Monday, April 25, 2016

NETA 2016

Another NETA Conference is officially in the books, but as always, the learning doesn't stop at the Century Link Center.  Here is a quick collection of how my time was spent learning this year at NETA 2016. 

I presented three sessions this year and have linked the slides and resources for each. 

So, You Want to Publish a Book? (NETA 2016)

Learn about the process of publishing on the iBooks Store from start to finish including topic and project ideas for both teachers and students, content development in iBooks Author, and the submission and approval process from iTunes. Whether for classroom use or personal professional use, anyone has the ability to become a published author on this powerful platform!

If you thought Keynote was simply used to create slideshows, you will be amazed! See creative ideas for alternative uses of Apple's Keynote app for either Mac or iOS. Coding, animation, holograms and more... and all experiences are easy enough for beginning users. Learn and apply innovative ideas to do more with something you already have access to: Apple's Keynote.

GameShowification (NETA Ignite Talk 2016)

Learn about lessons for education gained from my personal experiences playing a TV Game Show -  Family Feud! Google slides with notes: 

As always, the NETA Keynotes were first-rate.  This year they featured "NebEdTalks" - shorter style Nebraska Education "TED Talks" - from 4 different presenters.  Leading off was Bob Dillon, Director of BrightBytes Institute who reminded us to slow down, notice and appreciate more.

Jennie Mageira, however, encouraged us to get motivated to let go and take risks with her talk centered around "Courageous Edventures."  
Day 2 Keynotes included Rafranz Davis on Diversity in Education and Nebraska native, Tony Vincent, who encouraged us to "Reset the Presets." 

For me professionally, there were too many valuable sessions to even begin to list. However I did see many common themes. Over and over again, we were reminded in the power of failure- both for our learners and for ourselves professionally. "Play" and gamification, both in teaching and in PD were repeated frequently. Google Cardboard and the MakerSpace/Maker movement were also a common interest for participants. Blended Learning continues to be an important topic for schools as well, and NETA provided numerous sessions and resources for it.

Additional personal highlights for me came from secondary experiences related to NETA. I participated in a BreakoutEDU session and thoroughly enjoyed the collaborative challenge of breaking out of Dr. Johnson's Lab. The educational opportunities that exist with this concept excite me for schools. Learn more at

NETA also sponsored its first ever 5K fun run/walk. We woke up early on Friday morning to take a short run across the bridge into Iowa with fellow NETA participants. Again, sometimes it is the peripheral experiences that provide the richest learning opportunities.

To follow some of the many tweets from #NETA16, check out this Twitter archive - rich with links and commentary.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Power of Public Sharing

Lynch, Nebraska, population 236 (2013 census) to me has always been the epitome of rural community pride.  It is home to thriving businesses, genuine people, and a great getaway for anyone desiring a break from the beaten path.

Lynch Public School continues to try and push the envelope with technology amidst the realities of declining population, waning financial support, and public opinion encouraging consolidation or closure.

During the current school year Lynch Public School set a goal to host a Technology Fair with the intent of showcasing technology usage across the K-12 school. Efforts began early, and by partnering with ESU 8, teachers were provided related training and ongoing support. Teachers chose a variety of projects and tech skills to implement in their classrooms and subject areas. Plans were shared across the staff so that duplicate ideas were avoided and a wide variety of exemplars could be showcased.

For the Tech Fair each teacher hosted a “booth.” All students were encouraged to attend and demonstrate technology skills they had gained from their classroom experiences. The entire community was invited to attend, and like any good open house, refreshments were served. :-)

On their own initiative the staff worked together to create a plan for the delivery of the experience, open to the public. They set up projector screens back to back in the middle of the gym and positioned additional tables around the outside edges of the gym. Every available projector from a classroom was moved to a table station. Some stations required speakers and/or headphones, while others just required iPads or laptops to demonstrate. 

2016_03 Lynch Tech Fair
Click the above image to view the Flickr album of photos from the event.
Some of the high level student work that was shared included:
  • iMovies of classroom activities (“A Day in the Life”)
  • Instructional videos (PE and Industrial Tech skills)
  • Augmented Reality projects (“About Me” and science…)
  • Robotics
  • iXL Math
  • Kahoot online quiz games
  • Digital books created with iBooks Author (World War II)
  • Digital books created on iPad with Book Creator app (Weather Instruments)
  • 20% Project Presentations (student-directed scientific research projects)
  • Green screen videos (music videos and more!)
  • Online portfolios (Art portfolios built with Smore)
  • SMART Board activities in English Language Arts
  • Learning journals with the SeeSaw app
  • Sketchup (3D design) 
The event was well attended. Many parents, grandparents, and additional family members were treated to a more in-depth personal exposure to each student’s learning experiences with technology. Another positive outcome was the visitors who were not necessarily relatives of the students, but simply interested community patrons. To be able to demonstrate the value of tax payers’ money and the purposeful impact the school is making for youth is an absolute win-win for all. 

I have often said that it is our personal responsibility as educators to promote the positive things that are happening in our classrooms.  Lynch Public School took on this task and more with their collective efforts around the Tech Fair.  They proved once again that no matter your school’s size, you can be an example to others— an example that I hope to see others following in the near future. Whether through online spaces, in the media, or simply inviting the community in for an experience like a Technology Fair, we all can be advocates for technology-enhanced education through the power of public sharing.