Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Value of #EdTech Certifications: #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast 3.0

Cross posted at the #NYCSchoolsTech blog.

Educators share the value in developing expertise and showing what they know via #EdTech recognition programs like the #NYCSchoolsTech Partner Certification Program . This program allows educators to develop expertise and receive recognition from companies like Common Sense Education, Google, Apple, Microsoft, PBS/WNET, BrainPop, SoundTrap, and more.

#NYCSchoolsTech educators interested in learning more and applying for these programs can visit the training tab of our website at Schools.nyc.gov/tech and join our #NYCSchoolsTech online community

In this podcast #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast host, Nancy Ribak Altadonna interviews four innovators who share how these recognition programs have supported their teaching, learning, leading, and sharing their knowledge with others.  

Benefits discussed include:

Developing your learning network

Educators explain the importance of developing a network of passionate peers they can connect with face-to-face and online. They also share the value of having a direct connection to staff at the companies whose products they use in the classroom.  


Becoming a part of a group recognized for your expertise, connects you and allows you to develop relationships with like-minded people not possible with one-shot-deal learning opportunities. These programs result in lasting connections and support to an intensive network of others who share your interests.

Owning the learning

Traditionally educator learning has consisted of your administration telling you what should be important for you to learn. This can leave innovative educators feeling disconnected to what their learning. With recognition programs, the educator owns the learning and must convince their administration why something is important showing lifelong learning and agency with a commitment to share what they learn with others. 

You can listen to the time stamped highlights of what some #NYCSchoolsTech leaders said at the links in the table above. Check out what they had to share. If you find something of interest, you can see the timestamp below and jump to exactly what you want to hear in the podcast.

Nancy Ribak Altadonna (Intro)

Social Studies Special Educator at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Nancy is the host of the #NYCSchoolsTech podcast. She provides opening remarks and interviews today’s guests.  

Sean Arnold (2:00)

Special educator and STEM Coach in NYCs special needs program
Sean talks about...
How what he has learned in these ed tech certification programs has helped him find as many tools and resources as possible to support students with special needs in consuming and creating in ways never before possible.

Cindy Wong (8:30)

Tech teacher at Crocheron Elementary School in Queens.
Cindy talks about…
How certification programs have supported her in being a life-long learner and relating to her students more effectively. She also shares that pursuing this type of learning encourages you to reflect upon your own parenting and consider what you are doing well and areas for growth. 

Steve Borba (13:00)

Tech coordinator, computer science teacher, and data specialist at PS 175M in Central Harlem. Steve talks about…
How teachers lives are made easier when they embrace, learn, and develop tech expertise. That’s because tech can give you a new found means and toolset to creatively connect with and reach students. 

Eileen Lennon (21:00)

Tech teacher at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 in Queens
Eileen talks about…
How pursuing recognition as an expert enables her to use tools most effectively as possible to support teaching and learning and help others do the same. She also shares how such recognition has improved her ratings and evaluation by school administration. 

Your Turn

Guests answered a series of questions during their interviews. What do you think?  How would you answer the questions this episode's guests discussed?
  1. Why would advise someone to pursue an #edtech certification?
  2. How does/could your school/district utilize certified #EdTech teachers?
  3. What ed tech certifications have you pursued you be interested in pursuing? Why?
  4. How has/can certification help improve practice or benefit your work or career?
  5. Share 1 way ed tech certification benefits students or staff? 
About the Host of #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast:

Nancy Ribak Altadonna @nancella

Nancy is a Social Studies Special Educator at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. She became a teacher through the NYC Teaching Fellows program 10 years ago. Before teaching, Nancy worked in media where she was awarded “Best Evening Radio Host” from the Austin Chronicle at South by Southwest. Nancy received NYC Schools Tech certifications as a PBS Learning Media Master Teacher and Certified Soundtrap Educator. She is currently working on a doctorate in Learning, Instruction, and Innovation. Nancy is thrilled to be the host of the #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast which is here to amplify innovative practices of NYC Schools Tech and inspire others in NYC and beyond. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Freebie & Ideas For Parent-Teacher Conference Success

Parent-teacher conferences provide a way for staff and families to better to connect to support students. They can also be stressful for all parties involved. Parents and teachers may be nervous about what the other will say to them about the child. To make conferences more pleasant and strengthen relationships remember the importance of promoting good will. Your job as a teacher will be easier if parents are your partners and look forward to your conversations with them about their child.  

While academic performance and test scores have their place, this information is easily accessed by parents. When you meet face-to-face parents want to know that you genuinely know and care about their child.

Here is how to do that.

Ask students what parents want to know

Middle school English teacher and Y.A. author SJ Donovan explained that to prepare for parent-teacher night, she asked her students what they thought their parents wanted to hear from her about their class. Students shared that parents would want to know about her methodologies, teaching style, and how she integrates technology into learning. She shares their ideas in this post. Adding to Donovan’s idea, I would also ask each class member to share their response so that you have a personalized message for each parent. This also gives those less inclined to speak in public a chance to have their voice heard. You might want to consider using FlipGrid for this. (Not sure what FlipGrid is? Read this overview from Sean Arnold’s, “Brave in the Attempt” blog.

When parent-teacher night begins, the teacher can kick it off to a parent group a discussion sharing with them what their children want them to know about how they spend their day. In some schools there can be limited time for one-to-one conversations.  This strategy gives all parents a general sense of what they can expect for their child.

Ask parents what they want you to know about their child

If there is time for one-on-one conversations, the teacher can start by sharing that one idea their child wanted their parent to know. Next, the teacher can ask the parent what they want their teacher to know about their child and the teacher can record that in the child’s file or it can be left as a reply on FlipGrid.

Discuss how the child thrives

The teacher can review key pieces of the student’s learning profile with parent.  Thrively is a tool that allows you to collect a free report of how every child thrives and ideas to support that at school and home. If possible, give the parent a printed report to take home. If you not able to print it, let them know how to access the report.  This article shares more on Thrively and how students can begin their free strength assessment.

Classroom learning stations

In some schools teachers have a line of parents waiting out the door. Make use of that time. Have stations set up around the room for parents to learn more about what happens in the class. If possible each station would have a student at the helm sharing with parents. Stations can also be independently accessed. The stations could contain student work that is physical.  It could contain a slideshow on a laptop with useful ideas for learning at home. There might be a station with recorded student presentations. Maybe there is a bulletin board where parents can scan QR codes to learn and see more about students and their work.

Parent Agenda & Notes

Have an agenda that fits on one page so parents know what to expect and have a place to record notes. This helps you to frame and focus the conversation and provides follow up notes for the parent. Here’s a sample you can customize and use for your own class.

Your Turn

What do you think? Are there ideas here that could work in your school or classroom? Have you tried any of these ideas? What has worked well? What challenges have you encountered?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Funny Face Picture Prompts Spice Up Class Photos

For most of us we have just two options when it comes to group photos.  Say cheese is the standard.  Okay, be silly, is next. Second grade teacher Shira Moskivitz has figured out a way to make boring class or staff photos a thing of the past.  She has come up with dozens of other picture prompts teachers can use to make this year's class photo stand out.  

Step Away from the "Say Cheese"
Instead Be a Superhero

#NYCSchoolsTech Superhero Trainer Team

Check out the funny face picture list below and find the prompts you think your class would like best.

- super hero
- favorite food
- someone else pretending to be an asparagus (or other veggie) and you eating them
- pet peeve
- surprise kiss (not necessarily at a professional function but...)
- sleeping
- favorite animal
- spell your name (first initial, or name of event/location)
- evil villain
- mad scientist
- supermodel
- body builder
- soldier
- slow motion run
- wind blown (there's a hurricane and you're being blown off the stairs/chair/etc)
- The Macarana
- Gagnam Style
- Thriller
- Robot
- sad
- nervous
- angry
- that kid...
- bored
- surprised
- one person is "it" and everyone looks at/points to him/her without them knowing
- serious
- hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil
- Mona Lisa
- Edvard Munch’s, The Scream
- riding a roller coaster
- playing basketball/baseball/soccer/hockey
- fake fight with neighbor
- group high five
- too cool for school
- salute
- ballerinas
- hold as many/big objects in your hands as possible (bonus if they're relevant to event/location)
- poker face
- strange object on your head
- pour water on one unsuspecting member of the group as you take the picture
- boy band album cover
- hug someone else/ group hug
- karate pose
- touch someone else's head
- swimming fish
- cowboys 
- point at someone random within (or outside) the picture

Thursday, September 6, 2018

#NYCSchoolsTechChat: #EdTech Certifications. Thursday at 7pm EST

Image may contain: text and nature
Join us Thursday as we discuss #edtech certification programs and how NYC uses them to support our growth. #NYCSchoolTech teacher Eileen Lennon moderates with me throwing in my two cents. 

You can prepare for the conversation by thinking about answers to these questions:

Q1 Why would you pursue an #edtech certification? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q2 How does/could your school/district utilize certified #EdTech teachers? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q3 What #edtech certifications would you be interested in pursuing? Why? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q4 How has/can certification help improve practice or benefit your work or career? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q5 Share 1 way #edtech #digcit certification benefits students or staff? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Chat details are below:
Date: Thursday, September 6th
Time: 7:00 pm
Topic: The first five days
Your Host: @eileen_lennon (@NYCSchools)
Co-Host: @InnovativeEdu (@NYCSchools)

Remember to respond using the hashtag #NYCSchoolsTechChat and include the number of the question you are answering in your response i.e. A1 and your answer.

We hope you can view the chat live, but if you are unable, please visit our archive at https://www.participate.com/chats/nycschoolstechchat. You can also participate in the chat at that link or if you have an iPhone download the app at https://www.participate.com/apps.

Monday, September 3, 2018

#BacktoSchool List No No #1 - Graphing Calculators

It is not unusual for costly graphing calculators to be a part of back-to-school lists. The arguments go something like this. We need students to have a separate non-computer graphing calculator to know they really know how to use a graphing calculator.

Wait, what world are we preparing our kids for?  The only business place in the world in the 21st century where you'd see graphing calculators being used to do work is Texas Instruments.  The one who sells the graphing calculators. 

In the modern world graphing calculators are available free via apps and software for phones and computers. Even if you ban student devices, 
for the cost of a graphing calculator, schools can buy a much more powerful smartphone onto which you could do much more than just access a graphing calculator. 

In essence a tool has been created for the classroom, that has no use outside the school walls whatsoever. Sadly, as the Atlantic exposed back in 2011, what this all boils down to is that the mega-billion dollar testing industry dictates the technology that can be used.  That however should not dictate how a student accesses that technology.  If parents and educators are buying into the idea that we must throw children into the past to take assessments, that is unfortunate. However, even if they do, save those antiquated devices for testing day and allow students to use modern technologies they have access to in the world the rest of time. 

This simple shift to using free tools would shift millions of dollars from the pockets of Texas Instruments into the hands of our students. Desmos CEO Eli Luberoff put it best when he said this in his interview with business site Quartz“We think students shouldn’t have to buy this old, underpowered device anymore. It’s a huge source of inequity, and it’s just not the best way to learn.”

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Real Way to Avoid Hearing from the Same 26 Facebook Friends

Innovative educators are generally good fact checkers and don't fall for chain social posts like the one making its rounds about seeing the same 26 people on Facebook.  They know to verify and that even a basic search on The Google will help you find out if what you are reading is fact or fake.

A reason so many people were quick to believe "the same 26 people" story is because Facebook does have an algorithm that limits the posts you see. Fortunately, there are fast, simple, and logical ways to change that.

If you really want to see more posts on you feed, here's what you can do.

1) View "Most Recent"

From your home page, change your News Feed from "Top Stories" to "Most Recent."

2) Edit Preferences

Under most recent you'll see an option to "Edit Preferences." Select that.  

3) Set priorities

This is most important.  You can select what and who you want to see first. Go in and select if you want to see friends only, pages only, or specific people.  If you click "People you see first" it will show you a list of your selections.

4) Unfollow people and groups

You don't have to unfriend anyone.  Just stop following them. Same goes for groups and pages.  If you don't want to see updates, just update preferences.  

5) Reconnect

If you decide Uncle Joe or that nosy colleague aren't so bad after all, don't worry.  You can always reconnect.  

6) Discover Pages

Facebook will suggest to you pages you may want to follow. If you're looking to add more to your news feed, just click "Like."

7) See more options

Was there an app that you hid, but you don't want to hide it any more? Don't worry.  Go to "See more options" and select "Show."

8) Snooze, Hide, or Unfollow right from your feed.

You don't need to search and know everyone you'd like to stop seeing posts from off the top of your head. If you notice a friend shares particular boring posts, just click on the three dots at the top right of their post and you have the option to unfollow them there. If you're sick of seeing posts about the president, just select "Hide post" and you'll see fewer such posts.  If you can't stand how much your brother-in-law posts during football season, but really like following him other times of the year, just "snooze" him for 30 days.  

If you really want control over your news feed, no need to beg your friends to leave a comment. Just follow these 8 tips. It's an instant fix. Involves just you. It's customized and it works!