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 http://emalespina.wikispaces.com/. 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 http://pinterest.com/somslibrary/. 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. Kidblog.org — 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 http://quadblogging.net/ 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 – http://thede-tech-tive4teachers.blogspot.ca/. 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 (Any.do) 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.

Dave Guymon: 6th Grade Teacher & Connected Educator

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Dave Guymon, 6th grade teacher and 4-square playground champion of the eastern Idaho region.  I teach language arts, social studies, and advanced math at the elementary school level.  As a connected educator, I am passionate about immersing my students in online web tools, social media for learning, and technology in the classroom.  You can find me on Twitter here and visit my class website.

What hardware are you using?

My students and I are trying to conquer the world with an iPad, five Dell desktops, a set of 1:1 NEO computing devices, and an Epson interactive projector.  Through combining these forces, we have created our own classroom video editing studio, blogging cafe, and Google research lab.  Our utilization of technology has enabled us to have connected with people on every continent with Wi-Fi connectivity (Apparently, the internet connection in Antarctica is very slow).

And what software?

I use Mac software/apps on my iPad 2.  Our classroom computers run on Windows 7 software.  And our NEO 2s utilize Renaissance Learning software.  Beyond the programmed software for each of these devices, I rely heavily on Google tools such as Reader, Maps, and Docs for classroom use with my students.  Our classroom also uses Weebly as our web publishing platform to learn more about publishing user-created content.

What would your dream set up be?

I intend to, one day, incorporate MacBook Pros into my classroom on a 1:1 basis to enable more media editing opportunities for my students.  Beyond that, I would love to have professional-level video recording equipment in our classroom production studio so that we could connect with community members to produce content for local organizations and businesses which would allow our classroom to continually upgrade our in-class technology.

Jason Markey: Principal at a 1:1 High School

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jason Markeyand I am entering my first year as principal at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, IL.  I have spent the previous two years as assistant principal at East Leyden.  Prior to that, I served as assistant principal at Woodstock High School, taught social studies at East Leyden, Iowa City High, and middle school math at Central Middle School in Waterloo, IA.  In my current role as principal at East Leyden I am very excited to be part of new 1:1 initiative which sees all of our 3,500 high school students in district receiving Google Chromebooks.

What hardware are you using?

In my office, I’m typically using my 13” Macbook Pro connected to a 27” ACER LED Display to provide an extended desktop.  The Mac trackpad is a must for me, I’ve really become accustomed to the gesture shortcuts and I feel I have much finer control which comes in especially handy when editing video.  You may also notice the Samsung Chromebook in the lower left hand corner of the picture.  This is our students’ 1:1 device and also goes with me everywhere.  When we were choosing a device for our students my personal test was to use the possible choices with my own workflow.   I figured if I can’t work through creating, writing, and accessing applications and information it should not be what we give our students.  I also have an iPad 2, which after initial testing as a potential 1:1 device has become my go to e-reader primarily.  Last but certainly not least is perhaps my most important piece of hardware, my Droid Razr Maxx running Ice Cream Sandwich.  This has been a lifesaver on many occasions as I can truly access all of my Google applications that really make up my workflow and the battery life is outstanding.

And what software?

For me it’s becoming the cloud or nothing so most of the list will be web-based applications.  My browser of choice is Chrome .  Chrome provides me with a seamless experience across all my devices now which is a really valuable feature.  Primary applications are Google Apps for Education(I rarely have to access any Office application), Tweetdeck to connect with my PLN,  and Diigo for social bookmarking and organization.  Again, I think it is really important valuable to work, as much as possible, in the cloud as the students are.  That being said, I do require a few client based applications for different tasks.  Unfortunately, I have two windows based applications I still have to access, for this I have Parallels loaded on my Macbook which gives me the ultimate flexibility in one computer. Another client based application that is a must for me is Camtasia.  I create a number of tutorials for our staff and to share with my PLN and although there are a number of great free cloud based options Camtasia (Software for screen recording and video editing) still provides a depth of editing options which are really powerful.

What would your dream set up be?

One piece missing from my dream set up now is a stand up/sit down desk which I hope to add this year.  Additionally, I would like to add the new Nexus 7 tablet as it provides a more fluid Google Apps experience than the iPad does at this point.  Other than that, I feel like I’m very fortunate to have the tools at my fingertips to take advantage of what technology affords us and since we have really embraced cloud computing here at Leyden the hardware is less significant than it once was.  

Diana Potts: Science & Social Studies Teacher, Edtech Advocate

Who are you and what do you do?

Diana Potts, I teach 4-6th graders, science and social studies, with a 6th grade homeroom. I also provide edtech support to teachers. In my spare time I lurk on twitter, blog, and participate in edchats. My professional interests include edtech, successful PD, classroom design and PBL. 

What hardware are you using?

It depends on the task at hand. My weapon of choice is my MacBook Pro. I went all Mac about a year ago and haven’t looked back. When I want to create in Google Earth or Sketchup, I use my Pro as it can keep up with my squirrel-like attention span to pull from various sources. On the go I use my iPad2 and iPhone.  At work I use a MacBook laptop (with a split OS, using mostly Windows). Working in both Windows and Mac on a daily basis is a plus as it allows me to see pros and cons to both.

When I’m in full work mode, I’ll have my Pro and Work computer open and bounce back and forth using one for research and one for creation.

And what software?

Again, depending on the task at hand.  If I’m at home I use mostly Mac products.  On my “work” computer I use Windows 7 products, I mostly stick to Word and Publisher.  Lately I’ve been using Google Apps more and more as well as Evernote because of their ease of mobile access across devices.  When I want to create a movie or presentation, I go to the Mac products; I find Keynote and iMovie intuitive for my thought process and just cleaner looking in final product.
For work I use SMARTnotebook for visual support for lessons. Our student notebooks have SMARTnotebook on them, giving students a choice to use it for their end product..

What would your dream set up be?

Technologically speaking, my ideal would be to have a cart of MacBook Pros for student use and then 1:1 iPads. I would have Apple TV and a high quality projector.  The iPads would act as my Document camera and connect through the Apple TV for projection (I like to dream rich.)  The wireless would allow for BYOD for student use of personal devices, such as phones.  My students would each have a Google Apps account for collaboration and creation. My classroom would look like a cross between a science lab and a Google thinking/collaboration space.