Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The @BlackboardK12 BITS Learning Sessions #5 #BbK12Live

I've partnered with BlackboardK12 to share out the awesome sessions they are having this Fall. Educators can sign up to attend and share with other great educators what they have learned. I'll feature the session and the description on my blog each week and on my Twitter account. If you have questions, feel free to shoot a tweet to @BlackboardK12. Have fun learning and sharing!

Blackboard Skills to Pay the Bills

Idaho Digital Learning has implemented a rubric to help assess teacher quality in each course. In this session we will demonstrate different tools and features of the Blackboard LMS that enable teachers to meet expectations in each rubric category.

Jeff Simmons, Instructional Manager, Idaho Digital Learning & Lisa Berry, Curriculum Manager, Idaho Digital Learning

Jeff Simmons is the Instructional Manager for Idaho Digital Learning. Jeff has served as a teacher and administrator in the field of online learning since 2002. Prior to working full-time at IDLA, Jeff taught Social Studies and English at two different alternative high schools. He has a B.A. in Social Studies and English Education from Northwest Nazarene University and an M.A. in Education Leadership from the University of Idaho. Jeff lives in Nampa, Idaho with his wife, son, three dogs, and one cranky cat.

Lisa Berry is the Curriculum Manager for Idaho Digital Learning Academy. She has been in online education since 2005. She has also worked as an adjunct instructor for Boise State University (teaching both face-to-face and blended formats) and a middle school mathematics and computer applications teacher. She has a BA in mathematics from Linfield College, an MS in Instructional and Performance Technology from Boise State University and is currently working toward her Ed.D. in Educational Technology in Boise State University.

Twitter: @idlajeff

When: Monday, October 6, 2014 3:30PM EST

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Gamification at Its Finest: 4 Learning Apps for Tweens

While your tween may only like to use the iPad for talking to their friends, watching videos and playing Minecraft, there are plenty of educational opportunities they will find equally entertaining. From interactive 3D imagery of the human body to games that teach vocabulary, U.S. history and math, there are endless possibilities. Here are some educational apps to download onto the iPad to maximize your child's learning experience outside of school hours.

Math Bingo

Bring out your child's competitive spirit with a twist on the classic game of Bingo. In Math Bingo, players can select to play using addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problems in three levels difficulty: easy, medium and hard. Players are given a math problem, and then select the answer from the bingo card. When a correct answer is recorded on the bingo card, a bug appears. To complete a game, you must get a pattern of five bugs in a row just like in regular Bingo. Games are scored by the number of correct answers and lowest time of completion. Your tweens will love competing with themselves to achieve their personal best, all while developing more nimble math skills.
Availability & Price: Available for iOS and Android for $0.99.

The Human Body

This visually stunning app is based on the reference book of the same name by Dorling Kindersley. The Human Body provides a highly detailed and accurate perspective of the human body. Designed specifically for use on the iPad, this app takes full advantage of the tablet's technology, featuring over 270 zoomable, high-resolution images that detail the body's 12 systems. Every image has in-depth annotations and explanatory text to provide thorough information about the body's elaborate inner workings. There also are videos to illustrate various bodily processes such as nerve impulse, inflammatory response and the heart beat. This is a must-have app for any tween with an interest in the medical field, or for visual learners who are struggling with biology or anatomy in school.
Availability & Price: Available for iOS for $6.99.

World's Worst Pet

Are you looking for engaging and fun ways to help your tweens expand their vocabulary? World's Worst Pet is an iPad game that focuses on building a rich vocabulary through exposure to over 1,000 Tier Two words for grade levels 4–8. With four unique activities using word context, antonyms, synonyms and word sorting, students can develop a clear understanding of definitions through detailed explanations and easy-to-understand examples that are targeted by age level. The framework of this app was developed in alignment with the Common Core standards, and each word is repeated through the various games to ensure a more complete understanding. Whether your student is gifted in language arts or struggling to learn their vocabulary words, World's Worst Pet can help them reach new heights by making it entertaining to master new words.
Availability & Price: Available for iOS for free.

Presidents vs. Aliens

Presidents vs. Aliens makes learning presidential history a lot less boring through classic gamification. Players can review stats on each of the 44 United States presidents featured in the app using an interactive flashcard system. Then, players use the information learned from the flash cards to defeat the aliens as they try to take over our nation's capital. The game can be tailored for tweens at a range of learning levels. You can customize the types of questions from as simple as president identification to more complex ones about quotes and historical events. There also are two bonus games included within this app—Heads of State and Executive Order—which help diversify your tween's learning experience.
Availability & Price: Available for iOS and Android for $0.99.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The @BlackboardK12 BITS Learning Sessions #4 #BbK12Live

I've partnered with BlackboardK12 to share out the awesome sessions they are having this Fall. Educators can sign up to attend and share with other great educators what they have learned. I'll feature the session and the description on my blog each week and on my Twitter account. If you have questions, feel free to shoot a tweet to @BlackboardK12. Have fun learning and sharing!

Conquer the Polar Vortex: Embrace Virtual Learning Days Using Blackboard

Are you sick of tacking on days at the end of the school year due to inclement weather? Come join Atlanta Public Schools as they share how they implemented virtual learning days to avoid extending their school year. See how their teachers have effectively expanded the walls of their classrooms by using engaging content and Blackboard’s learning management system.

Aleigha Henderson-Rosser (Director, Instructional Technology) & Krasandra Holmes (Digital Learning Specialist)

Mrs. Aleigha Henderson-Rosser currently serves as the Executive Director for Instructional Technology in the Atlanta Public School System. With over 19 years of educational experience, she has served as a Middle School Science Teacher, Instructional Technology Specialist, and Founder of the DeKalb Online Academy and Coordinator of Professional Learning overseeing the design, creation, and implementation of online and face to face professional learning opportunities for over 12,000 employees. Additionally, she managed Race to the Top Facilitators at over 140 school campuses to effectively coordinate and evaluate all tenets of the Race to the Top Grant to include Teacher and Leader Keys, Common Core Performance Standards, STEM, Lowest Achieving Schools and Data Systems to support Instruction.
Mrs. Henderson-Rosser is pursuing a Doctorate degree from Georgia State University in Educational Policy Studies. Her International and National involvement in the technology community consists of serving as founding member and Board member of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACoL) – Georgia Chapter, member of the Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Develop Council), member of the International Society for Technology Education and member of the International Forum for Women in e- Learning (IFWE). 

Mrs. Henderson-Rosser was recently published in the June 2010 ISTE Publication, “Leading and Learning with Technology, in a feature article entitled One Stop Shop PD – which focused on the implementation of Online Professional Learning in a large urban district. She has been a featured conference presenter at the AdvancED International Conference, International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) Conference, Georgia Educational Technology Conference, National Staff Development Conference and the Teachscape Leadership Conference.
Mrs. Henderson –Rosser enjoys leading the work of the Department of Instructional Technology through 4 major areas: Creating Innovative Teacher Leaders, Online Professional Learning for Instructional Technology, Impact of Instructional Technology on Teaching and Learning and the implementation of 21st Century Teaching and Learning through digitally connected classrooms.

Twitter: @ahrosser & @apsitkrasandra

When: Monday, September 29, 2014 - 3:30PM EST

Mobile Lectern To Support #LearningSpace - #NerdySpaces

I'm really excited to share about the Oklahoma Sound Corp® Smart Cart that was sent to me by the awesome people at They read my posts and tweets on creating better #NerdySpaces for my students and wanted to help. 

One of the things I wanted to do was open up more space for my students and for myself. One of the ways I did that was by eliminating the teacher desk and the cabinets. Once those were removed, I had so much more room to move my desks around. I was able to set up 4 areas for student that look like conference table designs. It gives me tons more room to move around the middle of the class. One of the students said they really liked it because it made class more social. That was a huge endorsement for me. However, I found myself still needing a place to put a few important items in my class. I needed a spot for my laptop, iPad, and just a few other things that I use regularly in class. That is where the Oklahoma Sound Corp® Smart Cart from Quill come in and saves the day. 

The traditional lectern is something that I have used for many years. It was a place for me to stand and talk to the students all class. Over the past couple of years, I have found that I do not use the lectern as much as I used to. The stationary aspect of the lectern was the major problem. When I moved things around in my room, I realized I had more space and I would love to be able to move freely with the tools that I need. 


Here are a few photos that show my current setup. I am able to have my HP Chromebook on top along with my Evernote Post-Its and my Evernote Moleskine notebook. I am able to move freely around the room, look at my lesson plans, take notes, and roll from table to table to engage with my students. I am able to have conversations with my students and take notes on anything I might need to address with them later on in class. In the past, I would have to maneuver around multiple desks and avoid a mine field of bags and chairs to get to each student. It was an event that often ended in awkwardly bumping into students as I tried to move around. 

By moving the teacher desk and other items out of my room, I have opened up the room to movement and that has led to more engagement with my students. That has been key. The mobile lectern now allows me to move more freely around the room. With a wireless mouse and keyboard, I do not even have to stick to the front of the room. I can move around and still keep information on the board. I also can carry the gigantic textbook with me as I move from table to table as well because there is a cool little shelf that flips up and down. 

I love the Oklahoma Sound Corp® Smart Cart and it has made my class better. The freedom it gives me to move around and keep the important items I need for class is a difference maker. Here are just a few more things that I love about it. 

  • It comes with a power cord so that devices can be charged at night. I just wheel it over to an outlet, plug it in, and let my devices I've connected to the power strip charge. 
  • All of the doors come with locks so all of my devices can be safe when I leave them to charge over night and I can keep my phone, wallet, or anything else in a safe place while I teach during the day. 
  • The desk top slides open for more storage space. I love being able to keep my books or laptop in there for easy access. 
  • Lightweight to move around and it was very easy to assemble. 
If you are looking to change the way your class flows, if you are interested in creating learning spaces in your classroom that allow more freedom for the students and the teacher, you need to consider ordering a Oklahoma Sound Corp® Smart Cart from right away. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Weekly Reflection Supports Growth #NerdyCast #EdChat

One of the things I have challenged myself to do this year is to reflect more on my teaching. I've done this on my blog, but I felt like I only focused on isolated events in the classroom. I wanted to spend more time thinking about how the week went and what types of things I could change. I also wanted to set little goals for myself each week. This could be in relation to students or something instructional. No matter what it was during the week, I wanted to spend some time thinking about it and sharing it out there.

The traditional way would be to just write about it, but that can be very time consuming and I did not want to give myself any excuses as to why I was not doing something. So, I decided to add my reflections to #NerdyCast. It is a perfect place for me to sit down and share my thoughts on how things went in my classroom over the past week. I will always keep the videos around 4 minutes long and focus on what works and, most importantly, what didn't work.

I'm not a perfect teacher, but I feel that image is inadvertently displayed when I only write about the awesome lessons and the exciting things in class. By looking at the whole week and talking about it, I think I will be able to have a deeper reflection on how all things I do in class are connected, not just isolated events taken out of context. That's the thought process anyway. Here are my first 3 weeks of reflections. You can always jump to #NerdyCast to see the weekly reflection on Fridays after 3:30EST.

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section of the videos. I'm using this as a way to grow as a teacher, so feedback would be great. Thanks for watching!