Friday, September 27, 2013

iPad Accessibility

Use settings on your iPad to Support Your Students 
When working with teachers, some of the best trainings I have done have been on the features of iPads that help to make information more accessible using the accessibility features on the iPad.  So for today's blog post I thought I would share two of my Must Have accessibility settings, Speak Selection and Highlight Words

  • Speak Text-  When working on writing it is important to go back and be sure that you have typed what you have intended to say.  I know that I struggle with noticing repeated/misspelled/autocorrected word, I apologize for any repeated/misspelled/autocorrected words on my blog.   A way that I try to curb this is utilizing the Speak Text feature on both my iPad and MacBook.  Before I publish anything I listen to the text being read back to me.   One of the principals that I work with always says, let me say it to you because you are an auditory learning. (Follow her on Twitter here and read her blog here) Boy is that true!  When I hear it I can see the mistakes, when I read it I cannot.  So many of our students who are developing writings would so benefit from this option.   Go to Settings/General/Accessibility/Speak Text and turn the slider to on.  You can adjust the speed of the speech and allow students to check their work by hearing and not seeing.  Definitely one of my favorite features, and yes I will be using it to check this post. 
  • Highlight Selection-  Another feature which I love is the Highlight Selection feature.  It is great that students hear their writing but if you are a struggling reader that may not be enough.  Highlight selection  enables the iPad to highlight text as it is being read aloud.  Go to Settings/General/Accessibility/Speak Selection/Highlight Text.  Another cool feature.
Go back to your classroom and enable these features.  You will be amazed at how it will support it will provide your students.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Favorite Part of Edcamp

Connecting at edcamp is half the fun!
This past weekend I was able to go to my first edcamp with an instructional coach from my district. (Find her on blogger here, and follower here on twitter here.)  The goal was to learn more about the format, meet some awesome people, and learn.  We were able to accomplish all of our goals.  It was an awesome experience and I loved every moment.  I wanted to blog about the experience but I needed some time to reflect on the experience.  What I came up with was this, connecting with other educators was awesome!
The best part of edcamp was the opportunity to connect, reflect and share with others who were passionate about education.  Heck, we were all there for a full day of learning on a Saturday!  The instructional coach and I reached out and shared in conversation with others and edcamp is a great platform to do this.  We were sure to provide a google form for our session so that we could all stay connected after the day was over.
Half of the learning of professional development is the learning that will continue after the conference is over and that's what I got out of edcamp.   When you attend a session of professional development do you extend your learning?  Set up a follow up session with your district's professional development providers, connect with teachers at your grade level to carry on what you've learned, be sure to meet new people at each session you attend.  When you connect and continue that's when real learning happens.
And if you get the oppurtunity to go to an edcamp, GO!

Friday, September 20, 2013

iTunes U for Professional Development

Durfee iTunes U Courses
One of the personal goals that I have made for myself as a coach this year was to differentiate my professional development.  There is one of me and about 70 teachers that I am responsible for developing technology integration with.  Within those 70 teachers there is a variety of skill level with integrating technology into instruction.  The only way that I can think to support all levels of skill is to flip my professional development.  This involves me making a lot of videos and handouts but its paying off.  At my 1:1 building Durfee Technology Magnet School (Like us on Facebook) I am using iTunes U.
This year we have a few courses on iTunes U at Durfee.  Each course is for a specific purpose.

General Building Professional Development
This iTunes U course holds all of the directions and materials for the typical  faculty professional development.  Links, documents, and resources are all held here.  When we have a faculty meeting teachers know that they should bring their iPads and look at the course to be prepared.
Tips and Tricks
There is a lot to share and know in order to have a successful 1:1 classroom with iPads.  It is impossible to provide a professional development session for everything.  We use this course to share tips for classroom management or routines and rituals.  Teachers can share things that have worked, or ask for ideas for something
App Club
There are 1000s of apps to sort through, why not bring our brains together!  Each month we have an app that we focus on.  Week one the course holds 'how tos' and support for using the app.  Week 2 the teachers share ideas on how they could possibly use the app.  Week 3 we try out the app, week 4 we share how it went.
MacBook Pilot
This year teachers applied to be a part of a pilot where they would take home a MacBook pro to create resources for iBooks and iTunes U for THEIR students.  Support docs and resources are housed here.

iTunes U is allowing teachers to have resources accessible and leveled.  Teachers no longer have to sit through development they are not ready for, or are ready to move beyond.
If you are at a school where teachers have their own iPads I would definitely recommend using iTunes U to administer professional development!

Learn more about our program here!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Another class of bloggers

We are ready to share our blogs!

We have another class of bloggers at Durfee Technology  Magnet School!  This fifth grade class will be blogging about their classroom.  Instead of the teacher deciding what will be important and creating a weekly newsletter, the students will blog about things going on in the classroom and sharing via their blog.  Goodbye newsletter hello blogging!  Below are hyperlinks to all of the students' blogs.  Stay tuned for their blogs!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Expect the Dip

Keep using the technology even when it's hard.
A new year is starting and many teachers are creating goals around incorporating technology into the classroom.  Enthusiasm is high as are expectations, and then the kids arrive!  I see many teachers loosing that enthusiasm, and even backing off of their endeavors with technology.  Don't give up!
There are many things that happen at school that make teachers feel tempted to stop using technology.  Unexpected hiccups occur; the wifi crashes, apps don't sync.  All of these things are definitely events that could make one stop and put away the tech.  Don't let that be the reason you stop your technology mission!  The wifi will go back up, you will figure out how to sync your apps have no fear!
Any time you try something new there is a natural dip in skill.  Think about when you get a new car.  It takes a few times to remember that the cruise control is in a different spot, or the gas is on the other side.  After a few times you get the hang of it and remember.  The same is true for integrating something new in your teaching practice.  Tech or not there is a learning curve with a new strategies.  Give yourself time to breathe, and reflect.  Have your coach or another teacher sit in to observe.  Chances are you are being harder on yourself than you need to be.
I was in a class with a teacher integrating iPads.  This was the third time I was there and the students have been using these iPads frequently.  I saw the lesson going well with students working together to navigate and learn how to use this new app in instruction.  The teacher saw a classroom loosing control.  When students take more control of their learning it is not strange for teachers to feel out of control and that can be scary!  This is normal, take a deep breath, and press on.
Anything worth doing is hard.  Change is super hard but good things come from
change.  Find the people around you to support you and stay the course!