Friday, June 16, 2017

Digital Portfolio

I've wanted to create a digital portfolio for some time now, but haven't had enough to add to it. This is my final course in my master's program and I have learned so much! I chose to use Adobe Spark for my portfolio. I included information about myself, links to my social networks, and sample lessons/ideas.

The samples were chosen because I feel they highlight the technologies learned in the program, but also the tools I found most useful with my students. I feel like this portfolio will change over time as I hope to add content related to my current position as a Technology Facilitator.

Click below to access my portfolio.

aEsperanza Lopez

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Google PD Week

Last week was Google PD Week and I attended the YouTube Live Stream: Create & Deliver Meaningful Pd with Steven Hope. Although I've participated in many different webinars on various platforms, this was the first one on YouTube Live. It was extremely easy to connect as a participant because all I had to do was click the channel link. There was a live chat session as well, which allowed participants to interact with each other and the presenter. I'm interested in learning about how to use YouTube Live Stream as a presenter.

Strengths / Weaknesses
Ease was definitely a strength of this format. As long as I had an internet connection, I was able to join in and I assume it could have been from any device. I'm not sure there was a weakness to this format. The fact that the broadcast was available after the fact is great for those who want to go back and access the resource again.

Future Participation
I would definitely participate in this show format again. I also hope to learn how to use it as a presenter.

Classroom Integration
This would be a great tool for teachers to use when giving tips for parents. I could see using it to record a "how-to" video on a new math concept. I use to create a few of these types of videos for parents to help with homework questions. There were some issues with sharing the video file, so YouTube would be a good way to get it out there.

At this time we don't have the ability to use YouTube with students as attendees or bradcasters. It's a feature we hope to offer teachers soon, but I believe students will still be restricted.

Monday, June 12, 2017

3 Things I Learned from Going Live

Webinars are an excellent way to get information out to people. There are a lot of online sites that help make it happen with screen sharing capabilities, collaboration tools, and apps that make it easy for participants to join.

There are a few online options (below) for users to host a webinar, or live broadcast. I chose to use GoToMeeting because I've participated in live conferences using this site before and it seemed very simple to use. I chose to sign up for the free 14 day trial and they offer various monthly plan options. I wanted a platform that would be easy for my participants to access and GoToMeeting proved to have what I needed to make it a successful broadcast. In the future, I may use YouTube Live Stream or Google Hangouts. Hangouts is really easy to use and offers screen sharing capabilities. The challenge will be to include participants who do not have a Google account...but, really, who doesn't have a one of those??

I learned three important things from this experience...

Number 3: Know your audience
I've hosted professional development classes at my school  and district office, and have recorded "how-to" videos for teachers, but this was my first live webinar. I knew my audience would mostly consist of the teachers I work with or have connected with at various conferences. 

I grappled with choosing a topic that would be quick to demonstrate in a 30 minute time frame and something teachers would actually find use for in their teaching.  I started by reaching out to my Teacher Tribe and letting them know that I had to go live, so I wanted their feedback

Initially, I was going to choose Google Classroom, but quickly changed my mind because I've done two-hour PDs on this topic and knew that 30 minutes wouldn't have been enough time - I'm long winded! Google Classroom is something I'd like to do multiple, bite-sized webinars on so that teachers can take what they learn, put it to use, and then come back for more. 

After much thought, I chose Google Plus. I didn't think many teachers would be currently using it and it would be feasible to do a walk through in 30 minutes. We just finished a cohort for teachers in our district to become Google Certified and we got a lot of feedback about how this was something they never really knew about. So, I saw there was an interest and decided to go for it.

In a nutshell...
1. Who are you targeting?
2. What will you teach and do you know it well?
3. Will you reach all levels of users, or focusing on one? Will your audience know that?
4. Do you have ideas for how your participants can take this and make it personal to them?

Number 2: Have a plan
Outline your topic into a sequence that makes sense, even to the most basic user. Plan to take your time and decide how you will address questions or comments throughout the broadcast. I played with the GoToMeeting platform a few times before going live and found the tools available to be user friendly. I knew I wanted to share my screen and keep my webcam on at the same time, which GoToMeeting allowed me to do. Their chat feature was a nice feature, but I found it difficult to manage that while conducting the webinar. Later, I realized I could have shared only a window on my screen, which would allow me to view the participants in the chat area without them seeing me flip back and forth to that tab. 

I allowed participants to keep their microphones on, which later seemed like a challenge because with the background noise in their setting, it caused challenges for others to hear me. GoToMeeting does allow the presenter to mute all participants microphones - lesson learned.

In a nutshell...
1. Will you share your screen? All of it, or just a window?
2. Will you use your webcam the entire time? If not, do you know how to toggle back and forth?
3. Will you engage in a conversation with your participants throughout the webinar? Just at the end during Q&A? If not, do you know how to mute their mics?
4. Will you engage in the chat as you conduct your webinar, or answer questions live as you see them? Or, wait until the end?
5. Will you record the broadcast using a feature in the platform? Or, if that isn't available, try QuickTime's screen recording tool.

Number One: Just do it
Put your fears and hesitations aside and just do you. We all have something to share and there is always someone out there who can benefit from what you know. I've pondered the idea of doing a webinar before, but just as quickly as the idea entered my mind, it was dismissed. If it wasn't for the challenge this week, I don't know how much longer it would've been for me to go live.

Think of it as getting together with your friends and sharing your favorite tech tip, work-around, or newest tool you've been using! Maybe you start small and only invite a handful of people who you know will support your mission. Be sure to ask for feedback afterwards. My sister was gracious enough to practice with me before starting and hung around for an extra 15 minutes as she gave me her feedback. I was happy to hear she thought it went well and she gave some good advice for later.

I bit the bullet and posted the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. I really wasn't sure if I was ready for a large audience, but I didn't care because I was going to just do it. I had eight wonderful participants who joined in from their homes and cars! I'm very thankful for my tribe who I know I can always count on. Also, I received a few texts and event comments that people weren't able to join but really wanted to view the recording. Many others asked when the next one was going to be done. I do plan on doing others and hope they are successful. And if not, then who cares, I'm going to do me.

Here it is, with all it's successes and webinar.

A few broadcasting options

LiveStream's Producer product allows for a free broadcasting app for any device. Options to broadcast your desktop screen and use a webcam are available. There are paid programs available as well.

uStream's Pro Plan allows from 100-500 viewer hours, channel password protection and customization, and social media integration. There is a 30 day free trial of the Pro Plan available as well as other features.

Adobe Connect offers virtual meeting capabilities with 25 to 1,000 viewers. Three plans options are available for monthly rates and a trial account for up 30 days.

WebEx offers screen sharing and the ability to record meetings. There are multiple plan options and a 30 free full access trial.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Google Classroom as a Social Network

Social networks are a great way for students to connect with others. With guidance, it can be used as an educational tool in the classroom. A social site allows users to post their thoughts, reply to others, and access resources on a topic of interest. You can use Google Classroom to create your own social network by having multiple classes across the district join the class.  This will simulate a social networking site and allow students to access content, engage in discussions and feedback with their peers on a focused topic, and submit their own ides. It is also easy for teachers to collaborate together and moderate as needed.

In action
Using a STEAM lesson from FrontRow, you'll see how to integrate the idea of social media. Many districts do not allow social media sites to be used with students due to privacy laws. Our students are in 3rd grade and do not have access, or the meet the requirements, for a social media account. We can simulate a social media experience by using Google Classroom for this STEAM unit by having students from 3rd grade classes across the district joining the class.

Prepare Students
With that in mind, before using Google Classroom as a social network, teachers will need to discuss with students how to appropriately engage in online discussions with others. Essentially, they will not know any of the other students in the Classroom because they will be at different schools. Students, especially at a primary level, will need to know how to go about posting their ideas and replying to others. 

Below is a quick video that can help explain netiquette.

Activity 1
In this example, we are using the first activity from the FrontRow unit, "STEAM Introduction Gallery Walk." The goal is for students to be introduced to STEAM and reflect on the impact of the examples shown. The objective is for them to read about various examples, discuss the impacts with their peers, and put their thoughts about the examples into words.

Copies of the examples can be posted around the room as "stations", or they can be attached to the Classroom stream as a digital copy. Each post in Classroom will focus on a discussion question and allow students to add their own thoughts and reply to others in the group.

Students will begin by choosing an example to read learn about. They will consider what they know about STEAM and it it's important or not. They will also decide how the example has affected the world. 

Students will get approximately 10-15 minutes for each example. Allow an enough time for them to read the information, examine the images, and discuss and record questions. 

Bring the class back together, and end with a short class discussion on the overarching questions: ⁃ What is STEAM? ⁃ Is STEAM important? Why or why not? ⁃ How has STEAM affected our world?

In Classroom, students post their responses to one or two different discussion questions, which can then be evaluated for content. Because  a focus in this activity is to have students interact on a social networking platform, their responses to other students will be evaluated. They can be expected to reply to at least two other students, include a citation from the original post, and give their opinion in a complete thought. 

Using Google Forms, teachers can gain a full picture of a student's understanding of the activity and STEAM. The Form would have all of the discussion questions on a different STEAM example.


Additionally, a discussion about the experience of creating posts and replying to classmates can be very beneficial. Often, students don't know who the sister schools are, let alone students from those schools. Using Google Classroom as a social networking site, can be a great introduction for students while still allowing teachers to be the moderator.

7 Day Photo Challenge

Overall I enjoyed the challenge. At the end of each day I went through the photos in my camera and decided which one would be the subject for that post. I could have been more intentional with my photos, or even had a theme for the challenge, but instead I just looked at the random pics from each day. Sunday was pretty uneventful and I ended up with a Timehop as my photo for the day. I thought it was ok to use a memory for the day as oppose to one that documented a present moment.

I started to use Google Drive to store the photos and embed the images into my posts, however there just seemed to be too many steps involved. Eventually I Airdropped the images from my phone to my computer and uploaded the pics instead. It was an easier process for me.

As I mentioned on day 1, challenges like this can be fun and in some ways give you a purpose when taking the many pics some of us take throughout the day. I think I would do this again, but with more purpose.

I searched for the hashtag I created for the challenge and when the all of the posts related to the challenge came up, I took that url and created an embed code using I wanted to embed the hashtag search as opposed to inserting just a link because I like the visual of the post.

Taking it to the Next Level

Ideas, reflections, change

Sunday, June 4, 2017

7 Day Photo Challenge - Day 7

Day 7 - Timehop
This was the last crochet item I made two years ago. Crocheting is usually a Winter break hobby for me, however two years ago, I extended out to the summer. Now, it's in a box in storage. I needed a long break.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

7 Day Photo Challenge - Day 6

Day 6 - Teacher Tribe
When you find your people, you make the effort to keep them close. After Ashley moved to California, we've missed her terribly! She came for a weekend visit and so we could meet Miss Noelle.

Friday, June 2, 2017

7 Day Photo Challenge - Day 5

Day 5 - Say Yes
After a great morning watching Wonder Woman with my daughters, we headed to the library and signed up for the summer reading program. They had a photo booth, prizes and we got to see the Reptile Man. #SayYesToEverything

Thursday, June 1, 2017

7 Day Photo Challenge - Day 4

Day 4: Super Power
Sometimes you need a little bit, even if it's just a cuff. I bought my Wonder Woman cuff almost ten years ago and when my third grade team had a rough year, I also bought one for the amazing women on my team. As a few teachers took on the Level 1 Google Certified Educator exam today, I wore my cuff for a little extra super power. After she passed, Kathleen - who I taught with many years ago, also wore her cuff for that little bit of super power as she took the exam.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

7 Day Photo Challenge - Day 3

Day 3 -  Strength
My Nana, an amazing woman who is always there when you need her.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

7 Day Photo Challenge - Day 2

Day 2: Be colonel #7DaysWithLopez
I happened to be at the Wilkes Mesa campus this morning. With the completion of my masters program just weeks away, I couldn't resist taking this photo.

7 Day Photo Challenge - Day 1

Various "challenges" can be found all over social media. Whether it's a 30-day ab challenge, healthy eating challenge, or a no carb-no-sugar-or anything delicious challenge - you're bound to find something that relates to your interests. Some people need the "challenge" in order to commit to doing something. Last year I started a "25 days of me" challenge and for the last 25 days of school, I challenged friends to take a one second video every day, which would later be compiled into a single video using the 1 Second Everyday app. It was actually engaging and fun. Personally, it helped me focus on me and my family and finding those moments in the day that didn't surround work or my students.

This week we are participating in a seven day photo challenge. Each day I'll add one photo and use the hashtag #7daysWithLopez.

Day 1: Lena - My little one is always ready to dress herself and take off with dad. #7DaysWithLopez

My Digital Story

I used the Adobe Spark Video app to create my "I Knew when..." video. Adobe makes it very easy to add images, music, and text to videos. I accessed personal photos from my Google Drive and from the search option in Adobe. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cell Phones, Yay or Nay

Recently I proctored our state test in a 8th grade classroom. I have spent 12 years as a primary teacher and have had few opportunities to support our junior high teachers, so this was an experience. Of course before testing cell phones were collected and the students did this without any hesitation. I guess I expected there to be some push back, but they willingly wrote their name on a sticky and attached it to their phones. After testing, they received them back and proceeded to check for "important" messages while on a recess. 

It makes me wonder what the school's policy is with student cell phones and as I type this, I'm thinking of touching base with the principal just to know more. I don't believe the teachers at this site embrace them and encourage the students to use them with the content they are learning, but I could be wrong. I left this classroom thinking of the educational possibilities with student devices and even sent a text to a colleagues stating that I would "soo have a charging station in my classroom!" I'm not sure how realistic that is, or what kind of issues that would cause, but it would definitely be something I would try. #DontJudgeMe

I don't personally know any teachers who use student devices to support their teaching. So, I reached out to my PLN on Twitter and G+ with a Google Form. I wanted to know more about the policies at different schools and was interested in the opinions of teachers who have to support the policies. I was fortunate to have one response from Mr. Grant Hardy. I appreciate the time he took to answer my questions and for his support with this project.

Mr. Hardy is a high school teacher who works at a site that does allow students to have personal devices on campus. Below are the responses to my questions.

Explain your school's policy on students having personal devices in the classroom, or on campus. 
Cell phones are to be used with teacher permission only.
What are the reasons you might agree, or disagree with the school's policy? 
Agree that they can become a distraction to some students. 
Disagree that they cannot be used effectively by students to enhance their learning.
How do parents feel about the policy and in what ways, if any, do they support it?
They agree, however many think that they are disrupting their child's learning.
How do you manage devices so that they are used for educational purposes?
I allow students to have their devices on their desk. They can check them if they need to. If they have it in their hand for more than 10 seconds then I know they are not using them correctly. (Students all have their own laptop devices with them) I find that if a student is not thinking about what notification popped up, they will be more focussed on their learning. Students are trusted to use their integrity and not use them to message others in other classes in school. This high trust model works well with most students. I have less issues than other teachers in the school and the students respond well.
Describe a project or lesson you have done while engaging students with their devices.
Online quizzes
Instructional videos created by students (PE and Science)
Some student lack the ability to write down their process in an experiment. Most can articulate themselves well whilst being filmed. This works especially well with the more exuberant young male students.
What challenges (technical and policy related) do you face with this topic?
My cell phone rules go against some of the school rules. This can cause other staff members issues when a student explains my rules. I am currently working with all school teaching staff and admin staff trying to make positive changes with technology. I am sharing my ideas and findings.
Throughout this week, after connecting with Mr. hardy and engaging in discussions online with other educators, it seems this is quite the hot topic. I go back and forth with what I "think" I would do if I was a middle/high school teacher, but I really don't know until I would have to deal with it. I can see both points of view about cell phones being a distraction and how they can be used as a learning tool. It goes back to the culture of the classroom and school and if students see the teachers as working with them. Unfortunately we live in a society where phones are never too far from reach and it is very difficult for kids and adults to completely give their attention to one thing. There's a time and a place for them, and if we work with  the students, I would hope there would be a mutual respect and compliance with the expectations.
I feel that I might take the approach of Mr. Hardy. He allows students to have their phones out and can check when necessary, although, it seems there is a clear understanding that if the students abuse that policy they are showing they can't be trusted. Mr. Hardy's "high trust model" treats students with respect and acknowledges them as individuals, just as we adults expect to be. I commend Mr. Hardy and wish him the best of luck as he aims to work with the admin and staff to join a common ground. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Something New

This week I looked at some new tools, Cacoo and Sutori.

As mentioned in a prior post, it takes time for teachers to preview the new tools that are being introduced to students. Some tools, however, may solely be for teacher use.

Cacoo is an online mind mapping tool. Sign up was easy and I liked that there are some premade templates that can help users get started quickly. There are a variety of user friendly tools on the toolbar which allow the user to customize the map being created. It includes basic functions like copy, paste, cut, and adding text. You can also add and customize the lines by changing the end points, shape, and color.

The tools are user friendly and can be taught to students as young as 2nd grade, in my opinion. Users can customize the font, size, color, and mind map shapes. 

I enjoyed the stencil feature that allows you to include clipart images and the work space provides gridlines that help you align images appropriately.

Unfortunately you are not able to export your mind map as a PDF, if you are using the free plan. 

However, you can export it as a png file, open it in an app such as Preview, and then export it as a PDF from there. You are limited to six sheets with the free plan. Used wisely, I think this would be a great tool for students. 

Exported png

Sutori is a tool that I would love to try with students! You can create a time line that includes images, video, audio, a discussion forum, and multiple choice answers. It's very versatile and has an easy to use platform. 

The tutorial walks you through the five main steps and talks to you in a friendly way. You become excited to use the timeline tool and collaborate with others through their sharing feature.

The fact that you can keep your timeline as a private creation, or open it up to the public, is a nice feature. It allows the user the option to share with an audience, or create for themselves. Sutori also provides the option to share via Google Classroom, which can be a huge benefit for teachers who use that platform.

Overall, I think Sutori is a fun and engaging tool for both teachers and students!

The final site I looked into was Pixton. Pixton is an online tool that allows users to create comics. I love this! There are a variety of features that allow you to personalize your characters and setting. I found it amazing to easily be able to rotate the character's head, change their smile, or personal features. 

Once signed up, Pixton allows for lessons to be assigned. I found this feature useful for teachers who are just starting out with Pixton, or to get ideas for their students. I think this takes the pressure off of a teacher who may be interested in trying something new with their students, but hesitates to jump in.

My comic isn't related to education, a lesson for students, or anything important. Mostly, I wanted to play with the features. The technology coaches in my office, except one, have all taken the Level 1 Certified Google Educator Exam. So, as a funny, my comic address Ruben, the only one who hasn't completed the exam. It was worth the laugh :-)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fill Up Your Toolbox

URL Shorteners take a long complicated URL and shorten it to something easier to share. I've used them a lot when sharing a Google Form with my students. It's much easier for primary students to access a site when the url has been shortened and when parts of it are color coded. Google URL Shortener has been my go-to site because if you are logged in to Google, it will track when the url was created and the number of times it was clicked. I created a shortened url for my blog: and one thing to remember about using the Google Shortener is that it is case sensitive.

Although URL shorteners can be useful, there are other tools that help share sites easily, such as QR codes. I have used QR codes quite a bit in the classroom when students only have access to iPads. I create my QR codes at QR Stuff, mainly because it is easy to use and it offers a variety options for the type of data source you are using. The app, QR Reader, easily allows users to scan the code and be directed to the site. For fun, I added a QR code to the table in my craft room. It links to the site with the building plans.

Recently, I supported a teacher at one of our sites whose students recorded TEDTalks. At the showcase for parents, we uploaded their videos to Google Drive and created QR codes to make it easy for guests to view them on their own devices.

The bookmarklet I chose to try out was Printliminator. This allows you to choose what you want to print and eliminate the ads or unnecessary clutter around the text. This would be very useful when printing an article for students. Many sites have a print option, which will clean up the page before printing, but others don't. This would be a great solution to that problem.

Monday, May 15, 2017

3 More Technology Resources

Evaluating sites can be a daunting task for teachers, however it's extremely important to do so before introducing them to students. We've talked about criteria teachers should consider while evaluating new sites. There are many valuable sites that can enhance students' learning, if ultimately they are introduced and used effectively by the teacher and students.

I reviewed three new-to-me sites that enhance student learning socially, creatively, and with curation.
WeVideo is an online video editing site. Users can create and share videos online and have access to their work from any device with WeVideo's cloud-based storage.

Registration - users can use their Goggle account to register and sign in. It was actually very easy to sign up with my Google account. The interface is the same for students and teachers, however when looking closely at the Terms of Use, it indicates that users must be at least 13 years old. I found it interesting that it wasn't mentioned during the sign up process.

Account Options - free (limited), Power, and Unlimited. With the free account users have up to 1GB of storage and are allowed up to 5 minutes of video per month. An added benefit is the step-by-step tutorial offered by WeVideo.

Ease of Use - WeVideo reminds me a lot of iMovie and it has many of the same features, or capabilities. Because of that, I might recommend this for junior high students. My primary students could have a difficult time navigating through the interface.

Final Thoughts - Due to the limited free monthly minutes and allowed space, I don't see myself using this tool with students. Many of our teachers use the iMovie app with their students mainly because it's very user friendly.

Symbaloo is a cloud-based system to save bookmarks, which can also be set as your homepage. It is a great resource for those who benefit from visuals because each bookmark can be personalized with a color and text.

Registration: Users can create an account using the Google sign in feature and is pretty simple to complete. After reading the Terms of Agreement, it's known that users must be 16 or older. This was not mentioned in the sign-up process.

Account Options: SymbalooEDU offers plans for education, classroom, school, and district options, which range from $49/year to $170/year.

Ease of Use: I spent quite a bit of time on this site and still can't figure out how to ad an image/icon to the bookmark. The default and online "webmixes" have an icon for sites that is usually the site's logo. I've only been able to add text to the bookmark. To add a link is simple enough, users click the empty tile and can enter the web address, or search existing links on Symbaloo.

Final Thoughts:  I can see this to be beneficial for teacher use and possibly junior high/high school as well. I hesitate to take advantage of this tool because Google Chrome has made it very easy to access your bookmarks by signing into Chrome with your account information. The benefit of Symbaloo is the ability to make it your homepage and be able to view your bookmarks easily. I will definitely attempt to create a webmix of the common sites used in our schools and districts. Symbaloo offers the option to share a link to your webmix and set it as a public link. At that point, without creating an account, our students could save the link as their homepage. The option to search other webmixes is a great feature. This link, for example, has already been curated with links for elementary students. The only default is the ads at the top of the page.
Edmodo is an online platform for teachers to go digital with their content. It allows for collaboration between teachers and students, and students and students. Assignments, notes, polls, and quizzes can be posted to a class's stream. Edmodo has a social media feel in the sense that students can like, reply, share, or follow posts made by the teacher.

Registration: Edmodo is free for teachers and students. After a teacher sets up their account, a class code is generated and students use that code to join the class. This does not require students to use an email address.

Account Options:  Edmodo is completely free for educators and students. This is a huge benefit for teachers. On the student end, there is an option to share Edmodo with parents. Students can enter their phone number or email address to notify parents that they have an Edmodo account.

Ease of Use: Edmodo is similar to Google Classroom. The interface is similar in the sense that teachers can post various types of content and include attachments, links, etc. Teachers have the option to link their Google Drive account and includes a "Spotlight" feature which provides teachers with access to lessons created by other teachers. Many are free while others can cost a few dollars.

Final Thoughts: Edmodo can be a great tool for teachers who wish to create a digital classroom. The platform is user friendly and students can easily access the features as well. Edmodo is something I would recommend to teachers whose students may not have email addresses to use with similar tools, such as Google Classroom.

Digital Portfolio

I've wanted to create a digital portfolio for some time now, but haven't had enough to add to it. This is my final course in my ma...