Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Use Nearpod to Structure and Deliver Your Digital Lessons

Wouldn't it be great to actually lead your students through a lesson where each student could see the slides right on their device as you advance through them?

Wouldn't it be even better if you could put activities into the presentation for students to engage with (and be able to see their answers)?

Actually, with 1:1 devices in our classrooms, both are possible and easy to get started with.

Apps like Nearpod (and Socrative...there are others as well) do exactly this.

  1. Create a presentation
  2. Share the presentation with students
  3. Students view the presentation live (with the teacher) or can engage in a self-paced review of the lesson on their own
  4. Collect and review the data
This post is aimed at pointing you to resources that will get you started.

Sign Up for a Nearpod Account:

Only teachers need to create a Nearpod account (there is both a free and a paid version...free will work just fine to get you started).  You can use your district Gmail account to log in, but students will not need to do this.  Sign up here

Nearpod Support Guides

Learning to use Nearpod is fairly straight forward, but you do not have to do it alone!  There are some simple, helpful guides from Nearpod available here.

Nearpod Lessons
One of the greatest things about Nearpod is the ability to download and then alter already made lessons from other teachers/people.  Want to see what is waiting for you?  They are available here.

Give Nearpod a try.

(*We should mention that neither Socrative or Nearpod are presently SDW Core Apps. If you choose to use either app in your classroom, a letter/email to the parents is strongly recommended asking them to install the app and informing them you will be utilizing this tool in your classroom.)


Friday, October 9, 2015

Classroom Management in a Technology Rich Classroom


Special Celebration for SDW Tech Integration Now Blog

This our 100th post on this blog.  Since our first post this blog has been viewed nearly 17,000 times.

If you are new to the blog or have missed it, dig through the archives and see if you can find any posts that may support your professional learning/practice.

Posts from 2012
Posts from 2013
Posts from 2014
Posts from 2015

Classroom Management in a Technology Rich Classroom

As schools ready for the introduction of Waukesha One to their buildings, we often hear questions regarding what classroom management will look like in a technology rich, 1:1 iPad environment.

The truth is that classroom management, with or without technology, does not fundamentally change.  The foundational rocks stay the same.  Offering a safe, respectful, engaging environment that students feel connected to is essential.  Building community in your classroom is critical.  Offering students opportunities to stretch their thinking, share their ideas, and be heard (by peers and possible beyond) is central.

With that said, there are some unique challenges that come with the introduction of technology in the classroom.

The Instructional Technology Coordinator team has put together a presentation that covers some of the classroom management strategies we recommend to keep kids focused as you work with them.

These are NOT new ideas.  They are also not high tech solutions.  They are, however, effective and are employed by teachers across the district to keep the focus on teaching and learning.

It may be worthwhile to review this presentation with colleagues, your PLC, in a staff meeting, or as a collegial study just to discuss, calibrate a consistent plan, and learn from others to find out what they do in their work with students.


Slide Presentation: Classroom Management Strategies in a Tech Infused Classroom

Video Presentation of Classroom Management Strategies in a Tech Infused Classroom





Thursday, October 8, 2015

Waukesha One Headlines That Should Make the Paper (but Perhaps Never Will)

I blame nobody for this reality, but it is worth noting.  The media tends to pick up and publish/promote the most salacious stories, or that highlight the worst choices people make.  It is rare that the opposite is true.

This post is intended to celebrate those Waukesha One success stories that are huge celebrations, even if they will not make the 10:00 PM news.

Students Able to Adjust Text to Unique Needs

Second grade students engaged in a close reading activity (an activity designed to reinforce a focus on collecting the details from a body of text) utilized tools on their iPad to adjust the text to their unique needs.  Each of the students uniquely experienced the text  based upon their preferences.

Notably, one student's text was drastically enlarged on the page.  According to the student, she was having a hard time seeing the smaller words.  By zooming in on the text she was able to focus on the passages and uncover the details.  The teacher did engage the student in an informative conversation regarding whether the student typically had a hard time seeing the printed page otherwise, providing the teacher greater information about the student's performance.

For just a moment audio could be heard as one student, who later said that hearing the audio while he read helped him to better understand the text, rushed to plug his headphones into the iPad.  The onboard text-to-speech function is used by some students for this purpose.

One student finished early and was found exploring another related article in the app.  Apparently his interest in dinosaurs had been piqued and he was curious the names and color of other dinosaurs that existed.  This student did not have to leave the classroom and no other students were disturbed as he furthered his exploration on the subject.

Instructor Continues to Teach While Student Receives Formative Feedback

A kindergarten student struggling with formation of the number "8" received immediate formative feedback as he utilized an app on his iPad that was designed to assist students with handwritten letter and number formation. The feedback was offered via the app.  The app  forced the student to continually practice the formation of the number "8" until he had correctly written the letter.

The classroom teacher, concurrently working with a small group on individualized reading instruction, continued his focus on the students in the small group.  His focus on the students in his group was not interrupted.

The student seemed proud of his newly mastered skill.  He opened another writing app, Explain Everything, and drew the number "8" five more times.  The student then showed the student next to him.  She was working on the number "6" at the time.

HS Students Eager to Play Five Minute Review Game at End of Period

Students in a high school science course were eager to participate in a five minute review game using Kahoot! The review took place at the end of the period.  

With six minutes left in the period the teacher asked if the students would like to use the last five minutes to review content.  "It will take about five minutes so we need to hurry."

All of the students in the classroom opened Kahoot! on their iPads and logged in without instruction.  The teacher later said that they have used this review game several times already to review so the kids were "pretty familiar" with it.

With five minutes left in the period the game began.  Some students were excited by the points they scored in the game by answering correctly (the fastest correct response gets the most points).  One student was frustrated by an answer she believed to be incorrect.  The student beside her informed her that the answer was accurate and corrected her confusion without interrupting other students or stopping the game  The teacher allowed the student to support her peer.

Elementary Student Supports Peer by Recording Read Aloud

Two elementary students in the library were witnessed conversing about books they were reading.  One student admitted that she liked the book she was reading, but said, "Don't ask me to read it out loud.  I'm not good at that."

The other student said, "That's okay.  I bet you are getting better.  Here, let me record you reading and then you can see."

The student then pulled out his iPad, turned on the video camera feature on the iPad, and began recording as the other student read aloud.

After recording, the students reviewed the recording and the supportive student said, "See, you did a great job."

Rollout of Devices Complete; Schools Learning from Each Other


Waukesha One, the personalized learning work that the School District of Waukesha has embraced, and the related decision to provide every student with an iPad to support that personalized learning is well under way.  Just this fall the final schools rolled out devices and the district is now are 100% rolled out.

As a result of the distribution process format, schools that were earliest to roll out had the steepest learning curve.  Since then, though, leaders from across the district have shared their wisdom, their experiences, and their support related to device rollout, family communications, instructional advice, and resources.  The focus on site-based ownership of the process encouraged a larger pool of local experts to share their stories and suggestions with others.  The final schools rolling out this fall were among the most ready, eager, and accepting schools of Waukesha One based on this mentorship and sharing.

Both schools were led by principals who had previously experienced iPad rollouts at other schools, yet the rollouts felt unique to the culture and personality of their new schools.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Possible Solution When Files Do Not Open in Google Drive on the iPad

It happens from time-to-time, from iPad-to-iPad, that a file just will NOT open properly on an iPad when using the Google Drive app.  This is particularly true of non-Google Apps files, such as .note (Notability), .epub (Book Creator), or .ibooks (iBooks) files.

While it is frustrating, there may be something you can do about it.

In short, simply opening up Safari (the web browser on the iPad), opening Google Drive in Desktop Mode/Version, and attempting to open the file from there can be an easy work-around.

The video below gives a short tutorial that you can try the next time this frustrating event happens on your iPad (or your students' iPads).


Great Lesson Ideas: Powerful Teachers Utilizing Powerful Tools

Collectively, teachers are the MOST creative and resourceful people I have ever met.

In my work with staff members in the last two weeks, I was once again blown away by the ideas that have been shared with me by SDW teachers who are working with students.  It is evidence that when you provide educators with powerful tools they find amazing ways to use them.

In an effort to inspire others, to jumpstart ideas, and to celebrate the interesting opportunities Waukesha teachers are giving to students to show what they know, I will share two of my favorite instructional practices that utilized technology.

Building Interactive Learning Modules in Explain Everything

Several teachers at Hadfield shared that they are building interactive learning modules for their students using Explain Everything on the iPad.

In this case they are teaching letters and letter sounds to Kindergarten students.  In order to create interactive lessons that include BOTH an instructional mini-lesson and a place for students to practice in the same file, the teachers are creating the lesson using Explain Everything.

On the first slide of the Explain Everything presentation, they are placing instructional videos (some that they have created or that they have found online) directly on the slide.  These are SHORT videos (just a few seconds to a few minutes) that teach the skill or introduce the concept.  In some cases they have even placed two or three related videos on the slide (Keep in Mind: Video files can become very large if too long, so select short videos if you want students to have success in getting the files downloaded onto their iPad)

On the following slide(s), the built "prompts" or wrote directions for the students to follow to practice the skill covered in the video.  This could be directions such as:  "Use the pen tool to practice writing the letter 'D'"  or "Type/write/record words that begin with the letter 'M'."

To share the files with the students there are two options.

From Explain Everything you can share the file with others, but you MUST select "Project" file for this to become an interactive lesson for the students.

The teachers at Hadfield are using AirDrop to share the files with their students.  If students are in the proximity, this is a great option.

Another option is to send the "project" file to Google Drive, and then place the link in your Blackboard course to share with students.

How about checking on the student work?  Well, this can be done a number of ways.  A teacher can physically move from student to student, group to group, and look at each student's progress and evidence of thinking.  You could also have students package up the lesson and export it as a "movie"
to their YouTube account (they all have one), or as a project or movie file that is shared JUST with the teacher via Google Drive.

Value Added


  1. This format closely links a mini-lesson of direct instruction on a skill/topic with some sort of immediate practice.
  2. The video allows the teacher to bring in other instructional supports - video from another source, a different way of teaching a skill, or even another student who can explain it to students in another way.
  3. The direct instruction mini-lesson is now reviewable -- the student can play, pause, and rewind the instruction until they truly understand (or can perhaps better speak to the teacher about what they do not understand).
  4. Once a library of these types of lessons are built up (consider building these with other teach-alike colleagues), you now have a variety of resources students can choose from (and we know kids value having choice).
  5. No instructional, subject, or age boundaries exist -- this works K-12 (and beyond) and any topic/skill can be broken down and instructed in this method
  6. The kids can share their thinking with any size audience.  In this case, every student is asked to make their thinking visible (to at least the teacher), and can actually share that thinking with a much larger audience if appropriate.


Carousel Stations with QR Codes

Ken Hirsch, a teacher at South High School, shared a strategy he uses to get students talking/thinking on a variety of perspectives and focal points on the same topic.

Mr. Hirsch's setup looked like this.  In advance, he identified several websites, resources, or Google Docs that would serve as "prompts" for his students to discuss.  In this case they were all focused on the topic of heroes, heroism, characteristics of heroes, etc.  Then, using a QR code generator (here's an article with links to some of these types of sites), Ken created QR codes, printed them, and set them out around the room.

When the class arrived (with their iPads already installed with a QR Code reader app such as i-nigma), the class was broken into small groups and asked to travel from station to station (in a carousel style, making one full rotation during the 20 minute exercise).  They then scanned the QR code, watched/listened/read the video/audio/prompt, and then followed the instructions at the site to begin their small group discussion.

To make the thinking of the group visible, Mr. Hirsch had a place that each group could demonstrate their thinking/conversation so that the group following could make connections with other student's thinking as well.  This could have been done digitally in a Google Doc, but I appreciated that it was physically written on the board/paper to create an anchor chart of the class's thoughts/reactions.  This was especially helpful in the follow-up conversation Ken facilitated with the group.

Value Added

  1. Every student was asked to engage with the topic by shrinking the group size from 25 to groups of 2-3.  In small groups there was less room for students to "hide" behind the answers of students more willing to talk to the teacher.  Every group needed to write something on the thinking sheets.
  2. The expert (teacher) was de-centralized to begin the lesson.  The students could not wait out the teacher or simply agree with the teacher's perspective.  In this case they were presented with a prompt or idea.  They had to form some sort of response to it that was original.  This is the act of thought that we desperately need our students to engage in.
  3. The instructional practice of a Carousel Discussion can be continually used and the media/prompts where the QR codes point can be easily changed. This means it will work throughout the year for a wide variety of new topics.
  4. This format, mixed with intentional grouping, can give the teacher the ability to give students just what they need instructionally when they need it without drawing obvious attention to that differentiation.