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Showing posts from 2014

14 Best or Worst from 2014

As I reflect on 2014, I want to share 14 of the best and some of the worst from 2014.

1) Most acknowledged blog post -- Mystery State Skype

I received the Editor's Choice Content Award from SmartBrief for my post on the Mystery State Skype. I also had the opportunity to talk with by Larry Jacobs on Education Talk Radio -- (click here to go straight to archive of radio show).

2) Most visited blog post -- Digital Storytelling and Stories with the iPad


3 & 4) My favorite post -- Harnessing Powerful Ideas: Leading One-to-One

This post was my favorite to write because it helped me collect many ideas about one-to-one, and place it in one space -- my post. Furthermore, I absolutely loved creating the graphics for this post. It was my first experiment with using Canva.


5) Favorite new(ish) tool (besides Canva) -- Pinterest

While Pinterest isn't new, it so happened to be new for me. I had an account before 2014, but it was during this past year that I really recognized the power of Pin…

Formative Assessment with Plickers

Formative assessment helps teachers make data-informed decisions to plan for and/or adjust instructional activities, identify potential misconceptions, monitor the pace of instruction, etc.

While there are many ways to formatively assess students, I recently saw Eric Sheninger use Plickers during his workshop at the Ventura County Office of Education, and thought, what an easy and inexpensive way to quickly assess groups!
.@E_Sheninger Using Plickers #l3vcoepic.twitter.com/rEHcTMgNKb
— Tracy Watanabe (@tracywatanabe) November 7, 2014 Purpose and benefits
Collect data from multiple choice or true/false questions from a group.View data as a group snapshot in a graph, or view individual data from audience.Quick, low-tech tool to use, especially when you don't have the budget for clickers.Technology and prep Teacher/Facilitator creates an account at Plickers.Download app for portable device: iTunes or Google Play.Print out a set of reusable cards.  Add class(es).Create questions.Getting …

Mystery State Skype

Mystery State Skype isn't a new idea, it's basically taking learning geography and placing it in a game format like Twenty Questions via Skype, by asking questions to guess the location of the other classroom. Not only does this connect students from across the country (or globe), but it also gives a context for students to apply geography with critical reasoning, collaboration, communication, digital citizenship, and information fluency -- 21st century skills.

Learning standards

What should your students research? I recommend looking at your standards to know what is expected of your students as a starting place.
Geography standards -- History-Social Science Content StandardsConsider the research writing standards (see CCSS ELA Writing Standards #7 - 9)Converse and collaborate with diverse partners -- CCSS ELA Speaking and Listening #121st Century Skills -- ISTE Standards for StudentsNote that your students will read informational text for a specific purpose Create a graphic or…

Formative Assessment and Google Forms

Formative assessment informs educators about student learning, and when done correctly, it also informs the students how to improve and move forward with their next goal. Teachers must know how to use the data to drive their instruction.


Formative Data by Tracy Watanabe - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Gleaning results from the data and providing specific feedback must be timely, which is why I like using Google Forms (along with other tools).

Why Google Forms

While there's a plethora of tools that can be used to collect formative data, I am going to focus on Google Forms.

Google Forms is an awesome time saver for collecting data in surveys, assignments, mindsets, exit tickets, etc. It aggregates the data collected into a Google Spreadsheet, and gives me a summary of the data in nice graphs as well.

For example, below is a Google Form used by a high school teacher. He told me that this tool is a time saver because he can quickly see which questions hi…

Introduction to iPads iOS 7: Part 1--Hardware

How does a teacher start to use iPads in the classroom? This post will include the basics for getting started. Part 1 focuses on the hardware fundamentals with iOS 7, while Part 2 focuses on iPad integration in the classroom.

Hardware basics
Turning on / off the iPad: Hold the sleep button for five seconds until you see the apple appear on the screen to turn it on. To power down, hold the sleep button for five seconds, then  "slide to power off."
Putting the iPad to sleep: Press the sleep button. To wake it up, press either the sleep button or the home button. Use this feature to save the battery or to have students' full attention.Open an app: Tap once on the app you would like to open. If it is not on the first page, you can swipe through the pages with your finger to look for it. If you have many apps/pages, then you can find it with the Spotlight search. Just go to your Home screen by pressing the home button, and swipe down from the middle of the screen, then the sear…

Harnessing Powerful Ideas: Leading One-to-One

How you set up and lead one-to-one is based on your vision for one-to-one. So, what's your vision?



Why 1:1? How will students use the tech? For what?

The purpose of one-to-one is to give the students ubiquitous access to learning. The device itself is not the purpose of one-to-one -- augmenting students' learning is. Therefore, it's essential to know what change you want to see in your district/school that one-to-one can support.
What learning do you want to see, and how will technology make that possible?What does that look like? How will the students use the technology to accomplish those goals? For me, it's simple, I want to see students using their critical thinking to create, collaborate, communicate, and contribute as digital citizens.



How does 1:1 connect to and support other district or site initiatives?

One-to-one is a learning initiative, and not a technology program. It should not be treated as something separate or as an add-on. It needs to directly connect to…

Core Tech for Math Common Core Standards #ISTE2014

In this post, my focus is sharing some of the math resources that I heard about during "Core technologies for the Common Core" by Kyle Brumbaugh and Elizabeth Calhoon at #ISTE2014. I'll also add a few ideas of my own.

Math in the real world

Students should be able to apply mathematical concepts to real world issues. In the real world, math doesn't come in a box labeled, "Today you will only use your multiplying with fractions skill." In the real world, students must use critical thinking to solve problems.


As math is taught, it must be relevant to our students by connecting to the real world. Technology can assist in relevancy by giving students access to real-time data, current information, interactive tools, and audiences beyond the four classroom walls.
Use appropriate tools strategically 

Students are asked to choose appropriate tools strategically when solving math problems. Appropriate tools include traditional tools such as rulers, protractors, etc.,…

Core Tech for Learning with ELA Common Core #ISTE2014

One of the #ISTE2014 sessions I attended was "Core technologies for the Common Core" by Kyle Brumbaugh and Elizabeth Calhoon. They had a great introduction to the Common Core and a plethora of helpful tools.

In this post, I will share some of what I learned from them, and add in a few more resources, ideas, and tools.

ELA Text Complexity

Readability levels are an important ingredient for figuring out text complexity. Reading Standard 10 specifically states that students must read complex text, "Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently."

Text complexity reminds me of a s'more. It contains three main parts, and while you can talk about each ingredient separately, it's not really a s'more until you put them all together.


Tools for readability

Have you ever wondered if the text on a website is the appropriate reading level for your students? Here are some tools for assessing the quantitative measures of …

My #HackEd2014 Summary and Reflections

One of my favorite conferences is ISTE Unplugged / Hack Education. The schedule of the discussions is decided the day of the conference based on the interests of the participants.
What is appealing to me about Hack Education is the small group setting that fosters deep discussions, and the organic nature of the conversations that are completely based on the group's expertise and ability to ask probing questions. I always feel like I walk away smarter.
My notes for some of the sessions are illustrated below as sketchnotes with thinglinks/interactive links, bullet points, or as the main points I Tweeted out.
Personalized Learning - facilitated by Barbara Bray
Click here to view above image with thinglink
1:1 Deployment
Click here to view above image with thinglink
Smackdown Official HackEd Smackdown sharing.Tracy's HackEd Smackdown notes.
Community, Global Connections using tech to build relationships

Click here to view above image with thinglink
Agency & Self-Direction in Education

Writing 2.0: Technology-Rich Approach to Common Core Writing

What skills are most desired by employers? On most lists, communicate effectively is the number one desired skill.

How do we communicate? We communicate face-to-face, in writing, through various technologies, and multimedia.

What is does it mean to be literate? Being literate is being able to effectively communicate.

Therefore, every classroom must teach digital literacy as part of literacy, and not something separate.

Why have technology-rich writing?
Writing is a huge piece of literacy. Writing should occur across content and grade levels.

Common Core writing requires students to create and publish writing online, and to interact and collaborate with others.
Writing Anchor Standard #6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. We must design lessons that incorporates digital mediums for students to communicate and collaborate with others.

"(Students) are no longer passive recipients of information but …

Chromebooks, Chrome Web Store, and Add-Ons

There's a lot more to Chromebooks and Google than meets the eye!

I've been learning as much as I can about Chromebooks, the Chrome Web Store, and Add-Ons since we are a Google Apps for Education district and have Chromebooks as our One-to-One devices at our high school, and have many carts at our other campuses. 

How are Chromebooks different?

Chromebooks have a web based management council. This means they:
update themselves;boot up in less than 10 seconds;cannot have software installed on them;can install apps and extensions through the Chrome Web Store (including a plethora of Educational Apps);can do most anything online via the Chrome browser;and, start up by logging onto the computer with their Google password, then straight into Chrome.
What do we need to know about the Chromebook hardware?

There are different types of Chromebooks. The one we are using in our district is the Samsung. They are light (2.42 pounds) and have a battery life of approximately 6.5 hours.

Their …

21st Century Literacy, Communication, and Blogging

What does it mean to be literate? Traditionally, being literate meant the ability to read and write, a trademark of being educated. In essence, it meant the ability to communicate face-to-face and in writing.
The Internet has changed what it means to be literate because communication; writing; and how we retrieve, share, critically evaluate, and synthesize information includes digital fluency, which requires a new set of skills.

The development of this new skills set affects online reading comprehension and literacy (Coiro, 2007; Leu et al., 2005; Leu, Zawilinski, et al., 2007). Those who harness the power of the Internet have increased reading comprehension online relative to those who lack online reading skills regarding locating, critically evaluating, synthesizing, and communicating information (Coiro, 2011).

Therefore, we need to change how we teach literacy. Literacy must include sophisticated Internet searching techniques; evaluating the validity and reliability of the c…