Saturday, October 10, 2015

Why Augmented Reality Apps are Innovating in Education

Why are floods of people streaming into movie theaters to see blockbuster hits in 3D?

Because it's fun!  So let's take 3D into our classrooms and hook our students interest.  

Watch this video of my students interacting with to two amazing Augmented Reality Apps:

Follow this link to uncover more dynamic Augmented Reality Learning Apps

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Unbelievable How I Connected With All My Parents Using Facebook

I teach in a small rural farming community that is primarily comprised of Mexican and Hmong immigrants. Last year, I wanted to leverage social media to connect and communicate with the parents of my first grade class.  However, I wasn't sure if my particular parent population would embrace the idea of connecting with social media.  So I took a chance and sent a note home inviting my parents to follow me on Facebook or Twitter.  

And here's what I learned!

  • My parents preferred Facebook. Why?  They are using Facebook to connect with loved ones back in their native countries.
  • They understood how to use Facebook. So I did not have to provide any parent trainings.
  • My parents mutually understood that our class Facebook page was about featuring positive things going on in our class. So every parent was very respectful when leaving comments and likes.
  • All my parents have their Facebook accounts synced to their smartphones and could receive alerts and messages immediately.
  • My parents frequently used the private messaging component of Facebook to express concerns or ask questions.
  • I connected with parents who unfortunately stay away from campus because of gang affiliation. And guess what?  I learned that they want their children to succeed academically and transform their lives.
  • Parents and students watched educational videos together that I posted.
  • Parents followed links to articles about parenting and student success.
  • Facebook connected me to my parents like I had never done before in my 20 years in education.

Considering Facebook?

If you have been on the fence about whether to use Facebook to connect with parents I highly recommend you do your homework before you hop in.  Learn all the features Facebook has to offer and pay close attention on how to secure your Facebook page. Lastly, commit to posting daily on your classroom Facebook page to draw in and maintain the attention of your parents.   


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why You Should be Talking About Google "Cardboard"

Are you searching for fun and engaging ways to take field trips without leaving your classroom?  I found a great tech tool that is a throw back to one of my favorite childhood toys, the 3-D slide viewer. 

What is it?  

Well it is Google's "Cardboard" app dubbed "Expeditions" where teachers and students can have synchronized virtual fieldtrips. "Cardboard" is a virtual reality platform to use with a fold out cardboard mount for a mobile phone.  When you get the cardboard folded into the right configuration you slip
your mobile phone into the front of the viewer.  Next, start the free "Cardboard" app, choose a destination and the funbegins.  The software creates a stereoscopic image that completely fills your field of vision, and immerses you into a virtual world.  The viewers can be homemade or purchased. If you choose to purchase you have a variety of choices of cardboard designs, plastic, aluminum, and EVA foam.


Imagine the possibilities of the learning opportunities this fabulous app can offer your students. So I invite you to become adventurous with your students and virtually travel the world via Google "Cardboard".

10 Ways to Change Your Classroom With Google Cardboard by EdTechTeam Blog

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dalanine Johnson: The Benefits of Investing Time into Growing your Professional Learning Network


Educational Technology Director/Consultant
Fresno County Office of Education

5 Ways I Improved My Professional Learning Network Using Twitter

Invest Time in Building Your PLN
The payoff is tremendous!

Click here to see to book summary
This week I was prompted by my Ed Tech professor to improve my Profession Learning Network or "PLN". Before embarking on this task, I sought out advice from PLN expert Micheal Hyatt.  In his book "Platform: Getting Notice in a Noisy World" he recommends a variety of insightful ways to grow your PLN with the underlying premise that it requires a commitment to being active online daily using a variety of social media platforms. He highly recommended Twitter as a useful platform to grow your PLN.  So I decided to use Twitter this last week to grow mine.  Surprisingly my results were phenomenal.  With a simple click of the "follow button" on my Twitter app I connected with educators and Edtech leaders across the country.  Daily we shared useful information to improve classroom instruction and student engagement. Everyday I became more and more comfortable tweeting and adding hashtags to categorize information.  Many educators I followed shared in real time resources they were receiving at several conferences around the country.  Even though I was not physically present I still felt like I was connected to the events they were tweeting from. Overall my experience with Twitter has been very beneficial in growing my PLN and it can increase yours as well.  Here's how.  

Here are 5  easy tips to improve your Professional Learning Network with Twitter:
  1. Tweet everyday
  2. Tweet at least three times daily
  3. Tweet relevant and helpful information
  4. Be selective who you follow
  5. Use hashtags to organize your tweets

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Movenote to Help English Language Learners Retell Stories

Do your EL first graders struggle with comprehension quizzes?  This year I came up with an interactive digital solution that not only has improved comprehension but has improved English language development and raised reading levels.

How did I do it? 

I repurposed the "retelling story rope" that educators have been using for years and "digitized it" by employing two tech tools: Google Slides and Movenote.  You can too. 

Here's how:

First, I created a slide for each component of the retelling rope.  On each slide I included a sentence frame to provide scaffolded support for my EL learners.
Click here to view my Google Slides presentation
Next, I uploaded my Google Slides presentation onto the Movenote for education app. The Movenote app lets you record video alongside documents or pictures to create an integrated video presentation with slides.

Then, I recorded a video of myself inviting my students to go on a storywalk with me.  I narrated each slide to provide support as they write down their answers on the "storywalk" form.  Students can also pause the video and utilize the sentence frame to write a complete sentence.

My Movenote Presentation
Story Walk Form
Last, I created a QR code to directly link my students to my Movenote "Story Walk" presentation. My students use the QR scanner app on their tablets and instantly they are taking a digital storywalk with me. 


Saturday, July 11, 2015

5 Ways to Support Homeboy Industries

130 West Bruno Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of discovering Homeboy Industries while I was killing time before a Dodger Game. Homeboy Industries is a non profit establishment that offers former LA gang members and previously incarcerated men and women a second chance to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Through a therapeutic environment and belief that community trumps
gangs, Homeboy Industries has helped thousands of men and women to envision an exit ramp off the “freeway” of violence, addiction and incarceration. Homeboy Industries provides 
"trainees" with services including mental health, GED preparation and testing, substance abuse, domestic violence, tattoo removal and legal services while attending weekly classes on life skills, restaurant operations, and management in the café. Amazing isn't it! When I entered their establishment I was greeted with welcoming smiles and great customer service both in the bakery and gift shop. The pastries were excellent and best of all seeing young Latinos show pride in their work motivated me to share their message of hope and redemption.

I going to list five ways you can support Father Greg Boyle on his mission to save Latino lives.

  1. Visit Homeboy Bakery Come by they have an assortment of our fresh breads available for purchase. Or you can pick up a morning bagel, scone, pastry or croissant or an afternoon cookie, brownie, lemon bar or cupcake
  2. Eat at Homegirl Cafe Homegirl Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and Saturday brunch, featuring an innovative menu by founding Chef Pati Zarate, of contemporary Latina fare and fresh and baked goods from Homeboy Bakery.
  3. Shop Homeboy Merchandise Homeboy Silkscreen and Embroidery has a reputation for consistent, high-quality production of screen-printing and embroidery with outstanding customer service and turnaround times. Over the past 30 years, our staff has cultivated lasting relationships with thousands of satisfied individual customers, businesses, and organizations. We are also a fair-wage employer that adheres to proper procedures for disposal of chemicals used in our warehouse.
  4. Visit them at a Farmer's Market Follow the link to a listing of dates and locations around greater Los Angeles where you can buy fresh Homeboy & Homegirl bakery goods and merchandise all for a great cause.
  5. Dine at the Homeboy's Food Truck This gourmet food truck is at various locations throughout greater Los Angeles and is available for event catering.

Latina Educators: A Personal Experience by Guest Blogger Adriana Castillo (Originally Published on 7/7/15)

I am really excited to be invited to be a guest blogger for Latina Ed Tech Educator. It is not an old cliché but it is certainly a reality that being a Hispanic Educator in the U.S. offers a different perspective for educational settings. As teachers, we strive to create a learning environment where all students feel free to express and learn from each other’s identities. There is inherent passion in being a Latina educator in the United States. We have faced the challenges, some of us have grown up poor and we see education as the only way to improve our lives. We are passionate about education and helping English Language Learners and students of poverty because we were once there. As a second language learner, many Latina educators know what it feels like to sit in a classroom where you understand half of what is being taught; we know what it is like to be among people who make fun of you because you don’t speak English well or because you have an accent; and we also know what it is like to live in a place where you always try to fit in. In the movie Stand and Deliver with Edward James Olmos, the main character states that we, Latinos in the U.S., have to work twice as hard. We need to speak English well but we also need to speak Spanish well and we need to fit within two cultures. He ends his statement by saying: “It is exhausting!”

When I was a professor at the School for Foreign Students in Mexico City at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), I had a student that considered himself to be a Chicano. He was born in the United States in a Mexican family who always talked to him about the wonders of having Mexican roots. His family had idealized their Mexican roots therefore this student’s dream was to go live in Mexico for a few months to discover his roots. After a few weeks in Mexico City he was devastated. He confided in me that he was distraught and disappointed. People in Mexico City were cruel to him. He looked Mexican but his Spanish was broken. People were rude to him and continuously made fun of his lack of fluency skills in Spanish.

As a Latina educator, I advocate for teachers to go beyond the stereotypes and the popular culture and traditions of a specific place. If we advocate a multicultural approach to education we need to step beyond the clichés. It is our responsibility to offer an honest perspective of the current state of the culture that we will be teaching in the classroom. Even though it is true that Hispanics eat tacos, listen to Mariachi music, and dance a lot, it is important to take a broader look at who we are in order to avoid stereotypes.  

Adriana Castillo

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My Vision Statement

My Vision

I will be consulting and designing technology plans and in- services for school districts throughout California.

  • Complete my masters in educational technology by 2016.
  • Complete an administrative credential by 2017.
  • I will re-establish my consulting position with Pearson Publishing.  However, I would be working within the technology division.
  • Become a Google certified teacher.
  • Network by joining educational technology associations and presenting at educational technology conferences.
  • Hold an administrative position within a school district.

In order to ascertain my goal in five years or sooner I will make a commitment to complete the above mentioned steps.  A master’s degree will legitimize myself as a specialist which will assist me in my efforts in becoming an independent consultant.  To sharpen my presentation skills and in-service planning I will re-establish my consulting position with Pearson Educational Publishing.  However, I would be working within the technology division to gain insight of upcoming curriculum products poised for adoption.  As more and more school districts implement 1:1 digital programs there will be a tremendous need for consultant trainers who are proficient with Google products to serve their staffs.  Therefore I need to become a certified Google teacher to meet this demand.  Lastly, creating networks by joining technological associations and presenting regularly at technology conferences will get my “foot in the door” with some districts.   Establishing relationships will be critical to my pursuit of assisting school sites with meaningful integration of  technology. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Using Video Conferencing Tools To Connect With Parents Who Work the Fields

Unfortunately conference time falls during harvest seasons in the Central Valley.  For many valley educators their parents are back to work in the fields earning a living to support their families.  Some parents may work out of town picking, packing, or pruning.  For many field laborers their work day begins at 5 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. making it difficult to schedule after school parent-teacher conferences. So often these parents do not want to take a day off from work because of the hit they will endure financially.  So what can educators do to meet with our parents who so desperately want to ensure their child is doing well in school but can not afford to take a day off.  Let's connect with them using video conferencing tools.

Video conferencing tools are a wonderful way to connect personally with parents.  Utilizing a video conferencing tool allows educators and parents to have a conversation in real time from anywhere. These tools also allow teachers to share images and files as well without disruption.  Tools like Face Time and Google Hangouts are simple to use on any digital device. Imagine how empowered your parents will feel knowing that they can connect with their child's teacher without financial penalty.
Before you jump into video conferencing please take time to practice to work out all the bugs.  Here is a link to a tutorial video that is useful when beginning to use video conferencing. Next, create a system to collect the contact information of parents who would be interested in video conferencing and the times they would be able to connect.   Last, encourage your parents to continue to invest in their child's education and acknowledge the sacrifices they continue to make to better their family's life.

Cindy Escandon

Friday, July 3, 2015

How Should Schools Change To Promote Learning In The 21st Century?

Let's begin by redesigning the physical layout of our classrooms to promote the "four C's" by transforming our classrooms into learning commons.  For the past seven years libraries across the country are creating learning commons with positive reviews.  Let's do away with the traditional set up of our classrooms which are relics of an industrial age ideal. Take a hard look at your automated assembly line atmosphere designed to produce replica students to act, process, and interact identically. 
Break the mold!  Do away with desks and rows. Bring in kidney or semi round tables with curved bench seating so that learners can easily move around and work with each other.  Clear out the clutter and extra non useful furniture and place movable seating on the floor.  Designate areas within your learning common dedicated to academic disciplines where resource materials are easily accessible for your students.  If you have young learners place materials within their reach and charts at eye level.  Remove cabinet doors and let your learners have access to digital devices, manipulatives, and art supplies. Stop standing at the front of the room and stand in the middle.  Be in the center of the conversation and instruction among your learners instead of at the edge. Environment influences our perceptions, interactions, processing, and creativity.  So change yours to promote 21st century learning.

Click on image for a link on more information about learning commons.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What does it take to be an EdTech leader?

To begin with, think back to one of most famous movies from the eighties, Top Gun.  Remember Tom Cruise's character Maverick. Well, find your inner Maverick.  Become that person who is willing to take risks without fear.  Look at every obstacle as a challenge that can be conquered.  Be ready to question authority and advocate for what is best for student learning.  Do not fear failure. Instead embrace every failure as an opportunity to learn and improve.  Accept that you may have to win over one educator at time but never give up.  Everyone loves a positive attitude so coach yourself daily to never complain.  Constantly seek out opportunities to showcase how technology can enhance student learning and streamline a teacher's workload. Most importantly, it is not just about the cool apps or hardware that hooks them, most of the time it is really about creating trusting relationships with your colleagues that gets them to implement technology. Once you have channeled your inner Maverick then begin your adventure as an Ed Tech leader.