An Adaptive Tech PD “Miracle”

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:

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This graphic was made with Buncee – which is an AWESOME presentation site/app that also has many features that are exceptional for exceptional learners!  

These 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!

 

 

 

 

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#iiCHAT for Technology Integration Specialist Leaders

I recently gave a technology leadership presentation on “Coaching the Coaches” (see image below).

Most of those in attendance were already Technology Integration Specialists (or tech coaches…we go by SO many different names) who aspire to achieve the next level by becoming recognized as their district’s leader, coordinator, department head, supervisor….or whatever the local title for that type of recognition might be. I use the word “recognition”, because we collectively decided that in many places it’s not yet a formalized position. It’s just a leadership space that seems to materialize almost everywhere.

I was excited to share my own journey. In sharing tips, tales, technologies, to-do’s, and tribulations – I also welcomed a participatory dialogue from the attendees. In keeping the session less “lecture-style”, I really got learn a lot, too! Indeed, I learned just as much through discussion, feedback, and subsequent digital communication with an ever-growing group of people who want to establish themselves as their school or district’s digital leaders.

One of the greatest suggestions I received that day was that I should consider hosting a Twitter Chat. I’ve already “branded” myself with my Integration Innovation logo (Twitter Header, blog, FB page), and I post fun general EdTech things in all of those places. This Twitter chat would supplement that and provide a new venue for a new & very specific type of crowd. I do have a LOT of tips for tech coaches, but I also have some innovative leadership ideas, and so I jumped in and combined those into a Twitter chat called #iiCHAT.

#iiCHAT made its debut during EdChange Global on July 28, 2017 – and so the inaugural #iiCHAT did indeed attract an enthusiastic bunch of Tech Integration leaders from around the world! It was inspiring to meet, share, & learn from such an ambitious group of people.

I’m going to keep #iiCHAT going for almost entirely selfish reasons – I loved learning with truly kindred spirits! It’s fun to share ideas & hear stories from those who are (or who are trying to become) the “head coach”, as one clever friend puts it!

#iiCHAT resumes Wednesday, November 15

as a weekly chat!

UPDATE:  NEW TIME/DAY FOR iiCHAT:  It’s just 1/2 hour chat with 3.5 questions each week – so we’ll all meet up on Wednesday nights at  9:00 pm Eastern Time.    

 

PS – We also have our own #iiCHAT Voxer group – let @kerszi know if you want to be added.  The offline conversations are great & let us share so much more in a really comfortable, open, safe private group. 🤗

Here is a link to a Remind group if you’d like to receive a “day-of” text message so you don’t forget: https://www.remind.com/join/iich

😊 Oh, and I just have to share this very VERY kind blog post about that first #iiCHAT by @MsClassNSession : EdChange Global Shoutouts

Powerful Literacy Web Tool That Brings Close Reading Even Closer – it’s Edji.it

edjilogo

I haven’t ever come across a web-based tool that’s anything quite like Edji.it.  This is new territory in the world of EdTech, and I like it.  As you can tell from the title, Edji.it is a brilliant tool for close literary analysis, and the content you analyze can really be anything.  You can create your own readings, copy/paste from other sources, and even include images and PDFs.  In addition to being able create an in-depth close read and easily share it with your class, thoughtful and purposeful annotations can be made in the form of highlights, text comments, and even emoji reactions.

ej comment

As the admin, you import or create the text.  That’s done very simply by clicking the “New Reading” button and inserting text (which you can format.)  You can also insert images and even PDF’s – all of which can be annotated.

ej dashboard

When you’re satisfied with the text, you save it as a draft and finally hit “share”.  It creates a join code (also called lightning code) for your students.  They, in turn, access your text by going to the edji.it main dashboard and typing in the simple code where it says “Join”.

ej top toolbar

A simple join code for the group is all your students need!

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This is where it gets really clever.  As each of your readers are doing their own text analysis, their comments are private only to them.  You, as the admin, have a handy toolbar on the left that lets you see how many users are accessing the piece, and you can open your “feed view” sidebar that shows you all comments/annotations from all users.  The neatest feature in that toolbar is something called “Heat Vision” – when you click on this, it allows all users to see all annotations.  It’s the ultimate instantaneous, simultaneous sharing button.  Imagine the in-depth class discussions that can ensue based on this diverse collective annotation!

ej admin bar  ej who can see

I taught Literacy for years, and I adored it!  I loved being able to teach all of the nuances and sub-skills that went into the understanding and synthesizing of various texts.  As any Literacy teacher knows, the obstacles and points of confusion are different for every single student on every different piece of text.  Students may struggle with vocabulary, colloquialisms, understanding irony, theme, tone, or even just decoding.  With a tool like edji.it, a teacher has a remarkable looking glass into the insights, reflections, and understandings of every single student.

Would you like to try it from the “student view”?  Feel free to use my join code (jbvn) and play around with the text and emoji commenting.  You’ll see how easy this is for your students!

ej jbvn

 

Any teacher of Literacy and especially content area literacy will want to explore this clever tool with small groups (I really love this for Special Ed and ELLs) and even as a whole class.  It can be assigned for homework, and tracking/data is automatically saved as long as students enter their real names (or student ID numbers).  Edji.it is a winner for sure!

Addition: After I posted this, I found this handy slideshow called Getting Started With Edji

You can also follow them on Twitter at @edjinotes.

As always, I love to hear feedback and learn from you as you use the tools I share.  Please leave comments here on my blog, on my Facebook page Innovation Integration, or find me as @kerszi on Twitter!

Five Fun Fairly Free Things For Teachers To Do In the Summer

My fellow teachers, you have a few months “off”.  Yes, I know that you still work.  We do…we just do…because we’re teachers and we’re addicted to our craft.  But this is also an important time for you.  It can’t be all work – or even thinking about work.  You’ve got to find time for you so that you can be your best for the students when school starts again.  Take time to rejuvenate, refresh, and have fun!

I’ve asked other teachers for ideas that are relatively cheap and enjoyable to almost anyone, anytime.  They shared their all-time favorite ideas, and here are five of the best:

1) Nap.  For the love of all that is good and healthy, take some dang naps!  Lots of them.  Every day, if you can!   I know that the title of this post mentioned the word “fun”, and believe me, naps are fun.  YOU will be more fun if you take naps.

2) Read:  Read fun stuff, read sleazy stuff, read fiction and science fiction and gossip magazines and classic novels if you want.  “Binge read” an author that you love or go through every “beach read” that’s recommended this year.  Don’t bulk up your summer with gobs of professional reading.  There is a time, there is a place – it’s NOT the summer.

3) Scavenger Hunts:  Don’t wonder why that’s included.  Trust me.  They are fun to make and fun to play.  Get your girlfriends or the neighborhood couples together and do a few of these this summer.  Put ridiculous items on there, or have a photo scavenger hunt.  Pinterest is your friend, by the way, because there are gazillions of cool ideas to make fun scavenger hunts.

ej photo scav hunt

4) Make:  This is purposely generic.  The idea is to tap into your creative spirit and make something that you’ve never made before.  Do NOT make classroom things.  Make things for your home, Christmas gifts, art, food items, or lovely knick-knacks for your yard.  Get out some power tools, paints, hot glue guns, scrapbook supplies, knitting needles, a soldering iron, a pottery wheel – and don’t hide behind the excuse that you’re not creative.  Everyone can make SOMETHING!  Be determined that before summer ends, you will have created at least one neat, new thing that brings joy to you or somebody else.

If you need ideas, walk around a craft store or check out this cool little website:  Instructables.

5) Photo Fun:  Whatever you are doing, capture it in photos.  Even if you don’t have a big vacation planned, you can purposely go on photo walks to relax and find joy in things around you.  Take a nature walk and only take pictures of things that are NOT green.  Try to photograph the alphabet in everyday objects!  Have alliterative photo days: capture sunrises, smiles, snowcones, swimming pools, spaghetti, slugs, sycamore trees and anything else that starts with the same letter!  Get zoomy- take really, really close up pictures of everyday items (or in nature) and marvel at the details!

When you have good photo collections and are feeling inspired, play with a few apps like Aviary, Prisma, or PicCollage that allow you to edit photos or turn them into works of art.  Print them out or just share them on social media!  You’ll feel a good sense of pride, and probably a sense of zen with your new artistic photographic talents.  Plus, when school starts back in the fall, you’ll have a whole collection that proves just how much fun you had in the summer!

 

Thanks for stopping by!  I’m @kerszi on Twitter, and I also have a Facebook page called Integration Innovation.

ClassroomScreen – EVERY Teacher’s Whiteboard Friend

I just know you’re going to love this – whether you teach Kindergarten or college, Spelling or Trigonometry…this site is really something that all educators can use daily!  It’s called ClassroomScreen, and it is precisely that.  It is a background screen that you can project and just sort of leave up all day.  It has a handy tool bank across the bottom of the screen full of things we all need, love, and use in our classrooms all the time.  ClassroomScreen just puts it all in one place – with one brilliantly simple interface – so that all the tools are accessible to you all day long!

After you open the ClassroomScreen website, begin customizing your screen.  You choose the background image from a very nice selection of photos:

cs1

Just look at all of those tools across the bottom!  They’re very self-explanatory, so I’m just going to give you a quick little photo tour of what they’ll look like on your screen:

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Random name generator…click choose and it selects one name from your personalized class list!

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Calculator

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Simple drawing tool – you can choose small screen (like I did) or full-screen.

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Text box – you can copy/paste from another source, and use formatting tools including emojis

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Work Symbols lets you display your expectation for the sound levels in your classroom

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Traffic Light is another classroom management tool that you can display

timer

Timer

clock

Clock – displayed both ways, with date (click on date to reveal monthly calendar)  –  As you can see, I do random blog posting in the middle of the night!

There’s not much else to say except that I think a tool like this is remarkably handy.  There is a brief little YouTube video about ClassroomScreen that shows you how this works, but I’m pretty sure you already have it figured out.  Have fun!

 

I’ll be really curious to know if any of you end up using this during the school year, so drop me a comment to let me know what you think of it.  If you’re reading this on my blog, just enter comments here, or you can find this posted on my Facebook page (Integration Innovation) and I’m also on Twitter as @kerszi   – Thanks!

Audio Experiment with Clash

I’m not sure if or why you might have a use for something like this, but I had a little fun playing with it tonight, and it’s just pretty entertaining.

It’s a website called Clash. You type in a short paragraph or phrase and it takes each word and links it to an audio clip of the famous song or speech. Then it strings all the words together into sort of a spoken/singsong-y audio file like THIS.

The Clash website describes itself like this:

That’s pretty much all there is to it, except that Clash does give you more options for each word than the one it originally suggests. I liked finding audio files that made each word last a little longer so that the message was as clear as possible. It also shows you the source for every single word’s audio (I ended up with Pharrell, Katy Perry, Donald Trump, Eminem, Kenny Chesney, Kanye West, and more – all in one Clash!)

Clash might be a fun way to engage students. You might use it as an attention-getter at the beginning of a lesson. Maybe you’ll let students practice summary sentences using Clash.  It might be a fun way for students to try using content-area vocabulary words in sentences.  How else might you use this site?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Want to hear my final thoughts on Clash? Click HERE.

As always, I love to heard feedback and learn from you!  Please share your thoughts & ideas with me here in the comments section of my blog, on my Facebook page Integration Innovation, or on Twitter at @kerszi 

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.