Monday, December 25, 2017

#DeviceFreeDinner: Will Ferrell PSAs on Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media's PSA about #DeviceFreeDinner
Winter Break is a great time for families to to be together, hang out, relax, and get reenergized for the second half of the school year. This week all of our students and teachers are off, spending time with family and friends. With schedules that likely aren't as busy, hopefully families will have more time to be together at the dinner table, too. In the past I've written about the importance of tech free family dinners focused on gratitude and being where your feet are as well as the importance of being a Digital Mentor for kids

Common Sense Media launched a great campaign about a year ago related to these topics called #DeviceFreeDinner. If you haven't taken a look at their tips and suggestions, please do so. Kudos to them for spending time and energy on this campaign to bring it to the attention of a wider audience. Recently they added some celebrity presence to this message by creating public service announcements with Will Ferrell. There are four short public service announcements you can watch on their site.

Hopefully you aren't reading this at the dinner table with your family! Since you are reading, take a moment to reflect on you own use of tech while around others. If you are on someone who is on a device during meals with family and/or friends, make a New Year's Resolution to change this habit. Reflect on modeling this tech etiquette both for those you know as well as being a digital mentor and role model for strangers seeing you interact with (or be distracted from) others. 

Many other posts I've made related to having a healthy balance in our lives around our use of technology can be good New Year's Resolutions, too. Check them out:

    Monday, December 18, 2017

    Modified In-Class Flipped Instruction in Elementary Art

    Grade five students working on clay animal sculptures.

    Christin Congdon, one of our art teachers at Minnewashta Elementary School, regularly uses video for her daily instruction in a unique way I haven’t seen often. For the past two years, she has been recording a video that instructs her kindergarten through fifth grade students on the lesson steps and process of the art technique which they are learning. Lessons are on everything from painting techniques to clay, to rosemaling, drawing and weaving. She shows these instructional videos during class, so it is a modified flipped learning technique. 

    First grade students working on weaving.
    Since she has multiple sections of the same grade and therefore teaches the same lesson four to six times per week, she started doing this as a way to not have to repeat herself multiple times. She likes the fact that through video, each student has the ability to clearly see the steps and process on the screen rather than trying to crowd around her and get a spot to watch. By using video, she only has to use up art supplies once rather than using more up on demonstrations for every single class, which can get expensive.
    Christin has a dedicated art classroom now but was on a cart moving from classroom to classroom in prior years. During that time, she found the use of video instruction efficient because it increased the amount of instructional time for her students--they watched the video as she set up supplies and distributed materials. By far the biggest benefit Christin told me about is the fact of increased time for her to work with individual students. Now with a dedicated classroom, as the videos are playing, she is able to walk around the room and help students who are struggling, encourage students, and answer questions.

    Just 12 of almost 200 videos on Christin's YouTube Channel
    She often plays the video repeatedly during a class period, so students are able to continually look at the screen to be reminded of the steps and techniques rather than forget things or need to ask for things to be repeated. In addition, fifth grade students all have an iPad in our 1:1 program, so students bring those to class and have their own individual learning station which they can pause, rewind, and loop as they work. Recently I saw this first hand when I observed Christin’s classroom making clay animals as pictured above.

    iPad stand
    Christin has been putting her videos on YouTube and there are currently almost 200! She has over 250 subscribers to her channel and some of the videos have thousands of views. Her most watched video has been seen by over 33,000 people. These views are well beyond just the students in her classroom, as she has about 130 students per grade level. Her art instruction is reaching beyond her classroom walls around the world. To record the videos, she uses her iPad. Her husband made an adjustable  iPad stand as pictured using PVC pipe, some glue, and a dado blade on a table saw.

    Related posts:

      Monday, December 11, 2017

      Exceptional Minnetonka Teachers Recognized for Use of Technology

      We are fortunate to have exceptional teachers in Minnetonka Public Schools. Each day I am amazed at the innovative ways they use technology with their students to engage and excite them in learning. This is the fourth year that we have nominated one elementary and one secondary teacher to be recognized in at the annual TIES MN state technology conference in December. These teachers are among 75+ teachers from almost 50 districts honored at the annual conference. The TIES Exceptional Teacher award recognizes teachers who use technology to positively impact student learning and model best practices in their classroom. Below are descriptions about each award winner written by our instructional technology coaches. This year's Minnetonka award winners (as well as our past winners since I haven't posted about them in the past) are below. I've included direct links to their Twitter handles so you can learn more about them:

      Jennifer Hahn, Groveland 5th Grade Teacher, is a student-centered, tech-savvy teacher. She is highly proficient at integrating technology into existing curriculum and skillfully creates learning experiences that encompass technology. Jennifer consistently seeks ways to engage her students in learning through Breakout EDU challenges, Genius Hour, and coding projects. She effectively uses iPads and Schoology to maximize student learning and to share her passion for Language Arts to ignite a love of reading in children. Jennifer is collaborative and creative, sharing her passions for reading and technology not only with her students, but with her peers as a master teacher leader. She is a go-to resource for tips, tricks, and instructional best practices.

      Joe's Blog
      Joe Cossette, Minnetonka High School Science Teacher, works tirelessly to implement technology on a daily basis to enhance his instruction and increase student engagement. He harnesses the power of technology to build community and empower learning for both students and staff. Joe has become a connected educator on social media, building his own repertoire as well as sharing ideas on his blog to support others. He recently led an internal professional development session on using Twitter to enhance teacher voice and collaboration among staff. His work has not only impacted his students but all science students at Minnetonka High School. Joe models a growth mindset, creativity, collaboration, and communication using technology to empower his students to try new tools and create meaningful products to demonstrate their learning. He even writes songs to help his students learn science!


      Lisa Reed, Minnetonka Middle School STEM and Computer Science Teacher, is an educator who is very focused on creating a student centered classroom for all of her students. She is a motivated to not let anything get in the way of bringing technology to her students. She has a powerful ability to create engaging projects that are student-led to showcase the students’ ability to utilize technology to enhance their learning. One of Lisa’s strengths is how organized she is both in the classroom and in a virtual environment when communicating with students and parents. Her dedication to the teaching and learning goes beyond just her classroom. Lisa leads a cohort of teachers that focuses on how classroom design affects student learning. She also involves her 6th Grade STEM students in the Design for Learning process by having them create proposals for other teachers to help better design their classrooms to foster engagement and high levels of learning. She has written curriculum for middle school level computer science courses, which are being implemented this year. She was able to use our districts Framework to help create those courses and ensure alignment with the high school program. Lastly, Lisa is passionate about fostering a love of science and technology for girls by leading the Tonka Technovation club, which is a club for girls to get involved in STEM activities, such as coding. 

      Kirsten Rue Johnson, Grade 3 Teacher at Minnewashta Elementary, is a leader with technology. Kirsten is innovative and looks for new ways to integrate technology with her students on a daily basis. Being a third grade teacher, she helps bridge the gap from students learning to use technology, to using technology to learn and create. This year, Kirsten has taken on an additional role to support teachers in their use of coding and computer science in the elementary classroom. Persistence, logic, and problem solving are not just skills that she is helping to foster in the classrooms, but skills that she models in her role as a computer science coach. Kirsten continues her support in after school activities as well. She is working with a team to provide computer science professional development to all teachers via a blended learning opportunity, and she is working to get families involved with computer science with an after school event.

      Tim Sauer and Ali Wachutka with Mark Wollak from TIES
      Dr. Tim Sauer, Minnetonka High School Math Teacher, “Doc Sauer” as the students call him, is dedicated to the success of every learner. He designs lessons with hands-on experiences to fully engage students and to provide real world applications for their mathematics learning. When Minnetonka implemented its 1:1 iPad initiative, Dr. Sauer re-imagined his entire curriculum, designing lessons and practice that make optimal use of the technology available to students. Insatiably curious, Tim constantly explores new ways to show his students that math is in everything, and he uses technology in his classroom to spark curiosity and wonder.

      Ali Wachutka, Grade 2-3 Navigator Teacher at Scenic Heights Elementary, is an innovative teacher who focuses on what is best for her students. Ali is in tune with the needs of her multi-age exceptionally gifted students. She has made the most of the limited technology available in her classroom, including using QR codes with her book collection and programming applications with Finch robots.
      Ali is a master teacher. Her students are engaged and challenged each and every day. She uses technology to personalize learning for her students. She engages students in big-picture projects where their interests and strengths drive the learning. Ali is incredibly competent in leveraging technology to plan, communicate and teach efficiently and effectively. She is also happy to share what she knows with her colleagues.

      Cindy McGlasson, Minnetonka Middle School East Math Teacher. Her approach to educational technology always begins with students. She brings a laser focus to the critical question of how the technology will impact her students, and she uses her innate knowledge of students and her expertise in authentically integrating craft the right approach using the right technology. If you were to walk into her math class on any given day, you would find happy, engaged math students authentically using technology to differentiate, create and collaborate. From her daily homework checks that allow her to follow her students’ progress, to her collaborative whiteboard problem-solving lessons, to her lesson-review Kahoots!, Cindy is a master at making mathematics come to life with technology-infused lessons. When it comes to instructional technology, Cindy is a leader in her classroom, in her department, and in her school.
      Rachel Studnicka, Groveland Elementary School Grade 4 Teacher, is continuously striving for the best in her students. One of the ways that Rachel works to ensure that her students are successful in her class is through her use of technology. Rachel uses technology as an integrated part of her classroom. She has provided her students with flipped opportunities through our LMS, she has given the students the chance to participate in BYOD, and she often collects data from the students through the use of digital formative assessments. Rachel jumps at the chance to try new things, when she understands the potential impact it can have on students. The best example of this is her involvement in our district’s coding initiative. Rachel is the co-lead for her building for TONKA <codes>. She brings an excitement for the knowledge that comes with bringing this new program to the students.

      Monday, December 4, 2017

      Don't Miss 12 Minnetonka Public Schools' Presentations @ #TIES17

      Next week is the TIES Conference, the annual statewide Minnesota Educational Technology get together. Teachers, technology coaches, tech directors, media specialists, principals, superintendents, and other educators from around the Midwest will gather in Minneapolis for two days of learning, networking, collaboration and idea sharing. If you can't attend, follow #TIES17 to see what you're missing. If you are able to attend, be sure to check out these 12 sessions led by Minnetonka Public Schools' staff:

      Dave Eisenmann, Director of Instructional Technology & Media Services
      Eric Schneider, Associate Superintendent
      Develop a larger framework for technology beyond SAMR ladders and pools which includes authentic and real-world learning, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, global perspectives, and personalized learning. Learn how Minnetonka has developed a Framework for Teaching & Learning that includes all of these dimensions and will guide you to successfully create more meaningful, deeper, and engaging learning experiences. Move beyond focusing on technology! Link to presentation

      Melinda Barry, Media Specialist
      Using Human Centered Design and The Third Teacher principles, staff, students and parents at Scenic Heights Elementary transformed the library media center into a 21st Century learning space. We reflected on our current space, consulted with kids, and dreamed big. During this session you'll learn about the process used to redesign the space and to build excitement so the funding would follow.

      Nicole Snedden, Innovation Coordinator, Teacher Instructional Coach, & Design for Learning Project Leader 
      In this session, participants will learn how to embrace a progressive culture of innovation in how a school district can design and think about learning spaces. Discuss the preconceptions and barriers regarding classroom design and explore the power of using technology and crowdsourcing to communicate vision and engage a variety of stakeholders (students, teachers, and the community) in this evolution.

      Library Skills for Today's Media Centers
      Erin Carcamo, Elementary Media Specialist
      Julie Carter, Grey Ed
      Library skills provide a rich background of essential understanding for students in the areas of research, writing and digital literacy. Although these skills have changed to reflect the needs of the 21st century learner, how we are teaching these skills hasn’t been transformed. Experience an interactive, literature infused way of teaching and transforming library skills in your media centers. You will learn about the implementation of these skills in a Minnetonka Schools Elementary Library. May contain commercial content.

      Rachel Studnicka, Elementary Instructional Technology Coach
      In this session, we will explore ideas and processes for designing authentic performance tasks to be used as rich learning activities and/or for purposes of assessment. The G.R.A.S.P.S. elements that are used to frame a performance task: real-world Goal, a meaningful Role; an authentic (or simulated) Audience(s), a contextualized Situation, student-generated Products and Performances, and performance Standards (criteria) by which successful performance would be judged.

      Darren Best, High School Instructional Technology Coach and Math Teacher
      Patricia Price, High School Instructional Technology Coach and Science Teacher
      This session will highlight Schoology features that allow teachers to present new content in an online format; even when they need to be out of the classroom.

      Professional Learning - One Size Does Not Fit All
      Dr. Paula Hoff, Middle School Principal
      Sara Hunt, Tech Coach/Science Teacher, Minnetonka Public Schools
      Learn how one school transformed the professional learning model for all staff by providing a framework for each individual adult learner to pursue learning that directly aligned to individual interest and need. Focus on district and building goals, deliverables for staff, and student achievement measures are all part of the model.

      Schoology Hidden Gems
      Rachel Studnicka, Elementary Instructional Technology Coach
      Schoology user? This session is for you! Schoology has so many "hidden gems" - lesser known features or loved features that are being used in new, creative ways. In this session a Schoology Champion will present some of her favorites!

      Ann Kaste, High School Media Specialist
      Kelli Whiteside, Elementary Media Specialist
      Fake news has been around for a long time, and recently, learning to spot it has taken on new levels of importance. Students need strong, scholarly research strategies to evaluate the information they find online. This workshop offers relevant information on effective online searching, strategies for accessing quality online resources, and engaging instructional content to use with your students as you prepare them for finding information online.

      Colleen Small, Elementary Media Specialist
      Learn about the 3D Printing in an elementary setting! This session will feature one educator's journey using Tinkercad and Maker'sEmpire in the elementary.

      Ben Stanerson, High School Instructional Technology Coach, Science Teacher, and Tonka Online Lead
      Robb Virgin, Assistant High School Principal
      Online learning reimagined through stories of successful online courses that defeat common myths. Tonka Online offers supplemental, teacher created, online courses to students in Minnetonka and across the state. Minnetonka teachers will share how they confront myths about online learning by developing engaging courses that focus on quality, building relationships, and deliver exceptional learning. Practical tips for course design, student support, communication, and more will be discussed.

      Darren Best, High School Instructional Technology Coach and Math Teacher
      Zach Eidelbes, Digital Learning Coach, Shakopee Public Schools
      Desmos is more than a free online graphing calculator. Desmos activity builder creates opportunities for students to discover mathematics. In this session, we will share how we have used Desmos to increase engagement and exploration in our classrooms. You will experience Desmos Activity Builder as a student, explore the many ready to use activities available for free, and prepare to create your own. Leave with activities that you can implement immediately when you get back to your classroom.