about the odds of a perfect bracket (1 in 9.2 quintillion).

Since I'm not a big basketball fan, I wasn't aware of the "Boss Button" until a friend showed it to me on his computer.  Basically, you can stream all the NCAA Mach Madness games online as shown below.  

If you are doing this when you shouldn't be, i.e. at work, and your boss happens to walk by, never fear, you can simply click the blue "Boss Button" and then the second screen pictured below appears. This second screen makes it look like you are working on a Google Slideshow of your accomplishments instead of watching basketball on the job.


What struck me most when I saw this was the simple fact that the existence of this Boss Button shows that even adults have distractions. It is a life skill for everyone today to learn how to deal with them, not just students in school. The line between using technology tools for both tasks and leisure is blurred more and more each day as the tools become more accessible from anywhere and through any device.  We can do work at home and access entertainment while at work.

In school, we continue to have many discussions among staff and with students about the need to teach students to use technology responsibly. We want to do this teaching when they are in school so they are not graduating with bad habits, but instead know how to handle distractions when they are on their own.  We want them to learn these important self-discipline skills while under the supervision of parents and teachers, not when their job is on the line as an adult.

FYI, it turns out the Boss Button apparently has been around since 2006.  More on that here.  It turns out there is even a "Student" option with academic fake screens, in addition to the fake work screen shots, which is ironic as this article points out.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tip #4- Make Full Use of the iPad as a Formative Assessment Tool

Watch a two minute video about this.
Tip #4 for a Successful 1:1 iPad Implementation is make full use of the iPad as a formative assessment tool. Research from John Hattie (Visible Learning, 2008) points to overwhelming effectiveness that meaningful feedback helps students be more successful and helps teachers better inform future instruction.  Helping teachers understand the multiple ways to use the iPad as an efficient tool to provide formative assessments is a great way to increase effective use of 1:1 devices in schools. Using tools like Google Forms, Socrative, and Padlet (Wallwisher), Kahoot, Poll Everywhere, and many others, teachers are able to collect real time feedback about student understanding and then customize instruction based on that feedback. Teachers continually find innovative ways to provide feedback to the student work in ways that are faster and more efficient than collecting paper, such as using Schoology and TurnItIn to annotate students' assignments and even provide audio feedback.
Before 1:1 iPads, teachers had to rely on quizzes or paper exit slips that were time-consuming to evaluate, which meant that meaningful feedback to students was often delayed by a day or more.  The iPad has been the tool that provides access for students to complete this feedback before, during, and after class. After 1:1 iPads, quizzes and exit polls can be instantly assessed and then used to inform teaching that day or the next.  Plus, all students’ voices can be heard and accounted for when an electronic collection tool is used.  Compared to the traditional method of having students raise their hands to speak and only hearing from one or two individuals, the increased accountability placed on each student and the knowledge gain for the teacher about each of their students is invaluable.

An easy, quick way to get teachers started with simple, electronic formative assessment is to have them make a short three question Google Form with a field for students’ names, a question where students select their hour of class (if the teacher has multiple sections of the same course) and a text box that simply asks, “What is your answer?”  This form can be used repeatedly throughout a class daily to gather the responses of students to any question asked, whether the prompt is displayed on a screen, written on the board, or just stated aloud. There is no need for the teacher to continually edit the form and change the text of the question.  To further speed up the ease of having students open this form up, teachers can have students open the link to the form in Safari, then simply add the page as an icon app to their home screen and title it appropriately, such as “Science Form.”

Here's another great example of using the iPad for formative assessment: teachers can give more immediate feedback to students' topic sentences or thesis statements by collecting them via a Google form, then use FormEmailer to add comments and email them to the student.  This allows the teacher to provide customized feedback to students in an efficient paperless environment. Some teachers have also collected these statements or other items such as lab results or short answers to questions on a collective Google spreadsheet, which has the added benefit of being seen by everyone. The feedback doesn't have to come from just the teacher, either, allowing for more input and reflection by all students, rather than just between one student and the teacher.

There are many other ways to efficiently give more formative assessments and feedback in class and even save time grading.  Besides apps like Socrative, Minnetonka teachers also use Skyward and Schoology assessments online and use the automatically scored multiple choice, matching and true/false items to guide teaching and learning. These testing features even allow for inserted pictures, open-ended responses, randomized questions and teacher comments on student responses. The Schoology app as well as TurnItIn both provide the teacher with an easy, efficient way to annotate students' assignments and even provide audio feedback, all without paper. Getting teachers to harness any or all of these great tools on an iPad is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your 1:1 program.

To learn more about Minnetonka Public Schools iPad Program, check out

Monday, March 9, 2015

Tenth Annual Minnetonka Technology Site Visit a Success!

Watch a video overview

Last week, 150 educators from the Midwest toured Minnetonka Public Schools to see how teachers accelerate learning with technology.  They had the opportunity to see technology integration firsthand in PreK-12 grade classrooms, witness proven programs, and gather innovative ideas from our teachers, administrators, students, and technology staff to take back to their own school. The full program agenda is like a digital treasure chest of links to all of the resources, handouts, and presentations from event.  I'd encourage you to look through it!  You will likely find all sorts of valuable information that you can use even if you weren't on site.  You can also search #TonkaTech on Twitter.
Some photos of visitors touring Minnetonka classrooms.  See more
Wednesday, March 4, was our tour day.  Visitors chose two of four school tours, seeing one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.  They werwe able to explore technology in all subject areas, including Chinese and Spanish Language immersion, early childhood, special education, Tonka Online, Tonka<codes>and the arts.  At the secondary level, they experienced Minnetonka's digital learning cycle for a 1:1 iPad program (recognized as a 2013-15 Apple Distinguished Program) and also toured our Vantage facilities. Classroom visits and mini-sessions provided direct interaction with teachers and students.  We bused visitors between sites and enjoyed a lunch all together during which our Superintendent and Executive Director of Technology spoke.  Sponsors helped cover the costs and and provided some nice raffle prizes for attendees.  Check out the full program agenda, including details about each classroom stop.

On Thursday, March 5, visitors took an in depth dive into the behind the scenes details, spending the day attending a wide variety of small group sessions led by Minnetonka instructional technology staff, teacher leaders, District administrators, and Technology Department staff to learn how things work behind the scenes, from the planning to the professional development.  We shared the best practices and tips and tricks we have learned for implementing meaningful technology integration that will accelerate learning.  The morning keynote, Minnetonka Innovates, was given by Assistant Superintendent Eric Schneider, and provided visitors with an overview of how Minnetonka's crowd-sourced, grassroots innovation process works and keeps us continually improving.  Be sure to look through the full program agenda to access all of the presentations and content from each breakout session.  Over lunch attendees were with District staff members for Q & A.  Once again, sponsors helped cover the costs and and provided some nice raffle prizes for attendees.  

Fourth Annual Summer Technology Institute June 17-18

I hope you will recruit your staff to present at and attend our Fourth Annual Summer Technology Institute June 17-18, as well at the entire week of learning June 15-18 at our Summer Leadership Institute.  Thomas MurrayDigital Learning Director at Alliance for Excellent Education and founder of #EdTechChat, will keynote on June 18.  Greg Kulowiec and Beth Holland from EdTechTeacher will lead AppSmashing and Elementary iPad workshops on June 17 and breakout sessions on June 18.  Minnesota TIES staff will also lead preconference and breakout sessions, plus all the other presenters and attendees will make this year’s conference a great event!  The conference will encompass all ed tech- Google, Schoology, Chromebooks, Moodle, iPads, and much more!  Register today!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Minnesota Trends in Social Media, Cyberbullying, and Digital Citizenship

For the past eight years I have had the privilege to speak about digital citizenship and cyber safety to tens of thousands of secondary students and parents in over 70 public and private school districts across Minnesota. I have shared the important message of using technology in healthy and appropriate ways by addressing current issues such as the latest apps, cyber bullying, inappropriate material, and digital footprints.  I am able to take vacation time off from my job in Minnetonka to do this. More info about my presentations is online
One of the things I do during my student presentations is to use PollEverywhere to engage the student audience by answering questions through text messaging. Their answers to multiple choice or yes/no questions are displayed instantly on the screen for all to see, and then we discuss the results. Most often, about a half to three fourths of the students in the audience choose to participate (not everyone has a cellphone/texting, I suppose some feel it's not anonymous, while others may be "too cool" to do this).  Recently I decided to export the polls into a report to see the cumulative results from the students' answers so far this year. Some of the questions I've recently changed, so not all of these polls have the same number of students responding.  The graphs below show the answers of 1,247-4,956 students grades 6-12 polled statewide.

One interesting trend over the years has been to see the rise and fall of Facebook in popularity. When I started giving these presentations years ago, I was talking about a site called MySpace with students (remember that?).  I saw the rise of Facebook a few years later.  Recently, now that Mom, Grandma, and teachers have signed up for Facebook, the students are quickly leaving for other tools like Instagram and Vine.  

Other trends I notice are that older high school students are not the quickest adopters; I see more grade 8-10 students begin using the latest tools and applications faster than their older classmates.  I also have noticed a delay in the adoption of the newer trending tools that seems to increase the farther away from the Twin Cities metro area the school is located.  Below are answers to the question, "Which three of these tools do you use the most?"

Another trend I'm seeing is an increase in the occurrence of cyber bullying statewide each year.  On the past round of the Minnesota State Student Survey last taken by students in 2013, 79-92% of students reported having never been cyber bullied in the past 30 days:

When I started asking that exact same question this year, only 59% of students now report never having been cyber bullied: 

I think with the growing number of students with cellphones and smartphones at even younger ages than ever before, cyber bullying is on the rise and should be a topic that is continually addressed by both schools and families, even though it seems like the media coverage has moved past this topic. We need to help students realize how quickly things can be posted, forwarded, and kept through technology, and how difficult it is to remove/take something back:  

We need to help them to think first before they post, and only post and digitize things they would be comfortable with everyone seeing, including Grandma:

We can help them understand these thing through continual dialog and reminders. We need to help them be safe as they use technology and do the right thing.  We can help them to create a positive online presence and digital footprint so they have the best future possible!  

Here's a link to the handout of the top tips I give parents and staff at my presentations which you are welcome to use and share.