Monday, June 12, 2017

Blended Learning with Catlin Tucker

Nebraska educators have been implementing and reaping the benefits of blended learning for quite some time. ESU 8 teachers are no different. One of our most respected experts in the field is Catlin Tucker, blended learning practitioner, guru, and published author. Her book titles, especially Blended Learning in Grades 4-12, have paved the way for many classrooms to begin blending and adapting the techniques for their own needs.

Even more valuable, however, is Catlin's experience as a practicing teacher in California. For the approximately 50 professionals who gathered together at the Lifelong Learning Center on June 9, her classroom examples and advice from the trenches were spot-on and tremendously helpful.

The crux of the day was spent experiencing blended learning's most well-known model: station rotation. We not only experience Catlin's station-rotation experience (all centered around dynamic student discussions) but also learned many implementation tips. 

Catlin shared an expert look into the flipped classroom model of blended learning and ways to adapt it to leverage even more student engagement and success. 

Another highlight of the day was playing a classroom vocabulary game Catlin created with her students, modeled after 'Word Sneak' from the Tonight Show. 

All in all, the day was a successful blending of pedagogy and practices, interaction and inspiration. Nebraska educators who attended were excited to work on implementation goals for the upcoming school year... even this early in summer vacation!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

NNNC Summer Technology Institute 2017: Rethink, Redesign, Reimagine

For the past decade you have been joining us just days after the conclusion of your school year to get your geek on with other Northeast Nebraska educators passionate about EdTech. And if you haven't, you are missing out! Highlights of this year's STI held May 31-June 1 at the Lifelong Learning Center in Norfolk included Matt Miller's keynote message and breakout sessions. Matt shares many of his resources at

Members of the NNNC STI Planning Team with 2017 Keynoter Matt Miller on day 1 of the event.
In addition, numerous regional practitioners gave of their time to share their educational technology talents with the approximately 300 participants.

You can continue to access the event's Sched site as many presenters have shared links and resources associated with their presentations, accessible even after the conference's conclusion:
View the NNNC Summer Technology Institute schedule & directory.

View photo highlights from the two day event here:

STI 2017

Don't miss next year's event, currently scheduled for one day (Wednesday, May 30, 2018). The NNNC planning committee was excited to announce that Leslie Fisher is our confirmed keynoter.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Creating Infographics: Drawing Tools with Pages and Keynote

The drawing tools available in Apple's creation apps are simple, yet powerful. Even a non-artistically inclined person can create digital graphics without even leaving the application they are in! Even more importantly, the act of creating infographics can lead to deeper understanding and longer-term learning for students.
Note: Whether demonstrating the drawing tools in Pages, Numbers, Keynote, or even iBooks Author, the process is the same. Use these ideas as starting points. What kinds of lessons do you teach that would lend themselves to students creating information-filled graphics?

First some teaching resources:

Creating Infographics is an excellent learning activity in content areas as well.   

See a few student examples about the Rock Cycle from Kevin Morrow's 8th grade Science class here. Mr. Morrow commented on how visible the student creations made their understanding of the science content he had taught. In addition, he enjoyed the variety and creativity that the project allowed for. 
Rock Cycle Infographics with Pages
Click to advance slideshow through multiple student examples. Or visit the collection at 

Additional links and resources:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Student Publishing: Merging analog and digital with augmented reality

Don't abandon printed projects... just enhance them with technology integration!
This was a driving force in a recent project I had the honor of working on with the West Holt 4th grade classes. Mrs. Shirley Rossman wanted to create a class book to demonstrate their collective knowledge of Nebraska history. And the 150th anniversary of Nebraska's statehood was the perfect backdrop. 

Excitingly, she reached out to me looking for ways to infuse digital media into the printed, bound book that she envisioned as a class product. We collaborated to design an augmented reality experience for the reader, where each student's two-page spread could be brought to life with AR. 

This was our process:

1. Text development

Students selected their Nebraska topics, researched them, and wrote their text narrative for their page.  The pages of the book were mapped out on large classroom posters. To preserve the authentic student-authored look and feel, Mrs. Rossman had each student hand write their text onto one of the page templates to go to the Schoolmate Publishing Company that she had selected to produce the class book. 


2. Create trigger images

Students created original artwork to accompany each page of text, again drawing by hand on the book template pages. I used the iPad to take a quick photo of each student's page of artwork so that I could designate each one as a trigger image for the augmented reality we planned to build in. 

*Side Note: I applaud the originality and creativity of the students' hand-drawn images. While it would have been easy to find images online or even create them digitally, the authenticity of these students' illustrations makes the book extra special. 

3. Create media assets

Each student had the opportunity to create at least one media asset to accentuate their topic. We talked about bringing their research "to life" and trying to enhance the content in a creative, not simply redundant way. This was truly where student choice and voice could shine. App which I demonstrated as suggestions to choose from included:
  • Chatterpix
  • Tellagami
  • Toontastic/Toontastic 3D
  • Puppet Pals 1&2
  • WordFoto
  • iMovie
  • DoInk Greenscreen
Nearly every app was new to the students but the definitely jumped in and learned quickly! Some student seven created multiple assets that could be selected when readers scanned their image. Mrs. Rossman did a wonderful job of coordinating additional parent volunteers, para professionals' help, and simply workspace on the days we reserved for media production. 

We did post all the video assets on a YouTube playlist, just as a secondary way to showcase the students' work and creativity. 

4. Blipp-building with Blippar

While Mrs. Rossman sent away the physical pages of the book to be printed and bound, I began working to develop the augmented reality interface.

I selected Blippar as our AR platform because of its reputation with education, in addition to its free price. Teachers can sign up for the Blipp-builder dashboard and create unlimited "blimps" for their classroom, completely for free.  Blippar, the app which readers will use to 'scan' the pages, is free as well, and available from both the iTunes and Google Play Store.

While the blimps created with an educational account aren't "public" they can easily be viewed with a simply "campaign code." This is a 5 digit number that users enters into the settings of the app prior to scanning. We put these directions as the pregame page in our book:

The Blippar dashboard asks you to first name your campaign: West Holt 4th Grade NE History Book and then create a blipp for each student by uploading their trigger image. 

To add to the interaction, you have several options. The student's media asset can be displayed on initial startup. Or you can add a "button" for the user to tap to initiate the media asset. Sometimes I used generic buttons from the Blippar library, but often I used a custom logo that I created for the project and uploaded to the Blippar library. 
Various actions can be accommodated on each tap. Ones we primarily used included:
  • play video (either uploaded directly to Blippar or linked online)
  • view image gallery
  • go to URL
  • open PDF
Each blipp needs to be saved and published individually, but all can be accessed with the one campaign code in the app. 

It seems there is a world of untapped potential to blips-building and I have a feeling that we only scratched the surface with this project!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Building Relationships: Marzano Element 39 through digital storytelling

Marzano Instructional Element 39: Understanding Students' Backgrounds and Interests

This element is key to building relationships with your students-- no matter the age level or subject you teach.

The "iAM" movie project is a simple lesson idea with variations available that any teacher could try immediately.

Ask your students to create a short video trailer about themselves-- their passions, interests, and even less surface level 'getting to know you' information. Highlighted tools of choice include Adobe Spark Video and iMovie trailers (both free or readily available apps)

For full "lesson plans" and example videos, be sure to read these two articles:
If you want to build out this lesson even further, consider looking through the resources available on iTunes from Apple Distinguished Educators about "iAM: A Brand Called ME"

either as a collection:

or as an iTunes U course (if you have access to iPads):

I referenced this same Marzano Instructional Element in my ESU8 Wednesday Webinar on iMovie + Marzano. Students are almost certain to be willing to complete this activity even outside of class time and even more importantly, you will learn new insights and deepen relationships with your learners.

 The following student projects from my classroom are an example of how you can get to know your students easily through a simple digital story. Show them to your class today and challenge your students to see how creative they can be in sharing their "personal brand."

Monday, March 27, 2017

SMART Board Games: SMART Lab Activities

The activities I mention in the video below are all games you can create in less than 5 minutes for your classroom. They are all available in the most recent version of SMART Notebook (16.2). You may need to check for updates, however. To do so simply launch SMART Notebook, and then click on Notebook > Check for Updates and Activation

Then just click on the Update button next to SMART Notebook, and enter your password to your Mac, and let it download and install. If you have troubles, feel free to ask Greg, Kevin, or myself to take a look. 

Once you’ve done this, you are all set to try out the fabulous activities inside of the SMART Lab section. Like I mention in the video, these are a great way to create classroom review games with no additional software or website sign up required. Some you would play full class on your SMART Board and others can be accessed with student devices.  My hope is that you will choose at least one of the following short videos at the page below, watch it, and immediately build a game activity for your classroom to try tomorrow

Let the SMART Board Games Begin!

SMART Notebook Games 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017