09 Mar 2015
Comments: 3

4 Things Every Student Must DO to Preserve their Work

This has been a topic heavy on my heart and mind all year. More and more students are creating and collecting content on their devices… and this is a good thing. However, when we have to swap and/or turn in their iPad due to damage, graduation, or migration from the district… we start running in to problems. Most of these issues can be resolved with student education and a smattering of forethought and planning.

WHY Must WE Support Our Students With Managing and Archiving their Content?

Before I reveal “Digital Transitions: What Every Student Should Know”, let me just give you a window in to an all too real scenario. A student has damage to her iPad (dead spots to the screen that make it utterly unusable). She has done an iCloud back-up but would like to manually back-up content and media just in case. During our iPad Swaps, we discovered that if all apps are not updated and the iOS is not updated, sometimes all of the content within the apps does not return during the restore. So back to my very real media transferring chain of events…:

  • Plug in iPad in to her Macbook and pull off photos directly: this is a no-go as devices are managed and will be rejected by iTunes and other programs due to this configuration.
  • Upload Photos to iCloud: this was also a no-go as the device needed an update and would not “talk” to her Mac until that update was complete.
  • Upload to iFiles (Novell): we could have gone this route but the app was not set up with her Novell connection and having to turn the iPad 90 degrees every few seconds due to the dead spots on the screen proved less than desirable.
  • Google Drive: thought this might work but we kept getting network errors due to our filter glitch with Google and having to turn the iPad 90 degrees every few seconds due to the dead spots on the screen to troubleshoot the connection proved obviously less than desirable.
  • eBackpack: so we ended up using eBackpack (our current district workflow management system) and uploading photos and videos to the home folder there – somewhat less desirable as there is no bulk upload feature so we uploaded each photo and video one by one.

I truly hope and moreover believe that having a back-up and archive process in place (and training our students on this process) will alleviate the issue of students losing content as well as scrambling to back up content last minute.

WHAT Are the Types of Media, Content, and Apps Students Use Most?

So, I thought about the main types of media and content that students create and collect and also the apps that students most use and that we provision within our system. With that I created a quick infographic in Canva and then added a layer on instructional support using Thinglink and Voila…“Digital Transitions”:

HOW Will I Disseminate this Information to Teachers and Eventually Our Students?

It was painfully clear when I popped in to all classes participating in mandatory iPad swaps this year (due to the necessary enrollment in the updated MDM system) that professional development for students is a must. Multiple students in each class stared at me with very confused looks when I mentioned iCloud back-ups. Obviously, telling secondary students to complete a task is not enough… we need to show them how. This infographic is the first step to preparing our students to be effective managers of their own content:

  • Step 1: Collect my thoughts on this content management dilemma and prepare a resource that maps out the process.
  • Step 2: Meet with all Senior classes (starting with Seniors as they have to turn in their iPads at the end of the year) and walk them through the process of transitioning and archiving their content.
  • Step 3: Eventually meet with all underclassmen to do the same process.

I sincerely hope this information is helpful and I will keep you posted on this process as it develops. Would love any and all thoughts on the need for student professional development in the arena of preserving content.



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24 Feb 2015
Comments: 1

App-Smashed Benjamin Franklin Biography

I guess this is what happens when your mom is both an educator and an Ed Tech…

My second grader recently brought home a bottle biography project. We finished the written portion a few weeks ago knowing that we still had the craft module to complete. Now before I continue with my story, I want to clarify a few points:

  • By no means am I saying that all student projects should be digital.
  • By no means do I believe that projects shouldn’t be sent home.
  • By no means do I think projects shouldn’t involve crafts.
  • By no means do I think the whole assigned project lacked merit or purpose.

Purposeful Crafts

Please know that I definitely enjoy doing projects with my son and I think it is great bonding time… I just believe that craft assignments should be purposeful in nature. No matter how many projects like this we get assigned, I find that the “craft” module of the project falls mostly on the parent to select and purchase the supplies and even assemble them. Now don’t get me wrong, my son helped locate rocks to fill the bottle to stabilize it and did assist with some of the assembly and design but ultimately most of the bottle project ended up in my lap. I then have to ask myself, “what did he ultimately learn from this craft?” So, this got me thinking… what could we do with this bottle craft project to elevate and extend the learning and utilize and incorporate the craft project?


Research and Extensions

I will say that we gleaned a lot through reading the biographies together and completing the provided biography inventory. Because I felt like my son had learned more about Benjamin Franklin than he displayed in both the bottle and the handout, I decided to add a few more guidelines to the project (based on the 2nd grade standards). Many of these extended the written, visual, and oral requirements for the project:

  • MindMap of 5 Adjectives: This included a hand-drawn image from my son as well as component of typing and allowed him to display his research visually. (used Popplet Lite app)
  • Locating Origins and Birth Places: This was simple but addressed a geography component and the ability to locate places of significance. (used Google Earth app)
  • PostCard to Benjamin Franklin: This creative writing assignment  focused on expository text standards as well as addressing important contributions of historical figures. (used Bill Atkinson PhotoCard app)
  • App-Smashed Assembly: As Toontastic is now free (since it was acquired by Google), and it had a Benjamin Franklin toon within its suite, we decided this would be the perfect tool for app-smashing the aforementioned content. Not only was this a great tool to assemble all of the digital media, it also addressed the standard of creating visual displays to convey research results and touched on the component of expressing ideas orally as well. (used Toontastic app)

Within the App-Smashed Assembly, we included a few more elements:

  • Reflection on Process: I am a huge proponent of reflecting on the process – not just the final product so I made sure that my son included how Bottle Ben came to be with pics of the final product and a delineation of the materials.
  • Citations and Multiple Sources: While I am currently stationed at a HS, I have to tell you that I had my stint in elementary as well and have a special place in my heart for children’s literature. As some of the books that my son self-selected from the library proved to be above his reading level, I picked up a few from Amazon. In doing so, these books reiterated the content that we had read from his initial research and provided a diverse landscape for his learning.
  • Publishing: Publishing and Sharing writing is a a big component of the standards and I can’t tell you how excited and proud my son gets when he finds out that other schools in the district (and schools across the nation) want to share his project with their students. In fact just this morning he smiled and said, “just say ‘yes’ to anyone that asks you.”  😉
Ben Franklin copy

Final Project

So here is the final App Smashed project… One of my favorite parts is that the analog creations (e.g. Ben biography bottle and hand-drawn images) provide a introspective and unique landscape to the digital creation that could not be achieved through digital elements alone.

I have to say that had we to do this over again… I would make a few tweaks to the project:

  • Include all Original Artwork: I would have had him design a setting for Benjamin Franklin (hand-drawn) rather than using the Toontastic stock background.
  • Assemble a Timeline: I might also have suggested a timeline of major contributions or events created with Popplet Lite or RWT Timeline.
  • Dramatize a Scene: I would also have him recreate an actual scene to meet dramatization standards.

Authentic Audience

Nothing warms my heart more than to know that my son’s work is well received and that he has an authentic audience for his learning.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 7.46.06 PM

Invest in Knowledge and Involve Me…

So I fortuitously happed upon this bottle of wine at Walgreen’s and in doing so learned that Benjamin Franklin had a repertoire of wine quotes as well. As none of these quotes were particularly app-licable or app-ropriate, I decided to share one of my favorite Benji (yes, we are now on a first nickname basis now) quotes about learning:

Benji Quotes.001 copy


TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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02 Feb 2015
Comments: 0

iPad Project Menu

As I will be attending and present at TCEA this week, I wanted to leave my campus with a small learning nugget to support them in my absence. I began thinking about most of the questions that I receive that are instructional in nature. Many of them focus on what the best apps and tools are to meet the task. Other inquiries focus on workflow and best practices for publishing.

iPad Project Menu

So… the iPad Project Menu was born. I have to admit that it is somewhat derivative of Tony Vincent’s Show What You Know infographic. I simply tailored the menu to focus on tools and apps that were free (or already provided for FREE to our students via Casper and Self Service), changed up a few of the tasks, and added a second page that addressed many of the questions that I receive when I am planning with teachers. I figured that some of you might enjoy or be inspired by this assembly of resources so I made it available for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 6.13.09 PM


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05 Jan 2015
Comments: 2

21+ Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015

I have been struggling with a post that will set the stage for 2015 and serve as a worthy inaugural nugget for the new year… and I finally happed upon it. The inspiration came from a blend of Carl Hooker’s “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and a tweet from a dear friend, Brianna Hodges, sharing her new site, “Educationally Techtastic” hot off the blog press. I found myself disseminating a few tips and best practices for blogging through a series of texts and next thing you know it I had drafted a list of 21 Blogging Do’s for the 21st Century Blogger.

Before I release the list, I wanted to share Brianna’s insight and a link to her own blog beginnings that I hope will serve as support and inspiration for you to create (or amplify) your own blog in 2015:

“I absolutely love being an educator and, as a lifelong learner, I am continually searching for inspiration & exemplars to incorporate in my classroom. One of those searches led me to TechChef4U and, there, I found my touchstone, my source of energy & innovation. I truly believe that we are at a pivotal moment in education and, in her blog, I found the perfect combination of creativity & practicality, sprinkled with a hefty dose of foresight & imagination. Moreover, Lisa helped me see that I can have a voice and a place at the EdTech table. I believe that we owe it to our students and children to help form tomorrow’s learning environment &, to do that, we need to share our experiences, ideas, failures, & successes. With that, my blog, educationallyTECHTastic, was born.” – Brianna Hodges

So here we go… can I get a drumroll? Or should it be a drumstick (#foodpun) 😉

Miami Device PD Recap (used with Evernote) #TechChef4u #iPad #Evernote

Truly, these are not in any order and not all necessary to accomplish at once. I do hope that they provide you with a festive feast of fresh ideas to make the leap to a blog or spruce up your own blog in 2015:

1. Choose a Template that you can Customize and Grow with…

When choosing a template and a blogging service, consider what widgets and themes are offered and if you can truly grow with the site over the years. Though my site has changed designs over the years, I am and will forever be a WordPress girl… this time I just had to shell out a little cash for their paid templates.

2. Buy Your Own URL

This is an easy thing to do. Sites like GoDaddy and 1 and 1 offer this service. Trust me www.techchef4u.com plays a lot nicer on a business card than www.techchef4u.wordpress.com.

3. Plugin Your Feeds

If you are social geek like me, then you most likely already have a Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Add these feeds using a plugin to your site so people that visit your site know how and where to connect with you further.

4. Test Your Contact Page

I say this with a bit of frustration as my current contact page had to be taken down and recoded and in its place is a Google Form. Contact Pages are very integral for people to communicate with you for a variety of reasons ranging from permission to use your work to possible collaborations. Always test your contact page (and have others do so too) and if it doesn’t work, then add another means to initiate email contact. It never hurts to add social media contact info here as well. (Truthfully, I am fifteen times faster at answering a tweet or DM than I am an email.) I really like Holly Clark’s contact page because it includes a form as well as additional means of contact.

5. Tag All Posts with Your Name

This is something I have “stolen” and adopted from George Couros. Many times we tag posts with relevant terms like #iPad or #EdTech but we don’t even think to tag with our own name. Tagging with your name helps with Search Engine Optimization as well as brand recognition.

6. Infuse Pictures of Yourself

I have read many a blog with paragraphs of text. Truly there is nothing wrong with text but I find the sites that share relevant content blended with pictures of themselves and their students during these projects tend to resonate better and deepen the text for those of us that are visual learners. These posts also pin better. 😉

7. Watermark your Images

I truly wish this was something I had done from the beginning. I have found my images floating all around the internet and Pinterest completely uncited with no way to find their way back to me. Matt Gomez does an excellent job of using the Signature Watermark Ultra WP plugin to add a special watermark using his own logo to each of his images. I also stumbled upon this Listly of 15 additional tools to watermark your images. Not only does this help with his branding but it allows people to find him and his work through his images as they are pinned and tweeted. Kevin Honeycutt takes this idea one step further and adds a personal quote to many of his images… they are called Honeyquotes!

8. Include a Disclaimer Statement

This is really key. When I started my first blog, it was considered “rogue” as it was not a district regulated website. To ensure there were no issues with my postings and my job, I added a simple disclaimer statement, “The content on this website in no way represents the opinions or beliefs of … district”.

9. Connect Content you Curate and Create

Many bloggers curate and create additional and supplementary content for their blog on other sites. Cathy Yenca not only blogs… she has a booming Teachers Pay Teachers store, an iBook, and a variety of Nearpod lesson bundles which are all directly linked from her site. People don’t automatically know what else you curate and create unless you share it so don’t be afraid to add this content as badges or even a tab on your site. Laura Moore of Learn Moore Stuff also does a fantastic job of connecting you with her other resources as she includes links to her bulb, Padlet, Smores, and much more on the right hand side of her site.

10. Add Links to Presentations, Videos, Podcasts, and Webinars

As you begin to prepare presentations and deliver webinars or even create videos for your class or school, share them on a tab on your site so others can get to better know you, your content, and your flavor. In the interim of cleaning up my site, I have posted all of my videos and webinars in a Pinterest board for easy access. If you don’t have speaking videos or webinars, consider posting video content that you have created. Both Carl Hooker and Dean Shareski do a most excellent job of blending their recorded speaking engagements with their own content ranging from Carl’s app smashes and iPad Orientations to music videos and to Dean’s workshop promos and success stories to his archived presentations and YouTube creation! The Langwitches genius, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, includes her latest slide decks as a panel on her main site.

11. Creative Commons Your Work and/or Your Site

As you begin to blog and create content and resources, it will inevitably be tweeted, reposted, downloaded, and repurposed. Providing a Creative Commons Attribution license on your site allows your audience to know exactly what they can and can’t do with your work. One can provide a blanket statement for all content on the site or an individual statement for each piece of work. The Creative Commons site easily allows you to create these licenses and even populates a custom embed code for your site. Kasey Bell has an excellent example of the blanket statement at the bottom of her Shake Up Learning site and I have included a singular license for this list after #21. Beth Still provides and excellent write-up on how sites can be perceived when they do not properly attribute work within the Creative Commons framework.

12. Share Both Your Failures and Your Successes

It is easy to share and celebrate our successes but much harder to make public our failures or lessons learned. Everyone fails… let’s face it and embrace it. One of my favorite bloggers truly tackles the tough conversations – she is bold and honest and never sugar coats the truth and I simply adore her candid thoughts on life and education. Her most recent posts “From Midway Negativity to a Positive Ending” and “Facing Insecurities: You Are More Than Enough” frankly address the struggles and obstacles so many of us quietly face and endure.

13. Don’t Be Afraid of Lists

I often shy away from lists because my O/C gets the best of me and I feel the list must be comprehensive before posting. That being said, there is a real time and place for lists. For some reason, we are drawn to numbers and the potential to see if we measure up or can relate to the list and so the power of the list is maintained. I was inspired by Carl’s “Top 10 Things Not to Do in a 1:1 iPad Initiative” and “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and recently wrote “11 Useful Tips for Managing iPads in the Classroom“, “6 Do’s and Don’ts for Secondary iPad Deployment and Support of New Initiatives” and “9 Must Read iPad Instructional Support Resources“. And I have to say there is nothing better than an infographic from the amazing talented Sean Junkins to revive or amplify even the finest of lists. I love how he put a spin on both Carl’s and my lists (scroll to the bottom of both posts to see the infographic). Another creative take on lists is the idea of dividing one in to reasonable time frames for completion as Ashley Cronin did with her New Things to Try in 2015: Things to try in 5 Days, 5 Weeks, and 5 months.

14. Break Up Text with Interactivity

As I mentioned in #6, images help others to connect with you and your content. With the fire hose of information at our very finger tips, we have become a society of scanners and skimmers. I find that I tend to glean more information from a blog that has some sort of interactivity to support or extend the content. Sites that embed beautifully into a blog and offer this type of interactivity range from Tackk and Haiku Deck to Thinglink and Listly (all embedded in posts linked above). Not only do those tools jive up your content, they drive traffic to your blog as they are also hosted on additional sites.

15. Provide a Link to your Blog on all of your Social Networks

This goes hand in hand with #3 and #10. Most of the traffic to my site comes from Pinterest and I want to ensure that people not only come to my site from the pins I post and curate but know how to connect directly from my boards. Any social network you maintain (e.g. Linkedin, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Thinglink, Snapguide, Scoop.it) should include both your brief bio as well as a link to your site so people can connect with your content no matter how they initially discovered you.

16. Build In Twitter Quote Widgets Within Your Posts

This is a recent development for me. I discovered the Tweet This WordPress Plugin on my brother-in-law’s site and have been itching for a way to begin incorporating it into mine. Essentially, the plugin allows you to build the content of a tweet for someone so all they have to do is go to your site and click on it and tweet it. If you build it… they may tweet it 😉 If you are interested in seeing this type of plugin in action, check out one of Book Creator’s most recent posts.

17. Proudly Display Badges

The design of my site makes it difficult to host badges next to my posts. This is something I am looking to remedy in the future. While bragging and boasting are bogus… celebrating accomplishments is important. An easy way to do this is to post badges. Jamie Forshey, Erin Klein, and Gwyneth Jones do a fantastic job of highlighting their achievements and badges on their sites. Badges can range from awards and nominations to blogs that you cross post too. An added bonus of cross-posting or blog tailgating is that you offer your content to a wider audience. Technology Tailgate is one of my favorite sites for this process and offers a special badge you can embed if you author content within their feed.

18. Provide Consistency with Images for Brand Recognition

For me variety is the spice of life and I tire easily with the same color schemes and fonts. Unfortunately, my need for diversity sometimes leads to confused branding and attribution. That being said, two of my counterparts have really carved out their niche within this realm. Kasey Bell’s Google Resources, Gwyneth Jones Comic TutorialsMathy Cathy’s Math Thinglinks, Brad Ovenell-Carter’s Sketch Notes, and Ryan Read’s App Dice are all recognizable and each contribute to a cohesively branded collection (wow – was that a nod to Project Runway?).

19. Provide Consistency with Content

People like to know what to expect and how frequently it will be posted. Richard Byrne does an excellent job with his Free Tech for Teachers site as most of his posts have a consistent framework which includes a summary and educational applications for each highlighted tool. Terri Eichholz is a shining example of consistency with  frequency of postings as her site Engage Their Minds typically releases a new post every day. While I am not a daily poster, I do try to provide some consistency to the time of day my posts are released by auto-scheduling them to publish at either 9:30 or 10:00 am CST.

20. Build Your PLN by Answering Where?

As people start to really connect and relish your content, they like to know where you will be (e.g. upcoming conferences or speaking engagements) so they can connect in person and or even attend one of your sessions. You can add this information on a separate tab or at the footer of your posts. Many conferences offer an “I’m Speaking at…” badge that you can add to your site as well.

21. Start a Trend or a Tradition

After blogging for a few years, I found myself in search of a little whimsy. Thus, I decided to start an alliteration collection of posts ranging from Marvelous Monday and Thought Leadership Tuesday to Wicked Good Wednesday and Freebie Friday. I didn’t post one of these each day of the week but I did try to post enough of them that people knew what to expect. In the same realm as a tradition of weekly alliteration, Technology Tailgate offers a Techie Tuesday Link Up where you can feature someone else’s content on your own blog and build off of it and then link back your thoughts to the main site.  Another fun trend in education is #hashtags. Consider starting your own or building off of a hashtag that can connect your content with others. Carl Hooker used #student4aday to share his reflections.

22. Share Your Why

This is a nod to Simon Sinek and a post I wrote earlier in the year. I started this blog almost 4 years ago and have crafted 315 posts since then. The blog has evolved as I have so this year I wanted to carefully craft my WHY for the blog and the content I share to ensure that I stayed true to the path and meant the needs of my audience in doing so. As you embark in to 2015, consider establishing a WHY or a mission statement for your blog to guide you in the future.

ePortfolios are AWESome_ETT.001
Creative Commons License

“21 Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015” by Lisa Johnson @TechChef4u is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Bonus Blogging Tips

To be quite honest, I strived for 21 but ended up with a few extra so here goes: keep a notebook of ideas for posts, reduce the size of your images so your page loads faster, install a Pinterest widget so all of your images can be easily pinned, add a blog subscription so others can receive your latest scoop in their inbox rather than having to hunt it down, and make sure links within the post open in a new tab rather that redirecting your audience away from your post (this typically is a default for most WP blogs but that is not always the case for other blog hosting services). This list for me is a work in progress as there are a few I need to tweak in 2015 to amplify my own blog but thought there was no harm in sharing the ideas in advance of their completion.

Stop Being a Secret Genius…

As I am still on a bit of a professional development high from Miami Device and some of the epic quotables gleaned from that event, I thought I would leave you with a little inspiration from Kevin Honeycutt:

Add a little bit of body text-7


TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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11 Dec 2014
Comments: 4

Visual Portfolios: The Blending of Analog and Digital

As I mentioned in my most recent post, The Role of an Ed Tech within the Project Planning Cycle of a 1:1 iPad Classroom, my job entails working with students just as much as teachers. A few months ago I was asked to speak to the Senior Mentorship classes about online resumes, portfolios, social media, and digital footprints. A collection of the resources I shared is available here. Each year students in these classes present a final presentation summarizing their experience throughout the semester of their professional mentorship. In addition to showcasing the resources mentioned above, I highlighted the tool bulb as a way for students to create an online visual portfolio of their work and final products.

One student, Yasmeen Tizani, gravitated to bulb and created an exceptional portfolio of her work. Her bulb includes three collections: ArtArchitecture Mentorship, and Architecture at UT.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.33.02 AM

I have to say it has been such an amazing experience working with Yasmeen this semester. She would pop in a few times to get my feedback on the layout and any ideas for improvement of the content.

Polishing the Portfolio

Two changes that she made based on our discussions were art work descriptions and the use of Canva to create a few of the tiled images:

  • Art Work Reflections: We discussed adding blurbs on each art piece that highlighted both the inspiration for the work as well as the process and media used to create it. 
  • Canva Creations to Customize Tiles: Rather than uploading a photo or using the default image associated with the page’s tile, Yasmeen used Canva to expertly spruce up a few of her page icons.

Hybrid Portfolio

The best part of this bulb is the hybrid approach that Yasmeen took. She created a mentorship portfolio that combined a unique blend of analog and digital work from scanned log sheets and journal entries, photographs of hand-drawn sketchbooks, to images of SketchUp designs and photographs of the final product.


Personalizing Visual Archival

Yasmeen even included a collection of her work from the UT Architecture Program. The collection seamlessly blends photos from her presentations as well as the evolution of her final product through multiple iterations. One of the most powerful pieces of the portfolio is showcasing Yasmeen in action – I think it brings a personal touch to the portfolio that stand-alone photos of products alone could not.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.34.23 AM

Transferring Portfolios

One of my biggest pet peeves with ePortfolios is that many students create something within the four walls of their K-12 education and then the portfolio is not transferable to the student when they leave. I advised our seniors to create their bulb accounts with their personal gmail account so that they could continue to grow and evolve with their work after they left our institution.

Many thanks to Yasmeen for letting me share her work. I hope it serves as an exemplary model to inspire you and your students to reflect, create, and publish.


TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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02 Dec 2014
Comments: 5

The Role of an Ed Tech within the Project Planning Cycle of a 1:1 iPad Classroom

During a conversation with my father over the Thanksgiving week, I realized that he had no idea what my job actually was. Now this may sound strange but truthfully when you hold a support role and you don’t occupy a classroom for seven periods a day, people often wonder what it is that you do. I know how busy I am during the day and those that utilize my services and plan with me also value my insight and position, but I thought the inquiry and topic might warrant a deeper reflection.

What is the Role of an Educational Technologist?

When people think about the role of Educational Technologist, they immediately consider co-planning with teachers and offering professional development… but what many don’t realize is that I work with students just as much as I do with teachers…

The Role of An Ed Tech

What Does a Life Cycle of a 1:1 iPad Project Look Like?

This blog could get quite lengthy… but I felt a Tackk was truly the best tool to highlight and illuminate the role of an Ed Tech within an actual project cycle. From that email or first point of contact with a teacher to the planning and support provided for both teacher and students throughout the life cycle of a classroom project…to the final stages of publishing and reflection. Check out this thorough reflection on the life cycle of an iPad Project.

See on Tackk.com

Many thanks to both Tackk (@Tackk) and Shadow Puppet (@puppet) for their social media love, kind words and app-reciation for this piece.


What is the Ed Tech Piece of the Pie?

A big shout-out to Carl Hooker for creating this epic mock iTunes U page to highlight some of the roles of an Ed Tech as well as to showcase a handful of carefully curated resources and supports that I provide:

I feel very blessed to have a job that I am so passionate about and that I wake up for each day knowing that I can make a difference. I sincerely hope that my time spent on metacognition and narration of this process is helpful and beneficial to the greater edusphere and will inspire others to reflect and share their work and insight within their own roles.


TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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30 Sep 2014
Comments: 3

9 Must Read iPad Instructional Support Resources!

With Apple Under 13 and new parameters for enrollment of iPads within JAMF’s Casper system, this year of iPad deployment and support has been full of new learning app-ortunities and challenges. In fact, I feel as if I have been living and breathing and even sleeping iPads since the beginning of school. That being said, these experiences have fostered deeper learning about our initiative and continued ways to fine tune managing devices to sharpen their impact within the instructional setting. Reflecting upon the past two months, I found these experiences and resources could be easily divided into 3 different platters: Students, Parents, and Process.


  • Student iPad Orientation iTunes U Course: This course serves the purpose of providing all iPad set up and instructional materials in one place that is easily accessible and can be stored on their device for later reference.
  • Student iPad Apps for Secondary: As many students may not know what apps are provided to them or what these apps do (especially the ones that are similar in nature), this Thinglink provides a quick overview of some of the apps that are essential for workflow and productivity.


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Certainly this list of resources is in no way comprehensive but I think it does a good job of highlighting both the reflections of the process as well as the instructional resources that have been designed to underpin the ever-evolving nature of iPad management and instructional support.

Of course, I could not forget my educators… I have one delicious new resource for y’all as well…


Recently, I delivered a webinar (which has been archived) focusing on “Back to School with iPads in the Classroom”. Both the webinar and slides are available HERE. The webinar touches on:

  • First Steps with iPads in both Elementary and Secondary
  • Critical Considerations to keep in mind
  • 8 Must Have Apps for Back to School with iPads

All 8 of the apps are evergreen in nature (can be used year round in a variety of different ways) and quite a few have had feature updates that will definitely leave you brimming with ideas and inspiration.

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24 Sep 2014
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6 Do’s and Don’ts for Secondary iPad Deployment and Support of New Initiatives

Tech Ninja Todd, Michelle Cordy, and a recent Do and Don’t list inspired me to sit down and reflect upon the start of this year with secondary iPads and the new enrollment system. While the new enrollment system is fiscally responsible (as we can now push and pull apps), allows for improved management (e.g. disabling iMessages and Game Center), and even provides the functionality to lock down devices during a testing situation with Casper Focus, any new system and process will encounter a few bumps in the road.


I hope this Do’s and Don’t lists serves to support others that are embarking on this journey as well as proves to be a fruitful reflection on the process:

Do Communicate with and Include Key Decision Makers in the Planning Process

Include key decision makers (e.g. teachers, admin, ed tech, and technicians) in every level of the decision-making process. Teachers and students are affected by the new deployment and enrollment process and need to know how it will impact them. Include questions like:

  • How will STUDENTS RECEIVE the INFO they need to set up their iPad?: With the new enrollment process, students need a Novell login as well as their iTunes account. Should students receive their student login information prior to picking up their iPad to expedite the process? Students are also encouraged to use a personal iTunes account rather than a family one in secondary. While many students have a personal iTunes account, there are quite a few that do not. As the setup process for creating an account can take up to 10-15 minutes, consider options for ensuring students have this account prior to iPad rollout and enrollment day.
  • When/Where/How will STUDENTS RECEIVE their iPad?: Discuss the procedure for how students will be pulled out of class to pick up their iPads and when that process will occur.
  • How will we catch the DEPLOYMENT STRAGGLERS?: Have a plan in place for students that missed the day they were supposed to pick up their iPad. Do they come the next day? Do they visit the juice bar during lunch?
  • When can I start UTILIZING INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS within the iPad?: While we encourage students to keep their iPads over the summer so they can hit the instructional ground running with them the first day of school, there are inevitably some that decide to not keep them over the summer. As we move to be more and more paperless, how do you modify for these students until they receive their iPad (especially if teachers are using iTunes U as their textbook and the only device students can access the course on is an iPhone or an iPad)?
  • When can I start ASSIGNING PROJECTS utilizing iPad apps?: Students that downloaded a district-issued app in a previous year with their current iTunes account can retrieve it within the Purchased section of the app store. However, new students and students that did not download that app last year will have to wait until the wireless app push of this app is initiated.
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DON’T use Email as the Sole Means of Communication 

Don’t use email as the sole means of communication to inform teachers and students of a new initiative. Clearly the aforementioned questions and discussions are integral to the success of the devices in the classroom within the first few weeks of school. While email should not be used as the sole means to communicate this information, it can be effective if it is kept clear and concise and communicated to both teachers, students, and parents:

  • Announcements: Include information in the student announcements during the day.
  • Email: Communicate to both staff, students, and parents.
  • Newsletter: Send additional information in the weekly school newsletter so parents can remind students as well.

DO Plan

In my last post, I mentioned the Why of our district and how I felt it is a clear and compelling WHY that is at the forefront of our decision making. This year, we sought to alleviate some of the distraction of texting and gaming as well as utilize the devices for testing. To do this we are using a new enrollment process with our iPads. Carl Hooker has done an excellent job of creating a visual and explanation to detail some of the changes to restrictions in his most recent post.

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DON’T be Scared to Redesign the Map or Change Course Direction on the Fly

We all know the best laid plans sometimes need to be adjusted. Yesterday, I discovered that our 12+ Apps Only restriction (which limits our Freshman and Sophomores to only downloading apps that are rated 12-16) put the kibosh on downloading DocAS. DocAS is the paid app we provision to students to annotate PDF’s. It is a truly a solid and effective app but it has a built-in web browser that we can not filter and thus scores a 17+ rating. While I still believe in setting restrictions on student devices, know that this is not a fail-safe. Unfortunately, restricting games like Grand Theft Auto gives way to impeding instructional content like DocAS. Since we started using DocAS, apps like eBackpack and iFiles have since then included a PDF annotation tool or widget that we can switch too and still retain our management parameters. Fortunately, I was in the Juice Bar supporting our tech this week and I was able to catch this issue and quickly remedy it with some suitable alternatives…which leads me to my last Do and Don’t.

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DO Address Troubleshooting Concerns ASAP with all vested parties

We all make mistakes and discover better paths for maneuvering through a process. While it is important to be able to think on your feet and change course direction on the fly, it is just as important to communicate these changes and findings to the greater team. The Ed Tech, Librarian, Technician, Director of Innovation, and Director of Technology work hand in hand to execute and support our initiatives and they need to be made aware of bumps along the road as well as the on-the-fly detours that you make.

DON’T Get Caught in the Troubleshooting Doldrums

The beginning of the year can be fraught with wires and pliers kinds of tasks as well as technical “should” and “supposed to” frustrations. This device “should”_____ but doesn’t. This Application was “supposed to” _____ when it was installed. It is very easy to get caught in a whirlwind of blame and complain games. Don’t lose sight of your goal and purpose (the WHY that started it all). Know that all of these things shall pass and that getting “up and running” very much impacts instruction in the classroom. Before you can raise the walls and break through the ceilings, you have to ensure that the foundation is solid.

DO Teach Students to Select Appropriate Avenues for Backing up and Archiving their work

While iCloud initially may seem like the best and simplest option for back up, sometimes things mysteriously disappear, user error occurs in the back up process, or managed devices will not allow for a perfect replica of an iCloud back-up. Teaching students to always have a back-up plan and set systems in place for school and beyond is essential. Perhaps I am old school in this thought, but I find that that I can ensure that I have most things backed up within a 3 step process:

  • Photos/Videos: I like to create a back-up of these using a sync cable and a computer or upload them to a third party site with unlimited photo storage like Shutterfly (photos only) or Google Drive.
  • Apple Apps: The easiest way to assure that documents and media will transfer from a device is using iCloud within each app.
  • Non-Apple Apps: Depending on what these are, I will select the Open-In on each item and back them up to a cloud-based service that I will retain ownership of like a Google or Evernote account.
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DON’T Expect there to be a One-Size-Fits All Streamlined process for Backing Up work

Students have different computers and accounts (e.g. Dropbox, Drive, Copy, etc…) that they can back up to and may only be worried about losing documents within apps and not photos. Thus there is no one-size-fits all approach, but we can significantly alleviate the pain of this process by teaching students to be master organizers and owners of their own content and back-up process.

DO Provide Resources to Support Students

Support resources are imperative. There are some students, parents, and teachers that can successfully troubleshoot with step sheets and videos. That being said… this should not be the sole means of resources and support that your provide for your students…

DON’T Replace Face to Face Interactions with Email and Handouts

We all know that many issues can not be resolved with email. In fact 9 times out 10, the thing someone is asking about in the email isn’t even really the true heart of the problem. Truly there is no substitute for face to face support and interaction with students. While spending time for two class periods a day in the Juice Bar pulls me away from other duties and time that can be spent on instructional support, I have found it is one of the best ways to catch big issues before they spread (e.g. DocAs age restriction), discover troubleshooting trends, and resolve multiple technical issues that ultimately impact instruction in a big way.




DO Make Time to Regroup and Reflect

The beginning of the year can feel like a tasmanian whirlwind of troubleshooting, emails, and support. Carving out time to reflect on the first few weeks can feel like a luxury but know that it is truly a necessity! It serves the dual purpose of being cathartic as well as integral to ensuring that things go smoother next year.

DON’T Be Held Captive to Time – Prioritize and Put out Fires

I am one that thrives on time for creativity and things that inspire me. I often struggle with the quick sand of influx of emails, time-consuming monotonous tasks, and the fact that “there is never enough time”. Being a mother of two elementary-age boys, the start of the year is even more difficult for me as all of these new systems are in place for myself as an employee, instructional supporter, and mother of two students. I eventually had to resign to the fact that I didn’t have time to do everything and had to focus on putting out fires for now and leave elevating thoughts and instruction to late September. Rather than feeling captive to time, I came to grips with it and have created Now and Later lists to support putting things in perspective as well as ensuring that they do not fall off my instructional radar when the time comes that they can receive a little more attention.

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13 Aug 2014
Comments: 1

Worthwhile Wednesday: TechChef4u’s Epic PhotoMap PD Recap 2

The summer has proved to be quite eventful indeed. As  I am never one to hoard resources, insights, and learning… I sought to spend a few minutes this week encapsulating the last two weeks for you… in an Epic PhotoMap or two…

ETT Summit Chicago

During the end of July, I had the app-ortunity to both attend and present at ETT Summit Chicago on the Navy Pier.

  • Presented: I presented S.A.S.S.Y. SAMR and ePortfolios are AWE-Some.
  • Attended: I attended both a day long “Google Apps Integration & Advanced Workflow Scenarios for Middle School and High School” workshop with Greg Kuloweic as well as Richard Byrne’s session on “Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration” and have included my notes and pertinent links within the PhotoMap below.

ETT Austin “The iPad Classroom”

The following week was spent delivering a 3-day iPad workshop to an amazing bunch of educators! As this is the first time I have used Google Sites to build a workshop page, you will need to bear with me 😉  Certainly viewing all of the workshop resources for a 3-Day intensive iPad workshop might be overwhelming… Taking that under consideration, I have diced up the entirety of the workshop resources into daily digestible bite-size morsels:

  • Day 1: We focused on Collection tools (e.g. Padlet, Notability, Google Drive, Google Forms, Batch Geo, and Evernote)
  • Day 2: We focused on Connection tools (e.g. Kahoot and Nearpod) and then moved on to Creation tools (e.g. Book Creator and Explain Everything)
  • Day 3: We focused on creating a take-away to Donate to our staff upon returning from the workshop and ways to continue learning through Curation and Connection tools like Pinterest and Twitter

All of the resources (including slide decks and directions) can be found on the ETT Austin Google Sites pages which are embedded within the Thinglink below.

More about TechChef’s Concocted Thinglinks:

Both Thinglinks were created using the PhotoMapo app using this process:

  • Design PhotoMapo on iOS device and save completed image to photo roll (If you would like to include more than one image in your PhotoMapo, then create a collage using an app like Pic Collage or InstaMag prior to this step.)
  • Email image to self (I prefer adding all of the links on the Thinglink via my computer rather than the iPad, but truly this process can be achieved on either device)
  • Launch Thinglink (site or app) and upload PhotoMapo image.
  • Begin creating targets or nubbins on the PhotoMapo image that will include either text or an image. (If you are using an assortment of links, sometimes it is faster to work off of a laptop… However, if you are adding iPad created-videos, it would be more prudent to use the Thinglink app).

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Check out the other topics in the Ed Tech alliteration portfolio:


TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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