Craig McClellan, 2nd Grade TN Teacher

Who are you and what do you do?IMG_0329

My name is Craig McClellan, and I teach 2nd grade at a public school in Nashville, TN. I am also a graduate student studying Instructional Practice in ELL (English Language Learners), and blog about technology (mostly
Apple) in education at The Class Nerd. You can find me on twitter at @craigmcclellan.

What hardware are you using?

Here’s my personal setup:

  • 2013 13’ Retina Macbook Pro w/ 2.4GHz i5, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB hard drive. OS X 10.11 Public Beta
  • iPad Air 2 in Silver w/ 64GB HardDrive iOS 9
    Public Beta
  • iPhone 6 in Silver w/ 64GB HardDrive iOS 9 Public Beta
  • Apple Watch Stainless Steel 42mm w/Classic Buckle and White Sport Band

I purchased the Macbook Pro in the spring of 2014 when my beloved Macbook Air was stolen. At the time, the pricing between an Air and Pro with similar RAM and storage was only $100. It made a financial sense to get a more powerful machine with a retina display for so little more (relatively). However
, I have missed the form factor of the Macbook Air every day since I got this machine. It was my favorite Mac I’ve ever owned.

The iPad Air 2 is also a delight to use, and I find myself using it as much if not more than my Mac. The new features coming in iOS 9 have m
ade this device a force to be reckoned with.

My next iPhone will definitely be in the 6+ size (though probably not for another year). Now that I have an Apple Watch, I don’t take my phone out of my pocket as much, so the larger size won’t be as inconvenient. However, I’d like to be able to do more work on my phone when I do use it.

The Apple Watch is a delight, especially in the classroom. I can leave my phone plugged into my classroom sound system and still get my most important notifications^1 on my wrist. As much as I hate to admit it, my phone can be a distraction even in the classroom. The watch keeps me more engaged with my students. I can’t wait for watchOS 2 this month though. Native apps, and 3rd party complications are going to be amazing.

My classroom also has 3 old Dell desktops (one for me, and 2 for students), an iPad 4, 2 iPad minis on the way, and a Mimio smartboard (to be installed in the next few days).

And what software?

Software for Personal Productivity

One of my main requirements for personal productivity software is that it be available on Mac and both iOS devices and have some way to sync. I move between my devices so much I need my tools to be consistent.

Ulysses: Ulysses is a Markdown text editor for Mac and iPad (though iPhone is on the way). Markdown is a way of writing in plain text that allows you to quickly write, add in formatting, but not have to spend a lot of time on formatting like in a word processor. The goal of writing in Markdown is to write. Markdown editors are everywhere these days, and while there are some other really good ones out there, I always come back to Ulysses for its organization of files. It makes writing long passages (I’m currently working on a 35-50 page research paper for grad school) far easier to work with. I write for my blog, parent newsletters, grad school assignments, and more all in Ulysses. My responses to these questions were written on both my Mac and iPad using Ulysses.

OmniFocus: OmniFocus is my task manager of choice. If I’m being honest, the beginning of the school year is so insane that I’m not good at maintaining my OmniFocus lists. I try to follow David Allen’s GTD system though, and I always find I’m more stressed out when I don’t stick with it well.

Apple Notes: Right? Who would have thought. Having been on the El Capitan and iOS 9 public betas, I can say that I love Apple’s updated Notes apps. While they’re not perfect, they have definitely taken over nvALT as my main way of taking short notes.

Workflow: I’ve written a post on my blog about how I use Workflow, but I’ll add to it by saying the new version 1.3 which came out last week has added some killer new features.

Due: Due is relatively new to my setup, but already I dispensable. I use Due to remind me to do a task at a certain time. So while OmniFocus holds all of my tasks and allows me to choose what to focus on while working, Due reminds me to deliver a paper to the office during my planning period or call a parent right after school. Due is great because it bugs you ever 1, 5, or 10 minutes (your choice) until you complete the task. Plus it works great with Apple Watch.

Evernote: I begrudgingly place Evernote on this list as I’m actively trying to stop using it. I dislike the direction the company is going in every way and am looking for a good alternative to store and search my paperless files. I’m considering iCloud Drive and iOS 9’s search.

Drafts: Teaching is fast paced and difficult. Having an app I can open, immediately input text, and then do what I want with it later is amazing.

Software for Teaching

This is an area I’m continuing to expand, but with limited access to devices for students, I am working on finding great software and tools to use with the new smartboard though.

Google Drive: Working with 2nd graders, I don’t require each student to have their own google account. Instead, I have created a class account that my students can access to write documents in. I can then copy and paste their work to my class Squarespace blog to share with parents.

Drafts: Though I use drafts for myself as well, it’s really handy for student work. I set it up on student iPads with actions to send whatever they type to either a Google Drive file or a text file in Dropbox for with their name for me to grade.

Remind: I use Remind for parent communication, and absolutely love it. Quick reminders when forms are due, when students have PE and need tennis shoes, and more are really nice.

Squarespace: For longer news than Remind can transmit, I have a class blog hosted by Squarespace. I also post student work there to share with parents and other family.

I’ve tried a handful of other apps, and they’re fine. I do have plans to add more when my classroom gets more iPads in the coming weeks as well. For example, I want to record myself reading stories and store it on Soundcloud to students to use during Daily 5’s Listen to Reading.

How has your workflow and your teaching changed from when you first started?

As this is only my second year teaching, it hasn’t that much. The primary areas have been my attempts to reorganize my GTD system (emphasis on the word attempts), and my abandoning Evernote. I am excited to see how a smartboard in the classroom changes things for me as well.

What would your dream set up be?

Ideally, I would have an iMac in my classroom (and if we’re talking dream, it would be a 27inch Retina iMac) at my desk. It would be connected to the projector and smartboard, and I would do most of my work related computing tasks on it. Then have a smaller laptop (probably the new Macbook) and iPad setup for portable work like blogging and grad school writing.

I would love to have my students be 1:1 with iPads. I think that could be a game changer. I think the iPad Mini 2 is ideal for that. It’s a great form factor, not extremely expensive, and still really powerful. With that, I could have more personalized experiences for each student.

Finally, I would really like a File Transporter to store my paperless system in.
The convenience of cloud storage without the security concerns? Sign me up.

^1: Mostly messages and reminders from OmniFocus and Due.

Two additional questions

Do you backup your data? If so how?

I have a Time Capsule at home that I use for my Mac, and I use iCloud backups for my iOS Devices. I plan on getting a Blackblaze subscription for my Mac soon, but am trying to save some money right now.

How do you separate your school and personal life?

Not very well. Especially with grad school connecting the two so often.

The main thing I’ve tried to do is listen to myself when I’m overwhelmed and take a break. I will often push myself to the edge and still have things to do. At that point, I have to stop and say my health and sanity is more important than this lesson or graduate assignment. I can’t kill myself or I’m no good to my students or my family.

Also a side mention, do you recommend installing the beta’s?

I won’t do it again next year unless Apple opens up testflight to external testers. I wanted to get betas of apps
and review them, but that hasn’t happened. The new features are nice, but not worth the frustration of the beta if I can’t get any good stories for The Class Nerd out of them.

Sandy Freeland: 3rd Grade Teacher and Tech Development

Who are you and what do you do?

10389084_10204673949548127_2189366482901295330_n (1)My name is Sandy Freeland. I am in my third year teaching full-time at McBain Elementary School in McBain, MI. It is a small (about 1,000 kids) K-12 connected building. I also taught part-time and in long-term substitute positions in McBain for 6 years prior to my full-time hire status. I’ll be teaching 3rd grade for the second year this year. I’ve also taught Kindergarten and 2nd grade.

In addition to classroom teaching, I’ve also provided technology professional development for the district for 3 years. This year will be my first year as the official Technology Integration Coach. I am 22i-TRIG trained and a REMC BLiC certified instructor. I am also part of a small team of Michigan 3rd grade teachers that will be working on creating a digital, interactive social studies textbook this year. This is part of the MI Open Book Project led by Dave Johnson. I am excited to be part of this process!

In my time outside of the classroom I can be found learning from others in Twitter chats (@TechyTeacher1), participating in groups on Facebook (#TechCoachTribe, Third Grade Tribe, Small Fish Teacher Blogger to name a few), and working on developing a coding club for my school. One goal I have this year it to become a better blogger. I have presented at a number of conferences, so I am trying to become a better blogger by sharing links to my presentations on my blog, I also enjoy running, reading, cake decorating, and spending time with my family…not necessarily in that order!

What hardware are you using?

Our entire K-12 district is 1:1 devices. All teachers have a MacBook Pro 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB 1600MHz DDR3, running Yosemite OS X. K-4 is 1:1 iPads, with Kindergarten using iPad Minis and 1st-4th using iPad Airs. Grades 5-12 are 1:1 MacBook Airs. We also have access to projectors in each classroom that are connected to AppleTV for AirPlay capabilities. In addition to these devices, we also have 3 computer labs that have 30 Dell PCs running Windows 7. These computers are left over from our pre-1:1 days.

And what software?

As a Technology Integration Coach, I’m often piloting different software and then sharing it with my staff members. Due to this, my list changes often, but here is a list of my current go-to’s for software right now.

Software Tools For Classroom Use:

Schoology: This is the LMS that our school uses. We have PowerSchool, and with Schoology’s PowerSchool integration, it makes my job easy! I create tests in Schoology as I’m working toward creating a paperless classroom. Written tasks can be graded by the teacher, otherwise it is graded by the software. From there it is synced with PowerSchool Gradebook. I also create assignments that my students can complete in Google Docs or Book Creator. Once completed, they can upload the files to Schoology. Voila! The piles of papers to-be-graded are no longer so large!

ClassKick: This is an app that allows teachers to create assignments, share them with their students, and then see what each student is doing simultaneously. Students can work through the assignment at their own pace. They can also raise their hand to ask for help without signaling in front of other students, as well as receive support from their classmates through the app. I’m new to this app, but I plan on using it during my Daily 5 reading and Daily 3 math stations this year. Students will be working on meaningful learning tasks while I am able to meet with individuals for one-to-one conferring. I’m really looking forward to digging deeper into this app this coming school year.

Skoolbo: My students LOVE this app! Skoolbo is a FREE common core math and ela practice app. Student accounts are created by me. Students log in and are taken through a few tasks for each content in order to place them where they are at. As the teacher, I can also assign specific tasks for them. At this time, the reports option is still not operational, but from the dashboard I can choose a student and see what they have been working on.

Book Creator (Free): We use the free version of Book Creator often. Last year I had my students create a recyclables book, as well as research the three main industries in Michigan and create an informational book about them in Book Creator. Users are limited in the amount of books they can make, but if you export your book as a PDF, you can delete everything and make a new book! I plan on bringing more research projects into my classroom this year, and Book Creator will allow my students to have a choice in how they present their information.

LearnZillion: LearnZillion has a free database of video lessons to support students. These lessons are Common Core aligned. They allow students to choose the standard and assign lesson videos to individuals or the whole class. Students can respond to the videos by completing notes about the videos. I plan on using this feature in ClassKick and/or with Explain Everything this year. Explain Everything can be uploaded to Schoology as well! I like that my students can use these videos as extra teaching on the skills they need during center time and at home!

Bloomz: I am excited to use the Bloomz App this year to bring my parent communication to a new level! Last year I used Remind and ClassDojo, along with my paper newsletter, to keep in contact with parents. This year I have created a Bloomz classroom. Bloomz allows me to share photos, message parents, share my newsletter, and share my classroom calendar with parents in a safe, private environment. Parents can even sign up to volunteer in the classroom through the app! Once your class is created, you can email parents the invite code. They go to the website, enter the invitation code, and they are set! Instead of having to post my update on my classroom webpage, my Remind account, and in ClassDojo, now I just go to one place. I can message individuals or groups. It is accessible on the computer and also through the iTunes and Play store.

Software Tools for Professional Learning & Connections:

Twitter: There are no words that can explain the value of the education connections that I have made on Twitter. It seems that there are so many educators on Twitter, but many educators that I know personally are not taking advantage of the awesome professional resource! I have learned more by participating in #MichEd chats (chats concerning topics relevant to Michigan educators), #edtechchat (chats concerning educational technology practices and pedagogy), and so many more! I definitely recommend taping the power of Twitter to enhance your professional learning and networking! You can find me by searching the Twitter handle @TechyTeacher1

Facebook Groups: Another professional tool that I feel does not get as much use as it could is the Groups feature on Facebook. Many teachers that do not feel comfortable exploring Twitter are connecting with others on Facebook.

Periscope: Periscope is all the rage right now! It is owned by Twitter. Periscope lets users open their world to any individual that is a Periscope user. It’s like Skype and Twitter combined, but instead of having a two-way video convo, the “Scoper” communicates with others by video broadcast. Viewers are able to comment and share hearts if they love what they are hearing. Most of the people that I follow are educators. I don’t tend to watch too many scopes live because there is often connectivity issues on the end of the scoper. Instead, I usually watch the replay. Scopes are available for 24 hours on Periscope following the live broadcast. Many scopers save their scopes and upload them to YouTube or their blogs. The best use of Periscope that I have experienced has been being able to “attend” conferences through the Periscopes created by individuals that are actually there!

How has your workflow and your teaching changed from when you first started?

When I first started teaching we had four PCs in the classroom and access to the computer lab. Halfway through teaching 2nd grade, I purchased an iPad 2. That was so exciting! During those days, I was weighed down by papers to grade and trying to create an open learning environment. It was very difficult to connect my students learning to anything outside of our school walls. Now I’m able to create a digital learning space in which my students are able to choose what tool works best for them to express their learning. I can assign tasks that meet their individual needs. They are connecting to other students in different states. My students are truly beginning to become global learners and I’m able to provide support to them at their level without having to constantly meet in small groups. I’ve become the instructor in the middle, a guide per se, instead of the holder of all knowledge.

When I had that first iPad, I used it mainly as a tool for consumption. My students used apps for fact and skill practice in small groups, but that was all. Now all of my students have iPads. They are able to continue to practice facts and skills, but they have also become creators. They are able to create and send their work to me digitally. I’ve cut down on the time I spend grading papers as I can use Schoology’s self-grading and PowerSchool Gradebook feature. This is definitely a smart use and eases my workflow!

What would your dream set up be?
I am fortunate that my dream setup is extremely close to what I have right now! The one item that would make it perfect would be to have a 3D printer in my classroom! I would love to have a SMARTboard and have control of my iPads. Otherwise, I’m teaching in my ideal setup.

Lindsey Reynolds

      Who are you and what do you do?

lindseypic (2)I am Lindsey Reynolds. I am a public school teacher with six years experience in a Title I middle school teaching English at Loris Middle School. I recently made a move to high school English at North Myrtle Beach High  and this upcoming year will be my first year there. My district is Horry County which is the third largest district in the state of South Carolina. I have a Master of Education in Instructional Technology and I am about to start my Ed.S. in Instructional Technology this fall. The mix of who I am and what I do really makes me who I am. I am a teacher because I am a learner and I want to instill that in every student I meet. When not working, I’m active on Twitter (@Lindsey_EdWrite) learning new technology and tools to use in my classroom. I’m a huge proponent of building life-long readers in my classroom, and believe that making students good citizens and lovers of reading and learning is more important than their score on the state test.

What hardware are you using?

I am blessed in that my district is 1:1. Grades 5-8, each student has his/her own iPad. Grades 9-12 each student has his/her own Dell Venue. Teachers also receive the device that belongs with the level they teach. Previously I had an iPad given to me from my district, this year I will receive a Dell Venue like my students. Personally, I have my own iPad and iPhone which are just extended versions of my own human limbs. My iPhone is my go-to for notes, reminders, scheduling, etc. In my dream world I am a Mac user, but in reality I have a district-issued Dell and at home I have a personal computer running windows. I’m waiting for the right time to bite the bullet and be able to justify the purchase of a brand new Mac.

I’m also one of those oddballs that sees the huge impact of pen and paper. So I am a colored pen collector, and notebook consumer. There’s something about writing that makes me sigh still. Despite all of the technology I have around me at home and at school, there’s something really important and really impactful about pen and paper. I also have my students keep hand-written notebooks in class. It’s just an art that I value and I want my students to value as well.

All buildings in the district have SmartBoards and projectors. In my classroom, I tended to use this as a projector screen alone. It was very easy for the SmartBoard to need to recalibrated, so honestly I didn’t use it other than to project on to. Most of the teachers in the school used it quite similarly to me. The middle school I taught at was Title I so we received those funds from the government, and much of those funds went to the acquisition of technology. We had several Macbook Air carts as well as windows laptop carts.

And what software?

By no means is this an all-inclusive list because I’m sure there’s going to be something I forget, but to the best of my ability, here goes nothing:

Twitter: I don’t know that there is a tool out there right now that has the under-used potential in the education field like Twitter. Twitter is my go-to for a connection to other educators. If I have a question or need help, I type it in Twitter and bam, it goes off to some of the smartest people in the whole world. As a district, we block it, which is in my opinion one of the biggest mistakes we could make. This year I plan to use Twitter as my backchannel in my classroom. On students’ personal devices (cell phones) where Twitter is not blocked, we’ll develop a hashtag and students can document their learning. I plan on using some kind of tool to display these tweets as a back channel in my room. I’m not sure which one yet. Any input is totally welcomed!

Class Dojo: I used this a lot in middle school, but I’m not sure how it will roll over to high school. I used this as behavior management in some of my classes at the middle school level. Basically you upload your classes to the site and it assigns a (aptly created) monster to the name so all the kids are monsters. You can create behaviors “started bell work” “helping others” “on task” and then give points for those behaviors. I had a projector in my room that ONLY projected Classdojo so I could have it up all the time even if I’m showing something on my main Dell and projector. For more advanced classes that didn’t need the behavior element I used it to keep track of talking during discussions like Socratic seminars. I would just have the behaviors “referred to the text” “politely disagreed” and things of that nature.

Google Classroom: If I were listing my software from most important to me, to least (which I’m not) this would be number one. My Google Classroom is the hub of my room. I post every assignment, every document, handout, worksheet, etc. here. It keeps me organized because I can grade right on the site, and if it is turned in digitally I don’t have to worry about losing it! Google Classroom organizes all of the assignments into their own folders in my Google Drive. It really is my lifeline in the classroom. It helps my students stay connected and organized because due dates show up on the side of the page and lets them go back to previous documents in case they are missing work. I prefer this to Edmodo simply because Edmodo got clumsy for me after they redesigned.

Google Apps for Education: Going off of Google Classroom, all of the Apps for Ed are  excellent and I use them all in various and numerous ways. I use Docs for students to edit or  they can collaborate with others. I use Forms for assessments, entrance and exit tickets, polls, etc. I have my students save everything they create in their Drive. The possibilities are endless.

Kahoot and Quizizz: Both of these are tools I use to review information before a test or quiz. They both turn student devices into essentially a buzzer or clicker. Both are in a  more game style where students are rewarded with points and a leaderboard. Both are quick to create or you can search for already created content and use it as is or edit it.

iMovie: In my classroom I think it’s important for students to be able to show what they’ve learned however best suits them. iMovie has been a great application that allows students to create content. As learning shifts from just learning information to how to sift through it and synthesize it, getting to the ‘create’ level of Bloom’s becomes even more important. I’ve had students make documentaries, book trailers, book reports, etc. iMovie has allowed them to showcase their learning in amazing ways.

Edpuzzle: Edpuzzle is the perfect tool to deliver information in a student-friendly way. After uploading or finding a video I can share it with my students. From there it shows up as an assignment and they watch the video, stopping to answer questions I’ve put in to guide their thinking, they can rewatch parts that they struggled with. All of this gets transferred to a neat and tidy report I can see how many times they rewatched sections, scores, who finished (who didn’t). It’s a tool I like because it lets students work at their own pace. I also like mixing in video as a medium to make things a little more lively.

Blogging: I have my students do a weekly blog. Sometimes it’s to practice grammar/writing skills we studied that week, sometimes it’s simply to get them writing. I’ve tried different platforms. I’ve used Edublogs which I think has a lot of neat features, but can get complicated. I’ve also used kidblog which I thought was complicated to log into. This coming year my plan is to use Blogger with my kids. The district creates a gmail address for each student in the district, so they will already have their log in for that which streamlines an impossibly difficult process of username and password chaos.

DonorsChoose: I believe in public education, and even more than that I believe in people who believe in public education. I’ve gotten eight DonorsChoose projects fully funded in the past year. This past school year I replaced all of my classroom desks with clover tables that helped foster community and encouraged my students to work together. I also received funding for a kidney table where I meet with my small groups. Right now I have a project listed for a Mac (not for me…unfortunately) so I can give my students in-class access to things like iMovie and podcasting software. I’d love to start a weekly podcast run by students. This is a great site that exists to help teachers.

Shameless plug: This just happens to be my DonorsChoose link –

This is by no means an exhaustive list, these are just the ones that come to mind most readily.

How has your workflow and your teaching changed from when you first started?

I like to think I’ve gone from working harder to smarter. Six years ago I wanted to be perfect. I needed to be the person in the room who knew everything. Since then, our 1:1 initiative makes it impossible to know everything and be up on all the Apps. Now I feel comfortable saying “We’re going to work on this project. I’ve listed some suggested Apps. If there’s one you want to use that is not on the list, come show me how it works.” Kids are more tech savvy than even the savviest educators, so learning from them takes some work off of my plate while also allowing them to be in the teacher’s seat. It helps them to see you as a human while also seeing they have a lot to offer. I love saying “I don’t know how to use that but so-and-so can teach you.” They are huge resources to me and each other.
As an English teacher, I think my biggest gripe was all of the reading, papers, and grading. Doing as much stuff digitally as possible helps me to keep everything organized. I can type a lot faster than I can talk, so that makes feedback a lot faster. I’ve also played around (only minorly successfully) with verbal recorded feedback. I think everything I’ve learned over the years has allowed me to work smarter, reserving my limited supply of time and energy for more important things, like really connecting with my students and trying to think outside of the box to make English come alive for them.

What would your dream set up be?

I love being a 1:1 district. In my dream world there would be more guidelines in place. Yes, previously I looked down on the district for blocking things like Twitter, but the expectation in my district is we’re working in blended learning groups – I like this idea. I don’t like the lack of control I have over the devices that aren’t sitting in front of me. Threats and grades only do so much. So I love 1:1, just want more control.

Ideally I would also be a Mac-toting teacher with an awesome skin of some sort that truly symbolized me. I would also like to try to move beyond the classroom. Now, don’t get me wrong- I LOVE my students. However, technology is a part of everything I do, and I’ve seen the amazing impact it can have on students. I want to share that with others. Rather than designing technology into my own lesson plans, I want to help coach teachers in how to do that too. I want to get teachers excited again. I think educators right now are so beat down by test scores and rules and regulations that it’s hard. I want to use technology to reinvigorate their teaching. I see myself in the future in a coach or consultant role to do just that.

As of right now, I’m content. I can’t wait for a new year to start so I can try new things, and energize some new students into see what I see in learning and growing.

Elissa Malespina: Library Media Specialist

Who are you and what do you do?

Hi I am Elissa Malespina, the Library Media Specialist at South Orange Middle School in South Orange, NJ. I work hard to arm our more than 700 students with the library and technology skills they need. In my spare time I present at conferences on many Web 2.0 technologies such as Pinterest, Evernote, Livebinders, QR codes, and Twitter among others. You can see my presentations here I have written two articles for School Librarians Workshop on using QR codes and Pinterest in the library which you can also access on my wiki. I am a Trustee of the South Orange Public Library and am helping to plan this years New Jersey Association of School Librarians Conference.  ElissaI maintain an active twitter account where I tweet about technology and library issues @SOMSlibrary and have become addicted to Pinterest where I have 38 boards dealing with such topics as Common Core, Apps, Great Technology and more. You can follow me at Oh, I am also in the process of going back to get my Supervisory Certification and did I forget to mention that I am the mother to a sports loving 9 year old? I am also an avid Seton Hall Pirates Basketball as well as a Giants and Jets football fan. Yes, you can like both teams!! They play in different leagues 😉

What hardware are you using?

I am an Apple Girl! Once you go Apple you never go back :-). I use my iPhone for everything. I am lost without it. It works great at work to get around the filters especially when I need to research something for a student that is blocked by our filters. I also have a Macbook Pro and an iPad but I have to admit I use my iPhone much more than I use my iPad.

We are a Windows school, though, so I have a Dell Laptop for my use, 2  Desktops at the Circulation Desk and a Desktop computer attached to the Smartboard that we have in the library. There are 26 Dell Desktops in the library that students and staff have access to. We also have a lab across the hall with another 19 Dells that our teachers can use as well as 4 Laptop carts with 12 computers each that teachers can check out to use with their classes. We are piloting 1:1 computing with a team of 6th grade teachers.  There is a set of 32 Dell Laptops that are shared among the team. I am in charge of the scheduling of all of those computers. I have a Google Doc set up that teachers can view but not edit to see when the computers and lab are available. The teachers then email me or come see me to sign out the equiptment.

SOMS also has 34 Nooks that I have loaded with over 100 books that students can check out. I am piloting the use of these in the district. Thanks to a combination of grants and district money I have been able to purchase so many for our students. They have gotten an amazing response from the students and they love checking them out and reading the books on the them. I also love being able to say “ that book is checked out, but you can get it on the Nook”. Click here for more information about my program and the AUP that I use. I have no problem talking to anyone about some of the tricks that I figured out from my experiences with deploying Nooks in our library.

As I mentioned previously we have a huge Smartboard at the back of the library. I use it to give presentations to classes but also to connect with people around the world on Skype and Google Hangout. Within the last two years we have connected with Authors, different classes, Anthropologists, Directors of Technology and even Astronauts on the International Space Station. I could not do without that set up!

And what software?

At school and home I would be lost without the following software:

Destiny Library Manager (my card catalog program): I could not do my job without it!  It is my card catalog program. I use it to check out books, run reports, catalog books and equipment, do inventory, send email notifications to parents about overdue materials and so much more. Online card catalog programs have revolutionized libraries and made it so much easier for me to do my job. I really could not spend as much time as I do teaching students about all of the different technologies we use if I had to hand catalog books.

Edmodo: this has been a game changer for the students and staff who use it in our school. Thanks to Edmodo students can now safely communicate with each other and staff about school work. Teachers can post assignments, give quizzes, post documents for students, administer polls, keep a class calendar and so much more. Our teachers even use it to communicate with students when out sick and away at conferences. Edmodo has really given our the students the ability for 24/7 learning. In my library I use it in a different way than my colleagues because I don’t have a specific class. It is the one place where all the students in the school can come together to talk about school and books. One example of this is the South Orange Middle School Compliments page I created and moderate where students send me a Direct Messages with compliments about staff and students and I then post them on the page. It is all anonymous! The students and staff love this page. For digital learning day I posted a poll asking what their favorite Web 2.0 tool that we use in school was and they picked Edmodo as their favorite.

Evernote: I have taught all of our students about Evernote.  They have created accounts and have used it for at least one project. In the pilot 1:1 program my students use Evernote daily.  Students keep an eportfolio with all of their writings and make notebooks for each of the units in their English Class. They take all of their notes in it and can take pictures of charts and notes on the board and put it in their notebooks. Students then share their notebooks with me and their English teacher, my “Tech Partner in Crime,” 6th grade ELA teacher Melissa Butler @AngelinaShy. Evernote has organized the notoriously unorganized middle schoolers and has made it that students no longer have the excuse that they don’t have something (I forgot it at home, my dog ate it, etc.) because they can access all their information from everywhere. We have also seen great improvements in our Special Education students who use the software.  It keeps them much more engaged and organized. The other day I was teaching a class of students how to use it and I called it life changing. A student came up to me after school and said, “remember how you said Evernote was life changing? You were right it is. Thanks for showing me it.” That right there is why I do my job! Mrs. Butler and I also recently taught teachers and staff at the Teachers College at Columbia University how to use Evernote with Readers and Writers Workshop. Evernote came in a close second in the Edmodo poll.

Livebinders: I use this tool to make binders filled with information on different topics that I present on and also for staff to use for Professional Development. We have students curate binders with information that they are using for different research projects as well. I love the fact that you can easily organize websites, video, documents and more. Users also gain access to an amazing, searchable library of binders that other people created. There is a binder on almost any topic. I recently taught a member of my PLN how to use it and he is now using it as the textbook for the college class he is teaching.

Glogsterand GlogsterEdu: This is an online poster making tool and I have taught all of the students in the school how to use it. By the time they leave SOMS students have used Glogster for at least one project. I even have one of the PE teachers using it with his health classes!  Glogster allows students to put text, images, graphics, videos, audio and links to websites on an online poster. It takes that poster project that all teachers assign to the next level and really showcases the creativity of our students.

Animoto: My students love using Animoto to make book trailers and mini videos for their classes. It is a really simple, easy to use program that creates great videos. The 6th grade students have it as one of their choices in the author study unit and they have made some amazing videos!

Delivr: I use this to make QR codes for the library. I love this site because it has great free analytic tools and you can customize the QR codes. I make QR codes that I put on books and signs around the library. They link to book trailers, authors websites and more information about the book. I also have made QR codes posters for the teachers with links to the their websites and we put it up outside of their doors. It is a huge hit on back to school night with the parents. Another thing that I did this year is make posters with synopses of books and QR codes with links to book trailers and we are putting them up in the bathroom stalls in the the schools.I also teach my students how to make them and they attach them to different projects. The possibilities of uses with QR codes in endless and I stress that when I present on them at conferences.

Google Drive: I could not live without it. I use it consistently! Almost all of my documents are stored on it. I teach my students how to use it and it is an excellent cloud based alternative the office suite. It is great for students and group work because it is so collaborative.

Wikispaces: The libraries website is a wiki. It is so easy to use and looks great. I also love all the widgets and how easy it is to embed content. You also have the ability to make wikis collaborative.

Flipsnack: Love love love this site for taking word documents and making them into interactive flip books that can be embedded and is easy to share on facebook and twitter.  I use this site put the schools newspaper online .I also use it for the libraries year end report and the summer reading list. Their are so many great ways to use it in school and with classes.

Popplet: A great website where you can share your ideas and organize information collaboratively. The students love making popplets and I use it all the time in presentation. So simple to make and fun to customize.

BufferApp: I love this site and app for twitter. I can write different tweets and schedule them to go out at different times. It is great because when I find something that I want to tweet about I don’t have to tweet about them all at once I can spread out my tweets so that I can reach a wider audience. I also don’t need to be at the computer or by my phone to tweet. It is also very easy to use and have a great analytic tool to see just how many people your tweet reached and how many times the link was clicked on.

Twitter: The best professional development I have ever had! I have learned so much from so many amazing people and participated in chats with people from around the world on many great topics. It is also allowed me to advance my career. I have gotten asked to speak at conference, write articles and even got a chance to be featured on this blog because of it!

Pinterest: I have become obsessed with pinning! I have over 35 different board on topics ranging from Great Apps to Common Core Resources and Books Worth Reading It is an amazing professional development tool. I have gotten so many great ideas from it. I just wrote an article about it and how it can be used in by school librarians  that was featured in School Librarians Workshop. Click hereto read the article it is on page 13.  

There are so many more that I use but those are a few of my favorites and the best part is that they are all FREE!!

What would your dream set up be?

I would love to have a 1:1 computing environment. Having piloting the program this year I see how it has changed the way that we deliver instruction. I want all my teachers and students be able to learn in a 1:1 environment. As my friend, Tom Murray @thomascmurry Award Winning Director of Technology at the Quakertown School District says you can spend tons of money on equipment but without PD it is worthless. We need to make sure that we also do a good job offering teacher driven differentiated instruction to our staff so that the technology that we give to our teachers is implemented correctly.

Ideally at some point like to move into the role of Professional Development Coordinator for a District or Technology Integration Trainer or Director of Technology.( I like to keep my options open 🙂  Technology is my passion and l love being able to share my knowledge with others. That is one of the reasons I love presenting at technology conferences.

I can not thank Daniel enough for choosing to spotlight me on his blog. I am honored to be his first school librarian featured! I hope I am the first of many. And remember your librarian is their to help you so use them. They are a great resource!

John Fritzky: 5th Grade Teacher

Who are you and what do you do?

I am John Fritzky and I teach 5th grade at Chester Stephens Elementary in Mount Olive, New Jersey.  This is my 9th year teaching at this school, and I have been flipping my math class for a little over a year now.  I have a certification in both special education as well as regular education.  Before landing at this school, I was a special education teacher for kindergarten, second and third grade.  I blog here and can be found on Twitter: @JohnFritzky.

What hardware do you use?

My favorite device is my MacBook Pro.  It has a 2GHz Intel Core Processor, 4 GB of memory and I’m currently running OS X 10.8.2.  I love it because of its ability to some serious work and still be portable.  Every year I take hundreds of pictures and video clips of my 5th grade class and at the end of the year I put them all together and create an IMovie of about 20 minutes for students and parents.  Everyone gets a DVD when they leave my class, I do not publish to YouTube because I want to keep everything in house.  I always have a ton of video by the end of the year, about 100 GB, and the MacBook Pro handles it flawlessly.  I also love the ability to text message to other Iphone users using my laptop, I can be working on a project and not have to go and find my phone, I can just respond on my keyboard.  Great idea!

For school I was issued an HP Probook 4530s to use with my SMART Board.  The work amazingly well together. This computer has more than enough horsepower to handle anything a school can throw at it.

I also use a Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet to create lessons for my flipped math class.  The bamboo is light, portable, and very responsive, a great tool for creating lessons.

In our class we also have a SMART Document camera that allows us to share writing or problems students have solved in class.  It is wonderful to have the abillity to take a piece of writing and make it visible for the whole class.

My class has 18 HP Probooks to use as well as 3 desktop computers, so that is a total of 21 computers…yes I know how lucky I am.  When my superintendent asked what he could do to support my idea for the flipped classroom and 18 computers rolled in the next year.  It is great to work for someone who puts his money into a technology and concept he sees value in.

And what software?

Software/applications that I use for personal productivity:

  • Tweetdeck — allows me to participate or view at least four different conversations at once on twitter.  Except for sports, I don’t watch TV any more, my shows are now on Twitter.
  • Google Chrome — this allows me to bookmark useful lessons and then bring them to school.  The apps are great and stay with me no matter what computer I’m on.
  • Evernote — allows me to store everything in one place, I use the Chrome app version when I’m away from my MacBook Pro.

Software/applications that I use for school:

In order for my students to have success in our flipped classroom, this the software I use:

  1. I use SMART Notebook and SMART Recorder to create the lesson.  It has tons of visual features, different colored pens etc. to make the learning more visual.  The SMART Recorder is great because you can upload the videos directly to YouTube once you have finished a lesson.
  2. YouTube — stores all the videos I have made for the flipped classroom and storage space has so far been limitless.  YouTube has allowed me to upload content longer than 5 minutes once they realized I was an educator.  If you are trying to create lessons longer than 5 minutes you might need to break them up into 2 parts at first.
  3. Google Sites — I organize all my lessons by chapter on Google Sites.  It makes it so easy to connect YouTube videos.  I click on the edit page button, insert, and there is an option to embed videos from YouTube.  No formatting issues what-so ever.
  4. Google Forms — I ask the students about 5-8 questions about the video they watched, plus their first and last name as well as a parent email address.  This form is then embedded below the video.  Because everything is Google based, it all works seamlessly together.
  5. Flubaroo — The Google Script that has changed the way in which my math class functions.  After students have completed their homework Flubarro uses my answer key to automatically correct the student homework.  It then provides a spreadsheet and pie graph for every question answered.  This means I know how every student did on the homework before they walk into my classroom.  I am able to differentiate immediately.
  6. Ten Marks — Is a web-based program  (I learned this one from Richard Byrne) that allows you to search by standard and then assign that standard to your class or individual student. You can assign 10. 20 or 30 problems, and each problem you are allowed to ask for up to 3 hints.  There is also a video embedded for every problem if the students get stuck.  Amazing resource as we are all moving towards the common core.

For my other subjects:

  1. — My students post their writing and are now connected in a quad-blog with three other classes from England.  If you are looking to connect with a quad-blog you must check out and register your class.
  2. PBWorks — My class uses this to collaborate on projects together and post writing they aren’t ready to share with the rest of the world.  Only students in our class have access to this.
  3. Prezi — Students completed book reports using Prezi and then post them on their kidblog site, it is like Power-Point on steroids.
  4. Voice-Thread — Students upload pictures and then narrate through the pictures, so far we have used this as another way to replace a book report.
  5. Skype — We have a Mystery Skype about once every two weeks.  We haven’t tried Google Hangout yet, but it would be cool to have three or four schools going at the same time.

What would your dream setup be?

I honestly have a great set-up right now with 18 laptops in my classroom.  The only thing I would change would be to have half my students with a laptop and the other half with a tablet that has a camera.  The laptops take about 5 minutes to turn on, and log on.  Sometimes we just need access to the internet and yes, we cannot wait 5 minutes.

I would also love to have a keyboarding class start in grade 4.  I think it should take place everyday for at least 3 months to provide the students with the keyboarding skills they need.  Moving forward what do you think is more important, that a student learns to write in cursive, or learns to type?  Right now it doesn’t seems as though we have time to teach both.

Marc Seigel: Chemistry Teacher

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Marc Seigel and I teach CP and Honors Chemistry at Middletown High School South in Middletown, NJ.  Before landing at this school, I, well, bounced around a little.  I’ve taught at a Magnet school, been an Director of Instruction for Math, Science and Agriculture, and served as a head fencing coach.  This is my 13th year in education.

What hardware do you use?

The device that I absolutely can’t live without (my baby) is my Lenovo Tablet PC.  It combines everything that you want from a tablet with the computing power of a laptop.  Using the stylus, I can annotate on PowerPoint slides, create answer keys write in Word documents, and even grade papers digitally.  To allow me to be wireless in the classroom, I connect my laptop to a Warpia wireless VGA adapter which duplicates my computer screen through the projector.  There are several benefits to this setup.  First, it eliminates the need for an interactive whiteboard (actually insulted my supervisor when I refused to let him install one in my classroom) which saves the schools thousands of dollars.  Second, because I am wireless, I am not tied to the front of the room to teach.  Being both Italian and Jewish, I have no ability to talk to a group of people without wild gestures nor without pacing, so this lets more of my personality shine in the lessons.  Sometimes I teach from the front, the back or even at the desks alongside the students.  The Warpia can plug into any projector with a VGA port so I have actually taken my classes to different parts of the school and still conducted class the way I would have had we been in the classroom.  

Finally, and definitely the most important, it makes my students more willing to participate in the lesson because they don’t have to raise their hands nor go to the front of the room to write out the solution to a problem.  As I am walking around, checking for understanding, I simply put the computer in the middle of one of my pods (all of desks are grouped into 4-5 person pods instead of rows) and have all the students in that group write their answers on the screen while everyone else keeps working.  I can even freeze the screen so the rest of the class can’t see what they are writing.  It gives the students who need it a little more time to process.

The 2nd piece of hardware that I can’t live without is my cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S3.  I can document lessons and activities using the camera, share documents through Google Docs, check email and answer questions on Twitter from my students.  My students are encouraged to use their phones as often as possible in class.  Regularly, a student will ask a question that I don’t know the answer to, so my immediate response is “Take out your phone and Google it.”  My phone has even served as a hotspot when the school’s Internet wasn’t working and as a way to Skype with a reporter who wanted to interview some of my students for an article she was doing.  

And what software?

I live on Google Apps.  I have eliminated almost all paper for my chemistry labs by putting all of the documents in a Google folder that I share with my students.  When they enter the lab, they log into their school Google account, access the lab sheet, and type all of their answers directly into the document.  When they are finished, they simply drag it to a folder I created for them and it is the same as putting it in the basket on my desk.  My students also use their phones to document their lab results and insert the pictures into the Google Document.  After the due date has passed, I go into each students’ folder and grade the labs using the comments feature.  I have found it allows me to give greater feedback and correct mistakes as they are occurring.

Except for the usual Microsoft products (which I am trying to move away from), most of what I try to use are free web tools.  Evernote is my go to for organizing important links from around the web; it is also the easiest way to share things I find with my administration.  My students are huge fans of Prezi and Animoto for their presentations.  They are a way to take traditional projects to the next level by allowing students a greater use of their imagination in the design process.

But, the program I can’t live without is Camtasia Studio made by TechSmith.  This is a video editing and screencasting tool that I use to create instruction videos for my classes.  There are a bunch of free screencasting web tools, but none have the functionality of a full program like Camtasia.  I can record anything on my screen (on the fly if necessary), edit out my mistakes, add callouts or arrows to highlight important information and then upload the file directly to YouTube or save it to my computer.  I am not a video editing wiz so it is perfect that the program is extremely easy to use for any ability.  

What would your dream set up be?

First, I would just love for a steady wireless Internet connection with a large amount of bandwidth.  But, more specifically, I would love a classroom that was flexible to any learning environment that my students wanted that day.  Currently, my room has 4-5 desks arranged in pods, with a couple of bungee chairs for relaxed seating.  I would love to remove the individual desks and put in curved desks that could seat students more students with comfortable chairs that were on wheels to facilitate easy movement.  Actually, I would love individual desk units on wheels to manipulate the seating arrangement.  

The class would have a classroom set of Chromebooks available so that we can record our labs on Google Docs easier, submit files online instead of on paper, and quickly find answers to questions online.  My students need to be connected, whether to each other in class or to the world outside our walls.  I want students to be curious about science and not just want to get good grades.  It would also be a dream for all of my students to have smartphones to help them access information, organize their lives, and document the learning they are doing every day.  Too much to ask?


Brooke Mulartrick: Technology Integration Specialist

Who are you and what do you do?

photo (20)My name is Brooke Mulartrick and I am a technology integration specialist in the Methacton School District, located in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  I serve five K-4 buildings and support administrators, teachers and students in their quest to use technology in efficient and creative ways. I used to think my life was tough, traveling to five buildings, but then I met someone who traveled to 17 buildings.  I enjoy helping others expand their horizons when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom.  I taught transitional first grade for four years prior to moving into my current role, and yes, I miss having my own class!  Last year, I earned my Certificate in Supervision and Administration from Johns Hopkins University.

What hardware are you using?

At school, I use a district-issued Dell laptop.  At home, I use my husband’s hand-me-down Macbook.  Having used PCs my whole life, I’m more comfortable navigating on my PC, but I like the speed and easy maneuverability of my Macbook.  

At school, the big hardware investment has been SMARTBoards.  We’ve been purchasing them for years, but none were mounted up until last year.  I find mobile SMARTBoards to be very un-user friendly with the constant reorienting and the safety hazard of the leg stand and wires!  I used to spend a lot of time helping teachers set up their classrooms in the most efficient way to allow for a safe wire arrangement and a clean path to the board.

We also have a lot of IPEVO document cameras in the district.  I don’t know why anyone would want to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars, on a document camera.  The IPEVO cameras meet our needs and the company is great to work with.  $69 and free shipping?  Yes, please!

Each elementary classroom has 4-5 desktop PCs.  Each building also has a stationary computer lab (Dell desktops) in addition to a mobile lab (Dell laptops).  We have a refresh cycle coming up and I’m hoping we can do some type of pilot to let teachers decide if the mobile laptop lab should be replaced with newer laptops or other devices such as tablets or netbooks.  Currently, we have 7 iPads in one elementary library.  Some other iPads are scattered throughout the special education department.  I have a district-issued iPad* so I can support the use of iPads in the classroom.  

*When I go to workshops or conferences, I take my Dexim iPad case with keyboardso I can type more efficiently.  This keyboard is almost full size with spring keys and I barely make any typing errors!

And what software?

Software/applications that I use for personal productivity:

  • Evernote for note-taking and task-organization.  
  • Dropbox for sharing documents between my work and personal laptops
  • Tweetdeck for viewing chats on Twitter (I use Hootsuite on my iPad because Tweetdeck crashes for me)
  • Google Voice for distributing my mobile number in my work email signature
  • Diigo for bookmarking favorite sites
  • Zite for catching up on news from my PLN

Software/applications that I’m using with teachers and students:

  • Google Earth (in 3rd grade, we’ve used it for cardinal/intermediate directions and evaluating changes over time in a suburban community)
  • Kidblog (using with 3rd and 4th grade students)
  • Little Bird Tales (using with 2nd grade students for digital storytelling)
  • Student Wiki – I created a wiki for our elementary students to use as a resource for quicklinks, skill practice and creation tools.  This wiki is a shortcut icon on every computer in the elementary buildings.
  • Teacher Technology Integration Wiki – I created a wiki for district staff to use as a resource for quicklinks, help guides and grade-level collaboration.  The help guides under “Technology Resources” are the most referenced pages on the site.

What would your dream set up be?

I would love it if all our systems could integrate with Active Directory so teachers and students would only have to remember one password. Wouldn’t that be nice?  It wouldn’t prepare kids for the real world where they have to remember 10,000 passwords, but maybe they won’t have to remember that many by the time they graduate.  

On the hardware side, I’d love to see a mobile device in the hands of every child and teacher.  I see these devices being used in the following ways:

  • As a student response system (with the use of an app like Socrative) to give teachers real-time data for formative assessments
  • As a tool for skill practice
  • As a tool that encourages the application of higher-order thinking skills through the use of various creation apps (i.e. PuppetPals)
  • As a tool that speeds up the process of receiving feedback on assignments
  • As a tool that promotes collaboration among students and teachers
  • As a tool that simplifies the process of giving parents a glimpse of what’s going on in the classroom (i.e. Instagram or the use of a blogging tool)

The list can go on, but I’ll wait for the day when my dream comes true.

Lynda Hall: Phys. Ed, Social Studies, English and Technology!

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Lynda Hall and I am a secondary classroom teacher from Kamloops, BC, CANADA.  I have been teaching Physical Education, Social Studies and English for 17 years and along with my classroom duties, I am currently the Technology Coordinator for my school.  As Technology Coordinator, my main responsibility is to encourage the educational use of technology among colleagues through collaboration and mentoring.  I am also working towards a Masters degree in Educational Technology and Design from the University of Saskatchewan.  I am very passionate about integrating technology into my teaching practice and I love to share what I have learned with other educators. To assist my colleagues from around the globe, I started “The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers” technology blog 5 months ago – In it, educators will find a wide range of teacher tested technologies that are ready for classroom use.

What hardware are you using?

My absolute must have hardware device is my Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy SII. There is nothing I do not do on this phone – texting, tweeting, checking email, printing, Skyping, creating videos, editing photos and so much more! My most popular use recently is reading my Master’s textbook from the Amazon Kindle app. Interestingly, I rarely sit down to specifically read anymore as there are so many times throughout the day that I can steal 10 minutes to read a section. It has been an absolute time-saver! 

My school also provided me with an Asus Eee Pad Transformer tablet last year. Many of the apps I use on my phone have also been downloaded onto the tablet. Because I am so attached to my smartphone, I am still trying to incorporate the tablet’s use into my daily activities. However, the primary use of the tablet is to test apps, etc. because included in last year’s tablet purchase was an additional 50 tablets for school-wide use. As a result, much of my time is searching and testing apps for the students and teachers in my school.

The last device I heavily rely on is my Toshiba Notebook with a Windows 7 operating system. Pretty much all my personal or school-related material is accessed or saved on to my laptop – and yes it is backed up every day! To increase my productivity, I also have a Samsung SyncMaster monitor which allows me to view two screens simultaneously. The amount of time I save using the dual monitors is immeasurable. If feasible, I highly recommend my colleagues purchasing a second monitor as I guarantee, you will not regret it.

And what software?

I use a wide variety of Web 2.0 tools – Glogster, Weebly, Voki, Evernote, Socrative, StoryCreator2, InstaGrok, Animoto, and the list goes on. There is not a day goes by in my classroom that the students and I are not using a Web 2.0 tool of some sort.

Remind101 is my most recent go to app, however, as it allows teachers to safely and securely text their students reminders such as homework, upcoming school events, rehearsals, practices and more. The best part of this service is that it is so easy to use and it is free.

The power of cloud computing is another area I am starting to maximize. I have always had Evernote, Dropbox and Google accounts but it is not until recently that other software developers are starting to associate their service to the cloud as well. The best example of this is WeVideo and Google Drive. Because of this additional service, my classes will be able to easily share their work with a more global audience.

What would your dream set up be?

My dream set up would be a 1:1 program with a variety of devices that range from tablets, to laptops to desktop computers that are seamlessly integrated into the learning environment. The furniture would be such that one could easily move about the room with their device. Also, numerous ports would be available to plug in devices when need be. I would also include wireless accessibility with technology support at a moment’s notice. Lastly, I would want a SmartBoard for small group or whole class collaboration. You did ask for my dream set up, right?

Laura Blankenship: Computer Science Coordinator

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Laura Blankenship and I am the Computer Science Coordinator at The Baldwin School, an all girls pre-K-12 independent school in the Philadelphia suburbs.  I teach technology and computer science in grades 6-12.  I also coordinate faculty development in technology, working with them on student projects or helping them brainstorm about using technology in their courses.  I also work with many colleagues in the library and lower school to create a vision for technology in our school.

What hardware are you using?

I use a variety of hardware.  I’m currently typing this on my trusty MacBook, which I’ve had for a few years. It’s still my go-to computer for work on the go.  However, our school started an iPad initiative this year, and I received one as part of that.  At first, I couldn’t figure out how to fit it into my work flow, but over the summer, I’ve become attached to it, using it to check email, read blogs, even write.  I am also attached to my Android phone, a Samsung Galaxy S II.  I keep my to-do list on it ( and check and respond to email on the go, and sometimes even make phone calls!

At school, I have mostly PCs.  My lab is a PC lab, and I have a cart of PCs for use in my classroom.  I also have access to Mac laptops if I need them and there’s a Mac mini on my desk.  I also have a SmartBoard in both my lab and classroom, though I admit that I don’t use them that much except as a projector.

As the Computer Science teacher, I get to have robots and stuff as well, so the vast majority of my hardware is actual hardware.  I have Scribbler robots with an attached usb-based fluke that has sensors and a camera on it.  My students program them to run around and go through mazes and stuff.  I have an Arduino and several Arduino components, which I haven’t gotten to work with that much, but am hoping to use in a class next year (more on that later).  I also have about 10 Pico Boards which have sensors and buttons and joysticks, which are fun to play with.  I have a goo gob of Legos and old school handyboards for connecting to the Legos to make them do things.  And I have a giant rack of metal parts for use in VEX Robotics, a competition we participate in at both the middle and high school level.  I have nuts and bolts and wrenches and all kinds of tools to build with.  There’s nothing better than building stuff to get your head out of the computer for a while.

And what software?

Software-wise, I rely a lot on Google for general productivity.  I use Google Drive to create and store my documents and embed them on my teacher web page.  I use the Calendar for my own calendar and to share with my family, and I pull in the school’s master calendar so I know exactly where I need to be.

In my computer science classes, I use Calico, a development environment developed by my husband and five other computer science professors specifically for teaching.  I teach mostly the Python programming language, but using the same environment I could teach Scheme, Ruby, or Jigsaw (a Scratch-like language).  It’s free and my students usually download it on their own computers.

In middle school, I use Google primarily for creating web sites, documents and even graphs, but I also use Photoshop, iMovie, and Audacity for multimedia projects. I also use Scratch, created by MIT’s Media Lab, for teaching programming in 7th grade.
In general, I try to use Open Source software whenever I can while recognizing that students need to be familiar with software that’s “out there” in industry use.  So I try to strike a balance.

I also like to automate as much as possible, which I’ve been doing through ifttt (if this then that), so that I can star a Google Reader item or favorite a Tweet and it automatically appears elsewhere in my workflow, for use on my blog or embedded in a page I’ve created for teachers.  On my iPad, my favorite apps are Flipboard, WordPress, and Flickr Stacker.  

I’m really only scratching the surface here as I’m always using different things, looking for just the right tool to get the job done.

What would your dream set up be?

My dream set up changes all the time.  I’m always seeking the perfect workflow, where it doesn’t matter what device I have with me, I can do whatever it is I need to do, whether that be to write a blog post or hack together some code and post it to the web.  I’m not there yet.  I can’t code on my phone or iPad, and making a movie on those two devices is possible, but hard.  I wish devices talked to each other better.  I wish there was a protocol whereby I could send a photo from my phone to my MacBook wirelessly, even remotely, without having to use a web site intermediary.  

At school, my lab got an overhaul, so it’s pretty dreamy.  But I’d really like to create Fab Lab/Maker Lab out of my classroom.  I already have a lot of the equipment for that, but I don’t have the workflow/storage worked out well.  I have racks and carts that have to be rolled out, and it’s always hard to find tools and whatnot.  I’d love to see that come together better.

Holly Clark: Assistant Principal & Technology Change Agent

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Holly Clark, Assistant Principal, Technology Lead and Ga-Ga Pit newbie from San Diego, California. This is my first year as an administrator and was lured to the school by a one to one iPad pilot.  Before admin, I was in the classroom teaching social studies, English and technology to middle school geniuses.  I have been incorporating tech into my curriculum since 1996, so I have done it all! I was a technology curriculum specialist in River Forest, IL before heading to the beach.  I am a National Board Certified Teacher and hold an MA in Ed Tech from Columbia University.  You can connect with me on Twitter and read my blog here.

What hardware are you using?

Wow – right now I am using a MacBook Pro and iPad only.  I always say once you go Mac, you’ll never go back! My new school has very limited and outdated technology resources – outside of a Smartboard for every class -which means I am positioned to make big changes at my school, which is truly exciting.  As the Technology Curriculum Specialist in River Forest, Il I worked only with Macs.  In my San Diego classroom, I worked exclusively with the Windows platform.  I could write a book about how each impacts education.  Thankfully, Google Apps for Education is helping to make it easy to teach between both platforms and Cloud Technology makes expensive programs a thing of the past.

And what software?

Since the concentration is on iPads, I am using a plethora of apps.  I am having the most impact on learning using tools like Evernote, Idea Sketch, Educreations and Edmodo.  However, I am really intrigued by a new online research tool called Surfmark.  I have worked with Photoshop, Premiere, After-effects, Flash, Office Suite, Keynote, Final Cut Pro…the usual suspects.  Online tools I love include Google Apps for Education, Edmodo, Quizlet, Diigo, Twitter and Educlipper.  My personal favorite is Flipboard! I could not live without it.

What would your dream set up be?

My dream setup would be a combo of mostly Apple Products and Chromebooks.  I truly believe in my heart that students need to produce and publish work and it is just easier on a Mac.  I would also like a professional level film studio and Skype equipped stand alone classroom like one I had at Harvard.  There each seat had a microphone and collaboration device which faced a large screen for Skyping.  I want my students to become global learners and contributors.