A Historical Reflection of the Evolution of Technology

It was March of  2011.  I had just returned from maternity leave after my second child.  The day of my return was a teacher institute day.  It was a great way to ease into my return.  You see, I had spent most of the winter in the house with a little one and didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the world.  A world that had just released the first iPad.

The focus of this institute day was technology.  Our district had just purchased iPods for the library at each school and we were learning how to use them.  Later, we also got to try out some iPads as well!  The day was mostly structured as a demonstration of apps that we could use at our grade level.  We talked about how a game such as Bert’s Bag taught kindergarten students 1:1 math skills.  My colleague (fellow writer Nicole Ring) was sitting behind me and was beyond excited.  If Amazon Prime had existed right then, I think an iPad would have been delivered with two-hour delivery right then and there to the school.  However, she was able to wait until that evening before purchasing her own personal iPad.  Excitement in the room was high and enthusiasm about these new devices was visible at our inservice and in the days beyond.

The following year, a school set of iPads were purchased.  That summer, before leaving, each teacher got their OWN iPad to play on and learn with over the summer.  The joy and excitement continued throughout the next year.  Over the next three years, nearly every inservice was about technology.  We were always learning something new and exciting.  Teachers were beginning to move through the SAMR model.  It started with substitution, and moved to augmentation.  Some teachers stopped there, some were able to progress to modification and redefinition (check out our books for a better understanding of the SAMR model and its significance).

Then came curriculum changes, leadership changes, Common Core, and about a million other things (no surprise to you teachers reading this!).  Thus, the deep instruction on technology began to fade, even as the district became one to one.  Additionally, in the last three years, over ⅓ of 300 teachers in the district have 5 years of experience or less.  Meaning that many of our teachers were handed an iPad for themselves and a classroom full of iPads with little to no direct instruction or guidance.  While many new, young teachers were born when technology was readily available,  the instruction on ways to meaningfully use technology was minimal.  This left most new teachers having to  figure out how to use iPads in the classroom in a meaningful way on their own.  

My hope is that by reading this, you will remember that we cannot assume our newest teachers know how to integrate technology in a meaningful way.  Even veteran teachers continue to need refreshers on how to continue to evolve in their use of technology in the classroom.  So please, I ask you, as you continue in your technology quest, to continue to teach new teachers, and veterans, how to use technology in a meaningful way that will build and enhance the wonderful learning that is already happening in the classroom.

Beth Hatlen


NOW Classrooms Book Series Press Release


Twenty-Seven Educational Experts from Across the Nation Share Best Practices for Using Technology in Classrooms

Bloomington, IN (November 1, 2017)—The NOW Classrooms series, published by Solution Tree, presents classroom-ready lessons that support the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students. Educators can use the lessons, which are grounded in the essential four C skills—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity—to connect technology to key learning outcomes and prepare learners to succeed in the 21st century.

“My books are written with the classroom teacher in mind and contain strategies that are practical and easy to implement in the classroom,” explained author Meg Ormiston. “The tech-rockstar teachers get everything quickly and are racing on to the next tip, app or tool. Most teachers need more time to practice as they familiarize themselves with various digital tools—I write for these teachers.”

The books are organized by grade bands of K–2, 3–5, 6–8 and 9–12. Each book’s chapters are divided into several sections containing three lessons each—one novice lesson, one operational lesson and one wow lesson (spelling out “NOW”)—that readers can choose from, based on their experience with the technology and their students’ needs. The series also includes a leader’s guide, which outlines a flexible framework for driving instructional innovation schoolwide or districtwide.

Carole Colburn, a technology teacher at Highlander Way Middle School in Michigan, praised NOW Classrooms, Grades 6–8, stating, “I love this book and how the authors organized it around the ISTE standards, including terrific lesson ideas that teachers can immediately implement in any middle school classroom. It is a great resource, and I highly recommend it for any middle school teacher who wants to create a classroom environment full of engaged, 21st-century thinkers and learners!”

Readers interested in getting technology updates from the authors can follow #NowClassrooms on Twitter or Facebook.

The NOW Classrooms series is available to order at SolutionTree.com.

Books in the NOW Classrooms Series

NOW Classrooms, Grades K–2

By Meg Ormiston, Beth Hatlen, Kristy Hopkins, Kirstin McGinnis, Lissa Blake and Nicole Ring

NOW Classrooms, Grades 3–5

By Meg Ormiston, Sheri De Carlo, Sonya Raymond, Grace Kowalski and Justin Gonzalez

NOW Classrooms, Grades 6–8

By Meg Ormiston, Lauren Slanker, Jennifer Lehotsky, Megan K. Flaherty, Janice Conboy and Whitney Cavanagh

NOW Classrooms, Grades 9–12

By Meg Ormiston, Scott D. Parker, Tom Lubbers, Gretchen Fitzharris, Ellen K. Lawrence and Katie N. Aquino

NOW Classrooms, Leader’s Guide

By Meg Ormiston, Cathy Fisher, Jamie Reilly, Courtney Orzel, Jordan Garrett, Robin Bruebach, Steve M. Griesbach and Becky Fischer

About Solution Tree

For nearly 20 years, Solution Tree (https://www.solutiontree.com) has worked to transform education worldwide, empowering educators to raise student achievement. With more than 30,000 educators attending professional learning events and more than 4,260 professional development days in schools each year, Solution Tree helps teachers and administrators confront essential challenges in schools. Solution Tree has a catalog of 515 titles, hundreds of videos and online courses and is the creator of Global PD, an online tool that facilitates the work of professional learning communities. Follow @SolutionTree on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about Solution Tree.


Solution Tree

Erica Dooley-Dorocke


800.733.6786 ext. 247




How to Make, Scan, and Use QR Codes

There are hundreds of websites that make QR codes. But how do you know which one to use? And which apps are the best for scanning? And what are QR codes used for in the classroom? You’ll learn how to do all this in the next few paragraphs.

To make a QR code, first you need to find a website. There are a lot of them out there. Some require you to sign in and others are just plain bad. The one I used is called QR Code Generator. (A lot of them are called QR Code Generator though, so you’ll scan a QR code to get the ULR.) First you chose what your QR code will open up when you scan it. You can choose from websites, locations, contacts and text though there are more to chose. Pick your designated material and type in what you want to. Once you do that, find the QR on the right side of the page. Underneath it you’ll find two options: embed and download. Press download. Then some options will pop up. You can change the border, background, and foreground. But if you want to download it, find the four options of downloading in the bottom right corner. You can use any of the options but I used PNG, or image. When you click it, the finished QR code will pop up on a new page. If you’re doing this on an iPad (like me) just press and hold until save image appears. Press that. Your QR will be in your photos. You’ve just successfully made a QR code!

To scan a QR code, you first need a scanning app. Scan is a suggested app. Aim your iPad at the QR code so the square on the screen surrounds the QR. When it successfully scans the code, what ever you just scanned will pop up. Go to the website, read the text, or watch the video.

QR codes are a fun way to convey information. Whether you want to send them a link without emailing it to all of them or you want to do a picture walk without everyone getting up. They’re  also perfect in Breakout EDUs.

Now that you have the basics, you can do anything you want.

Scan this QR code for the ULR .

Written by: Sophie, former 6th grade student

Posted by: Whitney Cavanagh, 6th grade teacher @MrsCavanagh8                      & Janice Conboy, kindergarten teacher and former 6th grade teacher @Mrs_Conboy


Leaders: How are you modeling use of technology?

Educational leaders are often called upon to plan and facilitate professional development, team meetings, and other events that require engaging the audience in learning and/or collaborating.  This provides a wonderful opportunity to show staff various methods of using technology, and place them in the position to feel the effects!  Below are a few ways I have used technology:


This free online tool has a variety of applications!  During instructional coaching meetings, each coach posts her celebrations to a Padlet.  Team members read the celebrations and are invited to ask questions to learn more about the post.  At the end of the year, we have a record of where we started, and where we ended up.  At a recent meeting for new staff, a Padlet was set up for posting questions.  Columns with headers included categories for questions, and participants added their “posts” below the corresponding header.  During the meeting answers were added.  This provides a place for new staff to refer back to as the information is needed.

Google Docs

Part of my role as an administrator calls for conducting informal observations.  At the start of each school year, I create a new Google Doc to record informal observations and provide comment access to staff being evaluated.  Sometimes the coaches I evaluate will send me video of their meetings with teachers and request feedback.  I link their video to the Google Doc, adding feedback and items to consider.  Then, we use the comments feature to communicate.   This method provides a record for me and the staff being evaluated to refer back to, and a meaningful way to document growth throughout the year.

Earlier today I facilitated a middle school social studies department meeting where we needed to examine our grade level priority standards and how they vertically align.  Accessing a Google Doc for each grade level and accessing another for the vertical 6-8 look allowed for quick and easy collaboration.  Staff were able to refer to their grade level doc, edit the 6-8 doc, and include additional information that will inform our upcoming curriculum revision work.


This social media tool helps me to share information and celebrate what I want to see more of for students.  I follow other educators and experts in the industry, re-tweeting their helpful ideas and sometimes tagging staff members I know would benefit or are interested.  Often times during professional development I tweet out pictures of what participants are doing and learning.  By following many of the educators I work with, I am able to see what students are doing and share it with others.  It has also been a nice surprise to see how digital connections can morph into human ones- I have been in multiple settings, including a yoga class, where I have met new educators simply because we follow one another on Twitter!


Please share some of the ways you use technology with your staff in the comments below!


Written by: Becky Fischer


There is No Quitting!

“That’s it!  I’m done.  No more Technology – I don’t get it, my students don’t get – I certainly can’t use it to teach.”  

That was my 8am “Good Morning” from a talented teacher as I walked into the teacher lounge.  

I am an Instructional Coach and my primary role is to work with my fellow teachers to support student learning and growth – many times utilizing “technology” as a tool to enhance the student experience. After all, we are a 1:1 district.  Strategically, my goal is to coordinate efforts with teachers in our district with a focus on the development and implementation of instructional strategies in all content areas and to support effective planning, instruction, and assessment for learning.

I have been her coach for the last 5 years.   When I heard this – I thought of so many different ways to respond:  

  • “Oh, that stinks!”
  • “I’m sorry to hear that.”
  • “Having a bad day?”


Instead, I looked at this teacher and said, “NO! You are not allowed to say that. You can go to a corner and scream into a pillow all you want, but you won’t quit!”

She looked at me and….laughed!

We all need to remember that there are going to be times we want to pull our hair out, say “the kids can’t do it”, and “I quit!”  In these moments we need to remember we have a choice!

We have a choice to continue to learn or give up.

We have a choice to challenge ourselves to be better or take the easy way out and quit.

This teacher’s choice…She chose the opportunity to get better and continue to move forward!

We sat down later that week and talked about all the ways she can continue to use technology with her students to engage them in their learning. Ideas such as using “Explain Everything” to show what they are thinking in math or students creating books about the science unit they are studying using “Book Creator”.

Sometimes all we need is a good idea or direction on where to begin.  No doubt, all of these changes in today’s education process can be overwhelming.  I am here to tell you that is “OK!”    You are not alone in your frustration, your fading confidence or your feelings that you will never “get it.”  

Our book, NOW Classrooms K-2-Lessons for Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Technology, will help you get started! We aren’t promising that you won’t have frustrations, but we are promising your kids will be engaged in the meaningful lessons we share and you will have a starting point!

Now, go be brave and try something new! You and your students can do it!  

Even if it means you might spend a minute or two in the corner of your room while screaming in a pillow!

Post by Nicole Ring, instructional coach


Reading is a “SMASHING” Good Time!

Technology can be a powerful tool for communication and learning if used properly within the classroom.  Recently a teacher told me, “If teachers aren’t using Seesaw, they are really missing out!”  Whether is it Seesaw or another Learning Management System, the ability to share learning with families at home, peers and teachers, is a strategy worth trying.

In my new role as Reading Specialist, I am able to see many different ways in which teachers in a 1:1 iPad district use technology in a meaningful way.

One fun way to integrate reading, writing and art is through app smashing.  In a first grade classroom that I was recently in, the teacher read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  The students then talked about verbs.  The teacher wrote down the words that students brainstormed on the board.  She then took the following picture and uploaded it to Seesaw explaining the lesson to parents at home:

After the brainstorming a lesson on verbs, the students were asked to take a leaf and create a picture of a “Leaf Man” and show him acting out one of the verbs of their choice.  Students then wrote a sentence about their “Leaf Man” using the verb of their choice describing their picture.


Then came the fun part.  App smashing!  Combining two apps at once!  The students opened up ChatterPix and and took a photo of their picture.  They read their sentence as if they were the “Leaf Man” talking.

It turned out like this:


Student says: “I’m throwing a ball.”

The students then downloaded their video to their camera roll, and uploaded it to Seesaw to share with their families and teacher.  

What a powerful way to learn about verbs in a meaningful way!   Read-aloud, art, writing, reading and technology, all rolled into one.  Now THAT is a powerful lesson!

To learn more about app smashing, check out our NOW Classroom books!

Mirroring Early Math Concepts

Exploring and playing with manipulatives is one way that our students start to develop an understanding of shapes, counting, patterning, sorting, and other early math concepts. At the beginning of the year each year, I give my students time to just play with the manipulatives we have and I observe.  You can learn so much from seeing how they build, organize, and communicate about their work.  Some kids like to sort objects, some like to make patterns, and some stack things high into the sky. All of these are valuable experiences for both the student and his/her peers.

Fast forward to mid-year, when we break out the manipulatives again, this time to be used with our iPads.  We work in partner centers to design with tangrams and mirror those designs on our iPads.  Partners design patterns with tangrams on the table and then use the tangram objects on the iPad to mirror their designs.  This helps the kids with motor planning, creativity, and communication. They make larger shapes and designs form smaller shapes. They manipulate the objects and challenge themselves.  Most importantly, the students communicate with each other, describing what they made and how to mirror the image on the tangram app.

We complete a similar activity with our rubber bands and geoboards. I just love watching my kids problem solve and figure out the app without my explicit instruction.  So much of kids learning to work with technology and make it applicable to their learning is allowing them time for play.  When they play, they make connections and their learning can expand, allowing many students to innovate beyond our expectations.

How do your students connect and collaborate over tech use in your classroom?  Do you mesh hands-on activities and tech?

Post by former kindergarten teacher turned instructional coach Kirstin McGinnis


Book Reviews and Reflection

Writing five books at the same time with 26 co-authors has been a crazy journey! We thought the writing was the hard part, then we tackled the editing. All the major work on our end is done, and today I found some of the reviews on Amazon from educators that were sent preview copies of the text.
It is great to see that our major message of instructional goals first and then technology came through in their reviews! Also, words like practical, ready-to-implement, invaluable resource, great guidance as well as inspirational, and growth mindset. My favorite so far “NOW Classrooms, Leader’s Guide is a must-read for anyone in classroom technology leadership. This book can easily become a foundational guide in any institution looking for innovative approaches to teaching and learning.”
Maybe all the late night editing was worth it! I am so proud of our #NOWclassrooms team!

Rules, Routines, Procedures…….and Technology!?!

Wow! What a start to the school year! With just me and 23 little kinders life can be kind of crazy as I am sure many teachers can relate to.  We have spent so much time learning the rules and routines of the classroom and now it’s time to start the learning! But I often wonder….did I spend enough time on those routines?  It sometimes seems that the first month is not enough and that is just talking about how to be a student.  And now they want me to use technology too!?! More routines and procedures to teach! …..well that’s how I felt my first year with one to one devices! My opinion has certainly changed since that first day but it took some time.

Technology is no different when it comes to school.   While technology is present in many of our student’s lives it looks different at school than when we are using technology at home.  I now embrace using technology in the classroom after seeing all the learning that can occur and would love nothing more than to dive in right where I left off last year but I need to remind myself to take a step back.   To really use technology in the classroom and be successful at it, you need to set up the routines and procedures  before even putting devices in students hands and my new Kinders don’t have any of that set up yet.  So start slow! And know that it is ok to start slow.   A very wise administrator once told me that spending 6 weeks (if not more) reviewing those routines and procedures is ok! Be sure to include technology in that timeline.  It seems like it should be so easy just to give them all the ipads and let them go but it can certainly prove to be more challenging than expected.   As I am writing this post,  I am having flashbacks to a few years ago and can hear all my little Kinders with hands in the air waiting, ever so patiently…..or not, as I make my way around the room, wishing I would have taken more time before the activity to explain expectations.  I encourage you to take the time and set your year up for success so you don’t have 23 hands waving at you!

As I am writing this post,  I am having flashbacks to a few years ago and can hear all my little Kinders with hands in the air waiting, ever so patiently…..or not, as I make my way around the room, wishing I would have taken more time before the activity to explain expectations.  I encourage you to take the time and set your year up for success so you don’t have 23 hands waving at you!

So all that being said, what should we do to set our year up for success when it comes to using technology.   When working with our youngest learners we need to make sure our expectations are very clear.  I love using anchor charts and pictures to explain what our ipads are used for, our rules when using them, and even how to fix technology glitches.   You can find many of these anchor charts in the K-3 series book as well as many other tips for setting up technology in your room!

Of course as your year goes on, there will probably be glitches but I can guarantee if you take the time in the beginning to set up the expectations, your year will end up being a success!

Wishing you a wonderful and glitch free school year!

Kristy Hopkins