Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why the big push for coding?

So, why the big focus on coding? What does coding offer for students? This year, launched the Hour of Code as part of the annual Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), a celebration geared to encourage interest in the field and show that anyone can learn the basics. They have put together an elaborate list of coding resources for students and staff to explore within their classroom. Check out this website for great resources.

Check out the videos below for more information about just how important coding is to our students today:

Did you know:
  • Children who learn introductory computer science show improved math scores.
  • 90% of K-12 schools in the U.S. do not teach computer science.
  • Software jobs outnumber students 3-to-1. The gap is 1 million jobs over 10 years.
  • In many countries (including China, the United Kingdom and Australia), computer science is—or soon will be—required.
  • Anyone can learn the basics, starting in elementary school, but fewer than
  • 10% of students (and just 4% of female students, 3% of students of color) take computer science classes.

Coding Invasion

Regardless of any intellectual benefits, I think it is based on the concept of coding. It's about taking risks and exploring potential and problem solving. No, we will not all become professional coders. However, we can all learn from the skills involved in coding - problem solving, creative thinking, and risk-taking. It's a risk to learn something new and to try something new. It's also a risk to code because the product is not always known.

Hour of Coding Pics; Thank You to Judy Tweeten for her support

See how Daniel has made his mark on the world. What's going to be your mark on the world?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Online Learning

What do you want to learn?

Udemy course guides teachers through a variety of iPad tools that assist with understanding how to use the iPad, use the iPad a a tool as a way of interacting with the students. The course includes over 40 videos exploring topics for the iPad. This course is for any and all educators who have a single iPad, classroom set, or even 1 to 1.

Check out the iPad toolkit for Teachers

Friday, November 15, 2013

Setting up Safe Searches

We are all one click away from being pulled into an information portal, filled with erroneous, distracting and at times dangerous material. We are also one click away from making a mistakenly sharing information not intended for a wider audience, in the form of an email, a wall post, text or chat message.   We've all heard the admonition "think before you post." The new mantra should be "think before you click." It's hard to stay true to this statement in practice, especially as we endure a fast-paced, real-time information onslaught.
Don't Fool Yourself every Search Engine has a different Safe Search button hidden within their  search engine or app browser. 

Google Safe Search for Images

This can be found on iOS
Here's how Google describes the new settings: "In the SafeSearch Filtering section, click the checkbox to filter sexually explicit video and images from Google Search result pages, as well as results that might link to explicit content. If you choose to leave it unchecked, we will provide the most relevant results for your query and may serve explicit content when you search for it." So Google may show explicit images, but only if it's obvious that you're searching for it. No algorithm is perfect, so you'll probably find many examples when this doesn't work as intended.  
YouTube Safe Search for iOS

Here are a few tips to help parents control the content that their child views on YouTube, and on the web, in general. 

Filtering on OS X

The quickest and easiest way to make YouTube kid-friendly is to enable Safety Mode. Safety Mode will screen out potentially objectionable content, so children can view YouTube in a web browser without unsavory videos and vulgar comments floating to the top. You can turn on Safety Mode by scrolling to the bottom of any YouTube page and clicking the drop-down menu in the "Safety" section. If you are logged into your YouTube account, you can lock this feature so it is always enabled. If you have multiple browsers, you have to open each browser and repeat this process to make sure Safety Mode is turned on in each one.

Yahoo Safe Search for iOS

To turn SafeSearch on or off scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the lower right hand corner tap the option to turn SafeSearch on or off. Depending on your current setting it will say either, "On/ Turn Off" or "Off/ Turn On."

NOTE: By default SafeSearch will be turned on. If you turn SafeSearch off you will need to agree that you are okay with potentially viewing mature content in the search results.

Safety Resources

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Competency-Based Education (CBE) grant

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Always A Wild Ride

Where has the time gone? Over this summer our District was busy preparing for our 1:1 rollout. To give you an idea it was like riding a roller coaster and the thrill of the ride is still under way.

Check it out: This is an Interactive Map put together by AEA 267 for the state of Iowa on 1:1 schools. Yes! Howard-Winn is on the map.

But how did we get to where we are right now? With volunteers and many hours over this past summer.

If you can imagine each device came individual wrapped. So as they say 1 by 1 we unloaded the trailer with all the digital devices for the students.

Next, came how do we assign all these device. Students volunteered their time to assist with inventorying, checking devices out to students, and putting cases on the iPads. So on the night of rollout things would be running smoothly. It was a process but we are greatly appreciative the time that was spent so that rollout ran smooth and students didn't have to stand in line waiting for us to check them out a device in our inventory system.

Seriously even though this process was done, and believe me it was a load off our shoulders our work was still not done. We still needed to transfer over our faculty to new device too! Yep we had it done just in time for there Apple PD. We did 10 new computer transfers a day in order to make our deadline.

Apple professional came into our District for 2 days of training to work with our staff. The first day they explored options of iLife. Within the iLife they learned how to integrate iMovie, GarageBand, and iPhoto into the classroom. The second day training revolved around Challenged-Based training on the teaching and learning that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. Both days for the Apple PD there were differentiated instructions for our staff to learn within their groups, and staff were creating, and exploring and asking questions on how to connect with the trainers for more exuberant ideas. Check out one teachers reflection from the 2 day training.

Here is a project a group created on Challenged-Based Learning:

Drumroll: It was rollout Night!

This was just the HS school laptops in which we had prepared ready to go.

Mr. Carver addresses the students about the exciting times ahead for the students.

Local Business and School Board members assisted with handing out the devices to the students.

If you would like to read more about our 1:1 rollout check out the article  Classroom Tech: Do students need iPads and personal computers? written in the Des Moines Register. Or watch the #2020Howardwinn Rollout video created by Northeast Iowa Regional STEM Hub.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Memories To Last A Lifetime

Today was Crestwood High School fifty-second commencement ceremony but it was like no other to say the least.  For those family members and friends who were unable to attend Spring Commencement, the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District was pleased to offer a live video stream of the ceremony. This was made possible with the partnership of JDL Horizons out of Minneapolis who assisted with providing us the set-up and equipment to make this all possible.  

Camera 1 with Sound Board
I'll be honest I had butterflies in my stomach because with technology anything is possible and knowing we were going to be reaching a wide audience from all over the world. 

Camera 2 with Video Mixer

We're "LIVE"

Yes! Its always a great feeling to see posts that we are "LIVE"  and everything is clear all the way in Wales.

Presentation of Diplomas

To manage the cameras and soundboard today we utilized CHS students who showed an interest into the media production. Today I have heard our live video stream reached TX, CA, MN, IA, and Wales. Memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

1:World Learning Initiative

Create a compelling vision, one that takes people to a new place, and then translate that vision into a reality. ~Warren G. Bennis 

Next school year, all students will be immersed in a technology rich environment, which motivates, engages students to learn 21st century skills, as it will be an integral part or our daily life. Sparked by our School Boards vision the recommendation to launch was reached with careful consideration by a School Board Member, administrator, staff members, and students. After a unanimous vote in favor of our 1:World learning initiative on May8th, 2013. For the K-6th grades the students will be issued an iPad and 7th-12th grade students will be issued a MacBook Air.

Why the 1:World Digital Learning Initiative
Our Districts mission is to prepare and empower our students to think creatively, serve, contribute and
succeed locally and globally. What is really important about this though is its not an initiative, its a 1:World digital learning initiative. This is not about the technology; it's about changing instruction in order to meet the needs of our students and to individualize instruction. As we launch this 1:World digital learning initiative with technology as a tool which will enhance learning and allow students to grow into 21st century learners.

This year our teachers have been stepping into the path of making global connection both near and far. From utilizing tools such as back channeling, Skype, ooVoo, and collaborating through google docs. Check out our 2012-2013 school year photo slide show that encompasses all the activities.

Connecting with schools in CT
The strengths to come with our 1:World digital learning initiative will be the transformation of the classrooms from a passive learning environment (teacher lectures) to an active learning environment (student-centered). This will allow for the students to become more engaged in the classroom activities. There are many different ways information can be presented by teacher and student, which allows for the expression of creativity.

Professional development and faculty preparation is crucial to achieving the 1:World learning initiative  We have outstanding teacher's and staff; their professionalism, and passion for learning is the reason we can execute this project. To help staff take these talents to the next level, they will participate in professional development sessions in the fall of 2013 and throughout the school year.

This summary just touches a few key project elements. New policies must be written, laptops evaluated, infrastructure prepared, and communication plans drawn out. Our journey will be profound. Stay tuned to read about our 1:World learning initiative unfold which empowers students to succeed.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) prompts us to look at flexible and multiple methods of representation, action, expression and engagement.  Technology tools can help provide these means, but they are certainly not the only means of achieving this.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing educational environments that enable all learners to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. It encompasses learning models, methods and products to enhance the educational experience of diverse learners. This is accomplished by reducing barriers to the curriculum and providing rich supports for learning. 

Cast shares:
"In today's schools, the mix of students is more diverse than ever. Educators are challenged to teach all kinds of learners to high standards, yet a single classroom may include students who struggle to learn for any number of reasons, such as the following:
  • Learning disabilities such as dyslexia
  • English language barriers
  • Emotional or behavioral problems
  • Lack of interest or engagement
  • Sensory and physical disabilities

Teachers want their students to succeed, but a one-size-fits-all approach to education simply does not work. How can teachers respond to individual differences?"
By offering:
Cast updated Guidelines
Downloadable UDL Picture File
CAST has developed UDL Exchange this place is for teachers to browse and build resources, lessons, and collections.

The following are a few applications available for the iPad, iPod or iPhone that can help support a UDL-based learning environment:

I've compiled a list of ten suggested apps to support teaching and learning within the classroom.

In researching iPad apps for Universal Design for Learning I came across some great resources:

UDL: Apps for Elementary Students

iLearniPad Blog: This blog is dedicated to integrating apps into education.

Bridging Apps: Check out this website they are geared to bridging the gap between technology and people with disabilities to find out what app will meet your needs.

Bartholomew Consolidated School: This district is committed to educating all students using the Universal Design for Learning principles.

The Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland has put together video examples of UDL Practices in the Middle School Classroom.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

edCamp Howard-Winn Wrap-Up

This past Saturday, the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District hosted the first edcamp, unique and participant-driven development for educators. The event, brought together over 60 educators from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. 

Edcamps are really more of a movement than anything, an acknowledgement that we as educators have so much we can learn from each other. The "unconference" format forgoes pre-set agendas, structured proposals, in favor of informal sessions run by people who are passionate about education and collaboration. Each session looks more like a conversation than an "info dump," and the process of sharing experiences, ideas and resources is just well inspiring. You can see the schedule that was formed here.

Here are a few snapshots:

This session discussed about Digital Lesson planning. Educators collaborating about the 21st Century learning skills for students. There discussion lead to the utilization of different Web 2.0 tools Edmodo, Schoology, Google Docs, etc. within the classroom.

Howard-Winneshiek Superintendent John Carver provides a session on how to expand your Personal Learning Network for educators. Wow, talk about exciting John is Skyping in Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1 for the session.

Shannon Miller from VanMeter joined #edcamphwinn for the morning sessions sharing her wealth and knowledge with integrating technology into the classroom. Shannon shared with educators how to organize bookmarks with Symbaloo within there classroom to assist students for finding resources. Check out the poetry Symbaloo for poetry in your pocket month.   

It's always wonderful to hear back from edcamper's about there experience from attending an edcamp. Here are a few blogs to check out Coffee with Cloe and AnIowaTeacher.  Over the course of the day there were plenty of resources and excellent resources tweeted out so if you missed something check out the Storify from the twitter feed for the day.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Making Global Connections

Our new mission which was adopted earlier this year states: to prepare and empower our students to think creatively, serve, contribute and succeed locally and globally. 

The question that people wonder is how are me making our connections? Connections are being formed through twitter accounts, edmodo global connections, news and Skype in the classroom.

When utilizing Skype in the Classroom, its a free and easy way for teachers to open up there classroom and create an amazing learning experience for their students. Recently Skype in the Classroom has know made it available for teachers to apply for free video group calling.

Our District is always looking for global connections to empower our students for the 21st Century Learning. Let us know if you would like to connect your classroom globally and follow us on twitter #2020howardwinn, or  #cadetnation to see our global connections we are making each and everyday.

Gov. Terry Branstad
On March 6th, was World Read Aloud and our District celebrated by Skyping different authors to listen to them read. 

Janet Stevens
Janet Stevens has written and/or illustrated more than 30 picture books and several with her sister Susan.  She read the book called Tops and Bottoms, which has received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the first Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award. Janet did her book reading from Vegas while she was on vacation so it an honor for our students to listen to her read on WRAD.
Mrs. P

Mrs. P an award-winning Free interactive digital storybook destination, which stars TV actress Kathy Kinney.  Mrs. P also reads a story on her youtube channel so don't miss out on catching some of her new digital readings.

Not only did we have connections with celebrity readers with our District we also had connections across our Centers.

5th Graders along with CT WRAD
There was also connections from LimeSprings and Cresco 1st Grade classrooms too. 

To Wrap-up the Week Up

We are making the news, yes as you can tell by the look of this picture its 5:50 am. This is huge for students to arrive this early in the morning to show there Cadet Pride. With the news crew and Nikki Newbrough from KWWL for School Spirit. Check out our morning news slots posted on School Spirt at KWWL. 

TPACK=Total Package

A colleague asked me this week what I was studying within my Masters Program, so I explained TPACK? TPACK is a framework for YOU, and is designed to aide the integration of technology into teaching and learning. Based on Shulman's theory of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), this new framework also draws on recent research into teacher's influences of the current technology climate within the classroom (reference available here). 


Pedagogy, Content, and Technology are recognized as individually important concepts, in which teachers must be competent in order to teach effectively. The overlaps between teacher area are also important, with the area in the middle of the diagram (where all three knowledges overlap) being the desired outcome for educators through the TPACK framework. 

Take a look at this  TPACK video by Royace Kimmons  using a 3- circle venn diagrams to explain the relationship of each domain.

How does this pertain to YOU as teacher?
Source: Too Cool for School? No Way!
Mark Fijor, a professional development instructor in the Arlington Heights, Illinois school district, created a  rich and thoughtful set of blog posts that explain how his district is using TPACK-based ideas and practices district-wide in professional development efforts. In his first post, he explains: our district has done a phenomenal job of providing teachers and students with access to technology. In addition, his teachers are exposed to a wide variety of tools through in-services and conferences outside of the district. However, with this access and knowledge comes the idea of overexposure. Teachers are finding there are many different tools available for a task, and because of this, many are unsure of which is the best tool. Teachers are free to explore on their own and use a variety of tools, but this is limited to those who are truly interested about learning on their own and experimenting. When these tools are shared with staff, many of the teachers are left to wonder how the tools apply to what they are doing in the classroom, or are overwhelmed by the amount of resources available. It is from these dilemmas that Mark Fijor developed a framework and a series of guidelines that address the idea of systemic technology integration. In professional development with his teachers and administrators from various districts and experience levels, he believes the following series of post will address many of the concerns and problems with technology integration in schools. 
Take a look at how Mark Fijor implemented the TPACK model to his staff during a series of Professional Development:
  1. TPACK and Systemic Technology Integration
  2. TPACK and Systemic Technology Integration - Part Two
  3. TPACK and Systemic Integration - Focus Tools 
  4. TPACK and Systemic Integration - Affordances and Constraints
  5. TPACK and Systemic Integration - The Four C's of Tech Integration

So what area of the TPACK framework do you live in as a 21st Century educator?

Monday, February 11, 2013

QR Codes in the Classroom

What is a QR Code?

QR is short for Quick Response (they can be read quickly by a mobile device). They are used to take a piece of information from a transitory media and put it in to your mobile device. You may soon see QR Codes in a magazine advertisement, on a billboard, a web page or even on someone’s t-shirt. Once it is in your mobile device, it may give you details about that business (allowing users to search for nearby locations), or details about the person wearing the t-shirt, show you a URL which you can click to see a trailer for a movie, or it may give you a coupon which you can use in a local outlet.

The reason why they are more useful than a standard barcode is that they can store (and digitally present) much more data, including url links, geo coordinates, and text. The other key feature of QR Codes is that instead of requiring a chunky hand-held scanner to scan them, many modern mobile devices can scan them.

How do you make a QR Code?

1. Find or create a website link and copy the link
2. Go to:
3. Paste the URL link:
4. Generate Free
5. Take a screenshot of the QR Code 

6. Congratulations you have created a QR Code!

Extended Resources

Check out Kathy Schrock's guide to everything as she showcases QR codes in the classroom

Monday, January 28, 2013

Power of Creating Books in your Classroom

The power of creating a book as we roll into I love to Read Month here are a few apps to check out.

Scribble Press is a storytelling app. It use to be free but now cost $3.99 and is for the iPad only.

Scribble Press has 50 built-in story templates that you can use as starting points for a story, or you can choose to start with a blank book. I like the fact that even if you start with a template story you can add to the text or edit it once it is on the pages of your book. You can also add more pages if you want to.

There are plenty of options for illustrating your story. There is a vast array of 'markers' in many colors - enough to provide plenty of options, but not an infinite color palette that would make it difficult to match a color if you wanted to. If you prefer, you can add a photo to a page by taking one with the iPad  camera or choosing one from your own photo gallery on your iPad. There are also some 'stickers' included that allow you to quickly add some images to your story.

Finished stories can be read in the app itself by tapping on the front cover of the book to open it. Stories can also be saved from the app as an ePub file that can be added to iBooks to build a library of student-created books on the iPad. Unlike some other ePub books, you cannot change the font size in the book when you are reading it in iBooks.

The app is practical to use on a shared iPad because a story in progress can simply be saved. The book is saved to the 'My Books' shelf and when you open it up again instead of tapping on it to read it, you can choose Edit from the menu underneath the front cover.

Another great feature is that teachers can create group accounts. Visit Scribble Press Group Account Page to set up student accounts without email addresses. These will work in the App and will allow you to privately share books the class creates on a dedicated landing page.


The developer says:
Scribble Press for iPad includes:
- 50 story templates
- over 500 drawing tools, including markers and stamps in a vast array of colors
- a unique sticker collection
- your own photo library
- an easy and fun to use book layout tool
- shopping cart so you can order printed copies of your book and other cool stuff
- sharing tools that make it easy to show the world – or just your family and friends – your great creation PLUS, you can use Scribble Press for iPad to read books created by other kids, from all around the world!
Here's a video tour of Scribble Press from the developer:

Hip Hip Hooray! Scribble Press has introduce a new app for the iPad called Scribble My Story in partnership with Fingerprint Play, an innovative learning platform for students 3-8.  Scribble My Story is similar to Scribble Press with just a few key differences to support the younger creators:

  1.  It has audio!  Pre-written stories are read aloud, and there is also the option to record your own voice as you write your own story. 
  2.  Scribble My Story takes advantage of the Fingerprint platform so parents can keep in touch with what their kids are learning and what books they are creating. 
  3. There is a wealth of new artwork available
  4.  it's FREE to download!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Maximize Digital Classroom Resources

Have you ever said "If I only had one more computer or iPad in my classroom?" Well maximizing our digital resources within the classroom is at a premium these days as more teachers are using digital devices.  As more app developers are producing for both android and apple devices its getting easier than ever to maximize resources.  So let's take a look into the google chrome web store and app store to see what we can find:

 Sumopaint is fully featured online (and offline) image editor and graphics app with nearly over 1 million monthly users. They have also developed an app for the iPad and added it to the chrome web store. Sumo Paint provides a great feature set with tools ranging from basic shapes to advanced painting tools. Unlike most other other online graphics editing apps, Sumo Paint also has an online community. It’s far from a new app, but it’s one of the standbys that come up in every list of great web apps.

BeFunky is actually a pretty sweet online photo editor.  With BeFunky even the less tech savvy can transform their pictures into amazing works of art in just a few clicks! Not only does this Web 2.0 tool offer tons of neat effects and features, but users can give their creations more character by adding speech bubbles, frames, graphics, text and more!  Changing your pictures into oil paintings, vintage polaroids, or pop art has never been easier.  BeFunky’s sleek and simple tools also allow users to make corrections such as red eye, poor lighting or dull colors in seconds. The best part is that you can find it in the app store for your iPad or in the Chrome web store.

The Google Drive iPad app or chrome web store has improved over the last couple of months to the point where it’s not as robust as using Google Drive on the web or on an Android device, but it is much more functional than ever before. In fact, it’s now possible to create student portfolios through the Google Drive iPad app.  Greg Kulowiec, Edtech teacher, wrote up a fantastic set of directions on using the Google Drive iPad app to have students create portfolios. You can read Greg’s complete post on the topic here. The how-to video that he made I have embedded below.

Let's hear about what apps you are using in the classroom that are found in both the google chrome web store and the app store on your iPad.