ISTE 2014: Friday & Saturday of #notatiste14

Print

Whew, what a whirlwind trying to follow along with all of the #iste2014 and #notatiste14 activity on Twitter in the last two days. The activity in the #notatiste14 Google+ Community has really picked up, with 241 members currently and growing all the time. It’s very fun to read the introduction slides for everyone. Some of these are so creative. There’s been a couple Google On Air Hangouts and we even have our very own #notatiste14 Photowalk. If you too are Not at ISTE 2014 and want to join the fun, just send a request.

In addition to just following along on Twitter and reading the posts in the G+ Community, here’s what I’ve been doing the last two days while #notatiste14.

Friday at ISTE is a pre-conference day which means there’s not quite as much activity on Twitter. Just because the conference hasn’t officially begun, doesn’t mean there’s no activity – there is still a lot going on as people arrive and get their conference materials including their badges (more about that later), meet with new and old friends, and participate in things like Hack Education.

Hack Education: This unconference is an event I was sorry to miss. It is always an amazing day though the sessions are typically quite large so it can be hard to hear what’s going on. You can see the Session Board for the day on the ISTE Unplugged Wiki. So many of the sessions sounded great as I followed along on the Twitter Stream. In addition to the tweets, some of the sessions added a page to the wiki or took collaborative notes and those are linked from the session board! Go over and see what you missed.

Badges: So about those badges … as people kept sharing pictures of themselves with their conference badge or just pictures of their conference badges, I decided that I needed a #notatiste14 badge. I did borrow the ISTE Conference logo as inspiration for the logo I created for #notatiste14. Ownership of the design remains, of course, with ISTE, and I mean no disrespect and claim no ownership. After playing and creating a badge, I shared it in the G+ Community:

notatiste14-badge-incase-edublogs

I didn’t know what I would start. Badge creation was on! It’s been so much fun seeing all the variations on the badge and I really love that one member of the community said they wished they could create their own badge for every conference. How fun would that be?

I couldn’t stop with just one badge – okay, I could have but I didn’t. I decided I needed a lanyard and after seeing that others had added a photo, I came up with this variation:

#notatiste14 badge

Then, Jen Wagner mentioned ribbons. Ribbons … ah, yes, we need ribbons! After too much time spent in Photoshop, here’s my current badge with ribbons! I have ribbons for the Photowalk and other things to add, too, as I continue to participate in #notatiste14 events.

#notatiste14 badge-saturday

Oh, that EduVoxer ribbon, that’s because we have a Voxer chat for #notatiste14, too. Thanks to Barb Gilman for getting that started. It’s great to not only interact with others through pictures or posts or tweets but with Voxer we have VOICE, too!

Challenges: #notatiste14 has challenges for participants, too! I am not being very competitive with these but thought that getting a few selfies with people I know at ISTE 2014 shouldn’t be too difficult since so many of them take and post photos all the time. This has been tougher than I thought but I did get one friend do do this. Thanks, Diane! Interestingly enough, I probably wouldn’t be doing a lot of selfies with others if I were there but for some reason the idea of this challenge appeals to me.

challenge-selfie01Now, to get a few more of these. Doubt I’ll get the keynote one but someone I know will be on that Ferris Wheel, I’m sure. C’mon, take a photo for me! I have been taking a selfie (okay usually more than one) daily for ISTE and am changing my profile pictures on G+ and Twitter to that day’s selfie. That way if someone uses those for the photo, they have a picture of me from the same day – it’s almost like being there! Okay, not really, but at least it’s a current picture. I’m also collecting all of the selfies on Dropbox in case someone wants a choice of photos.

For me conferences are about connections and the #notatiste14 community has been great about making connections this year even though we span many time zones. It’s not face-to-face, but with all the different kinds of sharing and the addition of voice, it’s definitely a great way to build a community. It’s also awesome that people are being exposed to new apps and new ways of using tools they may already have been using. I saw a lot of “it’s the first time I used Google Drawing” and “I’ve never used Voxer before”, etc. It may be fun but there’s definitely a lot of learning going on, too.

Learning: Speaking of learning, if I had been at ISTE 2014, I know I would have checked out a lot of the sessions on Coding and other Computer Science related topics. I have started a collaborative document on the Coding / Computer Science sessions being offered this year. I would love to try to collect a lot of what is being shared on the topic of teaching kids to code especially for students in Kindergarten through 8th Grade. So far, I’ve been doing this by going through the ISTE Program and putting the session information into the document. I then try to find contact information for the presenters, if I can and add that, too. For the two poster sessions that were on Saturday, I went through the Twitter feed to see if I could find anything shared about them. I did find a few photos but would love more. It would be so awesome if in poster sessions, someone would take video as well as photos and, of course, share those out via Twitter. Better yet, it would be great if some ISTE 2014 attendees became collaborators on the document and added to it as they attended sessions. If you’re at ISTE 2014 and would like to be a collaborator, please email me at visionsbyvicky@gmail.com and I’ll be glad to add you as an editor.

ISTE 2014 Computer Science Sessions Notes

As I was going through the Twitter stream during the poster sessions, I saw something tweeted about a community of educators who are interested in teaching kids to code, edWeb.net: Coding. So far, there aren’t many members nor much activity but I would love a community like this to exist so I’m hoping this may grow and thrive. If you’re interested in teaching kids to code and integrating coding into classroom lessons, please join. Let’s build a community.

I also learned about a new possible backchannel option called 81Dash. I was introduced to this app during the ISTE 2014 Keynote and like the look of it. I can see it being used more with adults (or older students) since you do need to have an account which requires an email address. I like that you can share photos and files (and not sure what else) and that you have more than 140 characters for a message. I’ll need to do some more exploring on this one.

Plans for Sunday: I missed out on the TeacherCast broadcasts on Saturday. Since, I had heard they would rebroadcast, I didn’t bother getting up at 6am but so far, they haven’t been shared online after they were broadcast live. I believe they will be at some point but I know that there are technical problems with uploading. So, for the rest of ISTE 2014, I intend to get up early to watch these live.

I also plan to follow along on Twitter and try to fill in more information on my Coding Sessions document and get the rest of the Monday and Tuesday sessions added to the document. Maybe during a session tomorrow, I can join a backchannel and earn more points in the challenges! I want to take a PhotoWalk at some point tomorrow. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken photos just for me. Oh, I’ll need to take a new selfie, too and then bug those I know at ISTE 2014 to take a virtual selfie with me. Maybe I’ll see how far I can get on the Bingo Challenge, too. I’m sure there will be lots of learning and fun.

So, if you’re #notatiste14, what are your ISTE 2014 plans for tomorrow? If you are at ISTE 2014, want to take a virtual selfie with me?

If I Could Only Use One …

This year in the Computer Lab, all of my classes spent some time learning to code or learning coding concepts. As I look back on what they accomplished and learned and think about what I want to do next year, I had a thought. If I could only use one app/program/website, what would it be? Honestly, if I had to pick only one, it would have to be Scratch.

StM2013-2014Studio

This year, 2nd grade through Middle School used Scratch, among other programs, and I love the flexibility it offers. Here’s some of what my students did in Scratch this year:

Drawing Shapes
Many of the grades created a project that would draw shapes. This was a great project to use for multiple grade levels. 2nd graders could guess and try and when it didn’t work, try again. 3rd graders could think about the math involved and check their guess by multiplying the number of times the loop would repeat by the angle of the turn. 4th graders and above could divide 360 by the number of times the loop would repeat and calculate what the angle of the turn should be. Middle School students could use variables to set the number of sides and set the color to use based on a random number. Check out our Shapes Studio to see student examples.

All About Me
Who hasn’t done an All About Me poster or writing assignment with students? I know I have done these in PowerPoint and in Word. Why not let the students program something about themselves. That’s exactly what my 2nd-4th grade students did with their All About Me projects. This was completed right at the end of the year and unfortunately we ran out of time but I see great possibilities here. What about “All About” a main character in a book or a historical figure?

Games
I don’t know about you, but most of my students love video games. I love that Scratch lets them create their own games! This year, 6th grade ended the year by creating a game of their choice. They ran out of time but had a lot of fun and learned a lot about controlling sprites, keeping score, winning and losing games, etc. You can check out their games in our 6th Grade Scratch Studio – also in that studio are their Shapes projects and a 10-block Challenge Project where they had to create something using only 10 specific programming blocks.

Mission Projects
Every 4th grader in California does some kind of Mission Project. Each year in the Computer Lab, I use Mission Research to help teach students about not plagiarizing and how to credit sources, etc. This year, I decided to expand on that and my 4th graders created a project in Scratch about their missions. Scratch could be used in almost any curricular area and I plan to have more grades do curriculum related projects next year. If you want to check out this year’s projects, head over to our 4th Grade Scratch Studio (which also has their Shapes and All About Me projects) to see them.

If you want to see all of the projects my students did this year in one place, check out our 2013-2014 Studio.

Do you see now why I love Scratch? The possibilities are endless!

You do have to have a log in to save work on the Scratch website and yes, you do need an email address to set this up. My students don’t have individual accounts – at least not for school; some of them do have accounts they have set up at home. I have a single account for the Computer Lab but you could easily have one per class or one per grade, for example. At this point, you can have multiple computers logged in to the same account but my students actually work offline.

We have Scratch 1.4 installed on the computers in the lab and 2nd and 3rd grade have been using that version to create their projects. Next year, I will probably install the Scratch 2.0 offline editor rather than continuing to use version 1.4. For 4th grade and up, students just use the Create option on the Scratch website and Upload (open) and Download (save) their work to their computer in the lab. This is a great teaching moment about why it’s “upload” to open your work and “download” to save your work. When a project is finished then I log in and let the student save their work to the class account. The big thing missing when working offline is the backpack but the few times we have needed this, I just log the student in and when they’re done using the backpack, have them log out again. If you want more details on this, check out my Using Scratch With Class Login Instructable.

Now back to that if I could only use one thing. Yes, it would be Scratch but Scratch isn’t perfect. What is?

  • Scratch isn’t good for students who aren’t reading yet. Scratch, Jr. is scheduled to be released soon but it’s going to be an iPad app which won’t work in our lab.
  • It’s been another teaching moment to have 2nd and 3rd graders use Word to write their text for Scratch so they can fix spelling errors and then use Copy and Paste (must be CTRL+V in Scratch) to move the text into their Scratch project. It would be nice to be able to have spell check built into Scratch to avoid that though.
  • I love the way that the activities at Code.org let you see the code you are writing when you use their block programming environment. This would be awesome in Scratch and in my opinion, would create a truly great transition from block programming to a more traditional programming environment.

Luckily, I don’t have to use only one app/program/website to introduce Computer Science concepts and coding to my students. Even though I have many choices, Scratch will still be one of my primary choices!

Are you teaching coding to your students? What would be your ONE choice?

Edcamp Palm Springs & Thoughts About Session Boards

edcampps

This was my very first Edcamp as just an attendee and it was awesome to be at an Edcamp and not have to worry about anything except which session I was going to attend. It was great to reconnect with Jen Wagner, Dennis Grice, Karl LS, Holly Clark, Moss Pike, and Jo-Ann Fox (and I’m sure I’m leaving someone out) and it was wonderful to meet Sam Patterson! The organizing committee did a super job – you never would have known it was their first time organizing an Edcamp – kudos to all of you. The day ran pretty much on time, the WiFi was working and they even got Twitter unblocked (Yay!), the Slam! at the end had great what I learned shares, the food was amazing, plentiful, and free and there weren’t super huge lines for lunch either.

AND … I won a Kindle Fire HD!! How amazing is that. Edcamp Palm Springs ROCKED! I’m so excited because I do have Amazon Prime and now I can borrow books from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. I love gadgets and have wanted to get a Kindle but couldn’t justify it.

I didn’t even propose a session – instead, I was able to attend all 4 sessions and here were my choices:

#edcampps Session Board

During pretty much every session time, there was more than one session I wanted to attend. I really hope that people add their resources to the EdcampPS Wiki page so I can feel like I went to more sessions that I did.

While I learned something or had my thinking pushed in each and every session, I found that my favorites were those sessions that were not someone standing at the front of the room using a presentation tool or showing me how to do something. That can be very valuable and I’m sure for some this is what they wanted but to me Edcamps are about discussions. Discussions where no one is the sage on the stage and you’re sitting in a circle to facilitate the discussion or you’re moving around the room. This might come from attending Edcamps where WiFi was an issue so that conversations and discussions were mandatory because the tech just wasn’t there but I think there’s more to it than that. These kinds of sessions just make me think and actively participate more and just feel like an Edcamp to me.

So, why do there still seem to be so many sessions that are “traditional” at an Edcamp? This is the question running through my brain today. Having been an Edcamp organizer for 6 different Edcamps – EdcampOC (2011), EdcampSFBay (2011-2013 though I didn’t attend in 2013), EdcampOCLA (2012), and EdcampLA (2013) – and in charge of the Session Board for 5 of those, I have been mulling over how to improve the session board building process. Even before attending EdcampPS, I had been wondering:

  • How do you get new attendees at Edcamps to propose sessions?
  • How do you involve ALL attendees in the session selection even if they don’t want to facilitate a session?
  • How do you minimize the overrun of the board from people who present all the time at traditional conferences especially because Edcamp attendees often want these people to run a session?
  • How do you make sure that vendors are not proposing sessions about their own products? This has been a problem at a few Edcamps though didn’t seem to be an issue at EdcampPS.
  • How do you help all of this to run smoothly without creating a bottleneck at the beginning of the day?

What do I think could be done to address these things? As I have thought about this since EdcampLA, here are some things that I think might work. Instead of saying the first hour is for registration & socializing, it should be turned in to the Session Board Hour where, of course people can socialize, but they should also concentrate on helping to define the day:

  • As attendees check in, they should be given a session card or a post-it note to suggest What Do You Want to Learn? This wouldn’t be posted on an actual session board with rooms and time slots but in some open space – a wall, a blank board, a table, etc. Changing the emphasis from what do you want to facilitate to what do you want to learn should encourage more participation. Attendees should also be told that their session does not have to be tech-related. Personally, my favorite sessions are usually not tech-related.
  • Attendees should also be encouraged to indicate that they would be available to facilitate (not present or lead) about a topic; this could be the topic they’re proposing or any topic that has been suggested. This is where using a printed session card might come in handy where the card has on it:
    • What do you want to learn?
    • Add your name if you are willing to facilitate this topic:
    • Voting
  • About 3/4 of the way through the hour, attendees should be encouraged to vote for their 4 favorite topics (or however many session times exist) and add themselves as facilitators if suggestions don’t have a facilitator. Organizers will use the voting to determine sessions if more sessions than slots exist or to schedule the most popular sessions at different session times.
  • As attendees are welcomed to the Edcamp and told how the day will work, a group of organizers will need to pull the suggestions into an organized session board. This is where I see problems happening because there’s a time crunch here. The welcome will only take 10-15 minutes and the organizers need to:
    • Put suggestions that are similar together
    • Decide if there are too many sessions and pick those that are most popular or combine things that aren’t quite the same but that could be put together
    • Figure out what sessions should be presented when making sure things like “Things that Suck” are in the afternoon and that the most popular choices aren’t at the same time, etc.
    • Make sure there are facilitators for all sessions
    • Make sure there are no vendors as facilitators of their own product
    • Build the actual session board – or at least the 1st session

We actually attempted something like this at EdcampSFBay in 2012 and there was definitely somewhat of a bottleneck. Part of the problem was that we didn’t have WiFi that day so the physical board became very important since some attendees couldn’t access the online board.

Having only attended California Edcamps and having been an organizer at all but one that I’ve attended, I wonder how other Edcamps are dealing with this … or if this is just me seeing a problem when there isn’t one? I’d love some feedback about this.

Have you attended an Edcamp? What did you think about how the session board was built? Did you feel that everyone had an equal say in what the sessions would be? Did you feel the sessions were different from a traditional conference?

Have you helped to organize an Edcamp? How did your session board building work? Are there things that worked great? I’d love to hear about it. What, if anything, would you change?

Edmodo Quandaries

I began using Edmodo with my students last year and have really liked the way it lets them interact as classes, turn in work, receive feedback from me on their work, join global projects and interact with other students outside of our school, and practice social networking skills.

The quandaries are …

Old Student Profile
New Student Profile
  1. Number of Groups: In the old profile, the student is in two groups but in the new she is in three groups. She is actually in two groups and one small group. Why is this different in the two versions? I feel this should be two groups since small groups are sub-groups not actual groups but in any case shouldn’t the numbers agree? Interestingly, I asked about this issue twice in the Support Community and got two different answers about it.
  2. School Name: This didn’t show in the old profile but does now. The big problem – it’s wrong! It seems to be showing the first school alphabetically of any group my student has joined even those that are currently archived. The school shown is not a school that my student has ever attended; it’s not even a school in our state. Now, I would just remove my student from the old groups but I don’t own them so I can’t reactive them and remove my students. My student originally joined Edmodo in a group I own and logs in through a subdomain which belongs to our school. Why can’t my student show the correct school name or at least a school name of a current, active group to which they belong?
  3. Classmates: My students have been involved in some big global projects which is why they are showing over 500 classmates and a bunch of teachers. The problem here? These groups are no longer active. They can’t view the profiles of most of these classmates because they are no longer actively connected and the teachers have no access to my students at this point anymore either. Luckily, I do show as one of the teachers in the profile but I have seen some examples where I’m not even shown on the profile and I’m the only teacher that they really know. Why aren’t these connections removed if the groups are archived? They aren’t connections anymore.

I have really liked the ability to connect with other schools or in big projects in Edmodo but may have to avoid these in the future if the school name and classmate/teacher issues can’t get fixed. I would like to have parents involved on Edmodo in the future but they won’t appreciate seeing their child being associated with a school they’ve never attended and they won’t understand 500+ classmates when their child isn’t involved in a global project.

Is anyone else running into these issues? How are you handling them?

Student Portfolio Platform Problems

Last year, my Middle School students created Google Sites to use as portfolios of their work in the Computer Lab. We use Google Chrome as our browser at school. All was working well except when students embedded HTML from other sites. Last year they got a warning message telling them that their page had insecure content with the option to load it anyway. This wasn’t pretty but I knew that the message was coming up because Google Sites always load as secure content (https) while most of the embedded content was not secure (http). I really wish there were an option to not use the secure option when viewing a Google Site; I get it when editing but why not just let it be http when viewing?

This year we aren’t even getting a message and there is no way to get the embedded insecure content to load in Chrome at least that I can find. Does anyone know a way?

For some embeds, the embed code can be modified to be https instead of http and it works just fine but not all embeds will allow it – for example, the above embed does not allow this.

Since I can’t control Chrome or how Google Sites are displayed,  I’m debating what to do:

  • Do I let my students continue on with their Google Sites and have them edit or view their sites in Firefox instead of Chrome? This seems rather counter-intuitive since both products are from Google but don’t seem to play nicely together when using embeds from other sites. Do I limit embeds to those they can modify to use https? Who’s volunteering to come and teach my students that not only do they need to find and embed the code in the correct place but now they need to modify it too?
  • Do I turn on Blogger in our Google Apps for Ed account and have them use that instead? What kind of control will I have on those? Is that a good idea for my under 13 crowd?
  • Do I create student blogs here in Edublogs? I know I can control these but I think there are less options to transfer ownership once the student leaves our school.
  • Do I go with a site like Weebly instead? How transferable are those sites?
  • Do I have students add pages to our Computer Lab Wiki? Those wouldn’t be easily transferred to the student when they leave the school but would be easy to do.

What would you do or what do you do to let students share their own work online?