Thursday, May 26, 2016

Chrome Music Labs - Creativity at its Finest

Have you explored the Chrome Music Lab? It is an incredible interactive site. The site is a combination of fun and learning in an interactive interface. There are a variety of different interactives that users can experiment with to explore music. If you look closely you can even see some of the science connected to sound and music. 
Music is for everyone. So this year for Music In Our Schools month, we wanted to make learning music a bit more accessible to everyone by using technology that’s open to everyone: the web. Chrome Music Lab is a collection of experiments that let anyone, at any age, explore how music works. They're collaborations between musicians and coders, all built with the freely available Web Audio API. These experiments are just a start. Check out each experiment to find open-source code you can use to build your own. - From the Site
There are 13 different "experiments" represented by different boxes on the main site page. Each of the experiments has several layers. Here are a few basic tips for using the site:
  1. Scrolling over a box will give you the name of the experiment.
  2. Clicking on the arrow will open up the interactive portion of the experiment.
  3. Each of the experiments is a little different. Click, click and click some more to make sure you don't miss anything. 
    For example:
    The Rhythm Experiment lets you set patterns of percussion by marking spots on the bottom of the screen. If you click on the arrows on the side you will get a different set of musicians with different instruments. Press play after you set it up and you have your own composition. The Bongo's and Cowbells are a favorite. (Last one in the experiment.)
    The Spectrogram is a single screen that allows you to visualize the sounds a variety of different objects make. You can even turn on your microphone and visualize your singing voice. 
  4. There is a yellow question icon near the top right that will tell you about each individual experiment. 

I think the site could be used in any classroom where creativity, critical thinking, and curiosity are part of the curriculum. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Polling Students in Google Classroom - Quick Formative Assessment

Google classroom has become a powerful tool in many EdTech toolboxes. Since the Google for Education release of Classroom, it has quickly become a go-to tool for digital communication and paperless classrooms. 

Classroom's communication features include:
  1. Posting Announcements (Links, videos, and attachments)
  2. Posting Assignments (Links, videos, and attachments)
  3. Posting Google Forms (Polls and Assessments)
  4. Posting Discussion Questions (Backchannel and Exit Slips)
  5. Paperless distribution and collection of activities.  
Google recently updated the question feature in Google Classroom to include multiple choice questions. This will be a great tool for to collect formative data from students. The Google for Education Blog posted these 4 suggestions for ways to use the new polling options:
  • Post exit tickets
  • Help students self-monitor
  • Guide student discussions
  • Get feedback on your lesson from students.
Learn more about Google Classroom
Google Classroom Tips, Tricks, and Training Resources

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What are the Essential Skills for an #EdTech Coach?

"If you were given the chance to develop and Ed Tech coach certificate - what college courses would it need to have?"

My first thought is to not focus on the tech tools when I explore this question. I know that sometimes the wow factor of a tool can be a great hook, but wow only carries one so far. For example, my Masters in Instructional Technology courses seemed to primarily focus on some "cool" tools and less on the pedagogy connected to good teaching. Today, most of the tools I explored no longer exist but good teaching is still good teaching. (Ever heard of HyperStacks? I am not sure I remember what these do, but I remember the name.)

Today, I try to always start support educators by asking why questions. If we don't know why we are doing something, I always wonder why we are trying to add tech to do it differently? We then explore how you might approach your goals without tech in the equation. Once we have a pedagogical plan, we can add some EdTech to the recipe.

I always try to emphasize that the best EdTech does not have the power to make a bad lesson great. It can even sometimes make a good lesson not so great. Great teaching must always come first or the power of instructional technology is most likely wasted time.
I hate wasting time!
Here are a few of the resources that might help EdTech and Instructional Coaches support teachers and students.
Here are a few additional resources that might support building a Coaching Mindset.
What courses/concepts/skills/resources do you think are essential for an #EdTech Coach's Mindset?

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