Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Baker's Half-Dozen Sweet Techie Things

School has started and my association with our technology program makes me the recipient of snarky remarks and random complaints when folks get frustrated with the newness of new gear or software. Even though some folks get grumpy, I grit my teeth and try to say something chipper.

As a mental health exercise to counteract the negativity I have decided to reflect here on a Baker's Dozen techie things that make me happy in my daily life.  



Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Krista

1) I am a list guy and I start my day by checking my ToDo and hopefully end the day with everything on my list checked off.  My ToDo list is on my phone, iPad, and every computer. I enjoy the way my lists synch and make me feel like I have a little control over a crazy world.

2) This morning I worked out hard at the gawd-awful hour of 5:45am. Strange, but FaceBook has been a strong component to my exercise regime.  First, a friend tagged me to alert me that we had pushed the start time up fifteen minutes. But more importantly it makes me feel more socially connected to the group at R3 WB who push each other so very hard. We respond strongly to each other's encouragement, and social media allows us to cheer and groan throughout the day. A few months ago I could not even conceive of myself working out at 6AM, but FaceBook has actually helped me take my fitness to another lever!

3) I enjoy being able to edit and share photos in iPhoto.  But recently I really wanted to find a way to embed a slideshow in this blog, and both iPhoto and Flickr let me down.  I found the solution through Google's Picasa.  It was ridiculous how easy it was to upload the photos, create the slides and grab an embed code. It was fun to dress up the blog post with a few clicks of my touch pad.

4) I've recently described my new-found joy of creating animated badges for a Schoology professional development course.  It remains a guilty pleasure. The first thing I do for each lesson is to create the badge-reward.  Giphy.com remains my go-to source for the animations

5) In the evening I usually like to relax by watching an hour or so of a movie or tv series.  I used to exclusively do the Netflix DVD thing.  I still do from time to time, but my Smart TV has led to a sudden change of habit. With its built-in Netflix app watching a streaming HD movie or television series is little different from watching a conventional channel on the television or even a Blu-ray DVD. I love it.

6) Finally, I usually read myself to sleep.  These days I am very inclined toward histories and biographies. However, when I sink myself into a different time period I frequently encounter terms and events that are unknown to me.  I love that I can tap any word or phrase in my iBook and instantly call up a definition or web search.  In fact I have become so used to it that I have actually found myself at times tapping paper text to no avail.

I promise not to be so completely self-indulgent in the next post.  But this exercise accomplished its purpose-- I sign off cheerfully. 





Saturday, August 16, 2014

Scenes from the iPad Orientation Conducted by MHS iWizards

On August 15, the Mercy High School iWizards conducted an iPad Orientation for all new students.  The iWizards created all of the resources and instructional materials which are now available at Schoology.






All of the technical support and logistics were provided by Mr. James. Mr. Bank, and Ms. Corte.

The iWizards appreciated the staff orientation mentors they had invited to participate: Mr. Skellet, Ms. Kline-Kator, Ms. McGavin, Ms. Wilson, Ms. Harris-Schultheis, Ms. S. Smith, and Ms. H. Smith. Several other staff members helped with greetings, registration, and photography.

The video and photos shown here have been contributed by Mr. Wamp and Ms. Lusch.

3 or 4 iWizards were available to help at each session.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Designing Self-Paced Professional Development.

Over the past two years we have replace the faculty’s HP tablets with MacBook Airs.  In order to facilitate the changeover, I am creating a self-paced professional development course on Schoology. This week, I sent the following email to staff:

I bought my first Mac in 1984, the year of the first Macs. I would like to share some of my OS X experience with those of you who are new or relatively new to the system. This year, rather than conducting a workshop or two, I am creating a self-paced Apple Technology course in Schoology.  Instead of being graded, you will receive an animated GIF badge for each unit of completion.  My aim is to create ten units.  (So far I have completed four).  I hope to have all of them done by October, but of course you can start anytime.

The four modules I have established so far deal with these subjects:

Mac Basics
Keyboard Shortcuts
Screencasts with QuickTime
System Preferences


Do you have other suggestions for topics? If so, please email them to lrbaker@mhsmi.org.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

August Tech Activities at MHS

At Mercy, tech serves instruction.  But for everyone to be able to leverage extraordinary tools like the iPad and Schoology, some "summer school" is necessary.  For the past two weeks we have been busy serving our teachers and new students with some tech support before school officially begins.
For ten consecutive days. Tom James (Director of I.T.) and Mr. Gary Bank (Systems Administrator)  deployed iPads to new students through an hour's set-up session where students . . . . 1) set-up their iPads   2) established passwords for the iPads and our computer labs  3) set-up Google Accounts and mail app  4) created their Apple I.D.s  5) installed their apps  6) signed into Schoology
New students become acquainted with their iPad Airs.
New students become acquainted with their iPad Airs.
Schoology is the new learning management system for Mercy.  Most of our assignments and resources are pushed to the students online through this system.  Since it is new, many teachers dropped in for work sessions on Schoology and 1:1 help offered by colleagues  Angela Harris, Eleasha Tarplin, Lauren Marquard, Joe Gerardi, Larry Baker, Tom James, Lisa Robinet, Susan Smith, Alison Kline-Kator, and Jan Wampuszyc.
Several iWizards assisted with the iPad deployment, but twenty-five of them will be leading the two and a half hour iPad orientation on Friday, August 15. The sessions will include....
Schoology / Dropbox
Pages / Printing
iAnnotate PDF
iMovie + Keynote
Digital Citizenship (done by Ms. Brown, guidance counselor) 

The iWizards chose the topics, designed the instruction, and created the materials for this session.  They are eager for Friday to come!
All of these activities exhibit the generosity of spirit one finds each day at Mercy High.
Three helpful iWizards wait in the wings at iPad deployment.
Three helpful iWizards wait in the wings at iPad deployment.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Confessions of an Academic Platypus and other Matters of Interest

Apple Updates iTunes U Big-time
Teachers can now create and update their courses using the iTunes U app on their iPad—getting started is fast, simple, and completely free.

Confessions of an Academic Platypus
But this isn’t 1980, and BASIC SKILLS go far beyond paper and pencil.  Basic Skills now include software, clouds, blogging, and mobile communication.  I have said before, and I will say again and again and again: teaching students without technology is a form of educational malpractice.

daniel.baker via Compfight cc

Steve Jobs was right: Tablet sales set to topple the PC market
Worldwide shipments of tablets will top the PC market by next year — with traditional PCs and laptops shipping a combined 317 million units in the year, while tablet shipments will top 320 million. This year, tablets ship in the region of 256 million, against 308 million PCs.

Survey: More US homes go landline-free
Among households with both landline and cellphones, about a third said that all or nearly all of their calls came in through their cellphones.

Top 5 Note-taking Apps for Teachers
Need a way to take notes easily and quickly? . . . . Perhaps one of these mobile apps can help, though anyone could always use handy note-taking app.

My Manuscript…(Just A Bit):“The Changing Face of Modern Leadership” 
If you believe that leading change was difficult in the past, it will be much more disruptive, strenuous and taxing in the future. The rate, turbulence and chaos of change in the world today, makes leading more intense, difficult and even a bit frightening. As we will have to spend more and more time, not only standing at the edge and staring out into the abyss…but, determining if, and even when we should jump.
http://tinyurl.com/pv7k5py



Sunday, August 3, 2014

Worth Hiring? Reimagining Learning Spaces and Twitter Me this . . .

Worth Hiring?
I began to wonder, do educators hire the best candidate or a possible friend?. . . .What I've learned through participating in nearly two dozen interview committees is this: The person that is best for kids will likely be a great fit with staff.  The focus must be squarely on, who is best for kids.

Handy Google Hangout Cheat Sheet for Teachers
Google Plus Hangout allows you to organize video and text conversations with your contacts. Within hangouts, users can share files, documents, and photos. Video calls on Hangouts are limited to only 10 members but using Hangout on Air will let you share your hangout live on YouTube or your website. The hangout will also be recorded and automatically saved on your YouTube channel.

Introducing a Technology (iPads?): What SAMR Really Looks Like
http://ipad4schools.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/ipadwells-samr-2.png
What Will It Take for iPads to Upend Teaching and Learning?
 Letting students take ownership of their learning may be at the heart of what Hillview hopes to eventually achieve, but getting to that level of transformational learning takes letting go of control on the part of teachers and administrators. And that’s where it can be tricky, even for a school like Hillview that’s committed to the idea of the iPad as a “positive disruptor” — a force that will require them to think about change.

Twitter me this…why use Twitter for school communication?
Every week a stack of reminders are sent home. Tests, pictures, events, policies, etc…we send them home in bulk at certain times of the year. A tweet is only 140 characters. Short and sweet.  “ Free dress tomorrow.”  “Don’t forget to return your library books.” “ 2nd grade field trip, bring your lunch!” All the things a teacher wishes she could call and remind each parent of the day before. May not be worth another sheet a paper, but a tweet? Absolutely.

To Inspire Learning, Architects Reimagine Learning Spaces
“‘We learned that a STEM building is not a linear thing, with math on one side and science on the other,’ Thaler explains. ‘What we designed is like the petals of a flower, with math and science sharing the classrooms and a great melting pot in the middle.’”

The Best and Worst: Media Habits of the Class of 2014
http://ink.niche.com/best-worst-media-habits-class-2014/



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Using Animated Badges in Schoology for Professional Development

Im having great fun today with an animated GIF site that I found with a Google search.  It's called GIPHY and it has a wide assortment of animations.  I arrived here by means of ISTE '14, Schoology, and Twitter.

At ISTE '14 in Atlanta, I attended an interesting session about professional development, which describe self-paced courses for teachers which used badges as incentives. 

Intrigued, I decided to set up a PD course through Mercy's new learning management system-- Schoology.  This killed two birds with one stone for me, because I could learn how to use the Schoology tools while I created a resource that could be valuable to my colleagues.

Yesterday, I discovered how easy it was to create badges for the course:
  1. Click on the Add Badges button near the top of the gradebook.
  2. Select the option to Create New Badge.
  3. Add a title, a descriptive message, and an image for the badge.
  4. Select a shape with which to frame the image.
  5. Select a color for the frame.
  6. Click Submit to complete.
    -- Julie Yoon
I tweeted about the ease of this process:


In short order @Schoology retweeted my post but also tweeted the following question:



This lead to my search for a site with an assortment of animated GIFs.  GIPHY was my first hit and it was love at first sight.  The GIFS can be downloaded, linked, or embedded like the one below.




Now my badges are animated and much more amusing (At least to me!).

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