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Foreword The NEOTIE Group was formed by a small group of Technology Directors in Northeast Ohio with the mission to create a group that is banded together to provide students, teachers and staff with the best educational technology possible. Our purpose is to share knowledge and resources through quarterly meetings and annual conferences. The goal is to grow a community of learners beyond the classroom, district, region to become global learners!

Thank you! NEOTIE GROUP www.neotie.org

From Left to Right - Andreas, Sean, Jennette, Ken, and Mike

Table of Contents Click on the block below to jump to the article of your choice. Why Should Schools Invest in Technology?

Pokemon Go Back to School

Poke a Stick at it: Being a Lifelong EdTech Learner

Traditional vs. Progressive Education: Why the Battle?

Writing and Communication:

eBook Creation using GAFE in the Primary Grades

The Importance of Conveying Message and Online Identity

Check out the video from last year’s conference!

Tips Every New Teacher Should Know

Join us for our ou Conference o 1st @ Orange

For more infor www.NEO

urr 3rd NEOTIE on October High School!

rmation go to:


Why Should Schools Invest in Technology?

by Dr. Ken Veon

“Technology is a tool”.

By now, everyone has heard that “saying” and most educators are now understanding that technology is not a magic bullet to increase student learning, but a learning tool that helps students be more efficient learners. Why do educators and policymakers continue to ask if technology improves learning? Do the same groups ask how calculators, pencils or textbooks improve learning? How can teachers and school districts substantiate the use of these items for learning? Have there been studies about the gains students have made with an adoption of a textbook? Was there a question about students bringing their own textbooks? I believe educational technology is meant for three things: 1. To provide immediate and global access to infromation 2. To facilitate constant communication 3. To provide access to the general and expanded curriculum

Technology provides all students and staff the opportunity to: - refine critical thinking skills - provide a channel for expression and foster creativity - collect, evaluate and share assessment data - improve the efficiency and effectiveness of organizational tasks - provide training and skills necessary to perform duties and assignments

Back when I was in school (we’ve heard

this many times), the teacher would lead the class, ask questions and students would raise their hand. The teacher would call on one student and that student, who typically knew the answer, or wouldn’t have raised his hand, would give a response. The teacher would look around the room and ask if everyone agreed or, more often, move on assuming all students knew the same answer. There were times I was the student dreading, sometimes sweating, that the teacher wouldn’t call on me and breathe a sigh of relief he didn’t call on me when I didn’t know an answer. I was equally disturbed when I was eager to share an answer and had no way of letting my teacher know I knew the answer. Most of you know where I am going with this. With today’s technology, students don’t have to “fear” either scenario. Teachers are able to use technology to ask questions to the whole class, ask for a response and provide instant feedback, WHILE collecting the data to determine if students know an answer or not. Students aren’t able to hide in the corner or become astronomers (which I did - counted the tile on the ceiling many times when I didn’t know an answer......), they have to share answers and ideas. Teachers will know where ALL students are in their learning and will be able to better differentiate for each and every

24-7 learning for students. They have access to content and knowledge of experts at all times.

When I was working on my doctorate, I was

student! There are many ways of doing using tech for this process, which can be a topic for a different issue.

In today’s day and age, a laptop at school

is like the smartphone for everyday people. People use their phones as a computer, camera, calculator, calendar, gaming device, TV, newspaper, maps, and oh yea, they use it to make calls sometimes too. Think about the size of the briefcase/bag somone would need to be able to lug around all of those things, just to get through daily routines and tasks. Now, look at the students of today. Is it practical to ask them to bring in 4-6 textbooks, binders of paper, writing materials, calculators, etc. (the list could go on) when all they need is a simple device to help them with the daily tasks it takes to be a student? By the way, all of that information is static.....where can additional information be found? It isn’t even taking into account the time it would take to go to a library (during hours of operation) to find periodicals, books and newspaper articles to find material that could be at their fingertips 24/7.

talking to Dr. Rich Markwardt, West Geauga Superintendent, about how different it was earning a doctorate today as compared to when he completed his over 10 years ago. He explained that he would have to go to the library and sort through articles, books and magazines to find information. I had the advantage of finding articles with searches in the comfort of my home I was able to organize the articles in folders and scan through them on my computer without boxes (I had over 5000 pages of articles saved.....) of paper to find information. However, when we talked about the writing process, finding the right word, or critically analyzing the information, either gathered from articles or data gathered from our study, the realization was that learning took place the same way. The technology just helped in the efficiency of gathering data, editing drafts and submissions were able to be returned on a more regular or timely basis. We both had professors send back papers with suggestions, both of us had frustrations and feelings of quitting, both of us were proud when we accomplished our goal. The learning didn’t change because of technology, just the process was more effecient.

For schools/districts to provide educational

technology doesn’t mean it will provide “the magic bullet” for learning. It just means that teachers and students have access to information and processes like they never have - and it’s only going to become even greater! Teachers are the key to education - they are the ones who will find a way to get the horse to water AND make him drink. Technology is just one powerful tool to help!

Think about the resources students can

access now compared to yesteryear. How many students 30 years ago were able to find out how to build a machine, look at examples ranging from math problems to science experiments. The learning isn’t limited to what a teacher knows or a textbook provides in the course of a classtime. It is Click on video

Pokemon Go Back to School

By Giovanna Orlando A Primer

Just 48 hours after Independence Day, our country was overrun with monsters. Cute, pocketable monsters also known as Pokemon began popping up all over recreational, commercial, industrial and residential areas. Soon after, people of all ages got off of their couches and started exploring these places, hoping to catch ‘em all.

Though invisible to the unassisted eye, Android and iOS mobile apps allow players (or trainers) to find and catch Pokemon to add to their collection. Trainers can also take their strong Pokemon to a Gym, to train or fight. Pokestops (near places of interest such as statues, monuments, art, etc.) are where trainers get items such as Pokeballs, used to capture Pokemon; potions, used to heal them after a fight; and other special items. For those impatient with this itemgathering method, the in-game Shop offers many of the same items for purchase.

Who’s playing?

Your students, their parents, colleagues-over 100 million people have downloaded the app since its release. Have you noticed the folks with this particular way of interacting with their phone? They’re playing.

Capture kids’ attention for learning How can educators use excitement surrounding Pokemon Go as an asset? Here are ideas broken down by subject area.

Social Studies map skills and

physical education are

easily addressed using the game directly. Tap the compass to toggle the game between always facing north, or follow a student’s path. How do roads, water, parks, and buildings pictured in-game relate to the

real world? Which way do we need to go to get to the gym? How do we get to the nearest Pokestop? Is it safe to run there? In Language Arts and Fine Arts, students could describe or draw new pokemon to represent the concepts they are learning about, or if they are familiar enough with the game, choose an existing Pokemon to connect with the content. Writing fan fiction is always a popular option as well.

Science students could use the evolution aspect of the game to describe how evolving characteristics help an animal (or monster) adapt to its environment. Or, debate how the game does or doesn’t follow scientific theories.

Math class could conduct a

study of the surrounding area, and calculate the probability of gaining specific items at Pokestops, or of encountering particular pokemon. Perhaps your class will discover a nest! (A nest is an area where a certain type of pokemon spawns more often than usual).

Computer students learning to code could try to replicate aspects of the game, or create an app to help trainers become the very best.

Foreign language

students could read articles or watch and chat in a Twitch stream from other countries.

Music classes could perform or compose sound effects and songs.

Gamification for all Trainers can choose different balls depending on how difficult they believe catching a particular Pokemon will be. Of course, Pokeballs are most abundant, and Ultra Balls are on the rare side. You can use this as a new way of checking in with your students. How

much effort do you

need to capture the concept we’re learning today? To get a quick visual, CLICK HERE to print out the above and below graphics, and make a tri fold. A small strip of tape will secure it, and your students can spin the appropriate one to face you, enabling quick identification of struggling individuals or groups. Another way to gamify any class is to use the concept of evolution. Before starting a unit, tell

students what they will be learning and the skills they will be gaining. For the first set of objectives, relate it to the starting Pokemon, for the next set, relate it to the mid-level pokemon, and for the final objective relate it to the final stage of evolution. As the class as a whole, or as individuals master skills and meet objectives, award them with the Pokemon. If you’re really dedicated and ambitious with this idea, map out your entire curriculum with Pokemon and help your students catch them all! A Pokedex is an index of all the Pokemon that an individual has captured or encountered. Tracking curriculum using a Pokedex will make this school year fun and memorable!

Enjoy the video below!

Poke a Stick at It: Being a Lifelong EdTech Learner

By Eric Curts

What do you do when you don’t know how to do something with technology? Recently I was leading a professional development session on Google Classroom for a room full of educators. I had just finished explaining how you can invite a co-teacher to your class, and how they will be able to make posts, create assignments, and grade work just like you. An attendee then asked me, “Can a co-teacher archive a class that is not theirs?” Hmmmm... As a Google Certified Trainer and Innovator, and a constant users of all of Google’s apps, I really try hard to know pretty much every nook and cranny of the Google tools. Of course though, no one can know everything. I simply had never had an occasion to see if a co-teacher can archive someone else’s class. In short, I didn’t know the answer. Which brings us to the question - What do you do when you don’t know how to do something with technology?

This is something we all face from time to time. I face it as the “expert” standing in front of a room of teachers. You may face it as the teacher instructing a class full of students. Our students will face it all throughout their lives as they encounter new situations. My solution is the response I gave to the teacher who asked the question, as well as to the entire room of attendees - You poke a stick at it. Let me explain...

You can’t know everything In life in general, and with technology in specific, you can’t know everything. Technology (and Google Apps in particular) is a moving target, always introducing new tools and features. If you are going to use technology effectively, you have no choice but to be a life-long learner. So one of the first steps in dealing with a hole in your tech knowledge is to simply admit it. Some people think the three

delete the class, but I really did not know if they could archive it. So what could we do to find the answer? Certainly there were many options:

toughest words to say are “I love you” but in fact they are “I don’t know.” Especially when we are in positions of authority, we feel we can’t admit we may not know everything. We think we may look stupid or unqualified or unprepared. In fact what we will look like is a learner. A few years ago, when I served as one of the leaders at a Google Teacher Academy, we were not called leaders. Instead we were titled “Lead Learners”. I love that mindset! We should always hope to learn something new, even when we are the ones leading the professional development. I would go so far as to say if you are not learning, then you really are not engaging your audience, but are just on autopilot giving a lecture.

We could Google it. Chances are a Google search would find one of Google’s official help pages, or a useful blog post from someone’s edtech site, or a forum question that a helpful person answered. We could post the question online to see if someone could help us. There are numerous Google-related communities, email distribution lists, and Twitter hashtags where we could ask the question and crowdsource the answer. Or we could have shrugged our shoulders and said that’s one we are just not going to know. That’s not what we did, My response to the attendees was, literally, “Well I guess we need to poke a stick at it to find out.”

We learn best by discovery

Although there are many ways to get an answer, some options provide a much greater chance of learning, understanding, and remembering. I am a firm believer that self discovery is the best instructor. Rather than just being told an answer, we learn so much more when we wrestle with the problem, test out solutions, and discover the answer for ourselves.

So I admitted to my attendees that I did not know if a co-teacher could archive someone else’s class. I was pretty sure they could not

When I used to teach middle school math, this was often the approach I took with my students. I could have just told them that

If you want your audience (teachers, students, etc.) to learn then you need to model an attitude of learning, and you can’t learn something unless you admit there are things you do not know.

when you add a positive and negative number you actually subtract the numbers and keep the sign of the larger one. Instead we modeled the process of adding integers with colored chips, charges, and balloons and bow ties (I will have to explain that one some time). The students then looked for patterns, saw connections, and discovered the rule. Whoever stated the rule first then had the rule named after them, so for the rest of the year it became “Allison’s rule of adding integers with different signs”. To point is, we learn best by asking questions, trying things out, problem solving, and discovering the answers ourselves. The same is true with technology. If you don’t know how to do something, just poke a stick at it. Try it out. See what happens. It is highly unlikely that you are actually going to break anything. And if you do there is always the undo button or revision history or your friendly school technology support staff.

do I have any formal technology training. I just explore, click menus, see what happens, try things out, solve problems, ask questions, and learn. And you can too!

What are you teaching? In the end, as a Google trainer I don’t want to just teach educators how to use Google tools. I want to teach them how to learn more on their own. I am only going to be with them for an hour or a day or a week (for those brave boot campers), but they have the chance to keep learning much more than I can teach them after I am gone. I encourage you to do the same: -- In your professional learning -- As an instructor of educators -- As a teacher of children If you do not know something, embrace that as an opportunity to learn something new yourself and to teach others the importance of learning through discovery. So, can a co-teacher archive off someone else’s Google Class? You’ll just have to test it out yourself to see. Go poke a stick at it.

So if you want to see if a co-teacher can archive someone else’s class in Google Classroom, try it out. Create a demo class, invite a colleague to be a co-teacher, and see if they can archive the class. That’s how I learn about technology. I don’t have a degree in Educational Technology (my degree is in Math), nor

Eric at IDEA Talks

(click to play video)

Traditional versus Progressive Education: Why a Battle?

By Vicki A. Turner “Action is at bottom a swinging and flailing of the arms to regain one’s balance and keep afloat. “ Eric Hoffer (1955) Why is it so hard to find balance in education? Recently, a tech-savvy teacher publically criticized another teacher saying her students were probably “bored” with her lessons--presumably because they were too “traditional.” A Twitter battle ensued, and, in my opinion, the main problem seemed to be that both sides were dealing in extremes. It was as if there was no middle ground in the process of learning. You are either teacher-centered or student-centered. Traditional or Progressive. Which camp is it? If you’re not in mine--you’re wrong. The battle between the two camps has been around for a long time, and, apparently, has not abated. Because it is so important that our future teachers be well versed in both traditional and progressive ideas, we owe it to them to provide the information, training, and tools they need to be both teacher and student centered as far as pedagogy and technology integration.

Traditional Education We are all familiar with a traditional education: teacher stands in front and lectures, students sit quietly, work is done individually, tests sort kids into tracks. Repeat each grade level. It’s the “positivist classroom,” which “is predictable, orderly, sequential, and managed by the teacher, who is the most important and knowledgeable person in the room” (Hinchey, 2009, p. 45). We grew up with this model, and it provides a level of comfort. This system has worked for hundreds of years with the student being a Sitter and

Absorber (of knowledge): disparate, discrete facts like the quadratic equation and figures of speech and historical events. There are many who think this is the way education should always be. They proclaim, “We learned that way and came out all right.” Granted. But...is that the best way, the only way? Hannah Arendt was a traditionalist who wrote “The Crisis in Education” in 1954 (!) and lamented the “recurring crisis in education,” stating it had “become a political problem of the first magnitude, reported on almost daily in the newspapers” (p. 1). Sound familiar? The twist is that Arendt disapproved of the progressive addition of vocational courses-- apparently deeming it inappropriate to prepare a student for life by including both knowledge and skill sets. She states, “The conscious intention was not to teach knowledge but to inculcate a skill, and the result was a kind of transformation of institutes for learning into vocational institutions which have been as successful in teaching how to drive a car, how to use a typewriter or even more important for the “art” of living, how to get along with other people and to be popular, as they have been unable to make the children acquire the normal prerequisites of a standard curriculum” (p. 190). Her comments seem rather extreme and contradictory, especially since most people do learn and value how to drive and how to type, and, it is hoped, how to get along with others (I’ve yet to see “how to be popular” anywhere in a curriculum, but maybe that was a hot topic in the 50s). Arendt, whose philosophy has many modern reincarnations, seems to equate a progressive style with chaos. She states, “Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the

world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which… would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices” (p. 192). She is referring to education being a place where adult authority should rule in a traditional model that is not student centered. Claiming that “under the banner of progressive” is an “astounding hodgepodge... of nonsense,” Arendt ominously warns that “the authority of a group, even a child group [italics mine], is always considerably stronger and more tyrannical than the severest authority any individual person can ever be” (189). Who knew group work could be so Lord of the Flies?

College and Career Ready? Yet, despite Arendt’s protestations, the pendulum did swing to schools offering vocational courses for students and then back again to the more academic College and Career Ready model we are now subject to. While on the surface College and Career Ready is a noble endeavor (and catchy phrase), we have not been promoting the career portion as much as we should. Read “Why We Desperately Need to Bring Back Vocational Training in Schools” by Nicholas Wyman for cogent reasons on why schools should serve students who do not fit the purely academic “college prep” mold. According to Wyman, “The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that about 68% of high school students attend college. That means over 30% graduate with neither academic nor job skills.” We cannot afford as a nation to have 30% of our students be inappropriately educated. As for a vocational “stigma”--those of us who grew up a “while back” (ahem), remember when there were many vocational classes available for students. I learned how to drive and type

and sew and cook and draw and take pictures in school while also being involved in all requisite academic classes. That type of schooling was the norm and some would say produced wellrounded individuals who were able to discover if they had certain aptitudes for life by exposure. High-stakes testing pushed those classes firmly out of schools. (Thankfully, the Maker Movement is gaining ground, and we are seeing a resurgence of tinkering and creating and hands on learning.)

John Dewey Takes a Stand Dewey’s stands in opposition to Arendt and tells us that Progressive Education “has focused attention squarely upon the child; it has recognized the fundamental importance of the interest of the learner; it has defended the thesis that activity lies at the root of all true education; it has conceived learning in terms of life situations and growth of character; it has championed the rights of the child as a free personality.” How does anyone disagree with incorporating at least some components of this model into education? The interest of the child must be taken into consideration because it is the life of the child. And just because someone is young, doesn’t mean that person should be powerless. While I’m not talking about letting six year olds run around doing whatever they want without guidance and direction, students who have some choice in their education are happier in school and learn more. We know this because we were all once children in school. When were you bored? When were you engaged? Our ability to suffer through long periods of lectures and instruction demonstrates only that humans are capable of “powering down” when they want, but is that how school should be? We can change and must for the sake of our students--always remembering “that common practices came not from divine decree, but from choices made sometime, somewhere, by someone who might have chosen to do otherwise” (Hinchey, p. 6). For me this means questioning the status quo to determine the appropriateness of every action we take.


Maker Movement Construct

Of course, technology has helped change the dynamics because students are learning more and more on their own without our help, but it would be even better that we provide guidance along the way. Martinez (2013) in Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom notes that “students engaged in direct experience with materials, unforeseen obstacles, and serendipitous discoveries may result in understanding never anticipated by the teacher,” and it is that type of discovery model we need to embrace. School as we know it is a construct and we need make sure it is the most appropriate construct for our children.

Future Vision What will it take for children to be excited and motivated about going to school every day to learn? What has to change for this to happen? Flexible hours? More time for unstructured and structured play. I agree with Plato that “education isn’t what some people declare it to be, namely, putting knowledge into souls that lack it, like putting sight into blind eyes.” If we continue with the model we are currently using, we may end up with students who can take tests but can’t perform basic life skills or, even worse, are simply miserable at school all day and develop unhealthy habits of a sedentary nature based on long boring hours of school sitting. Our vision should be for a well balanced school where testing is minimal and more for the sake of the teacher to use as a tool to formatively

assess students in order to help them. School should be a place where students try a little bit of everything until they find something they really like and they can get good at. A place where parents are actively involved and the business community offers support and funding. Where administrators help teach and teachers help lead. Where students are not forced into rigid time schedules and disciplined for being a minute late. Where teachers flourish, too, while learning something new alongside their students.

Call to Action Finally, society must force a change upon the schools. Dewey noted the interconnectedness of school and family in one of his lectures, stating: ‘What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy” (Jackson, 1998, p. 416). Long-term plans are a must. Dewey notes: “Each generation is inclined to educate its young so as to get along in the present world instead of with a view to the proper end of education: the promotion of the best possible realization of humanity as humanity.” We must be sure we are not being shortsighted and educating for just the here and now but for the future. The philosopher Immanuel Kant noted that “children ought to be educated, not for the present, but for a possibly improved condition of man in the future; that is, in a manner which is adapted to an idea of humanity and the whole destiny of man.” Ultimately, we learn about our students, and, in the process, help them understand their talents--thereby giving them the power they need to control their own lives, but we cannot learn about our students if we are constantly doing all the talking in the front of the class. So, again, it is about the balance. Ideally, no one should have to get hit in the head by the swinging pendulum. Let’s not fight about it--”instead of choosing between student and teacher-centered

classrooms, we should think of it more as a continuum. Teachers need to teach and students need to take ownership. The best classes bring in both of these elements. The sweet spot is where they come together so that the classroom becomes neither student nor teacher-centered as a whole. (See diagram below). The sweet spot will be different for each teacher depending on the subject taught and degree of willingness to give up some control� (Bergmann, 2015). We need to slip back into our younger selves and think about how we could have made school better-and then use our adult powers to make that happen. The least we can do is stop fighting. The helpful chart below can be found on the Winga Schools website: http://www.wingraschool.org/who/progressive.htm Differences between Traditional and Progressive Education

Resources Arendt, H. (1954). The Crisis in Education. Between Past and Future Mechanic. D. (1962). Sources of Power in Lower Participants in Complex Organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly. 7, 349-364. Retrieved from: http://learningspaces.org/files/ArendtCrisisInEdTable.pdf Bergmann, J. (2015). A Critique of Student Centered Classrooms. FlippedClass.com. Retrieved from: http://flippedclass.com/a-critique-of-student-centered-classrooms/ Counts, G. S., (1932). “Dare Progressive Education Be Progressive?” Volume IX April, Number 4. Campbell, E. (2007). Teaching Ethically as a Moral Condition of Professionalism. Retrieved from: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B_CHB3SukFrINzFwdTVvcW9pbW8 Dewey, J. (1966). Democracy and Education. New York, NY. Free Press. Hinchey, P. (2010). Finding freedom in the classroom: A practical introduction to critical theory. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Jackson, W.P. (1998). John Dewey’s school and society revisited. Elementary School Journal, 98(5), 415-426. Martinez, S.L.& Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn : making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, CA. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Sergiovanni, T. J. (1992). Moral leadership: getting to the heart of school improvement. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass, Inc. Winga School. Differences between Traditional and Progressive Education. Retrieved from: http://www.wingraschool.org/who/progressive.htm Wyman, N. (September 1, 2015). Why We Desperately Need to Bring Back Vocational Training in Schools. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholaswyman/2015/09/01/whywe-desperately-need-to-bring-back-vocational-training-in-schools/#35dd0f23465c

Writing and Communication: The Importance of Conveying Message and Online Identity By Sean Whelan

Changing Communication When I started teaching, technology was something you did in a lab. Few students had computers at home and usually it was there because of the work of a parent. It was clearly a luxury item and the costs matched that premise. Email was new and certainly not a widespread communication tool. Word processing was the most common communication activity whose main focus was to produce a flawless, welledited final draft. In recent years, there has been significant growth in the variety of devices, each leading to an evolution in communication and new challenges. Home computers, smartphones, hybrid e-reader devices, tablets, Chromebooks, and game systems all have internet access and communication options. Social media touches just about everyone, regardless of personal preference. Apps and web tools are loaded and often abandoned at a speed that would have never been considered in the past. The focus on adapting to what is new has taken the place of developing a need for mastery. Immediacy has provided challenges to crafting well thought out messages.

Teaching Writing Skills is Essential

Students come to school with an understanding of technology and how to use it to communicate that sometimes matches and even quite often

surpasses the adults. However, students often lack the know how to match their communication vehicle to the appropriate writing style. They have also seen modeling of communication habits that provide serious challenges to teachers who need to focus the students on the fundamentals of communication. These are areas that is essential for educators to overcome.

1. Just send another message: Most of your chat clients and social media sites involve sending very quick messages without a focus on getting it right the first time. There is a sense that you can just send another message. 2. I am PokemonCatcher227: Students are often very comfortable with starting and stopping accounts due to loss of interest or a bad experience. Messages sent are more about urgency and living in the moment than conveying careful thought that represents real world identity and intention. 3. Autocorrect: This could almost be considered two problems. Sure, autocorrect makes it easier to be a lazy speller because it will fix the word for you. Autocorrect also assumes what word you are trying to spell which can cause a change in the message, if you aren’t proof reading. 4. App Frenzy: Most people get excited for new apps. Apps are often completely free or very inexpensive to purchase and try. The big problem will app overload is that it is very easy to lose focus on completing a single task or mastery of a particular app. 5. Poor Modeling: The internet is fun and can

4. Writing for Audience: With new

be an excellent resource but let’s be honest, it is also a place for poor modeling. Kids and adults face the challenge of poor modeling of grammar and sentence structure due to rapid fire responses and often times, character limitations of apps or services.

Education is a Change Agent

Schools have always served the purpose of preparing students for the future. The need for schools to increase opportunities to write in response to and for a variety of sources and audiences is becoming a renewed focus. There is an opportunity to embed contemporary concerns into today’s writing instruction. 1. Online Identity: Due to social media, online chat, gaming systems, and blog posts, students have an unprecedented access to online identities that are often less real to them. It’s essential to educate today’s students on how to take pride in how they write and how it represents their identity. 2. Tweets in Class: Twitter, texting and similar social media clients are pushing users to convey thoughts in very concise messages. They can also be used as a classroom activity where students can take the idea behind a classroom “tweet” and develop evidence to support the idea in expanded writing. 3. Writing for Purpose: Students write for purpose all the time. The trick is getting students to focus on completing the concept. Most online writing purposes offer easy ways to jump in and jump out of writing without a focus on delivering the best message or even a complete message. It’s an opportunity to have real conversation about how students are already writing and ways that it links to your expectations.

technology, comes new ways to communication to different audiences. Students access email, chat, communication apps, and even social games that allow for writing opportunities. In each of those instances, especially email, it is easy for message to be lost when audience is forgotten. A class assignment where students write email messages and then a partner is asked to interpret the message and the tone is a great way to start students thinking about audience. 5. Word vs. Word Processing: With apps and web based platforms, it’s no longer about teaching Word. It’s about teaching word processing tools. Most devices have access to writing programs with very similar tool bars. Students need to know how to identify those tools and their purpose so that they can craft quality writing, regardless of platform.

Real World Connections

There is an opportunity to engage students in a variety of writing activities by connecting it to real world content they are currently creating. Topic sentences can be compared to the start of a conversation on social media. Paragraphs can be connected to linked chat messages about a specific topic. Research is something students use all the time for personal use. Those skills are tailor made for the classroom. Communication has evolved and the need for writing skills is just as practical now to daily life as it has ever been.

eBook Creation Using GAFE in the Primary Grades By: Stephanie Sholtis

Engaging students with an eBook creation

project is a great way to kick start a new school year! In the primary grades, creating class eBooks assists in benchmarking students’ writing and fluency levels. Throughout the year, students’ growth and progress in reading and writing shines when beginning of the year eBooks are compared to end of the year eBooks. In addition, eBooks are an all-encompassing way to infuse technology into instruction. Technology and instruction are a cohesive blend as students practice typing, learn important computer skills, and are immersed in Google Apps for Education (GAfE) meaningfully to produce an eBook. One idea for a beginning of the year eBook story is an ‘all about me’ theme where the teacher and each student in the class create a page all about themselves. The whole class can get to know each other through an engaging story written and illustrated by each other. Other topic ideas suitable for beginning of the year stories include students writing about what they’d like to learn in ___ grade and what goals they have for ___ grade. Throughout the year, eBooks can serve as culmination projects for units of study by encouraging students to demonstrate what they have learned through their writing and illustrations. They can be strongly aligned to any curriculum and are designed to promote critical thinking as students determine how to best express what they know about a topic. The ease of sharing eBooks with students and their families is an inherent benefit as well. Using Google Slides as the platform for creating the eBook, a link to the eBook can be emailed

to parents, shared on social media, or posted on a class website. After screen recording each student reading his or her slide in the story, a YouTube video showing each student reading his or her part of the story can easily be created and shared out as well. Kindergarten Example A documented workflow to help you get started creating a class eBook is outlined below. While helpful, it is not necessary for students to be logged into their own Google Apps accounts. The workflow below is designed for primary students NOT logged into Google Apps accounts. Please note that the topic for this eBook was created by first graders as a year-end culmination story, but the process can easily be adapted to fit your beginning of the year story topics.

Prep Work Teacher (1/2 hour) 1. Using eBook Slides template, type each student’s name on a slide in the title box. Example 2. Create a roster using Docs. Link the URL to each student’s slide to his/her name on the Doc. Example Teacher: Prep work with students (1 hour total --- 2 days, 30 minutes/per day) 1. In their writing journals, students listed 3 things they learned in 1st grade. 2. Students shared aloud their favorite topics, and teacher recorded on chart paper. Teacher helped students select a topic so none were duplicated.

3. Students did a focused free write in their writing journals, recording everything they knew about their topic. 4. Teacher met with each student to edit and conference about their writing. 5. Students wrote final copies on nice paper. 6. Students practiced reading aloud their writing.

eBook Creation with Chromebooks: Day 1

(40 minutes) Typing student work onto slides and illustrations

1. 3 parent helpers assisted the teacher in typing on students’ slides. Some students chose to type on their own, while other students read aloud their writing while an adult typed it. Example 2. When students weren’t working on typing their slides, they were illustrating a picture to go along with what they wrote on a half sheet of paper. 3. Students practiced reading their writing aloud again.

Behind the scenes after Day 1 (30 minutes) Scanned student artwork and inserted it onto slides. Published slideshow to the web.

1. Scanned student artwork as a JPEG into one email. 2. Moved each picture to my desktop. 3. Cropped and rotated pictures as needed.

4. Inserted each student’s picture onto his/her slide. 5. Published the slideshow to the web. Example File > Publish to the web

eBook Creation with Chromebooks: Day 2

(30 minutes) Created a screencast of the slideshow with students reading their slides 1. Start the slideshow using the publish to the web URL. 2. Click Screencastify extension. 3. Select tab to just record slideshow. 4. Select microphone. 5. Students stand in a line quietly and take turns coming up to my teacher laptop to read their slides. 6. When finished recording, upload the Screencastify video to YouTube. Make sure the video is set to ‘public.’ Example


1. Send the YouTube link and ‘publish to the web’ URL of the slideshow to parents in an email. 2. Post the links to your teacher website or embed the YouTube video and slideshow on your website.

Conclusion: From my experience, students exhibit a great deal of excitement, pride, and ownership in their eBooks. Parents delight in hearing their children read, and along with being absolutely adorable, eBooks hold high educational merit in today’s classrooms.

Tips Every New Teacher Should Know By Mike Daugherty

There’s a common misconception that new teachers are much better with technology because they have been using it for most of their lives. As a technology director for a public school system, I am here to tell you that the perception is not as accurate as you might think. In my experience, new teachers are more comfortable with everyday technologies such as email, social media, and smart phones. They are often very inexperienced when it comes to educational technologies though. Here are a few bits of technology advice for teachers about to start their first year in the classroom.

1. Always have a backup plan – Technology doesn’t

always work the way we expect. It’s frustrating enough when that happens in your personal life, but it can be far worse when you are standing in front of a room full of students. Always make sure you have a backup lesson plan that uses traditional, non-technology based tools so you are not scrambling when things don’t go as planned.

2. Check Your Links – Similar to the

point above, take a few minutes to check the web links you plan to use in class several days prior to using them. Every school district has different policies when it comes to how they filter the Internet. Those links that work great on your couch at home may be blocked at school. If they are not working, check with your IT department. Many times, a simple request to have them unblocked will take care of the issue. If that doesn’t work, consider finding new resources or downloading the content ahead of time.

3. Don’t force it – Classroom

technology is fantastic when it is used in a meaningful way to engage students. On the other side of that coin, do not use technology for the sake of using it. Create your lessons in a way that will provide students most authenticate, engaging learning experience. If you can accomplish that with a great app, site, or device, go for it! If not, find a different approach that best fits your needs. Using technology without a specific purpose will lead to lower engagement, increased students off task, and lackluster learning.

4. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel –

Instead of spending hours creating a lesson plan for your Smartboard, Mimio, iPad, or Chromebook, check to see what is already available. There are tons of free resources out there (Smart Exchange,Chromebook Lessons) as well as premium sites like TeachersPayTeachers where you can

purchase existing lesson plans. You can also check with teachers in your building or educational colleagues to see what lessons they’ve previously used.

5. Take Advantage of Social Media – Social media is

an awesome resource to begin developing your personal learning network (PLN). You’ve most likely used sites like Twitter and Pinterest in your personal life for years as a way to share information with friends. You can use that same sharing philosophy to create a network of professional friends and colleagues who teach in the same content area. Make sure to use hashtags your profile like #teacher or #educator so people with similar interest can find you. You can also look for and participate in Twitter chats dedicated to your subject area to help you find others in your field.

6. Implement an LMS – A learning

management system, or LMS for short, is an online extension of your classroom. Colleges have been using them for years and it would be surprising to hear that you didn’t use one wherever you attended school. It’s a place where students can do things like a. Take formative or summative assessments b. Post questions to the teacher or the whole class c. Locate resources made available to them such as worksheets, links, or videos. There are many options available including Blackboard, Moodle, and Google Classroom. Some are free, others will cost a small fee. Before you get started though, check to see what your district offers. Odd are there’s

a preferred system. Once you know what you’re going to use, take the time to really get to know what you can do with the system. It’s worth investing the time upfront to build a stellar online classroom for you and your students.

7. Give Your Students A Choice – Students rarely

have the opportunity to have a say in their learning. Leverage technology to give your students a voice. Create online polls using Google Forms that lets them choose from a variety of options for a particular lesson. For example, when teaching the civil war, ask them they would rather create a simulated text message conversation between two generals in the army or afictitious breakings news report on a battlefield victory. Students will love the opportunity to choose their activity rather than just being told what to do.

8. Ask IT For Help – Finally, don’t be

afraid to ask the IT department for help or ideas. The technicians in your districts IT department spend all day helping teachers with technology in their classrooms. You’d be surprised at what they’ve seen used, demonstrated, or setup in class that might be a perfect fit for what you are trying to do. If you are having a problem with technology, make sure you submit a ticket asking for assistance. The techs are happy to help you. On those same lines though, don’t be scared to try a few things to fix the problem yourself. Close the program and open it back up. Check to make sure the cables are plugged in correctly. Restart the computer. It is very unlikely that you will do something they can’t undo or fix.

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Neotie Magazine Issue 4  

Neotie Magazine Issue 4