Saturday, January 31, 2015

#SharetheMess Whats not working this year

Inspired by LS_Karl's #SharetheMess post about what didn't work in his classroom, I am writing today about something that has not worked for me this year.

Last Spring I wrote our district technology plan and one of the focus areas was to implement digital citizenship curriculum for all K-12 students district wide. We adopted Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum and I modeled lessons in several classrooms with an overwhelming positive response. Grade level teams were tasked with deciding which lessons would be taught when for their grade level using this Digital Citizenship Curriculum Planning Doc. This would allow teachers to have choice when implementing the curriculum. The goal was to create equity and insure that all students in the same grade level receive a guaranteed curriculum.

Using BrightBytes at the beginning of the year, we collected data on digital citizenship teaching and learning. We will be collecting more data late this spring.
Our data from the beginning of the 14-15 school year about teaching students to legally use web content
BrightBytes data gives us valuable information about critical areas to address.

We are now just over half way through the year and while some teachers have taught digital citizenship lessons, most have not. All students are not receiving the same instruction in digital citizenship. Feedback from teachers varies. Some state it is a lack of time to implement the lessons, others think they don't have access to adequate technology for the lessons, and some are just uneasy teaching a subject they know very little about. So, my plan was not working and I needed to do something before the year was over. To begin to address these misconceptions and get to the heart of the problem, I took the issue to a recent technology committee meeting.  We discussed the issue and the members came up with some great ideas.

Here is our plan. On March 10th we will broadcast a digital citizenship lesson via Google Hangout in five different 3rd grade classrooms. One teacher will lead the lesson and the other four will facilitate it in their classrooms. We plan to make it a Google Hangout on Air so it can be archived for all third grade teachers to use with their students. We also plan to have a second person in each of the rooms to serve as tech support and deal with any issues while broadcasting. If it works we will do it again with 1st grade teachers.

Will it work? Will we see increased implementation of digital citizenship curriculum? Will teachers feel more at ease after seeing a lesson taught? We are hopeful and excited about our plan.  Look for another post in March after the lesson.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Power of a Teacher Challenge

What professional learning activities truly change my practice?

I would have to say Teacher Challenges.  They are better than most workshops, seminars, or trainings at creating a lasting impact on my growth and learning.

What is a Teacher Challenge?

They are free professional learning events that feature daily or weekly tasks around a specific focus. The purpose of these challenges are to increase teacher skills with the support of mentors and colleagues.  In one of my Voxer chat groups, someone referred to challenges as a way for us to 'lovingly support and hold each other accountable' as we learn and try new things.

Here are a few of examples of teacher challenges:
Edublogs Teacher Challenges
Thinglink App Smash Challenge
TeachThought #Reflectiveteacher Blog Challenge
Global Cardboard Challenge - get students involved!
Your #EduStory Challenge 2015

Why are they so effective? 

I think it is because of four things:

  1. Community  - Teacher challenges are social and learning is social. When I participate in one I want to 'keep up' with others as well as contribute to the learning and discussions of others.
  2. Accountability - In a challenge, I am motivated to stay the course and complete it to the end. Knowing others are waiting to see what you post is an effective motivator!
  3. Collaboration - In every challenge I meet new people and learn new ways of doing things.  Many of the folks I am closest to in my personal learning network participated in challenges with me. We are always #bettertogether.
  4. Creativity - We are all creators at heart. The feeling of taking an idea through to a product that can be shared is rewarding.  We get so busy in our jobs and the day to day grind that we forget to nurture our creativity. Taking time to edit a photo, construct a video, build a model or write a story is invigorating and empowering. Let the creativity flow!

My past Teacher Challenges:

Thinglink, Teacher Challenge 2014
The Seven Day Daily Create Mashup Challenge
#ReflectiveTeacher 30 Day Blogging Challenge by TeachThought

Current challenges in which I am participating:

GEGNorCal Blogging Challenge
Thinglink STEAM Challenge

Challenges I created or helped with:

No Worksheet Week Teacher Challenge - with creator Matthew Weld
Admins Edtech Challenge for school site leaders and administrators (Coming Feb. 2015)

Here is my challenge to you:

Participate in at least one challenge before the end of the school year.  I try to do three per year, one in the spring, summer and fall.  Whether you complete the entire challenge or just one or two activities, it will be a rewarding experience. So take the plunge, accept a challenge and get started.

If you have a Teacher Challenge you would like to share please post in the comments.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Use code to light up a tree in our nation's capital

This holiday season you can design and customize the lights on a tree outside the White House using Google's Made with Code Lights Project. Once your code is completed you can watch your work in action. You will be able to select one of the 56 state and territory trees to display your custom light show. You will also be given a time when your tree will be lit up with your code.

The Made with Code program was created in to inspire millions of girls to learn to code and be creative and make awesome things. The holiday light project is an opportunity to see how cool coding can be in a very big way - at the White House!
Google's Official Blog states "That’s what Made with Code is about: discovering that creating something new and exciting—whether it’s a holiday tree, a video game or a driverless car—can be accomplished with the power of code."

Have your class light up a tree in Washington D.C.

Try it out as a whole class. To access this activity, go to the Google search page and click on the link or visit the Made with Code Holiday Lights website.

Invite one or two girls to experiment with the Blockly programming language to customize a light display. Have them download the animated gif of their design and share it with class or embed on a class blog or website. You can even have the whole class try it together!

You could also let students design trees in teams and then vote on the best light display. Promote your holiday tree light displays by sharing when they will be on display at the white house via class newsletters, blogs, social media or text using Remind.

Give it a try - let the kids take the lead and see what they can do!

My light display which will light up the Northern Mariana Islands Holiday Tree on 12/5 around 1:46 p.m. (PST)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Talking points when admin wants to know if Google Apps Edu is secure

NOTE: This post does not constitute legal advice.

Recently, I have been hearing discussions in my district and others about how secure student information is in Google Apps for Education (GAFE). According to Google's security page, "more than 40 million students, teachers and administrators rely on Google Apps for Education". 

More and more GAFE schools are using tools like Google Drive to store student information from assessment scores and student portfolios to school counseling notes and student school health files. Is this ok? Of course you should always discuss these issues with your school legal counsel, but here is information I have found that might help when these discussions take place at your school.

“Google has proven that they’re a secure company. I don’t know of any school district that has passed the same rigor of security testing that Google has.”
Hank Thiele
Assistant Superintendent for Technology & Learning,
Maine Township High School District 207, Illinois

Google's servers are probably more secure than your school servers 

With more than 450 full time engineers, Google has one of the world's most advanced and secure infrastructures. Google Apps and Google Cloud Platform undergo examinations from independent auditors to make sure security and privacy controls are in place and working. You can read more on Google's security page. Additional resources can be found on the Google in Education page.

Is Google Apps for Edu FERPA compliant?

Google states that they comply with FERPA and the US-EU Safe Harbor agreement. Google Apps for Education complies with FERPA and our commitment to do so is included in our agreements. Google is registered with the US-EU Safe Harbor agreement, which helps ensure that our data protection compliance meets European Union standards for educational institutions.

Do you have to worry about HIPPA when storing student school health records on Google?

According to the U.S. Department of health and Human Services and the U. S. Department of Education, "Because student health information in education records is protected by FERPA, the HIPAA Privacy Rule excludes such information from its coverage. " Additionally, "At the elementary or secondary school level, students’ immunization and other health records that are maintained by a school district or individual school, including a school-operated health clinic, that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Department of Education are “education records” subject to FERPA, including health and medical records maintained by a school nurse who is employed by or under contract with a school or school district. "

Don't blame the technology

Inadvertent sharing of private student information could happen in a variety of ways (and I believe it has happened in the past before Google was in schools). Staff should be trained in all of the ways this can happen so they know how to treat student information in any situation.  Make sure school staff know how to keep student information private whether digital or hard copy and regardless if it is stored on Google's servers or in a file cabinet.

Tip of the day: Google Drive

Did you know you you can prevent others from downloading non native files in Google? When you upload PDF's, MS Word or other files you can select the file, open the details tab and then select the option to prevent users from downloading the file.  

Click the 'i' to open the details tab

When starting to use GAFE be sure your domain administrator sets the default sharing for docs to 'private' so that users have to manually share files. This can prevent sharing accidents.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Paperless Classroom: Sphero Giveaway

Your students need robots! 

This is an awesome opportunity to bring programming and robots into your classroom.

My Twitter friend, +Sam Patterson Ed.D. , posted this awesome opportunity to win Sphero robots for your classroom. I met up with Sam at the fall CUE conference in Napa this past weekend and he shared some of the amazing things students can do with these robots. 2nd grade, 6th grade or high school, all students can learn from and engage with Sphero. Read more about classroom lessons with Sphero and the SPRK Education Program.

Reposted from My Paperless Classroom: Sphero Giveaway:

I am excited to announce that Mypaperlessclassroom has partnered with SpheroEdu to offer an amazing giveaway. To support my mission of getting more teachers programming and using robots to support learning, we are giving away a Education 10-pack of the Sphero 1.0.

How do you enter? Easy: just fill out this form. You can enter once a day. Want to increase your chances? have multiple people from your site enter daily, the winner will be announced on 11/10.

Be a pal and share this page with other teachers, come back and enter daily. Let's get more robots into classrooms.