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!

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QR Codes: How Can I Use Those? 

Well, QR codes are most easily used with iPads, tablets, or mobile phones to be honest, but I do have a cool link for use with laptops (with front or rear facing cameras) that works great: webqr.com. 
I thought I’d drop a handy link here for those of you who want to start exploring some fun ideas on your own: 28 Interesting Ways To Use QR Codes 

🔵 My favorite QR code generators/makers:

  • To make customized really pretty QR codes with a picture of logo in the middle, try: QRCode Monkey

🔵 A few more excellent links:

(This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a newsletter I had published for district staff in February 2016.)

Summer is Here! It’s Time For Some #SPF20

I’ve been in education for about 30 years, but today happens to be the last day of school of my 20th year working in my district. I’ve done a lot in 20 years here. I taught special education resource room and in-class support. I taught every elementary grade level. I was an elementary computer teacher, and I’ve been a district Technology Integration Specialist for the past three years. I ran a STEM Club called STEAMMakers. I’ve brought in new programs, secured grants, and started district-wide initiatives. I even went back to college and got certified as a school administrator three years ago.

I couldn’t have done all of this if I didn’t fully embrace a perpetual love of learning. I am ridiculously addicted to learning new things – to keeping my mind active, staying cutting edge, and continually working toward self-improvement. It really is an obsession. But there’s more – I have a second “affliction”. I am insatiably passionate about teaching it all to others.

The teachers throughout my district depend on me to be an edtech expert. I serve as a team mentor and bring new resources, skills, ideas, and learning to the other Technology Integration Specialists in my district. I now own my own edtech consulting business, Integration Innovation, LLC. I do presentations for thousands of attendees nationally and even internationally. I owe it to all of these people to stay current and really be a powerhouse resource for edtech learning.

So on this first day of summer of my 20th year in my district, I’m kicking off this summer by setting a goal called #SPF20. It stands for summer professional fun! The fun part is obvious, and the 20 means that I intend to learn or deepen my learning of 20 edtech things by the time I go back to school. Some of these things are brand new to me, and have just been things ‘on my radar’ that I knew I wanted to learn when I could find the time. Many of these goals are platforms or tools with which I’m already familiar, but I really want to dive deeper and become more of an expert. I also want to curate dynamic presentations based on what I learn.

Why 20? Well, it is originally inspired by the celebration of my 20th year in one district, but it’s also based on the fact that I have just about 10 weeks of summer vacation. That means that I can pointedly learn two new things each week. I first I thought that number sounded too low, but the more I thought about it the more I realize that it’s a really good balance. If I had made it #SPF50, I’d dabble in a lot, but not really become an expert at anything…and I’m craving expertise this summer. Balance is something I’m working on in my life, so 20 it is! If I learn something new on a Monday, and something else on Thursday, I have all those other days of the week to:

    Just spread out the learning – go deeper into my inquiry, or just wake up the next day and explore things I wondered about after reflecting
    Reach out to other friends and folks on Twitter who use these sites or tools and ask questions, and maybe even schedule in-person or virtual meetups to explore and learn together! (I would really love this!)
    Contact the vendors with any questions I have, request demos, or just build good relationships with them
    Curate presentations and resources to share with colleagues
    Take a day or two off when I just want to! I need some pool days in the sunshine, fishing trips, beach days, and down time with my family, too!

How am I going about this #SPF20 thing? Well, I have a list. I REALLY like my #SPF20 list – it is ambitious but inspired! To be honest, it’s not quite finished yet, but I have about 15 things on there so far. I’m saving some open spots until after ISTE in late June, where I’ll meet all kinds of people who will undoubtedly inspire me to learn things I haven’t yet even considered. I was going to schedule the items from my list on the calendar, but I realized I want the flexibility and freedom to decide what I’m going to learn week by week…it IS summer, after all! So the list and the learning will remain fluid.

So I’ll be using #SPF20 liberally this summer. I’m always up for having learning buddies – so if you want to teach me cool new stuff, learn with me, or just suggest something I should put on my list, I would love it! I don’t yet know if I’ll blog as I go along, or post to Twitter using the hashtag #SPF20, but I’m open to your ideas and input about that, too. And hey, if anyone else wants to hop on this hashtag and create your own list (or share mine), let’s rock some #SPF20 together!

Oh, and I’m reserving the right to up that #SPF level… extra coverage, ya’ know?

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.

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.  

The Kid Should See This

First, watch this video called One Small Step – an animated short film with a message about never giving up on a dream! Warning: Tears may flow….

Then, you might want to consider subscribing to this website called TheKidShouldSeeThis.com. The site curates videos that are perfect to ignite discussion, promote empathy, and bring meaningful conversations to your classroom.

Remember that videos can be added as topics in Flipgrid! Wouldn’t it be great to just post videos like this one and then just listen to what your students have to say????

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.