Back to Mac

It’s been 3 years since the school district that employees me switched from Mac to PC. After the initial shock of the sudden change subsided, I had no choice but to embrace Windows 7. It didn’t take very long for me to become a highly knowledgeable and high powered PC user, although It never felt quite right. 

I’m fortunate to be a chameleon who can adapt easily to change and I believe this is one of the reasons I have been successful at using technology as a tool for learning. I’m happy to be able to have learned to work seamlessly between platforms to facilitate tech integration, but I’m really glad that my school district is going back to Mac!

Although I have always preferred Mac over PC, I do recognize some positive changes that resulted from our 3 year long switch to Windows 7. We were able to put cost efficient mobile carts of netbooks into our schools, greatly increasing our student to device ratio. We have had a sufficient supply of netbooks to be able to launch the implementation of Google Docs as an efficient and effective collaborative instructional tool for students and staff. Cost efficiency of the netbooks allowed us to increase the number of projectors in classrooms too. Although we had the best of intentions when we tried to save a few trees and encourage teachers to grade papers online through comments in Google Docs, the enormous and heavy Dell “laptops” teachers were given for their use were much heavier than a pile of papers, so that initiative has not worked so well up to this point. 

But, like the title says, it sure looks like we are going back to Mac! We have provided each school with a mobile lab of MacBook Airs for use in the classroom. Teachers will have iPads and Apple TVs in classrooms this week and we are hoping to kickoff a 1:1 iPad rollout starting this fall. Teachers will get MacBook Airs and students will gradually get iPads and ownership of their own devices. Ah, this is going to be an exciting and fun challenge!

Resources for students and staff to introduce our mobile labs of MacBook Airs.

And what a great time for this! iPads have been successfully rolled out in many forward thinking districts and the process is now streamlined and efficient. Districts who have had successful experiences are eager to share their guidance and expertise with us. We recognize the need to collaborate and appreciate the opportunity to be connected .

In house, we finally have a team of instructional technology coaches in place to help teachers find their comfort zones, set goals, and have fun as they personally move through the stages of tech adoption and begin to shift instruction. It will be exciting to be able to help teachers facilitate Common Core aligned learning experiences with the help of interactivity, digital supports and multimedia.

So, I must say that I am ecstatic to be back to Mac and excited about a new journey that will ultimately lead to a lot of learning for myself and others. I am looking forward to the near future when our teachers and students will leave school at the end of the day with a lighter load and some powerful portable personal digital tools for teaching and learning to use whenever needed. This initiative will definitely help extend the walls of our classrooms.

What I will miss about Windows 7

I made the switch back to Mac a few weeks ago. Right away I noticed how comfortable the Mac feels with it’s lighted keyboard and intuitive interface. But, I’d like to note a few things I do miss about Windows 7 as I put this chapter to rest.
  1. The snipping tool I take a lot of snapshots. I know how to do it on a Mac of course, but the process is not nearly as slick as the handy snipping tool on Windows 7.
  2. Snap WindowsI appreciate the ability to work between two active open windows side by side and snapped into place on Windows 7, a feature I used every day.







    ICE Cold Mini Conference

    I had a wondrful time at the ICE COLD Spring Mini-Conference this morning despite the April snow and downright blustery day. The event was packed, the information was interesting and relevant, and there was a lot of excitement everywhere.

    Kudos to the organizers of this well organized and fun annual event!. $5.00 was quite a bargain!

    Here are a couple of resources from this fun-filled morning of learning:


    Unpacking the Common Core: Digital Tools to Support the Academic Vocabulary Shift
    This is the session I presented:




    Literacy and the Common Core Standards

    You will find the LiveBinder created by Dawn Sayer to be a very useful resource. I really enjoyed listening to Dawn’s innovative teaching ideas and learning the ways she uses some of the same tools in efficient and effective ways. Good stuff here!

    http://livebinders.com/play/play?id=669613&present=true

    REMIX: Adding Conversations to ThingLink



    ThingLink has added a new feature to encourage collaboration and conversations about images. It’s called REMIX.

    What is REMIX?

    -from the ThingLink Blog

    In music a remix is a song that has been edited to sound different from the original version — it may include additional effects and elements, or the composition of the elements has been changed. 

    ThingLink’s Remix feature follows the same idea with images. A rich media image is always a composition of content that conveys a unique experience. Now you can take an image you see, click the Remix button, add elements to it, and republish a new version. By doing so, you’re enabling a new conversation on the same image.

    How Does REMIX Work? 


    Enable REMIX
    If you are already using ThingLink you will need to turn REMIX on. Look for the option when you click on My Channel. New users will find this feature to be automatically enabled.




    Try REMIX
    You can REMIX someone else’s image by going to ThingLink.com, selecting an image, and clicking on the REMIX icon to create your own version of the image in your account. Once the image is in your account you can add tags. The tags will appear on your REMIXed image, but they will only appear as Comments on the original image. The comments will have  a link to your REMIXED version. 

    Here is an example of an image I REMIXED. Click the image to view the conversation.



    A few Ways to Use REMIX with Students

    • Teachers can post an image with discussion questions for students to REMIX and answer. 
    • Students can create an interactive image to demonstrate knowledge and ideas. As part of the sharing process, students can REMIX and add comments and responses to the ideas presented.
    • An interactive image can be used to present a real world problem to students. They can REMIX the image with possible solutions to the problem.

    Common Core Connections

    Try REMIX to launch learning experiences that engage students in a range of collaborative discussions to build on the ideas of others and express their own ideas clearly. This is one of the skills identified by the Common Core. 






    Mystery Photos

    A few years ago I used Mystery Photos to kickoff some collaborative discussions among students participating in an online learning project I had the pleasure of facilitating, Regions of the United States. The ideas here are supported by the Common Core and worth revisiting. (CCSS SL-5,  CCSS W-7)

    Mystery Photos

    Do some research. Engage in an online discussion. Create your own mystery photo.

    //cdn.thinglink.me/jse/embed.js

    http://www.mentormob.com//learn/widget/63337/580/99cc33/3-0

    Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

    Create a Figurative Language Poster


    Figurative language spirals through the Common Core (CCSS) along with the seemless integration of research and technology. Why not combine the three to create figurative language posters?

    ArtSkills.com is a free tool to create attractive posters . I used this tool to create my posters this time for a change of pace and appreciated the options available to ensure success.  



    1. Sign up for a free account at ArtSkills.com.
    2. Use the tools to design an awesome poster.
    3. Upload the poster to ThingLink.
    4. Start tagging.

    Figurative Language Poster

    This interactive poster introduces two research tools:

    1. The Research Tool in Google Docs 
    2. InstaGrok 

    Notice the use of an online discussion forum.
    //cdn.thinglink.me/jse/embed.js