Saturday, March 29, 2014

Becoming a Digital School Administrator with the Help of Tweeters!

Becoming a Digital School Administrator is a collection of resources that I have collected in an iTunes U course.  This course targets prospective and current school building administrators, but I hope it has useful resources for all educational leaders.  Technology leadership through modeling is a dominant theme of this course. A unique feature is that the primary course materials originate from veteran building administrators who "walk the walk". 

A section of my iTunes U course from the "We Have Cameras, Let's Use Them" section.

The main premise of the course is that modeling is a vital component of technology leadership.  Consequently sharing best practices of how we building administrators authentically use technology in our own jobs will help to promote technology integration at our schools.

Since launching the course in September, I have developed a presentation which I will present at ISTE in June.  I previewed the presentation at ISTE's first virtual conference, using (with permission of course!) resources by elementary principals Curt Rees and Melinda Miller.

Several other wonderful contributions have been made by the likes of  Bret Coley, Eric Scheninger, and Trang Lai.  In January I updated the course material and I am currently doing another refresh.

This time, I have dug into Twitter and have invited some fellow followers to contribute.  I hope that they or any school building administrator will to contribute their best digital practices to course, which is organized around the following six topics:
I highly recommend that you check out Brent's blog!

I hope to keep my own game sharp by learning about what others are doing. Please contact me at if you have something to share.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Basketball Team Scores . . . . with the iPad

photo 3
iScore Interface
This season's Mercy High School basketball team distinguished itself on the court as Catholic League and Regional Champs.  They also tied a school record with 25 victories.  As the girls racked up the points on the court, their two managers Kailey, and Bianca tracked the stats on their iPads.  Using the $9.99 app, iScore Basketball Scorekeeper, they provided the statistical breakdown after each game for grateful "Coach of the Year", Gary Morris.
Bianca and Kailey take stats at a recent game. (Photo by Nicole).
Bianca and Kailey take stats at a recent game. (Photo by Nicole).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Schoology Coming to MHS

A guest blog by Mercy High School I.T. Director Tom James
After a thorough review and evaluation of several different  alternatives Mercy has decided to switch learning management  systems (LMS) from Moodle to Schoology. Teachers, students and  parents will be able to access Schoology from their smartphones  and tablets (iOS and Android) or any web browser. Starting this  semester a group of pilot teachers will begin to use Schoology. By  the start of the 2014-2015 school year all courses will be moved to Schoology.
Here are some of the new features:
  • Seamless integration with PowerSchool. If you take a quiz or submit an assignment your grades will automatically sync with PowerSchool.
  • Easy integration with DropBox and Google Drive.
  • The ability to record video and audio submissions right from your iPad or laptop.
  • No storage limit on what you upload to Schoology.
  • Full featured iOS and Android apps for use on the iPad or your smart phone.

More information will be provided to the Mercy community regarding Schoology throughout the rest of this semester and the start of the 2014-15 school year.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Plagiarism, Twitter, the NBA, and Happy Birthday to the Mac!

Is It Plagiarism or Collaboration?
Should we ever stymie collaboration among our students? We live in a collaborative world. It is rare in a job, let alone life, that individuals work in complete isolation – with lack of assistance or contributions from anyone else. Perhaps as educators, it’s time to reassess how we want students to work.

10 Ways to Promote Student Engagement
Easy learning activities and assignments are not as effective at engaging students as activities and assignments that challenge them. When students are reflecting, questioning, conjecturing, evaluating, and making connections between ideas, they are engaged.

courosa via Compfight cc 

Thank you Twitter!
I made an effort to include these teachers in Twitter discussions.  I invited them into chats and asked for their opinion on topics.  Slowly, we transformed professional development with small groups on our campus.  After contract hours, we had collaboration and discussions amongst colleagues that were only made possible through Twitter.  The learning did not stop when teachers left for the day.

Don’t Let Educational Technology become the NBA
My fear in education is that if we are not careful, our use of technology has the potential to be just like the NBA. Augmented reality (AR) is amazing. Spreadsheets? Hmm…not so much. Let’s not ignore what tech is really for, to enhance great teaching and learning. If AR helps kids understand and explore deeper like the setting in a novel, then use. Just don’t use it just to use it. Make it impactful.

The Next Revolution In School Tech: Bring Your Own Device
“As more and more kids have phones connected to the internet, it is not helpful to have a lock-down approach, . . . [Roger Broadie] says. “We should be developing a culture where they’re self-policing” . . . . He believes concerns over e-safety are something of a red herring. The real stumbling block is the challenge it presents for teaching methods. “As soon as you expect the use of pupil devices, it means teachers are going to have to think about what they’re doing in the classroom.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ellen's Selfie and Educators

Ellen's Selfie -- The Most Retweeted Tweet Ever
Ellen's famous selfie from Oscar Night-- a spontaneous group movie star photo retweeted by viewers for a world's record-- was vacuous and narcissistic. As such, it substantiated the negative opinions I hear from educators (young and old) about social media in general. "Twitter is only good for following celebrities".  "Who cares what someone had for breakfast?"  "I like to communicate to others in person."  

I have gone repeatedly on record disagreeing about the alleged worthlessness of Twitter. In a recent blog post I wrote, "I have cultivated a wonderful network of tweeters interested in educational technology. In 140 characters or less they point me to an incredibly rich variety of resources and opinions."  More recently at our first Tech Talk at Mercy High School the #mhtalk hashtag facilitated robust communication about this exciting event before, during, and after the conference.

Looked at from my perspective, Ellen's selfie speaks to the power of social media. This was mass media delivered without a gatekeeper.  It was global, instantaneous and interactive.

I was inspired to write this by Tom Whitby's more worthwhile reflection on Ellen's tweet in  "What's in a Selfie?"  I recommend that you read the entire post, but in the following passage is worth passing along to you directly:

Social Media is here to stay. Its form may change, and certainly the applications we use will not remain the same, but the idea of openly exchanging information in whatever forms it is produced is not going away. As educators we can use it or lose it. If we don’t start to understand and use this technology soon, we will lose the opportunity to harness it, because we will be irrelevant. We don’t need social media to teach, as much as we need it to learn. It is a cornucopia of information. We can tailor that information to personalize our learning. This is the way of today’s world. For the scholar, the tomes are no longer stored in the monasteries, they reside on the Internet, and collectively, if we all share that which we know, we will all benefit. Collectively we are smarter than we are individually. That is the basis of collaborative learning. It is no longer a face-to-face endeavor limited in time and space. It happens anywhere, and anytime through the use of technology. Technology is the game-changer. As educated individuals, how can we ignore the possibilities? 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2014 MACUL Presentation: "Empower YOUR iWizards"

It is a pleasure to be presenting at MACUL '14 today.  Here are the slides to my presentation:


Sunday, March 9, 2014

The iWizards Hang out with the Tech Sherpas and Genius Squad

Tech Sherpas

Two weeks ago the iWizards enjoyed a Google Hangout with the Tech Serpas of central Maine and the Genius Squad of Minnesota.  I asked a charter member of the iWizards-- tenth grader, Isadora B.-- to describe the experience:

        My experience having a Google Hangout with the Tech Sherpas and Genius Squad was eye-opening, interesting, and fun. It was very exciting to actually see and talk to other tech groups from different parts of the country. It's amazing to think that there are groups in Maine, Minnesota, (and undoubtedly other parts of the US) that have similar goals in assisting students and teachers with technology as the iWizards do. 
     Using technology has definitely evolved education and life as we know it. While talking to the Sherpas and the Genius Squad, it was interesting to discover what they themselves have learned from educating technology. Finding out how the tech members reach out to students and teachers, overcome obstacles, and tips from their own experiences, was intriguing. It gave perhaps some ideas on how the iWizards can make our own technology group better. 

     All in all, the Google Hangout with these two groups was fun. The atmosphere was enjoyable and I sincerely hope that their will be more Google Hangout like this one in the future. I think that more tech groups, like the Tech Sherpas, Genius Squad, and the iWizards, should keep sharing updates, solutions, and pointers with each other as technology continues to develop at a ever so faster rate.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Photos and Comments from Tech Talk at Mercy High School

2014 Tech Talk for Educators at Mercy High School is complete. We are tying up loose ends and next week examining ways to improve the event, next year. Please share constructive comments.
Mercy teachers lock in on presenter

Pardon me if I dwell one more blog post on the things that went right.

* We exceeded hoped for attendance by twenty percent. 250 educators participated.

* We had a killer Keynote speech

* Attendees praised a wide variety of break out presenters.

* The day was fun!

* Below is a captioned slideshow along with some of the general email/survey comments that we have received. Click here for the Twitter chatter.

Absolutely wonderful conference!  Excellent venue, service, and structure. Thank you for the opportunity to present. I hope to return in the future.

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for putting on a wonderful conference.  For a locally developed conference I thought it was incredibly well run and professional.

Thank you!  Great food.  Mercy is visitor friendly.  I appreciated being able to chat with your students in the library.

Everything was well organized.  I particularly appreciated how well things were labeled in the halls.

Great conference.  Food was great, people friendly, good tech support, so helpful!

Very well organized.  Location of sessions very easy to find.

Awesome conference.  I gained a lot of valuable information and apps.

I really enjoyed this conference.  I’m excited to use many of the applications I learned about today.  I think it was affordable and close to my house and work.  Excellent job Mercy!  

The keynote speaker was inspirational.

Thanks for great day of learning, inspiring and collaboration.

Please offer conferences in the future.

All sessions were wonderful.

I loved that I was able to get useful resources and ideas that I could use in the classroom.

This was very well organized and all of the presenters were very knowledgeable.

Thank you for a great experience!  The format of the day allowed for a lot of learning and game me much to think about for my district.

Great event. . . .I look forward to seeing this grow in the future.

Keynote was outstanding!

Great presentations.

It was a day well spent.

Most photos by Hallie Smith and Sarah Rogers. Margaret Kurpiers, Heather Kellstrom, and Larry Baker also contributed.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Twitter Reviews on in on Tech Talk

250 educators were on hand for Mercy's first Tech Talk . While I collect photos from the occasion and compile a slideshow for you, I'd like to share a selection of Twitter chat on our hashtag #mhtalk. We were thrilled by the reactions.
Top Presenter Karen Bosch talks about Creating iBooks

Planning my day at #mhtalk - excited to learn about flipping the classroom, going paperless, using iPads for formative assessment

Loading up the school van with @BroRiceWarriors teachers! #mhtalk @MercyHighMI

This looks like a great conference #mhtalk

It’s a great lineup!  Congrats on a great conference :) RT @labcbaker: Great turn out for Tech Talk. #mhtalk

@lkolb remarkable story and great keynote speaker! #mhtalk

Listening to a GREAT presentation by @lwetzel and Wendy Murray at Tech Talk #mhtalk Great app tips

Saline Area schools discuss digitizing curriculum - great segue to @karlyb’s presentation on creating eBooks at 11AM (not 10)! #mhtalk

@lkolb made a great keynote today at Mercy High- very motivational and eye-opening. #mhtalk

Great presentation on nearpod from Julia Alder and Joanne Rowe #mhtalk

Great session on apps for Elementary School students by @karlyb #mhtalk” my teachers are enjoying it, too!

Jonathan Thomas-Palmer giving an awesome preso on flipped  classroom #mhtalk

#mhtalk Outstanding presentation on Formative Assessment via tablets, smartphones, & laptops by Kevin Hankinson. Recommends Socrative App.

@lkolb great keynote today at #mhtalk. Awesome personal story to hit home need for passion-based learning in schools. You have me thinking..

Thanks to @labcbaker and all at Mercy H for 1st MercyTech Talk conf. Great people, excellent facilities, wonderful sessions!

Great day at Tech Talk @ Mercy! #mhtalk

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