We hope you had a wonderful Spring Break! Please take a moment to relax and enjoy this Tech Snack – a Byte-Sized Treat to Transform Learning. This edition includes ways to get connected, shortcuts for Chrome, and a fun storytelling tool.
The 2016-2017 school year is upon us! Welcome or welcome back to our teachers and staff! It’s been a busy summer for the Office of Instructional Technology, but the highlight was traveling with a great group of educators to the ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) Conference in Denver, CO. With 40 teachers, library media specialists, school-based staff and district staff attending, it made for an exciting week with LOTS of learning going on!
We hope to have many of our group share in various platforms over the coming months, but here is a quick taste of some of the exciting things we saw and tools we learned about pulled from our own Twitter hashtag at the conference #fcpsiste. Check out some of the cool things we saw, learned and that prompted our thinking.
Recently, the 5th grade teachers at ACE invited me to step back into the 1600’s as they concluded their project based learning unit on Colonial America. The fascinating unit allowed students to not only step back in time, but to do so in the shoes of an actual colonial trades-person. Throughout the unit, students researched and acquired information about a colonial trade they were interested in. Rather than present their knowledge behind a closed door, the teachers decided to extend the learning beyond the traditional four walls of their classroom. Using Google Hangouts on Air and a Chromebook with a webcam and wifi, the 5th graders introduced their shops and shared about their trade live, streaming to 26 states and 4 countries. Family members, friends, and other classrooms from around the world joined in to learn, engage, and celebrate.
Using information gathered from inquiry learning, students transposed a speech in first person to share during the broadcast. Along with a trade sign, tables were decorated using primary sources and/or created replicas as props to create their very own trade shop. An apothecary stood with a mortar and pestle and tiny bottles, demonstrating the use of medications and remedies. Blacksmiths were surrounded by anvils, hammers, and files while the baker’s table was full of yeast, a rolling pin, dough, and fresh baked cookies. The costumes were tied exactly to the trade ranging from the bloody apron of the butcher to the pressed linen of the milliner.
The production part was pretty simple. The Hangouts on Air were created ahead of time and embedded within a free web application called Smore. Students shared the link with friends and family members ahead of time so they could log on from a computer or mobile device with wifi to view the broadcast. Since Hangouts on Air automatically save to an unlisted YouTube channel, the recordings will continue to live on and can be accessed at any time. During the live broadcast, over 700 people logged in to share and leave feedback for the performers. Since the event, over 400 more views have taken place.
The students stood within their shops and proudly and taught others through the live internet stream. The students enjoyed this interactive project because they were working on their own to gain new information about the Colonial era. Would you like to learn more about streaming an event in your classroom? Email me or plan on attending an upcoming PD session.
Congratulations to teachers Kelly Ward, Shannon Lesher, Beverly DePaola, Karen Miracle, Andrea Least and Marshall Spivey and all 5thgrade students on a thrilling and successful event!
Southern Films is the after school filmmaking club for Southern Middle School. It began with a single student asking to make a movie for her art project. That project is what opened my eyes to see how much of an interest, and how much of a need, there is for a filmmaking club. Over the past five years, the projects that we have done have included PSAs, short films, commercials for local businesses, and even a documentary about chasing down a weather balloon we launched to 99,000 feet. All that being said, this year’s project I think speaks back to that first student and her idea to make a movie. This year’s project is called “Kentucky Kids Can Do Anything”, and it is an idea whose main purpose is to encourage kids. You may have heard that a single picture is worth a thousand words. We would like to show how a thousand pictures can say a single message: We believe in you.
This is my tenth year teaching and as I’m sure all teachers would agree that after a while you feel like you’ve seen just about everything. I have seen students compete on a national level, earn awards, and take a stand against bullying. I have seen students walk their younger siblings to school and have heard of them helping out at home because their parents are not able to. I have seen students do amazing things and they are just barely teenagers. However, I have also seen students fall victim to the darker things in life. I have had students overdose on drugs, lose a battle to cancer, cut themselves, and have taken their own lives. I will never know enough about anyone’s home life to make any reasonable judgment for why someone would act the way they do. But I will admit to feeling the guilt and shame of feeling like I can’t do enough to help. However, I do think there is something that can be done. Hope and encouragement are very powerful and the main idea behind Kentucky Kids Can Do Anything is to show all kids that there is hope and encouragement. Our project is very simple at it’s core: collect 1000 pictures of people holding a sign saying “Kentucky Kids Can Do Anything” and then assemble all those pictures in to one mosaic that spells the words “We Believe in You”. And then make that final image available to all schools across Kentucky. I understand that the tough job comes with that day to day interaction with students and that 1000 pictures are just pictures in the end. However, if, in that moment when I see a student not having a good day, I can point to an image of a 1000 people who are standing in that kid’s corner than maybe it would help. If we can show that 1000 different people from all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs and languages all agree on this one point, than maybe it would help. Maybe that kid who’s cutting herself can see physical proof that people do believe in her and would think twice about feeling worthless. Maybe that kid who gets in to drugs can see that picture and know that he is not alone. That there really are people who believe in him. That he is needed and can contribute.
I know there are many more than 1000 people who believe in kids, and I know it goes beyond the border of Kentucky. One of the opportunities I had when this began was to be on a national radio show, Bob and Sheri, and promote our project. Within an hour of being on that show we got over 40 pictures from all across the county. Each of them holding a sign saying Kentucky Kids Can Do Anything. It is not just a Kentucky thing, and it is certainly not just a Lexington thing. I’m hoping we can reach far and wide with this message. I’ve even sent a Twitter message to astronaut Jim Kelly as he is on the International Space Station asking for a picture. He hasn’t responded. Yet. As I write this we are at 151 pictures and need a lot more. We are looking for anyone who would be considered a good role model for our kids. There has been a little confusion that it must be a picture of someone who has achieved some level of success, but that is not true. It is not success that makes us valuable, but our value comes from simply being alive. One message behind our idea is simply that if you are here than you have purpose and can contribute. This is one of the primary meanings behind the phrase “Kentucky Kids Can Do Anything.” It acknowledges that while not all students can become doctors or rocket scientists or NBA players, but that all students still have a value to our world. That values comes not from talent, but from being here. That they are valuable to the world not only for what they will become, but for who they are right now. Kentucky kids truly can do anything.
A final point to make about our project is that in addition to the “We Believe in You” image, a secondary goal is for us to create a documentary showing that Kentucky kids really are doing and have done amazing things. We are looking for people who are good story tellers about what kids are doing. Those people could be the kids themselves or adults who have seen what kids have done. It doesn’t take much for this, just the ability to tell a good story.
If anyone is interested in contributing a picture, you can do so by uploading it to our facebook page. If you would like to contribute to the documentary, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many people fear that computer usage in the early elementary years consists solely of playing games and want to limit the screen time. However, implementing effective technology is really not any different from writing, reading and math. There are building blocks and foundations that need to be constructed in order for students to become efficient and capable lifelong users of technology.
Fourth grade teachers Wes Downing, Crystal Holland, Andrea Richardson, Samantha Voss, and Sarah Jane Kimball have made these realizations and have embraced the concept of changing their classrooms and implementing a 1:1 program. With full support of the administration, their students are flourishing through using Chromebooks, Google Classroom, and a multitude of technology skills and tools. Rather than listening to my rambles, please read the words straight from the mouth of Wes Downing.
I had witnessed Chromebooks in action at my previous school (when I worked in Florida) and thought they would be a wonderful way for Cassidy to apply for our RFP grant. We knew the Chromebooks were affordable, but also reliable. Luckily, when I presented the idea to my administration, they backed us 100% and even put up some extra money to make the entire grade level completely 1:1 (the grant covered 107 chrome books and we needed 120). Having the support of administration makes all of the difference in the world!
The Chromebooks have completely changed how we run our classrooms. First of all, there is large amount of built-in engagement that goes along with all of the students having chrome books. The students have really taken ownership of the devices. They are really invested in the devices and work hard to follow directions and be responsible so they can continue having the privilege of using the devices.
Chromebooks have allowed us to streamline teacher to student communication, as well as communication between students. Students use email to talk to teachers and parents during the day. Students post questions and comments on Google Classroom and can respond to each other, without teacher assistance. Assignments can be assigned, created, and submitted using the chrome books, allowing teachers to spend more time working with students and less time grading, searching for work, etc.
Most parents also love the Chromebooks. It has taken them a little bit of time to get used to the differences they present, but most love looking at student work or online assessments students have been working on.
The Chromebooks also make it easy for us to differentiate for our students. There are lots of online programs we use, but we also have the ability to pick and choose what our kids are working on, without the hassle of making copies for all the kids, etc. We can assign them all different skills to practice or leveled readers to read, all with a few clicks of a button.
Programs we use include LiveSchool (behavior), Google Drive and other Google Apps, Write to Learn, NoRedInk, IXL and many more.
Next Steps for us will be to “flip” the classroom and allow students to drive our classroom discussions, as well as give students the freedom to create their own methods of responding to questions or completing assignments. We are working towards more student ownership, and hope to continue to grow in this area.
Resources, Blogs and More!
The purpose of this site is to provide information and access to the many technology-related resources in our district. We will feature various district blogs through this space as well as provide links to the resources you need. If something is missing, please let us know!
Look for pages under the Tech Leaders link that provide specific assistance for STC’s, STLP Coordinators and others who work with technology at the school level as well as teacher resources. More resources will be added as the site is developed.
Check out the FCPS links page above to find links to many of our resources including Sharepoint, iSchool, pay vouchers and more.