Thursday, July 24, 2014

SMART Exemplary Educator 2014 Global Summit Day #4 It Takes a Teacher to Grow Global Understanding

Today's Theme It Takes a Teacher to Grow Global Understanding

It is hard to believe that today is Wednesday...this week has been flying by.  I'm learning a lot, sharing, and building relationships with the other 77 SEEs who are here at the Summit.

Yesterday we spent the majority of our time learning about and working with SMART Amp.  You can learn more about SMART Amp by watching this video.  Senior Product Manager Erica Arnoldin visited us today to talk about our experience with SMART Amp.  She wanted to know what we needed the software to do in order for us to be able to use it successfully in the classroom.  As we shared our ideas, Erica's team sat in the back of the room writing down our ideas.  Erica then shared with us some additions and features that would soon be rolled out.  Sorry I can't share those with you, but SMART is committed to Amp and making sure that it is going to allow students to collaborate in the work space on any device.

The next session of the day was called Stump the SMART Software Developer.  What has always impressed me about SMART is there willingness to hear what teachers want to see in the software that they develop.  They are truly interested in what we do with the software, why we do it, and what we need it to do.   Today I knew they were serious when they sent 9 members of the development team to answer our software questions and to learn about how we really use the software in the classroom.

Giselle Goncalves, SMART Manager, Program Management joined the Summit to share the educational resources that SEEs are using in the classroom.  During this session, first grade teacher and SEE Christie Carnahan shared how she uses Google Docs and YouTube in her first grade classroom.  I was so happy to learn from Christie how to use to eliminate all of the advertisements and other videos from around YouTube videos.  If you use YouTube in your classroom, this is a great resource that you will want to try out.  Then SEE Joey Savoy shared Discovery Education and the variety of resources that are available from Discovery Education.  I was so happy to hear from DEN STAR and SEE Rafranz Davis that districts will be able to link their Google Drive log in with Discovery Education log in, creating a single sign in.  This will be great news for my primary students.

After lunch SEEs Boris Berlijn, Kate Seward, Bob Young, and Giovanna Bicego, Chris Collins, and Maria Grazia shared about their global collaborations.  I was really inspired by Bob Young and Giovanna Bicego's presentation.  I've always thought about doing a global collaboration, but wasn't sure that it was right for the primary grades.  Bob and Giovanna showed me how it could be done.  Boris provided us with the nuts and bolts of setting up and doing a Global Collaboration and then provided us time to find collaboration partners and begin to plan a collaboration project.  I am so excited to be working with one of my first grade computer classes and SEE Magdalena Zeinhofer from Austria.  Next year Magdalena will be teaching 4th grade and my students will help her study the English language, while my students get to see what life in Austria is like.

Our students need to be prepared for a global economy and I can't wait to tear down the four walls of my computer lab and let my students explore another country.  I am so thankful that SMART dedicated the entire afternoon today to global collaboration!  I've already emailed a first grade teacher in my school and she has already agreed to work with me on this collaboration. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

SMART Exemplary Educator 2014 Global Summit Day #3 It Takes a Teacher to Inspire Amazing

Today's Theme:  It Takes a Teacher to Inspire Amazing

Today was all about SMART Amp!  SMART Amp is software that allows any web-enabled device to connect to the workspace and work collaboratively. Heather Lamb led SMART Amp Camp.

  The following is what impressed me about SMART Amp.
  • Extremely easy for a teacher to get classes set up
  • Easy to pull all your students into the collaborative work space.
  • The ability to group students and share a collaborative work space
  • The ability to add images, text, links, SMART Notebook files to the work space
  • The ability to use it on a variety of web-enabled devices with ease
  • The ability to look out student editing in follow me mode, so the teacher has the opportunity to refocus and redirect activities
  • The ability for the teacher to sit back and listen to what the students have to say
  • When students work in anonymous groups, the barriers come down and reluctant students may feel more at ease contributing
We had the opportunity to collaborate using SMART Amp at the Summit today and the room was "noisy".  We need to realize that learning involves healthy noise.  While we worked with our groups collaborating on our workspace it was easy to see how using SMART Amp allowed us to add value to the work of others.  Instead of telling students to keep their eyes on their own work, we will encourage them to work together to solve problems.  I am anxious to use SMART Amp with my first grade computer students as well as my high school business students.  There are so many ways that SMART Amp can be used throughout the learning cycle. 

After dinner the SMART Exemplary Educators held a live #SMARTee Chat from the lobby of Hotel Alma--SMART CTO Warren Barkley came to participate live with us. Moderator Refranz Davis asked us if we could have one wish for our classroom what would it be.  Linda from South Africa tweeted that she wanted wifi.  It is too expensive and her school can't afford it.  That is when SMART CTO Warren Barkley told Linda that he would take care of it for her.  Just another example of how SMART is doing what is best for students. There were many tears of joy flowing at the #SMARTee Chat tonight.

After the SMARTee Chat, I sat in the hotel lobby with Renee Fruge from Louisiana, Karoline Thordson from Sweden, and Therese Lennhager from Sweden. We talked about what teaching was like in our schools, how we got to be SMART Exemplary Educators, and what life was like in our home towns.  It was really one of the best parts of my day.  Yes, I love learning and sharing at SMART headquarters, but just as important is learning and sharing with the SEEs that are here and I am so thrilled to be able to add them to my personal learning network.  After all, it takes a teacher to inspire amazing, and you just never know who or where that teacher may be!

Monday, July 21, 2014

SMART Exemplary Educator 2014 Global Summit Day #2--Reflections

Today's Theme:  It Takes a Teacher to Start an Education Revolution

SMART's Greg Estell, President, Education kicked off the Summit at SMART Headquarters.  We began by recognizing the 78 educators and the countries they represent.

Greg shared that today,
“A brand is no longer what a company tells the consumer it is.  It’s what consumers tell each other it is.” and that is one reason SMART is so interested in what we as educators have to say.

In the education division at SMART there are three themes that help guide their work--Education Comes First, Freedom to Learn, Device Independence.  Any device going into the classroom needs to enable students the freedom to learn.

In the Executive Briefing Center I visited the SMART Collaborative Classroom and had the opportunity to try out a variety of SMART products. I fell in love with the new SMART Table. It blows the previous version out of the water. I also had the opportunity to try out the interactive projector. I was amazed how well it worked. In the Collaborative Classroom it was being projected on to a piece of counter-top that was mounted on the wall.

From the Collaborative Classroom I traveled to the large board room, where I attended a demonstration of SMART AMP. This cloud-based software truly will allow device independence while allowing groups of students to collaborate. The software works on the Google Apps for Education platform and is extremely easy to set up and to begin sharing with students. I like the fact that I can share with each individual student or that I can share with groups of students. The fact that it automatically saves in my Google Drive (and doesn't take up any of my Google Drive space), is an added advantage. Anxious to try SMART AMP in my classroom this coming year and looking forward to seeing SMART AMP grow.

After lunch Heather Lamb, dug into some of the features in SMART Notebook 14. She began by sharing the impact of SMART Notebook in the classroom. When a child can touch it, feel it, own it...they can learn it. That is the heart of SMART Notebook interactive software. She also shared this video to remind us about not interfering with a student's creativity. Does there always need to be a right answer? As Heather showed us the SMART Response VE Concept Mapping and Word Cloud Widgets from the SMART Exchange, I immediately began to think about how I could use these in my first grade computer class, as well as my high school business classes.

SMART Exemplary Educator Sherri Desseau from Tacoma, Washington, shared how she worked with her school district's special education population to effectively use SMART Tables. The stories she shared were very inspiring. I know a special student back home that I would like to see using one of our SMART Tables.

Our long day concluded with SMART Program Manager Eric Harper who facilitated a discussion about SMART Notebook 2014 and what the future holds. Sorry folks, but that is confidential information and I can't share it with you, but I know you will be as happy as I am about the future of SMART Notebook.

The first day at SMART Headquarters was action packed and full of lots of great information. I'm already planning on how to implement some of the features I learned about today. Looking forward to another great day of learning and sharing tomorrow.

SMART Exemplary Educator 2014 Global Summit--Day 1

I arrived in Calgary for the SMART Exemplary Educator 2014 Global Summit.  It was great meeting up with SEE's that I met two years ago at the airport, as well as meeting some new SEEs.  I quickly got settled into my room at Hotel Alma and headed up to the 7th floor for the Welcome Reception and Dinner.  It was great to reconnect with SEEs I met two years ago, and to meet many new SEEs.

After dinner, education advocate Richard Gerver delivered an inspiration keynote. (
Here are some of Richard's thoughts:

Live a little, learn a little, laugh a lot.

Instead of emphasizing test preparation we should instead focus on actual skills, interpersonal skills, and how to adapt to change. Students need to see why what they are learning and doing is important now, not that it might be important some time in their lives.

He challenged us with the following:
Clarity--What do you stand for?  In education, what do we stand for?
Coherence--Internal/External--Your behavior inside and outside of the classroom should demonstrate what you stand for, and it is important that everyone is on board, not just 90%.
Leadership--symbolizes the best values
We need to brand education, just as a business brands a product.

As educators we need to get out more.  We spend too much time "on the job" and not enough time out in the real world, learning and growing.  We need to keep our creative spark alive.

I'm looking forward to this week at SMART.  I want to live a little, learn a little, laugh a lot, and with the help of the other SMART Exemplary Educators grow. 

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Putting All the Pieces Together

I recently completed my SMART Certified Lesson Developer certification through SMART Learning Space.  I have been using SMART products for the past 8 years, and picked up lots of tips and tricks during that time.  However, it was until I completed the SMART Lesson Development Workshop (Intermediate and Advanced) courses, that I learned how to tie all of the pieces together to create a complete all inclusive lesson.  This course taught me how to use my SMART board for whole group instruction, small group instruction, and independent student learning.  I also learned how to include SMART Response questions for formative assessments during the lessons.  These formative assessments allow me to guide my instruction.  By using the SMART Response, I am also able to collect data, so that I can individualize my instruction to meet the needs of my students.

Now when I sit down to think about the lessons that I will develop for my classroom, I no longer just design whole group SMART board lessons to introduce topics to my students, I design a complete lesson to meet the needs of all my students.

Even though I've been using SMART products for years, it was the courses that I took through my SMART Certified Lesson Developer certification that helped tie all the pieces together for me.  Check out SMART's Training Course Catalog.  I highly recommend their courses.

You can find several of my lessons on the SMART Exchange.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Collaborative Learning a Changing World

After viewing the SMART's video Collaborative Learning a Changing World.  I am just in awe of where technology is taking education.  As technology continues to advance, today's students will no longer be confined to the four walls of the classroom.  Our students will need to be able to live and work in a global economy and I can't think of a better way to be prepared then through worldwide collaborative learning.

In order for this to become a reality it is important for teachers to do the following:
  1. Continue to learn--learning never ends and the more today's teacher can stay on top of technology advances the easier it will be to properly integrate it into the classroom.
  2. Develop a worldwide social network to begin to develop relationships so that when the opportunity to collaborate outside of your classroom arises you have the relationships already established.
  3. Fight for funding.  Let your district know how you integrate technology in your classroom and how you will be able to expand the learning opportunities for your students.  Check out any and all grant opportunities....where there is a will there is a way.
The world is changing and with technology teachers have a great opportunity to enhance and broaden the educational opportunities for their students.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Let the Fire Burn

In two days, the school year will begin. My position of K-12 Technology Integrator has been made permanent. As I begin year two, I reflect back on last year.

I didn’t know what to expect last year. The talk of technology integration across the district, had never been talked about by the administration. Technology use in the district was just a little spark.
I knew it would not be an easy task, but was eager to begin working with the teachers that I had met during my summer staff development workshop. They of course were the first to contact me for help, and were eager to learn how to integrate technology into their curriculum.

Housing my office in our K-1 building was also a great idea. The Kindergarten and first grade teachers were craving technology, but nobody had ever spent time with them. They really didn’t know what they didn’t know. Even the principal at that building began a blog to keep her parents informed of the happenings in the building.

Little by little, word began to spread and I began to meet and work with great teachers throughout the district. A spark had turned into a flame and the fire is now lit.

Fortunately the high school was a recipient of the Classrooms for the Future grant and appointed Aly as the CFF coach. Aly has become a big supporter and an ally. Aly helped add fuel to the fire. When things are not working, or not going the way they should be, I can always count her to help get things moving in the right direction.

Aly and I had the privilege of adding fuel to the fire this summer through technology staff development workshops. We had a great group of teachers coming in to learn about Moodle, wikis, digital cameras, Web 2.0, and podcasting. Many of our teachers are pumped and ready for the school year. They have a new understanding of what technology is out there, and how it can seamlessly be integrated into their curriculum.

I am also excited to begin year two of my journey through education with technology. I had the pleasure of attending the KTI Summit at Bucknell this summer. I learned some great new tools, met lots of great Pennsylvania teachers, and have made some great contacts with people who are willing to collaborate.

Hopefully by the end of the year we will have a blazing inferno that can’t be put out!