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.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

(Wûrk’ shēt)

Wassup with Workseets??

It is time for the 2nd annual No Worksheet Week, October 13 - 17, 2014! This movement was started last year by Matthew Weld and quickly went global.  To read more about the development of the No Worksheet Week Teacher Challenge you can read here, here or here.  Matt and I are collaborating on this post so we can help teachers interested in taking the challenge learn how to to go worksheet free and discover the benefits for their students as well as providing support and new ideas for past participants.

Why do we need No Worksheet Week?

Going worksheet free is about much more than not using paper.  A worksheet-free week is not necessarily paper-free.  Remember that both technology and paper are tools for learning.  What we are working toward is real learning, and worksheets do not promote real learning. Think about the last time you learned something.  Did you have to answer a bunch of true/false questions, or did you have to DO it - demonstrate mastery - in order to show your learning? In order to move away from the dreaded worksheet, we first need a common definition:  
  • Worksheets are mass-printed, either by the teacher at the copier, or by a publisher in a workbook.
  • Worksheets are given to every student in the classroom.
  • Worksheets contain questions with black & white, right or wrong answers.  For example, they may be fill-in-the-blank, true/false, multiple choice, or math computational problems.

Worksheets do not support deep thinking or reflection.  If the answer to a problem is only found in the textbook and must be copied or paraphrased on a worksheet, it only demonstrates the student’s ability to copy down information.  A completed worksheet, or getting an answer right on a worksheet, does not demonstrate understanding of the material. When I was in the classroom I used to ask my students three open ended questions about a topic; if they could answer those questions verbally and discuss the topic with me then I knew they were ready for assessment.  Try asking a student to explain and discuss material after completing a worksheet, and you will be surprised by the lack of understanding they have obtained.  According to Best Practice (Zemelman, Daniels & Hyde, 2012) meaningful and useful assessment “involves students in developing meaningful responses, and calls on them to keep track of and judge their own work.” To achieve this, we need to change the way classrooms work and we also need to involve students in activities and collaborative projects that foster discussion and deeper thinking.  

There are many ways to guide students to deeper learning as you ditch those worksheets.  Take a look at Matt’s Autopsy of a Worksheet post or Rae’s Thinglink image that takes on a 4th grade worksheet about sentence rules. You can see more examples of #NoWorksheetWeek ideas or share your own on our collaborative Padlet wall.

The two big ideas of #NoWorksheetWeek

  1. Increase the 4C’s - Creativity, Critical thinking, Collaboration and Communication in the classroom.
  2. Bring relevance to learning through real world applications of learning and authentic assessment.

What does a worksheet free classroom look like?

Please participate in the No Worksheet Week Teacher Challenge and share your experiences using the hashtag #NoWorksheetWeek.  We will be sharing some of your best ideas on our blogs, so get creative!

You can also join our Google+ Community

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sharing: My key to great'edu'ness

Day 10 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge for Teachers is about sharing.

Sharing is a big part of my personal learning network (PLN). I share with others in hopes they can learn from it or use the information.  Others share with me and that is where I get my EDU Super Powers.  The magic of my PLN is evident daily. In fact today, A teacher told me: "You always find interesting stuff to help teachers, when you find topics related to my subject, can you send them to me?" It pays to have a #PLN and I truly believe we are #bettertogether

And now I will share with you!

5 Random Facts About Myself
  1. I make the best chocolate chip cookies
  2. I used to play the oboe and even made my own reeds for a short time
  3. 1st Wave is one of the saved channels on Sirius radio in my car (Bonus points if you know what music they play)
  4. One summer I worked as an animal trainer at Marine World Africa USA
  5. I don't drink coffee - never have

4 Things From My Bucket List
  1. Travel to Madagascar to see the Berenty Lemur Preserve (I once hand raised a Black and White Ruffed Lemur and named him Berenty)
  2. Publish a book (I started a children's book about Berenty the lemur)
  3. See tigers in the wild
  4. Take a year o ff to travel the world
  5. Own a maserati

3 Things I Hope For This Year 
  1. Both of my kids complete a successful, first year of college
  2. To continue to help teachers use technology effectively to support student learning
  3. A new maserati! :)

2 Things That made Me Laugh or Cry As An Educator
  1. When my oldest son graduated from high school one of his best friends did not. He was a few units short of graduation.  My husband and I invited him to live with us and I helped him each day work towards finishing his units so he could get his diploma.  I remember after he completed his work we drove to the school so he could pick up his diploma. When he got back to the car with it in hand he declared, "I got it!"  This made me both laugh and cry.
  2. My first year of teaching I taught high school science. One young man who was a good foot taller than I derived pleasure from trying to break me. In fact he told me once that he was there to do just that. I remember one time he hid in a closet during class to try and frazzle me, didn't work, and eventually he just came out and we moved on with the lesson.  The funny thing is years later I saw him and he ran up, hugged me and said he really like me as a teacher and was sorry he was so 'hard' on me but that I took it well. 

1 Thing I wish More People New About Me

I am actually an  introvert, but with a passion for teaching