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Using Twitter to Create a PLN

November 18, 2012 · No Comments · Ed Tech, MACUL

The MACUL Journal is published quarterly and mailed to MACUL members, who attended the most recent MACUL Annual Conference, MACUL Friends, MACUL sponsors, ISD/RESA/REMC organizations, and every school district Superintendent throughout Michigan.

The Winter 2013 Journal was just distributed and articles relate to social networking in learning.  One of the articles, “Let’s Travel with Twitter,” by Tammy Maginity, is the first enhanced article.  the article is available on the MI Learning Channel on iTunesU and has video tutorials associated with it. Videos include how to create a Twitter account, and how to follow others.  Check it out!

View the entire MACUL Journal here.



Election Impact on US Educational Technology Policy

November 11, 2012 · No Comments · Advocacy

This post is copied word-for-word, with permission, from Hilary Goldmann’s Voices Carry blog.  Hilary is the Director for Government Affairs, ISTE. She wrote this blog post on Nov 7, 2012, the day after Election Day.

After all of the dollars spent, countless advertisements and robocalls, we woke up today to elected Executive and Legislative branches of government that in composition appear very similar to the one we had prior to the election.  President Obama was re-elected to a second term, Democrats retain control of the Senate while picking up at least one seat, and the House remains in Republican control with several races still too close to call.  Nonetheless, when the new Congress convenes in January, there will be some significant changes afoot as committee assignments are made and leadership positions are filled.  These changes in leadership and committee assignments will have a direct impact on education policy.

There are rumors that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi may step down, which would certainly shake things up on the House side for Democrats and would have implications for the workings between the two sides of the aisle.  Term limits will be in effect for eight House Committee Chairs, including Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan, Chair of the House Budget Committee (though it is expected that he will be granted a waiver and continue as the Chair of that powerful Committee).  Several Republican Senators will be term-limited as Committee Ranking Members. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) the Ranking Member of the Senate Health,Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will likely be replaced by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). As with all elections, policymakers may choose to change committee assignments and serve on committees that are either perceived as more powerful or more in line with the needs of their district or state.  Therefore, it is likely that between retirements and shifting committee memberships we will have new leadership and members on many of the critical House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over education, broadband, funding, STEM and other important education policy areas.

Two  of education technology policy’s strongest advocates retired this year, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) author of the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act, and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) a leading advocate for the E-Rate program and education technology.  Judy Biggert (R-IL) who co-sponsored of the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act was defeated in her re-election bid.  We will miss their leadership and strong support of digital learning.

Thus, while leadership of the Executive and Legislative branches of government remain the same, (even Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has indicated his desire to remain for Obama’s second term), the inner workings of the government will change.

ISTE will continue our bi-partisan advocacy efforts to support a 21st century education for ALL students that ensures all high school graduates are college and career ready.


Blended Learning Google Apps for Education Course

November 11, 2012 · 1 Comment · Google

I have been absent from Yes Tech! for too long.  Much of my time has been spent creating materials for a 10 week blended learning professional learning course on Google Apps for Education that is being offered to teachers in my district. It is a lot of work, but it is filling a need for several teachers who want to use Google Apps in their classroom.  The course is a blend of face-to-face and online sessions, with participants being able to choose options that work best for their learning style and schedule.  Each week, they can either attend an in-person workshop that focuses on one of the GAFE tools or attend online at a time of their own choosing.  The course will take approximately ten hours for participants to complete over the course of two months, October 15 through December 15, 2012. The goal is for teachers to explore and become comfortable using Google Apps personally and with students.

The course lives on the district Moodle site.  I use Camtasia to record instructional videos for each topic, and am building the course as I go.  If the course is effective, I will be able to offer the course again and again, with some minor tweaking of the content and activities.  I’m learning lots in the process as I explore each tool in depth so that I can create handouts and videos.

I took a Michigan Learnport online course on blended learning in September, and I learned some excellent online teaching strategies.  I designed the GAFE blended learning course as part of the Learnport course and decided to jump right in and give it a try rather than wait until I had the entire course created, which could have possibly taken months. Doing it this way has forced me to devote a solid chunk of time on something that could possibly make a positive impact in many classrooms across the district.  Right now, all the content is only in Moodle.  I  plan to share the instructional materials in other ways when I can (Walled Lake Instructional Tech Website or a new Google Site).


Walled Lake Spice it Up! Technology Conference

August 26, 2012 · No Comments · Conferences, Ed Tech, PD Event, Spice it Up




Walled Lake Consolidated Schools hosted its 8th annual Spice it Up! Technology Conference on Thursday, August 23, 2012 at Sarah Banks Middle School.  It was the best yet! 325-350 teachers and administrators attended this voluntary professional development event to help them learn new ways to incorporate technology into their instructional practices.  I coordinate the event and it is one of the highlights of my year!

John Sowash was the keynote speaker and he was outstanding!  I thought that he connected with the audience and was inspirational; his message was a fantastic start to the day. He spoke about the importance of setting high expectations, including projects where students create and publish to a world-wide audience, and the critical need to teach tech/info literacy skills.  His stories and visuals drove his points home.

We used Edmodo as a platform for presenters to share resources and for attendees to ask questions and post ideas. Hopefully the conversation will continue after the conference!   116 people visited the site, so roughly a third of our attendees used Edmodo during the conference.  Edmodo was new to most of the attendees, so using it for the conference introduced the tool to them, which was great – my guess is that many will now use it with their colleagues and students.

The conference came just a few weeks after all the teachers in the district received a new iPad and laptop. We are so fortunate! I wish we had scheduled more beginner iPad sessions.  Of course there are plans to offer a variety of training & support in the next month or so!

The conference would not be possible without the Walled Lake presenters, who volunteered their time to plan and share their experiences with their colleagues.  They were fantastic!  Thank you JP Arens, Jon Bison, Jennifer Bond, Laura Brown, Kim Chumney, Lynn Dunn, Cindy Goris, Dennis Graham, Barbie Green, John Gregg, Krista Harmsworth, Mark Hess, Kelly Holubeck-Gotts, Deb Jess, Laura King, Caron LaBlanc, Jennifer LaCross, Mark Lada, Kim Loszewski, Scott MacIsaac, Michele McKendry, Randy Micallef, Kathren O’Brien, Ryan Ossenmacher, Rob Osterman, Barb Ozminkowski, Brad Paddock, Davida Pesick, Jennifer Phillips, Kelly Reuter, Theresa Robinson, Cheryl Roden, Gina Sartor, Jessica Schultz, Jennifer Shamberger, Pam Shoemaker, David Stanton, Amy Stasak, Renee Valentine, Katie Weingarden, and Jane Wendyker.

The administrators at Sarah Banks Middle School, Brad Paddock & David Stanton, were so helpful and accommodating in the days leading up to and on the day of the conference, and the IT Department was there in full force to assist attendees as needed.  There are so many others to thank; it was a prize effort by many, and is truly an event that positively impacts the learning that occurs in classrooms across the district.



NETS for Coaches

July 13, 2012 · No Comments · Ed Tech

ISTE has NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) for students, teachers, administrators, computer science teachers, and coaches.  A session was offered at the ISTE Conference on the newly released NETS for Coaches, so I made sure I attended.  I enjoyed the discussion that took place among other technology integration specialists like me.  I plan to use these standards to help guide me as I work with teachers this coming school year – There are supposed to be rubrics to go along with each standard, but I cannot locate them –  perhaps they have not yet been released.  The white paper that is available to ISTE members is excellent.

There are six standards and 28 performance indicators.  To summarize:

Visionary Leadership:  Shared Vision, Strategic Planning, Advocacy, Innovation/Change

Teaching, Learning, & Assessment:  Content/Technology Standards, Research-based Learning, Meaningful/Relevant Learning, Creativity, Higher-order Thinking, Differentiation, Instructional Design, Assessment, Data Analysis

Digital-age Learning Environments: Classroom Management, Online/Blended Learning, Selecting Adaptive/Assistive Technology, Basic Troubleshooting, Selecting Digital Resources, Communication/Collaboration with Community
Professional Learning & Program Evaluation: Need Assessment, Professional Learning, Evaluation
Digital Citizenship: Digital Equity, Safe/Legal/Healthy/Ethical Use, Diversity/Cultural Understanding/Global Awareness
Content Knowledge & Professional Growth: Emerging technologies, TPACK, technology skills, technology standards, organizational change, leadership, project management, adult learning


ISTE 2012

July 9, 2012 · No Comments · Conferences, Ed Tech

I had the pleasure of attending the ISTE Conference in San Diego. WOW!   It’s been a few weeks now, but today is the first day I’ve been home and able to do some reflection.  I stayed for a few extra days to enjoy the lovely sunny 70 degree  weather – I visited the San Diego Zoo and the US Midway Museum (time well spent).  The day after I got home, I left again to spend time in beautiful northern Michigan – golfing, boating, and visiting with family.

I learned just a few weeks before the conference that I could attend, thanks to the MACUL organization.  I am humbled to be elected as their President Elect, so I’m looking forward to my year in training from this year’s President, Steve Schiller.

There will be several blog entries coming in the next several days about what I learned at the conference.

I most enjoyed attending the ISTE Affiliate meeting.  The day before the main conference began, a full-day meeting was held and attended by all of ISTE Affiliate group (MACUL-like groups from all over the USA and a few other countries) leaders. We discussed ideas and strategies to make our respective organizations stronger.  I appreciated all of the networking opportunities and feel proud to be a part of MACUL, one of the largest and most vibrant affiliate groups.  Our Executive Director, Ric Wiltse, is on the ISTE Board and had a role in planning and facilitating the meeting – I also learned that he was elected to be ISTE’s new treasurer!

I attended the conference through a “MACUL lens” – looking for ideas to tweak or replicate, hunting for presenters that we might want to invite to our conference, and networking with ed tech leaders from other states. Overall, I left the ISTE Conference with a strong feeling that MACUL serves and leads its members in innovative ways that make a difference at the classroom level.



Apply to Participate in the 2012 AT&T/MACUL Student Technology Showcase

May 14, 2012 · No Comments · Advocacy, MACUL

On behalf of AT&T and MACUL, we would like to invite you to participate in the Lansing Student Technology Showcase scheduled for November 28, 2012. We are looking forward to having you and your students join us. The Showcase has always been an exciting opportunity for students to showcase their projects to their state representatives and senators.

Registration is now open and you can register online at: and then follow the registration link. Please use care when filling out the registration since the text will be used in the showcase booklet. You will have the opportunity to edit/change your project description.

This is a wonderful opportunity for teachers and students to show their legislators (at the MI Capitol Building) how technology positively impacts learning.  It’s a great advocacy experience for kids!


Apply for a MACUL Grant

May 14, 2012 · No Comments · grant, MACUL

Do you have an idea for a project that involves effective instructional uses of the computer or related-equipment?  Apply for a MACUL grant!  Projects should focus on an instructional use of the computer or related equipment, which has the potential of being replicated in other educational settings.

Grant limit: $1500

Deadline:  noon, June 15, 2012

See the requirements and grant writing tips on the MACUL website.


Google Docs Lesson: Fakebook

May 13, 2012 · No Comments · Ed Tech

I have been facilitating “Introduction to Google Apps” workshops across the Walled Lake Consolidated School District in preparation for a full-scale implementation of Google Apps in the fall.  I am finding that many teachers are anxious when they think about the changes that will occur next school year when students use cloud-based productivity applications (Google Apps for Education) instead of productivity software (MS Office) that they have been accustomed to using for a decade or so. Changes are never easy, so the teachers’ feelings are normal and expected.

I’ve found that the best way to help alleviate their concerns is to show them Google Apps for Education, help them use it, and recommend some file management strategies (see resources here).   Once they log on and see how easy it is to create, edit, and share files, a little bit of their fears subside.  When they explore the instructional benefits due to the collaborative features, they often begin to feel a bit excited.

Here is an example of a teacher who decided to not wait until next fall to begin using Google Apps with students; she dove right in now.  Amy Kositzke, a 8th grade English teacher at Clifford Smart Middle School, wanted her students to develop a deeper understanding of literary characterization. She wanted her students to focus on a character of a book they had recently read using the three elements of physical appearance, actions/behavior/speech, and interactions with others.  To do so, she found a template that was shared by another Google Apps-using teacher at The template was created with Google Presentation, and it looked like a Facebook page.  Most of Amy’s students were familiar with Facebook, and embraced this assignment with enthusiasm. See screenshot of a student example of a Facebook profile page of a character from the popular novel The Hunger Games below. Other slides (not shown) include interests and photos.

I asked Amy if she needed to do much direct instruction to help her students use Google Docs for an assignment like this.  She replied that she set up the framework, helped them log on, showed them how to save a copy of the file and let them go.  The students were familiar with PowerPoint and found the editing features to be similar in Google Presentation.  She plans to modify the lesson a bit for next year to include more differentiated learning.  Amy discovered that she could import slides from other presentations, so she imported a slide that included the assignment rubric to make it easy for her to grade the student projects easily and without paper.

I’m confident that the teachers will enjoy using Google Apps for Education with their students next year, thanks to creative teachers like Amy, who blaze the trail.  I look forward to sharing other examples here.


iPads: Observations & Thoughts

April 27, 2012 · No Comments · Classroom Examples, iPad


A couple of Special Services teachers in my district (Jen Shamberger, Speech and Language Pathologist and Katie Weingarden, Social Worker) wrote a proposal to pilot the use of an iPad with the students they work with.  They spent a considerable amount of time researching apps and figuring out specific ways to use an iPad with their students.  They have been using it for a month or so, so I wanted to find out how it was going.  I visited Oakley Park Elementary School this morning and was able to observe Jen work with three students, and then afterwards we were able to spend some time chatting about the pilot.

Jen shared an example of an experience that has stuck in her mind that shows the positive impact of using the iPad with small groups of students.  She recalled a day when she was working with young ASD children using First Phrases, an app that helps young learners develop sentence structure by hearing, seeing, and then saying combinations of nouns and verbs.  One of the situational examples was of eggs breaking and making a big mess, which was very funny to her students.  They giggled and laughed and engaged with the learning activity, and with her, in ways that she had not experienced before.  Jen explained that often ASD children tend to engage with a toy or an activity, and tune everything else out.  She felt that this activity, made possible with images and sound on the iPad, prompted the students to engage in the learning activity as a shared experience. Jen’s eyes lit up as she told this story; it was obvious to me that she connected with her students that day and that it was professionally gratifying.

A few other apps that she feels are effective for the development of speech and language skills include:

  • Conversation Builder, an app that helps children learn to have multi-exchange conversations with their peers in a variety of social settings.  Being able to converse with others helps in developing relationships. Students are presented with a situation, and they need to decide if they will introduce themselves, ask a question, make observations, or change the subject.  The app records the conversation for play back.
  • Articulation Station, an app to help users learn to pronounce sounds more clearly. Images represent target words to be practiced in fun-filled activities.

Collecting data to record the progress of specific skills for each student is important.  Some of the apps have built-in data collection features, which is convenient; others require coming up with a concrete plan to assess and collect information.  Jen and Katie are collecting a variety of data and are working on figuring out the best way to collect information to show growth and share with others.

Jen recognizes that the iPad may not work for all students at all times.  For example, one of her students is unable to use the iPad without stimming on it (basically, hitting all the buttons repetitively).  Others do better with more traditional materials.  She also recognizes that “it’s all about the app,” that some are high-quality and others are not.  She loves the ease of creating learning activities according to individual needs of students, and was pleasantly surprised that planning and creating lessons is not as time consuming as she thought it would be. Jen is able to take her own pictures and quickly import them into learning activities.

After just a short time, it’s apparent that the iPad pilot is going well, and I look forward to examining the data and the pros/cons in a few more months!