NMC 2016: The Evolution of a Digital Citizen

CLICK HERE to access our Presentation Slides (which include clips of student work) from the NMC 2016 Conference in Rochester, NY on June 16.

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I Stream, U Stream, We All Stream!

My First Periscope Broadcast…Newbie Insights for Teachers New to Periscope

The past year has beperiscopeen explosive for the live streaming movement. UStream, Meerkat, Periscope–and now even Facebook and YouTube–are examples of live streaming platforms that allow ordinary people to broadcast live to the world. Of course, a quick glance can reveal a lot of boring, uneventful, ridiculous, and even shady streams. I had heard about Periscope in the past few months, but never checked it out until recently.

Our 7th grade students recently visited a local sea turtle hospital as part of a two-week community service project. They held a “turtle toy (supply) drive,” did a beach clean-up, and made a video for an iBook that will eventually be published on iTunes. I was so excited about this project (collaborative effort of science teacher Stacy O’Connell and media specialist Danielle Wishka as part of her ADE Project) that, even though I had no experience–and not a lot of confidence being on camera–I decided to broadcast the field trip on Periscope.  I did a couple of practice scopes (I’m so glad I did!!!) and went for it.

Here are a few things that I have learned in these first few broadcasts:

  • Check your school’s policy regarding social media and photographing students. I obtained permission in advance and took steps to protect our students’ privacy.
  • Do a test run! In mine, I actually forgot to add a title…
  • Type out your title on another app (such as Notes), then copy & paste onto the title entry bar. (It’s easy to make a mistake if you type your title on the fly.)
  • Use hashtags to attract the appropriate audience for your scope.
  • Use emojis in your title to draw attention (but overkill can be annoying). I went with:

    🐢☀️🐢 7th Grade Community Service Project at South Florida #SeaTurtle Hospital #PeriscopeEDU #PeriscopeTeachers 🐢☀️🐢

  • You may want to pre-tweet your broadcast.
  • Don’t forget to tweet out your broadcast (see below).
  • Limit the length of your broadcast. Mine was way too long-90 min; however, I knew in advance that people wouldn’t be viewing the entire broadcast.
  • Settings–there are 4 icons control the privacy of your broadcast: IMG_0914
    • Location (circled in blue in diagram, rt.): Think carefully about this one, especially if your scope involves students. When selected, your broadcast will appear as a red dot on the map and anyone on Periscope can see your location and comment as you broadcast.
    • Private broadcast (green circle): allows you to limit your broadcast to specific people. This is good for testing things out!
    • Limit chat (pink circle): If you select, only people you follow on Periscope will be allowed to chat (add comments and give you hearts).
    • Twitter icon (yellow circle): This will automatically tweet out your broadcast.
    • I chose not to broadcast my location for this scope for security purposes and because I didn’t want random people (aka trolls) to view or comment on my scope. Not broadcasting your location means your audience will be limited to those who follow you on Periscope and Twitter (and anyone with whom they share).

It was an incredible experience to broadcast our students in action making a difference for these sea turtles! The biggest thing I gained from the process is to discover how much I have to learn! The experience left me excited to explore more ways to showcase the work of our students and teachers, as well as to continue make global connections.

Kelley Briceno, Tech Coach


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The Critical Five Minutes of Class

“You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This often quoted truth is so common, in fact, that its origin is unclear. Some attribute it to Oscar Wilde, others to William Safire. Regardless, it’s certainly not a hotly debated issue. In general, people understand the importance of first impressions. In his article “How Many Seconds to a First Impression?” which was posted in The Association for Psychological Science, Eric Wargo writes about how–whether fair or not, we are all judged by a number of things: our appearance, how we dress, our age, etc. The part that stinks is that most of these judgements are upon things over which we have no control! As educators, we have the responsibility to focus on those things we CAN control. The first day of school is perhaps the most notable occasion we have to strike a positive first impression with our students, but fortunately, we have a new opportunity every day we see our students to impress them–or not.

The first five minutes of class each day will set the tone for the next fifty. Teachers need a few minutes to gather thoughts and resources between classes, take attendance and just simply RESET.


I recently walked into our library, where our Media Specialist Danielle Wishka (@daniwishtweets) had this image on display at the mediascape. She had a fun song playing and I couldn’t help but noticed that all the students were typing away on their laptops as they rocked out to the song. At the end of the song–less than 5 minutes into class, the students were fully prepared for class. No prompting, nagging, or redirecting was necessary.

There are MANY ideas out there for these “bell ringer” activities. Here are a couple of links to some excellent blog posts with many ideas:

Find a few activities you like and try something new! Have other ideas? Please add them to the comments below!

Kelley Briceno, Tech Coach



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Authentic Learning can be Messy

One of the parts of my job as Technology Integrator (or “Tech Coach” as I like to call it) that I love most is that I have the privilege of working with a team of such high quality professionals at my school. Yes, I am able to introduce some strategies for implementing technology to enhance a lesson or drive home learning objectives, but at the end of the day, I benefit so much from collaborating with our amazing teachers as I learn from their array of teaching styles and abilities.

The classroom I am discussing in today’s post is one that would have made many of our own childhood teachers–and if we are honest, some of usIMG_0174extremely uncomfortable. This was not the type of classroom where students sat in neatly arranged rows or small, balanced groupings of three or four. Students didn’t always raise their hands before speaking. Some stood, while others sat. The room was buzzing with activity. I had provided a few prior introductory lessons in basic coding with Scratch, our media specialist introduced the makey makey circuit boards, and the science teacher, Ms. Kopels, introduced basic circuitry. Now, the students had the opportunity to combine these three concepts to explore electricity and complete a series of self-directed challenges.

Not every teacher can tolerate this type of learning environment. At first glance, it may appear to be disorganized, even chaotic. A more traditional classroom, like the ones from my childhood, has specific rules against such behavior. Expectations are set on the first days of the school year and students held accountable for upholding these rules for every lesson, every day.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 1.15.19 PMNow I’m not saying that this “messy” type of classroom atmosphere works for all learning activities, but I know one thing: there was 100% student engagement in this class. One hundred percent! A couple of the students sat on the table with legs dangling over the side. A few others were on their knees, eye-level to their challenge on the desktop. Multiple voices could be heard at the same time throughout the room–some louder than others. The one thing that made this class different from a “traditional” classroom was the fact that although Ms. Kopels had carefully planned the lesson, the students were genuinely self-directed as it was carried out. There were very few times that her voice could be heard over the general chatter in the classroom. How many times can any of us say that we can hold our students’ attention in this way? What made this lesson so successful? I’m going to share 5 observations that I believe contributed to Ms. Kopels’s success in this lesson:

  1. Students had something to do as soon as they walked into the room–something for which they were accountable. Call it a “bell ringer” or warm-up activity, or whatever. These students had been conditioned to look for what to do when they arrive each day. Not only does this prevent lingering or mischief in those brief moments between class, but it sets the tone for the class and is the perfect opportunity to creatively “hook” the students into the lesson. A quick glance at the board and the students were busy at work.
  2. Students knew what to expect. The teacher was just specific enough to communicate the general flow for her students by listing the class activities on the board. This list was broad enough to allow for and take advantage of the students’ questions, ideas, and suggestions–which brings me to my next observation:
  3. Students had freedom to explore, question, and draw their own conclusions. This structure requires an open minded instructor who isn’t afraid to take some risks. There are so many “what-if’s” that can intimidate a teacher. “What if a student poses a question I can’t answer?” “What if students’ questions divert them from a concept I’m trying to drive home?” “Won’t I be losing control of the class, and consequently, lose my students’ respect?” I  recently read a blog post about a principal who introduced himself as the lead learner in his school. It takes a degree of humble confidence (yes, I know –it’s an oxymoron) to be a learner in one’s own class, but I have learned from experience that students will have far more respect for a teacher when (s)he is not too proud to learn something new along with–or yes, even from students!
  4. There were a variety of activities in the class. Students worked with a partner, in a small group, but came together as one group at the end of class to share their questions, challenges, approaches, and conclusions. Interestingly, the students knew that the “rules” were completely different for the wrap-up, whole class discussion in these last 10 minutes of class.
  5. The lesson had specific closure. Students knew there was a clearly communicated “exit ticket” to demonstrate that they had met the lesson objective(s). I will address exit ticket ideas & strategies in a future post.

Most teachers today understand that our students need a variety of learning activities to remain engaged. We know that the best lesson combines different activities and groupings. We realize that when it is crafted to bring out the best in our learners and in our lessons, technology can enhance engagement and learning. We still have a way to go in giving up the comfort of “controlling” every aspect of our lessons. Yes, this type of learning can be messy, but let us consider how this “unstructured” learning can be the most engaging and consequently, the most effective learning for our students.

My next post will address some creative approaches for class starters or “bell ringer” activities. Follow this blog to get an email notification for new posts.  🙂

Kelley Briceno, Tech Coach

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Technology Does Not Equal Engagement

I imagine that most people who would read a blog like this are educators who agree that one of the benefits of technology in education is that it increases student engagement. I wouldn’t be a technology integrator if I didn’t believe this to be true. When I was in grad school, my Emerging Tech professor challenged us with the question, “Does technology increase learning?” At first, we were confused. I mean seriouslythis was a graduate program for Instructional Technology! Although a few argued “no,” most of us were in the “yes” camp. We read scholarly articles on both sides of the issue. His question made all of us us dig deep for research that would back up our (existing) opinions. After much reading, analysis, and debate, our professor pointed out that the body of research was quite clear. With nothing else taken into consideration, simply adding technology does not result in increased learning.


Photo by FutilityBucket


Photo by Herman Miller







The only real difference in the two pictures above is that the resources in the picture on the right are a lot more expensive. Introducing technology may be “state of the art,” but if it doesn’t increase learning, where is its value? In short, “Technology doesn’t revolutionize education. Teachers do.” —Derek Muller (@veritasium). In its recently published Teachers Know Best study, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has found that “Despite the proliferation of technology that enables student learning experiences to be tailored to meet individual skills, needs, and interests, most teachers [69%] still report working in classrooms where students generally learn the same content, working at the same pace together as a class” (Nov. 2015).

Technology will only enhance the pedagogy that is already present (paraphrased from Eric Patnoudes @NoApp4Pedagogy). If a teacher struggles with classroom management, and you add technology to the mix–the result is chaos. An instructor who lectures day after day will likely find his or her students off task during class if laptops or mobile devices are introduced. On the other hand, when technology is added to the repertoire of a good teacher who (already) connects with students and utilizes a variety of methods to challenge and engage them, the potential for engagement and learning is limitless.

Which is best: 1:1 Laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, B.Y.O.D.? The focus needs to be removed from which devices we should use and placed instead on how to guide our learners to tap the power of technology to accomplish things that were never possible without them. (Think “R” of SAMR.) It has always been–and will always be–about pedagogy. Technology will only enhance the pedagogy that is already present. It is for this reason that I chose the subheading for my blog very carefully. “It’s not about the tech. It’s about the teach.” –Ewan Mcintosh


IMG_0118This post is the product of a week-long reflection on a two day professional development event, Miami Device, that I attended last week. This was the second year of the event. Last year, I attended mostly practical sessions that highlighted specific apps and techniques I could apply immediately in my classroom. This year, I ended up selecting sessions that were more theoretical in nature. At my school, we are in the midst of developing a school wide technology plan, so the timing was perfect.

Kelley Briceno, Tech Coach

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Why Blog?

Do any of us really need another thing added to our plate? Balancing all of our life activities is a challenge for most of us. Actually, I did start a blog 2 years ago. My school purchased the explorer edition of Google Glass and I had the wonderful idea to start a blog called “Glass in my Class” and blog every day of the school year. I liked the name, so I even dropped twelve bucks for a domain. I posted a few times, but…um…well, you probably get the idea. I simply ran out of things to write about it because Google Glass turned out to be (at least in my humble opinion) very limited in its usefulness to me as an educator.


Image Credit: Demetri Martin

So here I am–blogging. Quite honestly, I have chosen to start this blog for selfish reasons. I know that the accountability factor in maintaining this blog will push me to read, research, and reflect. Blogging is another form of teaching, and of course when we teach, we learn SO. MUCH. MORE.

I am taking advantage of this post-conference energy, having just returned from an AMAZING two-day learning event, Miami Device 2015. (If you have the opportunity–please take advantage! You will not regret it. The next Miami Device event is scheduled for November 9-10, 2017.)

This isn’t a blog about the latest new gadget (although I may post about some of those). Some of my posts will be EdTech related apps; others will be more theoretical or reflective in nature. I will aim to have ALL posts grounded in sound pedagogy. My first post will be my reflection about the role of technology in the transformation of education. Hope to “see” you soon!

Kelley Briceno, Tech Coach

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