Friday, October 30, 2015

Chrome OS not going away any time soon.

So yesterday the Wall Street Journal tried to stir the pot some. 

Most people who kept up with tech knew this was coming at some point, but they sensationalized people into thinking this is a bad thing and its going to kill chromebooks. I mean Google put the top Android engineer at the lead position of the Chrome OS division for a reason.

This is good news for Chrome OS users. Alphabet(google) is far from killing chromebooks.  Microsoft did the same thing with its mobile version of Windows OS. My thinking is that Google just wants to be able to run the Android OS on desktops and laptops in the future. Why would you have two different things to focus on instead of simplifying things? Putting which ever OS won on multiple devices makes life easier for everyone. I have sat in rooms and asked if we could put droid OS on laptops for years now. They are finally making that happen. We teach kids the skills not the OS, or we should.

The following tweet says alot:

Tweet from the SVP of Android, Chromecast, Chrome OS @google.  @lockheimer
I am not worried, there is something 10x time better coming within the next few years. The new product isn't expected to release until 2017.

UPDATE: GOOGLE's Response:
Several stories in the press are speculating that we’re “folding the Chrome operating system into Android”. This is not true: Chrome OS is not going away. In fact, we are continuing to invest heavily in Chrome OS. We’ve seen amazing momentum with Chromebooks, for example, which are the number one educational device for schools in the US and have topped Amazon’s bestselling laptops list for the past two holiday seasons. The PR team is currently working to correct these inaccurate stories.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Doodle 4 Google is OPEN

How to Enter

We're excited to see some amazing doodles this year. Students can work with any materials they want, but all doodles must be entered using the entry form. Parents and teachers can mail us the completed entry form or submit it online as a .png, .jpg, or .pdf. The contest is open for entries until December 7, 2015, so here's some information to help you get started now:
  1.  Download or print the entry form.
  2.  Doodle: Have artists create their doodles using any materials they want.
  3.  Write:
    1. Have artists write their 50-word statements.
    2. Fill out the rest of the required information and sign the entry form.
  4.  Combine:
    1. If the doodle wasn't created directly on the entry form, take a digital photo or scan of the doodle and combine it with the entry form.
    2. If you're submitting a digital entry, save the completed entry form as a .jpg, .png, or .pdf.

Displaying IMG_5946.JPG
Google Classroom can be used for more than JUST academic purposes. This is a great example of our staff using Google Classroom as a hub for sharing information with specific you can see in this example with those pursuing indoor track. Classroom is that ideal space for sharing because it's exclusive and customized to a specific audience, it has many functions, allows for the ease of communication, sharing documents, links, videos and other files with a group and it integrates perfectly with our 1:1 Chromebook program.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What you see is not always what you Get
At first glance this classroom does not look like it is a one of the places making the best use of technology.  Yet, it is technology that allows you to have that false impression.  This is Barcley Gerndt’ s classroom and for 150 students who take her virtual courses. This room is free for other use as the class takes advantage of GAFE, Edgenuity, and Canvas to learn at a distance.  Barcley has been a part of the Hoover High’s blended program for several years and this year she and Chris Bell are full time virtual teachers for Hoover City Schools. They both teach a mix of students from Hoover and Spain Park and are each considered staff members of both schools. 
 Front to back, Chris Bell, Barcley Gerndt and HHS counselor Marley Stephens.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Carol McLaughlin's Class Takes on a Global Math Challenge

Students in Carol McLaughlin's second grade classroom at Greystone Elementary are participating in a yearlong Global Math Challenge using Twitter. Her class signed up to challenge other second graders across the world with a daily math problem for a week. In response, classrooms from all across the world tweeted their answers explaining their strategies using the hashtag #gmttc2. Classrooms from Kindergarten through High School may sign up to participate at

What # am I?

The 3rd Graders in Ms. Sabbatini's Class at Rocky Ridge Elementary had a great time learning how to put a twist on a number talk.
Example of a fun math talk using Google Slides.

Another Example by Tammy Tang

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Would you let a 3rd grader plan your family vacation?

The Third Grade classes at Rocky Ridge Elementary culminated their Landform Unit with a Travel Fair that showcased a particular landform. The students choose a landform, conducted research, found a location in which to travel that had their landform, and created a travel brochure/slides to highlight the location. They also created some type of replica of the landform using art materials. The students then practiced their presentation skills with parents, community members, teachers, and other students as they persuaded them to the travel to their location. Excellent example of STEAM and Project-based learning! These third grade students can now plan a family vacation! Congratulations, third grade, on a project with STEAM!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Google Apps and the Spain Park Art Walk - A Perfect Fit

Google Apps combined with Spain Park’s 2015 Art Walk allowed students to take a walk through history while easily sharing what they see with others. Marnie Utz, librarian at Spain Park, wanted to give students an easy way to engage with the art. So how do you do this? Add a simple Google form, a Blogger site, and a student device and you are all set! Utz collaborated with the Art teachers to create the Art Walk. Students found directions and links to online activities on the form. Students were able to edit responses over multiple days using the edit responses feature in Google Forms by bookmarking the edit link. Using Blogger’s Email to Blog feature, students could easily use Chromebooks to email selfies with their favorite selections from each time period to the blog for immediate posting. “This is the first time we’ve used this type of technology with the Art Walk,” said Utz. “Overall it worked well and we learned a few things on how we can make it even better next time.”

One thing she learned was to make sure students put key words such as the Art Walk Station number in the subject of the email so that the blog posts are easily searchable by station in the future. Art Teacher Carolyn Warren liked the use of Google Forms. “It created a sense of accountability for the students and helped guide them through the exhibits. Students are comfortable with the Chromebooks so it seems like a natural fit.” The teachers have plans to incorporate Google Classroom for the next Art Walk.
Google Forms had links to online resources.

Hot Java

I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time.  On my way to  the library  Jill Westerlund stopped me and Jonathan Sandlin, to see the Java lesson her class had just completed.  Students had completed  individual projects but each project had to include code from the other students in the class. The lessons not only met the objective for the individual student but helped them understand the importance of working as a team member and fostered good communication skills.  The students were eager to showcase their work and it was obvious that the students and Mrs. Westerlund trust and respect each other.  As a tech person I enjoyed the lesson but as an educator I was blown away by the level of enthusiasm Mrs.Westerlund and her students have for their subject .

Monday, October 19, 2015

HCS Admins are Digital Leaders!

Fifteen HCS administrators are participating in a PLU (continuing education for principals) based on digital leadership. The PLU is a collaboration with the ALSDE's Technology in Motion. The administrators will be researching, collaborating, and participating in learning communities based on transformational teaching and learning with technology. 

The admins read the article, Pillars of Digital Leadership, by Eric Sheninger which identifies seven key pillars for digital leaders. 

  • Communication
  • Public Relations
  • Branding
  • Student Engagement/Learning
  • Professional Growth/Development
  • Re-envisioning Learning Spaces
  • Opportunity (school culture)

Follow HCSELI on Twitter @hcseli 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gaming Club Part 2

Meeting 2:

The students at RRES learned how to identify the balance of fun and challenge in games.  We talked about what happens when a game is not balanced.  They played each others games once created and gave feedback to the designer.  We used the model positive statement, improvement, and ended the conversation with another positive statement.  The students discussed why this model was effective when communicating with others.  Over the next month the students will begin designing a balanced game.  Each student has a card with a different task of design.  I can't wait to see their games and play them.
Mr. Schaeffel playing a game designed by one of his students. 

These students enjoyed playing each others game.

Friday, October 9, 2015

STEAM-A-Palooza at Trace Crossings

I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer Friday at Trace for their STEAM-A-Palooza. This fun-filled event was organized by Dana Joyner and Amanda Stone with the help of a committee of teachers and Samford students. The event was amazing! Students from grades K-4 were invited to spend a Friday evening exploring all types of STEAM activities including: creating and testing paper airplanes, creating structures and sculptures with cardboard boxes, creating art work with paint and recycled objects, flying a drone, and constructing with Rigamajigs. The entire night's theme was on the book, Rosie Revere, Engineer, simple machines such as rivets, flight, and creating. To see more pictures, follow me on Twitter at @carpese.


I'm RES's principal, Alice Turney, along with a committee of teachers and parents, has been working hard getting Riverchase's new STEAM lab up and running! After receiving a grant, the school outfitted the science lab with STEAM related materials including: a digital microscope, a skeleton, bottle rockets, Bee-BotsOsmosMakey MakeyLittle Bits, magnets, and many more science, technology, engineering, art, and math materials. The grand opening was the week of September 28- October 2 with each class vising the lab.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Minecraft EDU-It's Way More Than Just a Game

Back in 2012, Simmons Middle School computer science teacher Cindi Morris decided to give Minecraft EDU a try with her 6th-8th grade students. Other than what she overheard from students talking about Minecraft, she knew very little about it prior to installing it in her lab. With some help from her tech coach and a few Youtube tutorial videos, she purchased MinecraftEDU (similar to what her students were playing at home but with features only available in the EDU version), got it up and running and let the students play. Despite there being some technical issues as well as a pretty steep learning curve for Mrs. Morris and her students new to the game, MinecraftEDU quickly became a success and opened the door for all sorts of deeply engaging, powerfully creative AND entertaining learning experiences. Fast forward to 2015 and now you will find that MinecraftEDU is an integral part of the curriculum used by all 3 HCS middle school computer science teachers. MinecraftEDU provides rich, challenging opportunities for students build, collaborate, problem-solve, code, lead, cooperate and showcase their skills and creations in an entertaining digital environment where literally, the sky is the limit. In her classroom, students have used MinecraftEDU to build models of the school library and sports fields, replicate historical settings and events, learn about ancient cultures, apply geometry & physics, give book reports, solve environmental problems, lead, present, and collaborate with their peers, all the while developing their digital ethos. MinecraftEDU has opened new doors for students to tap into their creative side and empowered many by leading them to discover new abilities and potential within themselves. It has offered many a renewed joy when it comes to learning by showing that it can really be all fun and games. 

Here is an example of an 8th grade group project. These students collaborated to build The Parthenon, a structure they studied in their world history class. They had to research the structure, recreate it in Minecraft and give a tour of their project to their peers.