Pages

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lessons from Summer 2014

Everyone is a life-long learner....whether they admit to it or not. Each day we have experiences which can be internalized as life lessons, saved as priceless memories, or pushed to the side as obstacles or distractions from our "real lives". These experience--whether great or small--are added to our core beliefs, affect future decisions and experiences and makes us "who we really are".  This summer I learned things both great and small, silly and (to me) profound:




1. Never wear a tight black dress to the Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse. It won't really fit when you walk out the door! Choose something that has elastic...or at least room to expand!





2. The best time to take a picture of the Alamo is between sunrise and 7:00 a.m. Your only competition will be morning joggers (who ate too much at the Chama Gaucha Steakhouse the night before!).



3. Teachers that spend time in the summer preparing and planning are actually more psychologically and physically prepared for the beginning of the new school year!
Notice there's no picture???

This summer I was blessed to present several workshops around the state and kept meeting great teachers from all grade levels, school sizes and backgrounds that had one thing in common: they planned and organized during the summer for the upcoming school year. This preparation wasn't done for "comp days" or forced professional development. These teachers just have an internal drive, a personal "back-channel" that continually plans, creates and thinks about the classroom. This isn't just about decorating or choosing a new theme either but involves those critical structures that affect functionality and instruction in the classroom. Yes, these teachers DO have personal lives. Teaching, however, is more than just a job to them. It is part of who they are. They just can't help themselves! So, they are the ones first back to the classroom with a new theme or decor, but also with new lessons and ideas for instruction. Newness incites and excites! It energizes! These teachers are prepared and ready to return.

So, I don't have a picture of this--a way to capture this lesson, but measuring a teacher's readiness has long been elusive. The MET Project spent zillions of dollars and still can't really define what makes a great teacher great or even begin to imbue into others this secret power.

Still, just as I know not to wear a tight dress to a Brazilian Steakhouse, I  know that teachers who prepare and plan during the summer, teachers with this deep-seated personal drive, are far more prepared and energized to meet the new year.
Deep down, you believe it too!
After all, who would you want teaching your child??

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wanted: Disruptive Innovators

Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger recently received Chief Executive magazine's "2014 CEO of the Year" award. The magazine outlined the tremendous hurdles Iger had encountered after becoming CEO of Disney in 2005 and described his three-pronged approach for dealing with these issues.

1. Invest most of the company's capital in creating high-quality, branded content and experiences
2. Embrace technology and use it aggressively to enhance the quality of products, and this the consumer experience
3. Get closer to customers by becoming more efficient as a company

My favorite quotes from the article:
"Technology had to become a significant middle name for the company."
"...transformative change was not expected from an insider..."

In a related article in Bloomberg, Iger was commended on his stewardship of Disney by a member of the selection committee as being "...a disruptive innovator in taking the entertainment industry to another level using media and new technology."

The lesson in all of this for me: to continue to be successful, even Disney had to change with the times!


I believe most people would agree with the three following statements:
  • Technology is changing our daily personal lives.
  • Technology is here to stay.
  • Technology is going to keep changing at an ever increasing rate.
Now ask teachers these questions:
  • Is technology changing the way you teach daily?
  • Is technology in your classroom to stay?
  • Are you going to keep updating the way you use technology in the classroom?
Suddenly, there is a fracturing of the faith, and a wall of resistance of various degrees becomes apparent:
  • That's not the way we've always done it.
  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  • We have state accountability assessments.
  • No time. We are too busy!
Perhaps educators need "technology" to become our  "middle name"
Perhaps education needs transformative change from the insiders
Perhaps educators all need to become "disruptive innovators"!
After all, even education has to change with the times.

I encourage you to read the complete article in Chief Executive Magazine: "How Bob Iger Remade the House that Walt Built".  It talks about vision, the value of failure and honesty and more. A great read!


.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Shout-Out to Whispercast!!


The name "Whispercast" almost seems like a secret, but I'd like to give a shout-out to this free online tool from Amazon! Whispercast was designed to manage Kindles in order for eBooks to be "pushed" to end-users  in an organization . In short, it is the "Apple Configurator" for Kindle. However, Whispercast can be used at a much more basic level to make free eBooks readily available for students at absolutely no cost. All you need are devices that have the Kindle app and a little time for set up.


  • Create a Whispercast account 
  • Add multiple users to the account by downloading a simple template & creating a batch upload***
  • Spreadsheet only needs: student email, student "name", and password
  • "Purchase"  free eBooks
  • Select the users for those eBooks
  • Students log into the Kindle app using their new school Amazon accounts to access the eBooks!

I only plan to use Whispercast for free eBooks right now. Even if I had the money to purchase books for students, there doesn't seem to be a way to "reclaim" purchased titles for future use, making this an expensive process. I will have to do more research before moving toward  monetary eBook purchases.

Since summer is almost here, it is the perfect time to try Whispercast!
This would be a great way to encourage school-wide summer reading! Push out books to students through Whispercast and create a blog, wiki or even a Facebook page for a summer book club. With the Kindle app available for Android, iOS and computers, there is no excuse not to have kids reading all summer long!!

This would be a great way to manage AP summer reading as well. Since these courses often involve the great literature classics, there are oodles of free titles readily available.

Whispercast would also be great for administrators too. In fact, this would be the best place to try and spend real money for eBooks. The district could purchase an eBook, and school leaders and teachers could have a book study for professional development and share thoughts or questions through back-channel sites such as Today's Meet.

Happy reading!


***I made a mistake in adding students, so don't do this!!
In most "batch uploads", if there is an error or partial upload, I just delete the entire upload and start fresh. It usually works....really!
Once you upload your student accounts to Whispercast, DON'T DELETE!!
It does warn you, of course, but the accounts aren't actually deleted. They are now "real" Amazon accounts. You lose control of those student emails and can no longer use them to create an accounts for those students. Luckily for me, Whispercast has great support and fixed this for me!
Also, I had to ask permission to add all 350 or so names. Also easily done through Whispercast support.








Monday, May 5, 2014

"Screen-Free Week" for Parents Too!


Today marks the beginning of International "Screen-Free Week", formerly known as "TV-Turnoff". During this week "schools, families, and community groups pledge to spend seven days without entertainment screen media". You can sign a pledge that states that you will watch "no TV or DVDs, play no video or mobile games and only use the computer if it's required for work".

In discussing Screen-Free Week, a friend happily pointed out that the pledge doesn't specifically include some of the biggest vices: texting or Facebook and other social media. (Though a "family guide" does have some suggestions.) Since the "Screen-Free" week is really targeting children and families and is sponsored by the "campaign for a commercial-free childhood", this over-site is understandable, but the program then fails to address the impact of social sites and texting on its targeted audience. Parents should be in charge of "screen-time", but they just aren't paying attention because they have their noses embedded into their "social-screen". In short: Parents are at fault and should also sacrifice their "social-screen" during this week.

In many peoples lives, technology is so invasive that it has crept in and eaten away at the fabric of what was once considered "everyday life". People eat in restaurants without even talking or looking at the other people who are physically at the table. Children are totally ignored as parents engage in the games and social activities on their phones. Social-screen-addicts are even texting, taking videos and pictures and (tragically) even posting to Facebook while driving!

So, are you a screen-junkie or "social-screen" junkie?  Ask yourself a few questions:
How much time passes before you "check" your phone?
Do you text while driving? And were your children in the car??
When was the last time you played a board game with your children or at a family gathering?
When was your last "outdoor day" where you did something physical like hiking, swimming, playing basketball with the kids....?
Last time you had dinner with family or friends, did you put your phone away and actually spend time with them?

Life is all about balance. Technology has infused itself so quickly into our daily lives that research is just beginning to catch up and people just beginning to wake up to the fact that too much of a good thing is never good. Like junk food and sodas, technology has a place in our lives (sorry, Michelle Obama!), but too much is unhealthy!

So, think about going screen-free this week, but, if you are going to ask so much of your children, then you need to go "social-screen" free as well and lead by example.
If you are interested in taking the pledge to go "screen-free", there are resources available for printing.
(Hmmm....can't go paperless during "screen-free" week......)
Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Convert Anything...in the Cloud!


I use converters all the time these days! The biggest issue for me is taking student video and audio that have been created on a wide variety of devices and needing to convert it for use in school projects. After doing this for the past few years, our toolbox has grown, but these tools often need to be downloaded and codecs updated to keep up with the times.

Now, thanks to CloudConvert, this task is a breeze!

  • Go to cloudconvert.org and select or "drag and drop" the file you wish to convert.
  • Select the destination location for the converted file: email or send to Google Drive or Dropbox. 
  • "Start conversion"!

This couldn't possibly be easier, and the list of formats is fairly extensive: audio, cad, documents, images, presentations, spreadsheets, vector, video and even ebooks! I may still end up with the occasional upside-down or sideways video or inaudible audio, but Cloud Convert will take care of quite a few housekeeping chores for me!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Jazz Up STAAR Review with Technology!


For the most part, technology is used in classrooms for the technology "R's": remediation, rehearsal, research, rating, and recreation. These activities are often called skills practice, assessment, and free time, and they fill many educators with a warm, fuzzy "high-tech" feeling. Yet, the closer we get to STAAR testing, even these efforts at technology use in the classroom cease as all eyes and efforts focus on the April testing schedule.
But wait....aren't we missing another "R"? Review !

Yes! Let's use technology for review!
After all, it is really the same as "rehearing" or skill practice anyway, but for some reason, there is a default back to paper and fill-in-the-dots when we use the word "review" during the months of March and April.

Several weeks ago, I had blogged about using QR codes to spice up review activities, but there are so many great tools for use in the classroom that could jazz up any review. Here are two easy ones to use!

 Socrative is a student response system that can be played on any device and requires no student accounts to use. It is a great review tool and enables teachers to make review questions more engaging for students. I blogged about Socrative in 2012 when it was still in "alpha mode". They have made many improvements since then, and the only
issue I have ever had with Socrative is a slow loading time when our                                                             wifi was really busy.

Kahoot! is a newer student response system which offers the same opportunity to shake up your review time. Although similar to Socractive, Kahoot! only has colored boxes to choose from on the student screens. That means students must look up at the teacher's screen to choose an answer. This really does increase the interaction in the classroom! Richard Byrne has a great post about Kahoot! on his blog, Free Technology for Teachers.

Keep up the hard work all you test-weary teachers! "Review" time may be critical, but we still need to engage students as much as possible. So, press on with technology and get as creative as standardized test-prep allows you to be. The students will appreciate the change!



Thursday, April 10, 2014

"After-STAAR-Testing" Blues?

It happens every year...
Students all finish their standardized testing leaving classrooms full of students (and teachers) ready to call it a day----but with half the day left!!!  What is the best solution for these awkward afternoons?

Well, this year Earth Day just so happens to fall on Tuesday, April 22----STAAR testing day! So after you have finished your test prep by re-reading your "Test Administrator Manual", take a look at these great online resources from Julie Greller's blog, A Media Specialist's Guide to the Internet. There is something for every grade level in these "38 Great Sites for Earth Day". Perhaps you can even find the perfect activity to head outside for some educational fun in the sun!

Who knows? The kids may look forward to the next day of testing! Plan accordingly !

Friday, February 28, 2014

STAAR Season: Make Fill-in-the-Dot Fun!

While the state and the nation continue to challenge teachers to promote higher level thinking, use project-based learning, and integrate technology into instruction, the mandated tests for measuring student achievement remain unchanged. So, the challenge for teachers is double-edged: make all these great changes to our instructional methodology without causing a ripple in the testing continuum! ARGH!!!

So, here is a great idea from a high school Algebra teacher to keep the fun in this fill-in-the-dot world!
She created STAAR warm-up questions and inserted QR codes that contain hints or definitions to help the students along. These codes not only help students with content, but they add an element of technology fun to this usually mundane format at the same time. Way to go for creative thinking, Ms. Traughber!!




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Think in Pictures with Pic Collage

Need a new way for students to experience and learn vocabulary words? Let the students think in pictures! There are many apps that can do the job, but here are two great work samples from 1st graders created in Pic Collage using Google search. "A picture is worth a thousand words!"





Monday, February 24, 2014

Educator Dress Code: Pants Now Required!

There is a new dress code for all 21st century educators: Pants are now required!
In short...there is no more "flying by the seat of your pants". Please keep them on at all times!

Yes, this may be a little tongue-in-cheek, but you know what I am talking about. We all have either known, currently work with, or may even describe ourselves as this kind of educator. There are many expressions that these educators use when describing their approach to teaching:
  • flying by the seat of my pants
  • spur of the moment
  • winging it
  • off the cuff
  • playing it by ear
  • improvising
  • off the top of my head
  • thinking on my feet
This philosophy or strategy for educating our 21st century learners can no longer fly! This doesn't mean that great things can't happen this way, but there is now much more room for failure when this is an educator's primary modus operandi.

For example, even if a teacher uses technology only at the substitution level in their classroom, the following issues may arise:
  • is the technology/equipment available?
  • have websites been tested on the school's filter on a student access level?
  • has the material been vetted for school viewing?
  • is the app even on the device to be used?
  • are any updates needed to run the specific site or app (Java anyone?)?
  • does the tech support team know of a more appropriate/better tool or site to use 
Now, let's say that we moved past substitution and actually delved into the deeper, processing layers of instruction. This demands even more from educators:
  • what TEKS will be covered in this PBL unit?
  • what is the driving question? (Wow, these things can be really difficult to write!)
  • what elements should be included in the rubric?
This deeper instructional process demands preparation, but it is a front-loaded process. Once the prep work is done a great teacher then magically turns into facilitator, and the students propel the learning process forward from that point.

We no longer live in a textbook world where we simply turn the page, move onto the next unit, and consider the year's curriculum complete if we make it to the right chapter of the book. Life and classrooms have enough surprises even when well-managed and well-planned. So, leave "flying by the seat of your pants" for life's surprises and for the unexpected discoveries that students will make when involved in a channeled learning environment. Great teaching requires thought, planning, and preparation, so we all need to follow the dress code, and "keep your pants on"!

Challenge:
Love to fly by the seat of your pants but think you are a totally awesome teacher???
I have a question for you:
If you don't know what you really want to do, what you really want the kids to take away, what your primary objective is for the day, and how that will be measured.....then how do you measure success?
Of course class was "successful"! After all, you survived and "pulled it off". Congratulations!
Try planning for a change. It is much more difficult to claim success when you have lofty plans! There is suddenly a "teacher rubric" to meet.
If you are awesome now, try planning and be "awesomer"!! Your students will thank you for it!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lurk and Learn!

Last week someone tweeted out an old blog post from Steven Anderson that I had never seen before, and it was liberating! The post, entitled The Power of the Lurker, expressed what I had believed and shared with my teachers for some time now: it is OK to lurk and learn!

Last year, one of our district technology goals was to get our educators involved in developing a PLN. I created a presentation in which I encouraged everyone to "spy" first. I even gave them a spreadsheet of direct links to chats to get their feet wet before creating a Twitter account.

However, I felt a certain amount of guilt. Was I falling short in getting these teachers fully involved by providing an "easy out"? In the end, I supposed that "those that will, will, and those that won't, won't" be engaged in the social networks that feed this new, fast-paced, ever-changing world of education.
At least they have had a taste and been provided an opportunity..
So, I thank you Steve Anderson!

Below are the slides from my original presentation on getting "SASSY" :


Pictures in these presentation slides are from Phillip Martin.





Friday, February 14, 2014

Share the Technology Love

Remember Valentine's Day when you were young: decorated boxes, little envelopes containing cartoon characters, and oodles of cupcakes and candy! These are an important part of my school memories, and, even though we now have food police and stricter guidelines on "sharing the love", I think it is still important to create lasting, fun imprints of school in the hearts of our children. As a Kindergarten teacher, part of the fun was creating a special Valentine for my students to take home to their loved ones, so I was thrilled to be a part of the "design" team this year for my daughter's Valentine craft!

Since Megan had looped with her Kinder students into 1st grade, she wanted something new and fresh, but due to several days of training, was running out of time to think! Last year, the student card included a picture, and she wanted to do something personal. Yea,  for technology!! I suggested a tiny QR code linked to a student message. This not only adds a touch of technology to the craft, but it also brings parents into using technology as well.

I have always loved QR codes and have used them to send personal voice messages and videos to those I love. Everyone still looks forward to getting real mail, especially children and older folks (my parents are in their 80's), so send that perfect card and add a QR code that personalizes the message. It is like an email card....that comes in the mail.

Create a video on WeVideo.
Create a voice message on a simple site like Vocaroo.
Link to something you want to share with the one you love.
All you need is the URL and a great QR code generator like QRStuff.
Go out and share the technology love!

By the way, here is the final product for Ms. Felty's class:

Caveats:
Include directions for parents on a great app to read the QR code: i-nigma is my favorite, and is available in both iTunes and Google Play.
These student voice messages were stored in a Google site, so, unless kept for perpetuity, they will "expire". To keep the memory "alive", the audio will be sent home to parents at their end of year in the student's personalized digital yearbook.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Come on, baby, let's do the twist!"

Getting tired of the same old apps and "projects"? If you need a fresh approach, try using an app you love in a new way. Just give it a "twist"! 

Here is an easy way to get started in just three steps:

  • Take an app you already love and use personally 
  • Ask: how can students "show what they know" by using this app in class?
  • Then actually try it! (This is sometimes the obvious step that teachers are missing.)
In this example, a teacher took Pic Collage ,and students created a collage of pictures that showed different ways to count money. 



Now, let your creative mind sing and dance! What could your students do with Pic Collage?


What's your favorite app? 

Come on, and give it a "twist". and share with your students!
As the song goes..."Take me by my little hand and go like this"!

Thanks to a great teacher, Megan Felty, for sharing her student work with the world. 

And yes, I am biased since she is my daughter! You can visit Mrs. Felty's 1st grade class through her classroom blog.





Friday, January 31, 2014

Lessons from My Disney Vacation: Part 2

Lesson 2:  Don't be an "iFamily"!

We have all seen the Disney commercials:
Children racing ahead of their parents into the magical Kingdom
Children pointing with mouths agape as they see Cinderella's Castle for the first time
Families laughing together, playing together, watching fireworks together

It is now a decades-old image of childlike joy, a time of bonding and old-fashioned family "togetherness". For me, it is one of the reasons that I continue to return to Disney World year after year, but the reality of that image is, in my opinion, now at risk of becoming a fairy tale, taken down by the "iFamily"!

Picture this:
We are at Disney World, the most magical place on earth! Families are pouring out of the resort with small children, strollers, and backpacks in tow. One little boy, about the age of 3+, is being dragged by the hand. He jumps, wiggles and manages to move in ways that seem impossible for someone connected by one point to another human being.

We get on the resort bus headed for the Magic Kingdom, and his family sits right across from mine. He looks at me with one eye squinted and loudly says, "I'm going to see Mickey!" He then turns in his seat to look out the window, waiting to see the adventure beyond, when his mother does something incredibly stupid: she taps him on the leg, makes him turn from his magical view and hands him an iDevice.

Immediately, this engaged, excited bundle of energy and enthusiasm melts into the hard, plastic seat and enters a digital world. Head down with earbuds embedded into his skull, he says nothing and sits immobile, frozen in that familiar, digital state ....all the way to the park.
He never noticed the passing monorail
He never saw the arched entryway that welcomes all visitors to the Magic Kingdom.
He never noticed that the castle grew larger and larger as we approached
He didn't see the outside of Space Mountain as the bus started to park
In fact, he didn't even notice that we had stopped and that it was time to get off of the bus!

But, he was not alone! The other families on the bus also seemed to be traveling the same way
Welcome to the age of  the  "iFamily"!

For the next 9 days, on every bus, monorail, ferry, or queue line, this same scenario seemed to be repeated by families from every country and every age! This is not to say that there weren't exceptions, but the "iFamily" dominated to such a degree, that I am actually alarmed!

The really, bad iMommy award goes to one parent I dubbed "The Air Slapper". Her little girl had bounded onto the bus wearing her "1st Visit" badge. Her curly hair shot out from under her rounded Minnie cap, and her little outfit matched the red, polka-dot print of her Minnie bow. She was dressed for the day and her enthusiasm matched her outfit. Following in the "iFamily" motif, all family members selected a seat, digital devices were distributed, ears were plugged, and chins and eyes went down. The aura of the high-tech occupants filled the bus like an oppressive cone of silence, but the girl was not buying into it today and made eye contact with my family.

"I'm going to Disney World", she announced.  (Almost all little people say this--not realizing that we ALL are going together on the same bus).
Her mom, sensing a rift in the technology aura, slapped at the air around her daughter's head.
The little girl wrinkled her nose and dodge the weightless slaps.
Undeterred, the little girl asked, "Where are YOU going?"
"We are going to Disney World!"
"You are?", she asked in surprise!
We started a charming conversation , and  my family laughed and shared stories describing all the wonders she would see on her first visit!!
This conversation was punctuated with occasional air-slapping by the "busy" iMommy.
The girl simply dodged again and kept talking.
Finally, however, Little Minnie Girl went too far. She saw the entry sign of the Magic Kingdom and started squealing with excitement. Up on her knees, her unused digital device slipped and dangled by its earbuds, and she started patting her mother and shouting, "We're here, we're here!"

Her excitement was truly something worth capturing in your heart and memory forever, but "the Air Slapper" came undone. She snatch up the girl's forgotten iDevice, and started yelling. Though there is no way to quote her verbatim , basically it contained the following elements:

Why can't you sit there and be quiet and use your iDevice?
Why won't you leave me alone and let me use my iDevice?
I knew that today was going to be a terrible day!
This trip was a bad idea!
Why do I bother to spend my money to take you to Disney, when you won't do what I ask?

Hmmmm....now, that is a good question:
Why does anyone bother to spend money to come to the most magical place in the world only to immerse oneself in a personal digital world that can be accessed from your couch at home?
(And yes, I have seen the new commercial for Universal Studios. I'm not sold!)

Like Pinocchio's desire to be a "real boy", I desire to see "real families", not "iFamilies".
Yes, technology has given us so much, but it has also taken away a great deal.  There has to be a balance!

Fight for the simple pleasures
Put your children before your devices
Communicate with those at the table and in the room instead of those who are miles away
Come out from behind the lens of your iPhone pictures 

The lesson: Don't be an "iFamily"!
Whether we are at home or having the adventure of our life, we all need to really SEE and EXPERIENCE our real lives....for real!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lessons from My Disney Vacation: Part 1

Lesson 1: Technology can fail for anyone....even Disney!

Ever since we returned from the holidays, it seems that our school technology keeps breaking, leaving me in a world of FOG, screw drivers and Gorilla Tape!  In trying to keep it all in perspective, it has really helped me to remember that technology can fail for everyone....even Disney. And I know this from recent personal experience!

This past Christmas, I planned a special 10 day trip for my family to Disney World in Florida. Our family is growing up and away, and I really felt that this vacation might be the last time that we could all easily break away from adult lives to be "just us" again. So, this was an emotionally important trip! I plan everything and planning is part of the fun...usually. In the end, however, this technology person was nearly undone by the technology!

The planning started in summer, and so did the technology issues.
First there was the app.
Since we are all adults, a party of six, we each downloaded the My Disney Experience app, created an account and could then make and share our plans right on the app! Sounds great!

Well......there were numerous "glitches". I finally had to call when I realized that my husband and I showed completely different reservations on our accounts. We were told that was just a glitch and the app was being updated, but the call did verify that we were missing a critical reservation: our Candlelight Processional Dinner package on Christmas Eve!! Now if you have never gone to Disney World, I'm sure this all sounds silly, but this was very, very serious. I was screaming scream---after which we were given some new reservations (and probably a warning on my reservations number!)

After the issue with the app, I needed a new kind of "trip insurance". So, I took screen shots of all my reservations, and with those carefully printed, backed up, and emailed to all parties, we waited for that blessed vacation break!


The big day finally arrived, and we headed to Florida.
Each person made it from their separate city and through airport security without incident.
Disney's Magical Express took us to our hotel
We got our Magic Bands and headed to our room.

As it turned out, Magic Bands are not always so "magical". The first trick was getting into the room. Like a contortionist, the wearer of the band must fold the hand back or twist the arm and body in such a way that the face of the Mickey comes into direct contact with the lock mechanism of the door. Needless to say, I took some great photos of people maneuvering to unlock their doors! My solution was to slip the band to my knuckles as I approached the door, slam  it against the lock area, and shout "Shazam!" Worked every time!

Once I figured out the magic of the door lock, I wanted to associate our "Memory Maker" with the Magic Band as well. This was a totally new program, and I had purchased it the week before.
No one at our hotel knew about it.
No one at the parks knew about it
No one could find anyone that knew why we could buy it if no one even knew about it!

After spending several hours with the concierge late at night and customer service at Magic Kingdom the next morning, I was once again screaming screams and just asked for my money back! I got some free Fast Passes....and probably another warning comment on my reservation number. However, someone finally called the "Avengers" team from technology, and the problem was indeed "magically" solved! A day later than planned, we could walk up to any photographer and "Shazam" --our photos were automatically uploaded to our account. It even worked for photos on rides and the Hoop de Doo Review!


The next tech issue was wi-fi. Each night we returned to our hotel, tired in the "theme park" way, ready to crash. My son, however, was job hunting and had to check email constantly, and the wi-fi in the room didn't work. They did send someone, but we were told it was fine...even though it didn't work for us! To make matters worse, we were staying in the Art of Animation, Building 1, and apparently there was no cell phone signal either. People stood outside to call, and everyone was complaining about it. One lady even marched off in a huff in her pajamas to "see about this...."  Not sure if she got free Fast Passes or not.

And speaking of Fast Passes, we ended up in a test for the Magic Bands at Animal Kingdom. Talk about deja vu ! It was like watching myself at work trying to get the internet to "spin up"! They had newly trained personal hanging out with tablet devices that were supposed to read the Magic Band and allow you to sign up for three Fast Passes for anyone associated in your group. Uh....fail! But, it was a test, and more free Fast Passes were doled out for those standing around waiting to see if it would work.

So, what is the moral to this story?
Technology fails! This is one of the biggest complaints from teachers as we work toward seamlessly integrating technology our every day school experience. If it can  fail for Disney....it can fail for anyone!

So, what makes the difference?
Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust!!!
I know that Disney is dedicated to providing a positive, seamless, "magical" experience. Even though I was the one trying the new app, the new Magic Bands and the new Fast Past process, Disney understood my frustration, provided compensation to keep me invested in trying, and ultimately solved my issues (except for cell signal and WiFi at Art of Animation, Building 1!)

The Lesson:
If we want teachers to keep up the hard work, keep coming back, to stick with us and not give up, then, as the technology team, we need to offer that same level of trust! I plan to do my part!!