Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Baby Steps: Helping Others Grow Into Using Online Learning Tools

Notes from session at TXDLA Conference
Presenters: Jeanine Wilson - Houston ISD; Pearline Williams-Brown - Galveston ISD

About Session: 
This presentation provided participants with practical tools for helping teachers, administrators, and curriculum specialists to embrace the use of online learning tools to enhance the teaching and learning process.

In HISD, online learning began as a way to help with drop out problem.

One solution was Graduation Labs:
  • Graduation Labs consisted of Credit Recovery and began with this. 
  • Students would come into Labs and work at their own pace and at their own time. 
  • Then the Labs expanded to Original Credit and AP. 
  • The next step was to add Middle School. 
Primary Areas of Focus
  1. Buy-In: Staffing; Technology - Staff were concerned about teaching online; Staff was not comfortable with technology; Focus was first on Senior teachers, then teacher department leaders 
  2. Collaboration: Approach to Dropout Prevention
  3. De-centralized Authority: Independent and Hybrid
  4. Empowerment: Involve Curriculum & Instruction
Staffing (Buy-In)
  • Graduation Coach/Lab Monitor - The Graduation Coach oversees online learning at the campus level.
  • Teacher of Record
  • Campus Scheduler/Registrar/Counselor
  • District Manager - This person is in charge of online learning at the district level and only oversees this; has no other duties other than online learning
Technology used to start intiative:
  • Technology Laptop Cart (15 or 30) - used Title I money
  • Wi-Fi - used Erate money

Collaborative Approach to Dropout Prevention
  • Truancy Caseworker
  • Counselor
  • Assistant Principal/Dean
  • Graduation Coach
Someone on campus has to own it (online learning) and someone at the district level has to own it.

Non-traditional setting (Decentralized Authority)
  • HISD uses Desire to Learn and moved from Moodle.
  • No product has everything. The C& I Department still have to tweak the courses.
  • Left it up to principals on how they were going to monitor the hybrid classrooms.
  • Some students work late hours and need flexibility in their schedule.
Curriculum & Instruction (Empower)
  • Curriculum Review - CI filled the gaps; team effort
  • Instructional Design - helps teachers with building in the online environment and how to teach online
  • Partnerships - reached out to other districts teaching online.
Historical Results
  • Original Credit
  • Credit Recovery
  • Advanced Placement
CyFair has a similar program.
The number of online classes that can be taken is unlimited.

Grad Labs is different from the Virtual School.
Grad lab - there is no charge other than principal having a teacher in campus.
Virtual school does cost and charge for the online classes.

Jeanine Wilson

Pearline Williams-Brown

BYOD: Teaching Smart with Smart Devices

Notes from session at TxDLA Conference
Presenter: Brenda Quintanilla, Crosby ISD

Crosby ISD's BYOD policy is part of their student handbook.

About Session:
This hands-on session will show real-world examples of how you can integrate  smartphones (devices) into the learning process. Bring your smartphone for an interactive experience. You will leave with activities and new ideas so that you can integreate these devices into your own classroom when you return.

5 Simple Suggestions for Making Mobile Learning Part of the Classroom:

1. Make it a Part of the Curriculum Mapping Process
In the planning process, discuss with other colleagues how mobile technology can be integrated with each lesson.  This will help ensure that the use of mobile technology isn’t sporadic and that technology is being used to master the content standards set forth by your state.  Align your implementation with the goals and objectives of your school (which should be aligned or exceed state standards).When you can make it relevant, it becomes practical.

Depending on how you anticipate integrating mobile technology, it may be advised that you steer away from targeting one specific piece of mobile hardware (ie – the iPhone).  Try to find ways where you can leverage the use of all mobile devices, not just one particular brand or subset.
2. Perform a Needs Assessment with Technology Surveys
Few people are familiar with the multitude of mobile technologies available.  After reviewing your completed curriculum maps, determine the gaps by pre-assessing your team using the proposed mobile technology as your framework for the survey.
3. Beta Test with Your Team
Find ways to test out your lessons with your team.  This doesn’t have to be complex – just enough to give you an idea of some of the hurdles you may expect or want to rectify prior to using it in class.
4. Allocate Specific Time for Collaboration
Maybe it’s just been my own experience as a classroom teacher, but if I don’t make time to collaborate, it doesn’t happen.  I don’t think that meeting for a specific amount of time is necessary, but knowing that we meet with the math department every Monday morning ensures that we have time to discuss imperative issues

5. Perform a Summative Evaluation
With administrators, this can even be performed while doing teachers’ summative evaluations.  But if you’re not an administrator, this can still be cyclically done (at the end of a unit, six weeks, semester, school year, etc).
Whatever role you play, ensure that your evaluation:
  • aligns with the original intents of your mobile technology strategy

  • provides timely and appropriate feedback

  • uses established criteria for assessing effectiveness

  • offers room for improvement
Activity One - as a Student - Using QR Codes
Have QR code go to an article that students can read.
Using QR Codes

  1. If you do not already have one, go to your phone’s app store and download a free QR reader.

  2. Scan QR codes and read the information.
    1. Hint: turn your phone to landscape view to see more of the text

    2. Hint: double tap the screen and your phone will resize the text to fit the screen.

Answer the following question:
Based on this article, provide at least one example of how students can us their phone in the classroom.
Activity Two - as a Teacher - Creating QR Codes
Creating QR Codes:
1.    In the internet browser, navigate to the website, image, youtube file, blog, etc., that you want your students to go to.
2.    Highlight and copy the URL of that site.
3.    Open a new browser window and log into any of the free QR Code Generators
a.    Examples: ,,
4.    I recommend (Google URL shortener) is also a good option as it shortens the URL, creating a more readable QR Code, and provides the QR Code at the same time.
5.    Chose the type of data QR that you want to create.
6.    Paste the URL into the content bar.
7.    You can also choose a foreground color if you like.
8.    Determine the type of output.
9.    The program will then generate a QR code for that URL.
10.  You will then copy that QR Code and past it into a document or print it to attach to something. 
11. Be prepared to give an example of how you will use QR Codes in your classroom.
Activity Three - as a Student - Using Google Earth
Using Google Earth
1.    Divide into Groups.
2.    Install the Google Earth app onto your smart phone/device.
3.    Go through the short tutorial on how to use it.
4.    Locate the search feature for Google Earth.
5.    Type or speak “Rome”.   
6.    Google Earth will fly you to the city of Rome.
7.    At the bottom of your phone window there is a black slide bar. 
8.    Touch it and pull it up.
9.    Scroll through the featured locations shown there. 
10. Find the location that is assigned to your group.
a. Quirinal Palace
b. Santa Maria In Trastevere
c.  Monument of Victor
d. Plaza del Popolo
e. Piazza San Pietro
f.   Trevi Fountain
g. Basillica di Santa Maria
h. The Vatican Museum
i.   Castel Sant’Angelo
j.   Colosseo
11. Press down on the picture of your group’s location.
12. You should see a short areal flyby video.
a. Note: Turn your phone to landscape view so you can read the text information about the location at the top of the screen.
13. When the move is done, tap on the location on the screen.
14. This should take you the internet and provide you more information about the location. 
15. Write down 3 things about your location.
16. Tap the back button to get back to google earth.
17. Tap on the X in the video to close the video screen.
18. Now share your location by send it to me
19. Let me know when you are finished.
20. Be prepared to present your 3 pieces of information about the location
Students must connect to the district's Wi-Fi when using mobile devices in the classroom.
Teachers spot check phones by having the students hold up their phones.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CIPA, Safety, and Social Networking

Notes from session at TxDLA Conference

Presenter: Diane Edgar, Education Service Center Region IV

Session Description: What does your best friend, your boss, and your cousin have in common? It's likely they have been "friended" by you! Social networking is a powerful communication tool but it is also a play ground for predators. Explore the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  • 1 out of every 7 youth in the US received an online solicitation.
  • 1 out of 11 youth received an aggressive online solicitation
  • 1 out of 25 were targeted by online predators.
  • 900 cases were tried in Texas last year and all were prosecuted.
  • 12-15 Yr Olds are victimized at the rate of 84% higher than the general population
  • Only a fraction of all episodes was reported.
  • This is because the students don't want to lose their privileges.
  • 1 out of 4 of the youth who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told an adult. They don't want to lose privileges.
Texting in schools
  • 62 percent of students can have phone at school but not in class
  • 55 percent of teens report texting in class

Out of all Internet crime, only 1 percent is contributed to sexual predators.
40 to 50 percent is contributed to cyberbullying

CIPA - Children's Internet Protection Act 2001
BDIA - Broadband Data Improvement Act Title II
Check out what Del Valle ISD is doing for their CyberSafety initiative:

TxDLA Keynote - John Quinones

Notes from Keynote session at TxDLA Conference

Keynote Speaker: John Quinones, Co-anchor of ABC's "Primetime"

"From Migrant Farmworker to Network Television Anchorman"

John Quinones serves as a correspondent for "What Would You Do"

It's all about Distance Learning today.
When John started in news, he had to attend meetings, etc in person; Now a lot is done via Skype.
He currently records narrations on his "mactop" and it sounds just as good.
Social media is a two way street for communcation.
Social media changed news - used to be reporters telling stories - now we all tell stories.

John was born in the poor neighborhoods of San Antonio.
His dad was a janitor and mother was a housekeeper.
He couldn't speak English growing up.
There wasn't any type of Bilingual Education in those days.
His teachers couldn't speak Spanish.
His father lost his job and they all became migrant farm workers.
They picked cherries for 75 cents a bucket.
Being a migrant worker taught him the lesson of having a family working together.
His father asked, "Do you want to do this all your life? or Do want to get an education?"
The Upward Bound Program helped him. He attended remedial classes on Saturday through Upward Bound.

He always wanted to be a reporter.
He started off by joining drama class in school.
This helped him come out of his shell because he was extrememly shy.
He wanted to attend college but his teachers advised him to look at vocational programs, with the exception of one teacher who pushed him towards journalism. That was the one teacher who believed in him.

He worked 3 jobs during college.
At 18, he got an internship for a country radio station. He worked for $2.00 an hour.
His would feed the horses at the radio station but was able to practice at the recording studio at night.
He then proceded to do commercial tasks at the radio stations.
On Sunday nights at 2:00 in the morning he got to do the news.
This was a perfect time for him to "mess" up.

He was always told that he couldn't do it and that he wouldn't make it.

He, then won a fellowship to attend a New York broadcasting school and his career took off from there.
His first story was about Immigration.
He posed as a Mexican immigrant trying to cross the border.
He met a smuggler and documented his journey across the Rio Grande.
In Chicago, he got a job as a dishwasher for a restaurant.
He slept in the basement and was never paid for working at the restaurant along with seven other immigrants.
He confronted the owner.
After the story aired on TV, the restaurant was shut down and the workers were granted visas.

"I see journalism as a dark room. The one holding the candle is the journalist. They are the ones who illuminate; who show the light."

He used to get punished for speaking Spanish in school and then in 1995 he got a job for ABC news to be a correspondent in Nicaragua because he could speak Spanish. He found this to be quite ironic.

He worked in Central America for 10 years.
He wanted to work for Primetime and 20/20 and they would never hire him.
However, he wasn't going to give up.
He wanted to do a documentary on children who lived in sewers in Latin America.
He did the documentary with his film crew from a news stations he worked at.
He gave the documentary for PrimeTime to air on TV.
They did and raised millions. It is called "Los Ninos of Los Andes"

"What Would You Do" TV Show
When you see something that is disturbing to you, what do you do?

"Don't worry about talking to the movers and shakers. Talk to the moved and shaken."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

10 Hands On Tools to Boost Creativity & Projects

Notes from SXSWedu session
Presenter: Charles Wood
Email address:

"We lack fun in education"

Who is the most creative? It's the kids.

Why do we care about innovation? Because it's important for our student's current and future lives.

Why these 10 hands-on exercises? To boost creativity.

Four categories for exercies:
  1. Warmups
  2. Early successes
  3. Projects
  4. Collaboration/Directed creativity

What's new?  (Warmup)
  • Find real, everyday examples from the world around us
  • Pass them around to the students
  • Get conversations started about the example/object
  • Example: A can of Coke Black was passed around the room - it doesn't exist anymore, ask why?
       Lessons Learned:
  • Creativity is the foundation; Get conversations stared
  • Creativity is not the same as innovation
  • Learn to see the potential in any idea

Two Buckets (Early Successes)
  • Form teams of 3-4
  • Each team randomly chooses a card from each of the 2 buckets
  • One bucket contains major name brands; One has product categories
  • Have students combine the cards to make a new product
  • Descibe your new product.
  • Who would buy it?
  • Can you name your new product?
  • Any ad ideas?
     Lessons Learned:
  • Innovation as combination
  • Combining ideas is a key ability for innovation that can be developed

Innovation You (Projects )
  • Tell students, "Create a poster about You"
  • They could include their favorite quote, an inspriational person, a 3D item
  • When, where they have experienced "flow"
      Lessons Learned:
  • Helps identify how and where students are going to be the most innovative

iWish (Ealry Successes)
  • Think of a problem that people face often
  • Form teams, share ideas, and choose a problem that can be addressed by a new app
  • The problems could be awkward social situations, parking tickets, visually impaired
  • Start with "I wish a cell phone could . . . "
  • Grab an expo marker, draw your app's screen on a picture of an iPhone or on the whiteboard and then present it
      Lessons Learned:
  • Then power of collaboration
  • Our ideas might actually be worth something
  • Gives the students confidence.
  • A supportive culture is building
  • Resource: Robert Epstein's book, Creativity Games for Trainers
100 Uses (Collaboration)
  • In teams, ask students to write down 100 uses for an old newspapers In 10 minutes
  • Every ides is a welcomed idea and is openly accepted 
      Lesson Learned:
  • Lowers student's innobition to share

R&D/Prototyping (Directed Creativity)
  • Go to the website and find an image
  • Ask students, "What could we do with this?
      Lessons Learned:

The Innovative Challenge (Projects)
  • Show students something and ask the question, "How does nature solve the problem?"
      Lesson Learned:
  • A simple challenge, add value

Biomimicry (Collaboration)
Biomimicry Institute website:  
  • Put challenge questions at the top of large note cards
  • Ask, "How might we . . . "
  • Write an idea beneath question and pass it on to the next student
      Lesson Learned:
  • Students are building on each others ideas
  • Builds collaboration
  • It's not a challenge or competition
Build Up (Collaboration)
  • The worst idea ever - Write down a bad product idea
  • Write it on notecard
  • Pass it around and each student makes the idea worse
  • The challenge is for the students to make it better
Visioning (Directed Creativity)

Empathy for the Elderly (Directed Creativity)
  • Play the "very senior games" where students pretend to be impaired due to aging 
  • They must then develop a product to help with the impairment
Other Resources:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Course Builder: Google's Experiment with Online Learning

Notes from session at SXSWedu session - Google Lounge

Google's experiments with MOOC started with a "Power Searching with Google" online course.

Three courses have been launched on how to search google.

The technology behind the courses include:
  1. You Tube
  2. Google Groups
  3. Google Hangout
  4. Google Moderator
  5. Google Analytics
  6. Google Docs
  7. Google Apps Engine
Power Searching with Google course:
  • Traditional online course that consisted of 3-5 minute videos
Advanced Power Searching with Google course:
  • A challenged based, self-grading course
  • Presented challenge first
  • Then students chose and accessed videos and text to try to solve the challenge
  • Students created their own assignment
  • They created a checklist - rubric - it was a self reflection assignment
What has been learned:
  1. Diverse students require differentiation
  2. Students want to interact with peers and teachers
  3. Hugh amounts of data enable experimentation - there is a large amount of data that can be obtained from the courses
Course Builder:
  • It is an open source platform
  • It runs on google apps engine
  • Software and instructions for creating and building courses
More information can be found here:

Deploying Google Apps in your District

Notes from SXSWedu session - Google Lounge

Presenter: Edward Doan

Deployment Strategy Workshop
  • Gather stakeholders together to plan
Project Deployment
  • Change Management - this is your professional development and will make or break your deployment
Key Decisions to Consider:
  1. What is the core focus? What types of apps will be used? Web apps, like google docs? Or Legacy apps, like office?
  2. Decide what the role out model will look like?
  3. Decide what rollout model best fits with your organization
  • Factors to to consider incldue time and investment

Rollout Approach - 3 Phrases
  1. Core IT Adoption - become familiar with tools
  2. Early Adopters - gather feedback: enable google guides, who are your trainer of trainers
  3. Go Live - begin adoption
Other Items to Consider:
  • Realistic timeline
  • Careful coordination
  • Reduce support
  • Coordinate phases based in segments
  • Strong project support is needed
User Management:

Piloting E-Portfolio Programs

Notes from SXSWedu session
Presenters: Lennon Heflin, Cynthia Miller, Heathcliff Lopez, David Hernandez, Students from Del Valle ISD

It was great to hear Del Valle ISD teachers and students share about their E-Portfolio journey at the SXSWedu session on "Piloting E-Portfolio Programs." The teachers at Del Valle High School explained how they implemented a rigorous, student-driven portfolio program for seniors to promote the skills needed to succeed after graduation.

Cynthia Miller. a Senior English teacher, shared what the Senior Portfolios consist of, which is:
  1. Research Project
  2. Portfolio
  3. Product
  4. Final Presentation (which will occur on April 10th)

Currently, 420 seniors are creating Senior Projects through Project Share.

Heathcliff Lopez, another Senior English teacher, described how the focus of the Senior Project is to be argumentative in nature.

Lannon Heflin, Project Coordinator of Technology Initiatives at ESC XIII, shared how the Education Service Center is supporing Del Valle ISD in the Senior Project Share pilot. From ideas to how to implement E-Portfolios to "how-to" videos on using Project Share, the ESC XIII staff have been an invaluable resource.

David Hernandez of ESC I shared about the E-Portfolio program they are getting ready to launch with potentially 10,000 students.

What is an E-Portfolio?
  • It is a collection of of digital artifacts representing hard work, creativity, and collaboration.
  • It is a product that demonstates knowledge, values, and achievement
What are the benefits of E- Portfolios?

1. They offer scalability
  • A large amount of multimedia content can demonstrate an extension of more comprehensive content.
  • Students are able to add hyperlinks to external resources 
2. They offer flexibility
  • They allow for single content to be used in multiple ways for different audiences and for different purposes
  • The volume is unlimited
  • They can show student growth over time
3. They offer mobility

4. They offer student engagement
  • Students are able to produce a product
In the future, more cross-curricular content will be added to the E-Portfolio.

The "developmental" is the key to why the Senior E-Portfolios are being done.

Benefits include:
  • A learning community for all
  • Feedback and comments can be given and this is a major part of the Senior's grade.
  • The use of groups has been very helpful.
  • Students can comment on their blogs. They can reflect on projects and share ideas This gives them a sense of community.
  • They allows students to work at home and extends the learning outside the classroom There is a true collaborative effort between students and teachers and student to students

Steps for Success inlcude:
  1. Develop an action plan for 21st century teaching and learning
  2. Consider how e portfolio technology aligns to standards-based instruction and higher-order skills
  3. Answer the E-Portfolio chlallenges of conntectiviy abnd accessbility
  4. Align and allocate resources to further support the use of e-porfolios
  5. Develop a digital culture
  6. Determine how teachers and administrators will support e-portfolios
Student Showcase:
Amy, Darrel, and Kevin shared their E-Portfolios, which included resumes, blog posts, and quick links.

 Heathcliff Lopez shared that by using blogs, students are more honest and reach out more. Face-to-face conversations are not as "open."

Questions from audience:
  1. How can districts use eportfolios with students who are not motivated?
  2. What resources are available to begin implementing eportfolios?
  3. What education do offer students about managing their online identity?
  4. How many districts are piloting eportfolios in project share?
  5. Are students using their own devices?
Cynthia Miller shared how "it is academic social networking" and this is the message that is conveyed to the students.The learning curve for students have been minimal. "We don't have access to computers everyday but we use what we can when we get it.

For additional resources, join the E-Portfolio group in Poject Share, called Piloting eportfolios in Project Share -

I was extremely proud of both the teachers and students at Del Valle ISD for their hard work and dedication to this pilot program and for their willingness to share their learning journey with others.