Next week is the Midwest Education Technology Conference in St. Charles and I’ve been working on a presentation around Augmented Reality and how it can be used in the classroom. As a part of that presentation, I created this postcard that can be handed out to students describing what to do to access the Aurasma content associated with a target. At some point soon I plan to write an entire post about this but today is not the day. Here’s a handy pdf of this postcard with 4 on a page for easy printing.
SMART Notebook 10.8 brings some new features to the software and additional interactivity to your SMARTboard. Today I want to tell you about 2 tools that you may not know about and show you how to add them to your toolbar.
Clear Ink - Whenever you use the pen tool to mark up a page, those annotations or drawing will stay with the page until you either close that SMART Notebook file without saving the changes, or you use the eraser to get rid of them. While that’s fine, I can think of numerous reasons to want to clear that screen quickly. Maybe a new class is coming in and you’re beginning the lesson again, or maybe you want your students to practice problems on the board. Regardless, there are two ways to quickly clear all the ink off of an individual page.
The first way is to right click on any blank space on that page and select “Clear Ink from Page” from the dropdown menu. This will clear all of the Ink while keeping any text boxes or other graphics. However, sometimes right clicking on a SMARTboard can be tedious. So, in version 10.8, SMART gives you the ability to customize your tool bar and add a “Clear Ink” button to quickly do the same task that the right click does.
Add the Clear Ink button to your toolbar:
- Right click on a blank part of the toolbar which will bring up the “Customize Toolbar” box.
- Find the “Clear Ink” button and drag it onto your toolbar. You will see a blue line show up on the toolbar signifying where that button will be located. When you close the “Customize Toolbar” box, the icon will stay and you now have a quick and easy way to clear all the ink off of any SMART Notebook page while keeping all the other elements in tact.
Clear Page – Another tool that’s similar to “Clear Ink” is the “Clear Page” tool. This tool clears all elements off of the page and gives you a blank page. This tool isn’t new in 10.8, but because it’s not a part of the toolbar by default, it’s one that you may not know about. Whether it’s a text box, a picture, ink or any other content, the “Clear Page” tool gets rid of all of it. Just like the “Clear Ink” tool, you can access this one by right clicking and selecting “Clear Page” from the menu, or you can add it to your tool bar using the same directions as above.
If you’d rather see how it works, the following video illustrates both of these tools as well as adding each tool to the toolbar.
There are some great tools inside of SMART Notebook that are the basis for the interaction between the teacher/student and the board in the classroom. The pen, screen shade, and screen capture tools are all valuable and probably used regularly as a part of instruction. However, these tools are not just relegated to being used inside of SMART Notebook. Using the floating toolbar, these tools can be used with the transparency layer on almost any program when you’re hooked up to a SMART Board.
Sometimes the floating toolbar doesn’t have the tools that you need when you need them. Because of this, SMART has given you the ability to customize it with almost any tool that you want to use. For instance, clicking on the pen tool brings up a gear beside that tool where you can change the thickness and color of that pen depending on your needs. Clicking on the eraser will allow you to change the thickness of the eraser as well. But you can also change the tools that are available in the toolbar by clicking on the gear at the very bottom of the toolbar and dragging on the tools that you want so you have easy access to them without having to open up SMART Notebook. Think of these as shortcuts to the available tools. You can even organize your tools by type by adding different columns to the toolbar and adding the tools you most use in your instruction. The video below will walk you through customizing the floating tool bar.
If you can’t see the floating toolbar on your computer, click on the SMART Board icon in your taskbar and select “Show Floating Tools” to turn it on. You can turn it off in the same way.
On January 2nd, 2013, teachers at my school returned for a professional development day. During the afternoon, I helped to organize some learning around technology. This post represents the recap of the work that was done during those sessions.
I just wanted to take a moment to recap the sessions that happened at Northeast on January 2nd as a way to provide these resources to those who couldn’t make it to these sessions.
Technology Playground – This session wasn’t really organized with an agenda, instead questions were asked and answered and the topics varied depending on the questions that were asked. However, these are the topics that I remember us going over during that time.
- Browsers – Browsers are essentially the software that interprets and shows the website. In this discussion I shared information from past posts.
- Online bookmarking – I’ve talked a lot about using social bookmarking tools like Delicious and Diigo to not only keep your links somewhere other than your browser, but also to be able to easily share resources with students and colleagues.
- Timer Tab – There are many cases that you’ll want to use a timer in the classroom to time an activity. However, one of the problems may be that the work that needs to be done is on another website and you can’t see how much time is expired or left in the activity. Using a tool like Timer Tab, the timer actually shows in the browser tab so you don’t have to stay on that page to see the time. Very handy.
- CTA – As you begin to think about what it means for students to bring devices to school and get on line, there are many places to begin. Because there will be a variety of devices that students will bring, I encourage you to think about using tools that have a variety of ways to access it through apps or just using a browser. There are many more such tools but here are two that we talked about.
- Keyboard Shortcuts – Keyboard shortcuts are always fun to learn about. These are two that were mentioned.
- Windows+D – Holding down the Windows key and selecting “D” will take you directly to your desktop. Using this key combination a second time will restore your windows to their last state bringing up the window you were working on.
- Windows+L – Holding down the Windows key and selecting “L” will lock your computer taking you to the Novell login screen. This is a great idea if you’re going to leave your computer for hall duty or during your prep hour.
Google Docs – Many of you are already using Google Docs but during this introductory session, I shared a website that I had created for a workshop that I did last year. For those who might be interested in getting started with Google Docs, this might be a good beginning point. Google Docs 4 Edu
SMART Notebook – During the final session of the day I went over a few of the tools inside of SMART Notebook but most of our time was spent looking at some of the resources that are provides as a part of the software. First we looked at the SMART Notebook Gallery found under one of the tabs on the sidebar in Notebook. This is a great way to find pictures, interactive content, games and other useful tools to use with students.
Then we looked at the SMART Exchange website where teachers can share and download lesson plans to use or modify. Many times this gives a great starting point for creating your own files.
If you have questions about any of the information in any of these sessions, please let me know. I’ll be happy to share.
Starting this month I will be offering a new experiment in professional development. Judging from the number of people who came to the technology sessions Wednesday afternoon, there is plenty of interest in learning more about technology and how it can be used in the classroom. I’m always available to think, plan and work with you around how to use technology in your instruction. These “Technology Thursday” sessions will be centered around a specific topic and will be held every hour during the day so that you can come at your convenience. This is strictly an optional drop in type of session where I will work with whoever shows up around these topics. If there’s only one person, that’s who I’ll work with, if there’s a group, I’ll work with everyone. You can stay as long or as little as you want. During these days I will have nothing else scheduled and will be completely available to help. Hopefully you will find this useful and convenient.
- January 24th - SMART Boards and SMART Notebook – Whether you’re curious about the new features that are available to you in SMART Notebook 10.8 or you just want to know how to orient and navigate the board, this session will be all about SMART Notebook. (If you’re interested in the new features, be sure to make an appointment with Julie in advance to have your software updated.)
- February 21st – Document Camera – New Avermedia software – Document cameras are not new in our classrooms, but there is a new version of the Avermedia software that brings new features and greater flexibility. From new math tools to embedding your document camera image into a PowerPoint, this session will go over these new features. Come share your ideas with your colleagues. (If you’re interested in the new features, be sure to make an appointment with Julie in advance to have your software updated.)
- March 7th – SMART Response – Most of you have heard about or used the SMART Response system to give assessments and check for understanding. If you’ve never taken the opportunity to try this system out, this is the session for you. I’ll help you get started and begin thinking about how to use these tools in your classroom.
- April 11th – Discovery Education – Discovery Education is best known for streaming videos but there’s so much more to it. This session will focus on finding, storing and sharing the content that you find. If you plan to attend this session and are new to Discovery Education, please let me know so I can make sure you have an active account.
All sessions will be held in room 402 in the library during every hour. Hope to see you there.
Not too long ago I was listening to one of the Google Apps for Edu on Air Hangouts about using script in with Google Apps hosted by Jay Atwood and Jennie Magiera. Their discussion was a good one and definitely expanded my thinking around how I can use scripts in my own work.
One of my big takeaways though wasn’t about the topic at hand, it was really just part of Jennie’s introduction. Let me provide some context. Over the last six years I have begun to look at things on a bigger scale and to think about how organizations work and function. I’ve starting thinking more strategically about how groups organize themselves and how they work together. Sometimes, this includes the titles that people hold providing a little insight into what that organization holds as important. Sometimes these titles are more about legacy and comfort with the “way it’s always been.”
While that’s only a small piece of what I’ve been thinking about, I do think that the way groups and organizations set up the ways that they work shows what they value, especially in schools.
All of this is to say that in the Hangout, Jennie introduced herself as a “Digital Learning Coordinator”. I was immediately intrigued. Now, truth be told, I haven’t done any real research on what the job actually entails and haven’t asked Jennie about it, but I’m fascinated by what it implies and what the values of the organization and the leadership might have been thinking when they created the position. From my outside view, they seem to know that the digital piece of learning is as important as the traditional and that it’s crucial enough to the success of the students in Chicago Public Schools that they needed a position that can meet that need.
Again, this is all speculation on my part and I’m simply thinking about the work that needs to be done with teachers and students in schools. I fully believe that teaches need support in their use of technology and digital tools and I know that Jennie is providing that in her work. I just think her title is fantastic and shifts the focus from technology to learning and, overall, broadens the scope of what might be accomplished.
Jennie Magiera can be found online at @msmagiera.
Here is the hangout that prompted my thinking.
Every year about this time I go into my basement and pull out box after box of decorations to display around my house to celebrate the holiday season. One of the things I always look forward to is coming across a red ceramic boot that was painted by my grandmother and given to me when I was about 4 years old. Emblazoned with a gold lettering spelling out “Billy”, this has been something that I’ve seen and enjoyed every December for as long as I can remember.
We all have holiday traditions that we revisit every year about this time whether it’s momentos from years past, traditional activities with our families like baking cookies, or maybe a trip to a favorite restaurant that has become something to look forward to each year. These traditions are important to us. One of the traditions that I now have with my own kids takes place every December 24th as we log into the NORAD website and track Santa’s whereabouts. For me, the tradition is only a few years old, but for NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), they have their own tradition that started in 1955. According to their website:
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
Since then, NORAD has become the “official” Santa tracker for people all over the world as they log in and see where the big guy is throughout the night. It used to be that Google Earth was your best bet for knowing his geographic location but that’s changed and now here are a number of wasys to go about tracking. Simply visit NORADSanta.org and track him via Cesium and Bing Maps or, even better, use your smartphone or tablet and track Santa with your mobile device from either Windows Phone, Google Play or the Apple App Store. To keep you entertained between now and then, there are also games and puzzles that go along with the apps. I’m sure that this year, my family will be keeping track of Santa on our iPad.
Just a few weeks ago I had a great conversation with the assistant principal of a nearby school centering around how to manage devices in the classroom. “What do we do if the technology distracts our students?” she asked. At one time, not so many years ago, my answer would have been different than the one I gave her. In 2003, I begged, borrowed, and stole computers and parts of computers from every nook and cranny of the high school where I was teaching. All of the staff had just been given a laptop and the old desktops that were in each room were, in many cases, dust magnets that were never turned on. So, I snagged them and rebuilt about 25 computers that would serve as the basis of my “paperless classroom” and give my students the opportunity to create and interact with digital materials in ways that they hadn’t been able to before.
Each semester when I got a new round of students, I went through the process of thoroughly threatening them if they did anything inappropriate (I may have used the word “stupid”) while on the internet and on these machines. This was a different time in the world of technology and online tools were not nearly as easy to use as they are now. But my fear was still there. What would happen if something went horribly wrong? How would I handle the fallout from a student who didn’t abide by my rules and guidelines? During those first few years students were clamoring to get into my English 10 class because it was different. They got to be on computers. They published their work online. They learned how to code HTML. It was not your typical English classroom and word spread quickly that there was something different happening.
As an introduction to this new found world of technology in school that my students were experiencing, I felt as though I had to hold something over them if something went wrong. So, each semester, I assured them that if they did something inappropriate, I would revoke their technology privileges altogether and the rest of the semester they would find themselves doing all of their work with a pencil and paper. This seemed like the appropriate thing to do at the time. After all, students wanted to be in the class because they wanted to be on the computer. In order to manage my classroom, all I had to do was punish them where it hurt most… the ability to use digital tools to learn and create.
As I look back at that now, I realized how flawed my logic was. If I were really interested in their learning, removing access to technology was not going to help them succeed or learn more effectively. This is even more the case today with so much information, tools, and opportunities that exist online. So what would I do now if I were in the classroom and faced with the same question? Well, hopefully my district and administration would have thought about this in advance and recognized that taking technology out of the hands of students does not help them. Instead it puts them at a disadvantage because of the many learning opportunities can be found online.
So what is to be done? If I were to do it all over again, I’d refer to the code of conduct that is found in every school and try to find parallels between the digital and analog worlds. If a student is playing a game on the computer instead of his work, what approach would I take if technology wasn’t a factor? I would either find a way to keep them on task or give them the appropriate consequence. If a student posts something inappropriate in a message board, I would have to approach this in the same way as if they said or wrote something inappropriate in class or in a notebook. I most certainly wouldn’t take away that student’s pencil.
The tools of technology have changed the way we teach and approach instruction, but too many times we feel that these tools are not integral to the learning process. Technology tools are quickly becoming essential for classroom teachers but many still give the same threatening speech that I gave almost 10 years ago. We would never dream of taking a textbook away from a student because of behavior, but in many cases we don’t think twice about limiting their access to a system that has more information than any textbook or library could ever hold.
If I were back in the classroom today, that speech would look dramatically different. These technological tools are the new paper and pencil, learning tools which I would never dream of taking away. There are other ways to manage student behavior, removing the tools of learning should not be one of them.
One of the lesser used tools in SMART Notebook 10 is the Magic Pen tool. This tool, while it looks like the regular pen tool, it has different functionality and capabilities when used inside of SMART Notebook.
- Temporary ink – The first way the Magic Pen tool can be used is as temporary ink. In the video below you can see an example, but essentially, whatever you write will fade away in about 5 seconds or so. This is a great way to temporarily annotate or draw attention to a specific piece of content.
- Spotlight – With the Magic Pen tool selected, if you draw a circle or oval, the spotlight is activated allowing you to draw attention to a specific area of the screen while darkening the outside. Clicking and dragging outside of the spotlight will let you move the spotlight around to focus on a different area of the screen. Putting your cursor on the inside of the spotlight, you’ll get a double sided arrow which, if you click and drag it, will allow you to resize the spotlight.
- Zoom – The last way to use the Magic Pen tool is to draw a square or rectangle on your SMART Notebook slide. This will activate the zoom feature and let you show more detail of the picture or zoom in on a specific area of text. Just as with the Spotlight, you can move the zoomed box around by clicking and dragging outside of the box and you can zoom in and out by clicking and dragging on the inside of the box.
Each of these three features can be used in the course of your classroom in a variety of ways. In the video below, you can see each of these techniques in action.
At the NCTE Annual Convention this year, I did an Ignite presentation on Personal Learning Networks which I had posted earlier. Sandy Hayes, NCTE Convention Chair, posted these recorded presentations on the NCTE YouTube channel. I don’t recall ever being recorded quite like this before so it’s interesting to see both the presentation and the format of these Ignite session.
Here’s my session.