Thursday, November 29, 2012

3 Steps to Keeping Classroom Technology Safe

Hello Educators,

Having technology in the classroom enhances curriculum and engages students.  Many educators today have one classroom iPad or small sets of iPads, iPods or other mobile devices. When technology is lost or stolen students miss out on important learning opportunities.  Here are some important safety measures to keep technology in the classroom for students.

1.  When storing technology in the classroom it is critical to take precautions against theft.  Devices such as video cameras, iPads, and laptops should be put away in a locked and secured place such as a file cabinet or cupboard when not in use.  Even syncing trays or carts should be locked out of site.

2.  Always establish and enforce classroom protocols for student use of technology.  Develop a clear check out and check in process so equipment is accounted for and does not "walk out the door".  Here is an example of a Del Norte County Unified School District developed iPad Classroom Use Protocol that can be used or adapted for your site.  You can also read about developing a responsible use policy and establishing classroom management procedures on the Edutopia blog post, Mobile Learning Support for New Teachers, by Lisa Dabbs.

3.  If you have an iPad, iPod or other iOS device in your classroom please review the information below about installing the Find My iPhone app on your device in case it is ever lost or stolen.  Find My iPhone is an app that lets you remotely track an iOS device and lock it or you can even erase it's data.  This information may also be useful to you for personal iPhones or iOS devices.  

Please note - this must be setup BEFORE a device is lost or stolen.

Watch this video tutorial of how to use the Find My iPhone app:

Hopefully, this information is helpful to you.  I've shared this with my district after four iPads went missing in a classroom.  I would love to hear from other schools about how they manage and track mobile devices not in a 1:1 program.  If you have suggestions or use protocols that have worked for you please share in the comments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Celebrating Success from Data Driven Instruction

My school district recently implemented Professional Learning Communities (PLC's) and the data teams process for incorporating data driven instruction.  In the first three months of school we have had many successes as we focus on improving student learning.  Liz Calleja is one of our new data coaches for the school district and recently shared in a district newsletter some successes her data team had experienced.  I wanted to share this on my blog because you can feel the excitement in her post.  Schools implementing PLC's know it is hard work.  Our teachers are putting in many ours of deep reflection and learning to improve their practice and learning outcomes for all students.  They deserve to be celebrated and so I am posting this one success here, but there are many other successes occurring every day.  Thank you to the teachers of Del Norte County Unified School District for jumping in to this intensive and important work.

Guest post from Liz Calleja, Data Coach:

Celebrating Successes by Liz Calleja, Data Coach
There has been much success in our Data Teams.  Vertical teams present their own unique challenges and rewards.  Kindergarten and 1st grade have elected to work together to form a data team.  To start the year K/1 had the largest variety of baseline assessments to work from out of the K-8 groups.  We were amazed to analyze not just the deficits within the assessments, but a major deficit of assessment was also found.  There was no reading comprehension assessment in the K/1 DPA.  This team decided that because learning to read is one of the main charges of K-2 we needed to craft a new assessment.  We unpacked alike K and 1st reading comprehension standards.  From this we created a Common Formative Assessment (CFA) on Key Details of reading comprehension for stories.  We were blown away when the results came back and we had the majority of students Far Below Basic (FBB)!!!  In the five weeks that we spent on the first cycle of this goal we improved the proficiency from an average of FBB in 1st grade to an average of proficient.  Kindergarten went from FBB to Basic on this first grade standard!  From doing the pre-assessment it shed some light on our instructional work.  All the teachers on the team in October agreed - kids understand character!  They know Spiderman and Princesses.  We were shocked to see that most our students scored FBB on character.  The academic vocabulary tripped them up!  Our instructional strategies changed knowing this information.  During Step 6 (Monitor and Evaluate), in November, we created another CFA based on informational text key details.  We had to really go deep when unpacking standards the standards again, to clearly define the two types of reading students need to recognize text structure of, fiction and nonfiction.  This is implicit not explicit in the standards.

Another great success is shown with the flexibility of the teachers to get a CFA that fits the learning need.  The 4/5/6 team was working on itembank to adjust the CFA.  The goal is based on identifying structural patterns found in text.  The first CFA we created assessed the multiple types of text structures.  Upon evaluation we decided to narrow the focus to just compare/contrast.  This is more specific and attainable.  Itembank, however, didn't have enough options to create an appropriate assessment on that one piece of the standard.  (The answer to every related question was compare/contrast!)  We ended up deciding to use a Study Island test and a teacher on the team put it in Illuminate Education [our data management system] so we could easily access reports.  This creative collaboration among our teachers is what will facilitate the best student learning.

Lastly, I would like to point out the importance of analyzing the performance bands on Illuminate Education.  One team was struggling to create an instructional plan for the FBB group.  When we looked closely, the range within this group was too broad.  There were kids ranging from 0-59% all lumped into the FBB group.  We have decided to adjust the performance bands; 90-100% Advanced, 70-89% Proficient, 60-69% Basic, 40-59% Below Basic, 0-39% Far Below Basic.  This will allow for a more accurate instructional plan based on student performance bands.

K/1 Comprehension (Key Details) Baseline/Results Indicator SR & MK Combined Data

Early October 2012
# Students
Character (1)
Setting (2)
Problem (1)
Solution (1)
Total (5)
School 1- Kindergarten
School 1-1st grade
School 2- Kindergarten
School 2- 1st grade
79 scores

Early Nov 2012
# Students
Character (1)
Setting (2)
Problem (1)
Solution (1)
Total (5)
School 1- Kindergarten
School 1- 1st grade
School 2- Kindergarten
School 2- 1st grade
76 scores

Enjoy the small successes!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

10 Things You Need to Know About Google Docs/Drive

I recently completed my first Google Docs/Drive training for my school district and plan to offer it again in a few weeks.  It is an intro workshop that I did for a one hour session. I plan to extend the next session to an hour and a half. Take a look, I hope you find it helpful.  If you have comments or suggestions please share.

You can also checkout this awesome Introduction to Google Drive for Educators from @friEDTechnology 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tips for Better Image Searching in Google

Google is an amazing search engine, but it does more than most of us know.  

I recently completed a  Power Searching with Google Course and learned about search features embedded into Google that most of us don't know about or use.  It always amazes me to find the many not so well known features in Google applications that help me to be a more efficient and productive Googler.

Here are three quick tips to help you (or your students) with your next Google image search.

Filter image results by color, similar and image size

Trying to find your old mathematics text book and you can only remember the color of the cover?  Researching a historical figure for a school report?  Need a thumbnail image for your web page to refer students to a textbok online?  Using these tips to filter images can help.

1.  In a Google search bar type in what you are looking for and click on IMAGES to do an image search

2.  Scroll down until you see the color chips on the left side of the page and choose a color to help you locate the specific type of image for your search  (You may also be able to choose color options at the top of the search window by clicking SEARCH TOOLS)

  • Choosing a color brings up images with that as the dominant or background color in the image
  • Some colors produce results with implied context
  • Selecting black and white tends to produce archival images or line drawings
3.  When you see an image that may be similar to what you need, mouse over the image and then select similar
  • Choosing similar will give you a lot of related images and helps narrow your search
  • Choosing similar along with a color will narrow results even more

4.  Once  you locate the image you are looking for, mouse over it and select more sizes, to select the right size for your project
  • Choosing more sizes gives you multiple copies of the same image in different sizes and quality
  • Smaller sizes may be better for thumbnails and where image size is restricted, larger sizes may be better quality
Here is a video example of these search tips in action:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My EDU on Air event

Deploying Google Apps District Wide

Session description
Find out how we planned for and deployed Google Apps EDU
district wide, first to staff and then students in grades 6-12. 
Learn about our experience and how collaboration and 
technology skills keep improving as a result

Presenter information
Rae Fearing is the host of this Hangout. People know Rae as a driven, 
motivated person with an entrepreneurial spirit. She loves to learn and 
challenge herself in her work and personal life. During and after college 
she worked as a zookeeper, animal trainer and informal educator for 10 years. 
After starting a family she obtained her teaching credential and taught high
school science for 12 years. During that time, she also started a non profit 
community nature center that provided environmental education programs to 
schools and the community, earned a masters degree in science education 
and obtained her administrative credential. Currently, she serves as educational 
technology coordinator for Del Norte County Unified School District in California.
Hangout information

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Educator for a Day - Win money for educational technology

Provide “Shadowing” Opportunities

As a call to action for teachers and administrators to invite aspiring educators, community leaders, parents and friends into their classrooms as “shadow teachers” during American Education Week (November 11–17), the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University will award $25,000 in grants to preK–12 schools that host Educator for a Day events on November 15

Five schools will be selected from those nominated to each receive a $5,000 grant to enhance their classroom education, provide educational technology or supplies, or sponsor educational activities. Grants will be awarded based on answers to essay questions about what noneducators should know about the school, what makes the school unique and what the school would do with the grant. Schools that receive a grant will be required to arrange shadowing opportunities during their Educator for a Day events. 

Deadline: October 15, 2012 for nominations
For more information visit Educator for a Day

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Volume Purchasing Saves Schools Money on Apps

When my district started buying iPads last year, I found myself looking for a way to buy apps for teachers and students.  We currently have over 100 teachers and staff with iPads and 100 student iPads in use in learning labs with charging carts.  When we began purchasing iPads with grant funds I enrolled the district in the Volume Purchase Program (VPP) through Apple.  With the VPP you redeem vouchers (like a $100, $500 or $1000 iTunes gift card) and then you can buy multiple copies of apps or books, most of the time at 50% off if you buy 10 or more.   Side note: I have to say, redeeming a $1000 iTunes card is pretty fun!  Once you buy the apps you are able to download a spreadsheet with redeem codes that you can distribute to students or teachers.  I normally copy and past the redeem code into an email and send it to the teacher.  The redeem codes are entered by individual user in the app store and the app immediately downloads to the device.  For the iPad carts I only have to redeem one code on the laptop that syncs the iPads.  I keep track of who receives each redeem code on the spreadsheet I download from the VPPI made this video about how to use a redeem code for people unfamiliar with the app store on their iOS device.

The VPP has allowed us to buy specific apps at large discounts (for example: writing or note taking apps) that we want to make available to all iPad users while still letting individuals buy and manage their own apps.

Things to consider

  • Who will manage the VPP and be responsible for buying and distributing apps?  Depending on staff, budgets and other factors, you may want to designate different individuals to manage different app buying groups.  One person would be the program manager and they could then designate different program facilitators.  This way the special ed department, the school site, or the department could have their own program facilitator who could buy vouchers and provide redeem codes to their group.  
  • One if the issues around buying apps this way is that when the user redeems the code on their device, the app is then tied to their apple ID.  For example, if you give a redeem code to a teacher and they are logged in to their iPad with their own Apple ID, that app essentially becomes theirs.  If the teacher leaves the school, the app goes with them.  
  • There is some discussion that apps purchased with school funds should stay property of the school.  In this case you would need to have a way to manage the devices that would allow you to deploy apps out to each device, or you would need to log in to each device with a school Apple ID, redeem the code, download the app and then log out.  You can see it gets pretty complicated.  I think of the apps as being consumables.  The app doesn't get "used up" but if it was used for the intended purpose (in a class or for the year) then I think we got our money out of it.  To actually track each app from year to year would take a bigger management team than we currently have.

How to enroll in the Volume Purchase Program (from Apple)

  1. The first step of getting enrolled in the VPP is to sign up to be a Program Manager  The Program Manager is the main contact point at the school/district for volume app purchases.  Once you are enrolled (3-4 days), you will be able to make use of a new Program Facilitator management portal.  This tool will allow you to set up and edit Program Facilitators for your institution. 
  2. The Program Facilitator is a new account type for individuals in your institution.  The Program Facilitator(s) may redeem Volume Vouchers through the App Store Volume Purchase Program.  Program Facilitators may search for apps, and may order apps in variable quantities, up to the current dollar amount credited to their account via redeemed Volume Vouchers. These individuals will be able to redeem Volume Vouchers and receive codes to download applications, so be sure you only designate individuals who have the authority to do so according to any policies your institution may have in place. 
  3. Each Program Facilitator is required to create a new, unique account for the App Store Volume Purchase Program.  This is a unique type of account specifically for this program.  These accounts will NOT be able to access the iTunes Store to download applications, music, or any other content.  It is recommend that, for these new Program Facilitator accounts, you create new, generic email addresses for use only with this program (e.g.  This will ensure that even if a specific Program Facilitator transitions away from their current position, your institution will be able to transfer that account to a new Program Facilitator with minimal delay or hassle.
  4. After purchasing apps in the App Store Volume Purchase Program, the Program Facilitator will receive an email with a link to the Program Facilitator's dashboard, now populated with app-specific codes, one code per license. These codes may then be distributed to end-users for redemption at the App store. Codes may be distributed via email or other means, at the Program Facilitator's discretion.  
  5. The App Store Volume Purchase Program includes an optional, separate agreement that will allow your institution to use one or more iTunes accounts to sync multiple iOS devices.  If you elect this optional agreement, it is recommended that these master iTunes syncing accounts be generic accounts set up by your institution, as opposed to an instructor's personal iTunes account.  This will ensure that control of your apps remains with your institution's IT department or similar team, as opposed to with an individual.

Helpful links:

Volume Purchase Program:

You can also attend Apple Volume Purchase Program Webinars every Tuesdays, 12-1 PM (Pacific)

Register here

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Planning a STEM Fair - part 1

When I started teaching science 13 years ago I held my own science fair for my classes.  Our district did not host a science fair, but I saw value in the opportunity to let students discover their own learning through the development and creation of a science fair project.  Students were able to explore topics of interest and asked to present a research question along with their research and conclusions.  It was fun and some students really enjoyed having the opportunity to explore their own interests.  We had a panel of judges and I used my classroom budget to provide cash prizes and certificates for participation. Students researched and presented information on enzymes and laundry detergents, motor operation and fat content in fast food.  After a couple of years I stopped requiring this project for my students as it was a lot of extra work to try an accomplish all by myself.

In my current role as educational technology coordinator I wear many hats including serving as project director for a couple of grants and implementing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in addition to provide support and professional development for technology integration into the classroom.  Sharing my passion for learning about science has taken a back seat to my other duties recently and so I was excited yesterday when I received an email from a corporation wishing to donate science project supplies to teachers in our district.  I sent an email out to all teachers informing them how to apply to receive these materials and added a small statement at the end of the email asking anyone interested in supporting STEM education and helping coordinate a district-wide science fair to contact me.  Several teachers replied that they had wanted to do something like this at their sites but felt it was too much for one person to organize.

So, now I have done it, I need to figure out how to plan and hold a STEM fair in our district.  This post will be part 1 of my STEM fair journey.  I will write new posts as I move along in the planning of our first STEM fair.  If you are planning a similar event at your school or in your district I would love to hear from you.


1.  Acquire STEM fair resources

San Mateo County Office of Education STEM fair resources

Need Help Planning a Science Fair Project - Edudemic blog

Prepare for the science fair - by Kevin Temmer

Teachers Guide to Science Projects

STEM Fair - Baltimore County Public Schools

2.  Meet with committee to select date and decide on event format

  • venue
  • dates
  • guidelines, format, submissions
  • judging
  • teacher resources, support, mentoring
  • sponsors?
  • website

3.  Consult PLN for input

Hey! You can be part of my personal learning network (PLN), please add your information to via the STEM Science Fair Form below.  Thanks!

See the form results here

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Micro-blogging addiction

I have to admit it, I'm hooked. My micro-blogging service of choice is Twitter and in the words of one of my Tweeps, @trubol, "Twitter is a great gateway technology".  For me, that is true, I started with Twitter and that led to Pinterest, Diigo, know the story.  In one of my recent posts I wrote about Twitter as one of the top ed tech tools to tackle this summer.  Anyone can write short, 140 character tweets about interesting topics.  There is something less intimidating about micro-blogging that makes it a perfect way to start in social media and blogging.

How I use Twitter:

It is the best professional development I have experienced.  I connect with other ed tech coordinators, teachers and administrators all over the world to share ideas and learn together. Below is an example of a recent connection I made on Twitter.  I was looking for middle school teachers using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) so I could connect them to teachers in my district looking to start using GAFE with middle schoolers.  From this conversation I hope to set up a video chat or Google hangout with my teachers so they can learn how others are making GAFE work.

Two milestones I am looking forward to are my 1000th tweet and reaching 500 followers.  You can find on Twitter at  @raefearing

Other educators share tons of cool ed tech tips and ideas that I then pass along to teachers in my school district.  I set up an iPad educator Google Group and when I hear about free apps or ways to use ipads in the classroom I pass these ideas along to the iPad Educator Group.

I also created a board on Pinterest with Twitter tips for teachers.  This visual micro-blogging site lets me create visual boards of cool things I find online.  This is a picture of my Twitter for Educators board on Pinterest.
Twitter for Educator Pinterest Board

One goal this year are to introduce more teachers to Twitter in my district.  I developed an online Twitter workshop for teachers so teachers could learn at their own pace.  I want to share with others my excitement at being part of this vibrant learning community. I would also like to get other teachers on Pinterest so we can share ideas in my district and globally.  It would be great to hear from others about how to introduce these new technology resources to teachers who are already so short on time.  If you have ideas about how to generate interest in micro-blogging and social media with teachers I would love for you to comment on this post.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A message from my iNACOL friends

Please join iNACOL and your colleagues for this webinar entitled “Race to the Top District Program (RTT-D): TheEssential Role of Digital Learning in a Successful Application  on Friday, August 31 from 4-5 pm ET.   If you’d like to attend for free, please register here (

This webinar will bring together some of the experts in the digital learning space including Susan Patrick, President and CEO of iNACOL, Reg Leichty from Education Counsel - , John Bailey from Digital Learning Now! - ,  Linda Pittenger from the Council of Chief State School Officers -, and Andy Calkins from Next Generation Learning Challenges -

The webinar will offer presentations by Mr. Leichty and Mr. Bailey from their respective perspectives and then the panel will be available to answer related questions. 

If you’re thinking about applying for this grant, please complete the simple “Intent to Apply” form by August 30 at: iNACOL has put together a quick list of resources that may be helpful in writing your grant application here [Hyperlink to: ] 

At the end of this webinar, you will better understand the grant competition, programmatic goals and understand the role of online and blended learning in the next generation digital learning approaches. 

Again if you’re interested in attending this FREE webinar, “Race to the Top District Program (RTT-D): The Essential Role of Digital Learning in a Successful Application” on Friday, August 31 from 4-5 ET, please be sure and register here:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blogs I Follow

Each day I stumble across a variety of blog posts as I browse the web and cruise my social media sites.  When a person's blog relates to my interests I follow it using Google Reader so I can easily find and read new posts.  My school has adopted Google Apps for Education and so I prefer to use Google Reader as my blog reader (organizer) because it works well with the other Google Apps I use daily.  Some features I enjoy are the ability to organize blogs into folders and to sort blog posts from oldest to newest.  This helps to stay caught up and not miss a post.  I can also easily post my blog on Twitter or other social networks.  Additionally, blogs I add to my blog roll are automatically added to Google Reader for me saves me a step!

The list of blogs I follow is growing daily.  Currently, I follow 17 blogs focused on education and technology.  To be included in blogs I follow requires two things:  1) topics must be interesting to me and 2) I have to get something I can use or apply to my work out of the blog

My top five favorite blogs are (in no particular order):

2 Cents Worth - by David Warlick
A self-described vagabond educator, his posts are usually packed with lots of links, he posts several times a month which is perfect for me, I am able to read them all and don't miss anything.  I find other bloggers that interest me by cruising through his blog roll.  His topics are of high interest to me and education focused. I enjoy his writing style and the fact that he is not afraid to tell us how he really feels.

Bud The Teacher - by Bud Hunt
Bud is funny and writes (and worries) about the future of reading and writing and teaching and learning on his blog.  He posts often and I enjoy following his reader feed on the blog which shows what articles and posts he is saving to read.

Ed Tech Team - by the Ed Tech Team
Led by Mark Wagner, this blog is maintained by a variety of people on the ed tech team and beyond.  This is a great blog for whats new in educational technology as well as Google Apps Edu news.  This is a go to blog to find out about Google Summits and other Google services in education.

The Nerdy Teacher - by Nick Provenzano
Nick is so funny and provides a bounty of information about using technology in education.  He has tremendous insight into technology integration in education and is half of Edubros - who are rising celebrities in education.  I heard him speak in the newbie lounge at ISTE 2012 and was hooked.

The Teacher Garden - by Mrs. K
This is the newest addition to blogs I follow and is packed with practical teaching ideas and solutions.  She is an elementary teacher and her blogs are filled with photos which I find very helpful.  I pass on a lot of what I read on her blog to the teachers I serve in my district.  I look forward to learning more about Mrs. K as I continue to read her blog.

Have a blog I should follow?  Please leave a comment!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Flipping - not just for students

Setting An Example

Many teachers would agree that far too much time is spent in meetings where information is simply being disseminated.  Discussions may also occur, but many times these are just gripe sessions with no real movement or resolution attained on the topics.  Flipping faculty meetings is a new idea that is emerging along with the flipped teaching movement.  It is important for a couple of reasons.  A flipped faculty meeting is a more efficient use of staff time and we all know teachers who ditch faculty meetings because they feel their time is being wasted.  When administration implements a new model of flipping meetings, it also shows that it is ok to take risks and to try new things because that is how we keep learning and improving.  Elementary Principal, Melinda Miller, tried this new format with her staff this year and received positive feedback.  You can read about her experience in her post "Flipped Faculty Meeting 2012".  

Jumping In

As an ed tech coordinator I believe in modeling the change you want to see in the classroom.  I agree with  teacher Bill Ferriter's statement in his blog "The Tempered Radical", that teachers won't be convinced flipping is possible until they experience it first hand.  Two weeks ago I started by flipping a professional development workshop.  The workshop, "Twitter for Educators"  took participants through four modules where they could learn about Twitter and how to apply this tool in education.   Embedded in the flipped workshop was video, collaborative writing, surveys and assessment.  This was an optional workshop held over summer break.  Eleven teachers signed up, six worked online to complete all or some of the modules, four completed the quiz and five showed up to the face to face meeting.  During the face to face we expanded on the learning from the flipped workshop by practicing tweeting, following hashtags, using a social media management system (like Hootesuite) and participating in our own impromptu twitter chat.  


My Twitter for Educators flipped workshop was a success as teachers learned about Twitter and how to increase their personal learning network.  At the end of the flipped portion of the workshop I asked teachers how they might use Twitter, I have included a couple of responses below.

I learned about an assortment of educators who use twitter to share resources. I also learned that authors use twitter and that it is possible to make direct contact with them.
--High School English Teacher

Did not know this existed for ed. Interested in the Tech connections.
--Middle School Technology Teacher

In the future I plan to offer additional face to face meetings to help teachers take what they have learned further.  In an optional workshop like this one, setting a specific deadline for completion was not possible.  I basically gave teaches the option to attend the face to face if they were able to finish the flipped portion by the date.  I think setting a definite deadline would have created more urgency and encourage additional teachers to participate at higher levels.  

I would be interested in hearing from others who have flipped workshops or meetings for teachers.  How did you set it up, what were your results?  Please share your experiences or thoughts as I would love to hear about it as I plan future flipped sessions for teachers.