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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Odds and Ends: TUIT, TodaysMeet, Outlook Popups, Bulb Life, AppleTV Snoozing

I'm nearly at the end of my embedded initial stay here at Southside Elementary.  As the time whittles down at this wonderful school, here are some odds and ends.

Let's start out today with a #ShelbyTUITshoutout to Southside's Sarah Gregory!  During a drop-in yesterday, Ms. Gregory had her third graders posting questions via iPads in a TodaysMeet room.   Great way to integrate discussion strategies with technology!

TodaysMeet is a popular and free "backchanneling" tool. Teachers can create a chat room for just an hour or have it open up to a year.  Students enter the room, give their name, and can begin replying to each other and the teacher.  Once finished, you can print out a transcript of the entire session.  It can be a useful way of making discussion more equitable and getting participation from all members, particularly if paired with a rubric and stated expectations of quantity and quality.  I particularly loved using it while watching videos; students were much more engaged, practiced their visual literacy skills in a way I could observe and assess, and I could quickly answer questions and probe students to think deeper without ever hitting pause.  Over the summer, TodaysMeet did a major upgrade.  Now teachers can create an account where their created rooms are "saved" under their profile.  Among other new features are moderation tools, such as the ability to delete specific posts. I highly recommend TodaysMeet, and for some different ways you could use it in a classroom, read this article.

Moving on!  I have three quick edtech tips today:
  • By default in Outlook, new emails and alerts will pop up on your screen.  However, when using a computer that is projecting to a screen, you are unintentionally sharing that parent's email,  child's medical information, IEP meeting requests, etc. with other students.  For MacBook Airs, turn off the popups by opening Outlook program, go to Outlook (next to Apple icon at top left of screen), Preferences, Notifications & Sounds, and uncheck mark the box for "Display an Alert on my Desktop."
  • Nothing taxes a projector bulb more than leaving it on a blue screen for hours, or worse, overnight.  Bulb replacement is a major expense for a technology budget. If you are going to not be projecting for a long period of time, please turn the projectors off.  At Southside Elementary, we have two projectors in each room (SMARTBoard and secondary ceiling) that unfortunately work by the same remote.  If both come on but you only want to use one, use your body as a shield: turn your back to the projector you want to keep on, point the clicker to the projector you want off (I hold the remote clutched to my chest, like I have T-Rex arms), and turn it off.
  • Some teachers have reported problems with their AppleTV, but it's just asleep.  Look for a small white light that indicates it's awake, if you can see it (sometimes the SCPS sticker is over it). If not (or you're not sure), press any button on the AppleTV remote to wake it up.  If your AppleTV is on but you don't see your room number come up for AirPlay, try resetting the device: go to Settings, General, Restart.

I'll be posting an interview with SSE's Teacher of the Year by the end of the week!

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