FETC: Key Ingredients for Blended Learning

These are my notes from the “Key Ingredients for Blended Learning” session at the 2016 FETC conference.


  • Marcia Kish, blended learning coach
  • Taught 2nd grade, then took job with Apple after iPad came out.
  • Started a high school titled “Learning without Limits” in Ohio.
  • Success is not a straight line, it is a squiggly path.
  • https://www.youtube.com/user/kishmarcia
  • Great full color Blended Learning Cookbook handout.

The Four C’s

  • Collaboration.
  • Creation.
  • Creativity.
  • Critical thinking.


  • Screen has mnemonic for password: urban figs part doubtful mice.
  • Requires a Google authentication.
  • Like Nearpod, but presenter says this one is way better.
    Slide had map of US, have students drag hearts, stars, and flags about places where you were born, currently live, or would like to visit.
  • Insert how miles from here you were born, which creates a graph.
  • Multiple choice: what subject do you teach, which creates a realtime graph, used for group creation.

Blended Learning Rotations

  1. My group – has used blended learning before.
    • Two grids sets of 4 squares, we discussed two questions and filled out the grids.
  2. 2nd rotation: in packet, read page 1 and then fill out chart on page 10.
    • My answers for page 10:
      • What is blended learning?: students work at their own pace, work in separate places, and are grouped using data.
      • What blended learning is not: students in rows, all doing busy work.
  3. 3rd rotation: go to Blended Learning Cookbook.com and watch the videos. Videos are created using Zaption.

Blended Learning Rounds

  • Picture on screen shows a grid of student jobs.
  • Unlink “blended learning rotations”, this time there is no timer.
  • Had participants sort ourselves by tech savyness.

My group (rated ourselves as a 10 as tech savyness)

  • We got to pick a topic to work on, so I looked at Peardeck. I was very disappointed in how expensive it was, and it seems very limited.
    • It flattened PowerPoints as images.
    • Coolest features were really expensive.
  • I then looked at Nearpod and it worked much better.


  • She recommends Educannon and Zaption, which allow you to add questions to YouTube to stop students at key points in the video to answer questions.
  • Go Formative, looks like another way to collect data from students.
  • During tech projects, she has designated students run a Genius Bar to help other students.
  • Power My Learning – federal program for finding projects.
  • No Red Ink – help students with grammar.
  • Quizizz, like Kahoot, but students go at their own pace. It ranks students as they answer questions and they watch their avatar move up and down.

FETC: Build your Grant Writing Toolkit

These are my notes from the “Build your Grant Writing Toolkit” session at the 2016 FETC conference.


Creating the Dream

  • Grant writing is the same as fiction writing.
  • Elevator pitch – short abstract of the proposal.
  • Think about who benefits.
  • Don’t write just an equipment list. Think about what is going to change.
  • Draft your dream in a few sentences:
    Students will use mobile technology as a daily part of their education. Teachers will take advantage of the equipment to not only augment the learning, but also to transform the way that students learn. Students would have a high enough access to technology that obtaining devices for a lesson or project poses an insignificant obstacle to the teacher. Technology would be accessible in a manner that students can pull out devices on short notice.
  • Build a dream team.
    • Find a critical friend to help edit.
    • Work with community partners, such as a local business that will provide food during meetings.
  • Find research to support your dream.
  • Make a shopping list.
  • Develop a rough budget.
  • Check in with principal or district office.
  • Think about indirect costs. There may be requirements to include this.
  • You might be able to find an organization that will match costs.


  • Think about student population
    • Racial %
    • Gender %
    • ELL %
    • Free/reduced lunch %
    • What is unique about your population?
  • Get photos of the reality that needs to change.
  • You might need to do the math to convert raw numbers to percentages.
  • If demographic numbers are atypical for a particular year, it should be explained within the grant.
  • Is state data up to date? Maybe someone will double-check your work, but they are using out of date data.


  • Why you can do it.
  • Resume: 1-2 pages
  • Biography: 100-250 words, written as a narrative. Have 3 versions, {72, 130 340} word versions
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV): detailed, multiple pages. Might need a table of contents. There might be rules that the CV has to be customized for every grant.
  • Prove that you handled money and didn’t go to jail.
  • Write your 100-word biography.

Finding Funding

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do: read closely what you can pay for an how much, especially funds for meals.
  • Don’t: spend grant money on alcohol.
  • Do: find out if training requirements meet contract. Do you need union approval?

After a Grant

  • How many students benefitted?
  • What were the barriers to success?
  • Keep detailed records of spending.
  • Set up an evaluation timeline.
  • Write thank you letters, and get students to write them to!
  • Share what you learned with others.

FETC: Makerspace-in-a-Box

These are my notes from the “Makerspace-in-a-Box” session at the 2016 FETC conference.



  • We have always been makers.
  • Build your inner-duck. No too are alike!
  • If all projects are the same, you have taught your students a recipe. This comes from telling students exactly how many slides to have in their PowerPoint.
  • They created a series of boxes. Each one has materials for 1 or 2 challenges. Directions in included in each box, or students can access online with a QR code.

Paper Circuits

Activating a paper circuit
Activating a paper circuit.

Squishy Circuits

Lighting up a squishy circuit.
Lighting up a squishy circuit.

Makey Makey

Making a fruit piano with a Makey Makey
Making a fruit piano with a Makey Makey


A wearable LED button
A wearable LED button

FETC: Building a Blended Learning Toolkit

These are my notes from the “Building a Blended Learning Toolkit” session at the 2016 FETC conference.


Blended Learning

  • Students can review what happened in class.
  • Give every access. Teachers need to learn how to get the technology work for us.
  • Can incorporate all of the stakeholders, including parents and administrators, so they know what is happening in your class.
  • Enables differentiation. “Finally!”



  • http://nearpod.com or download the app
  • Nearpod Presentation
  • Looks like a slideshow of static images.
  • Can post a question for the students to respond to. Presenter is able to select specific responses from a list to post on the screen.
  • A slide with images of computers, tablets, cell phones etc., directions say to circle the devices you use most with students.
  • Create reports of how students responded to questions. (Also, she was able to embed a pdf in the presentation.) Display a pie chart of the results to students.
  • SAMR Model
    • Substitution
    • Augmentation (technology is added in, but not essential to the task)
    • Modification
    • Redefinition (task could not be done without technology)
  • Can send links to students that automatically open on their device. Or just make links that students can click on.
  • Embed movies
  • Import a PowerPoint
  • Launch a homework session
    • Asynchronous – students move at own pace.
    • A participant suggested looking at Office Mix

Haiku Deck

  • https://www.haikudeck.com
  • Create simple slideshows. One theme per presentation and a short list of slide layouts.
  • Search for a Creative Content image within app to embed.
  • $5 a month for educators.


Explain Everything


Google Classroom


How to make all of the tools work together.


  • http://weebly.com
  • Drag and drop elements to create a web site.
  • Easily embed images from Getty Images.
  • Look for the embed symbol </> to insert embeds from other sites, such as embedding a Nearpod.



Using Pandoc to Convert html Files

A few days ago, I wrote about batch converting video files using ffmpeg. A few days later, I faced a similar problem of needing to convert a directory of .html files. “Need” is perhaps too strong of a word. I was experimenting with how to save pages from a PBworks wiki.

PBworks allows the user the download a .zip file of all of the pages from a wiki.[1] My downloaded backup contained 44 .html files, many of which were nested into subfolders. Instead of figuring out to recursively loop thought the subfolders, I used a find command, which searches subfolders by default. In my script below, the find command is inserted using command substitution. The converted files are saved to the original subdirectory, keeping .html in the filename, but adding .md as the file extension.

I tried out two scripts to do the text conversion. First, I tried html2text, which worked great. Out of curiosity, I also tried using Pandoc. I ended up preferring how Pandoc formatted the final Markdown text. However, one feature of html2text I liked was the option to use --ignore-links, since most of the links were relative to the PBworks domain and would be broken when used offline. I decided it might be useful to see where the original link pointed to, so I decided to skip the --ignore-link option.

Here is the script I created:

 1  #!/bin/bash
 3  # Usage: html2md /path/to/file
 5  # Set $IFS so that filenames with spaces don't break the loop
 7  IFS=$(echo -en "nb")
 9  # Loop through path provided as argument
10  for x in $(find $@ -name '*.html')
11  do
12      pandoc -f html -t markdown -o $x.md $x
13  done
15  # Restore original $IFS

Line 6 is necessary so that the script will work with filenames that contain spaces. The trick, as suggested in a Linux forum, is to set the internal field separator not to use spaces.[2]

  1. For a paid account, PBworks allows the user to download all pages, past revisions and files, but I was using a free account.  ↩

  2. A discussion at Stack Overflow suggests a similar fix using IFS=$'n', but I found I still needed b at the end for my script to work.  ↩

Using ffmpeg to Convert Video Files

Recently, my wife had students in her library create Photostory projects. This wasn’t her first choice of applications for a student project, but the Mac lab was in use for testing. Photostory outputs .wmv files, but my wife wanted to be able to merge the files using iMovie so that teachers could cue up one movie on their classroom presentation stations, which are Macs.

My wife thought she would need to use a service such as Zamzar to convert the files from .wmv into a format that iMovie could import, which seemed like a tedious, impractical task. I thought that perhaps ffmpeg, a command line tool, could help.

I found a Stack Exchange article that suggested this syntax to convert .wmv to mp4:

ffmpeg -i input.wmv -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -c:a libfaac -q:a 100 output.mp4  

I then created the following script to automate the process:


for x in $@
    ffmpeg -i $x -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -c:a libfaac -q:a 100 ${x}.mp4

Thus, using wmv-convert * would loop through all of the files in a directory, converting all .wmv files to .mp4, while keeping the same base filenames.

Each file took several minutes to convert, but I was able run the loop during dinner. Then my wife was able to merge the files using iMovie later that evening.