Do You Believe in Magic?

Below please check out two tools from Google and Chrome Add-Ons to assist with student writing and research… easily confused as magic because these tools are so easy to use and very helpful.

Create a Bibliography quickly and easily with the Chrome Add-On ‘EasyBib Bibliography Creator’ located within Google Docs:

See what words you are using most often in any piece of writing using the Chrome Add-On ‘Word Cloud’ located within Google Docs:


Empowered Learners

As adults and teachers it is sometimes easy to believe that students are very tech savvy. Although this may be true in some cases, I caution that familiarity does not equal mastery. Within the classroom, it is very beneficial to slow down and discuss the whys and hows of a tool or program to help students gain a deeper understanding about how technology can support their learning.

Currently students in grades four and five are learning how to create folders, to understand what the share/permissions indicate, why naming conventions are important, and how to make copies of documents within Google Drive. However, before we get to all of that, what does cloud storage mean?

After a bit of discussion regarding Google Drive, we watch the video below that briefly describes what cloud storage means and how it works. As technology is constantly changing and with us in many parts of our lives, it’s a good idea to slow down and ask questions.

After The Hour of Code…

As we look back at the Hour of Code and the next steps we want to take in regards to students and coding, we are asking the questions: Why coding? How can we integrate coding into our curriculum?

on our way to the Asian side...At a recent LTEN conference, Claire Wachowiak and Brycen Davis, our Technology Integrationists, met Bager Akbay. Among other things, Akbay runs a Coderdojo in Kadıköy. A Coderdojo is a community-based programming club for young people. In these free clubs, kids learn how to code, create apps, and explore technology in a comfortable and open environment. How can we bring this to IICS? Ms. Wachowiak and Mr. Davis, along with tenth grade students, Philipp and Ayush, decided to take the ferry to the Asian side to find out.

Upon visiting this Coderdojo, they found an environment of engaged students, many of them using the same tools that we have been using at IICS. Both students and volunteers learned together in a space that invited creativity and learning. As we watched the students collaborate to solve problems, a 3D printer produced student made designs. We witnessed another student using a ‘Makey’ to bring his code to life. It was an atmosphere that encouraged innovation and fun.

Over the next few months, IICS will be looking to bring this energized spirit around coding and computer programming to IICS. We want to thank Bager Akbay and his crew for their generosity in allowing us to visit this Coderdojo.

Talk to your kids about coding! Here are some coding resources if you would like to explore this innovative world.

Teaching Teachers

Recently, I transitioned from being an elementary school teacher into a Primary Technology Integration Specialist. Since I was a classroom teacher for ten years, I tend to think about technology with a teacher’s perspective. As a result, I have come up with three simple steps to help me in working with teachers and creating professional development:

  • Respect the Teacher’s Time/Respect the Schedule
  • Be Timely with Help/Support
  • Be Brief and Relevant

If a person has never been a classroom teacher, it is impossible to describe what busy means. Having worked at other jobs in other industries, I very much understand a hard day’s work. However, teaching is a different kind of intensity. Teaching is rewarding but it is also very difficult. Most notably, your time is not your own. When I get up to get a coffee or just use the restroom when I want to and not after a bell rings, I need to remember this in my new role.

Recently, I gave a presentation to help teachers build their new class sites. This was not an easy task for many who see the sites as a ‘have-to’ with many other pressing issues at the beginning of the year. Did I mention that I had to give my presentation after the first day of school? Yes, this was not an optimal time.

As a result, I simply looked at what needed to be completed on their sites for Back to School Night… that was it. There are so many other neat and helpful things I could have shown them, but I had to think about what teachers needed right then. I laid out my presentation, created videos and other resources that teachers could refer back to, and kept everyone on-task. As a result, the teachers’ sites were built within that presentation time frame. Interestingly, several teachers have approached me since the professional development to ask about the neat and helpful things, such as embedding a calendar or adding a subscription widget. Believe me, I got back to them right away. I want to keep the momentum going.

Teachers are a tough audience with most teachers admitting they are not good students. However, as with any student that is difficult to reach, it’s all in the approach. Make the learning relevant and timely, respect their busy schedules, get back to them right away, and you might just find that they seek you out for more learning.

I understand that I have so much to learn and not all of the feedback will always be so positive, but for right now, it feels good.  It also serves as a reminder that my job is not about implementing the newest technology tools. Rather, a big part of my job is to look at these tools and see if they will help teachers to do their job more efficiently and effectively; to free up some of their valuable time so they can teach.

Here is an example of one of the resource videos I created for teachers:

Below are screenshots of some emails I received after the class site professional development: