Alternatives to Paper when Brainstorming

July 5, 2018

light bulb signifying ideasA very popular use of easel pad paper and post-it notes are for brainstorming sessions with groups. My team and many others at my workplace use these materials for generating ideas and then sorting them. What they may not know is that that easel pad of paper costs approximately $40 and the post-it notes are $24 for a box. That’s some expensive brainstorming that happens simultaneously across the district and the cost is multiplied.  So…what are some non-paper alternatives to use for these exercises? Here are possible apps to use: Padlet, Google Doc templates, Google Slides, and Lucid Chart-a Google add on.

Padlet is a free cloud-based software that provides an online space that looks a bulletin board, a wall, or many custom backgrounds. After you open a Padlet page you give the link to others and they can add what really looks like post-it notes and then you can move them around to organize them. Some things I like about this software is that there is a mobile app and everything is user-friendly. Padlet is often used in K-12 classrooms so I know that adults can handle it easily.

Google apps provide multiple options to consider. Google docs has many templates such as for SWOT input. Take a look at a nice graphic one here.   You can also just insert a simple 4×4 table like this.  Alternatively I’ve used Google slides with users creating their own text boxes on a slide. Of course these text boxes can  be moved around, resized and reformatted. I’ve also used the comment feature to facilitate discussion around the ideas on a slide.

Finally, Google docs has an add-on called Lucidchart. I started with a P&ID basic design, took away the connectors and made the boxes look like post it notes. NOTE: for users to interact, fill in and move the idea boxes you have to share the design in Lucidchart. After it’s moved over to Google docs it can’t be edited. Editing has to take place in Lucidchart.

Here’s what my self-created chart looks like:

lucidchart screenshot

Hope these suggestions give you some ideas to move away from using paper.
Do you have alternatives for paper brainstorming that I haven’t included here? Let me know via comments!

Paperless Update

April 24, 2018

no-printerFour months into my year without printing things are going surprisingly well.  Members of my team produced a video (spoofing The Office) to encourage others to save paper/printing.  I compiled a comprehensive list of high tech, low tech, and no tech paperless solutions.  This Friday we’re making our first pitch to a curriculum team who will experience a dramatic presentation, with props like these IMG_3863 showing how much the District spends on making paper copies.  After sharing my paperless solutions, they’ll receive a gift basket (paid for with personal funds-no District money was used) from our Paperless Tribe.  IMG_3865

We’re asking that everyone cuts paper use/copying by just 1/3, not as drastic as my paperless path.

So…how is your year going?  Have you tried any paperless solutions?

Webinars on Location

April 7, 2018

pro-webcam-ultra-wide-angleThis school year we’ve started a monthly webinar series called “Schoology Stars” that features power users and creators on our Learning Management System(LMS).  Usually I co-host the webinars from my central office building.  But we decided to change things up and assemble a panel of teachers and bring the webinar to them.  It meant packing up some equipment and being creative with the setup but it was worth it.  We had the highest attendance of the webinar series so far and the energy of a professional panel certainly helped.

For my fellow techies I’ll give you the details of the setup, including some make/model info on the equipment I used.  The library that you see in this panel photo Schoology Stars Panel at South

was not the first choice for a location.  The first choice that was suggested for us to use was a computer lab in the basement that had inferior lighting (for a camera) and a noisy ventilation system.  The library, in contrast, turned out to be perfect for lighting, sound, and a very appropriate background/backdrop for teachers.  In the photo above you’ll also see my webcam (Logitech HD C920) attached to a library cart with a gorillapod and some duct tape to keep the camera angle constant.  On the table are 4 Shure microphones on table top stands.  These were connected to my Alesis Multimix 8 usb mixer-seen below:IMG_0360

The mixer connected to my Mac and then the Zoom webinar software we used.

Now one of the problems we had to solve for was how these five teachers and panel host were going to share the screen views of their online courses in Schoology.  The solution was for our panel host to use her computer, have each teacher’s course open in a browser tab and then project it on a screen facing them so they could see what we were sharing to the virtual audience.  This is what is looked like from the panel perspective:IMG_0366

Also in the right side of this photo are other staff members who came with me to help with setup, monitor the broadcast and during the webinar check the chat and pass messages and audience questions to the panel host.

BTW, you might wonder where the students were.  Well, this was a professional day for teachers (known at DPS at Teal Days) and so the date was perfect for teachers to attend in person and online.

How about you?  Ever hosted a webinar like this?  Any tips to share?

Photography Workshop

March 23, 2018

61LjTYo2ECL._SL1200_Last week I led a photography workshop for my team at work.  The aim was to help them become familiar with our team-owned SLR camera and give them basics to capture better images-with the SLR, or any camera really.  The training document that I created is here.
Today I want to share with you some of the props, homemade accessories and teaching aids I assembled for the workshop in case you might want to incorporate them into yours.

First, here’s a teaching aid I created using two household sponges.  I thought it would be a good visualization of the grain you might expect at those ISO settings and to show the concept of how fast light would be absorbed, relating it to water absorption.

IMG_3670

I borrowed some coffee cups from the team kitchen so everyone could practice adjusting depth of field.

DSC_0038

Have a ladder nearby reminded me to tell them about trying out different angles-high and low and how that brings new perspective to photos.

IMG_3652

Having some props to play with also helps make the workshop fun.

IMG_3666

Finally, I’m not afraid to show how to create homemade photo accessories like this light reflector, made from cardboard and aluminum foil.

IMG_3664

Have you ever led a photography workshop?  What are your tips to add?

Top 5 Takeaways from the iLearn Conference

March 5, 2018

iLearn icon

As is my habit, anytime I attend a conference I share out my top takeaways/learnings. The iLearn Collaborative Conference was held in Denver last month. Here are my top five takeaways, based on my experience and interests.

1. Authentic Video
I often recommend that teachers/facilitators create and post personal “selfie” videos to introduce modules in their online courses.  Jessica Glynn from Denver Online High School took this concept and modeled three crucial elements in her video.  First, she was authentic.  Her video was direct and unedited.  The minor flaws gave it an authentic feel-not rehearsed or perfect.  Secondly the video gave the students the impression that she was “present” in the moment and in the course.  Videos like these are essential in maintaining instructor presence throughout an online course.  Thirdly, in something that surprised me, she not only modeled self-reflection but also lifelong learning as she shared a discovery she had learned in a PD session she attended.  With Jessica’s permission, you too can see the video example here.

2. Close Reading Tools
Jessica Glynn also shared her online approach to close readings-a protocol that is very popular with my literacy friends. Students are given three choices on how to participate: Join teacher-led small group in person, join teacher-led small group via Zoom,or read independently and use the tool Nowcomment. This was the first time I had seen NowComment.  It looks like a fantastic tool to facilitate discussion around a text.  I know this is something you could do in Google Docs, but NowComment has additional features such as giving you a quick count of the comments.

3.  The Science of Online Learning
When I saw, in advance, the presentation deck from Erika Twani and Bryan Goodwin I quickly changed my schedule and headed to their room.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The core of their message is this four step process:
1.     Interest -What do I know, What do I want to know?
2.    Research -Searching for and processing information
3.    Develop Skills -Exercises, Problem solving, Creativity
4.    Relating -How can I apply this to my life
I had some time to work with Joy Schnabel, an English teacher and I came up with this possible sequence for her students:
Have students choose a place to go on vacation.
Research the location.
Vet sources on the internet-what is valid info?
Create a brochure (or a video, audio, essay, letter) to convince their parents to take them there.
Using this sequence, students get a chance to create an alternative assessment and flex their online/multimedia skills.  It’s a win-win!

4.  Innovator Keynote
Catlin Tucker delivered the keynote on day two of the conference. Catlin has kids ditch traditional notebooks and instead document their learning with photos, videos, and writing online. She believes in creating an authentic audience for her students, connecting them with community member panels for large scale projects.  They ask the tough questions of the students.  When students know there is an actual audience, it is a powerful incentive. Her kids also go to TEDEdClubs and produce TED talks. This is a teacher who is not afraid to take risks, challenge and trust her students. She is definitely someone to follow. You can find her on Twitter @Catlin_Tucker

5.  Edcamp 2.0
Jeri Crispe, Chastity Stringer, and Dodi Schrader are from the Thompson School District. They were excited by attending an Edcamp (as I have been) and decided to roll out a localized version to their teachers. First they generated topics by surveying the teachers.
They produced a video to explain the Edcamp process. They listened and planned with educators with Edcamp experience.  Via email, flyers, and face-to-face interactions, they recruited presenters/facilitators. Finally, they designed an online session board and provided space and food. They call it 2.0 because it is their second iteration. They made sure there was a facilitator for each session, someone with a little bit of expertise.
And, in something that makes me very happy, they leverage Schoology for sharing the session materials.  I believe everyone who has Schoology should do this for conferences and professional development, even when it’s face-to-face.
Their new design for PD includes:
Outcomes determined by the learner
Teachers share expertise
Learn something new
Action-orientated
Apply the new learning
Evidence-based reflection to inform practice and next steps

Well, that’s my roundup of the iLearn Conference in Denver. I’ve made myself a promise to submit a proposal to present next year at this and several other conferences. I’ll let you know how that goes. I hop you get to attend some conferences and share your learning as well.

About Preferences

February 16, 2018

no-printerThis week in my no printing saga I’d like to talk briefly about printing preferences.  In the Heath brothers book “Switch” they emphasized shaping a path and building habits.  With this quick tip you can almost effortlessly be printing less.  If you use Chrome as your browser (and why wouldn’t you?) you can setup your print preference to save as a pdf rather than send it to a printer.  Here’s what the preference screen looks like:

save as pdf screenshot

By saving this as a preference, anytime that I’m in Chrome and especially using Google docs, all I have to do is hit Command P on my keyboard and then hit return and voila!  I’ve saved my doc as a pdf on my desktop.   This makes it an easy path-just a few keystrokes, and forms a habit to save rather than print.  And I think it goes without saying that it’s easier to search for a particular pdf file than a drawer full of paper or, even worse, a pile of paper.  Happy saving everyone!

Paper Savers Week 6-No Tech

February 9, 2018

printer-37270_640Through this year of avoiding printing and perhaps paper altogether I will highlight my high tech, low tech and no tech solutions.  This week is a no tech solution. I’ll talk about utilizing whiteboards. I know it sounds “old school” and could be seen as a copout to using technology, but I want to model all kinds of options for others to consider.

As the Culture Champion on my floor at work I’m responsible for, among other things, celebrating birthdays, keeping the refrigerator cleaned weekly and advertising culture events in the building.  I used to print out fliers, announcements, and signup sheets. My boss, Amanda, gave me the idea to deploy whiteboards that could be erased.  I picked up some inexpensive ones from Target.  The toughest part was figuring out how to mount them.  On the backs I used duct tape and string.  For the bulletin board I used push-pins with hooks that I also found at Target.  On the fridge I used one of those removable 3M hooks since the curve of the door wasn’t working for magnets.  Finally, I found a large whiteboard that had already been mounted in one of our stairwells.  Surprisingly, no one had been using it for announcements.  As soon as mine was written, another department took over the rest of the space.  Rather than  be annoyed, I was joyful that someone else saw the opportunity to save paper!  Here are some photos of the whiteboards in use.  NOTE:  The blurring of last names, via photoshop, is intentional.

 

Taking Off with RocketBook

February 2, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 11.17.39 AMI’ve really revved up my year without paper/printing with the purchase of a Rocketbook.  It is rapidly allowing me to leave paper behind. This quick promo video gives you the idea behind the innovation:

I’ve been using it for a month now and have found no downsides.  It has been scanning and erasing flawlessly and everyone seems interested in it when I use it in front of them. The book costs between 20 and 30 dollars, but the app is free.  I’ve set it up to send material to my work email, personal email, work Google folder and my team’s Slack channel.  By purchasing the larger format book, I can also scan paper documents in an instant.  I’ve scanned documents, notes and even objects!  This is a major game-changer for anyone wanted to save paper like me and my team.  We’re thinking about giving them out as gifts to teachers and leaders!  Here’s the process:

I set up my scan destinations.

destination assignment

I decide what I want to scan.

Handwritten erasable notes, scribed with a “Frixion” pen:

notes taken

A three-dimensional object:

3d object to scan

or even a document (not obscuring the destination choices at the bottom:

document to scan

I open the free app on my smartphone and take a photo.  It automatically goes to all the locations I’ve selected with checkmarks:

destinations selected

Voila!  It’s arrived at its destinations!

So,  what do you think?  Any questions?  Are you using a Rocketbook?

Schoology Tool Tip

January 26, 2018

contactI wanted to take a quick diversion from my Year Without Paper theme to share a valuable tool tip in Schoology.  Ironically, the tool is called ToolTip.  Perhaps its generic name is why I forgot about it 😦

When composing a page in Schoology you can add clarifications or definitions to words by using this useful tool.  Here is what it looks like in action:

tooltip in word sonnet

Here are the steps to use it for yourself:

  1. Create a page in your Schoology course, make sure you are in editing mode.
  2. After entering text, find the word you want to define or clarify.
  3. Select the word by clicking and dragging over it.
  4. Click on “Insert Media”.                                                                                                                      tooltip pulldown
  5. At the bottom of this list, click on “ToolTip”  (it may look grayed out, but it is active).
  6. In the pop up window type the text you want to appear as a definition/clarification.       tooltip checkbox
  7. Click on the checkbox.  You’re done!

Happy Schoologizing everyone!

The Year of No Paper Starts

January 19, 2018

printer-37270_640I announced to my team about my plan to go for a year without using paper.  More specifically, not printing anything.  But wherever I can go without paper at all or use only hard recycled paper, I will do so.  My team members have surprised me with their enthusiasm and support.  On my birthday they wrapped a gift for me in recycled post-it notes.

gift pakcage wrapped in used paper

They also surprised me with this sign:

Dee w no paper sign

 

My next steps in the year of no paper include:

  • Blogging here with my progress, tips and observations.
  • Leveraging the No Paper Tribe that I’m forming at DPS and using the books Tribes and Switch for strategies.
  • Using high tech, low tech, and no tech solutions.

See you next time on this paperless wordpress!