Being an "early Adopter" is a "Risky Business"
Sometimes you just have to say, "What the (heck)."
1. Beware the Jabberwock
Lesson Learned: When introducing a new tool, give students time to play around and explore. Are you teaching the tool or teaching the content? If the academic rigor of the task and the learning curve of the new tool is too sharp, they will be frustrated and will NOT enjoy the lesson. I spent a fair amount of time trying to recover from their "I hate hyperdocs" complaints. Short, fun lessons focused on exploration and experimentation of a new tool should come first.
Try This: Give them a Game Board of Add-ons and Extensions to play around with. Then when you want them to use the highlight tool in a poem later, they know how.
2. Access Denied
Another tool I got very excited about in 2015-16 was Thinglink. I spent an entire weekend making Thinglinks for my class to explore and embedding them on our class web site. I made Thinglink lessons for my English class, my History class, my Media Literacy elective class and planned a presentation for the upcoming staff meeting to introduce Thinglink to other teachers. I wrote a blog post about using Thinglink as a portfolio for professional growth that you might like: "The Bucket List". Once again, I was beyond excited about a new tool.
On Monday we got the computers out and I directed the class to go to our website. We were going to have a virtual field trip of early human cave paintings and everyone was excited... until they got to our class web site. All of the content was blocked. There was nothing there for them to see. So now I need to plan new lessons for all of my classes and for the staff meeting because I can't teach everyone about a new tool that they can't actually use in their classroom. I did spend some time working with the tech department trying to plead my case for the awesomeness of Thinglink, but it was a no.
Lesson Learned: Check out new tools and websites from a student computer before you spend a bunch of time planning lessons that involve new technology.
Try This: Google Drawing can work as an alternative to Thinglink read this post from Eric Curts to learn how: "Googlink: Using Google Drawings like a Thinglink"
3. Always make a master copy
Lesson Learned: NEVER grant access to your document- repeat after me "File>Make a Copy"
Try this: Force User's to Make a Copy of a Google Doc from Kasey Bell's Shake-up Learning Blog
4. Who's who
Unfortunately this wasn't my only collaborative tech mistake. I still had one more lesson to learn. Later in the year, I created a yearbook for the class using Google slides. I made page layouts and inserted lots of images of all of the cool things that we had done over the course of the school year. I was really excited to share it with the class and have them add the text on the pages telling about the events from each of the photos. Again we had the digital citizenship lecture and went over who was going to be working on which pages and I added student names to the presenters notes at the bottom of each slide so everyone would know that page had been claimed by another student. So I share the yearbook with the class through a button on my website with an anyone can edit link... big mistake. The next day I had a bunch of complaints from students that someone had written mean things about them on their slide. I was not happy. I went to the revision history to find out who had committed this digital crime, but because I had shared the slide deck as anyone can edit it didn't require students to sign in and all of the revisions were by a bunch of anonymous zoo animals.
Lesson Learned: Do not allow anonymous alligators to edit your presentations.
Try this: Assigning a document or slide deck through Google classroom is the best way to go. If you don't have Google classroom add students to the document with their gmail address so everyone knows who's who in the doc. Alice Keeler has written several really helpful posts about collaboration in Google Docs:
5. Green Screen
So we are creating videos in my Media Literacy elective class; commercials for electives to be used in a presentation at the upcoming 6th grade orientation. I didn't have an actual green screen, but I had blue fabric. I thought that I could just switch the color dial on the app to blue instead... ha ha. The student in said commercial happened to be wearing a green shirt and what we got was a kid with the background image on his shirt. Not an epic fail, we laughed, I did warn them that I didn't really know what I was doing. They enjoyed helping me try to figure out how to make everything work, and we learned... together.
Lesson Learned: It really is okay to try out something in your class that you aren't really sure how to use. Most of the time I find my students can figure it out and they just teach me how to do it. They are like my own personal Geek Squad. It's okay to ask them for help. They like being able to teach something to the teacher.
Try This: I did get myself a green screen, well curtains actually. Start with something easy like a simple photo and watch a tutorial video.