Tech Tools, Strategies, & Mentors

I learned so much, I'm just going to dive right in to reporter/recorder mode.

Poster Sessions

As predicted, my pre-ISTE schedule took a detour today.  The poster sessions are packed making it very difficult to get meaningful information from them in the amount of time available. Difficult, but not impossible!  In fact, I may have learned about my favorite resource of the day by 8:30 this morning in the poster sessions.
SAS Curriculum Pathways
Have you heard of this writing tool? Maybe I'm the last one because they told me today they've been around for 15 years!  I am so impressed with the writing support this program offers to students and teachers.  It helps students organize their writing with outlines that are easy to edit.  The writing analysis tools help students identify passive voice, excessive use of prepositional phrases, predominant sentence structure, and word choices. It even includes brief explanations of why certain writing choices may not be optimal for stronger writing.  The Publisher phase includes citation help for the works cited and in paper citations (MLA only for now, but others including APA are on the way).  I'd love to see them add a research model to this package to help students find and evaluate the quality of information they use in their writing.  Meanwhile, I can't wait to share this resource with teachers.

OneNote, Who Knew?

Shannon Wentworth, has convinced me to give OneNote another look. Similar to a Google doc, several people can open the same document at the same time and collaborate on a project.  Teachers can share the document by linking to the URL, but if students create an account (requires email), their changes are identified.  Two best applications she suggested for using OneNote:  1) Create a OneNote document to accompany viewing a movie with your class.  Then, share the document and have students answer questions, provide commentary while watching the movie to increase engagement and retention of content.  2) Create graphic organizers using the Smart Art features in OneNote.  Then, freeze the image to keep it from moving when students add content.  Bonus: OneNote is free and available on the iPad.


I visited the Digital Age Library and Storytelling Playgrounds.  There were several good takeways:

  • Digitales and the StoryKeepers DSN offer tons of resources for getting kids writing creatively.
  • I chatted with Peter Reynolds (author of The Dot) and his associate about the Fable Vision program, which includes a designing in 3D component.  It's a little pricey, but I'm going to explore the free trials to see more of what's involved with this.
  • OnGuard Online offers some nice resources to supplement the Common Sense Media curriculum the district supports for digital citizenship and cybersafety.  For example, we don't often teach our kids how to avoid scams and secure their own computer.
  • Tabletop Green Screen - fantastic way to get started on green screen technology.  Why didn't I think of this?

Vendor Hall

My first stop in the vendor hall was to find NCLab and bring back information to APT (by request).  It's a robust program to teach students coding.  Like, it includes a game theme for primary students. Unlike, the middle/high school students course teaches students to code with Python. 

The most exciting course from NCLab for me is the 3D modeling course.  We want to make the best and most use out of our printer, so I definitely need to register for this course.  It may be too difficult for K-6 students, but I'm always open to learning something new!  They also had the best bumper sticker slogan I've seen in a while!

I was also very happy to see Jeff Vance and Clickteam of Multimedia Fusion. I have been raving to anyone who would listen about their video game creation software since I had so much success with the 4th and 5th graders in our short video game creators club at the end of last year.  I picked up a great book to expand my instruction, too.

Makerspace Learning

Learning about Makerspaces and what I can do to get mine installed was a focus today. 

  • Tech Tools for the Makerspace:
    • Diversiboard Marker Board - this is exactly the white board I want for my Makerspace.  It comes in nonstandard sizes and can be installed on a track mount system that allows it to slide.  I could use the space behind it to store shallow cubbies for the Makerspace stuff.  Oh, yes, I can!  The vendor said that is the exact installation they used at Williams and Sonoma! 

    • Dotz!  Fun little kits to create covers for books, iPads, and iPhones. These would be fun to let students create reimagined book covers for library displays.

    • Snakeclamps - These clamps are sturdy and versatile for teaching, presenting, filming, and a variety of other uses I haven't imagined yet!  They didn't have them at the show, but this is the one I want. That stand bends and moves into all kinds of snake like positions for overhead, around the corner, and under the table shots.  Love it!

Tech Strategies & Mentors for the Makerspace

  • Digital
    • Their Center of Excellence for Innovation in Technology Education provides technical assistance and training for other organizations creating Makerspaces!
    • Affiliate programs from Maker Education Initiative may be able to provide trained college students to help with summer programs.
  • The American School of Bombay
    • My friend, Linda, picked up 2 books this group published to help others follow their Maker path.
    • Love their Maker Mantras, especially:  "It is not failure if you iterate"

Concurrent Sessions

I also attended two concurrent sessions today.  One on grant funding included lots of tips and resources for finding grants.  Rather than recap it all here, check out this link to the presenter's Web site:

The second session didn't deliver what I expected.  There were some cute student projects, but I was expecting more of a model and framework for integrating apps into project based learning.

Technology Coaching Tips

The poster sessions on this topic were packed with people, so again, it was difficult to get to substantial information.  My best strategy here was to get the business cards and twitter handles of the coaches so that I can follow them and follow up with them after the conference.  

I also attended the EdTech Coaches Birds of a Feather session at the end of the day.  One of the coaches at my table leads a Coaching Digital Learning MOOC for technology coaches with the final product being an Instructional Technology Coaching Action Plan.  Sounds like just what I need.  I've already signed up for the six week course starting on September 15.

I also visited the Teacher Education Playgrounds.  The Quest2Teach game based platform for teacher education caught my attention.  It's geared toward student teachers, but the developer said they are working on a module to help teachers identify their level of technology integration and improve their practice.  She is sending me more information about the program, including a login.  I'm eager to see how it works.

Teachscape was also there with their video capturing equipment and software.  The system in the picture is called Lucy.  It includes the teacher mic, classroom mic, a camera directed at the teacher, and the silver bulb inside the glass tube contains a 360 degree camera to document everything that is happening in the class.  It is designed for teacher evaluation and the software even includes some rating and collaboration features for that.  I think it has a lot of uses for sharing best practices with other teachers, too.  It's rather pricey - $5,000, but may be something schools could share.

New Cool Tool Find of the Day

Linda and I went to an after-ISTE reception sponsored by 2Simple, creators of Purple Mash.  This software is packed with creative activities for writing, drawing, coding, and scientific explorations.  We got a free trial that I plan to explore so that I can do a better review of it later.  It is very affordable and the developer's commitment to the quality and his enthusiasm for teachers makes me a believer in the product, too.


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