Monday, July 7, 2014

Hooked on Twitter Chats

I jumped in about 6 months ago, and now I'm hooked.  That is, Twitter chats.  At first I felt nervous to participate and was self-conscious of my low number of followers compared to the rock stars I was encountering.  I have been working, thinking, and collaborating for 27 years to hone my craft.  I figured, what the heck?  Although Twitter chats are new to me, I do have good thoughts to contribute and can learn a lot in the process.

I'm going to try to put into words my thoughts, tips, and what I feel is so swell about interacting with strangers on Twitter.

1.  Those strangers aren't strangers for long.  Once you interact with collegues from across the country on a thought-provoking series of questions around a topic of common interest, you learn a lot about fellow participants pretty quickly.  That in only 140 characters at a time!  It's amazing how I run into familiar faces in different chats throughout the week.

2.  Twitter chats are full of warm fuzzies.  I've found participants in Twitter chats to be polite, encouraging, and renewing.  Every time I've participated in a chat, I've left feeling so proud of the profession I've chosen.  

3.  I'm a lot like Pavlov's dogs...  I drool every time I hear my alert bell indicating a new favorite, retweet, mention, or follow.  It may seem shallow that these aforementioned notifications make me giddy.  They just do.  You fellow Twitter chat junkies know what I mean.  It's a little thing, but it's affirming.

4.  For me, Tweetdeck is THE tool.  I have separate, customizable columns that allow me to see the hashtag, mentions, and specified notifications (favorites, retweets) all at the same time.  I keep all of my favorite Twitter hashtags in columns, and just rearrange the current chat so that it is next to my mentions and notification columns.  Some of the bigger chats with lots of participants go pretty fast, and I don't want to miss anything.  Oh, and it auto-refreshes.  Nice.

5.  I'm not limited to learn from people in my own district.  I'm making professional connections with people from all over the country, and learning from all of them.  It's affirming to me that we are all educators with very similar goals, challenges, ideas, lingo, techniques... no matter where we live.  It's unifying.

6.  Although highly unnecessary, it's kinda fun to take part in Twitter chats while among actual people.  It's great fun to participate in a fast-paced chat while sitting on your deck with a tall iced tea in hand, but it adds just a little something to gather with some friends at the local DQ or coffee shop for some parallel play.  Having actual running commentary along with the virtual running commentary is pretty fun.  It's also a great way to help colleagues get started in Twitter chats if they're new.

7.  Here are a handful of chats I like... (a handful of these are on hiatus for the summer)
  • #DUBchat - Is a chat for Dublin Schools (my district), and a fair number of crashers.  All are welcome!  Thursdays at 7:00pm, but moving to Tuesdays at 7:00 in August.
  • #OhEdchat - I do like an opportunity to get to know folks I will likely encounter in person at OETC.  Mondays at 9:00pm.
  • #EdChat - This is the biggie.  All the heavy hitters are here.  Huge, fast-paced, and intense.  Tuesdays at noon and 7:00pm. 
  • #NBTchat - No Box Thinking chat is refreshing, out-of-the-box topics around the craft of teaching.  Sundays at 8:00pm with pre-chat at 7:30pm.
  • #COLchat - Culture of Learning chat is focused on creating the ideal classroom learning environment.  Mondays at 9:00pm.
  • #TLAP - Teach Like a Pirate - C'mon!  The name alone should make you want to check it out!  Mondays at 9:00pm.
  • #NT2T - New Teachers to Twitter is great for educators new to Twitter chats to learn the ropes.
My suggestion is to give Twitter chats a try.  Pick one of the chats I've listed above, or Google "education twitter chats."  Pick a chat that looks interesting.  Put it in your calendar, and set an alert so you won't forget.  Lurk at first, learn the ropes with your water wings on, then dive into the deep end.  You won't be sorry!

Monday, June 30, 2014

ExplainEverything App

The ExplainEverything iPad app should be named the DOANYTHING app.  As far as creativity is concerned, this one is the boss.  The neat thing about this app is that it rolls the functionality of several apps into a one-stop-shop.  Rather than learning a bunch of apps that do some of these tasks, why not learn this one that can truly do it all?

From the Morris Cooke Site:
"Explain Everything is a presentation app that integrates content from many sources that kids and teachers can use to create lessons, tutorials, and more. Users can import photos, PDF files, movies, and more from many sources to use in the presentation. Onscreen drawings, annotation, animation, and audio can also be included. Explain Everything can also be used as a whiteboard with the iPad video display. Used correctly, Explain Everything can take presentations to a new level."
  • Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. 
  • Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. 
  • Create slides, draw in any color, add shapes, add text, and use a laser pointer. Rotate, move, scale, copy, paste, clone, and lock any object added to the stage. 
  • Add new or existing photos and videos. Import PDF, PPT, DOC, XLS, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, and RTF files from Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, Box, WebDAV, Email, iTunes, and any app that allows you to open these file types using "Open In…". Export MP4 movies, PDF documents, PNG images, or XPL project files directly from your iPad. 
  • No account is necessary to use Explain Everything and share creations.
ExplainEverything and an iPad as an Interactive Whiteboard:Use your ExplainEverything App as an interactive whiteboard. Using Keynote or PowerPoint, export the slide or slideshow as a PDF file, save it to a specified cloud service, then import it into ExplainEverything.

Import a PDF file into ExplainEverything. Try this example...

Here is an example with many of the tools being used...

Morris Cooke Blog
Morris Cooke ExplainEverything Video Tutorials

Monday, June 23, 2014

iPad Productivity & Workflow: My WebDAV+

I have been looking at apps that can help you get the most out of your iPad.  Many people see the iPad as a nifty and fun device to use when consuming information, but don't take it seriously when it comes to creating content and accessing files on cloud servers.  My WebDAV+ is another app in my productivity arsenal.

My WebDAV+
This app has a word processor associated with it, but that isn't why it finds itself on my Power App list.  Its strength comes from its ability to shuffle files between your iPad (including the camera roll) and a number of cloud services.
  • Upload files from your Camera Roll to the file exporter in My WebDAV+.  The File Exporter portion of the app acts as your "relay point."
  • Articulate with any WebDAV cloud service.
  • Create folders locally or within a specified cloud.
  • From email attachments, select My WebDAV+ from your Open-In command in order to get documents to the File Exporter.
  • Have you created a video that is too big to transfer to a server through ordinary means?  Use the Share button to "broadcast" large video files so that you can navigate to them and download them from a computer browser.
  • FREE!

Monday, June 9, 2014

School's Out for Summer!

We all know the song...  You likely sang it in your head while you read this blog title...  "School's Out for Summer!"  So what does a person such as myself do with this new-found freedom?

My first few days of Summer Vacation were spent playing.  But it isn't what you think...  I wasn't playing tennis, playing cards, playing in the dirt, playing shadow tag...  I was playing with my iPad.  This summer, my focus is to look at the iPad in terms of its possibilities.

As one of the Technology Support Teachers for Dublin Schools, our task this summer is to hand out new technology to a lucky handful of teachers.  (More teachers will get new stuff in the fall.)  We are changing the game a bit...  In exchange for the new device, teachers will attend training so that they are getting the most out of this shiny, new device.

Our classes are blended...  3 hours face-to-face, followed by an rigorous independent online day, followed by another 3 hour face-to-face time together.  I am teaching the iPad workshops this summer.  I am a big fan of the iPad.  It is not only a great device for consuming information, but also a powerful tool for productivity, creativity, and collaboration.  So many people feel like they are rock stars with the iPad already, but they have likely just scratched the surface of its abilities.

iPad goals:
  1. In order to the get the most out of the iPad, it is important to select and master a handful of "power apps."  Learn what each app is good at, and what its limitations are.  Selecting the right tool for the job is sometimes the hardest part.  As far as apps go...  less is more!
  2. Master the file management and workflow.  Between the Open In command, the Share button, and a few apps and cloud services, managing files is possible.  It takes some practice though!
  3. Embrace the power of the iPad!  Yes, the iPad has some limitations when compared to a computer.  But its benefits make up for that!  Apps that give you the ability to add images, text, annotations, and draw/paint give you much more flexibility than a computer when creating.
  4. Think outside the box.  The iPad can do a lot of the same things as a computer, but don't get stuck in trying to fit a a round peg into a square hole.  Change the way you think about instruction, and embrace the new directions you can go with an iPad.
My next few blogs will focus on the Power Apps I mentioned.  Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Just Getting Started

I'm a grown-up, not just chronologically, but professionally.  As such, it's time for me to contribute to the bigger community.  After all, I have something to say.... Don't I?  So, as this entry title suggests, I'm just getting started.

Introducing myself seems to be the logical first step.  I am Rhonda Luetje, a Technolgy Support Teacher at Dublin Schools in Dublin, Ohio.  My journey wilth Dublin began in 1988 when, with all of my rookie enthusiasm, I helped to open Davis Middle School as a sixth-grade science teacher.  I spent most of my ten classroom years in good 'ol room 218.

As time rolls on, I become a more and more amazing teacher in my own mind.  It may be revisionist history...  Don't we all want to be superheroes in our own life story?  Truth be told, I loved teaching.  I poured my heart, soul, and weekends into doing the best job I could do.  I think I was pretty good at it, but who knows?

I earned my BS from Miami University (when they were still Redskins) in Elementary Eduacation with a Concentration in Science Education.  Several years later, I earned a MS from the University of Akron in Athletic Training for Sports Medicine.  After those studies, I logically decided that my passion was in, you guessed it, technology.  I took my "Master +45" almost entirely in technology workshops.  Hyperstudio and FileMake Pro 5 were my hooks.  I'm dating myself, I know.

I've spent the past 16 years in the ever-morphing position of Technology Support Teacher in Dublin Schools.  I have found my niche, my passion, and my strength.  I get to work with colleagues who love to play, think, imagine, learn, grow, and wonder.  I get to have a part in igniting teachers and helping them reinvent their classrooms.  I get to work with kids, and be constantly amazed at the ways they think and the things they can do.

This is an exciting time to be in the world of education... especially in educational technology.  It's a wild ride, and I'm honored to be in the front seat with my hands up in the air just waiting for the next big hill.  Thanks for reading my blog, and helping me to just get started.