“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” —Bill Gates

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Twelve Techie Days of Christmas

Each day, beginning December 1, the Tech Integration Team at ASFM sent out techie recommendations. 
Here's the complete list.

On the First Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Second Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Third Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

Create your own 3D-printed Christmas gift! 
Visit Thingiverse for ideas. Hey, there's even a 25 Days of Making Project

On the Fourth Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Fifth Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Sixth Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Seventh Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Eighth Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Nineth Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Tenth Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Eleventh Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:

On the Twelfth Techie Day of Christmas the TI Team recommends:


Friday, December 5, 2014

DT Logo Challenge

The Elementary digital teachers (DTs) were presented with a challenge during one of our meeting times. They had to work on designing a logo and a “we believe” statement that would represent our DT program. At this time, the activity was led by Gaby, one of the DTs.

Day 1: Gaby used her experience with logo design to introduce what a logo is and how the color selection is key as it may evoke different feelings. Teachers were partnered up and followed these guidelines:
  1. Create a logo and “We believe…” statement that represents the DT Team.
  2. Use/combine creation tools such as Google Drawing or Logo Garden for the logo.
  3. Consider the emotions generated by colors in logos.
  4. Take a screenshot of your logo and insert it onto a slide in a shared Google presentation (see below).
Day 2: Once all the groups had submitted their logo and statement, the next steps were to share, persuade, and vote.
  1. Talk with your Logo team partner.
  2. Choose a spokesperson.
  3. Present your logo to the group.
  4. Choose a spokesperson from your group.
  5. Using Poll Everywhere, vote for your favorite logo created by a DT team member.
Here's a video of the actual voting taking place.

Take a look at the wonderful creations and the winner!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nursery Can Skype Too!

Last week I was invited to a Nursery classroom. Thank you Greta and Paula! These teachers had scheduled a Skype session with another classroom from Andover, Kansas, USA. Paula had contacted the Kansas teacher through Twitter. They had agreed to have the groups meet for 10 minutes.

What an amazing experience!

First, let me give you some background knowledge. Our Nursery students are 3-4 year old. They are the youngest students in our school. For most of them their first language is Spanish and they are learning to speak English.

The kids are currently learning about continents and animals around the world. The timing of this Skype session was just right. It represented an opportunity for them to learn about people and things from a distant location that they could locate on their world map.

The teachers agreed to ask basic questions, such as, what do you like to eat? what do you do after school? what's your school's mascot?

The kids became very excited when the session started. The teachers took turns asking the questions and the students responded.

A lot of learning took place. When the conference was over, the group took time to reflect on their conversations and they could tell that they had made important connections.  They shared very similar preferences and activities!

Take a look at this video that summarizes the moment.

The Nursery teachers plan to partner with other schools from other parts of the world and help their students become globally connected!

Stay tuned for the next adventure in Nursery!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tech PD Coming Up

Hi everyone!

I've spent these past few days searching for off-campus professional development opportunities for teachers at my school that might be interested in going to.
What am I looking for? 
  • Events that focus on Technology Integration, Technology and Education, Innovation, 21st Century Learning, etc.
  • Events that are at a reasonable distance from our current location.
I've personally attended ISTE, TCEA, and GAFE conferences and can say that these kinds of experiences are one of a kind!

Why should you go?
  • Stay updated on the latest in tech integration and innovation.
  • Learn from fellow educators.
  • Develop your professional network.
  • Get inspired to produce a change.
  • Stay informed on what other schools are doing.
  • Meet rockstars in the education field!
Below is a table with the information I've gathered for events that will take place within this school year. I wish I could go to all, they all sound fantastic!

If you know of another conference or event related to Technology Integration, please leave a comment.


Registration deadlineDescription
GAFE Summit MX (Google Apps For Education)Mexico City, MXJanuary 31-February 1                  $275Dec 2 for early birdRegister now to send teachers, administrators, tech directors, library media specialists, tech support staff, CTOs, and anyone who is interested in finding out more about leveraging Google Apps for Education to support student learning.
FETC 2015 (Future of Educational Technology National Conference)Orlando, FLJanuary 20-23Registration - Early Bird $290, then $340, Workshops -Before Dec 12, between $100-$225Dec 12, 2014 for early birdExplore the integration of technology across the curriculum, from pre-kindergarten to college through hands-on exposure to technological tools and best practices. Be inspired by education technology implementations in compelling sessions, workshops and events for education professionals, industry leaders and policy practitioners committed to the future of teaching and learning.
TCEA 2015 (Texas Computer Education Association)Austin, TXFebruary 2-6$277Passionate teachers, campus and district leaders unite at this annual event to gather and share the latest trends and best practices for creating engaging classrooms that excite todays active and inspired learners. The TCEA Annual Convention & Exposition boasts five content-filled days for campus and district-level administrators, teachers, librarians and all involved with technology integration, implementation, or management.
NAIS 2015 (National Association of Independent Schools)Boston, MAFebruary 25-27Registration Early bird $740 before Jan 23Jan 23, 2015 for early birdLearn how design thinking techniques can reinvigorate and transform your school into a cutting-edge center for learning in a new age. Together let’s build a plan to prepare our 21st century students to embrace the challenges of higher education, global citizenship, and the workplace with flexibility, grit, and resilience.​​​
SXSWedu (South by Southwest)Austin, TXMarch 9-12$345Feb 13, 2015The SXSWedu Conference & Festival features four days of compelling content for education professionals, industry leaders and policy makers looking to connect, collaborate, create and change how we teach and learn.
ISTE 2015 (International Society for Technology in Education)Philadelphia, PAJune 28-July 1Early bird $392 before Mar 1March 1, 2014 for early birdFor more than three decades the ISTE Conference & Expo has been the premier forum in which to learn, exchange ideas and survey the field of education technology. The event attracts upwards of 18,000 attendees and industry representatives, including teachers, technology coordinators, administrators, library media specialists, teacher educators and policy makers. Attendees enjoy world-class keynotes, hundreds of sessions in a variety of formats and a massive expo hall.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Twitter Challenge

Hi all!

October was Connected Educator Month. As a way to celebrate and wrap up the month, at our school we created a week long activity, a.k.a. Twitter Challenge. For some time now we’ve been nudging our teachers to use Twitter to form or increase their PLN (see Twitter for your PLN). This was just the perfect opportunity to encourage the use of Twitter!

The “8 Day Twitter Challenge”, as we called it, consisted of a series of 16 different tasks to perform during the week. The tasks were designed to eventually expose all teachers to the main features of Twitter. For instance, they had to do a retweet, a modified tweet, use hashtags, search for connections, tweet a picture, follow people, etc. Here’s the complete list of tasks.

Friday10/24/20141Send a Tweet with your name, grade level/subject area & school. Include #asfmtech and #ce14
Friday10/24/20142Add your name and Twitter handle to "ASFM Twitter Handles" sheet at the bottom of this page.
Saturday10/25/20143Follow at least 5 people from the "ASFM Twitter Handles." Send them each a welcome Tweet, include their @username, #asfmtech and #ce14
Saturday10/25/20144Tweet your favorite educational website/blog/tool/resource by including the link (http://... or favorite URL shortener), short description, #asfmtech and #ce14
Sunday10/26/20145Follow at least 5 people from this list of Educational Tweeters: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/12/40-educational-tweeters-every-teacher.html
Monday10/27/20146Look through the #Hashtags sheet at the bottom of this page. Search and explore a #hashtag in Twitter that fits your context.
Monday10/27/20147Share another user's idea by Modifying a Tweet from the #hashtag search of your choice. Include #asfmtech #ce14. Tutorial for help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR2OI-QJnKk
Tuesday10/28/20148Half way there! Tweet why you love being an ASFM Eagle, include #asfmtech #ce14
Tuesday10/28/20149Send a Tweet with an idea or thought to share with other educators using a #hashtag from the list, include #asfmtech #ce14
Wednesday10/29/201410Send a multimedia Tweet- include an educational photo or video (personal or from favorite educational site). Include #asfmtech #ce14
Wednesday10/29/201411The multimedia Tweet is enough for one day, good job! Take the rest of the day to rest- or be ambitious and continue to connect with #asfmtech #ce14
Thursday10/30/201412Share 1 benefit you've found from using Twitter. Include any appropriate #hashtags and of course #asfmtech #ce14
Thursday10/30/201413Ask a question to your followers you'd like advice on. Include appropriate #hashtags to widen your audience. Include #asfmtech #ce14
Friday10/31/201414Follow Friday! Use #FF and tweet the @username of educators you'd suggest others should follow. Add #asfmtech #ce14
Friday10/31/201415Tweet your thoughts about using Twitter for a full week! #asfmtech #ce14
Friday10/31/201416Last day of the challenge. Take this time to look over each step and be sure you have completed each one!

This turned out to be a very interesting week that exceeded our expectations. The results we found amazed us:
  • Some teachers had already an account but had really never used it.
  • Some teachers were completely new to Twitter.
  • The participants, from all sorts of grade levels and subject areas, have formed an online community.
  • The professional growth this week was astounding.
  • Many teachers found useful resources and fellow educators.
  • Most of the administrative staff jumped on board and modeled the use of Twitter.
  • 25% of the staff participated, and more are talking about it!

To help spread the Twitter Challenge love we had buttons made. 

To make things even more attractive, those that completed the challenge participated in a lottery in which they had a chance to win a $500 or a $300 pesos iTunes or Starbucks card.

We look forward to more opportunities like this to promote the use of technology in meaningful ways. This challenge is over, but we hope teachers have discovered the value in a PLN and continue connecting, learning, sharing, and collaborating online.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Simple Assessments with GAFE

Hello everyone!

Every time I walk into a classroom, I feel very fortunate to be able to witness how the student's confidence with technology has increased over time and how well they can work independently. 

This week I spent some time in two 4th grade classrooms and I'll share a couple of projects  the children were working on. These activities, used to assess the students' learning, are simple and engaging applications of Google Tools.

Project: Character Suitcase
Tool used: Google Drawing
After a read-aloud, the teacher needs to check for understanding and comprehension. Instead of a series of questions and answers, or having students take a quiz, how about having the kids do a character suitcase? What's this? Ask the students to imagine that one of the characters in the book is going to take a vacation. What would they pack in their suitcase? Pretty simple, huh? Well, in order for the student to accomplish this task, he has to place himself in the character's shoes, and that requires having a pretty good understanding of the book.

Take a look at the kids working on their suitcase:

Project: Matter Quiz
Tool used: Google Slides
How can you assess if your students learned everything in the unit about Matter? Give them a quiz? Maybe. What if you have THEM create a quiz? 

This is what 4th grade students did. They created a "quiz" in the form of a game. In a similar format as "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". This is a great activity because it pushes the student's thinking. They try hard to make the game difficult for the other classmates that will be playing it. (Read a post I wrote some time ago about a similar activity.)

Below are two sample games. Go ahead and test YOUR Science knowledge! 

(The games work best if you only navigate through the links provided in the slides.)

Do you have other simple activities that are used for assessment? I'd like to learn about them.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Email Tips for Kids

Hi everyone!

Hope you are doing fine. Second grade students are our youngest users of Google Apps. They received a brand new Google account a few weeks ago. Basically, what this grade level does is use Drive and Gmail. One of the assignments these kids will have in order to use their tools for the first time will be to write emails. 

The "Writing for Many Purposes" unit is coming up. In this unit the children learn about different writing genres: lists, thank-you notes, invitations, persuasive letters, and writing emails. Yes, emails! 

What an awesome opportunity to develop 21st century skills, such as digital citizenship and communication & collaboration in such a meaningful way!
In order to support the second grade teachers, I have prepared a ThingLink (reviewed in the previous post) with information on how to create a well written email. 

If an image can speak a thousand words, imagine an interactive image!

Just hover the mouse over the red circles and stars to see more information.

For more information about working with kids and writing emails, I recommend visiting the Common Sense website.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interactive Images

Hello everyone!

Summer is over and a new school year has begun! I hope you are doing well and your start of the school year has been a smooth process. During the summer, I had the opportunity (and enough time) to explore different tools. At this time I want to share with you one of the great tools I came across. It's called ThingLink. Once you try it out, you are going to love it!

ThingLink is a platform that allows you to create interactive images. See the example below. Imagine the possibilities! You start with an image and add labels to any part of the picture. The great thing is that you can share your creation in a number of ways: Post directly through various social media sites, use the link provided, or use the code to embed your work as I did.

It's very easy to get started. Create a free account. Upload an image. Start adding tags. The tags can contain text and/or a link. Save and Share.

Here are some ideas on how you can integrate this to your teaching:
  • Add labels to maps. Great for learning geography.
  • New web sites or applications? Take a snapshot and label the instructions directly on the application's image.
  • Parts of a sentence. Create an example and label the parts for kids to visualize them. 
  • Important events. Make your calendar live. Take a snapshot and tag important events onto the corresponding days.
  • Class pictures. Add everyone's names to your class picture.
  • Homework help. Add more information or help tags to worksheets, pages from a book, etc.

If you have more ideas on how to integrate interactive images to your teaching, share them with us by replying to this post.


iPad Control Center

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

GTA in Spanish

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all doing well and had a wonderful summer. I want to take the time to advertise and promote the Google Teacher Academy that will take place in Mexico City and will be entirely in Spanish.

The direct link to the application form is:

¡Hola a todos!
Quiero aprovechar esta ocasión para promover la academia de profesores de Google, llamada Google Teacher Academy, en inglés. Por primera vez será en la Ciudad de México y será completamente en español. Tendrá lugar el 16-17 de octubre, 2014.

Es una excelente oportunidad para involucrarte más en el ambiente educativo de Google, ampliar tu red de aprendizaje personal y desarrollarte profesionalmente.

Si te interesa conocer más acerca del programa visita la siguiente liga: http://www.google.com/edu/programs/google-teacher-academy/

Para aplicar visita esta liga: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1CDlKSoe97D8DfW3FAUnZlyoxwBElhfbOp1AfzIZ9GNE/viewform

Para aclarar cualquier duda que puedas tener acerca de la academia y el proceso de aplicación, puedes platicar con nosotras, Marybell Rodríguez (GTAMTV 2012) y Diana Saldaña (GTAMTV 2012). Participa en el HangOut que organizamos para el día 14 de agosto a las 8:00 pm, tiempo de Monterrey, NL, México. Busca la invitación en cualquiera de nuestras páginas de Google+.

Te esperamos!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Easily Collect Files via Dropbox

I was recently faced with a situation in which I needed to collect videos from all sorts of persons: some proved tech users and others not so much. An easy solution would have been to ask people to upload their video to Google drive and then share it with me, but not all of them are Google users. Another idea was to have them email the video to me, but the video files might be too large for emailing.

So, I decided I would collect the videos through my Dropbox. I have plenty of storage space, so that should work. I created a folder and generated the share folder link. Great! All I needed to do was invite people or share the link. I ran some tests. Wait! People need a Dropbox account in order to submit files to my shared folder? No way! As I mentioned before, not all have the necessary tech skills and much less the willingness to create additional accounts just to be used once.

Back to the drawing board. There has to be a better way! I kept searching and testing, and that's when I came across JotForm. It worked flawlessly, just the way I wanted! Let me tell you know it works:

1. Create an account in http://www.jotform.com

2. You can create your own forms. But I recommend for starters use the "Form Templates".

3. Search for the term "Dropbox".

4. I used the first simple form that shows in the list. 

5. You can edit and customize the appearance of the form.

6. Now, the trick to make it work is to connect Dropbox to JotForm. Select the "Integrations" tab.
7. Choose "Dropbox Forms".

8. Authenticate the Dropbox account.
9. Select the "Embed Form" tab. 

10. Copy the link and share with whomever you need to collect files from.

That's all! Once you download the files from your Dropbox account, you can delete them in order to make room for more. If you're worried about having your Dropbox account linked to JotForm, you can always revoke access by going to your Dropbox security settings.

I hope this solution helps you too.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Word Layout Tricks

A few weeks ago, students in my school worked with Word Publishing Layout templates. They created some e-magazines that we reviewed in an earlier blog post.

The students were already working on their magazine page when I walked into their classroom. Some students were stuck with certain issues. Today I want to share a few tricks I found out, based on the problems the students shared with me.

1. "The template has 6 pages and I only want to use one of them."

Go to View -> Sidebar -> Thumbnail Pane, control-click on the page, Remove Page.

2. "I can't delete the footer or header."

Switch to the View -> Print Layout, double-click on the footer or header area.


3. "I can't see all the text I typed."

Enlarge the text box or click on the green handle on text the box, then draw another text box that will be linked to it and will make the text flow.

4. "I started with a regular Word blank page and don't know how to delete a page."

Switch to View -> Publishing Layout view. Open the Thumbnail Pane, control-click on the page, and Remove Page. 

Once the students learned how to deal with all of these problems they were able to fly through the activity and quickly finish.