Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great QR Code Social Studies Project

Recently, I had the opportunity to help out with a great Social Studies project created by 4th grade teacher Mrs. Sharae Geldes (@SGeldes) from Two Springs Elementary School and I was so impressed!

She started by creating another page in her
WEEBLY webpage called Tour The South and made pages with links to different places in the South and clues on each page.

She created QR codes on a
Google QR creator of each page and printed the QR code.  She put those QR codes on a bright green paper backing and hung them all over the school for students to find.I helped by bringing a couple of iPads along & my iPod touch for the kids to use and of course being support and team-teaching with her.  Mrs. Geldes put her students together in groups of 3 or 4.  Armed with their IPads or iPod the students started around the school on the QR code scavenger hunt of the South.   THEY WERE SO ENGAGED!  and having a great time!  

As they went from Code to Code they had to write down specific information about what they found at each stop which they would turn into Mrs. Geldes at the end of class.

The following week my Colleague
Ann Feldmann (@techiefeldie) and I returned to help with the project some more and have the students review the Weebly page.  Then in the computer lab Mrs. Geldes told them to pick one place out of the 10 that they would like to go to.  We fired up Google Earth and took the kids there and in most instances we were able to use street view and cruise around the actual places, buildings, & historic sites within the project.  The kids loved it!

I was struck by a couple of things within this project that Mrs. Geldes created and I assisted with:  once again students were engaged with the influence of technology within the lesson.  Making Social Studies come to life!

Finally, Mrs. Geldes spent some time to put this together, but she made this lesson so much better for the time she invested for her students.  Kudos to her!

I enjoyed being a part of it and am excited to take a project like this to others in the district.

Twitter and What To Do with All Those Resources!

When people ask us where we get all of our great ideas, 9 times out of 10 our answer is Twitter!  When you follow people on Twitter and build your connections you will become bombarded with ideas, thoughts, links, and opportunities for professional development.  One of the things we hear as trainers is “I don’t have time for Twitter” or “I don’t know what to do with all of those tweets!” 

We’d love to share with you some solid ways of using Twitter and organizing resources that you will inevitably and thankfully be exposed to.  First, register for a Twitter account at  Once you’ve done this you will probably want to use a different platform like Tweetdeck to organize your friends, mentions, and direct messages as well as certain hashtags like ours, #tt4t.  Tweetdeck is an open site at BPSS.  Tweetdeck allows you to create columns that helps to organize the information coming in.  Using hashtags allows you to follow certain topics related to your interests.  Check out this site that lists all of the educational hashtags you might want to follow.

Second, don’t expect to read every tweet that might fall into your tweetdeck columns.  There is just no way to keep up with it all of the time and that is o.k.  Some people set aside some time each day or week to check in and see what is going on with the people you follow.  You also might become aware of weekly online chats and that would be a time to check in and be a part of some excellent edchats!

Third, use a tool like ReadItLater add-on button to your internet browser.  It is a free download and only takes a few seconds to load.  This favorite little tool allows you to literally read something later.  This is helpful when you click on a link from a tweet but might not have time to read it right away.  Once your link is in the readitlater column sitting on your browser you can go back to it when you have more time to sit and read all those great articles!  Then you decide if it’s a page you want to bookmark for good or just check it off your read it later list and it magically disappears.
Using Twitter really helps build your own professional development!  If you don’t want to tweet, then don’t, but at least take some time to check it out and follow a couple of people.  It’s like having a ton of smart people at your disposal.  When you are in need of some ideas, direction, or just want to connect with someone like you Twitter does the job and does it quick! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Being Fully Present

As a technology facilitator of K-12 teachers I am often struck by the lack of engagement of some of our participants.  I know that teachers are swamped with so many demands that to them life feels like a juggling act on a unicycle going full-speed ahead.  I get it- I did it for fifteen years.  I remember how dog-tired I would be at the end of a long and emotional day.  Friday’s were like heaven when we could slow down a bit, watch a video- relevant of course- play some games and just work a little less.  It reflects negatively on teachers, I know, but let’s be real.  Being ON all the time is exhausting and sometimes our kiddos need a break as well. 

Having said that, I’ve experienced training session where people show up to technology training without a charged laptop, or a stack of papers to grade, or unfinished online business.  I’ve often heard negatively charged sighs of exasperation when presented with a new tool.  Or how about the ever-complaining comment of “I don’t know what my password is!”  And yes, it would be easier if everyone had a chip imbedded that would log you into every site automatically, but also a little bit scary! 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone was fully present in the moment, whatever that moment may be?  Whether the moment is a required training, or having a conversation with a loved one, or being in a public place, being fully present enriches your personal and professional life.

I recently came across a couple of articles that struck a chord with these thoughts.  There are actually specific behaviors you can practice to increase being fully present and listening in the moment.  It kind of goes like this:
Be helpful by finding ways to participate or help out a neighbor, family member, colleague, or service provider.  You will feel good about your behavior and you will impact another life, if only for that moment.
Be curious by asking thoughtful questions.  Your questions might spur on further conversation that will increase your own learning and show that you genuinely care about the other person or the topic on which you are being trained. 
Being available is another way to say, “Hey, I am here right now.”  It shows that you are engaged in the moment.  You can show you are available by tweeting regularly, showing eye contact in person, nodding your head, or using those simple phrases like “Oh” and “Ah”.
Be respectful.  Even if you feel reluctant to learn a new tool or feel frustrated by overcoming a personal obstacle, stay positive and avoid negative comments directed at the person in your midst.  Negative comments that aren't heard by everyone delivers negative energy into the room. 
Have fun!  Life is too short to not have fun in your daily activities.  Laughter truly is the best medicine!  It is also infectious.  One of the things I love about my job is that we laugh!  A lot!!  It eases tension and gives us some perspective.

I love it when I come across a person who is present in the moment and positive about what is happening around them.  It is one of the common threads that I experience with my athlete friends.  Yes, sometime we are uncomfortable, but we get through it with a positive attitude and enjoy each moment that we are given.  Being fully present lifts your spirits and pushes you to be your best as well!  Let’s all practice being in the moment!  Who knows, you might just surprise yourself!