Sunday, July 15, 2012


Find our new Superintendent in Twitter...recommended:

Here is the link address: Twitter

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ISTE 2012: Moodle & Google Together

Perfect Marriage: Harnessing the Partnership of Google Apps and Moodle
Presenters: Christina McKinnis, Sarah McFarland, Visions in Education,
*See for more Educational Training

Moodle is a LMS.  It is like the trunk of the tree; the foundation that parents and students go to.  We then need to use it to link out to everything Google.  Moodle is where things are organized; Google Docs presentations, forms, surveys, sites, etc. are where we go from there.

The Power of Moodle

  • Curriculum repository: learning guides, pacing guides, how-tos, project instructions, etc.  
  • Uploading all of your documents into Moodle is dangerous because backing up Moodle every night would be a nightmare!  Instead, link your Google Docs to Moodle and to your website (using Google makes it easy--you update once and it updates everywhere!).

The Power of Google
  • Student assignments
    • Teachers can comment on mistakes, etc. and teachers and students can audio conference or SKYPE to pull up the document and look at it at the same time while modifying together (instead of having multiple copies going back and forth).
  • Curriculum
    • Linking to Google Docs keeps all projects in one place.  Hyperlinking from Moodle to Google Docs is much easier to manage (especially if you’re putting curriculum on a website AND on Moodle! Stop doing twice the work!)
    • Google Docs can be very dynamic!  It can look or feel like a webpage, and you can even link to places further down in the document like you would for a web site.
  • Resources
    • How to name documents should be a decision that is made as a site, department, etc. and taught to students as well.  Organization is key!
    • Google Forms can be used like Survey Monkey, as well as for sign ups, evaluations for teachers, courses, etc. and reports can be created via spreadsheets.  
    • Google Forms can be used for contact information, homework help, tutoring programs, etc. (A Google Form can be set up in a website and as soon as students/parents sign up for contacts, an e-mail is sent and help is provided.  Tutors, teachers, and admin can track these contacts to collect data about failing or struggling students.  Could be especially helpful for summer school, students who are out sick, etc.)
      • “View”-->”Summary of Responses”-->Provides a graphical overview of the data from your form.
      • Could be used as a scantron for test practice--Flubaroo can help with this.  Ex: CAHSEE released test questions.
  • Collaboration
    • Presentation templates can be found online where teachers can access them
    • Students can do a Google presentation or Prezi instead of a Power Point.  It is more engaging, dynamic, and online all the time.

ISTE 2012: Moodle Best Practices

Best Practices in Moodle Course DesignPresenter: Michelle Moore, Chief Evangelist,, a Moodle Partner (@michelledmoore;
For a copy of the slide show on Best Practices, go to:

*Also see or to view other teachers’ Moodle sites and share your own!

Best Practices

  • Don’t use more than 5 font styles per page (this includes bolds, italics, fonts, sizes, underlining)
    • It’s not “fun” and “colorful” or “interesting”; it’s difficult to navigate, distracting, and unprofessional.  
    • Do not use underlining for emphasis-be mindful that this indicates a hyperlink or title of a text.
    • Do not use animated GIFs, etc.! These can trigger seizures.
      • By having too much on your page, you are increasing the cognitive load for your learners as they try to process through your web page instead of processing through the actual assignment.
  • DO maintain consistency
  • Don’t use the course page for content
    • Students need to be able to see the “big picture” of the course or unit--don’t make students back track or navigate unnecessarily.  Make it easy for them to figure out what it is you want them to do.
  • DO use the course page as a launch page
    • Guide students to a webpage, article, etc. if they need more information--again, don’t use the course page for content.
  • Don’t be the one doing all the work
  • DO let students participate and collaborate
  • Don’t make your users scroll side to side
  • DO make sure your content fits
  • Don’t forget about the value of the logs
    • Activity logs can help teachers save time on grading
  • Don’t overdo the activity names
  • DO keep the activity names short and sweet
  • DO use labels to guide students
  • Don’t be afraid of white space
    • Incorporate white space into your Moodle page--don’t fill all spaces!  This makes it easier to navigate the course.
  • DO use topic summaries for titles
  • Don’t force users to scroll and scroll and scroll
  • DO use images to enhance your course
    • Be consistent in where you place your images and what your text wrap looks like
    • Flickr has free images for teacher use (though they may not be appropriate to direct students to)
  • DO simplify delivery
    • Learners should be focused on the content and not the technology.  This is especially important if learners are accessing content on a mobile device!
    • MS Word documents may be difficult for students to download (if they have Word), they are not accessible on some mobile devices, can spread viruses, and students can alter or plagiarize your original source document.  Instead, use a “book module” or “lesson module” (Free Moodle Plug-in can be installed!).  Research suggests also that students will not take the time to download something and may just skip over it.
      • Google Docs can be embedded (we need to figure out how to do this)
      • Repository through Moodle (grab embed code from youtube).  New plug-ins will embed without the embed codes and various clicks it takes to do it the old way.
  • Don’t be afraid to branch out!
  • DO dock the blocks.
  • DO give your learners completion tracking
  • Don’t overdo the conditional activities

ISTE 2012: Conversations About Change

From the ISTE 2012 San Diego Convention:
Seminar: Spreading the Word: Eight Ways to Start Conversations around Change
Presenters: Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli, Classroom Teachers, Bloggers, and Authors or @willrich45 or @robmancabelli

The Main Message:
Moving from assessment and critique to change; moving from scarcity to abundance; we can't wait until everyone is connected to start understanding tech changes. It’s not that face to face classrooms are going away; just that what schools are doing will change. They have to in order to keep schools for the public good (as opposed to catering to only individual preferences)
Bottom line: technology is going to disrupt us and there’s nothing we can do about it. 

Check out this video on herding cats (what we all feel when trying to initiate change!)

Tips for Initiating Change Conversations

  1. @ School--Have a Parent Tech Night. Ex: "Create a Positive Digital Footprint" (Research Burlington HS for an effective example)
Other Ways: Facebook Info, Parent Blogs

    • Why? Schools that parents envision are not the schools of today’s world.  Using technology in the classroom may be interpreted as a negative disruption to students’ learning.  No textbook could = upset parent (they can't help students at home-could be putting students in danger w/online predators, etc.)

  1. @ Home--Book Study/Blog for Parents: Research "The Wired Superintendent"

    • Why? Parents want to be involved. Suggestions of texts to look at: The New Culture of Learning, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, Personal Learning Networks

  1. @Online--Use social media to open your blog and engage readers.  Check out  "Wright's Room" blog

    • How? Twitter feeds (parents sign up) for entire school; Storify (diary type); also apps for school sites so that parents can view info on mobile

  1. @Other--Share the language.  Don't "teacher speak" but include teachers, parents, and students. Contextualize!  Where is your use of technology going in the big picture?  Tell them!  A tech night or tech endeavor is not just showing parents, but reiterating the big picture of 21st century schools and the future of education.

Sustaining Change Conversations
Look for leaders in the classroom, in the school, and in parents
Remember, change is hard: Look at "Change or Die," a book by Alan Deutschman, where 10% of patients changed their life habits despite the threat of death from doctors. Change is hard. If only 10% of people choose to change despite life threatening habits, how do we work toward change on a smaller, less threatening level?

  1. Address the emotional, as well as the rational (A study was done on why sick kids refused to take meds--because they didn't want to be sick kids! Ironic.)

    • NCTE skills
      • Role of teacher in 21st century classroom-it’s not PD days for learning Twitter, etc. but who am I in today’s classroom? What kind of kids do I want to teach? What skills do they need to have? Address the emotional needs of teachers to teach and it will be impossible for them to ignore the change or regress.

  1. Book: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. A study was conducted on college campuses re: those identified as saints and jerks.  8% of “saints” donated to charity while 0% of “jerks” donated when asked the first time. The second time the charity asked for 1 can of beans at a specific, conveniently located drop off location, as well as a time of day students might be dropping by that area. 45% of saints and 20% of jerks donated the second time around; a significant increase! 

    • Pave the path! Don't just say, " Let's have a conversation".  Set specific goals for the PD and for what specifics teachers should be able to do.  Do NOT let them come and take what they may.  Make it a school-wide initiative to change!

  1. Book: Influence by Cialdini discusses the psychology of why people change. For example, a study was done asking homeowners to display a small sign in their windows supporting a particular initiative before asking them to display a 4x6’ sign in the yard.  Those who displayed the small sign first were much more likely to display the large sign--people need reassurance in small steps.  

    • Get people to make a small commitment in being someone different before expecting them to make large scale changes.  Create tipping points to drive change out, rather than up (more ppl)

  1. Other

    • Get consensus. Or 49% will look for the opportunity to overthrow the 51%
    • Have students and teachers record their experiences and report them to staff (more and more will jump on board!)