Hello and Happy New Year! That may sound odd on January 27, 2018, but it’s been over a MONTH since I’ve posted to my blog in mid-December. There are a variety of reasons for this, but rest assured I’m not becoming a “blog fader.” 🙂  This may be the longest lapse in blog posts for me here in over a decade, however, so this at least deserves an acknowledgement if not a partial explanation.

I need to publish a new podcast episode here which will address several of the things I’ll highlight in this post. For now I thought I’d share a few updates about a variety of projects, events, and initiatives which relate to educational technology that I’ve been involved with in the last month and are upcoming. I’ll include lots of links in case you want to “dig deeper” with any of these topics. Also please feel free to reach out directly to me on Twitter @wfryer with questions, comments or feedback.

EdTech Situation Room Episodes and Twitter Updates

I’m continuing to co-host a weekly educational technology news webshow and podcast called “The EdTech Situation Room” (@edtechSR)  with Jason Neiffer (@techsavvyteach). I generally produce those podcast episodes right after the show is finished at 10 pm central time on Wednesday nights, so that “digital publication channel” is definitely one of my main, weekly sharing spaces now. Twitter (@wfryer ) is also a primary sharing channel for me too. As I find news articles and resources worthy of sharing, in addition to Twitter I also share with Flipboard in several different magazines (9 to be exact) and on Pocket.

A lot of my educational technology reading ends up on the weekly show notes / links page for EdTechSR, which is an embedded Google Document Jason and I co-create each week. I also continue to use Twitter lists to filter and find interesting articles to read and share. Several of my favorites which I often view in the Flipboard app for iOS and Android are Astronauts, Yodas, Gigaom Vets, Casady, AI, and STEM Innovation. So if you’re interested in continuing to learn with me on an ongoing basis, each of these digital spaces are good places to connect.

2 Step Verification

I am very pleased that before Christmas break 2017, 100% of our faculty and staff at school switched onto Google’s 2 Step Verification for enhanced security protection. This was an initiative we started the previous school year, in Spring 2017, and involved lots of 1 on 1 coaching sessions over the summer and in the fall with our elementary and middle school teachers who received updated school laptops. This past week I shared a short presentation with our faculty. The slides from that presentation as well as a short (9.5 minute) narrated slideshow version are also available publicly.

Minecraft Winter Wonderland

Last Halloween we offered a Saturday evening Minecraft challenge event for our elementary and middle school students, and it was a lot of fun. We received a lot of requests from students and parents for another event, but we weren’t able to pull things together before Christmas. So, coming up on Saturday, February 10th, we’re offering a “Minecraft Winter Wonderland” challenge event in two sessions, 1 for students in first through fourth grades and another for students in fifth through eight grades. This shared Google Folder includes the MinecraftEDU world  (v 1.71) we’ve been building, as well as a document explaining and attributing where things have come from that we’ve included and built.

This past Thursday four 7th and 8th grade students helped Dr Glen Emerson (@emerson_glen) and I add to the map, and we’ll likely have at least 1 more after-school session to enhance the map. Evidently ice boat racing isn’t possible on version 1.71 of Minecraft, so we need to convert the racing area into a water race course. We also need to figure out why students can’t enter Minecarts in the roller coaster starting room, and Rachel (@rachelartist_) wants to help me revise / update the group building challenge area. Things are taking shape nicely, however, and I’m looking forward to this event which will also provide a chance for more teachers and parents in our community to play Minecraft alongside students / their own kids to learn about the possibilities of the environment. Eventually I’ll add links to this Minecraft challenge event to the others I’ve collected since 2013 on stem.wesfryer.com/home/minecraft.

Casady Learns Google+ Community

It’s still just getting started, but before Christmas I launched a Google+ Learning Community for our teachers and staff at school. I titled it, “Casady Learns,” and the idea is to encourage different teachers and staff to share brief updates about student projects, related links, and other updates throughout the year to amplify our shared learning and the work of our students. I’m hoping this G+ Community will prove to be a “lower bar” for sharing both inside and outside our community than the Casady Learning Showcase has been. It’s really challenging to encourage other teachers, who are so busy with so many things, to share their learning and student work online. Seesaw has definitely has been and continues to be a fantastic sharing platform for our primary and lower division (PreK-K and grade 1-4) teachers, but the sharing in a space like “Casady Learns” can be different in content and context. I’m looking forward to continuing to help this sharing space grow in the weeks and months ahead.

Success with TabPilot MDM and Explain Everything Collaboration

Last summer and semester I transitioned our school from the Meraki Mobile Device Manager (MDM) for our iPads over to the TabPilot MDM. The cost is about one-third less, and the functionality available to both technology administrators as well as teachers is much more robust.

In the past few weeks, one of our middle school French teachers has been successfully using the new Explain Everything app for iPad with his students to build a shared / collaborative narrated slideshow about our school to share with a partner school they have in Africa. The TabPilot MDM success involved about 15 shared iPads from 3 different locations, which I was able to quickly re-assign in TabPilot to a single class. This resulted, in about 15 minutes, in all the iPads having the same apps installed on them with the same screen layout. Without an easy-to-use mobile device manager, this process could have taken MUCH longer and been much more cumbersome. As a result, I’m now a big fan of TabPilot. There are still big differences in managing Chromebooks versus iPads, and I should write an entire post just on those issues. I do love the media production possibilities of iPads in the classroom, however, and am convinced a robust MDM is an essential part of helping facilitate effective use and integration of iPads with students at school.

Success with Multimedia eBook Creation and Book Creator Online

On the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday this year (January 15th) I had an opportunity to lead the afternoon portion of a technology integration workshop out in Stilwell, Oklahoma, for teachers at Maryetta School. We learned how to use the Book Creator online website to create and share eBooks, and it was great! This professional development experience built on work I’d started the previous week with one of our 12th grade English teachers, who has worked with students in past years to help them create picture books for PreK students which they read and share with them in person. This is a slightly modified version of the Google Slideshow I shared with those 12th grade students in helping them learn how to use Book Creator, either for iPad or online, to create multimedia eBooks.

In addition recently, I created a Google Doc sharing “Tips and Lessons Learned Publishing Book Creator eBooks to Lulu.com.” 12th grade students at our school are printing color paperback copies of their books to share with the PreK students, and this has required some PDF file modification to get the book sizes ready for Lulu. (Students are printing 6″ x 9″ books or 8.5″ by 8.5″ books.) This project builds on the spring 2013 eBook project, “Our Favorite Books,” which involved Rachel’s 2nd grade teacher at Quail Creek Elementary School in Oklahoma City Public Schools. I’ll likely write more about lessons learned from this 2018 iteration of this eBook and printed book project. I’m thrilled by the quality of the books the students have created and so excited for this project to be shared more widely both within and beyond the walls of our school community!

Scratch Club

My wife, Shelly (@sfryer), and I, are co-facilitating an after-school Scratch programming club this semester for elementary students. Last year Shelly led a coding club for students using PBS Kids Scratch Jr, so this year’s club is going to provide students with chances to develop and extend their coding skills even further. We’re planning to primarily use free Scratch tutorial videos and curriculum developed by Adeolu Owokade (@dhackdheolu), an educator in Lagos, Nigera who founded the Dhack Institute (@dhackinstitute). Since 2012 I’ve helped lead and co-lead Scratch Camps and Scratch Days for students in the Oklahoma City area, and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to extend my own knowledge, skills, and experience with Scratch alongside Shelly and students at our school.

Makerspaces, STEM / STEAM and Coding Innovation

Conversations continue at our school about providing a pathway for students to learn coding from elementary grades through high school. In December most members of this Coding/STEM learning team visited the “Innovation Hub” at the University of Oklahoma, and I reflected on some of the things we observed together and I took away from the experience in a blog post last December 9th. We have a lot of different initiatives going on at school, and I’m not sure exactly what plans this group will have for the spring, but I hope it will include some additional opportunities to meet, brainstorm, and maybe visit additional area makerspaces. Some of the things I would love to help facilitate this year or in coming years as part of this initiative include:

  1. Bringing David Jakes (@djakes) to campus to  work with our teachers, staff, and administrative leadership team on learning spaces
  2. Bringing NoTosh (@notosh) consultants to campus to work on developing design thinking skills, especially as they can apply to curriculum design and re-design
  3. Bringing Sam Patterson (@sampatue and @wokkapatue) to campus for a toy hacking workshop
  4. Bringing Tricia Fuglestad (@fuglefun) to campus for a workshop on digital art and creativity

Again, I’m not sure what will happen on this front, but I definitely know this is an area and these are conversations which need more emphasis and work at our school.

SeeSaw Webinar about Simple App Smashes

Earlier this month, I helped Shelly develop her slides for a “PD in your PJs” webinar for Seesaw titled “3 App Smashes for Beginners.” The recording of this 60 minute webinar is available online free, but you do need to share your name and email to view it. Shelly shared examples of media projects her students have created using Word Clouds by ABCYaTexting Story, and Shadow Puppet EDU.

At our school Seesaw for Schools continues to be a huge hit and success with parents as well as teachers, especially in our primary division (PreK-K) and lower division (grades 1-4). I hope to continue working with our teachers on the use of student learning journals using Seesaw in remaining months of this year, especially as these digital artifacts can be used in parent / teacher conferences and to help students build a summative portfolio of their learning over the past year.

DigCit.us Website

We are gearing up for several different “Parent University” events at school as part of our digital citizenship initiative, and have also launched a new website to not only support parent learning but also support teacher and student conversations about digital citizenship topics in the classroom during “advisory” times for middle and high school students. It’s still under construction, but the website DigCit.us is the primary digital space where we’re building and sharing curriculum and resources related to digital citizenship. The website includes resources for parents, resources for teachers, suggested questions for “dialog” among students and adults, and videos differentiated by three levels: primary, intermediate, and upper grades.

Upcoming OETC Keynote on Digital Citizenship

In a few weeks on February 14, I’ll be sharing a keynote at the 2018 Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC) on digital citizenship.

This presentation will include some of our lessons learned and strategies employed in our school digital citizenship initiative, and also build on some of the citizenship and advocacy themes I explored in my November 2016 TEDx talk, “Digital Citizenship in the Surveillance State.”

I’m looking forward to this opportunity to learn alongside Ohio educators!

If you have questions or comments about any of these resources, please reach out to me on Twitter @wfryer or share a comment below!

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Made with Love in Oklahoma City