Bring on the Bitmoji!

Even if you haven’t started using them, I know you’ve seen them.  And if you HAVE started using them, you’re a little addicted, right?  Or is it just me?

Bitmojis are taking over the world…or at least it seems that way…and I’m glad because they make me really happy!  So what’s a Bitmoji?  It’s an avatar you design to (sort of) look like you.  And then you use it.  For everything!

I got started with Bitmoji on my iPhone, so I’ll start you the same way, although you can absolutely create and use Bitmoji from your computer in the Chrome browser.  There’s an extension for that, of course!   (I have it, I use it, and I totally recommend it!)

On your phone, just get the free Bitmoji app and sign up with an email. The prompts will walk you through how to create your Bitmoji, but it starts like this:


It’s personal preference, but I really like the Bitstrips style.  The next several prompts will take you through designing the physical appearance of your avatar.  It will ask you to choose your hair style, color, face shape, eyebrow style, eyebrow color, eyes, eyelashes, pupils, nose, mouth, cheeks, facial lines (yes, sadly yes), makeup, glasses, headwear, and finally body shape (mine is uhhh…slimmed down).  Ladies, it’s even going to let you choose your chest size!img_6103.png

Then, it’s fun fashion time!  Dress up your mini-you!


You get to dress up your avatar, but there are tons and tons of choices, and just know that you can change your avatar’s outfit as often as you’d like.

Hit the ✅ to finalize things, and you’re ready to use your Bitmoji and fun and creative ways!

I use mine all the time when texting my husband and son.  It’s become a bit of a fun game for us – we try to have entire conversations back-and-forth using only Bitmoji!

Wanna try?  OK, it might be a little hard to find your Bitmoji the first time you’re trying to text one, so let me show you how to access them.  First, click on the little globe icon at the lower left of your texting keyboard:


On the next screen, click on the little ABC icon at the lower left of your texting keyboard:

That brings up your “Search Bitmoji” screen, where you can type in keywords to look for the perfect action, expression, or emotion!img_6104.png

Posting your fun & crazy avatars works exactly the same way on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Notice my avatar has that same pink top on in most of the choices.  It will stay that way until I change her outfit!

Many educators are now using these in Booksnaps (click on the word for more info), an awesome idea created by Tara Martin for using Bitmoji in purposeful educational ways!

One last word of caution for elementary educators…there are a few Bitmoji that are not quite appropriate.  There aren’t many, but you know your kiddies will find them!

Since you stayed with me, learning and reading all the way until the end, I’ll leave you with this one very sincere final Bitmoji:

 

 

Please share your thoughts, feedback and ideas with me here at my Integration Innovation blog, on Twitter @kerszi, or on my Facebook page called Integration Innovation.  

Schedule Meetings with Consideration for your Team…with Doodle!

There’s a really cool, simple, and free little web tool called Doodle that you’re just going to love.  It’s like a scheduling agent – but it’s a very thoughtful one!  Doodle lets you poll the people you want to meet with and gives them the gift of choosing the dates & times that work best for them.  I have used this so many times with my various teams, committees, and staff – and I know that they appreciate having a voice in when a meet-up will occur.  I’ve noticed some administrators have begun to try Doodle, too, and I applaud that effort, because educators (and other administrators) REALLY love it when they feel that their time is respected.

It couldn’t be simpler.  You, as the organizer, just list all the potential days and times that you’re willing to meet.  Doodle puts them on a grid and gives you a link that you send to anyone you’d like to invite.   People respond by entering their own names and putting checkmarks next to all of the times that they are available.  You’ll get an email each time someone responds, so you’ll know when all the ‘votes are in’….and boom – majority wins!

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Doodle even lets you integrate your calendar, so the final meeting date is inserted for you.  I told you it was easy!

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Just for fun, I created a quick little video tutorial (less than 6 minutes is always my rule for ALL tutorials)…Click HERE to see it!  Doodle away, my friends!

 

Do you have feedback or ideas?  Please share with me here in the comments section of my blog, on Twitter at @kerszi, or I have a Facebook page called Integration Innovation, and I welcome your thoughts there, too!  Thanks for reading!

Innovate, Emulate, Duplicate…A Digital Citizenship Discussion


I’ve taught digital citizenship lessons to students for years.  We talk about copyright, Creative Commons, citing the works of others, and giving credit where credit is due.  I’m pretty confident that my former students are cognizant of these concepts as digital citizens.

It’s important to have these conversations (I won’t call them lessons) with educators, too.  Teachers need to model these concepts within their own lessons and their practices.  It’s a common pitfall in the busy lives of educators to quickly grab an image, borrow a quote, or even use an idea without stopping to name the source.  I think it’s a discussion we should just be having more often.

Let’s think about those three words in the title.  Innovate. Emulate. Replicate. As educators, there are times that we use all three, but two of these require some sort of attribution.

I’m using myself as an example.  When I’m innovative, the idea is my own creation.  I don’t need to cite or credit anyone of course, because the innovation was unique.  However, and those of you who truly innovate will understand, we expect others to be good digital citizens when they use, share, emulate, or duplicate our work.

I feel like emulation is the grayest area for many, and it’s important to recognize and discuss.  Two good rules to remember here are:

1)  If you learned something new from someone and then you use it or present it, give ’em credit!

2) If you create something unique that was based on the work or idea of another (you tweaked it), give ’em credit!

There are lots of folks that I emulate.  I created a Digital Badge system for professional development in my district.  I’m proud of it, but the idea was tweaked from lessons I learned from the amazing Laura Fleming (@LFlemingEDU). When I travel and do presentations about my digital badging system, I ALWAYS mention that I got the original idea from Laura.  Every. Single. Time.  Anyone who has ever been to my sessions can attest to it.   She’s not literally cited on my website, but if I present or share and people like my system, it’s so important that I let them know that it was based on the innovative work of Laura.

Similarly, I created a really cool, unique Makerspace in my school.  I EMULATED the ideas of a genius friend of mine named Meredith Martin (@geekyteach).  My model looks very much different than hers now, but I LEARNED the ideas from her that got me started, so her name is a regular part of my Makerspace presentation.  Two years later.  Every. Single. Time.

Last week I gave a presentation in my graduate class. I used Google’s new very cool Q&A tool, which I had just learned about from a tweet by my pal Cathy Chao-Isaacs (@iwearthecrowns).  She didn’t help me create my actual slides, but since I learned that tool from her, I gave her a shoutout when I presented with it.  I will every time I use Q&A.  Cathy gets credit because I’m grateful to her and a better presenter because of that tweet! (It’s nice to tweet out thanks & credit to people, too!)

Let’s talk about duplication.  We all do that, too, from time to time. We use an exact copy, a replica, a duplicate of someone else’s work.  There’s nothing wrong with it. As a matter of fact, it’s often a great time saver & gives us access to unique new tools, sites, activities, and ideas.  Over the past several weeks, I’ve received numerous messages from excellent digital citizens who were asking permission from me.  They wanted to use an infographic that I had created called, “What is A Technology Integration Specialist?”  Although my work isn’t copyrighted, those asking permission did the right thing.  They wanted to use my exact presentation to present to their own districts.  Duplication is cool, but asking first is the rule.

My hope in writing this post was to bring more awareness to the issue for educators.  I’m hoping that if you mention this post to some colleagues, share it at a faculty meeting, or print it out & leave it in the teacher lunchroom, that it will be a great reminder of our obligation to be role models for our students when it comes to citation and attribution.

Oh, and next time your students are doing some presentations for class, spend some time reminding them, too.  We all could benefit from having a reminder from time to time.

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Technology Integration Specialist: Revelations About My Vocation

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I had a unique and unexpected learning experience yesterday.  I attended Edcamp Exit 8a, the first edcamp ever hosted by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA).  It was their first edcamp, and it also happened to be the first NJPSA event that I had ever attended.  As an aspiring administrator, I had just joined the organization and literally received my welcome letter the day before this edcamp.

So there I was, in a room that was predominantly occupied by all kinds of administrators, from supervisors to principals to district-level admins.  There was also a smattering of technology experts, coaches, and teachers with various experience.  As a new member, I was ready to learn from all of these people.

Something unexpected happened.  The edcamp session board, which is always populated on the spot by volunteers from the audience, just wasn’t filling up.  As the minutes ticked on and I saw so many vacancies on the grid, I decided to put myself out there and volunteer to present.  As even more time passed and the need remained evident, I signed up for two more session presentations (there were only 3 sessions that day) and hoped for the best.  I’ve been to well over a dozen edcamps and figured I could facilitate a discussion – or three.  To be honest, at that point, I was a little disappointed because my goal had been to come as a learner and to tap into the experience and expertise of others.

It’s my first session that had enough of an impact on me to have me thinking and blogging about it today.  My session was titled, “What Is A Technology Integration Specialist?”  I am brand new to this role (officially), and I shared that with the group right off the bat.  I used an infographic that I had recently created as the basis for the session.  (Click HERE for the full infographic, but here’s a small snapshot:

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As you can see, the focus was on what tech integration specialists can DO.  I explained to the session participants that this was a newly-created position, and that my goal was to present this infographic to the staff members I would be serving in order to show all the ways I can provide services.  The response to the ideas was very much favorable, which was validating, to say the least.  I was honored that administrators found my delivery models and strategies worthy of replication in their own districts.

The best part came next, though.  They started to give me advice.  In true edcamp style, the session became a discussion, and the experts in the room began sharing experiences from their own districts.  They wanted to help me avoid pitfalls and be successful in my new vocation.  The learning I had come for – had craved – was happening as a result of my topic and the collegiality of educational professionals who care!

Here are a few of the extremely valuable revelations they shared:

  • Have critical discussions with different administrators first.  Often a tech integration specialist works under several different principals and supervisors.  My friend Rich Czyz (@RACzyz), a NJ principal and former instructional coach, said that it’s really important to see what each building leader expects and to get a feel for the culture of each school.  It’s also important to work with the principal/supervisor to establish how things will be presented to staff, what expectations will be for all involved, and how we can support each other to improve technology integration in the school.
    • One great example involves how to approach teachers who are reluctant to welcome any ‘coach’ into their room…will the principal have that discussion with those teachers and pave the way?  Does the supervisor prefer that no “push-in” coaching is done without an invitation by the teacher?
  • Be clear with staff about what Technology Integration Specialists DON’T do, too.  I loved this advice because I hadn’t considered it – and it’s important.  One supervisor in the room said that teachers in his school had taken advantage of the fact that another adult was entering the room.  Some teachers sat at their desks to grade papers; others actually left the room!  In his district, the administrators intervened and explained to the staff that when any ‘coach’ enters the room, it is to help that teacher via new learning, practice, or support.  He explained that it is critical to establish this expectation (with administrative support) to every teacher.  He also advised that I stay firm if/when teachers may try to take advantage, and to not make exceptions.  “Be rigidly consistent” was the exact advice.
  • Let teachers know that a Tech Integration Specialist is NOT any type of administrator.  This was great advice, too!  Many teachers get nervous or even resentful another adult coming into their classrooms.  One principal told me that it’s really important to get the word out from the get-go that I will never conduct an observation or be judgmental in any way.  Classroom teachers and tech integration specialists are compatible (lateral) positions.  She advised that I repeat that fact early and often.

As you can see, I left with new insights, new knowledge, and new ideas.  Perhaps I started as a presenter, but I finished as a learner.   I also ended up with some new contacts and remarkable connections.  I’d say that’s growth, and I know that’s exactly the kind of gift that edcamps make possible.

 

If you have any other advice for me –  or thoughts, comments, or opinions, I hope you’ll take the time to comment.  You can reach me here at my blog (kerszi.wordpress.com), on Twitter at @kerszi, or follow my Facebook page, which is called Integration Innovation.

 

A Technology Infuser

I came across this picture on Pinterest the other day, and it swirled around in my mind for a bit until now.


It’s a tea infuser.  You put whatever blend of tea leaves you enjoy in that infuser, and lower it into the hot water until your tea reaches the desired strength.

This is very much my philosophy as someone who helps teachers with technology.  The privilege is called by different names – a tech coach, tech trainer, tech integrationist, or.. I propose… a tech infuser.

First, tech infusers need to realize that for many reasons, they may be approaching hot water.  Teachers are sometimes reluctant to try new things, have a general insecurity about technology, or be uncomfortable having someone come into their rooms to offer help.  

The water itself also symbolizes ‘normal’ classroom instruction.  Guess what…sometimes water is exactly the ‘taste’ that’s needed in a classroom.  Sometimes it works just fine.  Sometimes, plain old water is really the perfect thing.  But not always.  Not for today’s learners.

Sometimes, a little more flavor is needed.  Sometimes, a lot more flavor is needed.  That’s where a tech infuser can do the most magic.  He or she can bring so many varieties of tea to show a teacher!  She can give tastings in the form of demo lessons.  He can observe a lesson, get a flavor for what’s going on, suggest a few ideas and – let them steep.  She can brainstorm with the teacher and prepare special blends – for any occasion!  

Here are five things that really great tech infusers do beautifully:

1) Really know their tea!  Know lots of teas, stay current on the latest teas & be creative with cool new ways to blend them.  

2) Go in gently.  Sometimes a subtle dip is just the right way to get those who’ve never drank the tea accustomed to the taste.  

3) Know balance.  Know when plain water will do the trick, when a gentle infusion is called for, and when a mighty strong infusion might just be a complete zinger!

4) Let things steep. Sometimes it takes awhile for a taste or a flavor to really develop.  Let it steep, but come back to check every once in awhile until it appears ready.


5) Have tea parties!  Let all of those who have developed a taste for infusion come together & celebrate!  Be sure to invite those reluctant ones to the party, too, to hear how delicious it can be to infuse a little variety into their TEA-ching!

Who Showed Up?

So you want to start an edu-team?  Maybe you’ll form a PLC that’s really going to have an impact, make a difference, affect change. Maybe you’re looking to get the right people on board or choose a power group of like-minded educators.  Your ambition is noble, your mindset ideal – just make sure you take a close look around and choose that team wisely.

One of the best tools you have in your toolbox is a simple glance at the past year or so.

Who showed up?

Who was noticeably absent?


If I were a runner (which I totally am not!), I would want to train for a marathon with folks who share a similar ambition.  Who is really into it?  Who shows dedication, commitment, passion, drive?

Who showed up?

I’d be looking for people who came to the open track days or the local 5k runs that I invited them to, or the monthly runner meetups on the town bike path.

I’d look for people who didn’t make excuses.  I’d look for people that bring new ideas.  I’d look for people better than me who inspire me, or people who just love it as much as I do.

And I know that anyone who is a really a runner would never pick me for a teammate, because I’m noticeably absent from that whole scene!

The same is true for educators with a true growth mindset.  I’m not into running, but I am into Ed Tech!  I want to surround myself with the right people for me.  I want to find my Ed Tech tribe.  So, I look to the past year or so and I think about those who ‘showed up’.  In some ways I’m thinking figuratively, but it’s also a literal thing.  Who attended workshops, conferences, webinars?  Who explored, collaborated, and openly shared?  In the past year, who suggested a new idea or wanted to team up to create or innovate?  Who has a comparable growth mindset?

Everyone has different priorities, and there are different levels of enthusiasm about those priorities.  We all have our thing, and it’s all good.  There are lots of things that aren’t my thing, and that’s just fine.

I’m just suggesting that when it comes to aligning yourself with people who truly share your vision and your passion, look to the past and see who showed up.