Latest Event Updates

ntcamp Burlington

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In all my years of going to professional development I have experienced both good and bad workshops.  How did I find out about these workshops?   Most times I received something in the mail, most likely a brochure which had a list of speakers listing the topics and their credentials. Other times I heard about a workshop from a colleague.  When I attended these workshops I knew the specific topic of the presentation and how much it would cost.

This past Saturday I attended ntcamp (new teachers) which was held at Burlington High School.  How did I find out about this workshop? Twitter. Yes, Twitter. Most of the attendees found out about this way. I followed a  few people who were talking about ntcamp, edcamp and I was interested in learning about this “unconference” style. I heard that they were going to be holding one in Burlington and signed up .

In an “unconference” you do not know who is speaking or the topics to be presented and when you attend you are also prepared to be part of the discussion and possibly even present although it is not mandatory.  The cost? It is free!

The spirit at ntcamp  was to share your expertise or knowledge and get engaged in discussion.  You don’t need to be an expert and no one expects you to be one!

This “unconference” style exceeded my expectations.  It was discussion based, you learned from sharing, interacting, and engaging in a discussion.  Conversation was relaxed, interactive and open, building a comfortable forum to participate.

During a session we could get up at anytime and move to a different workshop and that is not considered rude; you  just may wish to pop into another session to check it out.  If we felt inspired to present a topic, we had the opportunity to go to the schedule board and write our presentation topic on a sticky note and post it the room and time slot available. The building was wireless and everyone is encouraged to bring a laptop, ipad or notebook and we were able to connect to the internet anywhere in the building. We were able check out the schedule at anytime that was posted on-line and it was updated as new workshops were added.

All of the sessions were streamed live through Justin TV. Many people  tuning in via live streaming were tweeting comments about each of the workshops. I had to leave in the early afternoon and when I got home I watched one of the sessions via live streaming.

I encourage you to try one of these “unconferences.”  They are certainly new and different, but it was well worth going on a Saturday. This is going to be our future of professional development. We need something different in education for professional development and it was so encouraging to see people interested in finding a way to share knowledge and give fellow educators this experience for no cost. We need to promote more interaction, engagement and sharing among our colleagues.

Check out the edcamp in Boston if you get a chance, all of these workshops are free. Here is the link: edcamp Boston

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What is all this VizZle about?

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Twitter has an #AUTISM chat group and I often follow the tweets and read articles that are shared during the chat sessions.  A tool called VizZle was referred to often and received raved reviews.  I was curious to know if this was something we should look into.  I asked a few staff people to look at it and give me their feedback.

Roberta Klix, Teacher, LABBB Memorial Elementary School

I finally found a little time to take a look at “Vizzle.”  It’s a great concept, and certainly has some nice features.  I particularly liked that you can automatically collect data (once files are set up) and the wide range of pre-made activities (including follow up games).  It seems fairly straight forward to construct activities, but you do have to import your own pictures and video (as opposed to something like Boardmaker studio where there are pictures already available).

I tried a few language arts and math activities, as well as some games.  There’s a bit of a lag time between steps in an activity (a little is good for processing, too much and I’m afraid some of my students would close out of the activity).  I also found that if I tried to leave an activity prematurely, I would be asked to type in my password. Rather than moving me out of the activity, I kept getting prompted to re-type the password and would have to end the program entirely.  This may be a glitch in the program, or operator error. On one language arts activity geared to “K-2” learners (Horton Hears a Who Vocabulary), I thought the vocabulary was more a 3rd/4th grade level.  The math activities seemed grade-appropriate.

I’ll continue playing around with it.  I”m also going to try out the new Boardmaker Studio.

Anigone McHugh, LABBB Speech Pathologist (LABBB John Glenn, Bedford High School)

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Short tutorials are available on the website before you start making your lessons if needed.
  • You can also have interactive courses (VizZle U) where you can get professional development contact hours
  • Can access it from any computer
  • Web-based storage with option to send files as PDF to other teachers/ parents.
  • Can make matching boards, game-boards and interactive books.
  • Peer-made activities available for everyone to use.  The lessons are categorized by subject, age, description.   You can share your materials with others and when you share, you can earn credits (not sure at this time what the credits are for)
  • Can be used on a smart board
  • Teachers/therapists can add goals and objectives and track progress.
  • Their pictures are ok.  You can add your own pictures as well as videos and audio.
  • They have a data base of videos and audio that you can add to your lessons
  • The computer “voice” is not that great.  Could not find a place to change speed of voice or gender.
  • Can make token boards that can be customized, timers plus first-then boards.
  • Not sure if it can be used with switches.
  • Does not use much memory on your computer since information is saved on the web (all you download is an icon).
  • Updates are free, they update often.
  • Teachers, therapist, parents can all create and share materials in student folders (it is more of a platform).  You can send your lessons home (printed) or email them.
  • Not sure of price, was not listed on the website

Overall I liked using ViZzle and would use it again.   It was extremely easy to use and I liked that it has a data base of lessons and activities that you can either use or to get ideas for your own activity.  I really like that they continuously update and make changes and that it does not cost money for the updates. It is a platform that all ages and abilities would be able to use.

These are my initial observations.  As I continue to use it, I will keep you posted of any other things I learn!

Ready…Fire…Aim

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How many great ideas have you spoke to your colleagues, family and friends about?  It is amazing how many creative, thoughtful and smart concepts I have heard.  Now, when does that idea get implemented? When is the right time to implement?  Did it ever get implemented?

Many factors may hold a person back from pushing an idea forward such as self-confidence, a colleague didn’t agree with their idea, they haven’t develop a strategic plan, or they haven’t thought it out completely; therefore,  your creative idea just dies out.  It never had a chance to get to the first step.

Do not let all the outside influences keep a lid on your ideas.  Talk it out, be reasonable, but implement.  Good ideas spread if implemented, Good ideas that are not implemented, no matter how good they are, don’t.

Sometimes you need be ready… implement….and shape your idea as it develops.  Mistakes will happen, but at least you gave them a chance to be experienced.

Sometimes you just need to be Ready, Fire and then Aim later.

Office in the Cloud

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Going paperless is not a new concept.  Microfiche has been around a long time and every printing business has some type of digital process where they can copy paper documents to CD’s. Furthermore, most printers and copy machines now have a scanning option that create PDF files.  You can scan a 100 page document in less than a minute and download to your computer.

Operating paperless vs. storing paperless is a big transition.  In the moment we want our old system; print document and store in a file cabinet.  The new system in the future will be scan and save.  This also has an added feature, back up! You have saved it in the cloud.  In the LABBB office we have created three back ups using Microsoft Mesh cloud system.  Many more offices and classrooms will be paperless in the near future.  Why not, it is so much easier, efficient and you can share any folder or file you choose.

In the LABBB Central Office we started going paperless about a year ago. In fact, I would say we are about 80% paperless. We wanted to do this for two main purposes.  It saves time looking for documents, and we have a back up system in place.  The point of going paperless started with the end in mind.  We knew that everyone would be able to access any document from any computer; therefore, it saves time from having to ask someone to get the document or file you want.

How are we doing? At this point I can get most, if not all, documents we need on our cloud system that we use day-to-day.  Many times I have sent people documents that they requested from the “Cloud office” on my Blackberry when I was sitting waiting in the doctor’s office or waiting for a meeting, or on Lake Winnipesaukee looking at the lake. As long as we are able to get an internet connection our office is open! A year ago, if I was at a site and someone asked me for a document I would need to go to my office, ask someone to get the document, and either bring it to the person or fax it.

To go back to print and file with paper would be a step backwards.  Our office is now in the cloud, we don’t have to go to one place to access it, when we want something it comes to us wherever we are.  That is the future.

Technology Tip of the Week: YouTube Video

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Some staff have asked how to post video’s on their blog using a Flip camcorder.  You have two options.  You can upgrade your WordPress account and you will be able to upload video directly to your account or you can use YouTube.  It is free and just because it is YouTube does not mean that the videos are for public viewing.  You can share videos with others and choose if you want it private or public.

 

Here are the steps to convert your video to You Tube and post to your blog.

1.  First you have to create an account which just takes a minute.

Click HERE to create a You Tube account.

2.  After you login, click on the blue link on the top that says, “Upload.”

3. You can upload by doing this directly with the Flip video or you can download the Flip video to your computer and then upload from your computer.  It is just like adding an attachment to your e-mail.

4. After you have uploaded videos to You Tube, choose the video you want to put in your blog post. Below the video look for an icon that says, “embed” click on it and it will give you a code. Copy the code and paste the code into your blog post.  When you preview your post you will see your video in the You Tube format.

Good luck and if you have any questions please contact me.

Let Us Shred For You

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The LABBB Workshop and Training Center is expanding its services for anyone who needs documents shredded.  If you know of anyone who needs this service please contact Janet Paz at the LABBB workshop and Training Center.

Let Us Shred For You

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25 cents per lb.

$10.00 Pick up Fee

No Minimum Fee

Call to schedule a pickup or drop small amounts under (100lbs)

Contact Janet Paz
LABBB Workshop and Training Center

146 Maple Street, Lexington Ma, (Room #7)
781-861-2550 ext. 204
email: Jpaz@labbb.net

Monday – Friday 10:00-1:00