UEN is located at the University of Utah

UEN is located at the University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nearpod for iPads in the Elementary Classroom

Keeping students engaged can be difficult if not impossible.  Perhaps the greatest hurdle for a teacher on a daily basis is to keep your entire class on task, participating, actively thinking and... wait!  Are we off task again?

4th Graders at Oakdale learning about the
Native People of Utah.
If you throw a class set of iPads into the mix chances are you've just given each student approximately two million more things to distract them while you're teaching.  Or did you?  Teachers at Willow Springs and Oakdale Elementary schools are finding the app "Nearpod" for iPads does just the opposite.

Nearpod (available for free in the iTunes store and online at http://www.nearpod.com/) is easy to start using.  Although the app is fantastic for iPad users, it's also available in a web based form at http://ws.nearpod.com/.  Try it with a MacBook lab, Chromebooks, or any web based portable device.  As long as you have internet connection you can have an engaging lesson.By using Nearpod you'll be able to hold their attention and control their screens.  As long as students don't leave the app, you determine what they see!

Step 1: Go to www.nearpod.com and click "Create Account"

Step 2: Complete the form fields required for your new free Nearpod account

Step 3: Watch the short "How Nearpod Works" video to get a preview of how your first lesson will run with students.

Step 4: Now that you're ready to go, browse the Nearpod Content Library available at http://content.nearpod.com/ to find a lesson you can use on your first run of Nearpod.  There are great resources here from LearnZillion, Time4Kids, and more.  Although some resources cost money, there are enough free opportunities for your first few activities.

Step 5:  What are you waiting for?  Fire up your computer or iPad, launch your lesson, and have your students jump in with the unique code that is given at the start of each "NPP", that's short for NearPodPresentation.  Although you might want to present your iPad or computer screen for the whole class, you probably don't have to.  Since all of the content you'll be sharing will appear on each student's device, don't distract them with another big screen.

Step 6:  How did it go?  If you liked it, but think the content library doesn't have exactly what you need for free, don't stress.  You can make your own NPPs with PowerPoint and upload them to your web account.  For directions on this check out the great tutorial available from "Making Tech Simple" at http://www.makingtechsimple.com/nearpod

For more info on how to use NearPod, visit the NearPod Community Blog at http://www.nearpod.com/blog/

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Let's build a "Buncee"!

Check out this exciting and free new web app that allows teachers and students to build interactive digital presentations in a snap.  This tool is great for sending a simple message or creating a full-scale digital story.  Something as complicated as the Gettysburg Address can be shared online with a fun "Buncee".

Much like a PowerPoint Slideshow or Keynote Presentation, a Buncee can be made with slides and images to tell a story.  But unlike the other two programs, a Buncee is free and easy to make online with digital resources straight from the web - images, movies, hyperlinks, and other interactive features can be dropped into the show right from the Buncee website.  Check out this story of Thanksgiving:

Learn more about how to get started building your own Buncee with this short YouTube Video.  Then go to www.buncee.com to make your own free educational account for students and teachers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jordan Valley Super Heroes

The Jordan Valley School in Midvale, Utah is a special place.  Students from all over the Canyons School District attend Jordan Valley in order to receive the individualized education and support that they need due to severe disabilities or a condition that leaves them medically fragile.  There's no question that the teachers and staff at this school are real super heroes.  This month, in fact, we have video to prove it!

During the monthly door decorating contest one team when above and beyond the typical entry and made their classroom an interactive theatrical event.  Check out Kolin North and his Batmobile inside the 4S "Bat Cave". 

CSD Employees - please go to the website www.youtube.com and then click the "Not You" link in the upper right hand corner to override the firewall blocking YouTube.  Refresh this page to see the movie below.


Fixing the "Bug" in SEP Reports

Have you gone into Skyward to begin your SEP Reports and found that your screen starts flashing when you go to do a custom report?  It's not too hard to fix this little bug.  Follow the steps in this quick video and you'll have it up and running in about a minute.

CSD Employees - please go to the website www.youtube.com and then click the "Not You" link in the upper right hand corner to override the firewall blocking YouTube.  Refresh this page to see the movie below.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ComicLife2 Gets Students Excited About Writing

Mrs. Ostvig's 5th Graders at Willow Springs Elementary are learning to use ComicLife2 to support their reading and writing lessons this year.  Using a class set of MacBook Pros these avid readers are starting to make book projects in the form of a one page comic teaser.

This afternoon, just to get started with the program, each student made their own one page summary of the History of Utah.  It was easy for kids to dive into the program by following step-by-step instructions on adding images, speech bubbles, text boxes, and titles.

Lesson Plan:  After a brief discussion about "chunking" text into small readable selections and using images to engage readers, the students were off and running with the ComicLife2 program.

Step 1 - Open the program and select a new comic using the template "Mesa" since it has a nice southwest feel to it, perfect for a comic about Utah.

Step 2 - Edit the title to say "The Story of Utah"

Step 3 - Add a picture of Utah and State Seal to the upper left image block.  Students will need direct instruction on how to find images in the photo finder area by navigating to the folder set up by teacher with images downloaded ahead of time from the web.

Step 4 - Add a picture of Coronado, as well as text bubble and text box.  Students will then require 5-10 minutes of practice time as they learn to resize and adjust text features.  Suggestions for text bubble - "Wow, this place es muy bonita!" or "What a great place to build a ski resort!"

Step 5 - Insert new boxes as place holders for remaining pictures.

Step 6 - More Practice Time! - Let the students explore the program as they learn to resize and move images in order to make the most visually appealing page.  Invite students to also add additional text boxes and speech bubbles where they feel it is most appropriate.  5th graders in Utah have already learned a lot about their state, so let them share their knowledge with interesting facts and points of interest.

Step 7 - Have students save their work and give them a specific location on their computers or school network folder system.  Remind students to save as they go and use the "Command-Z" keyboard shortcut to undo any mistakes.

Step 8 - Explain the difference between saving a ComicLife2 project and exporting an image or PDF.  Allow students the opportunity to both save their project and export the finished product in a file format that they can either email, post online to a LMS like Edmodo or even publish to a blog or website.

If you would like a sample Rubric for this activity, check out this Google Doc.

Friday, September 27, 2013

PowerPoint Presenter View Solution

Have you ever gone to do a PowerPoint presentation and had your projector go to full screen of the slide, but your laptop screen shows a strange "Presenter View"?

Some teachers like this "Presenter View" with snapshots of the next screen and page notes, but others would rather keep things the way they're used to with full screen slide images on their computer.  It's easy to toggle back and forth between the presenter view and full screen on the projector or computer, but how do you put things back to the way they were? (Cue Barbara Streisand)

Step 1:  Click on the "Slideshow" menu item in the top ribbon of your PowerPoint windo.

Step 2:  Change the selection on the right side to "Mirror Show"

Step 3:  Return to "The Way We Were" - as in how the PowerPoint works when presenting, not the song.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Engaging and Exciting Vocabulary Lessons with Prezi

Learning a new vocabulary can be not only difficult, but boring!  Unless you have a background knowledge of the words being used, or an authentic experience to which you can attach these new meanings, it can be a long and tedious process to memorize new spellings and meanings.

With the free online tool Prezi, www.prezi.com, you can break free of the bonds of PowerPoint to create a spinning, eye catching, and attention grabbing visual presentation.  Check out the "Descriptive Words" Prezi below used to introduce adjectives to a group of 4th grade writers.  By breaking down the words based on the human senses they effective, students can then think about the adjectives they are using in their own writing.

Prezi isn't limited to only elementary topics or classrooms.  It can also be used in any subject area or secondary grade level.  The example below demonstrates how a Social Studies class at the middle school level can introduce and review a new set of words for a unit about the Middle East.

Using Prezi is easy.  First set up an account at www.prezi.com with your @CanyonsDistrict.org email.  Then get started with one of the templates and add text boxes for each word.  You can spice it up a little with some images, add links, even videos from YouTube and other online media sites.

To get going with Prezi, check out their three step process at http://prezi.com/support/

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gamify Your Classroom with Quizlet

Video games have been around for decades and their designs have changed the way we think and learn.  To more efficiently and effectively engage today's learners we need to provide an environment with not just competition, but opportunities for collaboration and team building.  Through a framework of "levels" instead of grades, students are more motivated to take risks with their learning if the fear of failure is removed and a sense of accomplishment put in its place.

An interactive flashcard study site like www.quizlet.com is one simple tool you can use to gamify your class.  Create vocabulary activities and games that are easily embeddable like the one below.

After students have a chance to study and play, make the activity competitive with "high scores", champions, or even incorporate badges and rewards from sites like www.classdojo.com and www.classbadges.com.  Quizlet also works well with Learning Management Systems like Canvas, Edmodo, and Moodle; online classes can be incorporated to support a positive and encouraging learning environment.

To learn more about Quizlet, check out http://quizlet.com/help/what-is-quizlet

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Meet The Chromebook!

This is cool - I now have a computer that connects me to all of my Google Docs, Gmail, Blogger Blogs, YouTube videos and everything else I need online.  It feels sleek and light, it's easy to use - wait a minute.  This isn't easy to use.  It feels backwards.

 I'm a MacBook user and this Chromebook touchpad is opposite.  I just got used to the two-finger push for scrolling through pages, now I have to pull.  I can't interact in two different realities - an APU Apple Push Universe and a CPW Chrome Pull World at the same time!  I made up those acronyms.  Acronyms make me feel smart, or MMFS.

No worries (Australian Idiom intended, mate).  There is a simple fix on the Chromebook that will allow you to set your touchpad to behave like the one on the MacBook.

1.  In Chrome, click the menu button (little box with three lines) in the upper right hand corner of your screen.

2.  Choose "Settings" from the Chrome OS menu on the left of the screen
3.  Scroll down to the "Device" section and click on the "Touchpad settings" button
4.  Select "Australian scrolling"

Now that your Chromebook touchpad works just like the MacBook you spent so much time getting used to you can relax and "throw a couple shrimp on the barbie!"

This menu area is where you can also toggle between enabling "tap to-click" and also adjust touchpad speed.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Use Animoto to Kick Off the First Day of School

It's the first day of school and students are entering the classroom with anxious excitement.  What you do in the next 3 minutes could determine their attitude toward not only the first day of school, but maybe the entire school year.  Will it be fun? Will we learn a lot?  Will I have homework every night?

Get off on the right foot with an energizing, captivating, and motivational movie that you made in a snap with www.animoto.com.  The process is fast, easy, and free if you're a teacher.  To get started just make an account using your school system email address.  Then go to http://animoto.com/education/classroom while you're still logged in and upgrade your free account to a 6-month educator account for free.  With this free upgrade you'll be able to make full length movies and even set up student accounts to use with your class.

Now you're ready to make a movie!  All you need are some pictures or short video clips, creative thinking, and 10-15 minutes to pick out a theme and music.  Upload your content to Animoto or connect one of your online accounts like Google Picassa or Flickr.  Pick out music from the Animoto selection or upload one of your own favorite tunes from your computer.

When you're done, you'll end up with something like this short video made for first year middle school students.

Sharing an Animoto video is easy too.  You can post a simple link to the movie page, share it on Facebook or Twitter, or use the ready made embed code to publish in your web page or blog.

For step by step directions you can always visit the Animoto Help page at http://animoto.com/#how-animoto-works

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mike H from Maryland

"1 in 3", the title of the challenge given to the EdTech team at Canyons School District.  During our yearly retreat to prepare for the new school year, each Ed Tech was asked to share one of their passions in three minutes or less.

This is what I had to say...
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

License to Drive: Collaboration in the Cloud with Google

Join me this afternoon, August 6th, from 2:15-4:00 at Brighton High School for the Flip'in Utah Conference where I'll be sharing tips and tricks on how teachers can use Google Drive to support their flipped classrooms.

Check out the Google Presentation at

This presentation was inspired by and includes materials from the Maryland GAFE Summit and specifically Michael Wacker, "Google Drive: Your Workflow in the Cloud”
Available at http://goo.gl/XLjKz

From the Flip'in Utah Conference flyer -
Google Docs is a freeware web-based office suite offered by Google. Learn to create and edit documents, spreadsheet, forms, and presentations to collaborate teacher-to-teacher, teacher to student, and student to student. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

First Day Jitters

I didn't want to be late on my first day so I ironed my pants the night before.  Waiting for the iron to warm up I worry about whether or not I should wear a tie on the first day.  Is it better to bring my lunch or do people go out to eat?  Will there be any seats on the school bus?  It almost feels like I'm a kid on my way to the first day at a new school, and it should.  It's my first day with a new school system.  Everyone knows each other already but nobody knows me.  And apparently I didn't know that most people don't wear ties.  Strike One.

It looks like I need to learn a whole new vocabulary in a language of which I thought I was already fluent.  Words and phrases like "launch pad", SkyWard, and Base Camp are thrown around in casual conversation but it takes my brain an extra second to translate.  Launch Pad?  That's what we call the office.  SkyWard?  That's the student management system.  Base Camp?  An online project management app.

Here's the best one - "VPP Account".  VPP stands for "Volume Purchase Program", it's how you buy multiple licenses for Apple iOS Apps for a school iPad lab or set of teacher devices.  Now here's the best part - it's not all that hard to use.

None of these things are really new to me.  I know how to use a MacBook, iPad, Google Drive and Outlook Express.  This is just like a home, the acronyms are just a little different.  And one more thing - looking out any window reminds me I now live in the most beautiful place in the world.  Breathe.

After meeting with a couple of Principals and hearing about the challenges, problems and successes in their schools I realize this is just like anywhere else.  There is a community of educators working with a community of parents to educate the community's children.  I may be the new guy, but I have some fresh ideas and can't wait to share them.  I like hearing about the different ways to do business.  I want to learn more about how I can contribute.  This is an opportunity to grow.

Thank you Utah.

I'm happy I'm here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Journey to Utah

It's time to pack up the U-Haul and move the whole family across country!
Check out photos, maps, and stories of adventure on my blog "Hakks2Utah"

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Out with the old...

Logo for Frederick County Public Schools, Frederick County, Maryland
...and in with the new.  

This blog will serve as a new version and continuation of the Michael Hakkarinen, FCPS Technology Resource Teacher blog that I maintained from 2006-2013 at the site http://education.fcps.org/trt/blogs/michaelhakkarinen

My final year with FCPS has seen the reorganization of Frederick County Public Schools Technology Services, and my relocation to the Canyons School District in Sandy, Utah.  Despite these changes, I am fortunate to have an opportunity to continue to support the use of emerging technologies in public education.

As a "Technology Resource Teacher" in Maryland I provided coaching and support to elementary, middle, and high school teachers and staff.  Working across grade levels provided a vision of the spectrum of instructional technology.  It was invigorating to start a day with a class of Kindergarteners using Promethean Boards, and end the day with high school students filming and editing their own movies.
Logo for Canyons School District, Sandy, Utah
Along with schools, "TRTs" were also assigned to curriculum specialists and district level supervisors.  Combining forces between instructional technology and curriculum allowed for many applications to be directly embedded in our county wide instructional practices.  Over the years we began to package lessons at the elementary level into ActivInspire flipcharts, link online tools through the FCPS WebLinks site, and collaborate between subject areas with a variety of Web 2.0 tools.

As of July 2013 I will be joining the "Ed Tech Team" at Canyons School District.  For the first year I will be providing instructional technology support, coaching, and professional development for the following schools:
Midvalley Elementary
Oakdale Elementary
Willow Springs Elementary

In addition to joining the staff at each of these schools, I'm also excited to be working with the entire Ed Tech Team with district wide projects and professional development courses with "Mac for Education", Canvas, iPads, Google Apps, and a pilot program using Chrome Books.

Please contact me with any questions at michael.hakkarinen@canyonsdistrict.org and follow me on Twitter @EdTecHakk