Saturday, February 20, 2016

What Makes Presentations Pop?

The interactive video above was created using Google On Air Hangout HaikuDeck and EdPuzzle. Sometimes achieving an end goal requires "mashing" a number of different technical resources together. This presentation is a continuation of a session which by year's end I will have conducted for my district, at IETC and at the ICE Conference entitled "Presentations That Pop". Feel free to follow the link and explore the full presentation. I thought the interactive video would be a good review for attendees of those sessions and would also provide me with authentic feedback regarding what participants had garnered from the session. While designed specifically for educators, the content in both the presentation and the video would be appropriate for middle and high school students
I mention a number of resources during the presentation including the mindmap tools and Additionally I reference
which is a wonderful tool that helps create color schemes for presentations, graphic design and website development. This was my first experience creating interactive video and I believe it has a great deal of potential not only as a way to deliver content; but, also as an extremely effective method of formative assessment.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Best Laid Plans and Blogging

Between course work, regular work, conference preparation, family / parental duties and triathlon training, I appear to have completely abandoned the idea of blogging.  This is not a good thing and I intend to change that starting now.

An interesting question arose in a discussion this week on GAFE (Google Apps for Education) ideas for the classroom.  A member of my cohort suggested they would like to try blogging with their junior high school students.  However, they expressed concern for their ability to stay on task.
I believe this is one of those moments when you need to take a leap of faith.  Students can surprise you! Especially, if they know their work is going to be published and commented on by their peers or "worse" complete strangers! I've seen it time and again where students panic after pushing Publish. Post or Send.  "Oh no, I made a mistake!"  "Can I get it back?" "Does it really stay on the Internet forever?"  Your students do listen to you - even if it doesn't seem that way - provided you have the conversation.

So how would I approach blogging with a class of junior high students?

  1. Have a conversation about publishing (including copyright and citation) and digital citizenship. Actually have a conversation!  That means not only telling them what you think they should hear but truly listening to your students concerns and addressing them appropriately.
  2. Set expectations.  Explain that you expect them to take their blogging seriously and that they are expected to respond to others post.  Let the golden rule be your guide and do unto others...
  3. Assign topics that are meaningful.  It's great to start off with the "What I did on Summer Vacation / Spring Break" because that's what they know and expect.  But give them insightful and important topics to consider.  Have them respond to a news article they read, create a tutorial one of their hobbies, allow them to express themselves
  4. Facilitate without impediment.  If your students have a tendency to get off task, analyze what is happening.  Are they really off task? Ask why? Are they looking for inspiration? Think about what you do when you get blocked?  I'd guess you back off and do something else for a little while.  Blogging should be about personal engagement, self discovery and sharing.  Try not to impede the process.  If a student gets so off task or is inappropriate, treat it for what it is - a classroom management issue and deal with it appropriately.
  5. Let the students own their work.  Once they have a handle on where their passion lies, you'll probably find they want to keep writing on that topic.  Let them! If they are writing about Minecraft or Taylor Swift, it may not be your "thing" or something they are particularly interested in but they are writing and meeting ISTE Standards for Students as well as a plethora of Common Core state standards.
  6. Share their work! Create a classroom hashtag and let the world know your students have a voice.  Post some of their work to your PLN each week and encourage positive feedback from your global colleagues.   This doesn't just apply to blogging but any published work on the web.  When students see "strangers" giving them praise, it boosts moral, self-esteem and encourages further engagement.  It also "keeps it real."  When it's not from someone they see everyday, it can have even more impact
If you'd like to get started blogging with students I would highly recommend using Blogger, EduBlogs or KidBlog.  They all have their special features and pros / cons that you should evaluate before choosing a platform.

As always, if this advice has been meaningful to you, please share it with your PLN on the social networks or leave a response below.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Welcome to my reflection blog for my coursework for my coursework during my participation in the Master of Arts (MAE) Educational Technology program at Marian University.  I have been an active blogger since 2008 at where I write about all things related to education and technology.  Unfortunately, I burned myself out as a blogger in 2011 when I took on a unique 365 project in which I reviewed a different Web 2.0 utility every single day!  While, it was a very powerful learning experience and one that actually got me a nomination for an edublog award (I didn't make the first cut).  Blogging became a chore following the project and I decided to take a break and only write a post when I felt I had something worth saying or sharing.  I am hoping that having to use this blog for reflection will re-ignite  my passion for blogging.  I intend to cross-post anything added to this blog to as well