I Had a Flipiphany!

It wasn’t a real word.  Until now.  I just made it up, but it’s a real thing so I’m keeping it.  A Flipiphany is when you suddenly realize that Flipgrid would be the ULTIMATE tool for doing what you need to do.  And that just happened!

About 20 minutes ago, I posted another blog post called #EdTech on a Field TripClick over and read the whole thing, because I really was proud of the idea.  It is the story of how I created a fun, curriculum-based, tech-infused photo scavenger hunt for 1st graders at the zoo, and then I offered the teacher a diverse menu of choices as to how to implement the photo scavenger hunt with her class.  After I hit publish on that blog post, I went to bed…..and 15 minutes later I came right back downstairs because I had a serious Flipiphany!

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My original list of options for ways this teacher could USE the scavenger hunt list didn’t include Flipgrid – and it ABSOLUTELY should have!  It needs to!  I’ve already revised the original option sheet from my earlier post – check it out:

flipiphany zoo list

There are lots of ways this could be organized in Flipgrid, but for folks using the free version, I’d suggest setting it up as described in the last option above.  Since most of the scavenger hunt items on my hunt are photos, 15 seconds will be plenty of time.  Removing the selfie decorations will allow viewers to see an accurate thumbnail of the students who participated.  I’d also suggest leaving the “Response Title” on so that groups could use their group name or a brief caption of their grid post.  The topic in Flipgrid might look something like this:

phillyzooflipgrid

I have now decided that this is my new favorite thing in the world….Flipgrid Photo Scavenger Hunts!  Seriously.  I need to do these with other teachers for my PD sessions (this is a Tech Integration Specialist’s dream toy tool), with friends and neighbors, and on my family summer vacation!

Ohhhhh…..and if you happen to be going to Flipgrid Live this summer, you’d better believe that there will now be a big ol’ super-fun, kinda crazy, official #FlipHunt happening in Minnesota.  That’s a real word now, too.  The #FlipHunt is ON!

 

You know I just love to hear from you and connect with other awesome educators.  You can find me on Twitter as @kerszi, on my Facebook page “Integration Innovation”, or leave comments right here on the blog! 
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EdTech on a Field Trip?

As a Technology Integration Specialist, I get all kinds of interesting requests from teachers. They never cease to amaze me with their ideas and the things they want to learn. One of my very favorite unique challenges this year came from one of my first grade teacher friends.

She wanted to know if I could help her think of ways she might be able infuse technology into her field trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. No teacher had ever before asked me anything like this, and I fell in love with the idea! Adding to the challenge was the fact that it involved our littlest littles – 6-year-olds!

I began by checking to see if the zoo offered free WiFi access. We have iPads, but they don’t have 4G, so my planning would be influenced by WiFi availability. Philadelphia Zoo does indeed offer free WiFi, so I knew we had that option if we needed it.

I looked at the educational activities on the zoo’s website. They do have some there, including printables and lesson plans. I found a scavenger hunt, which I thought was a good idea, but I wanted to really personalize it for our first graders from our district.

If you follow me, you know that my mantra/ tagline/ philosophy is P.A.R.T.I., which stands for “Purposeful And Relevant Technology Integration.”

So I found our district’s first-grade Life Science benchmark, and I built a field trip photo scavenger hunt from it! I combined content knowledge with the silliness I knew our first graders would love.

Take a look at the simple but fun list I created, and you’ll see how it challenged students to apply knowledge in amusing ways:

The next thing I needed to do was to think of the teacher’s needs. How many groups would there be? How many chaperones? Was she sharing this with all the other first grade teachers? Did she want to upload photos to some sort of app while at the zoo (which would require WiFi) or just take photos? Did she want chaperones to be able to use their own devices/phones, or did she need our iPads? I met with her once to discuss options and get a feel for what she would consider, and then I went to work creating a printed list of options for ways she could deploy the scavenger hunt. It was SO fun to create this list!!! I gave it to her several days in advance, because at least two of the options would require additional set-up. (Goose Chase and QR Wild, which are both awesome!)

I had an absolute blast creating these resources, and I didn’t even get to go on the field trip! If you’re wondering how that teacher decided to use the scavenger hunt, she went with the second option. That night, she created a beautiful PowerPoint slideshow of all the pictures so that she could share with students the next day in class! (See just a few of her slides below!)

I ended up sharing this idea with five first grade teachers from another one of the schools I serve. They each decided to do their own thing – some did option 3, one did option 4 (the Bingo board), and some did option 8 (using Seesaw). Oh, and I heard that those “live interview” questions were a big hit – I’ll go back and add more of those next time!

In the end, no matter which way they chose to use it, this tech-infused field trip photo scavenger hunt was a big hit with every single teacher, parent, and student!

Bravo & big thanks to the teachers who continue to challenge and inspire me!

Thanks as always for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts & feedback! You can find me on Twitter as @kerszi, on my Facebook Page “Integration Innovation”, or leave comments right here on my blog!

Accessibility Oooh & Aaahs With Microsoft’s Learning Tools

It warms my heart and brings me joy to see that glowing joy on a Special Education teachers’ face exclaiming, “We can DO that?”, “I didn’t know that was even A THING”,  “I never even THOUGHT of it”, “NO WAY!!!”… and the unforgettable, “This is like a miracle!”

This new phenomena is spurred by some mandatory PD that all of our teachers in grades 3-5 needed to attend this month.  I was teaching them the wonders of Microsoft’s OneNote Class Notebook.  That in itself was an extraordinary mind-blowing tool for teachers who JUST entered the world of teaching in a 1:1 environment.  For now, I’m thrilled to report on an unexpected byproduct of those PD sessions.

The Special Education teachers (and many Basic Skills and even general education teachers) were blown away by the Learning Tools that are embedded in Microsoft’s OneNote and Class Notebook.  In the Learning Tools, there is a remarkable ribbon tool called “Immersive Reader”.  I am both a former Special Ed teacher and a crazy-avid EdTech junkie, so I thought it was maybe just me who was awestruck by the way these tools make text accessible to all students.  The text-to-speech alone can bring tears to my eyes when I see it being used independently by a struggling reader.  The other options – font size, spacing, and color readability options can also be set by the learner to meet his/her own learning needs.  I ADORE that students may choose to speed up the reading voice or slow it down if processing is difficult!  I marvel when a student who has difficulty decoding can turn on the syllabication option and just read syllable-by-syllable.  Most of all – and I exclaim this with joyous fervor in my PD sessions – this is not something that a teacher has to “push out” to students or that draws any attention to that student!  The students who need it can just “turn it on” themselves – determining for themselves when they need those accommodations – and they don’t look any different than anyone else in the class!  Students can go to the same OneNote page as everyone else, and then discreetly slip in a pair of earbuds, click on the Learning Tools tab, and make the learning accessible without ever leaving the page (or the group, or the classroom!)

I also showed our teachers that their students will also soon have the Dictation feature available (speech to text) as soon as our district upgrades us to Windows 10.  I think a few of the teachers may or may not have fallen out of their chairs.  I know that I heard audible gasps.  One teacher threw her hand over her mouth and mumbled, “Oh, all those years we wasted money and time on that OTHER speech to text program, and now all of our kids will have it RIGHT HERE, RIGHT in their own OneNote notebooks and not having to go out to another program.”  Another teacher exclaimed, “This is like a miracle!”  I LOVE that these teachers get as emotional about this as I do.  That’s exactly how I feel!

Speaking of miracle, this is where something pretty magical began to happen!  Special Ed teachers – and some other speciality teachers, and Child Study Team members – started asking for more sessions just for them that dealt specifically with Adaptive Technology!   They wanted more time with the Learning Tools and to explore samples and brainstorm ways that these could be used.  Nothing – NOTHING – warms the cockles of my heart like teachers who are craving personalized PD that will help them help their students…so I created this to start:

nnnnnThese teachers are especially fascinated with Microsoft’s Audio Recorder, which is a standard part of ALL OneNote notebooks and Class Notebooks…sitting right there in the middle of the Insert Ribbon!  I showed them about 10 ways just that one little microphone tool could be used by both teachers AND students to make learning accessible, productive, and fun!  They played and came up with much better ideas than I had.  We researched and Googled and Pinterest-ed even more practical ideas…and the time flew!

We started with 1/2 day PD, and I’m thrilled to say that it wasn’t enough.  I never even got to demo all the the items on my very short list above – and I had about a dozen others on backup reserve in case we had more time!  As the teachers learned and shared and brainstormed, it gave ME even more ideas about things I want to show them…to teach them…to learn with them!   Going forward, those teachers have inspired a much longer list – I’ve begun compiling a list of apps, websites (like Buncee…see photo caption above), and simple general computer user features that I’ll be offering and sharing at all my schools…and beyond.  I have a bunch of creative “PD Delivery Options” – newsletters, online resources, screencasts, virtual meetings with screensharing, Tech Playdates, Morning Munchies & Lunch Bunch mini-sessions, etc. – so that all of my in-district teachers have diverse options for accessibility, too!

We are all SO very lucky to be at such a great and powerful time in regard to educational technology.  Technology isn’t an answer or a cure-all, and it needs to be planned well and done right, but OH, the possibilities!  Our teachers are lucky – there is so much that is FREE to us these days, and there are so many helpful tools embedded right in the sites and apps we use every day.  Our students are lucky – to be learning how to learn with technology that assists them when they need it.  As for me, I’m quite sure that I am the luckiest of all – to have Special Education teachers with real heart and sincere ambition, who crave and ask for professional development for adaptive technologies to make life the best it can be for their exceptional learners!


As always, I really love to hear your thoughts.  I need YOUR help to grow my list with great ideas to share with teachers!  What simple adaptive technology tools to you use and love?  What are some of your favorite general computer use tricks (my teachers even loved just learning to zoom in on the screen and how to increase/decrease brightness…those little things matter)?  What do you wish you knew about Adaptive Technology?  How do you get/find PD that works for you?  And my favorite question of all is…what’s your coolest AT tip or trick?

Reach out to me at @kerszi on Twitter, drop a note right here in my blog comments, or follow my Facebook page “Integration Innovation” and share your thoughts & ideas there!  I’m also kerszi on Voxer if you’d rather strike up a more private or conversational chat.  Thanks so much!

Ozobots: A Recommendation

A friend recently asked me to share some of my thoughts about why Ozobots are a worthy purchase for her school.   As a long-time OzoFanGirl, the following recommendation and overview is what I sent to her.  I sure hope that it persuades her administrators to put a bunch of Ozobots in the budget!

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Ozobots have been a wonderfully popular item in my STEAMmakers Club and with students from grades K-5 in my schools.  They are a relatively inexpensive way to get students introduced to coding, and there are a multitude of ways to differentiate lessons so that the user experience is always evolving.  All materials related to Ozobots are free!  There are free iPad apps, a free website on which to code, and free fun printables and lesson plans on the Ozobot site.

     Kindergarteners and first graders are first introduced to Ozobots as cute little robots that know how to follow trails.  I teach them terms like SENSORS (on the bottom), PATTERNS, and CODE.  After they explore how Ozobots work on many of the free printables available on the site, I have them begin to draw trails on paper.  Lessons in line thickness and curves vs. angles ensue, and even line thickness is a challenge as students begin to understand that coding is a precise thing!  Students add in colors and begin to dabble in drawing their own Ozocodes correctly (it’s a challenge!)  Students at this age also really like to use the iPad apps with the Ozobots because the lines are already drawn for them, the Ozobots can “dance”, and it just adds another layer of engagement.

     Second and third graders get pretty good at creating trails that include drawn codes.  Precision is key when making these trails with markers, and students refer to the Ozocodes sheets to begin to draw more and more complex routes for their robots to travel.  Teachers can issue challenges in which certain codes must be incorporated. Students often start making costumes for their Ozobots that relate to different literature stories they read and programming Ozobots to travel paths related to stories.  (Try Goldilocks or Three Billy Goat’s Gruff.)  Again, the free iPad apps continue to motivate this age group because Ozocodes can easily be dragged in and there are some fun contests/games to play with peers.  Students who are emerging coders can start to explore the Ozoblockly games on the website.

     By fourth and fifth grades, it’s a great time to really introduce blockly coding.  This works with the Ozobot Bits and the Evo.  With the Evo, students now can create programs on the computer, hold the Ozobot to the screen, and the program is downloaded directly to the Ozobot!  When it doesn’t work as planned, students go back in and debug.  Many teachers are doing amazing interdisciplinary integration with coding Ozobots.  Some great examples include: Solve a multi-step word problem with a number line that the Ozobot travels, navigating through a large map to given destinations (I’ve seen a great lesson with the NYC New Year’s parade route!), have students design a 9-hole miniature golf course with challenges that the Ozobot must be programmed to navigate…there are options for every subject and every ability level.

     There are all sorts of games and challenges in the user portal on the website!  I have one posted there that is a serious timing challenge and can be aligned with the literacy idea of revising/editing:  https://portal.ozobot.com/lessons/detail/cube-challenges .

    I hope this is helpful.  I’m obviously a big fan of Ozobots and know that I haven’t even scratched the surface of their potential.  The online community keeps growing and growing, and educators continue to share resources.  This isn’t a fad – I got my first Ozobots four years ago and the company continues to thrive, improve, and develop new resources all the time.  At almost every Ed Tech conference and edcamp, you can find people who are still inventing new uses, challenges, and integrations.  I would highly recommend Ozobots for any teacher, school, or district that is looking for an affordable way to integrate STEM and coding into their programs.

Minah Minah… #EdLeadership Lessons from a Muppet

minah minah

Someone shared this video with me this morning, and I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head ever since.  I’m pretty sure I just did the same thing to you – sorry!  It’s such a catchy little tune and it’s been around since I was a little kid, which means it’s been around for a long, LONG time.  It’s old school Sesame Street, it’s the Muppets…it’s Minah Minah.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is the PERFECT metaphor for how I approach educational leadership.  Minah Minah……..

See those two fuzzy pink critters?  They do a great job.  They work in harmony.  They have found a schnazzy little number that really just works for them.  People like it. It has caught on.  It makes others feel perky and peppy and good.  BUT – it’s so repetitive.  It is so monotonous.  It’s goes on and on and on…it’s the same old song.

See the shaggy orange-haired rogue rebel?  He’s part of the trio.  He has a voice, and he’s expected to come in and do his scripted part at just the right moments. He goes along with the plan and sings their tune, too…at first.  After a few rounds of the same old chorus, he decides to put his own spin on things.  They stop and look at him funny, so he goes back to doing what is expected and just sings the same old song with them again.

until he just can’t contain himself and the very NEED to be creative and try something new just explodes out of him!  It’s who he is.  It’s in his nature to take risks, to add a little unexpected magic to the music.

He doesn’t abandon their song altogether, he tries to enhance it.  He just wants to be allowed to get a little creative and perhaps make that same old song a little newer and a  little better.  After getting funny looks (are those reprimands?) several times, we see him walk off into the distance – seemingly giving up.  I think we would all understand if he left to go find a new group because staying would mean continually fighting that resistance to change.

But our shaggy, orange-haired friend comes back!  He has grit, and he’s not afraid to use it!  He’ll keep plugging away to have his inspired, wacky, off-the-cuff little vision be a part of that song.  Yup, that’s grit – and steadfast belief in a vision to make things better.  Not only does he keep plugging away at that monotonous pink duet, but then he goes out and spreads his song!  Okay, it’s just to Kermit in this video, but let’s face it – Kermit knows all the right people.  If he can get Kermit to make a few phone calls in support, pretty soon there will be a whole SNAGGLE of Muppets jamming to a new beat.

If you watch to see what happened at the very, VERY end of the video, you’ll see that even the staunchest, most set-in-their-ways spectators are interested and suddenly asking the question, “What’s a Minah Minah?’

whats a minah minah

This is the work of transformative and visionary leaders in education.  Be shaggy.

 

 

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!