Some Tech Sense Putting All Those Tech Pieces Together Mon, 01 Dec 2014 08:34:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My Blog has Moved! Sat, 25 Jun 2011 04:59:26 +0000 No related posts. ]]> Dear all,

Some Tech Sense can now we found at

Do you ever feel like all of your techie identities are just out there… somewhere… all over the place? It was time to have an umbrella to help bring them all together. Visit my new page at which leads to my blog and many other things I’m currently working on in life and my profession!



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Resources for Designing a Blended Class Mon, 20 Jun 2011 19:33:08 +0000 No related posts. ]]> Many schools are using Course Management Systems to offer their students a blended instruction experiences.  What resources (technology, human, etc.) do you currently have at your disposal that could assist you in doing this? What resources do you feel as an instructional designer you are missing that would hamper your efforts?

Designing an online course in isolation is very difficult to do and I am fortunate to work in a school where we have the ability to use the team approach for the designing process. When designing a blended course at school several people are involved in the process. The classroom teacher is the instructional expert, the technology facilitator assists in the design, and the IT Staff assists with the background setup of our chosen CMS.

The classroom teacher is the content specialist during the design process at our school, but some of the teachers lack confidence in the technology area and relinquish any control to the technology facilitator. Ko and Rossen noted that some instructors turn everything over to the designer, expecting them to edit and upload all materials (2010). While not the norm, I’ve experienced this first hand in my position. Ko and Rossen did not mention a teacher’s motivation for relinquishing control, but I believe that it comes from a place of fear of the technology. As I’ve stated in previous posts, this comes back to a quality professional development and support program for the classroom teacher.

The technology facilitator at our school takes the lead in the course design process. It’s important to note that the technology facilitators at our school were once classroom teachers, which as Ko and Rossen note help them “understand the dynamic nature of teaching and classroom interaction” (Ko & Rossen, 2010, Chapter 4, Section 3, para. 1). The technology facilitator helps the classroom teacher gain confidence in the design process by consistently bringing the discussion back to what to what the instructor wants the students to learn and how they could demonstrate their learning. By keeping this idea at the forefront of all discussions, teachers are able to take a more active role in the design process.

The IT staff support the classroom teacher and technology facilitator throughout the design process at our school. Albeit, the IT staff needs a fair amount of support as well! The IT staff are the true geeks and often need consistent questioning and help with follow through, but they are the technical background support of our chosen CMS system and help us navigate through the technical complexities. It is worth noting, the technology facilitator is the technical “translator” between the classroom teacher and the IT staff.

The technology we have at our k12 international school allows us to be creative with design process. We use Moodle as our Course Management System, we are a 1:1 Apple Flagship School in Asia in grades 6 to 12 and are able to host media on our own servers for students and staff to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

The only missing component I see at this time in my school revolves around the number of technology facilitators. Over the past three years my particular division has grown from 324 students to 480 students and the number of teachers has grown at the same rate. I am but one technology facilitator, teaching all 480 students and their teachers. There are not enough minutes in the day to reach them individually and as a result my role has changed significantly with the growth. I find myself spending more time with just the teachers, hoping and knowing they will carry forward their new-found knowledge in blended instruction to their students. While I feel lucky to have the resources I have at my school, I can see the potential of what can be done with just one more of me…

Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching online: A practical guide (3rd ed.). [iPad version]. Retrieved from

Image Credits
leader by varnent

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Middle School Student Led Conferencing & Tech Wed, 13 Apr 2011 04:21:24 +0000 No related posts. ]]> Our middle school has been doing Student Led Conferencing (SLCs) for four years now and we’ve been making it better each year. As a middle school, we’ve come up with a plan of action and have something that we are going to move forward with next year. It has worked so well, our elementary school dipped into SLCs this year as an entire division. In year’s past, the middle school has used several methods to have students showcase their learning using technology:


  • Blogs

Each student has a working portfolio with their school blog. Over the past couple of years, students would using the tag of SLC to showcase specific pieces of work to demonstrate their learning. Each subject was represented and the students would reflect on their SMART goals in password protected posts. While it worked, it still felt messy.

  • MS Office Notebook Layout Portfolio

Students and teachers took a shining to the Notebook Layout view in MS Word. The students could create a tab for each of their classes, create a tab for goal-setting and could use the record feature to record directly onto MS Word. While this worked fine, it had it’s bumps because it was completely tied to their computer so their audience and feedback was limited. Additionally, students liked using VoiceCandy in their classes as a quick way to record instead of Garageband, but VoiceCandy and MS World do not get along on a consistent basis.

  • iWeb Growth Portfolios

This is the first year we have pushed iWeb with our teachers and students. We now have dedicated server space on site so that students have the option of publishing to the FTP Server, making their iWeb public OR publishing to their Local Folder on their computer. Two of our grade levels chose to use iWeb this year for SLCs and the students included work demonstrating their learning in classes as well as their own reflections for our newly adopted Middle School Student Learning Profile. Next year, iWeb will be used at all grade levels.

Using iWeb as a platform to be the umbrella for their learning has proven to be a platform that we are going to continue to support at our school. We are very proud of the growth and reflections that students have demonstrated throughout the portfolio creation process. I want to stress, the most important component of the SLCs is the communication that occurs between the student, the parents and the teacher during the SLC time. iWeb was the perfect platform for our students to organize the conversation about learning.

View Jonathan’s Portfolio for an example:


The feedback from the parents was extremely positive. The students were more engaged using the iWeb platform and the teachers spoke favorably of the iWeb platform for its ease of use with minor technical difficulties. It was a win-win-win for everybody!

Realtime Voting using the iPad and Phones Tue, 05 Apr 2011 06:05:59 +0000 No related posts. ]]> Over the weekend, the students performed at our spring drama event called Murder in the Air which is a comical dinner theater production. The play was presented well as the audience members were active participants throughout the whodunit production. The audience sat at round tables just as if they were at a banquet because we gave them a bit of group work during intermission.

As a group, we asked them to discuss who they felt was the culprit based on clues given throughout the first half of the performance. Rather than simply having them write their guesses down on a piece of paper, I used Poll Everywhere to set up a website that would allow people to vote. I opened the website on the iPads we use at school and then bookmarked the site so that an icon for Murder in Air was on the Homescreen of the iPad. The audience loved this little piece of technology by voting on the iPad and they enjoyed seeing the realtime results projected onto the wall.

To take it a step further, we allowed individual participants to vote for the culpret using their phones.

Individual Text Results

They would text a number and then identify the culprit in their message using a pre-assigned number. The adults and kids alike enjoyed watching the bar graph update by the second and they seemed to text several times just to see the graph change!

It was something so simple but yet so much. We were able to showcase a bit of technology and show off our new school App that is available on the iTunes App Store by placing the Murder in the Air icon next to the SAS App.  Just a pinch of marketing… :)

Parent Technology Workshops – Learning With Technology Mon, 28 Mar 2011 01:42:48 +0000 No related posts. ]]> PTW1Before the Spring Break, we held the fourth installment of our Parent Technology Workshops here at SAS – Pudong. We hold the workshops once a month for parents so that they can feel up to speed in their child’s education. As technology is a tool for their learning, the Parent Technology Workshops give parents time to have discussions around the use of technology and to give them the skills they need to stay informed about their child’s technological journey.

The last Parent Technology Workshop was the first in a two part series called Mac OSX Scavenger Hunt. The scavenger hunt format introduced parents who are new to the Mac environment to important and useful features on the Mac so that they are better able to guide their children and gain a better understanding for themselves. We are finding that many parents have gone and purchased their own Mac and we want to support them!

PTW2The Scavenger Hunt has nearly 30 items and we talked in depth about 6 of them in depth in the 80 minutes we spent together. Below are the notes from our session. We’ll repeat and expand on the Mac OSX Scavenger Hunt during our next Parent Technology Workshop Sessions over Parent/Teacher Conferences on April 7th and 8th.

We’re looking forward to future Parent Technology Workshops as there is definitely a need in our community. Each time I do one, we have at least 50 parents that want to come and learn with technology.

What kinds of workshops have you done with your parents in your communities? What do they want to learn?

Mac OSX Scavenger Hunt Items Discussed:

How to take a screenshot on your Mac
Hold down the keys Command, Shift, 4. The curser will turn into crosshairs. Click and drag the cursor over the area you would like to capture on your screen. The image will save on your desktop. Drag it to your iPhoto icon to save it into iPhoto.

How to use Time Machine
We recommend purchasing a separate hard drive that you can dedicate to Time Machine in order to back up your Mac. The hard drive does not need to be an Apple hard drive but should be between 500GB and 1TB. Once you purchase the hard drive, plug it into the computer and open Disk Utility. Select the hard drive on the left menu and then select Erase. Set the Format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). This will erase and format the hard drive for Time Machine.

Next, go to the Spotlight to search for and open Time Machine. Turn the slider to the ON position and select your new hard drive as the Time Machine Backup hard drive. Your first back up will take a lot of time so I recommend letting it work overnight. After your first back up, plug in your hard drive at least once a week to update the backup. This will take less time.

How to right click on a Mac
There are two ways to right click on a Mac. The two handed method is to hold down the Control button and click on the trackpad. The one handed method is to put two fingers on the trackpad and then click on the trackpad.

How to create a PDF
You can turn a document into a PDF easily on a Mac but using the print function. I use the shortcut of Command P to print or you can go to File and select Print. When the print window opens, look to the bottom left corner for the PDF button. Click on it and select Save as PDF. PDFs are useful because they are smaller files that can be read on almost anybody’s computer (Mac or PC).

How to do Software Updates
There are two items we ask our students to do one a week and one of them is Software Updates. We ask them to put a recurring evening on their iCal with an alarm to remind them even though the the computer automatically checks for software updates. The fact is that many people click on the Not Now or Later button and find themselves behind in updates. Software Updates are important to extend the life of a computer’s Operating System (OS. It updates a computer’s applications, Security Updates, device drivers and firmware.

To do Software Updates, go to the apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and select Software Updates. The computer will check for new software. If you have not done this in awhile, you’ll have several updates available. It’s then sometimes best to click on the Show Details button and do a few updates at a time. Especially in China, the internet speed impacts how quickly and successfully software updates download.


Congrats to our new and old ADEs! Wed, 09 Mar 2011 01:56:45 +0000 No related posts. ]]> The Apple Distinguished Educator community is a remarkable community to be a part of in this small little world of ours.  I was on twitter yesterday and Steve Katz brought the number of ADEs.  I hadn’t actually thought about it until yesterday, but when I looked up I found that Shanghai American School has 14 ADEs and 3 members of Apple Professional Development.

I hope that all of the new ADE recruits have a wonderful time in Vietnam this April at the ADE Asia Institute.  You are joining a supportive community where everybody lifts you up for the things you do well and encourages you through the things you can do better on.  That’s what it’s all about – we don’t have all of the answers but we are absolutely will to try and find them.

Everybody together now….. “YES, AND…..”

Congrats to our new ADEs at SAS this year:

And of course to our ADE Alumni at SAS – Keep the GREAT work up!


Using Technology to Teach Reading Wed, 07 Apr 2010 03:12:22 +0000 No related posts. ]]> My daughter is learning to read to just like every other first grader our there.  As a mom, this is my first time going through this experience since most of my teaching career has been in the secondary grades.  So I’ve decided to help her the only way I know how and that involves using technology.  Maddie has had her own blog since she was two years old and I have used that to document her journey overseas for family and friends.  Over the past couple of years, she has been using her owncamera to take pictures for the blog.  We then sit down together and talk about what she wants to say and I type away as she chatters on and on about her life.  Now that she is beginning to learn how to read and write though, she is able to take a more active role in her own blog.

Maddie is the youngest child in her class and needs a bit of a boost with her reading.  By introducing the technology component, I am hoping to answer some of these questions over the next couple of months:

  • How does recording herself reading stories and listening to herself impact her reading fluency and comprehension?
  • How does listening to pre-recorded stories that I have made for her on her iPod impact her reading development?
  • How does her attitude toward reading change by using technology to enhance her development?

Maddie opened up iMovie on her own yesterday after school and recorded herself reading a Birds’ Feet.  She then exported the file to Quicktime after her first take.  She took herself very seriously and really only needed help getting the movie on YouTube so that she could put it on her blog.  When we talked about what she had done by reading and listening to herself, this is what she found:

  1. Maddie said the title correctly the second time because she knew that she was being recorded.  She herself said that she would’ve just let the mistake stand if she had not been recording herself.
  2. Maddie stayed engaged throughout the entire process of opening up iMovie, recording herself, exporting the movie, putting it on YouTube, logging into her blog and writing the blog post.  She extended her time on task.
  3. After listening to her movie, Maddie made connections by remembering photos of me with a parrot when I was younger.
  4. Maddie was proud of herself and showed confidence in what she was reading.
  5. Maddie typed her own sentences in the blog post instead of asking me to type for her.

I am hoping that the self evaluation and reflection process is the cornerstone to learning reading for my six year old.  As educators, we build reflection time for our students to enhance their learning.  As a mom, I believe the self reflection process will give my child the confidence to encourage her reading development.

Maddie’s actual blog post is here.

Personal Branding – Knowing Who You Are Sun, 21 Mar 2010 23:05:43 +0000 No related posts. ]]> At today’s ADE Session in Singapore we spent the day talking about the importance of personal branding.  We are fortunate to have Max Judd here who facilitated the personal branding session.  Max is the senior manager of Education Advocacy Programs at Apple and is responsible for the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) program.  He talked about how Steve Jobs really helped Apple redefine itself with the Think Different campaign and how redefining Apple would have changed if the brand would have said Think Differently.  Famous logos crossed the screen that most of us recognized from companies and PEOPLE that we all recognized.  Companies like McDonald’s are recognized by all and Obama’s logo broke serious ground as it was the first time a candidate for President actually created a logo.

Rebecca Stockley gave us time to form our ideas through an exercise that built in the cherished time for both reflection and time to give/receive feedback about our reflections from our colleagues.  We started with identifying the key roles that defined us as a professional and then photographer Joseph Linaschke demonstrated HOW to capture our roles in a single image.  His photograph was creative, inspiring and really sent the message about what my colleague Declan does in his job as an ICT Coordinator.

What surprised me throughout the day was that mental blocks kept coming up throughout the day.  People almost tortured about what image would describe what they do as their professional self.  I know few educators who have a recognizable personal brand our personal logo right now and frankly, I can only think of Jeff Utecht right now.  He actually has TWO!  Comparing them one of them was designed by David Gran, a fellow ADE and talented artist, and one of them Jeff designed.  One of them used catchy technological words in a globe and one of them was a simple image with the phrase ‘The Thinking Stick’.  So what is the difference between the two logos?  Both are technically part of his personal brand but what Jeff is extremely talented at is getting people to THINK.

LogoI spent the day having deep conversation with my colleagues about branding themselves and it came down to this:  Educators want to be known for their ideas and their beliefs rather than simply their roles of educator, mentor or colleague. AND I will also argue that as educators we really SHOULD blur the line a bit around our professional self and our personal self.  We are educators and my nature what seems to matter the most is the personal connection we have with our audience.  Jeff was either lucky or brilliant to come up with The Thinking Stick years ago because is shows his professional ideas and beliefs around reflection and shows a bit of his personal self showing his passion for baseball. Logo

In this day and age, I think it is important to sit down and create your personal brand, but know that it’s a process that will take time, self-reflection and most importantly reflection from your colleagues.  Ask your audience, “So how do you see me a teacher?  an administrator?  a consultant?  a mentor?  And then, throw a little bit of your personal self in the mix!

Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express? Sat, 20 Mar 2010 14:34:18 +0000 No related posts. ]]> Before the Apple Distringuished Educator Asia Institute began, I headed on down to Singapore with a few other ADEs to be part of Final Cut Pro training.  I’ll admit, I’ve opened Final Cut Express a few times but I haven’t really spent too much time with it.  It, along with Final Cut Pro, is the type of program you need to sit down with for a big chunk of time so that you can process and put all of its intricacies deep inside your head.  I’m walking out of the training inspired because I actually see a use for this dynamic program even at the middle school level.  As a teacher, I can’t wait to get back to school so that I can tape something with several cameras and put it all into Final Cut Pro.  My biggest question that I have is this:  What types of Final Cut projects are schools doing with their students?

Ripping, Rolling, Slipping, Sliding… I kind of feel like they are lyrics from a 60’s song but we are talking about a mighty powerful piece of software.

So, two questions:

What types of projects are you seeing from students using Final Cut?

Do you think it’s necessary to have Final Cut Pro for schools or does Final Cut Express do the job?

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She’s had her computer for 3 weeks…. Wed, 18 Nov 2009 15:05:23 +0000 No related posts. ]]> Tomorrow I have the honor of presenting at our school PTSA meeting which is solely going to be centered around one topic: technology. I love it when topics are so broad. Really, we could talk about anything and everything under the sun. What scares me a bit is that we are going to spend too much time talking about the stuff that really doesn’t matter so much.

Recently, I blogged about Apple Remote Desktop and talked about it with my PLN on Twitter. I heard the voices loud and clear where many said that ARD only distracts us from the important work that we are lucky enough to do with our students… making connections, integrating technology, developing our students into true global citizens. Tomorrow, I feel like many of the parents will want to talk about parental controls and screening software such as Apple Remote Desktop. While these topics deserve a conversation, I want to focus on what our students have been doing during the first three weeks of our 1:1 rollout program.

Because of the new software and the new server, our students have been turning work in digitally to teachers. The teachers have been giving feedback on student work digitally from highlights to recording their comments in Garageband and placing them on the student work. The teachers have then been returning work to the kids digitally.

Language teachers have kids learning beginning Mandarin and all of a sudden saying things like “I like apples” is an interesting statement and the kids are engaged. Why? Because technology has increased engagement across the board.

Science teachers have students creating talking worksheets for vocabulary and give them the option to design a product which displays their knowledge about Biospheres. This designing a product was an OPTION for the students. Guess what? Over 80% of the class took their teacher up on the offer even though the technology component didn’t impact their grade. Cassie has only had her computer for three weeks and look what she was able to do…

I’m hoping that the conversation around “watching” students will be short tomorrow because I have lots to celebrate on behalf of my students and teachers!

Leave your comments here for Cassie and I will share them with her!