Spice Up Your Session Board… with Flipgrid’s Augmented Reality QR Codes!

 

Edcamp Flipgrid QR codes

I’m a mega-fan of edcamps!  I attend them as often as I can, and I also help to organize one called Edcamp Happy Camper here in southern New Jersey.  I love being able to choose my own learning, and I love watching a session board fill up with the ideas and inspirations of each diverse group of educators.  At an edcamp, you never know what the sessions will be until you get there!

Well, I’ve learned that sometimes edcamp attendees STILL aren’t really sure what the sessions are even after they’re posted.  There have been many times that I’ve heard someone say, “I would have gone to that session, but I didn’t really know what it was.”  Look at the sample session board above.  There are several session titles that might not be known to some, and many attendees will avoid those sessions rather than finding someone who can explain it to them.

Enter Flipgrid’s QR codes – made even cooler by the new augmented reality feature!

It would be easy for edcamp organizers to quickly add a little QR code to each posted session.

  • Prior to the edcamp, quickly set up a grid on Flipgrid (name it after your edcamp) and subsequently create a topic called Session Board.
  • You will need a printer nearby so you can print the QR codes right away. You could also use one of these adorable little HP Sprocket portable printers that prints 2×3” stickers instantly through an app.
  • As people come up to post session ideas that they want to facilitate, have one edcamp organizer stationed by the session board who will ask that person to record a quick 30-second synopsis that explains their session.
  • Print the QR code to that video and stick it to that posted session (as shown in sample session board graphic above.)
  • Put the link to the entire TOPIC on the digital version of the session board, so that throughout the day attendees can watch the synopsis videos from wherever they are during the edcamp.

At your edcamp, be sure to make an announcement that people can use their phones to scan the QR codes.  The new AR feature of Flipgrid’s QR codes will make these videos really POP…so be prepared for lots of ooohs and aaahs!

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Thanks so much for reading!  I’d really love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and feedback.  You can always reach me on Twitter as @kerszi, on my Facebook page called Integration Innovation, or right here on my blog!

Learning In The Loo – Where It All Began

I stated this fun little edtech toilet training trend called “Learning in the Loo” many years ago.  Back in 2004-2008, I taught 5th grade Social Studies.  I started creating these Learning in the Loo posters for my students as a kind of study guide before our big benchmark tests.  As you can imagine, they were initially met with groans and awkward giggles, but the students quickly came to love them!  I hung them in the student restrooms inside all the stall doors, and yes, above urinals.  At first, I noticed a spike in the amount of bathroom visits, but guess what – I also noticed a real increase in student discussion about the topics, and also in test scores! With a “captive audience” and clear, purposeful information, it really worked effectively as a learning and reinforcement tool.  The students came to enjoy it so much that I eventually turned over responsibility for creating these Learning In The Loo posters to them – talk about pride in ownership!  I still have former students remind me how much fun we all had with that, and how they really DID “learn in the loo”!

Since then, I became an elementary school computer teacher, and am now a Technology Integration Specialist.  As an edtech leader in my schools, I knew that value that these Learning in the Loo posters could have on learning, but in my new role, my ‘students’ are teachers and my content is edtech.  So about 10 years ago, I began creating edtech tips, tools, and tidbits for teachers and hanging them in faculty/staff bathrooms.  I still called it “Learning In The Loo”, and the initial reaction from grown-ups was just the same as it was with the kids…groans and awkward giggles.  Soon enough, though, people started loving it!  To this day, I have staff remind me when I forget to update them.  I’ve had teachers suggest all kinds of topics.  I get tons of emails and conversations with teachers all the time who tell me that they tried something that they “learned in the loo”.  I’ve even recently had one or two brave souls admit that scanned a QR code to access bonus content while they were…ummm…in there.

Back in 2016, I started sharing Learning in the Loo as part of presentations I was doing outside of my district.  I had a favorite presentation called “Innovative Tech PD and Integration”, which I first shared at Bacon Bytes conference in Millville, NJ.  I think every single person who attended ran back to their schools and started creating Learning In The Loo opportunities for their own staff!  I had so many follow-up emails, tweets, and messages about it that I immediately created the now-famous Twitter hashtag #LearningInTheLoo, and soon after developed a Padlet so that everyone who was doing this could share and borrow ideas! There are now hundreds of crowdsourced ideas on that Padlet, thanks to a generous and creative #LearningInTheLoo community!

Well, needless to say, this has REALLY caught on – thanks to Twitter!  If you’re interested in trying it, take a look at the #LearningInTheLoo Padlet and help yourself to ideas that are there.  That’s what it’s there for.  When you’re ready, you can pay-it-forward by sharing creations of your own.

You can also get a lot of additional ideas by searching the hashtag #LearningInTheLoo on Twitter. ⚠️ I will say that a few folks have kind of tried to rebrand this idea with a different hashtag or two, including #ToiletTalk and even #PottyPD.  As a true educator, I think sharing in any form is great, but I also believe in proper attribution, so I always kindly direct people back to the original hashtag and the original idea.  You’ll often notice that when I tweet my standard post about #LearningInTheLoo, I immediately follow it with a tweet that links back to another post I’ve written called Innovate, Emulate, Duplicate…A Digital Citizenship Discussion. It’s just my subtle reminder to celebrate good digital citizenship among educators. Oh, and if you see a really awesome Loo idea posted out there on Twitter, no matter the hashtag, you can help the “movement” by kindly asking the poster to share it over on the #LearningInTheLoo Padlet so that we can all benefit from sharing and having a giant collection of crowdsourced resources all in one place!

I very much look forward to seeing your Padlet contributions to our #LearningInTheLoo community! 🚽

Thanks so much!
Kathi Kersznowski  ( @kerszi )

Teach Empathy and the SDGs By Connecting With A Partner Classroom

I’ve become incredibly passionate about connecting students globally using technology. I’ve seen the impacts of what this can do for students and the profound impact it can make on these little human beings that we teach!

When our students are able to meet students that look, learn, and live differently than they do, eyes open and perspectives change. They find so much in common, but also celebrate and appreciate differences. They marvel at new information and new ways of thinking. They feel pride in sharing about their communities and schools. The shy kids become a little less shy when they have the chance to speak and share in the comfort of their classroom but the “safety” of just using video to communicate. They feel validated and uplifted when a class across the country or halfway across the world acknowledges “Yes, we hear you and we feel that way too!” Students find their voices, and often find so much more.

If we as teachers embrace and unleash the potential of these connections, we can take students far beyond the introductory stuff (How long is your recess? What books are you reading? How cold/hot is it where you live? Whoa…you like Fortnite, too?) and we can eventually structure these video chats around some serious global issues! We can use this technology to communicate and collaborate with other classes to teach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and inspire our students to action!

I created the chart above to show how that progression – that deepening of purpose – can happen.

We have free and brilliant technology tools to make these connections possible. My three favorites are:

  • Empatico – for elementary schools, you enter your grade level, location, availability, and activity choices (they have 9 so far) and Empatico magically finds you a partner classroom with the same interests! You are matched with another class somewhere in the world, and when you are ready, you launch the video chat right within the website – it couldn’t be easier! My entire school district is using Empatico in our 175+ elementary classrooms and it has truly brought the world to our students.
  • Skype in the Classroom – If you haven’t checked out the Skype in the Classroom site, please click on the link! In addition to virtual field trips and guest speakers, you can always find classes, teachers, and projects. There are so many choices and connections from all over the world, and Skype in the Classroom is always adding new things! Oh, and follow them on Facebook too – they have a thriving community of educators who are always reaching out and looking for unique connections.
  • Flipgrid (Grid Pals) – The amazing and wildly popular Flipgrid is widely known for its power to amplify student voice by allowing students to create video responses to prompts or topics – and kids LOVE it! Well, Flipgrid has a unique use that you may not have considered. It can basically work as an asynchronous option to connect and communicate with classes in time zones with which you wouldn’t typically be able to connect! They have a whole section on their website that explains how to use something called GridPals to find connections.

As an ambassador and enthusiast, I’d be happy to help you learn how to use any of these sites, or give you more resources to teach the SDGs, or put you in touch with others who are really passionate about this work, too! Let’s do this together. Share the chart above and linked resources with colleagues. Then, let’s all give our students the greatest gift of all – exposure to global classrooms and global issues that inspire action – and empathy.

#SDGsMorningNews: Morning Announcements That Are Making A Difference

Your school does some sort of morning news or announcements, doesn’t it?  Every day, somehow, some way, your school talks about the date, the weather, the events of the day.  Some schools do a printed bulletin, some a digital daily news, some do morning announcements over a loudspeaker, and others produce a televised or live-streamed morning news program.

But does your school make it a priority to spark empathy?  To promote or share something profound?   To inspire with daily tidbits that could alter the actions, opinions, and lives of your students?  To encourage discussions that could truly impact global change?

This is where it all begins: #SDGsMorningNews.

Let’s use this hashtag: #SDGsMorningNews.  Let’s all use this hashtag as part of a movement.  It’s not going to work unless we share the story, the movement, the platform, and the mission.

Each morning in your school’s daily news, just share a fact, a challenge, a statistic, a goal, or a reminder that has to do with any of the SDGs. Doing this daily will make the Sustainable Development Goals part of your school’s common language and hopefully its culture. If we utilize this simple idea and take the time every day to remind students that the world needs their help, imagine how powerful a little act like this can be if many of us are doing it all over the world.

From here on out, let’s use the SDGs as a featured and valuable part of “the morning news” at our schools.  If it’s possible in your school, encourage the students to start sharing facts to add to your #SDGsMorningNews.  If we do this right, they’ll be compelled to be a part of this and empowered to be part of the solution.

We are better when we all work together, so I’ve also created a place to share you ideas and find some new ones.  I began a shared collection in Wakelet.  Just click THIS LINK to add or borrow kid-friendly single statements to inform and inspire action.

If you would, kindly share this movement with as many people as you can.  We really need as many schools as possible to participate, so share #SDGsMorningNews widely, and ask everyone you can to contribute school-friendly statements to the Wakelet so that we all have a shared resource.

Thank you! 🌎

Wheel of Names – A Randomizer Without Character Limits

I happen to have a little extra time to explore today because we have a snow day! ☃️ I just learned about this free site. It’s a randomizer, another online spinner tool, but what evidently sets this one apart is that there is no character limit. You can add phrases or even complete sentences to this one. (The whole sentence doesn’t show up in the slice of the wheel as it spins, but it does appear in the winner announcement at the end.)

 

There are times when this would come in really handy, like when you want to include writing prompts or insert whole questions for students to answer.

If you teach STEM-type classes, run a makerspace, or dabble in design thinking, this would be be fun to use for design challenges. Give students a pile of random supplies (cardboard tubes, clothespins, magnets, styrofoam, clips, etc.) and put design challenge ideas on the spinner sections – such as “make a vehicle for an injured hamster”, “build something that can move snow without it melting for at least 5 minutes”…there are so many possibilities!

If you look at the wheel above, you’ll notice that it even let me add emojis! 🤗

Check out wheelofnames.com and give it a spin!

As always, I’d love to know what you think! Feel free to leave comments and ideas here on the blog, or you can find me on Twitter as @kerszi. I also have a Facebook page called Integration Innovation.  And if you’re from Washington Township elementary schools and read this far into my blog in the month of March because you saw it in my Integration Innovation newsletter, the 1st two people that email me will win $10 Wawa gift cards.

The Designer Donut Club 😔

Once upon a time….I attended one of my very first education conferences.  It was my second one, to be honest.  It was one of the free ones, open to everyone, widely publicized, and with a whole host of excellent sessions from which to choose.  I was a total newbie to this scene – and I was awestruck by how this whole world seemed to exist without me ever having known about it.  I had learned about it via Twitter, and I was still pretty new at that, too.

I was so exited to attend this big event that I drove about 75 minutes and arrived super early!  People in matching logo shirts greeted attendees enthusiastically at the high school’s front door, and they directed me to find my way to the big cafeteria in the back of the building.  I went to this event alone, I didn’t know anyone in the cafeteria, and I was still so new to this whole conference thing that I didn’t know anyone who would be at this event at all.  I was eager to learn, watch, and soak it all in, so I sat at one of those big round cafeteria tables that was right up front near the stage.  I sat alone for a few minutes, just looking around as people started to fill the space, wondering if anyone would sit at the table with me or if most people attended these things in groups with friends and fellow teachers.  In time, I got up and strolled over to the refreshment table to grab a bagel and a cup of coffee, smiling and saying hello to other people along the way.  I returned to my table, and soon another “solo” attendee joined me.  We  introduced ourselves, struck up a conversation, and I’m still friendly and connected with her to this day.  I was happy to learn that lots of people go to these things alone, and others soon joined us at our table.

The story I want to tell here is about The Designer Donut Club.  As I said, I was new, and so impressed with this whole culture, and eager to embrace it as a part of this remarkable community.  While I sat with my new acquaintances, making small talk as we got to know each other, I noticed that there was a group forming at a table that was front and center….right up at the stage.  There were about 10-12 people who obviously knew each other – they were smiling and laughing and well, sharing these two huge boxes of designer donuts that one of them had brought just for the people in this group. Now, I’m a grown-up and something like that probably shouldn’t have affected me in the way that it did, but I somehow sat there thinking, “those are the cool kids. They bring Designer Donuts just for their group”, and I just knew that it was an exclusive club. There were tables FULL of breakfast goodies set out by the event organizers, but this club stayed front and center, shared their Designer Donuts amongst themselves, and most definitely enjoyed being recognized by others.

This is a true story. It happened a few years ago, but obviously the memory and the feelings have stayed with me. And it’s metaphorically still happening at other conferences and ed events I attend.

In a time where we do so much discussion with our students about how to be inclusive, it bothers me that there are a actually EDUCATORS who don’t walk the walk, and who and continue to be clique-y, elitist, and exclusive.

I started this blog as a draft several months ago when I was upset because I had seen some of this behavior again at a workshop I attended this summer. I’m finishing this blog today, because I was at an amazing conference last week and I just witnessed the same type of thing once again. I am so bothered by the fact that educators actually act this way. If, by any chance, you happen to become an “educator with influence “, please, please, please don’t become a Designer Donut person. When you go to conference, or even an edcamp, don’t sit at the front with all of your buddies. Don’t make it a point to hobnob with the “in crowd” and “be seen” as one of them. Sit in the middle of the room and make friends with people who happen to be sitting alone. Share a hello and a hug with the newbies or the shy people in the room. Branch off from the people that you know and make new friends from the people who are really just there to learn. Follow them on Twitter and retweet them. Ask THEM if you could have the honor of getting a selfie with THEM! Make everyone feel welcome and special!

I know that there are some people have been told that they are “edu-rockstars” for so long that it’s gone to their heads. Here’s the deal – even actual rock stars lose their fan base if they’re not approachable, sincere, and humble. Exclusivity has no place in our world in which we educators so often preach about spreading kindness and putting a stop to bullying.

I recently gave a presentation about how we can help students develop empathy through global connectedness. This was my favorite slide from that presentation:

bridges walls

As educators, role models, and human beings, it is my sincere hope that within our amazing community we all strive to put up fewer walls and build more bridges.


 

I always love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and reactions, so please feel free to comment on this blog post here on WordPress, or you can always find me on Twitter as @kerszi.  I also run a Facebook page called Integration Innovation.  

OneNote As A #OneWord Journal

Like so many people across the country, especially educators, I made the decision a few years ago to forego making a New Year’s resolution and instead choose a #OneWord.

If you haven’t heard of #OneWord before, it’s not a specific goal like a resolution might be, but rather it is a mindset to guide a person toward some sort of self-improvement throughout the year. It’s a focus word, a personal challenge word, a #OneWord.

I’ve seen hundreds of incredible and inspiring #OneWord examples on Twitter. Just search the hashtag, and even add the year (#OneWord2019) to see examples from people all over the world! Last year, I chose the word BETTER, and I truly did focus on achieving that word in a variety of ways. I came back to that word often throughout the year to ground myself and be mindful of exactly what it was I wanted to accomplish. On December 31, I sat down and reflected on ways I accomplished my #OneWord. It took me several hours to go back through my calendars, tweets, blog posts, photos, Facebook posts, etc. to try to form a timeline or list of ways I had achieved BETTER – and I was pretty astounded when I was finished! It was a laborious process, but it was really personally rewarding.

This year, I chose CREATE as my #OneWord. Like many others, I created a graphic as my inspiration, and I even went so far as to explain exactly what I hope to accomplish by focusing on the word CREATE .

Without going into too much detail, last year I felt like I spent most of my energy on learning and consuming knowledge. This year, I really want to be more mindful about actively creating. I feel like it will not only engage me in a different way, but also give me a chance to be more of a giver than a taker…and that’s important to me.

For 2019, I decided to use OneNote to help me document my #OneWord progress. I’m all about keeping it simple, so I just titled my OneNote Notebook “CREATE”. I made a section for each month, and I’ll add a page for each day that I feel that I’ve created something.

I set up all my sections as the months of the year. I LOVE using emojis to make my notebooks look awesome!


The pages from my January section. I already know that there won’t be one for every day, and that’s fine. I don’t want this to become an unattainable #OneWord by putting too much pressure on myself.


This is a screenshot of my page for January 2nd. In OneNote, I am able to add text, a link, and even a photo to document whatever I’ve created!

Some days, I already know that I will create and write notes on a dated page in advance – a way of pre-planning or outlining a particular goal or project to work on for that day.

Lastly, I want to point out that I used my OneNote iPhone app to do create all of my entries so far. I love the ease of having the handy app in my mobile phone, and also the fact that I can take photos and add them directly from my phone. When I’m on my laptop, I generally use the Windows10 OneNote app, because I totally love how many choices I have for page color in the app, and I can also have the most fun with digital inking. I could always use my desktop OneNote 2016 or even OneNote Online, too. So many choices!

December 31, 2019 is going to be really fun. When I’m ready to sit down and reflect on the year, every single thing will be organized and chronicled in my OneNote CREATE Notebook!

I hope this gives you an idea or two about how you could use OneNote as a journal – either for your own #OneWord or whatever else inspires you!

PS – Blogging is creating, so I’m adding this very blog post to the OneNote!


I would absolutely LOVE to hear if you’ve learned or incorporated any of these ideas into your own practices! You can always reach me on Twitter as @kerszi or on my Facebook page Integration Innovation.