Sunday, December 28, 2014

Using Tweetdeck for Chats

The Teach Like a Pirate book study chat is about to set sail! To help everyone get ready to chat, here are some helpful organizational tips.

If you have never participated in a chat, start at my intro to chats blog post here

Organizing Twitter using an Application
I personally use Tweetdeck to organize my Twitter account. What is Tweetdeck? It is a social media dashboard application for management of Twitter accounts. Tweetdeck interfaces with your Twitter account to allow you to send and receive tweets and view profiles. My favorite thing about Tweetdeck is that it organizes my Twitter account to help make it easy to see Tweets from specific people and follow specific hashtags.

Getting Started with Tweetdeck
This introductory video by @ashleyhurley does a fabulous job of giving an overview of how to use Tweetdeck for those visual learners reading this post. It is about 10 minutes long, and very detailed and easy to follow.
(the hashtag to follow for the book study is #bfctlap)

For the hands on learners that would rather read step-by-step directions, here is a short overview of getting started.
1. Go to
2. Go to + Add Column on the left hand side of the screen
3. Go to the SEARCH icon
4. Type #bfctlap, click add column (this is the hashtag we will use for the book study)
5. Go to + Add Column on the left hand side of the screen
6. Click on notification, click add column (this will help you keep up with your personal notifications)
7. Go to + Add Column on the left side of the screen
8. Add any other hashtag (#) you would like to follow. I would suggest #tlap and #bfc530
9. You can also follow the handle of a specific person if you want to follow their tweets. (example @BethHouf if you want to see all of the things I specifically tweet)

Moving Columns
You can manage each column by clicking on the two horizontal lines on the right side of the column. This allows you to customize the column and move it as needed (with the < > icons). You can also delete the column.

Composing a Tweet
To compose a tweet, simply click on the "New Tweet" icon on the left side of the screen. Type your tweet and you are ready to go! Don't forget to add the hashtag if you are chatting.

Chat Time!
To actually participate in the chat, just login to Tweetdeck and follow the column you created. I always put my notification column next to the chat I'm following in case someone responds to something I say. This is just one more time-saving tool for busy educators.

Happy Chatting!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blogging: Connecting in the 21st Century

"I do not want to get ideas and resources from others," said no teacher ever.  Pinterest has become the 'go to' for many for resources and ideas to use in the classroom.  But if one really pays attention, these ideas, most often than not, come from teacher or educational blogs.

Blogs are online conversations, posts, based on a particular topic.  Usually, the blogs showcased through Pinterest, are created by classroom teachers sharing ideas and resources in an informal, coversational style,  much like this blog post now.  Other blog posts, are presented as more of a topic centered, information and strategy-sharing opportunity by organizations, developed to provide pedagogical strategies for teachers.  Edutopia is one such example.  Regardless of the reasons, following blogs offers a teacher the opportunity to stay up to date on latest and newest strategies and resources being used by others, globally.  @Cybraryman, Jerry Blumengarten, offers a comprehensive lists of blogs dedicated to promoting education and educational practices.

Blogs can also be used to showcase events happening in schools.  Newsletters, information from administrators and principals, as well as best practices and student portfolios are all common uses for blogs. (Principal's Page and TEAMingUp4Tech).  e-Portfolios are becoming the best option for students to track their learning.  Districts, promoting 21st century practices, are having students begin to create their online portfolios in kindergarten.  These portfolios are updated throughout their educational experience.  What an opportunity to have a digital record of student learning and growth through the years.

Now let's switch gears, and talk about authentic writing opportunities for our students.  Whether in kindergarten or high school, teachers are looking for ways to make writing authentic for their students.  What better way to have students write to a real audience?  Blogging offers students an opportunity to write, for specific purposes, to teachers, classmates, and others globally.  Quadblogging allows students and classrooms to connect with other classrooms to share ideas and learning through blogging.  Isn't connecting one of the 4Cs of 21st Century skills and learning?

Still not sure?  Here is a list of resources to help you get started:
What are some ways you could use blogs?  Your students?

Ready to get started?  Here are a few resources to help you create your first blog!  Happy Blogging!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Assessment Engagement Style!

I don't know about you, but I have realized that my students are being assessed at every corner! Benchmarking assessments, progress monitoring assessments, pre-assessments, assessments during instruction, end of unit assessments, ugghh!!  That's not even including our end of course and end of year assessments!  It seems to me that the more we assess, the less importance our students associate with assessment.  But, we HAVE to assess!  How else are we going to know where to guide our instruction, what intervention is needed, who needs extra support, or who is ready for enrichment?

I have a few web tools I am sharing with you.  These can be used for formative or summative assessments.

The first tool I am sharing is Glogster.  I LOVE this tool.  The free version offers plenty of variety in templates for creating interactive posters known as glogs (graphic blogs).  Imagine using these as anchor charts.  Gone are the days of charts hanging in the room that are only available to students while they are in the classroom.  Using Glogster to create anchor charts put these resources in the hands of students outside of the classroom wherever there is internet access.  These could also be used as assessments for students.  What if we made the unit essential question the title of their glog?  As we move through the unit, the students add to their glogs materials that support the essential question learning?  The uses are many!  I am including a tutorial I created on how to create a glog using Glogster.  I am also including a glog I created on Subjects & Predicates.  I am using this as my grammar unit.  The students can move at their own pace and through quick formative assessment checks using EdPuzzle (post coming later) with my YouTube videos, I can check who needs some extra support.

Glogster Tutorial
Subject Predicate Glog

Please let me know of any ideas you have for using this tool!  The kids LOVE it! (I do, too!)

The second tool I would like to share is Thinglink.  Another great tool to showcase the level of understandings students have on particular content.  Using this tool as an assessment will engage students and offer them an opportunity to "show what they know".  Thinglink allows for any image to become interactive.  Google Docs, Forms, Presentations, YouTube videos, and other links can be "tagged" to images to show deep understanding of content being discussed.

I first stumbled upon this resource during my many "stalking" sessions on Twitter and Google+ Communities.  Susan Oxnevad, to me, is the guru of Thinglink.  I have gained so many ideas from her blog, Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners, and have really gained an understanding of how this tool promotes critical thinking and engagement in the classroom.

Imagine having the learning standard as your image, using Google app, Text to Image, and having the students "tag" the image with work supporting their understanding?  Or using Thinglink with visual synectics as literal or metaphorical connections to content?  Susan Oxnevad shares many examples and continues to post new and exciting uses for this versatile tool.

Thinglink Tutorial
Twitter Thinglink example I created for a Web Wednesday workshop

Any other ideas for this tool?  I would love to hear how you are using this tool within your instruction!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Learning and Connecting through #twitterchats

When I first heard about Twitter chats, I have to say I was not intrigued. My mind immediately thought of chat rooms and random people just ranting and rambling. After going to a conference over the summer and connecting with other administrators and digital leaders, I was shown the powerful learning, connections and reflection that can truly happen through a Twitter chat. 

So what are the basics of a chat? 
A Twitter chat is centered around a specific interest and occurs each week at the same time with the same hashtag. Each chat has a moderator that poses questions and those participating respond and include the same hashtag. Some of my favorite chats are:

Sunday nights at 7:00 CST: #nbtchat  (No Box Thinking)
Monday nights at 8:00 CST: #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate)
Thursday nights at 8:00 CST: #atplc
Thursday nights at 9:00 CST: #moedchat (Missouri Ed)
Saturday mornings at 6:30 CST: #satchat (Saturday Chat)
Saturday mornings at 9:30 CST: #satchatwc (Saturday Chat-West Coast)
Saturday mornings at 8:00 CST: #nt2t (New Teachers to Twitter)
Monday-Friday at 4:30 am CST or 6:30 am CST: #bfc530 (Breakfast Club 5:30)

Questions are labeled Q1, Q2, etc. and you mark your answers to correspond with the questions, A1, A2, etc. Don't forget that hashtag! That't the way that all of the others in the chat can see your thoughts and resources that you are sharing.

Abbreviations to know:
Ts= teachers
BTW=by the way
DM=direct message
TY or Thx=thanks
TIL=today I learned

Organizing your chat:

It's possible to participate in a chat using Twitter, however it is very hard to keep up with all of the tweets. I recommend using a third-party organizer, such at Tweetchat or Tweetdeck. This allows you to just see what is happening in your specific chat. Very easy to set up and use!

Using Tweetdeck:
Using Tweetchat:

How do I get started with a chat?
Your particular comfort level and learning style will most likely guide how you go about participating in your first chat. I recommend finding a friend. I had a chat buddy. He helped me to learn the basics and actually walked me through my very first chat as it was happening. Having that support eased the unknown for me. You can also "lurk" or just watch chats as they happen until you feel comfortable jumping in and participating.

For the researchers out there, here are sites that have been especially helpful to me:

Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1 has a page for most any topic in education. He is my go to when I want to dive a little deeper.

Learning and Leading with Technology

Chat Schedules:

Twitter chats have been some of the most powerful professional learning that I have taken part in so far as an educator. The knowledge and resources shared and global education connections that have been made have been invaluable. So jump right in and #happychatting!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Backchanneling: Engagement & Assessment

Are you looking for ways to get your students engaged?  Looking for quick formative assessment checks? What about "out of the box" summative assessment opportunities?  Here is a presentation created to showcase some backchanneling, chat, and assessment opportunities to quickly check your student's understanding of content.

Look over the presentation and add any ideas for the resources.  It is our hope to create a list of possible uses and share.  Have fun experimenting and please comment your uses for each resource!

Backchanneling: Engagement & Assessment

Personalizing Your Professional Development

I don't know about you, but there have been too many times I had to sit through professional development workshops that were not relevant to my needs at the time.  If I was lucky, I attended a conference where some sessions were awesome and some were ok.  Maybe they were something I could take right to my classroom, and most of the time, I had to tweak to make it work for me and my class.  I can honestly say, I have learned how to navigate my own professional development path.  Through Twitter and Google+ Communities, I can now follow professionals and join communities that are relevant to my needs.  There is also the possibility to sync both of these forms of social media to my smartphone, so I am alerted when something I am interested in is posted.

So many ideas, resources, advice, and collaboration, from and with experts in my professional field, are waiting to be utilized.  Check out these presentations created on personalizing your pd through Twitter and Google+ communities.  Hope you find them useful!

Personalizing PD Through Twitter


Friday, September 12, 2014

Google Drive Tips and Support

Google Drive Tips and Support

Google Drive has truly been a life changer for me! It makes my life so much easier because all I need is at my fingertips. I know that it can be a shift from what was used before, but definitely worth it! I've put together some resources below to help you become more Google Drive Savvy. Enjoy!

From Google:

Advanced Tips:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Interactive Close Reading

4th grade is using the reading booklet, Storyworks.  What is really great is the online component of the monthly reading booklet. (I'm sure whatever you are using has an online component as well.)  I will be using this online component with a resource called Subtext, component of Renaissance Learning.

How this resource works is I will upload the online Storyworks to the Subtext site and add it to the library (Subtext has many articles to choose from).  This now makes the article interactive.  I can post questions at different points in the text, and the students can answer and comment to each other.  They can highlight and interact with the text. What an awesome way to bring close reading to the digital age!

I encourage you to try this resource and share your experiences!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Helpful Hint: Forcing to Make a Copy of a Shared File

With the first week of school (albeit a short one!) completed, it was soo exciting to see the integration of technology already occurring in our classrooms.  Yes, the new passwords were a challenge, but once the students log on, they can change to a password that is more meaningful to them.  I know this may seem silly, because no one needs this advice, but PLEASE record their new passwords.  they will forget!

My goal this year is to find more ways to go paperless.  I am very interested in digital notebooking.  One helpful hint that i learned is how to force a student, or teacher if sharing with colleagues, to make a copy of a shared file.  Casey, what are you talking about???

Those that are familiar with using Google Drive to share files, you are aware that if you share a document, presentation, etc. you run the risk of using your original.  (There is a way to save as an original template, and I'll talk about that in a later post).  If the receiver starts working or editing the shared file, the original you shared is altered.  The recipient must first make a copy.  This is done by opening the shared file, and under the file tab in the tool bar choosing make a copy.  It will require them to rename and now the shared file is theirs, leaving the original in tact.

I know, from past experience, that sometimes people forget.  Even though we know better, we are in a hurry and we "jump right in".  To ensure that doesn't happen, when sharing a file, choose "can view only".  This will force all to make a copy in order to edit.  Hope this helps!  (If you have questions, please let me know!)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

TEAMingUp4Tech is Born!

The new school year is rapidly approaching and I honestly can't wait! Don't get me wrong, I love summer, but there is something so exhilarating about the beginning of a brand new school year. There is a buzz in the building as we gear up to welcome our students. The sparkle of newly waxed floors. The aroma of freshly laminated posters.  You just can't bottle that up. Teachers are putting in countless hours to transform classrooms into team-centered learning environments. And then we unveil the excitement of this new year to our students. It's truly magical.

Something that adds to the excitement this year is that technology is exploding at McIntire Elementary. Our third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms will all be 1-1 with Chromebooks. We will also have two carts of Chromebooks that can be checked out each day. Students are allowed and encouraged to bring their own devices. I could go on and on. We are blessed with access to technology at our school.

However,  putting technology in the classrooms was simply the first step. Educators also need the support, professional development and time to truly evolve into 21st century teachers and learners. Research also says that this time is needed during the school day. do we make this happen? I took this very question to our own building tech guru, Casey Echelmeier. Over lunch, Casey and I decided that technology couldn't be the "what", but rather the "how" to get our students to higher levels of learning. And the only way for this to truly happen was for 21st century skills and tech usage to be modeled and embedded throughout our time learning together as adults. TEAMingUp4Tech was brought to life. Casey and I would team up to provide training to our colleagues throughout the year during our staff meetings and professional development days. We would identify the different tools that are essential for educators and then survey our staff to determine readiness levels. This information would then allow us to differentiate the PD. BAM! No more one-size-fits-all staff meetings! The conversation really began to amp it up at this point. What would take this to even the next level? The idea of collaboration with other schools across the country. Luckily with some amazing PLN members, this idea is very close to a reality.

The wheels are in motion to truly transform technology usage in our school to take student learning to the next level. As an administrator, it is so important that I embrace, model and utilize the same 21st century skills that I am expecting of the staff, while constantly cultivating a risk-taking environment By partnering with Casey, I am being pushed outside of my comfort zone to learn new things. And I love it! The possibilities are endless as we begin this journey. Away we go!

Great resource as we work to lay the foundation: