It’s coming! Code.org’s Hour of Code week is December 3-9, 2018.
Don’t miss out on this week of emphasizing Computer Science in Education, and join a worldwide effort to promote a highly relevant and in-demand discipline in our ever changing world. If you have not heard of this event, take some time to check out this video highlighting the excitement and benefits of participating. It is a worldwide event designed to engage and promote computer science by asking teachers and students to commit to one hour at any point in the week to do computer programming with any of the Hour of Code activities or courses available on their site. There is also a How-to page available to guide you, along with a chance to win robotic or circuit kits when you sign up. Be sure to get parent permission before logging students on to Code.org.
Did you know…
"Promote Computer Science | Code.org." https://code.org/promote. Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.
The world around us reflects a need for educators to consider new options for students. We can begin with a small venture into this discipline called “computer science” by participating in Hour of Code next week. Your instructional and technology coaches are ready to support you in this exciting global movement!
Many teachers are taking advantage of technology to streamline their homework assignments for students by using Google Classroom and Drive. This can certainly help to eliminate the age-old excuse that “my dog ate my homework,” although it may create some other challenges as well. Here are a few tips to make the experience a successful one for students, parents, and teachers.
Determine what type of device students will use at home. While Google Drive and Classroom are accessible from home via the Internet, tablets and smartphones require apps. In turn, this means parents/guardians will need to know which apps are required in order for their student to successfully complete the assignment.
Teach students how to navigate and use the tools expected to complete homework. Navigating to Google Drive and Classroom on a Chromebook looks different on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone when a student is at home. This can cause frustration for all parties involved, so it is worth the instructional time during the school day to explicitly teach students what it looks like on a specific device.
Communicate with parents/guardian about expectations and tools needed. Feel free to make a copy of this parent/guardian note to communicate how students will access Google Classroom and/or Drive from home, what apps may be required, etc. It is also beneficial to consider and communicate if it will be a blended learning experience, in which you may assign paper and pencil homework assignments occasionally and online homework assignments occasionally.
Ensure that everyone has fair and equal access. As hard as it may be to imagine, there are still some students who do not have devices of any sort or have limited access after school hours. Consider different options for those students, such as a before/after school homework club at school or paper and pencil alternatives.
Technology can certainly enhance a student’s homework experience, in much the same way it can enhance the learning experience in the classroom. Communicating well with both students and parents can make it a successful experience, but digital homework also needs to be supported with ensuring the right tools are in place. If you need further support, connect with your instructional or technology coach.
Welcome back! Adventure awaits us as we anticipate the coming school year. As you get back into the classroom and prepare for your students to arrive, there are many tasks that make the to-do list, among them setting up your digital space such as Google Classroom and access for your students through Active Directory. Here are a few important notes for you in regard to these tasks:
Just as your students anticipate new learning, we as teachers can also anticipate some new learning ourselves. Enter into your school year with a spirit of adventure, and know that your instructional/technology coaches stand ready, willing, and able to support and cheer you on!
As teachers and students are gaining confidence and ability with the use of Chromebooks, teaching and learning communication and collaboration beyond the classroom walls can be a challenge to know exactly how to begin. I had a teacher approach me about setting up a project in which she could connect with another classroom across the District as pen pals, and there have been a few classrooms who have worked on some collaborative projects in this way. As teachers look forward to next year, I am offering a Partnership Project to every teacher who wants to participate and will help facilitate the set-up and organization of this project.
The Partnership Project will be organized by grade level and have a writing focus (Writing Standard 10). Participating teachers will meet after school in early September to work with their partners, begin organizing this project, learn how to conduct a Google Hangout, and learn how to set up and manage a shared Google slideshow between two students.
Each partnership will begin with a Mystery Google Hangout session in the classroom. This initial Mystery Hangout will allow each group of students to prepare ten questions, in order to identify with which school/classroom they have been partnered. Then intermediate students will be assigned a Pen Pal in the partner classroom and will share a Google Slideshow as their “postcards” to each other. In the primary classroom, the teachers would share the Google Slideshow and draft their postcards as a whole class. Teachers can either set the purpose for each postcard writing assignment (such as opinion/argumentative/persuasive [Writing Standard 1], informative [Writing Standard 2], or narrative [Writing Standard 3]), and/or they can allow choice for students.
The Partnership Project can be for any length of time that you and your partner classroom teacher agree on, whether it be for a month, a quarter or the entire year. There are other projects/lessons that can expand this partnership, depending upon the breadth and depth you and your partner classroom teacher want to explore. However, I will facilitate the Partnership Project to set you up and then support each partnership as needed.
If you are interested in this Partnership Project, please complete this survey by June 1. I will organize the Project and send a calendar invite for the initial meeting to those who want to participate. I’m looking forward to collaborating with you!
If you like the possibilities of creating interactive lessons using Google Slides and Pear Deck, you will like the advantages of Nearpod too! Nearpod is a shared teacher platform with both free and for purchase interactive lessons that expand students’ horizons through virtual field trips and checks for understanding with immediate feedback for both teachers and students.
Teachers and students can log in with their Google login, simplifying access without having to creating another username and password. Students can also join by a teacher-given CODE.
Click the “Explore Lessons” to see what options are available, using the filters for price point, grade levels, subject areas, and more. For a quick preview of a possible lesson, check out Ancient Egypt. When students access the lesson by using the teacher-given CODE, the teacher then paces the presentation while students see and interact with the projected slide on their own devices. Don’t miss out on the virtual reality experience of the 360 degree panoramic views of the pyramids and inside the tomb of Pharaoh Ramesses IV on slides 2, 9, 14!
Not only can teachers tap into the shared lessons, teachers can also build their own lessons within Nearpod to create an interactive experience, taking direct instruction to a whole new level. Be sure to check in with your instructional or tech coach for support in using this tool effectively.
In Bold School: Old School Widom + New School Technologies = Blended Learning that Works by Weston Kieschnick, a well-used instructional practice is highlighted as a highly effective strategy that can become an enriched experience with the use of technology. Direct instruction (.6 effect size) is most useful when presenting new knowledge, but increasing engagement is a key element to ensuring students actually take in the new knowledge. An add-on for Google Slides called Pear Deck can support teachers with this engagement during direct instruction, but it can also be a way for students to engage their audiences when creating presentations themselves.
Students use a code in order to follow the presentation on their devices, and when a question is presented, they can then interact with the presentation directly on their devices. The teacher can display answer results (without identifying individual students) to provide immediate feedback and/or reteach concepts as needed. For example, at the beginning of a lesson, a teacher can ask students to activate their schema with this slide:
On their devices, students would have the option to use drawing or text tools to list their two ideas on this slide. With a click of a button, a teacher can review individual responses, again without identifying students personally, creating opportunity to formatively assess next steps for the lesson.
Technology can enhance our best practices and make them more engaging for students. Pear Deck elevates direct instruction to a new level by allowing students and teachers to interact in real time. To dive deeper with this tool, be sure to connect with your instructional or tech coach and begin to explore the possibilities.
This requires that all grant-funded technology must be reviewed by the Informational Technology (IT) department before teachers proceed with grant writing, in order to ensure that devices can be supported by the IT department.
Devices and applications such as iPods, iPads, Kindles, Alexa, Echo, and Google Home have potential to positively impact classroom instruction, but unfortunately, our tech support options are limited as managing those devices requires both manpower and bandwidth (access to the Internet). In addition, there are often unintended consequences to the use of some of these tools, such as compromising student data, displaying/presenting inappropriate content, having inadequate security settings, etc. All of these factors must be evaluated by the IT department to help determine if the requested technology can be supported by the District.
This review process is a required step in any grant writing, to include sources such as Great Falls Public Schools Foundation, KRTV’s One Class at a Time, Go Fund Me, Donors Choose, and any other grant options. The review process and guidelines are outlined on the District’s website, under Staff > Technology Resources > Teacher Resources. The IT department (Tech Coaches, IT Director, Support Techs, etc.) is also happy to help in the grant process to help determine what technology is appropriate and supported. Including the IT department in your planning will help ensure the District’s guidelines are followed and potentially improve your chances for a successful experience with grant writing to fund technology.
Let us know how we can support you. Happy grant writing!
You’ve heard the rumors, and you’ve seen the headlines...unfortunately, it is a reality that sometimes our students struggle to make good decisions when using the access given to them through the use of technology. With the ability to share and post with a click of a button, we have to make an intentional effort to teach digital citizenship and hold students accountable for their choices and behaviors online, particularly when using the district’s technology. Where can you start? There are several resources that have been made available for an instructional focus on digital citizenship.
These lesson plans include any relevant websites and student handouts, along with Common Core standards correlated to take an integrated approach when using these lessons. In addition, they also offer some online interactives to illustrate for students the challenges and best options when using technology in a game-like presentation.
Both of these resources offer parent resources to support conversations at home, which helps students understand that digital citizenship is a life skill and not necessarily specific to their learning environment.
If you do have a student who makes poor choices, there are options to temporarily restrict their access to digital resources like Google Drive, in keeping with the Student Acceptable Use And Internet Safety Agreement. All students indicated on their handbook receipts that they have read and agree to these guidelines, so if it becomes necessary to follow through, please feel free to contact me or our IT director.
Being proactive is definitely more preferred than having to be reactive to students’ digital choices. If you’d like support in implementing instruction on digital citizenship, feel free to contact either your instructional or technology coach. We are happy to support your efforts in raising up outstanding citizens in all areas, including the digital realm.
If you’re looking for a creative way to help students focus on the use of dialogue or figurative language in their writing, MakeBeliefsComix might be just the tech tool to engage students with this skill. This comic strip generator has a cast of characters, backgrounds, objects, and onomatopoeia word art choices that help students’ imaginations begin to creatively refine their writing skills.
I’ve created a tutorial video and an example product from a sixth grade lesson on figurative language:
These resources are available for you to use. Be sure to connect with your instructional and/or technology coach for additional support in planning a lesson with this tool.
Great Falls Public Schools has been asked to participate in a survey that addresses the technology use in our district. After reviewing the proposal and its purpose, the Curriculum department felt the results of this survey would help document potential issues and needs not yet identified. This data will help to determine next steps with the current 5 year technology plan.
The proposal description provides an overview of the survey. This survey should take about 15 minutes to complete.
We want your voice to be heard. So please participate. We so appreciate your input and willingness to help our district move forward with technology.
I am a technology integration coach for a school district supporting one preschool, fifteen elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools. Check here for the latest updates on instructional technology.