Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Math Multimedia Project - MPHS Function, Statistics and Trigonometry

Multimedia projects illustrating the Law of Sines and Cosines. Deb Carlson's class, HS.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Great Reminder

This is such a great list of reminders for teacher computer-use mistakes - that I don't even care that the word "STUPID" is part of the title.  It is the reminder that we need repeatedly.

One of his reminders is that the laptop that I am using to type this blog belongs to Mid-Prairie School District - not to me.  It is easy to forget that as I sit in my living room with this tool on my lap.  But, forgetting that can put our job and career in jeopardy.

There are other great reminders in the list - check it out.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I want to...

Introducing a new website.  Click here to check it out.

This site is designed to assist teachers when they are looking for specific tasks.  I will be adding to this as we work in classrooms.

Monday Morning Tech Tip #1

Tech Tip #1

One of my most used shortcuts on my mac is command+F

It opens a little search box under the bookmark bar. Type in a single word or a short phrase inside quotation marks.  This will immediately search the web page or the google doc for that word.  A small number appears showing how many appearances of that word - and the word is highlighted in the doc.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Parent Academy Website

We have launched a new website at Mid-Prairie - Parent Academy. Our goal with this site is to provide parents with resources to support them as they work with their children in our digital world.

This site currently focuses on the Middle School 1:1 Pilot program with Chromebooks.  We will attempt to reflect the changing technology status of Mid-Prairie schools.  That is a fancy way of saying - stay tuned as Mid-Prairie's technology use continues to evolve.

As we build the site there will be more tabs across the top of the home page linking to topics of importance. Currently there are only 2 tabs as illustrated in this image.  The schedule will keep you up to date on upcoming Middle School Parent Academy events. All parents are invited - although some will focus more on chromebooks and the 7th graders. That will be noted in the schedule.  The second tab links to an online powerpoint presentation including videos presented by our Washington County Investigator, Chad Ellis.  Chad, a Mid-Prairie grad, has met with 6-8 graders for the past few years speaking on the same subject.  This was his first opportunity to also meet with parents.  A FAQ of the question and answer time will be coming soon to this page.

We welcome parent and staff requests for information as we add to this page. We hope to include short video tutorials as well as pertinent websites.

Contact me at bswantz@mphawks.org with suggestions or concerns.

Friday, October 11, 2013

ITEC: Des Moines, October 13-15

It is time for ITEC again!
 It's a great technology conference in Des Moines. One that I have been attending for a lot of years. I especially like it because the workshop presenters vary from tech people to classroom teachers and mixtures of both.  I have learned so much over the years!

Frank and I decided it would be a good idea for us to present this year!  So, our presentation, Instructional Coaching in a Digital Age, will be on Tuesday morning.

Our goal is to describe our position a bit and then talk about the projects that we have been involved in and share some of our resources.

This is a link to our presentation.  We are thrilled to show off what is happening at Mid-Prairie.  There are lots of great things!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Look what Pinterest can do

image from ddatch54 flickr

Click here to see a great video created all from Pinterest pins!  A fun way to put it to work!

Thanks to Lori's Latest Links for sharing!!

This is also a great blog to follow. Lori has wonderful links to a wide variety of sources.

Digital Citizenship for the adults in the room!

Richard Byrne had an excellent post on how not to plagiarize another's online blog work!

Check out the information here and make sure you are not guilty!

This would be a great teaching example for digital citizenship with students!

An honest look at ourselves

I just read a very interesting post by Scott Mcleod about a workshop that didn't go as planned.
His ending words were...

Name the problem. Own it. Apologize. Try to fix it, both for them and for next time.That’s all I know to do, along with an overall insistence on high-quality work and continual improvement. But, as always, I’ll take any and all suggestions. What do you do when your workshop isn’t awesome?

Read the rest of his post here

This got me thinking...As an educational leader we often are expected to know what needs to happen. Teachers see us as outsiders who have left the classroom and now have all the answers.  If they believe that is our task, then their ears begin to close and the defenses and the excuses begin.

I attended two conferences this summer.
One was hosted in our district and I was on the planning committee, the other was out of state and I was a pretty green participant.
Both were focused on a different type of teaching, one that provided more opportunities for student involvement and achievement.
There was a marked difference in the two conferences.

The one we hosted had imported experts to show us what we needed to do differently. These experts were successful in their teaching styles. They were dynamic and they were knowledgable. The conference was well received. Staff members responded favorably and the grad homework that I checked showed they 'got' it!  But, it was a pretty one sided dialogue. The experts knew and we
learned.  I am not sure what the lasting change will be.

The second felt like we were all invited to the same table. There were some who had been sitting at the table longer and so they were sharing what had worked and what hadn't.  But, we were all there at table - ok it wasn't a table, but you get what I am saying!
The undercurrent of that conference was RELATIONSHIPS! We need to change the way we have been delivering content, not because it was bad, not because we were failing, but because we were missing out on the  opportunity of creating relationships with our students with that teaching style.

I think in these two examples lies some of the failure of Professional Learning.

I've been teaching for 25 years. I know in my gut what my students need. I know that some of it works and some of it doesn't.  So, when someone starts to tell me about change - I need to see the big picture and I need to be invited to the conversation.  I need to be applauded for what I have been doing and listened to when I have concerns about how this really looks in my classroom.

PL is successful when the person in front...names the problem...owns it...apologizes if necessary and we all work together to try to fix it.

I know that isn't what Scott was talking about - but for me it is the real problem.  Teachers are tired of being told what they are doing is wrong or being made to feel are just too lazy or busy or tired to change. They already know it!  They feel it.

Instead, I think many want a relationship with their peers and their leaders and they want to create a different future for their students - TOGETHER.

Now...I don't know exactly how that works.

BUt this great post by Edna Sackson gives some concrete ideas.

One that I think is really important is home grown PD.  We did that a few years back. It was one of the scariest experiences for the presenters and one of the most successful for our whole district!   Seek out those in our own midst that are getting it and have them share.

So thanks to Scott Mcleod for starting my thoughts and for being honest.

What do the rest of you think?

Friday, July 19, 2013

One Stop Shop

What is the best way to share info with our staff?

How do we curate our content?

I want to sit with this over the summer

But if anyone has ideas - I would love to hear them!!!

a challenge...

image from iClipArt
for schools
I was catching up on my Techno-reading today and found this quote in Tech & Learning


Seek out at least one educator in your district who is not a connected learner.  Be a mentor, and listen.  Try to discover their perspective, and share yours.  If every one of the 20,000 conneted educators at ISTE does this, we will significantly expand our pockets of educational innovation - Nancy White

What a great place to start!!! Mentoring at its best!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Creating Learning Environments 13 - Project Based Learning Day1

logo designed by FencePost Graphics
 What a great way to start our week!

Kevin Honeycutt and Ginger Lewman gave us an overview of Project Based Learning. As they shared from their experience teaching both students and teachers they painted a picture of how effective and enjoyable Project Based Learning is.

We were introduced to the idea of emotional learning...the deeper the emotions the deeper the learning.  Can you remember where you were and what you were doing on 9/11?
Emotion + Learning = Forever Learning.

image from The Locket

We also explored what our current social consciousness and responsibilities are to our kiddos. We need to take that responsibility on ourselves in the digital world - just like our parents and grandparents did in
the physical world. Kevin has this great example of mentoring grandmothers to provide them with the tools to watch out for their grandkids! facebook.com/DigitalGrannies

And that was only the first part of the morning!

He also demonstrated ways for students to find their authentic audience - the entrepreneurship of self-publishing and selling art work on line!

image from the Locket
And then it was time for some hands on practice! Ginger Lewman challenged the group to create an emotional hook that will grab the attention of your students and make them want to answer the more important questions.  As the participants worked on these projects they experienced that first jump into PBL.  And that continued after lunch when one of the groups bravely shared their project with the rest of us and we were able to praise and to wonder - the exact activities that students participate in during PBL.

To view these amazing projects and to follow us - check out our twitter hashtag  #cle13.

And the truth is, the afternoon flew past.  Participants were able to self-select their work environment...the library to go deeper in a small group with Ginger or the cafetorium all together with Kevin.

And so our week begins...and our journey down the path of Project Based Learning.

Check out our conference website  or follow us on twitter to join the conversation!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


This is such a cool tool!!   AutoMotivator allows you to create those motivation posters that you have seen everywhere.  You start with one of the site's photos or one of your own and choose from two fonts to create this polished looking poster.

I can see student using this for lots of different possibilities.  You could have them create posters summing up different topics from a chapter or unit, or illustrate vocabulary words, or demonstrate steps in a process.

Or - they could create their own posters to illustrate their phrases to live by.

Thanks FreeTech4Teachers for reminding me of this great tool!!

Is educational blogging dying??

I read a post recently on the demise of library bloggers.  It was interesting to me because my Google Reader is almost always full of 1000+ unread blog posts.  So, I sort of bristled at the thought that people weren't blogging anymore.

But, that didn't make me read the 1000+ posts - it was the end of the year, after all and I had other things to do.

Today, as I begin the first day of my summer break, I decided to hang out on twitter for a bit.

And that's when I think I got it.

I have used my Google Reader feeds as a way of keeping up with what is going on in education.  My connection has been very one-sided... I read many blogs, but rarely comment.  And therein lies the problem. I think the conversation in edtech has moved on. It isn't that static, one-sided one. We are promoting a change in teaching from the sage-on the stage to more learner participation - yet the forum of blogs doesn't really model that.

Twitter does.  I sat in awe, last night, as the edtech chat flew down my tweetdeck. I could not even keep up.  The comments and questions flew.  The discussion was lively and full.  There were plenty of people referencing blogs and websites, but it was in the context of the conversation not in isolation.

But, I still only watched. I was too overwhelmed to attempt to take part. By the time my tweet was crafted the conversation had moved on and my thought was not even on the page anymore.

That experience helps me understand that it is a process.  Both blogs and twitter have a place and a purpose. Twitter is so fleeting - the content hangs out for a while and is gone. Blogs feel more permanent, more weighty.  You can really think about what you want to say, you can edit and redo.  Twitter doesn't move that way - it is vibrant and alive.

Anyway, I know that I will stay with my blog feeds - although not in Reader much longer.

Which brings me to the next problem.
I have spent way too much time trying to figure out what to use to replace Reader. I LOVE Diigo and am having a problem finding an RSS reader for the computer that plays nicely with it.   I do like Mr. Reader for the iPad - it is slick.

For now, I will my voice will live in blogs more than twitter. That is where I feel the most comfortable with the format. But, I will watch and attempt to interact on twitter more and more.  That is my challenge for the summer!

Now back to twitter - I might have missed something in the creating of this post!


Looking for a way to keep track of tons of information?

Looking for a way to organized tons of online information?

Looking for a way to share tons of information online?

Feeling nostalgic and missing the filing cabinet of your early days of teaching?

LiveBinders is the perfect fit for all these needs.  And it adds a very important component that my filing cabinet in the corner of my room didn't...I can have access to other people's filing cabinets.  Live Binder has a very robust community that freely shares information!

Here are a couple of searches for livebinders you might find interesting...

Education                Technology Links                 Standards Based Grading              iPads in Education

Monday, June 3, 2013

A post of posts

There are bloggers and then there is Larry Ferlazzo.  He stands alone in the world of incredible blogs.  He creates these amazing lists of resources on a topic and shares them with the education blogoshpere!  His lists are very pertinent to events and thoughts churning through education online and in the news. 

I am sharing this with you - because today he has a post on Education Week on his most popular posts from this school year. It's interesting to look over this list and see the topics that have risen to the top - and how many of these are in our conversations as well.

What are those topics?
  • Common core
  • homework
  • Growth Mindset
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Interactive Whiteboards
  • Curricular Areas
  • Good student writing
  • teacher observations
If you are looking for someone to add to your PLN - I would strongly recommend Larry Ferlazzo 


 I think this is such a good idea!!!

I love pinterest and I am deeply embedded in education - but i haven't been all that keen about having my professional world of school and my private world of pinterest collide.  I felt a little like George Costanza from the old Seinfield show.  It just made me a little creeped out.

What if I pinned student work to my pinterest board and they started looking through my other boards...they may happen across something that is not completely schoolish!  :)

So - I could make some of my boards private - or I could have two accounts. But the truth is that neither of those choices come very naturally.

Enter EduClipper...

It looks a lot like pinterest...it acts a lot like pinterest...and it's just for teachers and students.

One of my concerns is that it isn't as well known as pinterest and so may not be as user friendly.  For example if you make a movie in Animoto - it has a share to pinterest button.  That is super easy.
My belief is that if educators embrace the more specialized world of educlipper - it will work just like pinterest.

So, the more of us who begin using EduClipper the better it is for all of us!

It is one of the tools I want to explore more this summer.