Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hour of Code

Using the Kodable app for iPad, students in our NextGen classroom used some computer coding skills to observe this week's Hour of Code. Hour of Code is an outgrowth of Computer Science Education Week intended to encourage students at all levels across the country to become engaged in coding. Learn more at Hour of Code.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to Take a Screen Shot on an iPad

Second graders in Mrs. Rundquist's class use their iPads daily as they are seamlessly integrated into class lessons. In this video, Noah explains how he practices his spelling words in a virtual whiteboard app, Screenchomp, and then takes a screen shot of the words so that he can save them or send them to his teacher.

Monday, October 13, 2014

ChatterPix App

The Chatterpix Kids app for iPad can make anything talk.  Students in our NGDC class took photos of objects around the room, drew a line to make a mouth, and recorded their voices. The app allows students to share their videos with classmates, their teacher, and parents--another exciting way to publish their research!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Meet our NGDC Class

"Through the Next Generation Digital Classroom (NGDC) strategic design and implementation, Round Rock ISD intends to create “incubator classrooms” at each school designed to foster the integration of new teaching and learning with the help of mobile/tablet technology. Currently, this means one classroom at all 51 campuses will be a designated Next Generation Classroom . . . The next generation classroom will set standards for what the digital classroom can look like in the future and will redefine the way teaching and learning take place."

Meet Robertson Elementary's Next Gen Classroom--Mrs. Marnie Rundquist's 2nd grade class. Throughout the year, we will highlight activities, lessons, projects and thoughts of Mrs. Rundquest and her pioneering 2nd graders.

"This is super-exciting," said one second grader about their experience with the SockPuppet app on their iPads. Here, students planned and wrote an expository piece--a script for their sock puppets. The iPad app recorded the student's voice reading the script, giving it a sock puppet sound, and played it back in a video that students could share with each other and with their teacher. What an exciting way to make writing come alive in the classroom!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pledge to Begin Better Next Year

Now is the time! Take the pledge to do what you can to make next school year have the best start. Here's what you can do now to help you make that awkward transition from summer to a new academic year.

  • Register for professional development that will fill your bag of tricks. Give some time during the
    summer to make your life easier later.
    • Do you need time to work on your website or blog?
      • Learn how to add a Google Calendar that will keep students/parents up-to-date.
      • Learn how to upload newsletters to a shared folder on Google Drive--easy and efficient.
      • Customize the look. Make it personal and interesting to increase traffic to your site.
      • Add a Symbaloo to your site with links to some favorite websites.
    • Do you need to learn how to use your interactive whiteboard as more than a projection screen and dry erase type board?
      • Learn how to use the Promethean or Smart software.
      • Take time to create flipcharts or notebooks that you can use at the beginning of the year (open house, first days, etc.)
      • Collaborate with your team to create interactive lessons that have students on their feet and engaged in their learning.
    • Do you want to become more efficient?
      • Try organizing documents in Google Drive.
      • Learn to keep your email inbox tidy and easy to navigate.
      • Go deeper into Google Docs so that you can create, share, and teach your students how to use them as well.
  • Go through your network files now and delete the things you'll never use again.  Do you really need all 100 photos of your students from 3 years ago?
  • Work on your Personal Learning Network (PLN) so that you have ideas at your fingertips throughout the year from respected sources. Click the link to go to Kathy Schrock's guide and learn how to create your own PLN. Learn how to use Google+ to your advantage.
  • Plan ways to flip your classroom--yes, even in the lower grades. There are some great ways to have a modified flip for students who do not have access to technology at home. If nothing else, investigate and find out what all the talk is about!
Please add your comments and ideas for using time now to create a better start for next year.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SXSWedu 2014

The opportunity normally presents itself once per year to attend a professional conference, and most years my colleagues and I have all attended TCEA (Texas Computer Educators Association) at the Austin Convention Center. This year, however, about half of us decided to try something new and see what South by Southwest Edu had to offer.

Here are my observations, comparisons, and conclusions from the experience:
  • If you're looking for skill-enhancing sessions, definitely attend TCEA.
  • If you go to SX and want to learn tech skills, go to the Google Lounge.
  • If you want to consider the state of education and where it may turn, attend SXSWedu.
  • At SXSWedu be careful when attending panel discussions. Many of them are sponsored and tend to lean heavily in the direction of the sponsor's product.
  • While SX had some new tech product demonstrations, TCEA is the place to see what's coming out and what's going away.
  • At both conferences the keynote speakers are a tossup. Some years they are informative and inspirational while some years they are only mildly entertaining.
  • I appreciated being able to hear Wendy Davis, candidate for governor of Texas lay out her platform on education in a relatively intimate setting. It's important to understand what the candidates have to say when it comes to the things we care about.
  • Personally, the SXSWedu film festival was by far the most enjoyable part of the experience. Each of the three films I saw was inspiring in one way or another.
So in nutshell, the two conferences serve their own purposes. The audiences have an overlap, and most educators can benefit from both. I believe that I will continue to attend both but on alternating years.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Doodles Anyone?

Are you one of those people who has to doodle to listen well? You're in good company! According to a study by psychologist Jackie Andrade from the University of Plymouth in southern England, doodlers remember more than non-doodlers when presented with tedious information. One reason Andrade offers for this increase in memory is that doodling doesn't allow daydreaming which, in turn, keeps a person from attending to what is going on. Doodling requires less brain function than daydreaming but uses enough energy to keep the brain from making a jump beyond the here and now.

Would you like to put your students' doodling to the test? It's time for Doodle 4 Google.  Here is a place where young artists have an opportunity to have their doodles published.  The theme this year is "If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place . . ." Submissions are due by March 20th, and the winner receives a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his/her school.

Find out more about Doodle 4 Google here.

Cloud, John. "Study: Doodling Helps You Pay Attention." Time. CNN, 26 Feb. 2009. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <,8599,1882127,00.html>. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mind for a Change

My resolution this year isn't to lose 20 pounds (though it probably should be), and it isn't to stop making frivolous purchases (though it definitely $hould be), and I won't plan to speak a new language fluently by next year (which would be nice).  Instead I resolve to open my mind to change.

Change is difficult to initiate and even more difficult to maintain.  Just ask someone who has lost and then regained weight. Healthy weight loss involves a lifestyle change rather than a temporary diet. To find success we need to negotiate with ourselves to map our lifestyle change along with a plan to reward ourselves when we do make that change a part of our being.

Not all change is good, and I'm not planning to become a pushover who accepts every change that comes across the path. Instead, I will consider changes openly weighing the benefits against the risks. I'll remind myself that there's always time for worthwhile pursuits.

Today I'm encouraging each of you to join me out on that flexible limb. When change and opportunities come your way this year, plan to be a person who meets changes with the words, "Why not?" instead of "Why?"