Meet them Where They Are

In my role as technology integrator, I’m working to to help people in my building  with a 1-to-1 Chromebook implementation, Schoology use, Google Apps for Education. I’m also fortunate to develop training curriculum on how to implement this technology. I offer to help people take what they learn in their training and apply it to their classroom practice. In doing these things, I’m pretty psyched–I get to help others learn.

Teachers in my building are busy. Finding time is tough. Feeling overwhelmed with the day to day work of teaching comes easily. Learning how to implement technology, even with its benefits, only adds to these feelings.

In reality, as an integrator, I’ve learned that I need to find creative ways to get small dollops of technology PD to the people they serve–short newsletters, videos, infographics. These things can be consumed quickly, offer something important that can make tech usage more streamlined, or solve a problem that they are finding with devices and apps in the classroom.

In an effort to help with this, I’ve taken to developing a quick newsletter and series of weekly videoes for teachers with either a quick tip or to address some issue I’ve heard that people are struggling with. It’s my goal to keep these short–less than 3 minutes. Although, I’m feeling like even 3 minutes is too long, and am hoping to get tips down to a minute.


  1. Video tech tips are made using Camtasia, and while I could also easily use Screencastify or Wevideo. Learning Camtasia is a goal of mine, because the district dropped some money on buying me a subscription, and I want to get my money’s worth. Several videos in and I’m feeling more comfortable and proficient with it.
  2.  The tips are each housed on a Google Site. This keeps the delivery free, allows me to share only within our domain, and is so super simple to use.
  3. Along with the tech tips, there’s a simple form for teachers to complete.
  4. Tech tips are sent to our Curriculum Area Lead Teachers, with encouragement to forward them along to the faculty.

Some examples:

Pretty much any kind of video–the good, the bad, and the ugly–I make winds up on my YouTube channel.

Here’s one example of my work:

Don’t expect the people that you serve to line up at your office door begging for help. But, even though they aren’t asking for it, doesn’t mean they don’t need it. Continue to push yourself to find innovative ways to provide assistance.


Work Smarter, Not Harder: Schoology Pages

I’m setting out and trying something new–a podcast. Here’s some of my thinking on using Schoology Pages to create a culture to foster student responsibility.

In reflecting on pages, I realized that I was lumping together to concepts, which really need to be differentiated. These two terms are student-centered and student-responsibility. In student-centered learning, students have choice, authority and autonomy, in different degrees, over topics, voice, products, content. Teachers should work whenever possible to create such environments. However, student-responsibility should always be at play. It’s the student responsibility to know directions, expectations, outcomes, and the details of the course once they are provided to them. Schoology pages makes it possible to create an environment where student-responsibility is always possible.

I won’t say anything else here about Schoology page, but I do want to comment that podcasting and creating videos is brand new territory for me. I don’t know if what I’ve created above fits the definition of podcast, it was longer than the tech tips I’ve been creating for teachers I work with, and thus I landed on this word. I’m also tired of the phrase “Work Smarter, Not Harder.” In terms of videos and podcasting, I hope to do some more and I hope to get way better.






Getting Smore from Your Schoology Pages

The other day I was working with a colleague who was getting Schoology courses setup for the start of the year. At Canandaigua, we’ve done away with teacher webpages, so all teachers are using the LMS as their web presence for students and parents.

In our old system, Schoolworld, my colleague had a notable website. Particularly because it was a clear reflection of her personality–lots of pictures to share  her passion for video games, like the Zelda franchise, classic rock and Harry Potter. Students and parents who went to the site not only knew the course, its materials, but also were instantly connected to this dynamic teacher.

As we were working to create a page in Schoology for parents, she lamented that the pages in Schoology were, well, boring, with little ability to liven them up with colored backgrounds, or other design features that students and parents might find visually appealing. Below you’ll see what I mean. It’s my “Parent Page” in each of my Schoology courses.

Screenshot 2017-08-30 at 8.26.08 AM

My Schoology Parent Page–Lots of Text and Not Much Else

There wasn’t much I could tell her.

Then, light blub!

At home later in the day, I started playing with Smore–a web-based flyer and newsletter designer–as part of a project to aggregate blog posts from our student and teacher bloggers into a weekly newsletter to help them build their audiences.

I happened to notice that one of the sharing tools was an embed link. I quickly copied it off the flyer I was working on, went into my Schoology resources, opened a practice page, and embedded the link.

It worked, and the Smore flyer was there on the page.

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A Smore Embedded into a Schoology Page

There are some advantages to this approach as I see it.

First, there are a lot of design and layout features available in Smore that are eye-catching and visually appealing. Second, these modifications could be furthered to use Smore for personalized student playlists or assignments with lots of links. Already looking around Smore’s “Educator Hive” you can find example of teachers who have used this approach. While I’m fully committed to using Schoology as my content delivery system, I’m thinking of using Smore to help give me another option in my playbook.

While these advantages exist, there are some drawbacks. Smore is another tool to learn. Teachers who may already be overwhelmed with trying to learn a new LMS, coupled with a smattering of apps, could easily throw their hands-up at you.

Still, for tech-savy teachers looking to keep their parents and students in Schoology, and looking to spice up the look of their pages, embedding Smores into the pages provides an interesting option.



Designing Videos for Flipped Learning

I came across a blog article on the website by Kelly Walsh (@emergingedtech) on the elements that make for optimal learning in multimedia design. As myself and many others here at Canandaigua Academy are starting to create videos for flipped classrooms, Walsh’s summary of Richard Mayer’s “12 Principles of Multimedia Learning” is an important text.

Here’s my meager attempt at capturing the 12 principles in today’s sketchnote:

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