Friday, February 22, 2019

Exploring Grow With Google Resources for Teachers and Learners

How do you complete this statement when creating learning experiences with your students?

When I think about complete this statement, I am always come back to the search for resources, activities, and ideas that can help my students practice and develop the 4 Cs (collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity). 

Don't get me wrong, content has its place in the learning experience, but for me, the true power of content is how it can be used to help students build what many of us call "soft skills". Trevor Muir has a great post and video about soft skills really being essential skills that all students need to develop. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The #ICE19 Conference Experience - ICE Conference Tips and Tricks

This is my 5th and final post connected to the #ICE19 before the conference gets started. I've already shared posts connected to the workshops, featured sessions, the exhibitor hall, and the ICE book store.

ICE Conference 2019
Lifelong Learners Unite
February 25 - 28
I know this is quite a few tips for one post, so my advice is to explore one tip at a time and don't try to run through this whole post in one sitting. I hope there is something here that can help everyone make the most of their ICE experience. 

If you have any additional tips, events, or questions to share, please post in the comments below.

Tip 1: Know Your Why
Planning and organizing your days is important (Tip 3), but if you are only focused on the where and the when you might miss out on a more complete learning experience. This year I plan to develop a mindset connected to these 3 quotes that I will use to drive my conference experience. Having goals before I choose my sessions is important to me.

Make Connections and Have Conversations - Be Present
"Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't." - Bill Nye
Create a Complete Experience & Don't Just Focus on Conference Sessions
"Don't forget to stop and smell the roses." - Walter Hagen
Learn Something New Whenever, Wherever, and From Whoever - Build A Bigger & Better PLN
“I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.” - Albert Einstein


Tip 2: Be an Active Learner
It is too easy to sit in the back of the room during sessions and only focus on the presenter. I know because this was who I was for quite a few years. I kept to the back of the room and took notes. I learned, but I now realized that I missed out on so much. There are so many great educators who are not standing in front of the room who have so much to share. I started volunteering at the conference a few years back and this year I am lucky to be on the Program Committee, introducing speakers, and working in the book store. 
Volunteer at the Conference
If you are interested in volunteering, sign up at - Choose your specific opportunity and a specific 2-hour time slot. If you have further questions, please reach out to Charlene and Lauren at
Play Escape the Conference
Be sure to plan some time to Escape the Conference in the Exhibit Hall! In this session they won't just talk about what active learning should look like - they will actually role model the 4 C's: Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking. You will be working in teams and competing against other attendees to be the first to "escape". After participating in this experience, you will leave with ideas on how to develop problem solvers in your district, design engaging professional learning activities, and learn about innovative ed-tech solutions. Visit to plan out your Escape experience.


Tip 3: Right Place - Right Time - Start Planning Today
Why Are You Attending?
There are so many incredible learning opportunities at the conference this year, so it is important to know your why before attending. I like to start planning my conference with my school's improvement plan in mind. Personal teaching and learning goals are also important (Tip 1).  Knowing why I am attending the conference helps me choose sessions that connect to why I am at the conference. 
The ICE Conference Schedule
A complete list of all sessions, including workshops, can be found at an interactive site that lets you plan your daily #ICE19 schedule.

The ICE Conference uses SCHED to organize the sessions and activities for all 4 days of the conference. The ICE SCHED works on all browsers and mobile devices. If you sign into the SCHED you can save your favorite sessions and create your own schedule inside of the bigger schedule. If you do this ahead of time, SCHED will even email you a daily overview of the sessions you've checked.
The Conference Center Map and the Exhibitor Hall Map
Explore the Schaumburg Conference Center Map, the Exhibitor Hall Map, and the Exhibitor List before your first day at the conference. Seats are not reserved, so getting to a session early is a great practice. There is also an #ICE19 App that you can find in your App store. 
Presenter Resources
Many presenters will share some incredible resources in their sessions. Attendees can also explore presenter resources for most sessions in the ICE Symbaloo of Presenter Resources

Tip 4: What to Bring?
What to Bring
I would start with a Laptop or a Chromebook. Tablets and mobile devices are ok, but there will be sessions where having a full sized screen and keyboard are a huge bonus. I also like to have a pad of paper for some sketchnotes and brainstorms on the side. Bring a refillable water bottle and some snacks to keep your energy levels up. Finally, dress in layers. The temperature can vary a bit in different spaces at a larger conference. 


Tip 5: Organizing Your Digital Resources
Google Drive
There are many great tools educators can use to create collaborative notes and share resources. Google Drive has become my go-to collaborative resource, but it can quickly become a cluttered mess if not organized. Check these links to learn more about staying organized with Drive.
Google Keep
Google Keep is another great resource to create reminders, notes, and to-do checklists. If you use the extension you can even save links to resources on the fly. The Keep Notepad in Google Docs is a great bonus if you are using documents for your conference notes!
Learn More About Google Keep in this post: Google Essentials - Google Keep


Tip 6: More Than Just Sessions
The breakout sessions are incredible but don't miss the Exhibitor Hall, PLN Plaza, Playful Learning Space, and Tech Playground. There 
Exhibitor Hall 
There are some incredible exhibitors and sponsors in the Exhibitor Hall. The hall opens Tuesday night and is open all day Wednesday and most of the day on Thursday. Taking some time to explore the hall can be an extremely valuable experience.
Playful Learning Space 
The Playful Learning Space is in the Exhibitor Hall and features some incredible gaming experiences, esports, board games, and more.
PLN Plaza
The PLN Plaza is a must visit. The ICE Book Store along with a full schedule of learning and engagement experiences need to be experienced.
Tech Playground
Experience the latest in robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, and more in the Tech Playground


Tip 7: Be Present - Find Your Tribe
Make New Connections
Connect with your digital PLN. Connect with vendors. Connect with presenters. Connect with new people. Don't be the anonymous person in the back corner of the room. You will miss too much alone. Find someone new to talk to. Step out of your comfort zone and grow as a teacher and a learner. Challenge yourself to meet as many new people as possible. You won't be disappointed. 
Social Media 

Share ideas, ask questions, and engage in conversations using the conference hashtag, #ICE19You can even share your Twitter contact information with anyone using this quick Twitter Tip that I learned at the 2018 ISTE Conference.
Did you know there is a Google Photos Album where you can share pics during the conference? What will you share as part of your learning experience? ICE also maintains an Official Instagram Account
Introduce yourself and share your daily reflections on your learning experience using Flipgrid

"We learn best when we learn together." - Seth Godin


Tip 8: Organize Your Social Feed
The hashtag this year is #ICE18 and it will be going fast once the conference gets rolling. Jumping into the Twitter hashtag stream can quickly become overwhelming. I always try to remember that it's ok to miss some tweets. Here are a few tips to help organize your social media engagement.
  • Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are great resources to manage the stream of information.
  • Create a Twitter list of presenters and attendees. Lists are a great way to narrow down some of the clutter that such a busy conference hashtag will generate.
  • Have a heart and like some tweets that catch your eye. A lonely unliked Tweet is very sad. Looking back at your 'liked' tweets at the end of the day is also another great way to reflect on your learning experience.
  • If you connect with a tweet leave a comment for the tweeter and get a conversation started. Most educators on twitter are looking to do more than just post and run.
  • Engage with the Exhibit Hall Vendors on social media. Keep an eye open for challenges and prizes shared by the vendors on Twitter. 
  • The site 'If This Then That' (IFTTT) has some great Twitter Recipes to help you save and organize tweets.
  • Particpate is another great place to keep up with your Twitter Chats and Hashtags. They will be a great ally for anyone at ICE 18. Follow Participate on Twitter to get updates on the sites ICE 18 resources. 
  • I have also started to explore Wakelet as another tool to collect and organize tweets I want to remember.
  • Another great place to share and explore is the ICE Facebook Community.

Tip 9: Take A Break - Read a Book or Catch Up On Stuff
CAFE Connect
CAFE Connect is next to the PLN Plazza. Enjoy some comfortable furniture and get off your feet for a bit in this great gathering place. The PLN Plaza is a great place to meet, take a break, collaborate with some new friends, or just explore a new book from the nearby book store. Sometimes a quick impromptu book discussion with a small group can lead to some great collaborative learning. Check out some of the books that will be available in this post.

Tip 10: Take Time to Reflect and Share Before, During, and After the Conference. 
Whether you blog, share via social media or share your notes with a colleague always remember that it is important that you share your learning. You never know what connections you might make if you share your ideas and resources

The More You Share, The More You Learn

It's hard to grow as a teacher and a learner if a daily reflection is not part of your learning process. Take time to look over your notes and make connections to your teaching every day. I've been to too many conferences and sessions where I took some incredible notes, but then never went back and connected these notes to my teaching and learning experiences. Don't let this happen to you!


Final Thoughts
It's O.K. to leave ICE 2019 with more questions than answers. I've found that some of the best questions lead to new questions and more learning. This is why the best educators are life-long learners.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The #ICE19 Conference Experience - The ICE Conference Bookstore and Book Signings

If you are interested in more ICE Tips, please take a moment to explore my other ICE19 Posts

The ICE Conference is a great place to connect with educators, engage in conversations about teaching and learning, and explore the newest EdTech. I love having the chance to make new friends and reconnect with old friends at the conference. It is always an incredible learning experience for me. 

This year I am super excited about the ICE Book Store in the Exhibit Hall and the Featured Speaker Book Signings. There is even a rumor that John Orech will be the featured employee of the month at the book store. 

I was lucky enough to get a preview of some of the books that will be available and I wanted to share them with my PLN before the conference. Which of these books and authors are you most excited to add to your reading list?
I am sure there will be more great books available at the conference and I also think EdTechTeam will have some of there incredible books for sale at their booth. 

The best educators are not content to do the same old thing year after year. Innovative educators push their thinking by engaging in social media, exploring blogs, attending conferences, and exploring the newest generation of educational books.

If you are curious about additional books recommended by my PLN, please check out this site to explore some great books connected to teaching and learning. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

12 Great Hashtags All Educators Should Be Exploring

Twitter hashtags are a great way to engage in a digital learning experience connected to teaching and learning.

Funny video, but there is so much more to hashtags for educators! Hashtags for education are one of the most powerful tools connected to personal learning networks. 

What are hashtags?

Have you ever searched Google by using quotations to refine your results? Hashtags on Twitter work about the same way. A hashtag is the # symbol followed by a word or phrase. Two of the most popular educational hashtags are #teaching, #learning, #edtech, and #edchat.

A hashtag search will default to "Top" tweets connected to the hashtag. The top tweets is a good starting point, but I recommend clicking on "Latest" to get the most out of your search. You can also click on "People" to connect directly with educators who have associated with a particular hashtag. 

Why use hashtags?
Hashtags allow Twitter users to narrow down results. When attached to a post they help other interested users to find what you are sharing. Educational hashtags have the power to connect educators to important conversations and educational trends beyond the tweets of people they follow. 

If you are interested in a topic, you can probably a hashtag that can help. Here are a baker's dozen (I know I don't count so well.) of my favorite hashtags connected to teaching and learning. These are all pretty popular but may not appear on some of the top educational twitter hashtag lists you can find on the web.  This is also by no means a complete list of the hashtags I love. My goal for this list was to provide some variety. Please feel free to share your favorite hashtags in the comments below. I've also included some longer lists from some great educational sites near the end of this post. 

#DigitalCitizenship - Educators and organizations sharing ideas and resources to support student digital footprints and online etiquette. Educators connected to this hashtag believe that all students need help to create and maintain a positive digital resume. #digcit is another popular digital citizenship hashtag. 

#KidsDeserveIt - This hashtag exists today to be a source of inspiration but also to be a place where ideas and opinions are brought about that may challenge the way things have always been done. Connected to the book Kids Deserve It.

#tlap - This hashtag offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that will help you to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educatorConnected to the book Teach Like a Pirate.

#edtechteam- Originally connected to the EdTechTeam Summits, this hashtag is a place where educators share valuable resources and ideas connected to EdTech, learning spaces, Google for Education, and much more. 

#InnovatorsMindset - This hashtags challenges the status quo and asks educators to explore how teachers can bring a new more innovative mindset to their classrooms. Connected to the book Innovator's Mindset

#GSuiteEDU - Connected to G Suite for Education. This hashtag brings some of the best and the brightest educators together. While the focus is on Google, there are many other great resources and ideas shared.

#ditchbook - This hashtag brings together educators who understand that technology is changing the world and so must our classrooms. Connected to the book Ditch that Textbook.

#pbl - Brings together educators interested in project-based learning. 

#T2T  - Based on the simple idea that a BIG impact comes from focusing on one small change at a time. I also love the related #onesmallthing hashtag. These are both connected to the awesome Teacher 2 Teacher Website.

#hyperdocs - Brings together educators using HyperDocs as a tool to support student-centered learning enhanced by EdTech. Connected to the HyperDoc Handbook

#formativechat - Brings educators together who are curious about formative assessment as part of the learning process. This is also connected to one of my favorite Twitter Chats that happens most Mondays at 5:30 PM Central Time. 

#ShukesandGiff,#GTTribe, and #PodcastEDU - Three for the price of one. If you are interested in educational podcasts, then these hashtags are a great place to start.

#DiveintoInquiry and #InquiryMindset - If you are interested in student-centered learning and inquiry these two hashtags are great places to explore. Connected to of my favorite books, Dive Into Inquiry and Inquiry Mindset.

#ShakeUpLearning - Connected to Kasey Bell and all of the great resources, podcasts, and learning resources she shares. Kasey as quite a few great books and Shake Up Learning is definitely one of my favorites.

There can also a great deal of inspirational learning when you explore the hashtags of different educational conferences during the conferences. ISTEASCDICEMETC, and FETC all conferences that have very active hashtags before, during, and after the conferences.

Not enough Hashtags for you? Explore these resources to find even more awesome Educational Hashtags.

Just a bit more Twitter fun! Have a Twitterific Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Getting Ready for the #ICE19 Conference - Featured Speakers, Thursday Events, and Breakout Sessions

This post is my third connected to my Getting Ready for the #ICE19 Series. My first post was all about the incredible workshops and my second post explored the Exhibitor Hall Experience.

Planning your schedule for any educational conference can be a daunting challenge and the 2019 Illinois Computer Educators Conference is no exception There are so many incredible educators sharing so many incredible things, it is hard to even know where to start. This post includes a few tips on getting started organizing and planning your day of sessions and speakers.

Keynote and Featured Speakers

The easiest place to start planning your day is by checking out the Keynote and Featured Speakers for the conference this year. I've been lucky enough to learn from and with many of these speakers in the past and they are truly an inspiring group. I love these educators!

You can view the full list of the Keynote and Featured Speakers on the ICE Conference PageYou can also filter the ICE Conference Schedule by Featured Speakers or Keynotes.

Creating Future Ready Schools Workshop at #ICE19

I've been lucky enough to attend a Future Ready Workshop in the past and I always walked away inspired and motivated. The ICE Future Ready Workshop will be another great learning experience for everyone registered. (This event does require a separate registration on the ICE Conference Site.)

"This workshop is designed for interested district and school-based leaders (Admin in charge of PD and Curriculum, Principals, Librarians, Instructional Coaches) to explore effective school-based strategies that assist in providing robust and innovative student experiences for all students. Grounded in leadership and school culture, participants will leave with tangible strategies to build strong instructional partnerships, foster change and collaborative learning, and deploy effective strategies for a Future Ready school."
The ICE /IETL Leadership Summit at #ICE19

I've been fortunate to see several of Dr. Joe Sanfelippo's keynotes in the past and I don't have enough words explain how much I admire him as an educational leader. I know the Leadership Summit to be a great experience for everyone.  (This event does require a separate registration on the ICE Conference Site.)

"Join ICE and IETL for their annual Leadership Summit, this year, with Joe Sanfelippo. You will not want to miss this experience with Dr. Joe Sanfelippo, Superintendent of Fall Creek School District in Wisconsin and renowned national author and speaker. Based on his book Hacking Leadership, Dr. Sanfelippo has designed an energetic, interactive workshop, aimed at building leadership at all levels and finding innovative solutions to issues that have plagued the system for years. Built on intentionality, opening doors and developing staff, you’ll take away practical applications that can be implemented tomorrow!"
Illinois Computer Educator Conference Breakout Sessions
Breakout Sessions are hour-long sessions on a variety of educational topics. I think of these sessions are the main event on all 4 days of the conference. Popular sessions often fill up fast during the conference, so don't be late! 

Here are some of my favorite presenters and friends who will be facilitating breakout sessions this year. I know this is a long list, I consider myself fortunate to know quite a few awesome educators. 
Now that I am almost done with this post, I am a bit nervous that like an Academy Award Honoree I may forget to thank someone.  In fact, I am sure I am probably missing some important people and sessions. If I know you and missed you, I am sorry. No slight intended. I still love you!

There are also many great presenters I've never had a chance to learn with who will be presenting at the conference.  I highly recommend visiting the ICE Conference Sched to exploring more sessions to find your own favorite speakers and sessions.

So now it is now your turn. Who are you the most excited to learn from this year? Please share!

If you are interested in more #ICE19 Tips, please take a moment to explore my other ICE19 Posts

Friday, February 8, 2019

Student Designed Learning Experiences

This post is a reflection on a recent activity where my students created HyperDocs. My goal in this post is to share both the experience and resources connected to the activity. If there is something here that can be adapted and used, feel free to copy and modify anything shared here. 

I've been using HyperDocs as one way to engage students for several years in my AP Environmental Science Courses. It is not always perfect, but I enjoy the experience of creating and revising interactive student-centered learning experiences for all of my students.

The Problem I have to admit that I've struggled a bit this year getting my learners to take ownership of their own learning experiences. Most years students generally fit into 1 of 3 categories when I start to make the shift from teacher-led to student-centered experiences. 
  • Category 1: Not Me!
    I get to choose what to do? I'm not doing much then.
  • Category 2: This is Great!
    I get to choose what to do? I love that I have a choice in how I engage in the content.
  • Category 3: Tell Me!
    I have to choose what to do? I don't learn this way, can't you just tell us what we need to know? 
Normally after a few weeks, most of my learners to take ownership, learn to enjoy the process, and engage fully in our student-centered learning experiences.  This year I have more students who prefer to do nothing or who would prefer that I lecture daily. 

Revising how I teach is what I do, so I am always exploring a variety of different strategies to engage students. I get bored if I am always doing the same old stuff. This year it has been a struggle for me to find ways to engage some of my students in the HyperDocs I've created and shared. I've enjoyed the struggle, but it has been harder on me than I would have thought. I am adjusting, but getting everyone to engage consistently has been elusive.

The Activity
My PLN has always been there to help me explore new strategies and tools to support learning.  My PLN has come to my rescue once again. A recent post in the HyperDocs Facebook Group inspired me to try something new that I think worked very well to engage almost all of my students. After reading this Facebook I decided to have my students design HyperDocs that they would share with other students. 

The stated goal was to engage my students in exploring the Consequences of Climate Change by creating learning resources for other students, but my ulterior motive was to see if my students had some ideas and methods to engage all learners that I've yet to discover. My students partnered up after I introduced the topic and we had 3 days (45 mn periods) to create interactive learning experiences. My students have created quizzes, presentations, and all types of graphics, but this was the first student-centered lesson I've ever asked them to create.

I decided to sell this activity as a competition and I hooked the students with the idea of doing it better than me. I introduced the project with a promo for "Beat Bobby Flay" and we were off and running.

I also built my own HyperDoc connected to the same content as the students were building their versions. I decided to use Google Slides and Pear Deck to create my entry.

If you like to make a copy of this HyperDoc Pear Deck Slide Deck, click here.

In the end, we didn't evaluate these in a competitive way, but we all had some fun talking smack about how much better our creations would be. I created this form for the students to evaluate each other's work. If you would like a copy of this rubric that you can use/modify, click here

The Results
The students were very engaged in the creation, design, and the completion of the HyperDocs. Most partners worked bell to bell and still needed to spend some time at home perfecting their creations. I listened to some great conversations within the groups and the verbal feedback they shared with each other was excellent. Here are some samples that stood out from the 30 HyperDocs created by my students. 
Here are some of my takeaways from the process and the completion of this activity.
  • Many of my students used the same tools and techniques to engage each other in collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. 
  • I would have liked to see the students approach creating the HyperDocs more from their perspectives. I think many of them were trying to match what I have been doing without truly thinking if there is a better way. 
  • Many of the students focused more on the content, so quite a few of the HyperDocs were more little more than Docs with links. The content is important, but I still want them to understand that there is more to learning than memorization of facts. 
  • Students love the idea of having both a video and written resources for each section or concept. They want to have the choice to watch the video or read through a website whenever possible. I need to do a better job of providing and emphasizing choice in my HyperDocs.
  • Critical thinking questions are something we need to work on. Many of the HyperDocs only asked basic knowledge level questions connected to a video or link. The students like this because "the answers are more clear", but they are not asked to explore deeper in most of the HyperDocs
  • Many of the groups focussed on the first resource they found in a YouTube or a Google search even if it might not have been the best. We need to work on evaluating resources for learning.  Only a few groups provided additional resources for curious exploration. 
  • The average score of the student evaluations of each other's HyperDocs was a 46/52. This was a bit higher than my evaluation and I don't know if the students were trying to be nice, or if these scores truly reflect what the experienced. I need to spend some more time connecting the low and high scores to the activities in the respective HyperDocs to figure this out.
  • They want to draw more both digitally and on paper when working through a HyperDoc. I need to remember to add in some additional sketchnote suggestions to future HyperDocs. 
  • They want more "notes" in the HyperDocs that they can connect to the activity directly. I've always told them to connect the activities to our assigned readings, but I need to remember that they don't always do the readings in a timely manner. 
  • I need to narrow the focus on some of my HyperDocs. I am going to look at breaking down some of my larger HyperDocs into smaller pieces.
Overall I enjoyed the experience and I think that I will do something similar with an even smaller focus in the future. I may also have my students create activities for each other connected to our exploration in some of my existing HyperDocs.

If you have questions or comments, please let me know. 

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