Thursday, September 20, 2012

A new school year and thinking about BYOD

It's September and we have returned to school.  The first few weeks of school for a technology integration teacher can be a little overwhelming.  Summer is wonderful and relaxing but we jump right back in at a very quick pace when we return to school.

This year I am excited to see my district will be planning a BYOD Initiative.  I will be working with a group of high school teachers to establish our goals around teachers bringing in devices and planning for student use later in the year.  I have been watching several school across the state move in this direction.

Last spring I visited Burlington High School, they did a 1:1 Plan using iPads.  Check our their blog post.  It's Time to Collaborate on our 1:1 Plan - Who Wants In?  They created "The BHS 1:1 Wiki".  As a person that  is about to start this process is great to see the results from other schools. I was impressed with the thoughtful planning around using the same device, getting everyone on the same page and most importantly how teacher collaboration has inspired other schools.  Burlington has opened their doors to help teachers see first-hand how embrace new technology to work with students.  The new Grafton High School appears to have modeled their ipad implementation after Burlington.  Another school that used a BYOD model was the Reading Public Schools.  Their BYOD initiative was presented at the MassCUE Leadership conference and had a great team approach to the implementation.  A few members from my school attended a session this month " Discover how to make your 1:1 computing initiatives a definitive success" hosted by The Keynote,"Leading the Effort" was presented by  Patrick Larkin and George Couros. As always, they did a great job articulating the transformation in their own schools and their approach for implementation. I have followed both George and Patrick on twitter for several years and spending a day learning from them was inspiring.

I will be preparing a survey for teachers to join our school BYOD Initiative and begin the process of determining our next steps.  Stay tuned for more!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The 21st Century Classroom

Looking forward to joining a group of teachers this week to explore teaching in the 21st Century Classroom.

"The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn" - Alvin Toffler

Topics to review and presentation link

Sites to review

  1. The P21 Framework presents a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning that combines a discrete focus on 21st century student outcomes (a blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies) with innovative support systems to help students master the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st century along with the  P21 CommonCore Toolkit
  2. The 21st Century Fluency Project A collaborative initiative created to develop exceptional educational resources to assist in transforming learning to be relevant to life in the 21st century.  The 21st Century Fluency Project is all about change. In today's world we face technological applications in daily living the likes of which, even a few short years ago, would have been inconceivable. 
  3. CommonSense Media  (report pdf)
    curriculum Link
  4. Social Media with Twitter #digcit (see recorded conversation and links)
    The Digital Citizenship Chat and hashtag is a great network for educators that meets on Wednesday at 7pm Eastern. Digital Citizenship chat #digcit  

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I was fortunate to teach a mobile computing class this month.  With a varied range of students in the the class we were able to review dozens of apps and apply to our content area.  A few of the elementary teachers created their first ibook using a variety of apps.  I will post the link soon.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mobile and Social Learning

I am gearing up for a class next week on social media and mobile learning.  I continue to explore apps for learning and lots of online resources.  

Why Mobile Learning?

Looking for more resources?  I attended a presentation by Kathy Schrock last year and she showed her Bloomin' Apps project along with a page to allow you to share your own favorite Web 2.0, iOS, or Android app with others, and find it very useful!

So much to explore and learn!

Summer Conference - Campus Technology

Every few summers I try to attend a technology conference.  Depending on the location I have attended ISTE, BLC or local workshops.  This summer I plan to attend a few days of The Campus Technology Conference for higher Ed at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.  The pre-conference session is by Mark Frydenberg (Sr. Lecturer/CIS at Bentley @checkmark),  the topic The Silver Lining: More Classroom Cloud and Collaboration Tools. You can follow the conference on Twitter at #CT2012  -->

There seems to be lots of great topics on the agenda.  I hope to follow BLC while attending the conference.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Learning - MA Digital Publication Collaborative

I am attending the kickoff at MA Digital Publication Collaborative at Burlington High School this week!  You can follow on twitter #madpc. Upon arriving at the conference I connected with a few colleagues from other school districts.  We quickly jumped in the conversation using Hootsuite and TweetDeck, so we could follow topics and links during the keynote.  We also followed the ISTE 2012 taking place in San Diego this week.  Ironically Patrick Larkin the former Burlington Principal, now assistant superintendent of learning was tweeting from ISTE12!  I love the fact that Burlington has embraced collaboration using technology and demonstrate the power of being connected.  I also admire their efforts to open up their school and share with everyone.  What an amazing group of educators!

A few notes from my sessions.
Day 1 -  The goal of the  MA digital collaborative was designed to present an overview of a multi-district collaborative. Superintendents Dr. Eric Conti, Burlington Public Schools, Dr. Marinel D. McGrath, Andover Public Schools, and Dr. Maureen LaCroix, Bedford public schools stressed the need for districts in MA to open up district lines and share what is happening in their schools and classrooms see more on agenda and topics.  The afternoon closing session included a visit from  Mitchell D. Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education where he listened to educators from across New England and thanked us for taking the time to work together.

Day 2
I attended a hands-on session using Net Texts, as an extension from the keynote on Monday. It allows students to access open source multimedia courses along with adding any of your own materials for a custom approach to online textbooks.   Students access the materials by downloading the Net Texts App for the ipad Here’s a few things that it can do ..
  • Teachers received  a login prior to the conference to the Net Texts site to select existing courses or to create new courses by mixing and matching items from our library with their own educational material.
  • Students use the iPad app to download the courses, filled with videos, slideshows, e-books, PDFs, text, audiobooks, and links.  
There is a list of collections that you can view.  A few of us seem interested in building a Digital Literacy/Citizenship curriculum for students.  I am familiar with the FREE Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense. I plan on taking a look at this over the summer.

I attended a second session with Nick and Noni from on OER (Open Educational Resources and copyright) showing a number of resources such as An additional session on copyright from Creative Commons was provided by .  He gave a great presentation with lots of resource.

Day 3
We worked in a variety of groups by content area and posted to a wiki .  The technology library group was led by Dennis Villano.  He showed us dotEPUB  (a download that plugs into multiple browsers that turns any webpage into an e-book).  This allows students to mark up a handout and take notes if used on the ipad. We touched upon Apple's iBooks Author (a download only for mac, there is no ipad app for this tool).  Matt Brooks from Apple presented a more detail demonstration on iBooks Author at a number of session over the three days. If you don't have a mac they recommended to look at Sigil a download  to create epubs.   At the same time #ISTE12 provided a link on the topic "Epubs in Action presentation"  

I enjoyed the opportunity to get together with a group of passionate educators that love learning and want to make their classes more engaging.

To quote the Burlington's Superintendent "We are strongest when we work together". 

Monday, May 7, 2012

SMART Notebook 11 - New Release

Just downloaded the newest version of SMART Notebook 11!  Looking forward to learning about the new features.  I love the fact you can learn on line by watching the videos.  I am looking forward to working with widgets with the Notebook.

ipad app coming soon follow  on twitter.  More on the notebook app for iPad being released soon 

I plan on working with a few of my special education teachers this month and review the new features.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Learning about Google Drive and thinking about Google

Earlier this week when I logged into Google I noticed Docs was replaced with Google Drive/Docs that was announced last week. Google Drive  is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond. 

Drive is built to work seamlessly with your overall Google experience. In my personal, google account, I can can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+. I am interested in testing out some of the new features with students this month with our school 's google apps.

Yesterday, at a Integrity by CELT session, I had the change to see Jaime Casap  a  Senior Education Evangelist on the Google Apps for Education Team at Google, Inc.  In his role, he evangelizes the power of technology and the use of Google tools to help students build the skills needed to succeed, close the digital divide, and help level the education playing field.  His presentation "The Future of Technology in Education" His presentation was informative and inspiring.  I tweeted out many of his quotes during his session.

The big question:  How is the technology helping us in schools build the skills we need
- we all agree technology can be useful, we need to utilize it
Great teachers, expectations, motivating factors, and content are still the keys
- technology just enables this
He was very concerned about the fear we have about technologies in our schools
- when my kids were born I taught them how to cross the street. I didn’t try to ban cars.
- how are we teaching our kids to cross the digital street?
- we need to teach our kids how not only to be digital citizens but to be digital leaders

I continue to be so impressed with Google, their support of education and teachers and their view of aligning education with jobs of the future.  So much to think about!

Edcamp Boston Reflection

EdCamp Boston 2012
On Saturday, April 28th I attended my first UnConference. I followed the first EdCamp via twitter #edcampbos last year and it was great to see firsthand the active learning that took place at the Microsoft NERD center; a beautiful open facility overlooking the
Charles River with lots of meeting space and breakout rooms.  So many of the great educators that I follow on twitter organized the day and presented on various topics.

So what is an EdCamp / UnConference? It's a group of like-minded people that get together at a specific location and time with the intent to learn and share.  Yes, this day took place on a Saturday and several hundred educators showed up to learn on beautiful Saturday in Cambridge.   There are no official speakers, the conference starts in the morning with anyone who wants to present a workshop writing their proposal onto a giant sticky note and placing it on a large wall with a schedule.

After everyone who wants to present has posted their workshop proposal, conference volunteers copy the schedule on a communal online Google Spreadsheet. (Click here for the completed schedule for EdCamp Boston 2012.) Participants can then walk in and out of any workshops they desire. Participants are encouraged to “Vote with your feet!”. “If a workshop doesn’t match what you’re seeking, walk out and find one that does!”

I was thrilled to run into a few former graduates students and see them participating in this learning model.   A special thanks to everyone that organized the conference and shared out their expertise.  I will continue to connect with all of you on twitter #edchat to expand my own learning in order to continue to bring creativity into my school and classes.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Google Earth Project

I will be working with a Spanish class this week to create tours (hopefuly narrated) in Google Earth and inserting into class portfolio pages or blogs.
Use the Embed KML gadget
1. Click here to go to the Embed KML gadget.
2. Under the Display Settings, enter a name for your embed window, set the size for your Earth window, and choose a frame color.
3. Under the Gadget Settings, enter the URL link to the KMZ file on the web. For this example, enter the following URL:
4 Select a view mode (Earth or Maps), and select how you want the embedded map to initially load and if you want to show 3D buildings, roads, borders, and other data.

Here are a few examples of a KMZ files (downloads and opens in Google Earth for the tour)
Here is the link to the KML gadget for the blog. Learn more about inserting into a blog here.


New Blogger features this month

Blogger will have a new look and feel this month.

Click here for an overview.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A day of Learning with Burlington High School - New England 1:1 Summit

On Saturday, March 10th, Burlington High School hosted the New England  1:1 Summit.  I have been following Patrick Larkin, @bhsprincipal, the high school principal for a number of years on Twitter along with his blog.  Patrick has skyped into several of my graduate classes to share his experiences using Twitter as a professional development model and his district's vision for student learning.  I have always admired his passion for learning and sharing his experiences with others.  What was truly impressive was that Patrick was in Florida being recognized while the conference took place. His team of students, teachers, staff, and administrators came together to host an amazing event. He has a staff and team that share his vision, and provided an audience of 500 educators with a day of inspiration!

Burlington High School has a vision; give students what they need to participate in a 21st century educational system.  The day opened with student help desk members greeting educators. They modeled all the real life skills you would expect at a professional conference.  We started the day by using the QR code to scan the agenda.  Once in the auditorium we were met by a student DJ playing music and directing us to the conference hashtag #NE121. 

The BHS staff did an outstanding job presenting, collaborating and sharing their experiences.  The Superintendent, Dr. Eric Conti @ericconti, along with students, technology integration staff, and tech support hosted a wonderful day of learning.  Dr. Conti started and ended many sentences with, my job to support the district technology vision is "to stop staying no".   The audience appeared to love the comment as it was tweeted out throughout the day. I was most struck by the level of enthusiasm of the team.  The single most important thing that they hope to accomplish is to have students engaged in learning.

Many of the sessions focused on cloud computing and the tools used in conjunction with the ipad (Google Docs, Evernote, Dropbox, just to name a few) to support the shift in going paperless.  Another session had the Burlington High School Panel, where students shared their own experience with going 1:1.  The students created a genius bar along with apps modeling after the Apple Genius bar.  Go figure, making real world connections on their own! One of the students indicated that in the past, if he did not know an answer to a questions he was not able to participate, but with an ipad he had access to information at his fingertips.  The students talked about many of the tools they used in the classroom (Glogster, Dropbox, Evernote, Twitter, skype) and many more.  When asked about problems, some of the student indicated the filter/browser slowed thing down, and at times they had "app overload".  I found that amusing because at times I feel there is information and app overload.  

We were given two hours for lunch, which was provided by a local business, B.good barbeque style along with milkshakes.  I was joined my a colleague Craig Sheil @csheil and we decided to host an "app smackdown".  Along with 30 educators, we shared apps that we enjoyed using.  Some of the apps included HeyTell, Flipboard, Quick Graph, Peek, Zite, and Songify just to name a few. It's amazing how much you can learn from others.

After lunch I attended a session hosted by Apple and enjoyed hearing about many of the new tools I have been reading about online, ibooks author , a free new app that allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for the iPadiBooks Author allows you to create great-looking books by adding text, shapes, charts, tables, and Multi-Touch widgets anywhere on the page.  This app will only run on a mac, but can then be uploaded to the new iTunes University as a book.  Apple also talked about textbook publishers books that are also available to purchase and download.

We closed the day back in the auditorium where Patrick joined via Skype with Dr. Conte and answered questions from the audience.  They discussed the iPad rollout, district funding models, and how the District Technology Plan is getting out of the business of saying no and saying yes. Also, Burlington will be working on creating curriculum textbook at the end of June with a workshop opened to all.

The session closed out with trivia and prizes awarded to members of the audience.  If you follow the conference twitter feed #ne121 you can see how much everyone enjoyed the day.

Again, many thanks for sharing you experiences and inspiring so many educators and schools!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Today 3/7/2012 is World Read Aloud Day #WRAD - What will you read?

Last year we joined many educators in World Read Aloud Day #WRAD and we were very excited to participate again this year!  Nashoba High School students took turns reading with elementary school students today.
We read online books and used skype to connect  our  students. (Books used: Insect Soup, Little Lost Dog and Little Pink Pup).  We also used twitter (@mmarotta, @tracylandry and nicoletomaselli) to showcase the pictures and links with other educators from around the world.

Both high school and elementary students had a great time reading to each other today.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pinterest in Education

I noticed lots of people using Pinterest recently and thought I would look into ways it could be used in the classroom. Pinterest is an electronic bulletin board where users can “pin” images from around the web. These images are then categorized into various boards on the users’ profile. Pins are also shared and searchable, which makes Pinterest a wonderful resource for visual information. So what are these pin boards good for with regards to integrating them into the classroom? Pearson has come up with a list of four ways for teachers to use Pinterest:
  1. Lesson Plans- As briefly mentioned above, Pinterest is a superb visual resource full of pictures, videos, and website links. You can search for pins with a specific theme or subject, i.e. “Periodic Table,” making it an ideal resource for teachers 
  2. Sharing ideas- Pinterest is a social networking site that emphasizes interacting through interests and ideas. This makes it a perfect platform for sharing ideas with those who have a similar profession, trade, or hobby. For educators, Pinterest can be a great way to collaborate with teachers, parents, and students 
  3. Organization- One of Pinterest’s most attractive qualities is its aid in organization. Instead of crowding your desktop with countless folders, you can pin your sources to classified boards that will display on your profile
  4. Student Use- Pinterest can be a creative tool for students to use to organize resources for presentations, projects, essays, etc. If students are engaging in a group project, they can create a board for collaboration with their group members 
Link to tutorial

I am also exploring ways our journalism students may use in the classroom.
5 Ways Journalists Can Use Pinterest 

The Ultimate Guide to Pinterest (slideshare

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Reinvention of the school textbook

I am listening to"The Digital Future Of Textbooks". The revolution brewing in your child’s backpack. One little computer tablet may soon replace all those big old textbooks.  This in conjunction with Apple's announcement this week with what it call the reinvention of the school textbook. A digital initiative involving its popular iPad devices, a new version of its iBooks ebook reader app that's optimized for iBooks textbooks, and a new iTunes U app that provides educators and students with everything they need to teach and take entire courses, respectively, using, of course, Apple's devices, here are the company's press releases (here and here).  It's interesting watching this transformation start to unfold.  I am planning on attending the New England 1:1 Summit at Burlington High School with Patrick Larkin on Saturday, March 10th 2012.  I am also encouraging members of my high school to attend the session to learn from Burlington's pilot program as they address the BYOD model. To sign up for the Summer go to and to reserve tickets. I have already updated my phone with the new iTunes U app and plan on spending time this month exploring using some of the new tools, one being Inkling  textbooks for iPad that include interactive features.

iBooks 2. The latest version of Apple's iBooks app for iPad (and iPhone and iPod touch) features iBooks textbooks, which Apple describes as "an entirely new kind of textbook that's dynamic, engaging and truly interactive." Compared to regular paper books, iBooks are interactive, colorful, can include videos, and can be updated again and again. They don't weigh down a backpack as do heavy, normal books. 

Leading educational publishers including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson have pledged to deliver textbooks and other educational titles to the iBookstore, with most costing $14.99 or less. This, too, is an improvement over traditional textbooks, as any student or parent of a student can tell you: There's a huge market for used textbooks specifically for this reason.

The new iBooks 2 app is free and available today from the iTunes App Store.

iBooks Author video  Apple is additionally offering a free Mac application, from its Mac App Store, called iBooks Author. This allows you to create your own iBooks "textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more," according to Apple, and then publish them to the iBookstore. It's unclear at this time whether this will entail the same overly-strict and non-transparent policies as does the App Store, however. And I'm not yet sure how this is better/worse than similar self-publishing services from companies like

iTunes U app. For the past few years, I've been talking up and recommending Apple's unique iTunes U service on the Windows Weekly podcast. There's simply nothing like it on rival devices, and if you're interested in essentially taking college classes for free--yes, really--you need to check it out. But now all of this content is available through a new iTunes U app--for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch--which is interesting. Looking at iTunes, i can see that the iTunes U content is still available normally--similarly to the way it provides podcasts--but I wonder if this is the first step in "locking" the iTunes content to iDevices. (Today, you can download an iTunes U audio or video class from iTunes but play it back on an Android or Windows Phone device if you want.)

According to Apple, the new app "lets teachers create and manage courses including essential components such as lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and syllabuses," assuming of course all their students have iOS devices. Students, meanwhile, can "access new books right from within the app, and any notes taken in iBooks are consolidated for easy reviewing. In addition to reading books, viewing presentations, lectures and assignment lists, students can receive push notifications so they always have the latest class information."

So, given this information, I would have to assume that the iTunes U app is for students actually taking the class, whereas the iTunes U service, through iTunes, is for anyone outside the school who wishes to enjoy the class separately. It will be interesting watching my own school district move forward with a BYOD model next fall.  I am hoping the textbook model is incorporated into the planning.