EdcampMetroDC 2014

There was something in the air on Saturday in Washington DC, and it was not the Cherry Blossom festival … yet. Edcamp MetroDC was held in Bethesda, MD and for the second year in a row, I made the drive down from Hershey to attend. There was excitement and collaboration in the air. The co-chair Sarah encouraged everyone to participate because we are all experts in something. That was important to remember. It does not matter if someone is an edcamp newbie or an edcamp organizer, we are all there on a Saturday because we want to learn.

The opening speech was probably one of the best.

The first rule of #edcamp is to talk about edcamp. That could be on Twitter or other Social Media [like Instagram or Facebook], and share your resources on GoogleDocs … the learning can extend to teachers following from at home.

So what did I learn and share?

The 15 Minute Film School; moderated by @matthewfrattali  (Matt’s blog reflection for the day)

This was a session where I walked away with great resources and things to ponder. I have used video creation in  a class, but I know I do not have the time to dedicate to teaching the principles of filmography. However, this session showed how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes in giving students the basics:

  • Give the students an overview of film terms (framing, types of shots, focus, camera position for storytelling, lighting)
  • Show shot names and explain when you used them (wide angle, close up, reaction, cut away, over shoulder)
  • Ask students for favorite commercial. Ask students to count the camera shots with video on silent. Normally just 3-5 seconds each shot.
  • Get a variety of interesting little shots. Clips are easy to shorten, so don’t shoot too short.

Great series of advice for students:

Do something interesting with the camera … tell a story … think like a producer not a consumer.

Other resources that I found through the session or from independent follow up of the session. For the storyboarding portion, the Penultimate app (which I already owned) has a free template for storyboarding in the writing category. It is simple but does prompt students to sketch and write. Based on the discussion about teaching students the bare bones of the process but providing them with a resource to reference if they wanted to go further, I found thewildclassroom.com with breakdowns, descriptions, and examples of each stage of the filmmaking process. For my own personal interest in filmmaking, I found MIT’s OpenCourseWare for media. Overall, I loved the energy and ideas that came from this session.

EdCamp SessionThings that Suck; moderated by @TechTeacherT

This session is a staple at Edcamps, but it is the first time I have attended. I liked the format. For some of the topics brought into the forum, it was interesting hearing the similarities and/or differences between the public school and private school teachers.

Coding in the Curriculum; moderated by @TechTeacherT

I have never brought coding into my curriculum, but I have incorporated it into our BYOT Club and as an option for bored students during study hall. During the Smackdown, I shared Code.org that was set up for the Hour of Code earlier in the year; however, the website and the very helpful tutorials that can be used across a plethora of devices are still available. General advice for finding good resources for incorporating coding in the curriculum is to follow the Twitter #ukedchat because it is a topic that comes up frequently because of their coding initiative in school and push for students to code. Other resources that were mentioned are Tynker and Live Code.


  • Tynker (new free ipad app, but watered down and limited from website)
  • Some portion of the website are free, but setting up a class is a paid feature
  • Because they are a start up, they are very responsible to teacher feedback and constantly improve the website.
  • Tynker can be linked to Google accounts

Live Code

  • Write codes for personal devices, could be games or interactive eBooks
  • A teacher shared the site with resources and examples from his class.
  • After code is created, create a stand alone, set what the program should run on. There are free downloads to accomplish this:
  • Google or Android device emulator needs to download
  • Download XCode for iPhone (free from Apple)


Google Glass in Education; moderated by [me] @SrtaLisa

I brought my Google Glass along to document Edcamp MetroDC and to let other people try them on (one of my favorite things about owning a pair, the ability to share and watch the joy and surprise on people’s faces).

There were four weeks that I wore Glass frequently (as well as shared with students) and blogged my reflections: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4. I know what my experience was, I wanted to see what other people thought. The only way to do that is to give them a chance to try Glass on and complete some tasks like taking a picture or asking Google a question. The point of the session was to brainstorm how Glass could be used in education.

I just saw an interesting article for the New York Times about the places that Google thinks Glass would be well suited for … Education was not on the short list. This was the same discussion we had during the session. There are some great features for private life or certain industries, but it is not transformative for education. Most of us are lucky enough to have access to other technology in our classrooms and our students are able to use their hands to type, so wearable technology is not the most efficient way to complete tasks, neither for the money or the ease of use. I will continue to find ways to incorporate it into my classroom, but it is more about the novelty than need.


That of course brings us to one of my favorite parts of Edcamp: the Smackdown The entire Smackdown was curated to perfection on Smackdown GoogleDoc. There were a couple stand out tools that I immediately plan on implementing or have already shared with the teachers who would benefit the most.

  • eduCanon , Alchemy , and Glean all provide teachers who want to flip their classrooms with additional checks to make sure that the students are actually completing the tasks. Alchemy was one of the great sponsors of the edcamp … not that free stuff is necessary, but it does make everyone happy.
  • Kahoot is a game based student response system. I am already a big fan of Socrative and Infuse Learning (so much so that I shared these at last year’s Edcamp MetroDC). I registered for a free account already, and I am interested to see some of the different options that Kahoot offers.
  • Art options that I shared with the art teachers in my district. I already knew about Artsonia and the Google Art Project through the Google Cultural Institute (which has so many interesting things to explore). Google Open Gallery is a unique opportunity being offered by Google. I suppose it would call into question the ownership of work, but that is always the case when something is published online. There is a balance between having the students publish their work in a searchable and shareable manner vs maintaining absolute ownership.
  • WordMover App for the iPad was shared on Twitter during the day.

The only downside of the day was the raffle mix up. My raffle number was drawn and I was so happy I thought I won… but it was a mistake. I still walked away with the enthusiasm to continue past the winter teaching blues. Thank you to all the organizers for yet another fantastic Edcamp. For those of you who have not tried Edcamp, the Edcamp Wiki has a schedule of upcoming locations for Edcamps.

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State Games

Sometimes we ask students to memorize information. Technology can help (or hurt if done poorly). For memorizing the United States of America, their region, and abbreviation I gathered resources. Some of the games I found, some I modified, and some I created. The websites are linked through a Weebly site: Geo6HMS. I normally just provide the links on Edmodo, but I wanted to be able to divide them into specific region practice.

I used the Dustbin Game from ClassTools.net for practicing the four regions.

Purpose Games are a great way to practice locations. As a teacher it is easy to set up, you upload an image and program the dots. These activities work great on Interactive Whiteboards.

The students love the Zondle app and website, so I created reviews by region for the abbreviations of the states. The Zondle app works best for multiple choice, so the task matched.

I used Socrative to create formative assessments for each of the regions using images of the states. I plan on sharing the Quiz codes with my PLC.

  • Northeast SOC-2821232
  • South SOC-2821252
  • Midwest SOC-2821272
  • West SOC-2821791
  • Entire United States SOC-2819624

I also downloaded many iOS apps that focused on the United States – geography, capitals, and abbreviations of the states.  I made 3 overall recommendations to students on the Geo6HMS Weebly site. But there are more detailed reviews for each app:

Tap Quiz World FREE

  • Tap Quiz has practice for the world, but it also includes four regions of the United States. The app gives you the name of a state and you have to tap on the correct location. For smaller states, you tap and hold to zoom in. The app is simple and free.

Stack the States $0.99

  • Stack the States is both a strategy game and trivia. You earn state pieces by answering quick questions about the capital, outline, flag, or famous landmark. You want to stack the pile of states to make it to the line. Once you have won a few rounds, bonus levels start to unlock. The Map It! Level is great of people reviewing the locations of the states.

States-N-Capitals FREE

  • States-N-Capitals is a basic but efficient way to to study the states and capitals. As you take the quiz, you can favorite ones that are challenging. For future attempts, you can just focus on the ones you struggled with. This is is very pink.

Shake ‘Em Up State Capitals  FREE

  • Shake ‘Em Up randomly highlights one state. It shows you the name of the state and when you touch the screen it shows the capital. You just have to shake to see the next state. There are sound effects that got annoying quickly. The app does not provide anyway to challenge yourself, but it is an interesting introduction to the states.

States Play – What’s the Capital, Flag, etc?  FREE

  • States Play gives you a picture and you have to select the letters to spell the place. Sometimes the image is the state, sometimes it is the capital, and other times it was the state flag. The ads at the bottom are distracting.

US States Match’Em Up $0.99

  • US States Match’Em Up offers different game options. There is a matching game, a Head 2 Head mode, Pop Quiz, and Spell and Learn. The matching games distort the shapes of the states to make them square. The matching might provide more learning opportunities if people were matching the state image to the state name, instead of just image to image or word to word.

Smart Fish States Run  $0.99

  • The goal of Smart Fish: States Run is to move the people from location to location. When you click on a person, it asks you to identify the state, capital, or abbreviation of a state. The more answers you get correct, the more people you must move around the map. The sound effects were annoying and I did not see an easy way to mute the game.

States FREE

  • States shows you a map with a state highlighted. You have to unscramble the letters at the bottom to spell the state correctly. The challenge is that not all the letters are visible at once. As you use a letter, another letter will appear underneath. There are multiple modes, you can use the state abbreviations for hints.

Enjoy Learning US Puzzle Map  FREE

  • Enjoy Learning US Puzzle Map gives  you the shape of the state. You drag it to the correct spot on the map. There are 3 different levels to challenge you: showing outline, one snaps the states into place, and one is a blank map. When it gives you the shape of the state, it also gives you the name, so you would be making a mental match between  the states and their locations.

Geography Drive USA $3.99 for iPad

  • Geography Drive USA is only for iPads. You drive across the United States answering trivia and playing games. There are bonus levels that will help prepare for the test. Since you can only go to states that touch, it does reinforce the relative locations of states compared to each other.

US State Capitals Quiz FREE

  • US State Capitals Quiz does exactly what the name implies: asks the state capitals. The questions are multiple choice, and the incorrect answers are other famous cities in that state. There are no visuals except the ads.
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GoogleGlass Week4

Today is my one month anniversary for class. Our bond has successfully lasted as long as most of my high school relationships, with the same emotional up and downs, elation to frustration to joy to confusion. This week I dreamed about Glass. I was wearing Glass to resolve the drama of my dream, which was loosely based on the murder mystery novel I was reading before bed. Obviously the dream version had better features, but it was still a sign that using it has become a natural part of my day and now dreams.

2013-12-28 17.38.13A newly discovered actual feature is the projection of Local Attractions and Photo Hot Spots in close proximity to Glass with a tap and a backwards swipe. Since I was playing the role of a tourist, it was interesting to see the places recommended as attractions. However, I do not know what algorithm Google uses to select the picture to represent the place. The Columbus Zoo shows a guy leaning awkwardly against his car, which is not an accurate image to demonstrate why people would want to visit the famous zoo. I loved wearing Glass and taking pictures and videos naturally while walking through the Wild Lights display at the zoo.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 6.41.17 PMRandom musing of the week: Could a gorilla learn to use Glass? Obviously not the voice commands, but the simple swipe sequences to accomplish tasks. This is what I was thinking about while taking pictures of the gorillas while wearing glass. The use and series of motions have become easy. Initially I would be frustrated when moving between the options and menus, but now it is second nature. I can visualize the process and walk others through the process if they try on Glass and I stare deeply into their eyes (which has been very helpful when using the classroom).

A major difference this week has been the environment where I have been wearing Glass. I was visiting family for the holiday in Central Ohio and Glass is less known. I wore it many places and I got 10,000 stares but only 2 people actually showed interest and knew that it was Google Glass and not a medical device for my eye – which I overheard someone pityfor the strange thing on my face. Attending tech conferences it will be the opposite reaction. There are definitely differences in the environment and geographic areas.Some of my family were less pleased with me wearing Glass. 

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 5.16.52 PM

It did bring up the discussion about Glassiquette. When should you wear it? Is wearing it when you don’t need it unsocial? What about places with no photograph policies – like museums? Should I care what people think? While wearing Glass I do not check Facebook or play Candy Crush, so I am more involved in the conversations around me. I just sometimes include Google in the loop to find answers. 

The true value of technology is being able to incorporate it into everyday life to complete tasks more efficiently. Personally, I can not be an occasional user or I am wasting the money. Once I really explore in my personal life, it is so much easier to apply to the classroom.

Previous Glass Reflections:

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GoogleGlass Week3

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 3.36.37 PMThe excitement this week was bringing Google Glass to BYOT^4  Club. I created a FlipChart to explain the different functions they could try with GoogleGlass. Because the ratio of students to Glass was not balanced, I told the students to research about Glass online. They came up with tricks I had not even discovered (like opening Google when there is music playing and swiping to have the artist/song revealed). I also asked them what they thought of Glass; these are some of their answers:

Student Reaction

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 12.35.02 PM


Taking a picture #throughglass of people taking pictures.

Taking a picture #throughglass of people taking pictures.

For the question about the price range they – someone said $1,000,000 and another student wrote out a thoughtful explanation of bugs needing to be fixed before they would comment on cost. All of them liked Glass, some just elaborated on why they liked it. The features they liked most were asking Google complex math problems, taking pictures, and translating the posters around the room into other languages with the WorldLens app. Each student was able to try the Glass 2 or 3 times and complete one of the tasks.

fan cooling GlassThe room where we have BYOT Club has no window access, so a new cooling off technique was necessary. The fan on high speed was rather efficient.

The overheating/turning off is of concern. I have made multiple attempts at contacting Google to find a resolution to the problem. Based on the Community Forum, the problems I am experiencing are not common. That makes me feel so much better about the usability of the product, just not my personal device. Of course, I would feel even better if mine worked like anticipated. Maybe Santa will help me out.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 3.08.36 PMThere was an update this week that allowed two substantial chances: wink for pictures and connecting to the new iOS MyGlass app and getting turn by turn directions on Glass. The wink is slightly creepy. I generally do not like being winked at (unless in reference to Pride & Prejudice). Now if a random person winks and happens to be wearing Glass, you have to wonder if they took your picture. The wink feature even works when the Glass is in sleep mode. It’s also taken pictures for me when I have yawned or sneezed because my eyes must twitch like winks. It has made for some interesting pictures. I like the GPS directions on Glass. It was easy to follow and hear without being a distraction.

I used Glass to help create Christmas movies – I created a short one for everyone in my family to preview their big gifts (some of which were too big to make the journey, so they are only getting the video for now). While wearing Glass, I took pictures of the product, related to the gift, or just general holiday pictures. Without Glass, I would not have been able to get action shots of wrapping presents or sampling at the winery. I still have not streamlined getting the photos from Glass to my computer or iPhone to make videos (or generally use). There is easy ways to share with Facebook and G+, as long as you want to share it with the world. I can share privately to Evernote, but that takes up precious space. I wish a DropBox app existed for Glass to push desired pictures directly to DropBox. It does sync when I connect Glass to my laptop, but I notice not all pictures show up on G+ backup. I do not know how it selects which ones are valuable. The picture capabilities were the easiest to use and learn (including my new trick of the vignette). I hope other features will become as second nature.

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Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 9.37.24 PM

I have attended 3 years worth of EdCamps and Unconferences at 5 different venues. The memories and learning is hard to describe. But EdCamp is having 12 Days of Edcamp for people around the country to reflect and share. Follow the learning on Twitter.

After the 12 days, I will update my blog with all my personal reflections (see below). It has been a busy few weeks, so I have not had the chance to update until now.

Day 1 of #edcampgift: Recognize and celebrate an amazing colleague that you’ve met at Edcamp.

Day 2 of #edcampgift: Share the best Edcamp session you’ve ever attended.

Day 3 of #edcampgift: Share your favorite Edcamp photo.

Day 4 of #edcampgift: Share something you’ve implemented in your classroom after an Edcamp.

Day 5 of #edcampgift: Share an old blog post you’ve written that was inspired by Edcamp.

Day 6 of #edcampgift: Tweet a place that would be perfect for a future Edcamp.

Day 7 of #edcampgift: Share your favorite Edcamp food or treat.

Day 8 of #edcampgift: Share a valuable educational tool you learned about at Edcamp.

Day 9 of #edcampgift: Share an experiment you tried that was inspired by Edcamp.

Apparently I skipped a day, but just one. 

Day 10 of #edcampgift: Share your dreams for the Edcamp community.

Day 11 of #edcampgift: Compliment a trusted Edcamp organizer.

Day 12 of #edcampgift: Share the next Edcamp you plan to attend.

In other exciting Edcamp news, I am now helping out with the Online Presence Committee of the Edcamp Foundation. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with so like minded, passionate people.

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GoogleGlass week 2

There was something different about wearing Google Glass for the second week. The biggest change was my willingness to let more people try it on. That made me nervous the Me throughGlassfirst week. Thanks to novice users, I appeared in a variety of candid shots when the photos were uploaded to G+. The collage to the left is some of my favorite shots from people just playing around with the camera feature. I am not that vain, so now my strategy is to guide them to Google a question. The search results don’t immortalize my interesting facial expressions. I could also justify students taking class time to Google the state of their choice – the 50 states is our next unit, so it tied in nicely and gave everyone the opportunity to try Glass if they wanted. Another change was the length of time I would wear Glass. Since I wore it for longer stretches, when I took Glass off I still had a phantom Glass feel and I would swear I was wearing it.


Monday our BYOT Club participated in the Hour of Code. I captured their work through Google Glass. I have never heard them work so silently, as they worked independently through the different levels of Light Bot. I did peak their interest in Glass. We are having a special club gathering for them to brainstorm how students could use Glass to learn after getting to try it on. I am going to have some pre-written prompt cards to have them work through different processes. I am sure I will have some great suggestions that they come up in a post next week.

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 5.07.56 PM

A disadvantage to using the Glass more: it would overheat and shutdown. I suppose there could be a possibility that the two events were unrelated, but it happened multiple times. The first time I really noticed this was a problem was when I was letting students Google information about the states. It would successfully work for 7-9 students and then it would shut down. I would not say that they were doing anything incredibly intense. They were not recording video or following GPS directions. My solution was to stick Glass between the double pane window in my classroom. That quickly cooled it off. It was almost pretty with Glass in the window and snowflakes falling in the background.

GroceryShoppingSince I was comfortable with Glass, I took it with me grocery shopping and Christmas gift shopping. I love the connection of Google Now (through the Google iOS app and the voice command “Remind me to…”) and Google Glass. I was able to save my shopping list as a reminder and pull it up with a tap and a single swipe. That was very efficient. Granted, if the list was longer than the small view finder, it would be less successful. I also used Glass to demystify some of the pre-holiday sales. I do not like when stores have a percentage off a percentage or other confusing terms. Luckily Google is a math whiz as long as you speak clearly. While out shopping today, only two people came up to ask questions about Glass. There were many people who just stared. My favorite was a middle school age kid who stood next to me for awhile in the dairy section before working up the courage to ask about them. I rewarded his curiosity by letting him try them on. I felt like Santa granting someone’s holiday wish.

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GoogleGlass week one

Last Saturday I had a wonderful day trip to New York City to pick up my Google Glass. In the past week I have found many uses for the Glass but also found a few things I wish were different. There is a useful Explorers Community to share the Wish List of features, but writing out my thought process brings clarity. Besides, the tech specs of many of the contributors to the community is above my level of comprehension.
The easiest use of Glass is the ability to take pictures and videos. This is also the feature that worries the general public; people can take pictures without you knowing. Not that I agree with that sentiment, I either have to be mumbling to myself or be taking the side of my face. Not exactly covert actions. The post-borrow photo roll is hilarious after I have let friends try on the glass. Human nature is to keep swiping and clicking, so the danger is not having it in Guest Mode have having these accidentally posted on social media.

PopulationDensity GlassIn the classroom there was a easy tie in with Google Glass and looking at maps of population density. This was the only time I let some of the students try the Glass out. They were so in awe that they did not try to

take selfies. I want to incorporate the Glass into our weekly current event Friday. I am so proud of the curiosity and world view that the students are developing by using the Week in Rap every Friday. They frequently have follow up questions about the countries or groups involved. I’m sure if the students were able to use Glass, their curiosity and desire to seek more answers would increase.

I tried to use the recipe Allrecipe Glassware. The major disadvantage was the lack of measurements. It did nicely walk through each step, but without the necessary quantities it was not very useful. I also struggled to find a way to clear the search history of the recipe. When I tried searching for a second and third recipe, it still displayed the first results. Turning Glass off solved the problem, but that did not seem convenient. I could see Glassware for tutorials, basically non-food recipe. It would be a great way to walk learners through tasks. It could take flipped lessons to a more interactive level.

I love the way a QR code was used to connect to the wi-fi. It would be great if there was a built in QR reader, which seems like a practical extension since you can not type on Glass. But I bet this feature would drain the battery, which already has a preciously if un-predictable short life.

A minor fail is not being able to see the images embedded in emails when you open them up. So many emails are reliant on image and not text alone. What I thought would be easy, like transferring a tracking number from an email into a website on my computer was just frustrating. There were multiple steps to find the email (like scrolling through the long history of pictures, tweets, and emails on Glass). I finally found the desired email to have the undesirable surprise when I opened it up of a blank page. The image did not load.

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 6.09.44 PMIt was fun and chaotic wearing glass during #edtechchat. Seeing responses to my Tweets with the chat conversation flowing in the background was unique. I just wish I could speak replies. Yes, technically that was an option, but the speech-to-text leaves a lot to be desired with punctuation and capitalization. You only have a few seconds to read the tweet before it automatically posts. I found this stressful. Since I use Twitter for my professional communication, I wanted perfection. The speech-to-text is satisfactory for sending “Notes to Self” on Evernote, but it is not fit for the eyes of the public. All of the tidbits for this post were made during the week as notes on Evernote with lots of post-editing and elaborating. I am excited for the potential of next week #throughglass.

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