Sunday, September 22, 2013

Using Pinterest to Showcase & Share Ideas with Teachers on a Worldwide Scale

Have you ever wanted to share educational ideas in a picture format instead of having to describe an idea?  What if you could do both?  That’s the idea behind Pinterest, an online content sharing tool that has hidden benefits for teachers and administrators everywhere.
By organizing your ‘pins’ on a board (which can be public – or private), you have the power to do more than you thought.  If you've ever been to the Pinterest ‘About’ page, you may have missed some great ideas to help get you started.  For example, utilize Pinterest to organize a class wish list, pictorially.   Create a new board and name it ‘Our Class Wish List’ or ‘Donate to Our Class Today!’ and post it.  Go a step further to e-mail your class parents (or entire school if you can), Tweet out the information, and post a link to your Pinterest boards on your school website and you may be able to get that fancy all-in-one color copier soon than you thought or the art supplies that are so desperately needed for an upcoming project that you’d like to do with your students. 

Pinterest can also assist you in organizing a class trip to another city, organizing a school-wide fundraiser or event, or even help you to plan a class project that needs a little more support than you can physically or monetarily give. 

You may also want to just use Pinterest as a way to build an online portfolio for great ideas that you've come up with or ideas that others have had that will enhance your own professional development for use in your classroom.  It’s a way to organize those great teacher shortcuts, technology incorporation ideas, projects, classroom management ideas, or lesson ideas in one convenient place.  Plus, just like most social networks, you can favorite a pin that you find extremely helpful and you want to hold on for future use. 

See an example by visiting my Pinterest boards ( see how Pinterest can help you!

Remind101: Possibly the Best New Educational App

For those of you who always struggle to remind your students and/or parents of everyday classroom reminders like special events, trips, upcoming exams, etc., etc., Remind101 can make your life a whole lot easier.  

Remind101 is a new free classroom management app that puts important communication into the palm of a teacher's hand.  Remind101 is extremely user friendly; all you need to do is set up a free account and Remind101 will generate a phone number (to use for text messaging purposes) so that you can communicate with parents in 140 characters -- or less.  Now, really, what's so special about this kind of communication?  Well, for many teachers, not much...but for Remind101 teacher users, the phone number that is generated for you allows your own regular (and private) cell phone number to be just that -- private.  The Remind101 service allows you to communicate with your students and parents through their apps (iPhone and iPad) or through their website; all the while leaving your phone number to yourself.  Students and parents can't see your number...and they can't respond back either.  It's a one-way text messaging service to simply allow students and parents to get that important, "Don't forget that lunch money is due tomorrow" in a text message (or sent directly to their e-mail).

What I really like about Remind101 is that it even allows you to even set up a reminder for a later date and time -- certainly avoiding the "I forgot to remind my class" blunders that can happen during a busy day.  This works great on a Monday when you can set up a reminder to be sent out on Thursday night at a certain time to remind students that their math test is on Friday and that they should look over the chapter that is being covered for the exam.  In addition, you can also Tweet out that same message on your Twitter account or post it on your school's Facebook page as well!  Have more than one class that you're teaching?...set up multiple classes so that a specific message reminder only goes out to a specific class.

If you teach at any level -- elementary school, middle school, high school, or even at the college level and beyond, this is one app you'll want to make use of.  For principals and assistant principals this works great too...instead of a class, set up a faculty'll be able to send out quick reminders to staff ("Remember, faculty conference is Monday afternoon in room 100!" or "Don't forget, there is a schedule change for today.") instead of having to always go through e-mails or websites.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Managing the Digital Classroom by Adam Hyman

Studies show that technology is a great motivator for students, but how can a teacher effectively integrate it daily into the classroom? From using the interactive whiteboard for everyday classroom management to using a document camera to capture students’ work for their portfolios to addressing cyber bullying, this book offers strategies, lesson ideas, and management tips for optimally using a wide variety of technological tools and helping students build 21st- century skills. Includes ready-to-use classroom management templates for the SMART Board! For use with Grades K-8.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545504843
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2014
  • Pages: 64

About the author:  Adam Hyman has been a technology teacher in NYC for the past 7 years and has been integrating technology into the curriculum for students in grades Pre-K through 6.  He also consults for Scholastic, Inc., providing workshops and training in technology. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tagxedo Word Clouds & Common Core Aligned Lesson Ideas

I recently discovered a fantastic website that brings the Common Core to students in a new and exciting way.  Similar to another word cloud building website, WordleTagxedo, allows students to create amazing eye-popping word clouds by turning your own words (or from speeches, news articles, websites, etc.) -- really anything -- into beautiful displays.  Tagxedo also allows users to customize fonts, themes, colors, and even incorporate shapes or photos of anyone -- even yourself!  What makes Tagxedo so much fun is that you can also purchase your creative word designs on mugs, t-shitrs, mouse pads, and more for those one-of-a-kind personalized gifts.

Yet, it's what Tagxedo brings to a classroom that is a perfect fit for Common Core aligned project ideas and lessons.  Because Tagxedo is word-based and relies on technology to create the Tagxedo itself, it can be incorporated into numerous CCSS lessons that can get engage students in topics that may otherwise be dry to some.

Here are just a few ideas to incorporate Tagxedo into Common Core-aligned lessons:

1.  Create character traits of your favorite characters from books that students are reading into a Tagxedo that takes traditional character trait maps to a whole new visual level.
2.  Use Tagxedo for Math vocabulary when studying particular topics that are heavy on content vocabulary.
3.  Use Tagxedo in Social Studies to create an informational poster to highlight a particular point in history, U.S. Presidents, holidays, geography, etc.
4.  Use Tagxedo for an ice-breaker to allow students to create a visual word cloud that represents themselves for the first day/week back at school.  Students can then share out the types of words that they used to describe themselves for their new classmates.  TIP:  Students can upload an image of themselves and then use the available online tools to enhance themselves and their word creations.  It takes the old boring "All About Me" to a whole new technological incorporated level.
5.  Use Tagxedo to create amazing keepsakes for moms, dads, relatives, etc., for graduation or other holidays throughout the year.

How are you using Tagxedo in your classroom?  Share it out below by posting a comment -- or Tagxedo it out!

Follow Adam on Twitter @ps101hyman or @TpTEduTech

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why High Schools Need APs of Technology

With the onset of the Common Core State Standards, one position that will be in greater demand in the nation's high schools will be a technology assistant principal.   Although this type of position is relatively unheard of at the moment, it will certainly become needed in the years to come.  

Typically, high schools are broken down into smaller departments...English, math, science, social studies, the arts, etc.  Yet with the Common Core State Standards, it is imperative that schools also adopt and incorporate a technology department.  Forget about maintenance and even funding for now, which will be a huge part of the job no doubt, but rather, focus on the implementation of using the technology that is available to foster different learning styles, enhance learning, and get students used to the tools that they will be using more and more in an educational setting, and, of course with a goal for college and career readiness.

One focus that will be a certain requirement for an AP of Technology will be professional development.  That's a huge factor.  Case in point: although younger teachers certainly feel more comfortable using technology, they may have a hard time incorporating it into the more rigorous curriculum.  Furthermore, younger, more inexperienced teachers or rookie teachers may benefit from technology PD simply to help them understand the limitations that technology may have; every student in every class doesn't have a computer or tablet with them at their disposal during every minute of the day.  Teachers will need to understand how to manage their classrooms with some sort of a shared system until the days where either BYOD is a mainstay or state and/or federal funding can cover the cost of the 1:1 technology ratio that will eventually be a given and not so much a far-fetched wishful fantasy.   Also, keep in mind that the available technology will most certainly change and teachers of all ages and abilities will have to adapt.  After all, we all know that the students of the future will always be a step ahead of us.  

The burning question is whether or not an AP of Technology is limited to high schools or if that is something that will ultimately be considered in the middle and elementary school levels as well.  With technology budgeting and allocation, available grants, constant maintenance and upkeep, software updates, professional development and ongoing training that is aligned with the Common Core, an AP of Technology of the future may be as synonymous with all levels of education as math and reading is to us now.  In addition, take a look down the road...not too far down that road you will also have a flipped curriculum in place to some degree in many, if not all schools.  How will teachers be rated when they are recording and posting lessons without their class physically with them at the time that the main lesson is given?  Now, factor in the technology that hasn't even been invented yet, and that is the point where a regular technology teacher or coordinator and regular assistant principal may not cut it any longer.  

As with any technology, you always have to be thinking several steps ahead - especially with technology in education.  What's good for today's student will most certainly be antiquated and a non-factor with tomorrow's student.  Technology in education must morph and adapt with the times and as a result, so must the way our schools are run - from administration to teachers to students alike.  

Think about how your school may adds future issues with technology on all levels and if an AP of Technology is something that may be in your future.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Art of Technology Anticipation

This past week, a news article entitled, "What Will A NY Classroom Look Like in 2020?" by Eric Holden hit the nail on the head - the technology that is available today will be an expectation in future classrooms.  It is my [obviously shared] belief that iPads (or iPad-like tablet devices) will, indeed replace 3-ring binders, textbooks, homework pads, marble notebooks, novels, and everything else that we associate with what ends up packed away in a book-bag   As a matter of fact, the future students of the world may not even know what a "book"-bag is.

Technology is (and will continue to be) something that changes and evolves faster than we can keep up with and technology use in education is certainly something that parents and teachers must adapt to - and always stay a step ahead to anticipate what will be.

Schools today need to start planning out how they may want to deal with a growing popular idea of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to their classroom.  Schools will also need to pay closer attention to budgets because technology (especially new technology) comes at a high cost.  Yet, how do you anticipate for something that isn't there? hasn't been invented? seems like a dream?  Is it really even possible to answer that question?  Probably not.  Just think back 10 years ago.  One decade ago who could anticipate that we would have the internet available to use in our pockets?  Who could foresee video chatting on a mobile device?  Besides Hollywood sci-fiction writers who were paid to dream big and far-fetched, not many of us saw it coming.  That's how hard it will be for school administrators and educators to determine what it will be like in 5 or 10 years from today.  

The Technology Transition 

One way to adapt is to make small changes here and there so that it's more of a slow walk into a cold pool, rather than a full cannon ball drop to intensify the shock and then get used to the water.  Seasoned educators need to take it slow compared to the younger, techno-savvy ones. Nevertheless, there are some tools that can help make the transition easier.

A fantastic web tool that has recently become available is Live Binders.  Live Binders creates a virtual 3-ring binder that allows you to combine all of your cloud documents, website links and upload your desktop documents for easy access, to share, and update your binders from anywhere.  So why take a real 3-ring binder with you when you can access a virtual binder from anywhere that has an internet connection?  Again, here is the future of education -- new to us in the present, but what will be expected in the not-so-distant future.  Another great idea has come from Sallie Severns, founder of Answer Underground, which allows students to create mobile study groups.  Finally, myHomework, a basic, free app for iPhone does what it sounds like it does -- allows students to organize assignments and projects by creating a color-coded calendar.  It's pure student organization on a phone.

Now, our future may not look exactly like it did in the Back to the Future trilogy, but it's hard to argue that the future will remain the same as it looks today - because it won't.  Again, it all comes down to the anticipation of what will be.  Eric Scheninger, a.k.a. "Principal Twitter" (@NMHS_Principal on Twitter) is the Principal at New Milford High School in Bergen County New Jersey.  Principal Scheninger is not only at the helm of his school, but at the helm of an educational renaissance with technology incorporation in education.  He not only is anticipating what will be, he is utilizing it now by allowing students at his high school to use the technology for the everyday.  Principal Scheninger is setting a great example by showing that the future is now - and he's made his mark by earning the respect over 38,000 Twitter followers.

The bottom line is that schools, districts, cities, and states need to start giving the future a good look.  Anticipation is everything.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Building School Technology Infrastructure from the Ground Up

The sheer amount of technology that is being introduced into the education world is growing at an intense rate.  According to Smart Infrastructure, a research report from The Center for Digital Education and Coverage, nearly 50% of high school students own -- or have access to a smartphone or tablet computer.  What’s more amazing, more than 6.7 million higher education students took at least one online course during the fall 2011 term (I was one of them, completing my dual degree from NYIT in School Building Leadership & Technology).  Since the Common Core State Standards will try to implement online assessments in ELA and Math by the 2014-2015 school year, it’s imperative to make sure that we are ready and have the proper amount of equipment to handle the demand.  The question is will school districts across the county be ready for it?

The Need for Speed

Internet quality and speeds have come a long way from the mid to late 1990s and dial up access.  Today, the infrastructure system that supports the internet is getting better with fiber optics and equipment that allows for faster upload and download speeds; mobile broadband speeds of today could leave a 56K dial-up connection in it’s dust, so speed isn't quite the issue any longer (or is becoming less of an issue at that).

Tips on getting additional support to fund technology:

  1. Look within by utilizing parent and local business support.  Whether your parent body is a 501c3 tax exempt nonprofit organization or a group that can financially take on the weight to improve the infrastructure and technology in your school building, support is what you’re looking for. Work collaboratively with teachers, administrators, and other school staff to raise the money in a variety of ways, such as a fundraiser.  The teamwork will point you in the right direction and bring everyone together.  Reach out to local community service people for additional support - they may have funds that can help soften the blow financially.  

    You can take this a step further by using a charitable web-based company like onecause that makes contributions to schools simply by connecting to consumers' everyday purchases. Just use the onecause link and you'll end up in a one-stop shopping "mall" that will send a percentage of your spending back to the school of your choice. By adding a link to a web-based company like onecause to your school's official webpage, you're automatically increasing the chance that funds will come back to your school -- and since people love to shop online, why not steer them in a direction where they're helping out the school just by shopping for items that they will purchase online anyway!

  2. Use a web-based service like DonorsChoose, which Oprah Winfrey calls a “revolutionary charity” to help fund school projects.  People and organizations donate money or services anonymously to help fund projects of all sizes - big and small.  For more on DonorsChoose, visit their about section.
  3. Use a blog like Blogger or WordPress or other social media like Pinterest or Twitter to reach out for additional support.  By posting a blog with detailed information and pictures about what you’d like to accomplish and what the funds are needed for, you’ll open up your possible resources to not just your immediate school and surrounding neighborhood, but to the world -- yes, that’s right -- the world.  Use a hashtag phrase on Twitter such as #SchoolDonationsNeeded or #SupportOurSchool with a link to your blog to help fill the cause!  You’ll be amazed how fast the word can get out and around with a little self-promotion.  Plus, you never know who is seeing the Twitter feed under one of your hashtags - Mr. Donald Trump or Ms. Oprah Winfrey may want to help you out.

The bottom line is to reach out and use as many resources as you possibly can.  Get a team together of parents, teachers, and community members on a committee to help your school tackle the infrastructure of your building so that your students are 21st Century ready, willing, and able!