Kids must code on iPads

Jennifer Carey:

iPad Wells continues to amaze me! Check out this latest post about coding using the iPad!

Originally posted on  IPAD 4 SCHOOLS:

hopscotch flappy

An important 21st Century skill

This post is about a topic and app close to my heart. Computer programming is the engine of modern life and dream maker for tens of thousands. More and more countries are introducing the subject as compulsory schooling at surprisingly young ages. The UK is introducing a national school programme in september this year whilst also funding to increase momentum. is pushing an international message with big-name endorsement. Even small countries like Estonia have their 5-year-olds taking their first steps into logical problem solving. A site I’ve used for years is

estonia codeWhat learning to code offers young people.

Even I was surprised at how much my students have enjoyed their first experience of coding this year. In a number of ways, coding offers a ideal learning experience. Students receive immediate feedback from any attempt and can see the results of their endeavours…

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3 Ways to Kickstart Your PLN

This is reblogged from my post on Edudemic, “3 Ways to Kickstart Your PLN This Summer!”

It’s summertime! This is when educators, free from the daily schedule of a classroom, can focus on professional development. More specifically, summer is a great time to network and to build your personal learning network (PLN). If you’re unfamiliar with a PLN, it’s a network of individuals you foster specifically to learn from and cultivate your professional skills. They are especially important in the world of education where classrooms can easily isolate you from your colleagues and peers. Starting a PLN and cultivating it is surprisingly easy and doesn’t take a lot of time.

Free from internet filters on many campuses, take some time this summer to fire up your social media tools (FacebookTwitterNingPinterestLinkedIn). Many people are intimidated with engaging others online. However, the internet and social media allow you to connect and interact with people you would never get to meet in real life. The key to your PLN is that it’s about people. As Justin Reich highlights in his article, “Search People, Not the Internet,” your colleagues (in real life and online) are a more effective resource than the internet at large. They will help to focus and share information relevant to you in your field.

Here are three great tools and techniques you can use to build your online PLN:

Find Folks On Facebook

facebook-screensMost of us have a Facebook account. We use it to keep up with family and friends; posting vacation photos and admiring your cousin’s photos of her new baby. However, Facebook is also a great resource for kickstart your PLN, especially if you are just getting started.

I use Facebook to follow some of my favorite Educational resources like Edudemic, EdTechTeacher, ISTEEdutopia, and Education Week. It helps to keep me up to date on educational news, pedagogy, and professional development opportunities (many of which are offered for free or at promotional discounts via Social Media!). Even when I’m logging on to see what my mother is up to, I can get some great nuggets of information in my news feed. Also, if you’re like me, you have a lot of friends that are educators, so Facebook is a great way to share information with them.

Embrace The Power Of Twitter

twitter-birdTwitter is by far the most prolific of Social Media tools used by educators. If you have attended an educational conference recently, I’m sure you’ve seen and heard about twitter handles andhashtags. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but take a deep breath.
In order to use Twitter as an effective and engaging PLN tool, you need to figure out who to follow. You can start with people that you know in education: this esteemed author, theEdTechTeacher team, and of course Edudemic. Jerry Blumengarten (aka @Cybraryman1) has a great list of recommended PLN Stars. Just be sure to follow other educators and leaders that you know and respect as they will often guide you to others.

Hashtags are another great way to explore ideas most relevant to your interests. Here is a great list of the most popular educational hashtags that can help you to broaden your PLN and provide you with greater access to resources.

Once you are feeling more comfortable with Twitter, try an e-reader like Flipboard. It will load your news feed and allow you to read your PLN on your phone or tablet at your leisure, be it on the couch or poolside.

Start Visually Learning On Pinterest

pinterestPinterest is another excellent tool to find recipe ideas, accessorize an outfit, or discover a great set of lesson plans. In fact, there is also a whole “Education” Category on Pinterest. Simply browsing these posts can give you some great ideas to employ in your classroom. Additionally, there are some amazing educators and institutions that have repositories of lesson plans, blog posts, and more that they share on Pinterest. Check out this Edudemic article, “20 Innovative Educational Technology Boards on Pinterest.” It has some great people and organizations to follow.

Pinterest is simply keeping a scrapbook of ideas and information (that you can also share with others). It allows you to curate ideas, projects, lesson plans, and more. Be sure that you share information that you find as well. See a great tweet? You can pin it for access later! Start and curate your own education board (or a few)!

This is only a short list of the tools available to you to kickstart your PLN, but I encourage you to explore and collaborate with others online. Building and sharing your pedagogical skills in a classroom is key to innovative education and the core of 21st century learning. Besides, with all of these tools available on a computer or smartphone, they could make for some really interesting beach reading.

Update Note: I have put together a short list of blogs and individuals/organizations on Twitter to help people get started!

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Common Sense Media on the iTunes Store

image-1360x520I love Common Sense Media. They are an excellent resource for parents and teachers for topics such as Digital Citizenship, Online Safety, Online Ethics, Digital Literacy, and more. Best yet, the tools they provide are entirely free!

Check out their free resources on the iTunes store by clicking here; enjoy free iBooks, Apps, and other resources.

Posted in Bullying, Education, Educational Resources, Educational Technology, Lesson Plan, Pedagogy, Professional Development, Social Media, Teachers, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Teaching Ethics in the Age of Technology

Jennifer Carey:

Some great information on digital citizenship and digital ethics.

Originally posted on User Generated Education:

Ethical decision-making should be included as a 21st century skill (overused term but don’t know of an alternative).  Some would profess that ethical decision-making has always been a needed skill.  But we are living in the most complex era of human history.  Information access and abundance, and emerging technologies are advancing, and being developed and disseminated at rates that the human mind often cannot comprehend.  Now more than ever ethics should be integrated into young people’s educations.

Society is a dynamic system. It must, by nature, evolve in order to survive. As we develop the new definitions of appropriate behavior in the online environment it is imperative that many members of society be engaged in this ongoing dialogue. An informed community and active discussion of ethical issues will enable society to determine civil and just manners to deal with the nuances of technological advancement (Rezmierski, 1992). By opening this dialogue…

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The National Archives Needs Your Help to Transcribe WWI Diaries

The Smithsonian often reaches out to the public to help its transcription projects. The most recent is to help transcribe diaries from World War I.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The project is called Operation War Diary, and it comes from a partnership between the National Archives, the citizen science initiative Zooniverse and the Imperial War Museum in the UK. The diaries have all been scanned and posted online for citizen historians to look at and transcribe.

To participate, users just pick a diary and get started. They’re then given a scanned page to classify and document. Users are asked to take notes of particular data points—the date of the entry, whether the entry lists casualties, what people it mentions, if it has a map and more.

Currently, these documents are only available in paper form. However, the Smithsonian hopes to change that by making them fully digitized! To volunteer for this important project, please see their blog post here.

Posted in History, Museums, Technology, United Kingdom, United States History, World War I | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Library of Congress – Resources for Women’s History Month


Suffragettes picketing c/o Wikimedia Commons

Suffragettes picketing c/o Wikimedia Commons

The Library of Congress has a series of resources for teachers that are specific to teaching Women’s History Month. The robust online resources provide a variety of primary sources, activities, lesson plans, and more that can help you bring the alive women’s history from the beginnings of our country through modern times and politics.

If you would like to view the robust library of resources, you may do so here.

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Yik Yak banned as schools grapple with toxic anonymous social chat

Jennifer Carey:

There are few times that I feel an app or tool has zero benefit for schools. This is one of those times.

Originally posted on Naked Security:

Yik Yak logo Imagine you’re a student in high school. You’re standing outside the building before you go to class, checking postings on your mobile phone.

You notice some kids standing over by the bushes, snickering and stealing glances at you. You keep your head down, looking at your phone.

A posting comes up. It’s anonymous, but you know that whoever wrote it is standing quite close to you. The anonymous poster’s written about a yellow shirt and how butt-ugly the person is who’s wearing it.

Your face flushes. You’re wearing a yellow shirt. You’re the one who’s getting bullied.

Welcome to Yik Yak.

I made up that scenario’s particulars, but not the essence. Bullying of students is getting ramped up across the US as this new mobile app delivers nasty insults, posted behind the coward’s favorite shield of anonymity.

Described as a cross between SnapChat and Twitter, Yik Yak is a location-based…

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Flip Your PD for Extra Flexibility & Support

This post is reblogged from the original at PLP Voices.

backflip-250One of the most popular topics in education today is the Flipped Classroom, a model in which teachers send their students home with a lesson (usually in the form of a video) and then engage in exercises and practice in the classroom after the fact. It has many advantages, namely getting the basic nuances out of the way and working on projects and problems with the teacher in the room.

This year at my school, I’ve been inspired by this model to flip our tech-related professional development.

Videos usually work best

When I flip my educational technology workshops and staff events, I use a variety of tools –primarily screencasts, instructional videos, and some step by step how-to lists. I’ve generally found providing videos to be most successful.

There are a myriad of tools available for recording video on screen (I love Camtasia and Snagitby Techsmith for capturing directly from the screen; if I want to do an iPad video I use them in conjunction with AirServer). I keep videos brief (no more than 4 minutes, ideally 2-3) and always strictly on topic. I also clearly label them so that a teacher can find exactly what they’re looking for quickly. My motivation in providing a flipped environment is to provide educators with greater flexibility in their own learning and just enough support after the fact.

The general flipped model directs you to provide the lesson in advance and then work out the problems in the classroom. However, I have found that you should flip appropriately for the context of your professional development. I have found success in a variety of Flipped PD methods using several different models. Here are some techniques that have worked for me.

Flipping in Advance

Teachers are exceptionally busy, especially during the school year. I flip in advance only when I’m presenting a quick and easy-to-follow task for them to accomplish. For example, if I am leading a professional development session on Google Drive, I will, in advance, have them login, accept the terms of service, and set their password. As support, I provide them with a short, 2-minute video with step-by-step instructions on how to do this. This way, the focus of our training time together can be on how to use the tool rather than simply getting into the system.

By keeping the introduction short, explaining why they should do this in advance, I find that I get more buy-in from my staff. They come ready to learn and we do not have to spend a good chunk of the session getting people logged in for the first time.

Flipping After the Fact

After a professional development session, I like to provide my faculty with a series of videos that highlight what we did in the session. This is a great way for them to later return to topics they found useful, at a time when they might be most motivated to learn.

I generally keep an agenda for my training sessions and then make sure that I provide a brief video highlighting each topic. For example, in a session on Google Apps for Education I will provide brief videos on:

  • google-apps-illusHow to log into the system
  • How to personalize your account
  • How to create & share A document
  • Different share settings & what they mean
  • How to create Groups
  • How to create & share a folder
  • How to upload & share a file
  • How to download & login to the Google Drive app
  • How to upload pictures & videos using the Google Drive app

I also hold training sessions on internet resources such as Edublogs and Wikisites, and other various tools and apps that we have available on campus. I ensure that there are short, supportive videos for each of these resources that take faculty step-by-step through the training session. I have found that by doing this, teachers are more likely to continue to implement what they learned in one of my sessions – to use the tools for real purposes and continue with their own training. They are more comfortable when they can go back, in their own space, and review material they have forgotten or were confused about.

Flipping for Enhancement

Many of my faculty members are comfortable with technology or feel empowered after initial training. So, in addition to providing “review” sessions, I like to give them videos to help enhance the skills they learned with me.

For example, after a workshop on Wikispaces, I provide the teachers with a playlist highlighting the more advanced tools, such as widgets, embedding videos, and inputting a variety of multimedia. After training them on Google Drive, I will provide videos that explain how to use the research tool, how to grab the embed code from a document, and even address highly sophisticated techniques such as importing video from a smartphone, opening it on a tablet, and then importing it into another app for further modification (a concept known as app-fluency).

By providing faculty with additional tools and information that may be more challenging, they have the option to accelerate their professional development according to their comfort level and individual needs.

Flipping for Continual Support

Both my faculty and I have incredibly demanding schedules. Often, it is a challenge simply to find a time to meet to go over a concept or a tool. I find that if a faculty member asks me a quick question — “How do I add users to my class edublog — it can be faster for me to make them a short “how-to video” rather than trying to navigate our calendars for a joint meeting. They are able to get their question answered directly and quickly and both of us get to be active conservators of our time. Plus, I have a new resource to add to our video library, expanding my support throughout the community.

Concluding Thoughts

For me, flipped professional development has been highly successful when blended into a more traditional model. I can hold workshops, training sessions and other professional development activities in person with my faculty and continue to support them outside of that face-to-face environment.

Flipping PD has allowed me to make my training more efficient from the get-go, provide continuous support, and allow everyone flexibility with their schedules. It’s now a proven model that I will continue to use; its success has been greater than any previous training experience I have provided.

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5 Tips for Classroom Management with Mobile Devices

This is reblogged from the original post at Edudemic and is the premise of presentation I will be leading in November at Miami Device.

When adopting technology in the classroom, one of the key concerns for teachers and administrators is classroom management. I am often asked if there is a way to “lock down an iPad screen” or “ensure students cannot go to inappropriate websites” (e.g. Social Media). In other words, how do we keep students on task and ensure that they are not distracted by the novelty of gadgets or communicating with friends via texting or social media? Often, teachers will take up devices (such as mobile phones) to avoid the issue of students texting or checking Facebook on their phones (eliminating access to a powerful, pocket computer in the process).

Classroom management is a challenging skill which I consistently strive to improve on a regular basis. Often, people believe that managing a classroom that has employed technology requires a whole new approach and skill set. However, I have found that many traditional methods of classroom management readily translate to the technological rich schoolroom – with some slight modification.


Establish Ground Expectations

Just as I start out the school year with “Class Rules” that we make and agree to as a group, we also establish expectations for when we use technology. The general topics are: civility, staying on task, and adhering to the honor code. In reality, this is no different than I would expect in a non-technology classroom. The one additional rule that I add, as it pertains to smart phones, is that when not in use they are to sit, face-down on the desk in front of them. I have found that having students “put them away” can create temptation and they are more likely to “sneak a peek” at them from a pocket or a sleeve. However, if the phone is always face-down on the desk in front of them, they are less prone to “sneak a peek” at a text from a friend or check their Facebook status and are more likely to stay on task when employing it during my lessons.

In addition to establishing expectations, you may also want to ensure that you lay out consequences for violating your established policies – this can be loss of technology privilege, a note home, confiscation of the device, meeting with the Dean, or whatever else you decide is necessary in order to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and the natural consequences of violating them.

Let them “Get the Giggles Out”

If I’m introducing a new tool, app, piece of software, or device, I often give students some time to “get the giggles out.” For example, if we are using Today’s Meet to do a Backchannel, they have 2 minutes to say hello to all of their friends. If we are using iMovie on iPad, I will encourage them to make one silly video before they delve into the assignment. Some of the problems of using new technology arise from the novelty of the device. Let students get past the initial excitement so that they can be more focused when they delve into their work.

Engagement is Key

I will be the first to argue that as educators we are not entertainers. Lessons should be engaging and require students to stay on task at a solid pace in order to complete them. Ensure that the assignment requires students to stay engaged; this can include playing to their passions, setting firm due dates for assessment, and scaling the assignment for students who finish faster. Students become bored when they are not challenged or find their assignments meaningful and engaging.

One of my favorite uses of cell phones during the class, for example, is to engage in bell-ringer exercises (activities students must complete at the start of class) or exit-tickets (something they must complete before leaving). Using an app like Socrative, students can use their mobile phone to complete a brief activity that is then assessed. Not only does it keep them focused on a task, but it provides meaningful assessment for the teachers to gauge student progress.

Get the two Eyes, two Feet App

Carl Hooker, an educational technology innovator on the cutting edge, coined the phrase “the two eyes, two feet app” in response to faculty and administration concerned about inappropriate use on cell phones, tablets, and/or laptops. The biggest shift for educators when technology enters the classroom is that you cannot be static or stable. The best way to ensure that students stay on task is to walk around the room, look at the work they are doing, discuss and engage with them about their progress. The more active and mobile you are in the classroom, the easier it is to ensure that your students are on working on what they should be. If you notice that children are quickly closing browsers windows when you come near or “double tapping” the home button on their iPad (a sign that they’re switching apps) then take the time to investigate what the student is doing and have a discussion with them if necessary.

Know When to put the Technology Away

Even though I am the Director of Educational Technology, my classes are never “all tech all the time.” Sometimes, it is not appropriate to use technology for an assignment or activity in class. In those cases, the technology goes away – in fact, I’ve been known to collect cell phones during certain activities (like mid-term exams or quizzes). Use the appropriate tool for the appropriate context – and sometimes that is a pencil and paper. Beth Holland and Shawn McCusker wrote a great article on this topic entitled “When to Put the Tech Away in a 1:1 Classroom.” As Shawn argues, when technologies interfere with class culture, it’s time to put the tech away!

Overall, classroom management is an organic and individual process. You must find what works for you and with what students. I will admit that I have classes that are easier to keep on task than others, students that are more readily distracted than their peers, and activities that just do not succeed as I hoped. At the end of your activity, pause, assess, and adjust as needed!

Jennifer Carey will be presenting a workshop on “Mobile Devices and Classroom Management” this November at Miami Device. Space is limited and filling up fast! 

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SXSWedu: LAUNCHedu Educator Insights

The next session I’m attending is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, LAUNCHedu: Educator Insights. The panelists are Anya Kamentz, Bob Metcalfe, Ph.D., Jennie Magiera, and Mark Edwards. The focus of this panel is to distinguish between the “must haves” and “nice to haves” of innovative educational tools. It’s the teachers’ reaction panel to the LAUNCHedu competition. The broader discussion is how can startups do a better job of connecting tot heir target audience and consumers? You can see the list of LAUNCHedu competitors here.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Anya is moderating and asks each of the panelists to go down the line and discuss the top companies as well as concepts that they say at the LAUNCHedu event. The top start ups per the teachers was UnlockYourBrain (which puts brain teasers on your smart phone), Robots Lab, NBA Math Hoops (making math accessible and engaging) and Proctor io.

Anya asks what would the panelists have liked to have seen? Bob says he would have liked to have seen more personalization and individualized feedback. He also feels that collaboration should be part of the design. He also highlights that price-point is key and we must always ask how will this enhance teaching and the quality of student work. Jennie wants to see more start-ups disrupting the educational space. She felt that most of the start ups were taking innovative approaches to long established pedagogy. Jennie argues that they need to bring active, classroom teachers onto your board as they will be the ones using it. Better yet, bring students on board! Start ups must shake up the individual learning space. They need to change the way teachers teach and students learn! Also, rebrand blended-learning so that it’s not about replacing teachers. She wants to see students have more power and authority of their creative content. Mark steps off of Jennie’s words and says that he thinks they are not wanting to get in front of education as they want to survive – they have to match what is present, not develop for the platform of the future. However, the platform of the future is coming! He also wants to see start ups focusing more on big data and analysis. He also would like to see more cognitive computing.

Jennie believes that these Ed Tech startups have the opportunity in their positions of being new companies of shifting their focus and emphasis on changing up the educational environment. This is the time they should come up with creative and innovative solutions for problems we didn’t even know existed! Bob argues that overall cost is vital here – that it must be cost effective for adoption, training, and application. He also believes that schools and districts should be open to serving as beta testers. Mark believes that most educational technological innovation will take place outside of the realm of schools, teachers, and even buildings. Right now, schools have the largest impact on student learning in conjunction with their peer interaction as well as screen time. However, Jennie jumps in and points out that most of her students (in inner-city public schools) do not have access to interactive tools outside of school. Unless they’re in the classroom, they won’t be able to use them.

Anya asks what role does current educational practice bare on educational technology start-ups? Bob believes that when there is engagement with the end user, it keeps a ‘reality check’ with the start-ups. Practitioners are necessary to understand their needs and ease of use. This is especially true for him when it comes to price-point. If they price themselves out of the market. Bob argues that just because something has been done before doesn’t mean that it can’t be done better (remember Alta Vista?). He also says we should keep in mind who is going to be learning? Will it just be individuals between 5-25 or can older learners participate? The participants are key – who will be using it and navigating your tools. Data is also vital (protected data).

The focus of ed tech startups is interesting. There is a lot of money in this realm that is for sure, but as Jennie states it’s a great opportunity to disrupt the world of education. At the same time, there are needs now that aren’t being addressed, not just the future world. If nothing else, maybe they will keep the big dogs from getting complacent.

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