Information for New ITS

Archive for the ‘Collaboration’ Category

Map Your Passionate Learning for 2013

No Comments

It is not too early to think about 2013 and how you want to grow and learn to move forward. Listing your thoughts and ideas are great but a better approach would be a graphic organizer. A graphic organizer lets you structure the information and arrange important aspects into a pattern. This allows you to view important ideas in isolation and see how some are related and connected. A graphic organizer helps you stay focused on the task and the visual representation makes it easier to remember once displayed front and center. Whatever method you use, map a plan with learning goals for the new year. Allow young learners an opportunity to brainstorm and share what they want to learn in the coming year. These visual representations may share patterns that can lead to group collaboration and increased ownership of their learning. Will you make choice a integral part of your learning map in 2013?

Five for Friday – Graphic Organizers

Popplet is an awesome online web graphic organizer that will allow five free maps with their free plan. The IOS app is a little pricey at $4.99. For more ideas visit their blog or check out 8+ Ways to use Popplet.

Exploratree is a free web resource where you can access a library of ready-made interactive thinking guides, print them, edit them or make your own. You can share them and work on them in groups too.

MindMeister is a great online brainstorming tool. You must register but once you register you can sync your maps from your iPad to your desktop with their free app.

Realtime Board is an online collaborative board that can be public or private. Find out more about Realtime Board from Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers.

Idea Sketch(IOS app) is a graphic organizer, which converts your graphic organizer to a text outline or vice versa. Diagrams and outlines can easily be emailed or saved in photos.

Image above created from Kidspiration using Lettering Delights Pop School Alphabet  and saving as a .gif. Inspiration Lite (from the creators of Kidspiration) is a free IOS app.



Ask…”What Can You Do For Your Wiki?”

No Comments

Choice and usage of multiple digital learning tools is growing in our district by all learners, educators and students. In a recent workshop on four of these tools, participants had the opportunity to select two sessions and grasp the potential of the tools for instructional design. Edmodo, Edublogs, Voicethread and Wikispaces were the tools for collaborative learning and choice was key in personal learning for the day. At the wiki session, many asked the question, what is the difference between wikis and blogs and when should each be used? Blogs vs. Wikis, a fictional debate between JFK and Nixon shared on you tube, is a great video to open discussion and provide answers. During this electoral time, what will you vote for, wikis or blogs? It is your personal choice to which tool addresses the instructional design needed for learning and sharing. Today’s vote is to be a warrior with wikispaces. As JFK stated in the video, “Ask not what your wiki can do for you, but what can you do for your wiki?” 

Four for Friday – Wikispaces Resources

Wikispaces Videos and Tours, is a collection of over 30 how to videos on you tube on various topics

Wikispaces Blog has incredible information on what you can do for your wiki. Check out Class Case Study: Room 14 Goes Mobile in Auckland and how students own and call their pages ebooks. Also note Wikispaces for iPad, which shares how to better view wikis on iPads since currently there is not an app.

Educational Wikis is another place of learning how to use wikis in education. Be sure to view the examples page.

Getting Tricky With Wikis provides advance directions using code to create text effects, layouts, to inserting a print-friendly feature and creating rollovers. Lenva Shearing, the curated for this wiki also created Cool Tools for Schools and Cool Apps for School.



Ramp Up Learning with Walk Throughs

No Comments

Building walk throughs have become a vital piece in our district’s support of 21st century learning. Walk throughs in years past have primarily been administrators’ role as part of teacher evaluations. Recent walk throughs have become more learning walks involving teams of media specialists, instructional technology specialist and even small groups of teachers from other schools. Teams rotate and spend five minutes in classrooms to observe and provide confidential feedback via Google docs. What is more powerful than the observation is the learning of the observer. On a recent learning walk educators observed students in a science class sharing images, videos, data and strategies posted in their group motion and force wikispaces project. Students in several classrooms were reading literature selections and back channeling in TodaysMeet. Edmodo was used to share Socrative links and various instructional activities. Students were working in the hallway to pair and share Spanish fluency recordings. All of these activities were possible, not because of textbooks, but because students were using their own devices. I should mention textbooks did physically support part of the science motion and forces lesson. When will you conduct a walk through and ramp up learning?

A Few for Friday – Let Learning Drive the Tools

Socrative can be used to drive learning in so many ways as shared by The Landscape – 13 Ways to Use Socrative. Be sure to check out Socrative’s Blog – Socrative Garden to see how to share quizzes and harvest many other ideas.

TodaysMeet is a great platform for discussion and back channeling. Learn it in 5 shares a how to video and here is a two page pdf guide. Have you seen this great lesson from Read Write Think- Seuss and Silverstein: Posing Questions, Presenting Points. Could TodaysMeet be a part of this lesson and give shy students their voice?

How are you using Edmodo? Check out this Edmodo Resources Livebinder with lesson ideas or view a few videos from Edmodocon 2012.  Mr G Online shares Literature Circles -co-starring Edmodo. This passionate educator’s blog is worth following.

Collaboration – The Big C – Do Not Wait!


Collaboration is one of the 4C’s that propels our district’s 21st century vision of learning along with Creativity, Critical Thinking and Communication. Collaboration is the big C that embraces the others and makes them stronger. Learners love to connect and share their knowledge in the classroom with each other and their desire to experience and share beyond walls is obvious. As they think, communicate and create collaboratively, the learning becomes larger. I am reminded of one collaborative project with first grade students, Hands Around the World, and how we worked to squeeze this project into the end of the year. It was a huge learning process for all learners including myself. Why should we wait to the end of the year when we have many resources and digital learning tools such as Edmodo and Wikispaces? Connect with a project or begin your own and collaboratively share your learners’ knowledge with others. Do not wait!

Five for Friday – Global Collaborative Connections

A great place to start is The Global Classroom Project, where teachers and students share on the global stage. Their wikispace shares ways to follow via twitter and facebook. Be sure to check out the Craze Crazes, under What’s Happening?

Projects by Jen, from Jen Wagner (creator of Wordle of the Day) provides projects for K-6 grades throughout the school year. OREO 2012 is a simple project for young learners and provides a wealth of resources to celebrate the 100th birthday of the OREO. Registration is now open with project lasting Sept. 17 – Oct. 12. Follow Jen Wagner on twitter @jenwagner.

Journey North offers collaborative sharing throughout the year. Currently Hummingbird Migration is being observed and reported weekly. Journey North now has an app to report sightings.

The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education, CIESE, offers many ongoing and collaborative projects inspired by real time data.

Flat Stanley is a project that has truly embraced all ages. Be sure to check out current news and check the free IOS mobile app.


New PLAYgrounds – Tilt that Seesaw

No Comments

Old Playground Circa 1897

Assessment weeks are winding away and hopefully learners will have more opportunity to play and explore new learning experiences. A recent post via Daily Adventures, shared global hero, Henry Jenkins – “Play is at the heart of learning – USA” and his influence on educators throughout the world. “Give yourself and your students permission to play, ” say Henry Jenkins. PLAY stands for Participatory Learning and You. Jenkins goes on to state play is the basic human mechanism for learning. Many schools view play as disruption of the educational process but Jenkins notes that play actually motivates learning and provides new forms of engagement. He highlights five core principals to embrace participatory learning. These core principals are key concepts to frame and apply to learning new media literacy’s. Jenkins says, “New media literacies cannot be an option (meaning new media shouldn’t be set aside for the end of the week if the students have been “good”). It is not about the tools or technology; it is about experimentation, more collaboration, more creativity and more play. ” Read entire post about this global hero in education and be inspired. How will you tilt the seesaw and provide new opportunities for participatory learning? Will you wait till work is finished or testing is complete?

Four For Friday – Apps to Take Outside to Play

VidRythm is free app to share learning experiences easily remixing short video clips. There is no actual game to play but it is a lot of fun to play and create. Promote play by sharing play.

Viddy is another video capturing app with cinematic features that allows you to quickly share memorable moments. Viddy is the instagram for videos.  Check out this one titled “Water!”

Kinotopic creates kinos, which are also known as cinemagraphs. Kinotopic allows you to make still photographs and add small areas of movement. Make some playful animations!

Snapster is new app released this week that allows you to take square photos. To improve your photography skills you have to play and take lots of photos plus it is always fun to play with something new!

Photo Courtesy of iRewired – Old Playground in Colorado






BYOT Outdoors – The Sky is the Limit

No Comments

One of the best perks about having a mobile device in hand is the ability to take it outside. The walls of the classroom are gone and the open space can lead to new conversations. The sky is the limit and the curiosity of the outdoors will lead learners to new spaces of learning. One space to spark outdoor curiosity is Project Noah and its free mobile app. Noah is the acronym for “Networked Organisms And Habitats.” Project Noah provides educators a place where learners can explore nature and document observations. Learners can join missions and become “citizen scientists” solving real world problems. Check out this video on the 2011 BioBlitz to inspire BYOT outdoors. Will you create an outdoor mission? The sky is the limit.

A Few For Friday – Grow Curiosity

Share You Tube Time Lapse Videos of Plant Growth such as Time Lapse of Plant Growth. Time Lapse of Flowers in Growth is incredibly beautiful and a must see!

Visit sites that are interactive and engaging such as The Life Cycle of a Plants which has a whiteboard view. Science Kids has an interactive page with drag and drop features for life cycle. Plants is another short learning experience for younger learners. Note that many of sites contain Flash and using Rover, an app browser on the iPad, works for viewing on IOS devices.

Visit sites with lots of photos to inspire your young phoneographers. Arkive is an incredible site with lots of earth images and videos for student exploration and learning.

Photo collage created by irewired with Diptic


Is Your Parking Lot Full?

No Comments

Our libraries – media centers, are the best rooms in the house but for some schools these learning spaces are missing the key instructional leader, the media specialist. As districts move toward building learning communities to support professional development to ensure student learning and growth, the role of the media specialist will ever more be an important key to build the media center as the heart of a school. As team leaders of the learning communities, media specialist provide professional development opportunities and collaborate with teachers to create authentic learning opportunities for students in a place that provides more than “just books.” Todays’ media centers are hubs for learning, equipped with new technologies and learning spaces that should be supported by the best of the best in educational leadership. Who will manage and support these learning technologies as students bring their own mobile devices into this very important room? Will your library parking lot be full or will it just be a place to check out books?

Five For Friday – Media Centers – The Heart of Schools

BYOD and the Library – Doug Johnson shares how indispensable librarians and library programs are in these technological times. Johnson shares thoughts on how librarians -media specialists are vital to support BYOD in the library and not DOA.

Time to Reboot the Universal Symbol for Library? - Buffy Hamilton, a high school librarian known as The Unquiet Librarian, is internationally known and shares her tremendous wealth of knowledge as a modern school librarian.  Check out her recent presentation, Taking Embedded Librarianships to the Next Level: Action Steps and Practices. Follow the Unquiet Librarian @buffyjhamilton.

Librarian Serves up”Appy Hour”The Digital Shift highlighted, media specialist Kathy Kaldenberg’s Appy Hour and how she reached out to her community of learners. Kaldenberg’s purpose was to increase that exposure with apps for note taking, formatting citations and streaming news. Kaldenberg share her favorites and hopes to ensure that all learners have access.

Twenty Ways Libraries are using Pinterest Right Now – Edudemic provides a great list how Pinterest offers creative and cutting-edge ways to engage all communities of learners. Librarians-media specialists are helping spread the word about these great innovative social media forums and guiding learners on social etiquette.

Research in the Elementary Classroom – It’s Not About Finding Information Anymore – Mary Beth Hertz knows that it is not about the regurgitation of facts but deeper understandings for even the youngest of learner. She states, “It is about teaching them how to develop their path to research to find meaning in the information and use it in ways that require critical thinking and creative applications.”  We need media specialists to support teachers in building these research skills and support the community of all learners.

Photo Courtesy – irewired


Very Pinteresting

No Comments

Pinterest has caught the watchful eyes of educators across the globe and they are pinning away. What is Pinterest and pinning? As described by USA Today, it is a visual bulletin board for the web that share images which are grouped and categorized on a user’s page to inspire ideas. From recipes, places to travel, photography, geeky stuff and gardening just to name a few categories, there is a wealth of information that is shared freely for consumption. In that respect, Pinterest has created a new space for educators to connect and bookmark ideas of similar interests. Once you sign up and begin pinning, there are a few things to remember as pointed out by Kathryn Rose, a business consultant,  in her posting, “To Pin or Not to Pint: An In-Depth Look at Pinterest.”

  • Beware there are only a few privacy settings so you must take care not to post private pictures.
  • Beware of copyright infringement. Take a look at Pin Etiquette and use good judgement. It is always best to give credit to the photographer or the person’s work you are pinning.
  • Beware of comments on pins as you pin. Be on the guard for spammers since this is an open-follow me platform.

The interest in Pinterest will continue to grow and consume your time. Beware of time online and use it wisely and creatively. Mashable has a quick guide to get you started so what are you waiting for? Curate and share with your community.

A Few for Friday – Searching for Educational Boards

15+ Pinterest Boards Teachers Should be Following shares boards for all grade levels shared by educators via #edchat. Save time and choose boards for your interests.

Select the small arrow to the right of Everything on the navigation bar at Pinterest’s Home and select Education to see what’s pinning in the world of learning.

At Pinterest Home conduct a keyword search on a topic of study or instructional strategy. Be sure to select boards, not pins, to see individual boards on a particular topic. Check out the Graphic Organizers board search. Free Technology for Teachers recently shared Cool Infographics for 2011. Try doing your own keyword search for infographics and view boards shared.

Photo Courtesy Naomi King -


A Collage of Learning – Coffee House Chat

No Comments

Building a community of learners through professional development is ongoing in our district as we move forward with BYOT. We continue to invest in BYOT by bringing together educators who share a passion for something they do and who interact regularly to learn how to do it better. These educators are part of our Instructional Technology Staff working in schools. Recently we met face to face at a middle school to explore and experience BYOT with the theme, “Coffee House Chat.”

Below are the interactions that built the conversations for professional development:

  • The school provided coffee, donuts and other snacks and welcomed our visit with a personal message from their administration team. The tone was set immediately as our team players relaxed and enjoyed each other.
  • An icebreaker tasked the educators to create a collage using either Frame Magic or other application of available choice. Personal mobile devices included, iPhones, iPads, Androids, and laptops. The collage topics to create a story included share your passions, likes about winter, where you have lived and where you would love to travel and were delivered via a QR Code.  Colorful collages were created to tell their stories in a short amount of time and a museum walk shared their creativity.
  • Breaking into small groups, the educators visited a dozen classrooms to provide feedback to teachers and other ITS on how to seamlessly incorporate BYOT into an existing lesson to enhance and accelerate student learning. Classrooms not using technology were also visited as well as time to talk to students.
  • After the visits, the team recorded feedback and suggestions on a google doc to share ways teachers can use BYOT practices to create more student centered, less teacher directed learning.
  • For closure a Ticket Out the Door was one short answer question using Socrative. Socrative delivered an Excel spreadsheet vis email for a quick session feedback.

So much was gained building a community of practice for all learners. From collaboration and sharing and providing feedback to all stakeholders, the morning was a great success. We will continue to practice building our community. Will you afford your learners time to develop and build their communities of practice?

Building relationships is key to building a positive learning community. Spending time on social and emotional learning enables academic gains. Tweet from Dr. Justin Tarte, Junior High Assistant Principal, @justingtarte.

A Few For Friday – BYOT Guidance and Tools

An Idea Whose Time Has Come, a Huffington Post piece from Eric Sheninger, principal at New Milford High School, New Jersey, shares great lessons learned from their school’s Bring Your Own Technology initiative. Sheninger states, “providing professional development and resources to teachers so they can be successful in implementing mobile learning is one key component for the success of BYOT.”

Read Write Think shares a collage lesson on Love and War for 9-12 graders. Students explore the theme of love of war through texts on camaraderie among soldiers. They then compose a visual collage depicting their beliefs about the relationship between love and war. This extensive lesson shares many additional resources including a visual collage rubric.

Frame Magic Lite is a free IOS app that combines multiple photos into one photo. Easily add text and effects using multiple frame layouts to make a unique collage.

Diptic is another excellent IOS app to quickly combine photos to tell a story. It is currently $.99 at the App Store.

Photo Grid and Photo Shake are free at the Android Market and offer multiple options for creativity.

Photo Collage Created with Frame Magic Lite – Several Photos Courtesy Dr. Tim Clark@BYOTNetwork

A Penny For Your Thoughts – Socrative

No Comments

At a recent session with our newest Instructional Technology Staff, each selected a penny from a cup for two purposes. One was to buy a penny for their thoughts to share mid year reflections and the other as a simple raffle ticket for small prizes. Everyone loves to be a winner. To gather their thoughts, Socrative, was used to engage responses using their mobile devices that included iPads and iPhones. Socrative is a free student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. In this case it was used as an icebreaker to gather information from colleagues. The five short answer questions were simple with a twist of fun.

  • What color are you today and pair your color with an adjective?
  • If you woke up in the morning as an animal, what would you be?
  • What is rocking your work world today?
  • What’s one work related skill you would like to develop?
  • If an alien landed tomorrow and gave you a superpower, what would it be?

As an icebreaker for the session, the quiz opened the door for more reflective conversation and collaboration. Socrative, is a great response system and used by many educators in our district. Learn more about Socrative and ideas for classroom integration at Socrative Garden as well as follow on Twitter @socrative.  Register instantly as an educator at and see how easily you can gather information for assessment or reflection. Will you gather a penny for their thoughts and seek mid year reflections from your learners?

A Few For Friday – Ice Breakers for Anytime

Ice Breaker Questions for Kids is a great list of questions for quick response or as writing prompts.

Ice Breakers for Small Groups is packed with lots of ideas and activities. How could these be used to engage learning?

40 Ice Breakers and Other Warm -Ups provides a variety of ways to build community and impact learning.

Photo Courtesy of morgueFile - A Public Image Archive