Saturday, 20 January 2018

My Week on a Chromebook

Inspired by conversations between Jonathan Wiley and Mindy Cairney on their podcast The EdTech Takeout, this week I decided to try to use only my Chromebook.  I often have teachers ask me if a class set of Chromebooks would work for a 1:1 environment, and while I have used my Chromebook, I have always had my Mac as my primary computer.  I figure to best advise, I should dive into the Chromebook to see what limitations it might present.




Here is what I found:

Keyboard Shortcuts
I am a really big keyboard shortcut user.  I missed those A LOT.  A quick Google search led me to a cheat sheet of Chromebook keyboard shortcuts.  This was really handy.  Some of the ones I used the most:
  • Alt+Backspace works as the Delete Key
  • CTRL + Right Arrow jump from word to word (although it didn't quite work like my beloved CMD +right arrow to get to the end of a line.)

Quickly Flipping Between Accounts 
I have both a Gmail and EDU that I toggle between constantly. I didn't think I could have two accounts logged in to the Chromebook at the same time but apparently, you can!  #HappySurprise.  I could never figure out getting my second gmail though.

No Firefox
I have one system at work that I need to access via Firefox...so that was something for which I had to jump to my Mac.

No iMessage
I love the integration of iMessage on my Mac.  My whole family is on it...but so long as I kept my phone close I made it work.

Split screen
Love the ease of this.  All I had to do was drag windows to the corners to see multiple windows open at the same time.

Small Screen
Don't love the small screen...I could get a bigger one, but the one I have is only 11".

Notifications
There are little blue dots when a tab (email, twitter) has notifications. That was cool and not as distracting as the notifications on the Mac.

Programs 
Spoke to a Chem teacher - for the purpose of his course he has tools that plug into the computer to do experiments programs that need to be downloaded - students would not be able to do that.

Speed - or lack there of.
OK, this was the BIGGEST drawback.  It was SLOW!  There were a number of times during the week I had to jump to the Mac because the Chromebook came to a stand still. (I imagine this had something to do with the millions of tabs I had open.)

All in all, I think a class set of Chromebooks would be fine for students.  The week was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  But for my uses, I think I am sticking to my Mac.  (Although, I am not adverse to checking out a more powerful Chromebook with touch screen and app capabilities.)

For more advanced Chromebook users what I have shared might seem straightforward, but if are on a Mac and wondering...these were my insights. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Advice for coaches

Yesterday in #12daysTwitter, we were challenged to tweet out a question to people in our curriculum area...so I sought one piece of advice from other coaches...

The sketch that prompt it all...

I tagged a whole boatload of coaches, a great Twitter tip if you want to get a conversation going, and got some great tips.  So for anyone out there who coaches...here are some points to ponder.

Relationships are key

  • Find ways to ignite other's passions by taking the time to know them. Also, your enthusiasm will be contagious and one of the most effective tools to promote new ideas and learning that will carry on when you leave the building! -@TheKyleKitchen
  • Establishing a relationship is key in order for coaching to work. We cannot ask Ts tough questions if they do not trust us. -@StephGarand12
  • At the end of the day, it is about relationships. You sometimes have to go slow to go fast. Small steps are still steps. -@dlcoachalli
  • Remember to be empathetic, patient and kind...we’ve all been there when we’ve needed support from someone who is willing to listen, guide, and learn with you. -@ChrisQuinn64
  • Champion others. Expect to be amazed. -@RobinTG 
  • Be in the moment, cut the mind chatter and listen to your colleague...ACTUALLY listen to your colleague! - @TBurrTHM
  • Being a good listener... Hearing teacher's needs and supporting their efforts. -@LHighfill
  • Learn how to listen, and be the last to speak. -@JProfNB
  • Listen. Hear. Wait. Respond. -@IdeaSmashing
  • Be patient. -@MrBadura
  • Build those relationships, trust goes a long way. -@MeganBaker0724
  • Relationships matter. Without them, you’ve got nothing...  - @JCareyReads
  • Avoid saying you “should” do this/that. Try saying you “could” or “you might consider” doing this/that. -@TonyVincent
  • Champion others. Expect to be amazed. -@MrsTJohnson11
Contributed by @WickEdTech

It is all about the mindset
  • Replace the words “I can’t” with “I’ll try.” -@LemmerAnn
  • Make sure you love what you do! The excitement that you bring with you can be contagious! -@MrsFierrosClass
Watch your pacing
  • Less is more. Focus on one or two practices, tools, or ideas to help implement and push forward. -@Cogswell_Ben
  • It is not a sprint. It is more of a marathon. Take joy in the small steps teachers and students take to explore innovative learning experiences in their classrooms. -@WickEdTech
  • The goal should never to tell but always to meet people where they are. Everyone is on a continuum. Meet them where they are and you'll move more people. -@MrSoClassroom
  • We must always try to remember that everyone starts at a different point. It is also ok to finish at a different point or take a different path to get there, right? -@WickEdTech
How to get your ideas out there
  • To introduce new tech ie hr of code, find a small group of students & do a test run. Then offer 1 "special" class for a few interested students. When you introduce it to the school, you will have kinks worked out, and the kids will do your promo! - @Jeni_Richline
  • Reach the ones that want to be reached first! They will be your best advocates too. - @DevEducators
from @CreativeEdTech

And two last tidbits of overall greatness
  • I think a coach’s job is to connect dots between initiatives and help see the big picture. Work smarter, not harder. -@TeamCairney
  • Prioritize where you spend your time. Coaching is a balancing act keeping many things going at once. Think spinning plates. As a coach, spin too many of them and they will fall & crack. Focus most of your time on 1-2 big ticket items and give the others a small spin now and then. -@Cogswell_Ben
Did any of these tips resonate with you?  Grow your PLN and follow the person who offered the tip on Twitter!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Aurasma in the learning commons

I keep hearing how AR could be the next big thing in education.  I also hear people who say they have no clue what it is - other than for Pok√©mon Go!  Today I worked with a friend in my district who runs the Learning Commons in a High School on some AR and thought I would share.

Essentially she wanted to create videos students could view when they had question around the learning commons.  Videos would include instructions around how to load money onto their accounts, how to use the photocopier, how to access Overdrive, etc.  (Note: We both know that she could have certainly done this with a simple QR code, but she wanted to play with AR, so this was the path we chose.)

We decided, based on the work in another LC in the district, to use Aurasma.

Auramas is an Augmented Reality tool which uses a device's camera to recognize real world images and then overlay media on top of them in the form of animations, videos, 3D models and web pages. It is available on desktopsiOS and Android devices.

To achieve our goal, we first made little signs that we would hang up around the Learning Commons.  We took a screen shot of each slide and saved them locally to our computer.  These would become our triggers.

Scan me in Aurasma!!


Next, we made videos which became our overlays.  I used (the amazing tool) Camtasia but moving forward we will be using the Screencastify Chrome Extension to make the videos.  Again, we saved locally to our computer.

Then, we used the Aurasma Studio to create the Auras (that's what it is called when you link the picture and the video).  This video shows how:


In our final step we were stuck.  We could not see the auras I created in my account on her device.  Turns out, you need to follow someone to see the aura.  Sure enough...as soon as she followed me...there is was.  Want to check it out?  Download the app, follow "virtualgiff" and scan the picture above.

How do you use AR in eduction?




Thursday, 30 November 2017

V is for Version History

#NaBloWriMo Day 22...last day of November...although I think I will finish the alphabet.


As an English teacher, the paper struggle is real!  There have been a number of occasions that I have needed to collect process work and had a TON of papers to bring home.  Version History in G Suite apps has made that a little less of a struggle!

Versions history give you a snapshot of all the changes that have been made over time in a document.  When you go to File --> Version History, the window will change slightly and a text box appears on the right hand side of the screen.  In this text box is a list of dates and names under each date.  If you click on a date it will show what that version of the file looked like and show you who made which change via highlighting.  You can also revert to that version.

In terms of process work, I can see changes over time in a student's document.  You can even rename versions.  So, in terms of process work, I can have students name versions (e.g., draft 1, peer review, self reviews, etc.) and there would only be a single file I would need to access.

I also love that you can track who made which changes in a file.  This has been great for tracking participation in group work.  It has helped me facilitate those "Miss, I have done all the work, my group has done nothing" conversations.

Naming sessions helps if you continuously make changes in a document.  For example, I have slide decks I use when presenting at conferences and summits.  I like to name the version according to the version I presented at each event.  This helps me remember exactly what I said when people reach out after the fact! 

Versions History is a real life saver.  I once had a teacher reach out after 3 hours of her work was erased by a colleague accidentally.  What made the situation worse was that the colleague had then put 3 hours of her own work into the file.  We simply copied the work from the second teacher into a new Doc, restored the version that Teacher 1 had worked on, and pasted the work from Teacher 2 back in.  What would have meant hours of other work, turned into a 3 minute fix.

If you have any other great uses, please leave a comment below!



Wednesday, 29 November 2017

U is for Unsplash

#NaBloWriMo Day 21


I am not going to lie...I struggled the with U.  I may have even cursed Eric. However, thanks to a Google Search of EdTech Tools, I stumbled on this gem. (And it turns out Eric had the same idea!  #GreatMinds)

Unsplash is simply a website with over 300K FREE high resolution photos...like this one:

Photo by Wes Powers on Unsplash
This is such a great find for me on a few levels.  Firstly, I love being able to find these sorts of sites to show students.  Secondly, my mind automatically goes to ignite talks when I see sites like this.

The site is curated and they have made collections based on themes.  You can also follow artists you like.  Nothing crazy, but a lot of beauty!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

T is for Twiddla

#NaBloWriMo Day 20


Twiddla is an Online Whiteboard...and it is super simple!  Users can mark up websites or graphics, or start drawing on a blank canvas. It is a really great tool for distance learning led by a teacher or peer to peer.  It even has a built in Equation editor for the mathletes out there.

Twiddla requires no plug-ins or downloads and works on any browser.  Best of all - NO account required!  This is great to maintain student privacy.  (The free version allows for up to 10 participants to meet for 20 minutes.  There are other pricing structures.)

To get started, start a board, and share the link.


Monday, 27 November 2017

S is for Sketchnoting

NaBloWriMo Day 19


This letter should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.  I began my Sketchnoting journey in August 2016.  I was reading a book and wanted to really capture and remember the ideas.  I had heard a lot about sketchnoting and thought it might just be my answer.  I tried it...and my first attempt was nothing to write home about.


But it did make me realise that I remembered more when I sketched.  The next opportunity presented itself at a staff meeting when we were doing learning around Truth and Reconciliation.  Normally at meetings, I do a lot of multitasking.  I knew, given the importance of the topic, I needed to have a singular focus.  So I sketched again.  That night I went home and left my sketchnote on the kitchen table.  When my husband came home, we engaged in a conversation about the staff meeting and the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.  This would have never had happened if I had taken traditional notes.  It was this moment that I really saw the power of sketchnoting.


Sketchnoting has since become my go to for taking notes.  You can check out my Flikr account to see them all.

Enough about me...let's talk about what sketchnoting is and why should you do it. Check out this video:




The benefits are countless. To name a few, sketchnoting:
  • Helps with retention (study have shown adding visuals increases retention up to 65%)
  • Increases comprehension data 
  • Helps one to concentrate (form of mneunomic)
  • Stimulates neurological pathways 
  • Activates all four learning modalities 
  • Is an anchoring task (keep us from losing focus on boring tasks)
  • Is relaxing!
So now I expect many readers are saying they love the look but they "are not artist".  I'll leave this here for you:



It is all about that growth mindset!  Try it.  Give Doodle a Day or Sketch 50 a try.  Carve out 10 minutes a day to exercise your creativity muscles - they need exercise like any other muscle.


Want some resources?

All in One Jackpot Resources!!  (Research articles, collections, How & Why, Tools, Videos)

Inspiration for layouts and drawings
Practice Activities
Books

Blog Posts (including Slide Decks)
See Sketchnoting in action
Videos
Communities