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Tech Curriculum

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10 Technology Tips You Can Give to Parents

10 Technology Tips You Can Give to Parents


With an increasingly tech heavy curriculum, your students are likely now using technology for a lot more than tech class.  In fact, students are probably using it to complete their schoolwork in most of their classes as well as at home.  All that is not even counting everything that’s going on when they’re remote.  While the kids might be keeping up with your guidance, parents can easily feel a bit overwhelmed trying to help out at home (especially when they have multiple children).
With an increasingly tech heavy curriculum, your students are likely now using technology for a lot more than tech class.  In fact, students are probably using it to complete their schoolwork in most of their classes as well as at home.  All that is not even counting everything that’s going on when they’re remote.  While the kids might be keeping up with your guidance, parents can easily feel a bit overwhelmed trying to help out at home (especially when they have multiple children).  

If you reach out with some technology tips for parents, it might do a lot more than just equip them to help their kids.  It could make them feel both heard and supported.  

With an increasingly tech heavy curriculum, your students are likely now using technology for a lot more than tech class.  In fact, students are probably using it to complete their schoolwork in most of their classes as well as at home.  All that is not even counting everything that’s going on when they’re remote.  While the kids might be keeping up with your guidance, parents can easily feel a bit overwhelmed trying to help out at home (especially when they have multiple children).


Here are some ideas for how to start providing that support:


  • Host Q&A days or video-chat meetings for parent questions about technology.  Some common questions might be things like:

    • How much support are teachers expecting their child to need with technology? 

    • How much time should their child be spending online for school work outside of school hours? 

    • What should they do if their child has trouble accessing online materials they need for homework?  

    • How and when will technology be used in the classroom?

    • Who should they go to if they are having technical issues?

  • Make instructions on how to complete a technology focused assignment available in a place that is easily accessible to parents and as well as students.  

  • Have teachers make short instructional videos on how to use the tech frequently needed to complete assignments.  These videos could even be shared school-wide for widely used tech like Flipgrid or Canva so the burden of making them doesn’t fall on any one person.

  • Recommend students have some kind of dedicated learning space at home, even if it’s as simple as a box you can put away when not needed.  Not only will it help focus their children, but tech issues will also likely be minimized if they are always hooking things up in the same place.

  • Let parents know how the teachers at your school are using tech to stay in communication with them.

  • Make sure parents know that if children are expected to spend extended periods of time at their devices for school, scheduled movement breaks can be a lifesaver.

  • Offer curated lists of free educational websites, and helpful Chrome extensions

  • Make a cheat sheet for how to turn on any accessibility features that might support student learning at home such as text-to-speech, closed-captioning, enlarging the pointer icon, and keyboard shortcuts. 

  • Clearly outline the digital citizenship expectations that your school has for each grade level.

  • Include parents on what you are teaching students about how to protect their personal information and use privacy settings.  You may also consider encouraging them to discuss potential situations that may arise and give their child action steps if cyberbullied, harassed, or if someone sends them something they don’t want to see.  It always helps when children are hearing the same terminology and advice both at school and at home.

With an increasingly tech heavy curriculum, your students are likely now using technology for a lot more than tech class.  In fact, students are probably using it to complete their schoolwork in most of their classes as well as at home.  All that is not even counting everything that’s going on when they’re remote.  While the kids might be keeping up with your guidance, parents can easily feel a bit overwhelmed trying to help out at home (especially when they have multiple children).


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Brittany Washburn
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Teaching Meaningful, Mindful and Moderate Technology Use

Teaching Meaningful, Mindful and Moderate Technology Use


As a technology teacher, or any teacher in today’s technology-driven classroom, you may feel like you do nothing but sit your students down in front of screens.  So how are you supposed to honor screen time recommendations while also engaging them, and preparing them for adulthood in a technology-saturated world?
 As a technology teacher, or any teacher in today’s technology-driven classroom, you may feel like you do nothing but sit your students down in front of screens.  So how are you supposed to honor screen time recommendations while also engaging them, and preparing them for adulthood in a technology-saturated world?  How do you share your love of all things technology related while also fostering meaningful, mindful and moderate technology use?  Well, like most things you want your students to learn, it turns out that you have to teach it.


The first thing you need to do is have a clear idea of what guidelines and strategies you think are the most effective.


The United States Department of Educations’ four guiding principles for use of technology starting with early learners are as follows:


  • Technology—when used appropriately—can be a tool for learning.

    • Families and educators should ask themselves following questions:

      • Content—How does this help children learn, engage, express, imagine, or explore?

      • Context—What kinds of social interactions (such as conversations with parents or peers) are happening before, during, and after the use of the technology? Does it complement, and not interrupt, children’s learning experiences?

      • The individual child—What does this child need right now to enhance his or her growth and development? Is this technology an appropriate match with this child’s needs, abilities, interests, and development stage?

  • Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.

  • Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, educators, and children.

  • Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children.



Common Sense Media suggests that you can maximize your kid's screen time if you consider the "four C's."


  • Connection. It's important that kids connect on a personal level with what they're watching, playing, or reading. 

  • Critical thinking. Look for media that encourages kids to wrestle with ethical dilemmas or strategize about bypassing obstacles.

  • Creativity. An important feature of many great learning products is the ability for kids to create new content.

  • Context. Help your kids understand how their media fits into the larger world. Being side by side with kids while they play or watch, asking questions about what they're taking away, and doing related offline activities can extend learning.


As a technology teacher, or any teacher in today’s technology-driven classroom, you may feel like you do nothing but sit your students down in front of screens.  So how are you supposed to honor screen time recommendations while also engaging them, and preparing them for adulthood in a technology-saturated world?
Note that picture sharing and video chatting with friends and loved ones is a stated exception to the screen time guidelines laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organizations. In fact, it's actually beneficial to help kids get acclimated to different communication platforms, as well as give them the enrichment of a visit with people they may not get to interact with in person as often as they’d like. 


Consider making a newsletter or infographic summarizing the principles you’re going to teach, and encouraging parents to support their children by establishing coinciding rules and expectations at home.


Ultimately, of course, the goal is for our kids to self-moderate.  But even if it may be a while until children learn to monitor and manage their own screen time, teaching them to think about balancing these things and making conscious choices early will give them a foundation to build good habits on.



As a technology teacher, or any teacher in today’s technology-driven classroom, you may feel like you do nothing but sit your students down in front of screens.  So how are you supposed to honor screen time recommendations while also engaging them, and preparing them for adulthood in a technology-saturated world?

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Brittany Washburn
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5+ Tech Professional Development Ideas to Share with Your School

5+ Tech Professional Development Ideas to Share with Your School


Has your administration asked you to come up with some professional development ideas?  Or maybe you just want to help your school get a stronger foundation in tech and STEM.
Has your administration asked you to come up with some professional development ideas?  Or maybe you just want to help your school get a stronger foundation in tech and STEM.    


Before you take off with an idea of your own, think about asking your staff for input about what tech they want to learn more about.  Make sure you hear from representatives from all departments, grade levels, and administration.  You may also want to consider defining two main categories of tech to learn about: tech the school already has that teachers think they could be using better and then tech they’ve heard about and know they would love to implement, but the school does not yet have.


These are some of the hottest topics in tech that could easily benefit all the educators at your school to get you started: 

  • Makerspaces.  Explain what they are and how to set one up, perhaps by using the resources on a website or setting up a course.

  • Virtual reality.  There are a ton of resources out there to help you train your teachers on Google Expeditions, or pick a workshop to share tips on the technology in general.

  • Digital literacy.  Spend some time going over ISTE Standards, then pick one (or have each grade level team pick one) and focus on actionable ways to integrate it into their teaching.  You could also go over a couple of structured lessons, or even go all-out and set up your school to take a course on the subject. 

  • Virtual laboratories. Explore lists and collections of resources, then simply have teachers pick one and give them time to work it into their lesson plans.

  • Gamification. Have grade level or subject teams curate their own lists of online games that support learning for their students, brainstorm how to use elements of games in a behavioral management system that could be implemented school-wide, or offer a course to introduce the concept to your teachers.

    Has your administration asked you to come up with some professional development ideas?  Or maybe you just want to help your school get a stronger foundation in tech and STEM.

Here are a few other general ideas to help your school provide a fruitful professional development day:

  • Pair teachers up to develop an interdisciplinary teaching activity

  • Conduct a survey of possible topics your teachers may want to cover prior to the professional development day.  From that input create several rooms your teachers can choose from, with the intention that on the day each teacher will be able to pick a room with a topic they feel is relevant to them.

  • Offer a book club type that allows teachers who opt in to slowly accrue hours over a period of weeks or months.  Consider letting teachers who complete it to then be able to opt out of a portion of the final professional development day of the year.

  • Share some websites where teachers can earn professional development credits independently, then provide time for them to get started on a course or complete a webinar or two.

  • 10 more ideas for independent PD


Has your administration asked you to come up with some professional development ideas?  Or maybe you just want to help your school get a stronger foundation in tech and STEM.

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Brittany Washburn
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10 Independent Professional Development Resources for Teachers

10 Independent Professional Development Resources for Teachers


Time to recertify but you’re just a bit short on hours?  Looking for ways to empower other teachers to take control of their own professional development?  Here are a few ways to get those CEUs (Continuing Education Units) independently.
Time to recertify but you’re just a bit short on hours?  Looking for ways to empower other teachers to take control of their own professional development?  Here are a few ways to get those CEUs (Continuing Education Units) independently.


Websites that Offer Online Courses

These sites all offer at least some if not all of their courses free of charge.  They also provide certificates or other concrete ways to record your hours.  Even if at first glance it may seem like you need to pay for documentation, don’t underestimate the value of a few well organized screenshots as your evidence of completion.


Alison

  • This platform offers courses in many disciplines, so you have to hone in on teacher specific courses.  However, everything is both self-paced and free to complete. 


Coursera 

  • Build skills with courses, certificates, and degrees online from world-class universities and companies.  They offer many subjects, so you will have to search for something relevant to you within the Social Sciences subheading.


OK2Ask 

  • Series of virtual workshops specifically for teacher professional learning.   Available in live (for credit) with professional learning certificates available, and on demand (without credit) formats.  All sessions are aligned with the ISTE Standards for Educators and include documented objectives.


Inspire Teaching & Learning 

  • Inspire offers more than 70 free, on-demand courses to support teacher training with 30- and 60-minute courses to fit into your busy schedule, certificates of completion, and a learning portal that is easily accessible on mobile or desktop.


Share My Lesson 

  • Professional development webinars and resources for teachers.  The information page for each should inform you how many hours of PD credit you can expect to earn, and a certificate of completion will be available for download at the end of your session.


Fast Forward

  • Webinars that provide you with the latest research on how the brains of struggling students learn best with Certificates of Attendance available upon request.


APA’s Center for Psychology in Schools and Education 

  • Resources for preK–12 teachers and other school personnel that are based on psychological science designed to enhance student teaching, learning, and well-being in school. All programs have been reviewed and approved by APA’s Office of Continuing Education in Psychology to offer credits for educators and/or psychologists.


TeachME 

  • This website is just for teachers and educators, offers a wide variety of practical topics, and is very well organized.  They only have one of those courses for free, however, offering the rest for a fee ($4/credit hour) or as part of a subscription.


Time to recertify but you’re just a bit short on hours?  Looking for ways to empower other teachers to take control of their own professional development?  Here are a few ways to get those CEUs (Continuing Education Units) independently.
Conferences  

These days, many conferences are either partially or fully virtual, and/or provide access to recordings of the sessions for a period of time afterwards.  Most conferences will have instructions about how to earn credits from their sessions somewhere on their website, so take a look around before you get started to make sure that the hours you’re spending are getting you the credit hours you need.

If you're a STEM Teacher, then you might like this blog post: 10 of the best upcoming STEM conferences

State Department of Education

Check around on your state’s Department of Education website.  They often have a professional development page where they have compiled on demand resources, a calendar of scheduled events that can include in-person training, live webinars, and more. 

Time to recertify but you’re just a bit short on hours?  Looking for ways to empower other teachers to take control of their own professional development?  Here are a few ways to get those CEUs (Continuing Education Units) independently.







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Brittany Washburn
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Digital Stop Motion Animation Tips and Tricks

Digital Stop Motion Animation Tips and Tricks


Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

We all want our students to master technology tools and use them to create original works. Stop Motion STEM challenges are designed to allow students to explore presentation software while creating something using the steps of the engineering design process. 

The best part is that nearly every topic and subject area can be incorporated into these challenges, so they can be used as a part of your daily academic activities, not as an extra thing to fit into your schedule. 

What is Digital Stop Motion?

Stop motion is typically done with physical objects and a camera. Instead of getting out all of those materials, we can do it digitally. 

Using either Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint, students work in teams to animate a story across multiple slides and devices. 

This will require them to problem solve their way through the design process. Bonus points if you have them document their process and reflect on it at the end!

Standards Addressed with Stop Motion

ISTE Standards:

  • Innovative Designer: 4d
  • Creative Communicator: 6b
  • Global Collaborator: 7c (if working in groups)

Tips for Teachers:

Introduce students to the idea of producing an animated GIF or video using Google Slides or PowerPoint. 
They may have heard of the Red Ball Challenge and there are some great videos on YouTube demonstrating it, but I also recommend showing some of the very early cartoon animations by Walt Disney if you can. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvwa2Kgzc the first minute shows how animation works but the whole video is great.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhfp6Z8z1cI how animation works - maybe skip the section about the women workers, it isn't PC. 

Vocabulary to Introduce:

  • Animation
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Frame
  • Frame Rate
  • Scene
  • Script
  • Stop Motion
  • Storyboard
Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Student Introduction and Tips:
Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Stop Motion is a way of animating a story. The object on the screen is moved a tiny bit each time (on each slide) so that when you play the presentation, it looks like the object is moving as though in a movie. 

Once you have the scene drawn, the computer makes it possible to duplicate the slide, so you don't have to draw every movement by hand. A major time saver! 

All you do is duplicate the scene (slide) and move one thing. Then do that again like 50 times or more, making one small movement each time, and your end result will look like an animation!
I know 50+ times sounds like a lot, but it goes quickly once you get the hang of it. 

After completing all of the slides in the stop motion animation, you may want to share it with others. A great way to do this is to publish the slide show with custom timings so that it starts and stops automatically. This isn't technically a video, but it will show the entire stop motion animation. 

Make your process easier with these tips:
  1. Use the edges of the slides to begin and end your animation
  2. Duplicate slides
  3. Make small, equal movements by using the arrow keys
  4. Layer objects in the scene
  5. Use transparency options
  6. Use text to tell a story across multiple slides
  7. Group objects to move them together
  8. Don't forget ctrl+z= undo
The secret to working across multiple devices:
If you've heard of the Red Ball Challenge, you might be excited to try creating a stop motion animation that appears to move from one device to the next. 

The key is actually really simple: blank slides

That's right! The devices all actually have exactly the same number of slides so that they start and stop at the same time. 
To make it look like the animation is moving across devices, simple calculate how many blank slides need to play on each device before and after it's "your turn."

Example for a 150 slide animation:
Device 1: 25 animation slides, 125 blank slides
Device 2: 25 blank slides, 25 animation slides, 100 blank slides
Device 3: 50 blank slides, 25 animation slides, 75 blank slides
Etc. for the rest of the devices.

There you have it! The whole process of digital stop motion animation. 

Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

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Brittany Washburn
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How to Host Virtual Parent/Teacher Conferences

How to Host Virtual Parent/Teacher Conferences


Are some (or even all) of your parent teacher conferences online this time around?  Here are a few tips to help you get through them!
Are some (or even all) of your parent teacher conferences online this time around?  Here are a few tips to help you get through them!


Platforms

No matter what platform you pick, get everyone at your school on board with the same one to minimize confusion for parents and teachers alike.  Some of the most popular include:


Scheduling

  •  Allow extra time for tech issues by leaving a 5-10 minute window in between each available time block.

  • Use a website like SignUp Genius

  • Make a shared Google doc or sheet.  You provide the list of times, then parents put their names beside the empty time slots.

  • You can always just schedule a parent-teacher meeting simply by making a call or sending an email too.


Are some (or even all) of your parent teacher conferences online this time around?  Here are a few tips to help you get through them!
Online Conference Recommendations

  • Send an email explaining what to expect during the conference.  Give parents an idea of what you plan to discuss, provide a step-by-step guide for signing into your virtual conference space, and include reminders to check their camera, microphone, and speakers in advance.  

  • Consider filming a video to walk parents through the steps. One video could even be used for the entire school, so talk with other teachers and you just might create a resource that can be used in perpetuity.

  • If you’re already teaching online, you might recommend that parents just use the same setup that their kids do every day for the conference. 

  • If you'd like to share student work at a virtual conference, consider these methods:

    • Use a document camera and screen-sharing to look at each piece of work.

    • Prepare a slideshow (or have older students build a slideshow) of their work. 

    • Scan student work and send it via email before the conference starts.

    • Make copies of the work you’d like parents to see, then send it home with students the day before conferences. Then you and the parents can both have copies of the work in front of you when you talk.

  • Don’t waste more than a minute or two trying to resolve technical issues during the actual conference. It's okay if you need to fall back on a regular phone call or even reschedule if you think you won't have enough time left to devote to the conversation.


General Advice

  • Before meeting with parents, gather your data and have it at your fingertips. Make sure to include assessment data, academic progress, and behavioral/social performance.  Where are my spreadsheet people?  You know you could make this awesome.

  • Use the famed “compliment sandwich” to offer feedback on how students are doing at school. First, say something specific their child has done well or shown improvement in. Then, bring up an area of concern. End with an affirmation, referencing another specific strength.

  • Form positive connections with parents by drawing them into the conversation. Ask open-ended questions like:

    • What questions do you have for me?

    • In what areas can I offer you support at home?

  • Set a timer in a place that's visible to all parties.  You can always schedule a follow-up (perhaps even with an admin sitting in) if it becomes clear one is needed.  If you do choose to go over by a minute or two, the depleted timer will help make it clear that you are devoting extra time to the conversation.


Are you a computer lab teacher who has to give grades? You might like this post: Everything you want to know about giving grades in the computer lab.
Are some (or even all) of your parent teacher conferences online this time around?  Here are a few tips to help you get through them!

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Brittany Washburn
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