Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Crazy idea or crazy smart?

gum on the ground by the Alamo

I have been watching a billion crime shows on Netflix over the past year or so. Mostly because many of the shows have lots of episodes, right now it is Bones. What those shows have taught me was that everything leaves trace evidence behind.

I was strolling by the Alamo and took the image above. Gum. I have noticed there is a lot of gum on the sidewalks. I wonder how much gold and silver could be harvested from that gum. There has to be trace amounts of precious medals in the gum, how might we mine it?

This reminds me of a time during my student teaching. A student exclaimed that ice cream was made of dirt. No one laughed or said anything, the room was quiet for a bit. Slowly others started to figure it out. His connection was that the grass grows in the dirt, cows eat the grass, people take the milk and turn that into ice cream, thus ice cream is made out of dirt. This connection was brilliant and helped the other kids think differently and take intellectual risks. 

What does all this mean? Sometimes I jump too quick to dismiss a good idea. Sometimes I don't remain quiet like those first graders did. Ice cream is made from dirt and maybe, just maybe, we could mine the gum for precious medals. Maybe we don't have the technology to extract the gold today but I'm sure that is just around the corner.

This summer has brought some hard lessons, but one of the benefits has been slowing down and taking life one day at a time. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sometimes time off isn't a good thing.

Just too much noise!

It is just about July and I have taken a bit of time off. At home things can get all kinds of noisy. Kids talking (yelling)  to Alexa/Google Home to play some great hits like that pen pineapple song, someone else watching random Youtube videos, cell phones dinging, Nerf guns and more. All this noise can drive me nuts. Then there are times when the house is too quiet, so quiet I can't think. This post is how to fix the too quiet issue.

Simply, a way to create soft background noise like you are in a coffee shop or on a college campus.

Navigate to coffitivity and check out the left side.
Select one of the three top options.
Let the concentration begin!

Need more sounds? The premium is only $9! That is less than a trip to the actual coffee shop.

Add it to your mobile device for total portability. So sweet!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Ideas for the New Year?

Are you looking for a few new ideas this summer? Maybe something to improve a workshop, parent communication or just something fresh? Starting in a few days there is a HUGE educational technology conference happening in Texas. I believe there are over 16,000+ participants, you can just imagine how many ideas will flow during the conference.

The ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference runs from June 24-28.

So how can you hop on and join in?

Open TweetDeck and start to read.
     Don't have a twitter account? Make one! You will need one to use TweetDeck. I promise it won't disappoint. 
     You can also just click on the hashtags below and follow along. 
          #iste17 - people at the conference use this to tweet out new learning and ideas
          #notatiste17 this hashtag is used by those who are not at ISTE

Tweet Deck
TweetDeck opens with three main columns.
Home - your stream. Everything shared publicly shows up here.
Notifications - anytime your twitter name is mentioned.
Messages - private messages

Adding a new column
1. Click the little magnifying glass on the far left. Type in #iste17.
2. Click on the hashtag.

New column appears. Newest tweet will appear at the top. Once the conference starts this column will move faster than any human can read.
Repeat creating columns with people, ideas or hashtags.

Making It Work
1. I found something that looks interesting. I can click on the link and check out what it is all about.
2. I can also favorite it by click on the heart. This is like a bookmark, saved to look at later on.

Why TweetDeck?
I stared using twitter and TweetDeck a while back for idea generation. I know there could be a ton of junk in the feed, just like watching something on tv. Stuff that might be fun to look at but does not have a long lasting quality to it. By following a few key hashtags and people you can start to access fresh perspectives you did not have access to before. There is a lot of noise, after a while you can tune your feed to increase the quality. 

Share - if you see something please share it. Share with your building, a buddy or anyone you think could benefit. 

Need help bringing something to life? Just reach out, Doug and Colin can help.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Keep: Powerful, Simple and Free

My current note taking application. Not always effective.

I feel pulled in a billion directions all the time. I sometimes forget more in one day than I care to admit. Other times I show up somewhere and can't recall why I am at the store. Like just two days ago I went to Target and bought some stuff, some we even needed, but totally forgot to get the one thing my wife told me to get. She only told me like five times but I still forgot. Ever happen to you?

There are a number of ways that the Google Keep app can help keep you on track. In this post we will show you a few ways on how to do this on your mobile device. It works pretty much the same way on your laptop.

I fell in love with checklists after reading the Checklist Manifesto.

Open the Keep app on your mobile and create a new note.
1. Title your note.
2. Click the little plus symbol in the lower left. Then you will have access for the next step.
3. Click Checkboxes.

1. Click the little ice cream cone in the lower right. (three dots) Then choose a color. I tend to use color to help the more important notes standout. 

1. I checked off this one item. Just like paper, the item remains visible. I could also deselect this item and it would appear back at the top of the list. This deselecting gives the app a slight advantage over paper. You could create a reoccurring checklist for the things you do over and over.

This idea would have saved me at Target. The big idea is to have the note appear once you get near the store, like it magically detects when you get within maybe 100 feet or so and up pops the note.

This example is using a checklist I (should have) created for my recent Target shopping adventure.

1. Click the little finger with the ribbon in the upper right corner.
2. Click Place.
3. Start typing the name of the place you want the note to pop up when you get close.

I started typing the word Target and this appeared. I can now pick the Target that I shop at.

Now at the bottom of my note I can see a little Target icon appear. Once I enter the parking lot a notification will appear on my phone. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Is there a way to export/import my bookmarks?

Want to export/import your bookmarks from Chrome? Follow these steps and you will be good to go.


Open Chrome.
1. Click the ice cream cone. (three little dots in the upper right corner)
2. Click Bookmarks.
3. Click Bookmark manager.

1. Click Organize.
2. Click Export bookmarks to HTML file...

1. Feel free to rename the file so it is easier to find later.
2. Click Save.

Open Chrome.
1. Click the ice cream cone(three little dots in the upper right corner)
2. Click Bookmarks.
3. Click Bookmark manager.

1. Click Organize.
2. Click Import bookmarks from HTML file...

1. Locate your bookmark file.
2. Click Open.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer 2017: Digital BreakoutEdu

BreakoutEdu has been an exciting development in education.  Kids love discovering clues, solving puzzles, unraveling mysteries, unlocking locks, and competing with other groups to finish first.  And while most people know about the physical games and kits, few are aware of the amazing world of digital breakout games.  This summer class explores digital breakouts--what they are, where to find them, and how to make them.

Try it!

Teachers in our district and around the world are creating digital breakouts to make learning fun.  Team up and try one out!

Cha-Ching by Anna Martin and Emily Bozdeck -- 1st grade, Concord
Tic-Tic-Toc by Sarah Behnen -- 2nd grade, Crestwood
Og's Great Adventure -- 2nd grade
Monkey Cage Breakout -- 4th grade
JFK by Greg Seagraves -- 7th grade - Truman Social Studies
Ticket to the Bahamas -- HS math/probability
Poetry Breakout -- Middle School ELA

Learn how to do it!

Now that you have experienced a breakout, think about these questions:

  • What technology tools did the teacher incorporate into the breakout?
  • How did the teacher bring the curriculum in?
  • How would I start to plan a breakout?
  • If my students were participating in the breakout, what would I be doing?

All digital breakouts have a few things in common, including:
  • a storyline that is fun and engaging
  • a goal (usually unlocking a Google Form lock)
  • clues that reveal hidden challenges and mini-games
  • new ways for students to engage in the content
  • opportunities for learning (new and old) and teamwork

Some breakouts also include:
  • a timer -- a clock ticking down always adds more excitement to the game
  • distractors -- content information that is not needed to unlock locks)
  • physical challenges -- clues that require students to find/do something in your classroom
  • puzzles that are more about critical thinking, abstract thinking, and teamwork  
  • clues that must be solved through online research

When designing your own breakout, try this planning strategy:
  1. Choose the content topic or theme for the breakout.
  2. List the knowledge, skills, and new learning you want students to apply.
  3. Thinking about each item on your list, consider the possibilities, brainstorming ways students could apply their learning during the game.
  4. Build your challenges and mini-games.
  5. Build your lock (Google Form)
  6. Assemble your breakout using Google Sites.
  7. Have someone beta test it.

Most digital breakouts use the same basic technology components:
  • Google Sites -- website construction
  • website text with hyperlinks to off-site content
  • Google Forms -- the lock
  • Google Draw -- add clickable hyperlink "hotspots" to images
  • Jigsawplanet -- build your own jigsaw puzzle using an image file (jpeg)
  • an iPad or cell phone -- Make a video introducing a real-world problem.  Upload it to YouTube.
  • Google Docs and Slides -- formats for visual and written clues, such as a cryptogram
  • resources found at (browse the "Build Your Own" section)

Take time now to design and begin building your own breakout game.  It may be best to collaborate with a partner or a team on bringing your idea to life.

Share it!

When you have something ready for testing, share it!  Get feedback on your design.  Was it challenging?  Was it fun?  Were there too many clues?  Were the locks too easy or too hard to open?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Marketing 101 - (Summer 2017 Class)

Marketing 101 - aka how do I get people to look/click on what I post?
This post was created to be a guide for a summer class.

By the end of the class you will...
  • have a few ideas on how to market what you post from your classroom
  • create a schedule of ideas on your calendar
  • boomerang a reminder to get started in August
What makes something clickable?
Why do videos go viral? Why did Rebecca Black become a success? Is there something here that we could apply to what we do with our own social media?

Why do some sites/posts get traffic while others are simply never clicked upon?

Idea Generation
The posts below were used to look at how we create our message. The big idea was to look outside what were are already doing and finding some
     1. 5 Ideas To Build Your Personal Brand This Summer - this is a super interesting idea. How do we create a brand for ourselves and the classroom? The five ideas help to start building a consistent message, one that people can depend on.
     2. What creativity in Marketing Looks Like Today - Idea one was gold, find the pain points together and build from there. I would assume parents are busy, so their pain is super long posts are hard to read.
     3. 5 Easy Exercises to Find Your Brand's Voice -
     4. 8 Tips to Attract Your First 250,000 Instagram Followers - disregard the Instagram part, just read the tips. Many of these can be applied to your blog/social site. The one thing that stands out to me is consistency. 

Sites Around The World
We investigated these sites to look for evidences of how they market themselves to their readers. Our hope was to discover additional ideas on how they get the word out compared to the articles we read.


Charting A Path
We used the articles and links above to chart a classroom marketing path.
Some of the big idea are:
  • #hashtags
  • Keeping a consistent schedule (Math Mondays, Text Tuesdays, etc)
  • Creating informative images
  • Creating specific jobs for the teacher and some for the students.
  • Facebook - video vs. text post
Next Steps
Google Calendar and Boomerang - using these two tools we create some reminders to help us with our marketing plan once the year gets underway.

Crazy idea or crazy smart?

gum on the ground by the Alamo I have been watching a billion crime shows on Netflix over the past year or so. Mostly because many of...