Friday, June 12, 2015

Moving on...

After four years of teaching Technology in a lab, I am moving on. I will be teaching K-5 lessons in classrooms at a different school. In the spirit of embracing new beginnings, I have moved to Wordpress. My new blog can be found at
I am excited about the opportunity to help students and teachers use iPads in their classrooms. I am hopeful that more meaningful connections can be for our learners.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Pic Collage: Another Favorite "Evergreen" App

I believe that using images helps most learners understand concepts better. Because of my belief, I use many sources of multimedia in my lab. Since getting our iPads in January, I have developed several academic tasks using Pic Collage.

Pic Collage is easy to use; after modelling the use of a few features, students are able to quickly create some worthwhile projects.

Our third graders study the civilization of ancient Egypt. This collage shows some of the important concepts they had been reading and discussing in their classroom.

After a review of image search parameters, students found copyright free images and saved them to their camera roll. Within Pic Collage, they chose layouts and imported the photos. They labelled each with the text feature and designed the textboxes. Lastly, they selected a background.

Students benefit from viewing examples with effective and poor elements of effective visual design. I encourage them to think about the use of space, size of elements, and legibility.

I am working with the fourth grade teachers to teach some geography of the United States. We are spending a few days learning about each of the regions. The textbook they use features the historic changes in agriculture in the Midwest region.

In this collage, the students took photographs of the images in their textbook with their iPad camera. I taught them how to crop images in the Photos app. I also provided a sentence prompt which they completed for each image they chose.

They arranged the photographs chronologically and added the text which they had written on their papers.

I plan to use this app with my first graders next rotation. They can take photographs of themselves showing either emotions or actions, then write their own labels.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Catching Up!

Where have the past four months gone? We became a 1:1 iPad school in January. As the Technology Integrationist for my school, I have been extremely busy. Too busy for writing blog posts, so it seems. I am attempting to catch up a bit now, highlighting some of my favorite work done in my lab and in the classrooms I support.

One of my favorite apps is Educreations. This app belongs in the category of "Evergreen apps", a term I was introduced to by Tom Daccord at ISTE 2014. Evergreen apps are non-subject apps that can be used to create. The creation features in Educreations include drawing, writing, using images and speaking.

Here are some examples:
4th graders were working with unit conversions
1st graders illustrated fact families

K's wrote a number, then those that come before/after
1st graders worked on addition


Recording and reflections on a poem

All work is saved as videos, allowing for voice narration. Using a free classroom account, teachers can model tasks for students. The recordings are easily shared with students. These lessons can be a great way to provide support for work in centers or to individual students based on their needs. All student work gets sent to the teacher.

I think of Educreations as a digital whiteboard with loads of extras. In the SAMR model, it definitely can be used for Redefinition of tasks.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bulletin Boards 2.0

I am not a fan of bulletin boards. I see them as static wastes of space as they are used in many classrooms and a contributor to the practice of visual over stimulation. However, there are instances in which bulletin boards can convey useful information. This post describes my latest attempt to do so.

I teach in a computer lab. I rarely print student work. My students use Google Apps and other applications that allow them to save their work digitally. My newest bulletin board takes advantage of QR codes to display student work. Using this method, students, parents and teachers can view projects done by themselves and others. They will be able to see the array of skills used and how work changes from Kindergarten through grade 5.

I have shown the ISTE NETS with Creative Commons images arranged over a cloth backing. I have just begun to attach QR codes for representative student samples and rubrics. In the center, I gave an explanation guiding people how to view the work. My next step is to provide a brief label for each QR code.

We are becoming a 1:1 iPad school later this month. With all students having the ability to generate QR codes and scan them, I plan on adding many more pieces of student work and rubrics. I like the fact that this bulletin board is capable of communicating a lot of information.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Partner work

I am currently a big fan of students working in partnerships. I am finding many advantages of cooperative work in my computer lab. My fourth graders are currently working on Google drawings which illustrate and explain how to play a variety of sports.

Some important social skills are used when students work with a partner. They get practice in using listening and speaking skills. Students use negotiation skills as they decide which facts, images and other resources to include in their projects.

They get the benefit of being exposed to another person's thoughts and opinions. If conflict occurs, students learn how to deal with it.

In my classes, students have a wide range of abilities. I have students with learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, autism and limited English. Partnerships give all learners a teammate to help them read, write, translate, process, remember, and stay focused on the learning.

Too often, individuals get stuck and I cannot always be available to help them right when they need it. In partner work, each learner has one more possible source of assistance.

I believe teachers sometimes avoid partner work for a variety of reasons. Obviously, there is a gamut of possible problems when students work in partnerships. There must be thoughtful decision-making by the teacher if collaborative learning is to be successful. Setting the stage for success includes realistic expectations and the promotion of student responsibility. Giving students some choice of partners along with the positive expectations of working with others can be valuable.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DIY Chromebook transport system

For the past three years, I have taught K-5 Technology in an iMac Lab. We are going to Chromebooks and 1:1 iPads this year. I will be teaching three classes each day in the lab and taking the Chromebooks to classrooms to integrate technology into all subject areas.

While our district is supplying devices, accessories such as carts are not provided for our set of Chromebooks, so I decided to design a system myself. While most classrooms are accessible by elevator, two are not, so I had to think of how to carry 30 computers of a flight of stairs!

Here is my system:

For $90, I bought the wheeled luggage which houses the dish racks almost perfectly. I didn't think about buying anything to transport power cords, since I don't think we will need to plug in during classroom use, but the luggage came as a set, so...

We still are figuring out, as a district how to store and charge all the iPads. Anyone willing to share your own DIY genius?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Warning: Professional Development Overload

The past six weeks have been a whirlwind of learning! I have attended my first EdCamp, first iPad Institute, first Literacy Institute and first ISTE...interspersed with on campus and online classes...and capped it off yesterday by presenting my first two sessions ever!

I have also been busy networking with fellow Graphite Educators, fellow PBS Media Digital Innovators as well as my invaluable PLN Tweeps (@megcurlteach).

As a learner, I have been challenged by the daunting task of archiving all the great resources I want to use as well as deciding which resources to bring to my classroom (lab) this year. I have been taking digital notes, photographs and videos as a way to remember great ideas shared by other educators.

Now comes the real fun, planning my beginning of the year learning activities along with the rituals and routines necessary to make the whole set function!

I plan to discard last year's lesson plans in Evernote, read through the hundreds of resources I have saved to Pocket, scan my Google Drive for examples of student work to retool, and reuse.

I hope my enthusiasm spreads to my students and colleagues as we launch another brave new beginning!

I will be posting specific activities from my work with students. I would love to know about some of your successes!