Learning from my Mistakes

I was just on Twitter and came across this page from @cybraryman1 “Learning from Mistakes” and love it.   This idea of reflecting about your mistakes really resonates with me and I want to create a whole series of blog posts like this.

So, in the past week, I have been interviewing with Jakarta International School for their MS tech coach position.  I’ve had three successful interviews so far and I am praying that I get offered the position.  During these interviews, many of the questions were about challenges and failures I have had in my career.  Though it was hard to talk about past mistakes, I realized that I have become better at my job because of these mistakes.

Photo credit: www.rebmormax.com
Photo credit: www.rebmormax.com

Mistakes are our best learning tools because they happen to us first hand.  Sure you can learn from the mistakes of others, and hopefully you will because you just can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.  But when they are your mistakes, they hit home, they change you and effect you.  Whether these mistakes are personal or professional, they always help you grow as a person if you admit your mistake and think how you could do things differently next time.

I’m definitely not perfect and I make mistakes all the time.  No one is perfect and people don’t want to work with people that think they are.  So embrace your mistakes, and share them with others so they can learn from you.

Photo credit: bernardmiranda.blogspot.com
Photo credit: bernardmiranda.blogspot.com

Resources for Design Thinking

Sometimes you don’t need technology to provide the best learning experience.  I realized this last month as I was giving a presentation at Schram Academy, a local school here in Chennai.

Since we were addressing teachers from all over South India, teachers that didn’t necessarily have access to technology, Carlina Fiordilino, Priya Venugopal and I had to think out of the box.  We decided to hop on the design thinking band wagon and introduce design thinking to India.  I was hoping we would start a movement, because India could really benefit from design thinking.

Our presentation went well and the participants were extremely excited about the hands-on prototyping step.  It was great to see teachers really get pumped up about problem solving.  After a successful run at Schram, we were asked to share out what we did for AISC’s mini-nesa presentations.  Sharing an idea like design thinking to passionate educators and having them really explore the idea hands on was so much fun.  Some teachers said that it was the most fun PD they had ever attended.  That was empowering.

So, I feel now that I should share this presentation with the world.  Maybe others can take these resources and make design thinking happen in their classroom or in their school.

Here is the site that I created for the presentation.  Please add your own resources by filling out the form on the Links page.  I really hope this can become a great resource for other teachers trying out design thinking in their classroom.


Simple Steps to Setting Up the Moodle Gradebook

Make sure the Gradebook is enabled in the Course Settings by clicking Edit settings in the course administration menu on the side.

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Then scroll down until you see Show Gradebook to students and select YES and save changes

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Now Click on Grades on the Course Settings Menu

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Click on Categories and Items

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 Click on Add Category

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Enter a Unit of Study or a type of assessment (test, lab, assignment) into the Category name field. Keep simple weighted mean of grades for now.  You can experiment with other settings later.

Click on Save Changes

Keep adding all of your units this way.

 To add Assignments, get back to your course page and Turn on Editing.

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Add an assignment to a section by click on Add an Activity or Resource.

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Click Assignment under ACTIVITIES. Fill out the assignment details.  In the Grades section, select the Category the assignment falls under

For detailed directions on how to add an assignment check out the video below.

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If you put the assignment into Moodle, you can give feedback online to students. Students can also keep track of assignments they have turned in and ones they still need to complete.  Moodle sends automatic assignment reminders when new assignments are created.

The next blog post will talk about the AISC MS Grading Scale

“Doesn’t Meet Expectations, Beginning to Meet Expectations, Approaching Expectations, Meets Expectations”

Something that will take us one step closer to standards-based reporting.

Please follow or check back soon.



I know some of you don’t believe me, but Moodle can really help you when it comes to grading and keeping track of student assignments.  I see so many teachers still carrying around these paper grade books.   I am sure these grade books have been working well enough for you for ages; so why change?  Why should you use Moodle as your grade book?

Here are 5 very good reasons to Start Using the Moodle Grade Book

  1. Students can upload files, links or copy and paste in submissions.  It serves as a record of their learning.  It documents the exact time they turn it in.
  2. You can easily see who has submitted assignments and who has not.
  3. You can give grades and feedback to students right in the Moodle grade book.  Students can see this and keep track of their work better.  They even get notifications of assignments that are due!
  4. Students can use Poodl to complete activities that record their voice or use their webcam.  The teacher can use the Poodl feature to give verbal feedback.
  5. Moodle does the math.  You can set up your grade book so different items have different weights.  No more calculating manually.

Also, in Moodle, you can set up customized grading scales.  Our own Ryan Sager has come up with the MS grading scale (Meets Expectations, Approaching Expectations, Doesn’t Meet Expectation) which will help us transition to Standards Based grading next year.

My next post will be about how to set up the Moodle Gradebook.  So follow my blog so you don’t miss out!

Viewing Flipboard Magazines in a Browser

Yesterday I searched the Internet for a way to view Flipboard Magazines on the Web.  On the site it makes it pretty clear that Flipboard is made for mobile devices like tablets, and smartphones but what if you would like to view Flipboard Magazines.  The thing is that most of the middle school students at AISC have laptops.

After writing the post below, I looked into the Flipboard site more carefully and you are able to view Magazines in the browser by the magazine URL.  You can even edit and add to your magazines with the flipboard editor .  Or share your magazines by making a Magazine Widget.  But this info is not advertised widely on the site.

So, I am definitely taking another look at Flipboard and how my teachers can create their own content for their courses.  Is it me, or is it unclear that Flipboard is available through a browser.  I feel a bit stupid missing this fact and recording a movie about running the app using bluestacks.

Anyways, here is my Creative Integration Widget.
View my Flipboard Magazine.
To make this you need to read the fine print to get the magazine URL.  In my opinion, accessing Flipboard Magazines should be a bit more intuitive. The fine print below.

*Open a magazine on the web and cut and paste its URL into the field above. To get to any magazine on the web, simply tap the share button on the cover and email the magazine to yourself. In the email will be a link to open the magazine on the web. The Flipboard Magazine Widget may not work on blog platforms that block JavaScript. – Flipboard Website


My Original Post – Proof that I am always learning something New

Flipboard is Awesome, but how do you get it to work on a laptop – Before I looked into viewing magazines on the web

I just finished watching Jeff’s video about Flipbook and I love the app.  I’ve been using it on my phone and iPad since course one and I am really interested in having teachers use it to create content for their students.  I also thought it would be a great way for my teachers to assess and interact with their student’s blog based portfolios.  But alas, Flipboard is not made for laptops and most of our teachers and students purchased a laptop as their BYOT device.  I started thinking, Is there a way for Flipboard to be on a laptop?  Of course, with technology there is always a way.

I started searching and I found this program called Bluestacks that is an App Player.  I’m downloading it right now and I am hoping that it doesn’t download any unwanted malware with it.  I think it’ll work.


And it did work.  It took a little while to download, but once bluestacks loaded I was able to download Flipboard from Google Play through Bluestacks.  I logged in with my Facebook account and was able to have access to all my online magazines.  I must be honest the resolution was terrible and not nice and crisp like in the app on my phone or iPad.

Now the question is, how many of my teachers and their students will actually access Flipboard in this way?  Since the download process was a bit slow and the resolution is not all that, I’m not sure I would recommend this work around.  Is there any other way to get Flipboard on a PC or Mac?  I think there is definitely some room in the market for a program like Flipboard that works on all devices, not just tablets and smartphones.  I think Flipboard should add this functionality before someone else does.  If you have a better work around than this, please post a comment.  I would love to hear some better suggestions.

In looking for a Flipboard App for Chrome, I found this nifty Flipboard extention +Flip It. Download it to your browser and add to your Flipboard account while browsing.

Uber Awesome!

Ok this is one very short post about an app that I have been using to get home.  Recently, we lost our driver.  It was a perk that came with my husbands job; but his contract ended and so did our driver’s contract.  ;(

As most of you know, I have a little 8 month old now and catching an auto doesn’t really have the same appeal as it did, especially now that it is getting super hot.  Anyways, I was browsing facebook a couple days ago and I saw this add for an app called Uber – everyone’s personal driver.

I downloaded it, put my credit card info in and in minutes I had a driver waiting for me to take me home.  Getting a taxi in Chennai usually is a huge pain but this app has made getting around easy.  Apparently it’s in other cities too.  I can’t wait to try it out in other places this summer.

It’s really cool too because you can track where your driver is, how long it’ll take them to get to you.  Plus you rate them at the end of your trip.  Drivers that get poor ratings get kicked out, at least that’s what I’ve heard.  If you need a ride ASAP, try it out!

More Brainstorming for Course 5 Final Project

I have two ideas for the course 5 final project and I want to do both of them.  Maybe some of you can help me decide what idea to focus one.

My first idea was to create a Digital Citizenship curriculum for middle school.  This would be a collection of lessons that could be integrated into various subjects and would focus on our newly developed AISC technology standards.  I want to put this unit into Altas Rubicon so that teachers could use it as a resource.  As AISC continues it’s adventure into the BYOT program, I think something like this is needed and would help guide teachers on how to successfully integrate technology into the curriculum.  I would also want to create a website for this curriculum so that teachers from other school’s could use it as a resource.

This year I was the co-leader of the Technology Enhanced Differentiation Task Force (what a mouthful).  My previous post was about some of the recommendations we made to the leadership team around integration of technology.  Our main recommendations focused on the personalization and differentiation of instruction using technology, e-portfolios and PBL/ inquiry projects.  The Digital Citizenship Curriculum that I want to create would highlight these areas and give teachers ideas on how to really personalize learning, promote student ownership with e-portfolios and how to create meaningful inquiry lessons using technology.

Another report I worked on recently was the 2013-2014 Middle School Technology Report. I surveyed teachers on how students were performing on the new standards.  Though the data collected is subjective, I got some great feedback on what students need to work on.  Creating “QUALITY” multimedia projects with good sound and video, citing sources properly and using royalty free or copyright-free resources and monitoring and maintaining a positive digital footprint were all areas that teachers felt needed to be focused on.  In the Digital Citizenship unit I could create lessons that would help address these needs.

My second idea for the final project would be to create a BYOT bootcamp unit/ site.  I’m already planning on doing this for this August.  I would like to create a resource that is on the web for other technology integrators who plan to give a tech orientation to students as school is beginning.  I have a couple of planning documents right now and a BYOT bootcamp website that I am working on.  The BYOT Brainstorm is an open document so please feel free to contribute your ideas.  Please give me feedback on the website too.

Click here to access the BYOT Bootcamp Brainstorm and click here for the BYOT Bootcamp site.

I’m planning on doing this pretty cool Responsible Use Policy scavenger hunt that uses Google mapshttps://qrvoice.net/ and qr codes to help students become familiar with the Responsible Use Policy – it’s a work in progress.  I am also looking into creating activities that will promote the use of some of our tech tool subscriptions like for example Go Animate, Pixton and Voicethread.  Please let me know if you have any ideas for this.  As I said before I have to plan for this even if I don’t choose it as my final project.


Inquiry, PBL and Service Learning Coming Soon to AISC!

This weeks assignment on Project Based Learning, Problem Based Learning and Challenge Based Learning comes right after researching and writing a report for the Technology Enhanced Differentiation Task Force that I co-chair with my fellow tech integrator Carlina.  In the report we had to make recommendations about how the school should go forward in the area of technology to personalize student learning.  Our research led us to recommend prototyping inquiry-based learning in select classrooms.  Here is our report if you are interested.

I’m pretty sure that our recommendations are going to end up in an action plan for next year and that makes me super excited because I’ve always wanted to try out project-based learning.

I’ve been hearing and reading about project-based learning for a while but it took me a while to really understand it fully.  At ASB Unplugged this year,  I attended a wonderful workshop led by Suzie Boss about asking meaningful driving questions to use for PBL projects.  It’s neat reading some of her articles that are assigned for course 4 since I’ve met her.

In her article Perfecting with Practice: Project-Based Teaching she says “Inquiry is at the heart of project learning, and PL veterans are deliberate about sparking student curiosity before a project actually begins.”  This curiosity and the power of the driving question I feel is key to starting a successful project-based learning project.  Coming up with meaningful open-ended questions is much more difficult than I thought.  During her workshop we got to work on formulating questions and it’s something I definitely need more practice with.

Solving real world problems is also at the core of project based learning.   Suzie writes “The project approach challenges students to think for themselves, conduct research, solve authentic problems, meet deadlines, and manage much of their own learning.”  These are all skills that students needs when they leave school and join the workforce.  Solving real problems makes the learning so much more meaningful.  PBL projects can really make a difference.

Next year our school will embark on service learning and I know project-based learning ties into this initiative perfectly.  There are so many chances for students to make a real difference in Chennai.  It makes me really excited to think of all the possibilities.


Amazing Idea for Language Labs

Today Ross came to me with a tech question and we came up with a wonderful idea to use an app in a new way for education.  He was wondering if there were any cool iPad apps that simulate an old school language lab.   Not knowing exactly what a language lab was, I asked for some clarification.

Langenstein, Russischunterricht für Lehrlinge


When he was in school learning a foreign language, his teacher had a system where students would record themselves with headphones on.  While the students all recorded and listened to themselves, the teacher could monitor and respond to their recordings by plugging into their feed.  It was usually done with cassettes back in the day.  How could we recreate this useful language tool with iPads or mobile devices.

As Ross and I started to think of solutions, the What’s App app came to mind.  My family uses What’s App to send texts, pictures, videos and even sound clips.  Students could use this to record their voice, and Ross could reply to them using a voice recording or a text.  As I was digging deeper into this idea, I realized that What’s App is only available on smartphones, not iPads or iPods.  This solution wouldn’t work.  Ross wanted to use the iPads or iPods.

Priya was in the office and overheard the whole conversation Ross and I were having.  She turned around and said “Why don’t you use the Wiber App,” in her very pretty Indian accent.  The “Viber” app is just like What’s App  but it even has more functionality, it’s free and it works on the iPad and iPod. I checked out their website and they even have a desktop version.   This would work perfectly.  Thank-you Priya and Ross for this amazing idea.

Now we just need to try it out with students.  I can’t wait to share this with all our EAL and Foreign Language teachers.  This could also be used for group discussions on any topic or for students to ask questions on homework.  The possibilities are endless.

Trying out the Viber App on the iPad was very disappointing;  it doesn’t have all the cool features that the phone version .  Students would need to have a phone number to set it up.  I think most of our middle schoolers have phones but maybe this would not be a good fit for everyone.

I started looking at other apps that might work for Ross’s idea.  And AudioBoo I think would be a good pick; however, Ross would be unable to leave a voice comment.  I think we should see how many of his students have smartphones.  Maybe a work around would be for students that don’t have a phone to just email him a recording made in quicktime on their laptop.

Getting ready for my iPad training at Vidya Sanskar International School

I’m putting a few final touches on my presentation and my iTunes U course for the workshop today on using iPads in Language Art and Social Studies at the Vidya Sanskar International School.  I’ll be focussing on Digital Storytelling, Blogging and the iTunes U Course Manager.

It was a long haul here after work yesterday but I made it.  The driver that picked me up at the airport didn’t speak any English and first took me to the wrong school.  Finally around 12:30 at night we pulled into Vidya Sanskar International School and I stayed the night in their lovely guesthouse.  Though I haven’t seen much of the campus yet, it looks like an amazing place to learn.

Wish me luck!