EdTech 551: Funding Sources

In our charter school, we typically don’t use grants as our need is more immediate.  We have been using Donors Choose with great success to acquire the materials we need.  In the past year, I have successfully had Chromebooks funded, video equipment for a green room, and tablets for mobile app development funded.  Other teachers have had classroom sets of books, math manipulatives, and science lab equipment funded.  We have been successful with this method where parents of our students can contribute and donation matching through the companies in which they work.

The parents aid us in the PR and marketing of the requested funding by sharing it out on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.  As teachers, we do the same and inform parents through weekly parent newsletters and add it to our email signatures.  Many times we are able to get fund matching from larger corporate sponsors as well making it easier to reach our equipment goals.

There are many other grants out there that are very competitive and the time required to complete the applications for our small school that doesn’t have someone devoted to grant writing isn’t typically worth the return or the gamble.  Every teacher that has run a Donors Choose project has been funded in a few months or as little as 2 hours depending upon the project.


The drawback to this funding source is that smaller projects typically get approved quicker.  As the Technology Department Chair, my projects ambitions tend to be larger, as a result, I have chunked some larger projects into small ones in order to get things funded and get equipment in place faster.  We are currently trying to gain Chromebook assets to create a Chromebook cart that can be brought into classrooms.  We have 4 right now and will be looking to launch another Donors Choose project in the next month in order to acquire more devices.

There are grants available on Digital Wish for technology (http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/grants).


We have also used scholarship opportunities for Free PD related to technology for teachers.  The Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference each year runs scholarships for teachers to attend the workshop in two person or district teams up to 8 participants.  Last year, our math teacher and I went the two person scholarship and then shared our experience with our colleagues upon our return.  This year we are planning on applying again with the two teachers in our computer science department.

Through the local ISTE group, there are also funding opportunities available for technology PD and acquisition which our school is considering applying for in order to get equipment to support technology in the classroom.  These can be found at: http://www.nhste.org/Grants-and-Awards.

EdTech 534 – Discussing Mobile Apps

My task this week was to take a look at four apps and evaluate what I like about it verse what I didn’t like about it.


Education – Google Classroom

This app pushes out updates to mobile devices from the Google Classroom website.  From a teacher point of view it alerts the teacher when students comment on assignments & announcements.  I can see work submitted, comment on work and give scores in the app.  I can create new classes from inside the app as a teacher as well.  I can view all course assignment calendars.  You can create announcements assignments, questions, and reuse posts all from inside the app.


The functionality works almost exactly like the classroom website.  The menus, swipes, buttons and graphics are easy to use and visually pleasing.


Other uses can be to crowdsource professional development in schools.  


For improvements to the app I would like to be able to assign work to specific students for remediation and or extension of the course material.  I would also like parents to have view only access of their child’s account.  This would enable auto-emailing anytime a post or assignment was created by having this feature it would close the communication gap when using an app like this.  These features are not currently available on the web version, however, I hear that they parent piece is coming this fall.


Productivity – Weebly

The Weebly app allows you to build websites in an easy to use drop and drag format.  It works with a single sign on for Google and Facebook or you can make your own.


The app allows the user to view stats for page views and visitors to your website.  The navigation is relatively easy.  With that said it seems that it would function better on a larger screen, such as a tablet, I was accessing this on my phone.  Which for website creation doesn’t seem like the best device to use.  It may work better if you are using it for short blogs.  Personally, I don’t like typing longer text pieces on mobile devices without a full keyboard.


Not all the visual elements that are present showed on the preview on the mobile app on my phone.  For example, the banner images were missing.  I can see using this more to quickly check traffic on my website rather than building full sites.


Communication – GMail

The GMail app pushes Google Mail to my phone.  I like that I can view multiple Gmail accounts at the same time.  I like the button features and swipes to remove mail from my inbox.  I don’t like that I can’t mark a message as unread from the app.  I wish it had a read aloud feature of text to speech built in so I could listen to messages on the go.  The graphics are clean and simplistic in the design which really works for this app to keep it consistent with the branding of Google.


Games/Education – Vocabulary Builder by Magoosh

I found the app in the games classification, however, it is more of a cross-genre app as it was very educational with game-like elements.  This app provides a gamified approach to learning new vocabulary.  You earn badges for getting words correct and can level up.  You can play a game against others that use the app as well.  The app has you use your email but it does not appear to be Ferpa/copa compliant.  If you are using an email address that includes your name to sign up that becomes your username. As an adult, I would like the option to have my identity private if I choose to do so and this app didn’t allow me to select a username other than my email.    The app is geared towards high school students as the vocabulary sets are around GRE, SAT, and other categories for older students.


As for the game elements, I would be more engaged playing people I know than strangers.  I would like to see an element to add friends that way.  The graphics are clean and simplistic design that works with the apps functions.


534 – Mobile App Mobile Computing

As a learner I use mobile apps to organize my schedule, create to-do lists, and check emails.  I use mobile devices to take photos that I use in projects.  As a teacher/learner that uses Google Apps, most of these tend to be around the Google Apps suite. These include Google Calendar, Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.  I also use EdX app to learn for professional development purposes.  In Dr. Haskell’s courses, I have used Team Speak app to communicate in VOIP for working collaboratively in virtual worlds.  These are just those that I use most frequently at the present time.  There are many others that I have used in the past.


As an educator, I use mobile apps to check email, manage appointments, and for simple internet searches in meetings.  As part of instruction, when I taught social studies I had my students use an app called GFlash+.  I could create vocab sets and share them with students for them to review key vocabulary with flashcards and self-check quizzes.  When I have tutored, students we have used Khan Academy so I could customize math practice work to each learner’s needs and skills that needed reinforcement.  To give students a sense of place we have used the Google Earth app to explore the Geography of the World.  In my GA position, we use Tracking Time to assign projects for work on the Cool Teacher Show and track hours of how long it takes us to complete.  I encourage students that have mobile devices to use the Google Classroom Apps this way they get the most timely alerts.  However, not all students have mobile devices which creates a digital divide in the use of these tools at my current school.  In previous schools, we had several iPod touches in my class that students could borrow when I was giving the option to use mobile devices.  Although not a perfect scenario, it did minimize the digital divide a little bit.


As a parent, having age appropriate apps on my phone that support learning means that no matter where we are my own children can practice math facts, improve reading skills, and work on letter, shape, and number recognition and writing skills.  I love the devices that have parental controls that allow you to lock certain apps or only open “fun” apps after reading is done.  For my own kiddos, this is a motivator to do what they see as less desirable activities in order to get to do more “entertaining” apps.


The ease and portability of apps on Mobile devices make it more accessible than having a computer all the time (Cummins, M, Larry Johnson, and Samantha Adams. The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 higher education edition. The New Media Consortium, 2012.)  They add greater function to a phone which is why 91% of adults have their mobile phones within arm’s reach at all times.(1).  Given this data, several schools are using apps like Remind to push out alerts to parents and students alike as a way to improve school communication.

  1. “Fifty Essential Mobile Marketing Facts – Forbes.” 2013. 13 May. 2016 <http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/11/12/fifty-essential-mobile-marketing-facts/>

EdTech 506: Whitespace

  • The users of this will be current and new teachers to The Founders Academy.  The staff range in age from mid-20 on up.  They have professional reading level.  Most staff have at least a basic comfort at working with digital tools.  However, Google may not have been the primary tool they were using prior to coming to the Founders Academy and the LMS (Learning Management System) may have been different in their prior place of employment.
  • I believe this solution will assist new staff in gaining familiarity with the tools we use at school.  The graphic I have created is in a checklist format and I have tried to organize in by priority.  Our professional development team felt that the creation of such a document may aid new staff with acclimating to the tools we use at The Founders Academy.  Those images that are underlined link out to video resources for staff to review as needed.  This way staff do not need to filter through multiple places; all resources will be hyperlinked into one or two documents creating a greater ease of use.
  • From the user test I learned that this would be a helpful tool for new staff coming in.  They felt this was visually pleasing and easy to understand.
  • The only revision is to finish the video tutorials that will link to this for training of the staff coming in for the 2016-2017 academic year.  I may break this out into multiple images that just focus on one topic for those that me be overwhelmed by such a long list.

3DGameLab:Play This, Learn That: What is Making History II

After reviewing various media on Making History II, it is clear that there is educational value to this game if presented in the right way.  I can see students using Intel’s Visual Ranking prior to playing the game to determine or think about what factors will influence success during World War II.

Pitch for use:

Students will take on the role of a nation during the WWII era.  The decisions that students make bout the economy, military, and allies will determine their nation’s success in the simulation.  This virtual look at real world situations will aid students in really understanding the role that the economy played in leading up to major world events of the time.  Their decisions may even change the outcomes of these events in a virtual space.

3DGameLab: What is Kerbal Space Program?

After playing through a few quests in the Learn this, Play That camp, I have learned about Kerbal Space Program.


This is a game where the player, I mean student, can construct digital models of space shuttles.  Once the shuttle is build students then launch their shuttles into space.  If they have constructed it well then lift off should go well. If not then there may be some crashes, explosions, and mishaps.  That is okay because students can learn from their design failures, go back to the design phase, and make changes.  Through trial & error and a little perseverance, students will improve their design and experience success.  Next is to apply physics to their flight ability to get into a position where they are able to orbit the planet.  As students flight skills and design skills improve, they will have longer missions to get to where no Kerbal has gone before – other moons and planets.  We should explore this as an educational opportunity because it fosters critical thinking that mimics a real life situation and applies science skills.