Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is Your 1:1/BYOD Implementation REAL or "The Emperor's New Clothes"?

"But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said.

"Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?" said its father. 

And one person whispered to another what the child had said, 
"He hasn't anything on. 
A child says he hasn't anything on."

"But he hasn't got anything on!" the whole town cried out at last.

Scenario One:  

School District Technology Director sends out an email asking if _______ should be blocked or allowed under 1:1/BYOD Initiative that has already been rolled out.


Is this school district actually wearing "new clothes" or are they buck naked?

Scenario Two:

School District Technology Policy cannot be found on school district website and when asked for a copy of the school district policy one cannot be provided.


Is this school district actually wearing "new clothes" or are they buck naked?

Scenario Three:

School District rolls out a 1:1/BYOD implementation yet blocks all all forms of collaborative interaction (Skype, Google Hangouts, Social Media, etc) 


Is this school district actually wearing "new clothes" or are they buck naked?

Scenario Four:

School District has already or is preparing to rollout a 1:1/BYOD Initiative yet is only concerned with what device to purchase.  No thought is given to academic support, professional development,  curriculum, data and assessments, infrastructure, etc.


Is this school district actually wearing "new clothes" or are they buck naked?

Scenario Five:

Your school district has failed to understand the meaning of "Least Restrictive Environment" and have filtering set so high  that virtually no websites can come through, thus,  rendering the devices in your 1:1/BYOD virtually useless.


Is this school district actually wearing "new clothes" or are they buck naked?

Scenario Six:

School District has already or is preparing to rollout a 1:1/BYOD Initiative and hasn't taken the Project 24 self assessment to ensure they have all necessary components in place for a successful 1:1/BYOD Initiative rollout.


Is this school district actually wearing "new clothes" or are they buck naked?

Making decisions regarding your 1:1/BYOD Implementation through emails as situations and questions arise is just Bass Ackwards planning and based on extensive research by Project 24, will result in a 1:1/BYOD that fails or at the very least fails to meet the true intent of a 1:1/BYOD Implementation.  Even more bass ackwards is having no District Technology plan in place BEFORE rolling out your 1:1/BYOD Implementation.

Blocking virtually all forms of collaborative interaction like Skype, Google Hangouts, Social Media and other similar sites sets your 1:1/BYOD Initiative up for failure just like what happened with the iPad rollout in Los Angeles.  

Any 1:1/BYOD Initiative that fails to truly embrace the higher levels of the SAMR Model, especially Redefinition, which is all about collaboration and connecting students with others around the world, is simply investing money into a device that will do nothing much beyond what a piece of paper and pencil can accomplish.  

Project 24 is a MUST for any school district whether they have already implemented a 1:1/BYOD Initiative or are considering implementing a 1:1/BYOD Initiative.  The Project 24 framework helps districts address seven key concepts: academic supports; budget and resources; curriculum and instruction; data and assessments; professional learning; technology and infrastructure; and use of time.  Three easy steps to participating include (1) signing up; (2) assembling a team; and (3) taking the free self-assessment on which a confidential, customized report will be generated. Upon review of a district’s confidential report, it is up to district leaders to make the most of the resources that are available. 

School districts that want to continue posturing or saying, "This blog isn't about us. Our 1:1/BYOD is fine just like it is" should put their money where their mouth is and take the Project 24 self assessment. What do you have to lose?  Either you will prove that your district's 1:1/BYOD is top notch OR you will have an extremely valuable guide to assist in getting your 1:1/BYOD up to snuff. 

I've known a school district who was part of Project RED that puffed their chest and patted themselves on the back for being innovative and cutting edge that, in reality, was anything but.  In fact, many Project RED schools were used as examples of what NOT to do as well as what to do when Project 24 gathered data from over a thousand 1:1/BYOD schools to create their self assessment.  

Conducting a serious evaluation of your 1:1/BYOD Initiative is not only a win-win for your 1:1/BYOD Initiative but, more important, will lead to a 1:1/BYOD Initiative that is effective, engaging and empowering for the students you serve.

Friday, September 5, 2014

This Week @Elkmont & Beyond! September 2-5, 2014

This week has been an incredibly busy and rewarding week.  

Digital Passport Initiative Deployment:

Elkmont High School came back from the holiday weekend to the much anticipated Digital Passport Rollout Day. Piloted by Wendy Brightman at Blue Springs Elementary School last year, the Limestone County Schools Digital Passport Initiative was rolled out county wide this school year. Students have spent the month of August working through Digital Citizenship Modules to ensure they know how to be safe online. Students have also learned the basic use and care of their new MacBook Air laptops.

Elkmont High School started out our DPI Rollout Day by having classes come in one at a time to pack their laptops and charging cables into their laptop bag. Students logged into their laptops so that we could troubleshoot early in the day any log in issues that might exist.

Student aides from the high school helped move the laptops to the gym where a stage was set up for presenting the laptops to students "graduation style". In addition to the laptops, Digital Citizenship Certificate of Completion were also prepared, rolled and tied with a red ribbon.

At 1:00 all 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students filed into the gym and the ceremony began. Mr. Garris started by saying a few words and leading the pledge. Dr. Sisk then gave a brief speech about the Digital Passport Initiative and the learning opportunities that will now be available to them. Next, Ms. Pat Gartman took the stage. Calling one class at a time, Ms. Gartman read out the names of each student. As students proceeded across the stage they first received their laptop from their teacher and then their certificate of digital citizenship from Mr. Garris. When all laptops had been distributed, the 3rd and 4th grade classes posed with administration for group photos. Students then proceeded to the lobby area of the gym where Elkmont's wonderful PTSO had cookies and juice for the students. Our PTSO also spearheaded ordering covers for the MacBook Airs and delivered many of those to the students in their classrooms.

After getting snack courtesy of the PTSO, students went back to their classrooms for the last hour of the day. 3rd and 4th grades teachers had a variety of activities planned for this last hour. Ms. Adams jumped right in and taught her students how to use AirDrop. Ms. English got her students started taking pictures of themselves in preparation for learning about AirDrop. Other teachers walked their student through how to find the Elkmont High School website and how to log into their Moodle accounts.

Their were a few bumps in the road along the way but in the end, with the help of SwitchDesk, parent volunteers, student aides, teachers and administrators everything worked out in the end.

Take a look below at all the fun we had during Elkmont's DPI Deployment Day!

Building PLCs at Elkmont:

This week grade level/departmental PLC Teams began meeting to start developing a technology plan of action for their PLC and for individual teacher PLP requirements under EducateAlabama.

The 5th Grade PLC meet this week and set using Google Classroom with their students as their September PLC and PLP goal. To help support this goal, Ms. Robertson created Google Classroom tutorials and has set up dates and times to co teach using Google Classroom.

Step by Step Picture Tutorials:

For a SlideShare Tutorial for Google Classroom click HERE.

Linda Lindsey has compiled a list of 12 of the BEST Google Classroom Tutorials HERE.

Google Classroom:

Thursday, September 5, 2014 Ms. Robertson and Ms. Hardiman spent the first three periods of the day teaching students how to access their Google Classroom account. The students where very excited as they saw the ability to communicate in real time with their teacher on assignments shared through Google Classroom, worked on a shared Google Spreadsheet, and discovered the lifesaving and telling Restore History feature in Google Drive documents.

We learned several things during our day together, the most important was listening and following directions. This may seem obvious but the need to listen and follow directions is especially critical when using technology. Even one tiny little period out of place will cause frustration on the part of the person trying to get to a website or accomplish a technology task. Having completed this activity successfully, I am confident these students will be more apt to listen and follow directs next time now that they truly the the immediate effects of not doing so.

We also learned to support and help each other. This goes a long way in having a cohesive classroom and building positive classroom relationships. We were cheering so loud for our fellow classmates as they worked diligently to type in the URL perfectly that Ms. Adams stuck her head in the door to see what we were doing to have so much fun!

As a reward for successfully completing the lesson objectives for the day, students used the last 10 minutes of class to play with Photo Booth and Incredibox.

Ms. Hardiman and her students were awesome and patient as we worked through the inevitable kinks that pop up when using new technologies. I can't wait to see what they do with Google Classroom now that they know how it works!

EdCamp Atlanta:

With a little over a week before our third EdCamp Atlanta, organizers meet via Google Hangouts to finalize plans for the big day.  

EdCamp Atlanta just gets bigger and better every year.  We have an amazing group of sponsors who have provided us with the means to provide our attendees with delicious breakfast and lunch as well as an amazing array of door prizes.  Please find and support our sponsors HERE.

One super fun part of the EdCamp Atlanta lunch time will be getting a keepsake picture courtesy of TapSnap.  I first learned of TapSnap during ISTE's #EdTech Karaoke Party when Elissa Malespina and I got silly.

EdCamp Atlanta is also going to have a MakerSpace area featuring robotics courtesy of Hummingbird Robotics, Sphero and Little Bits.  

EdCamp Atlanta session boards will also look a bit different as well.  We will still have 25 and 50 minutes sessions but with the distinction of See, Learn Do sessions and Round Table Discussion session.  

Start the EdCamp Atlanta fun a day early at the EdCamp Atlanta TweetUp.  We will enjoy great company, meeting friends face to face, see amazing and functional classroom furniture and enjoy light refreshments and drinks at Dekalb Office in Alpharetta, Ga on Friday, September 12, 2014 from 6-8 pm ET.  

#iCONNECT Tech Tips Smore

Monday, September 1, 2014

September is Here! September is Here!

I am so excited about September finally arriving!  Besides the start of high school and college football (War Eagle), September also hails the return of the TL Community! Woo Hoo!

Whether  you are a school librarian or not, open up your calendars and mark these dates from now through May/June 2015.

TL Virtual Cafe:  1st Monday of each month at 8 pm ET

Free webinars specifically geared towards the professional learning needs of school librarians.
September 8, 2014-Back To School Special with Jennifer LaGarde, Gwyneth Jones,  Tiffany Whitehead

#TLChat LIVE!:  2nd Monday of each month at 8 pm ET

Join this Twitter Chat each month to Connect, Share, Learn & Grow with other school librarians just like you.

September 15, 2014- Topic of discussion is voted on each month! Join in!

TL News Night:   3rd Monday of each month at 8 pm ET

This is a LIVE show presented in news show format featuring a Wrap up of “This Month in School Libraries” and deeper discussion of topical school library issues with special guest experts. Did we mention it was LIVE?

September 22, 2014- TL News Night welcomes the Association of Indiana School Library Educators (AISLE)

Want to go GLOBAL with your professional learning?  Join Joyce Valenza and her friends for a brand new adventure with Global TL: Librarians Without Borders!  The inaugural GlobalTL Fall Kickoff Event is Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 8 pm ET.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why I Called the Jehovah Witness Headquarters

This week I received an email from a librarian asking for assistance.  Here is the content of her email:

We have a student who is a Jehovah Witness.  Her language arts teacher came to see me today and told me that her parents have objected to just about every novel/short story that they are doing.  I’m looking for recommendations for YA books that would be appropriate for a Jehovah Witness.  From what I can tell, that means no profanity, sex, witches, spirits, etc.  Any thoughts?  I’d appreciate the help!!

After thinking for a few minutes I decided to go straight to the source.  I found the site and called the  number I found there.  I told the woman who answered the phone that I was trying to assist a librarian and teacher in providing reading material for a student who was Jehovah Witness that would not be in conflict with her religious beliefs but also meet the curricular objectives of her class.  She seemed a bit wary, put me on hold and then I found I had been transferred to a different person.  I repeated what I had said earlier only to be transferred five more times.  Finally I was connected with a man who was willing to try and answer my question but offered no concrete book title suggestions.  

That is when I turned to who I should have turned to in the first place, a former student who is also Jehovah Witness.  Having worked in education for 23 years I have built connections with amazing students who are now equally amazing adults, moms, dads, teachers, etc.  This particular student held morning meetings before school in my library for the other Jehovah Witness students in the school.  He use to also hang out in the library whenever he could.  He is also a master at sign language and would practice in the library by signing everything I said.  I found it fascinating to have my own personal interpreter.   Anyway.....  He asked some specific questions about the course and the student. Turns out the course was an 8th grade language arts class and the teacher was having her students explore various genres throughout the year.  The first genre was horror.  Since Jehovah Witnesses cannot read anything with witches, sorcery, magic, spirits, etc., finding a horror book to read was indeed proving to be difficult but not for my friend.  Here is what he suggested:

When I told my Voxer "support group" (you know who you are) that I had called the Jehovah Witness Headquarters I was met with a resounding, WHY???!!  

I grew up in the deep, deep, deep, Bible Belt South.  My parents were Northerners and we were also part of a religion that, at the time, only 2 other families besides ours practiced in the town in which I grew up.  We held church service in each others living rooms.  For those of you not familiar with the Deep South, if you are not Southern Baptist, do not drink Coke and sweet tea, and, for the love of God, do not say Ma'am and Sir, you will be branded the devil himself and ostracized.  

Well, being from the North, my parents taught me that saying Ma'am and Sir was rude (which it is in the North).  This won me NO points with my teachers.  With our religion I had to, as a first grader, excuse myself from the classroom when my teacher read from the bible.  I also excused myself from the classroom when the principal would pray over the loud speaker.  When birthday parties or field days or anything that happened where snacks and drinks were provided for students I would have to be taken to the teacher's lounge to get a Sprite because I could not drink anything with caffeine.  Can you imagine how this went over?  Did my teachers respect my religious beliefs and make accommodations without a fuss so that I still felt accepted and a part of the class.  HECK NO!  My teachers made sure to treat me with as much scorn as possible and made it clear to the other students that they were to stay away from me.  I also found out much later that the parents of the students also told their children to have nothing to do with "that devil girl".  

This is why I called the Jehovah Witness Headquarters and went the extra mile to get an answer to the question posed.  I know how it feels to be in the shoes of the 8th grade girl wanting to fit in but also wanting to remain true to her religion.  It is a hard and lonely place to be, but it doesn't have to be if we as educators learn how to respect others.  

I know that there is a movement to bring prayer and the bible back into our schools and I know that the movement is filled with good intent.  I feel, however, that these people have failed to take a step back and see it from the other side.  

Let's set up a scenario:  You are the only Southern Baptist in a mostly Pastafarian town.  In the public schools the teachers read daily from the Pastafarian religious text and recite Pastafarian prayers over the loud speaker.

How would you feel as a Southern Baptist child in that school? As a Jewish child?  As a Catholic child? As a Muslin child?

What would you do if you were a Southern Baptist child in that school? A Jewish child?  A Catholic child? A Muslin child?

This scenario is NO different than the movement to bring prayer and the bible back into schools.  Promoting ANY religion in a PUBLIC school where children come from a variety of religious persuasions is not only disrespectful but is terribly HURTFUL.  

As educators we need to tread lightly and be aware of the subtle ways we send unspoken messages to the students in our classes.  The bible on your desk.  Talking about Jesus and God in the classroom.  Having a "Choose Life" car tag.  Posting on social media your disgust over the Michael Sam's kiss.  Having a black velvet painting of Rush Limbaugh hanging over your teacher desk.  Pray for Obama Psalm 109:8 bumper sticker on your car.

Look at these tweets from a public school administrator below.  If you do not share his political views would you feel safe to express your own opinions in his school as a student?  As a parent?  As a community member?  As a teacher?

Do you find this next tweet ironic given the previous tweets? 

"If we reached one child it's worth it."   Knock knock. Could you reach yourself first?

Is this to say that as an educator you can't have your own personal religious or political beliefs?  No.  But these beliefs have no place in the classroom or on social media where you represent your school because when you do it HURTS KIDS.  I know because it HURT ME.

Friday, August 29, 2014

This Week @ Elkmont & Beyond: August 25-29, 2014

Learning With Friends

The always inspirational, Jennifer LaGarde, shared the video below and I just had to share it with my teachers.  I want to be just like Tim every day and do the Dance Off Of Magic on my way into work!  What about you?

My friend, Tom Murray (Alliance for Excellent Education), used Google Hangouts to kick off the back-to-school series of Project 24 leadership activities. Project 24 is a systemic planning framework around the effective use of technology and digital learning to achieve the goal of “career and college readiness” for all students. This initial Google Hangout explored how school leaders can deploy strategies that use data, support teachers, and use technology to provide more robust, student-centered learning opportunities for every student.  Tom's special guest was the incredible Eric Sheninger from New Milford High School.  If you missed this event you can watch below or catch it HERE as well as mark your calendar for more great webinars to come.

Although Tom Murray is super busy in Washington DC now, he took time out Friday morning to walk me through the  workings of Project 24.  It is incredible what Tom and his team have been able to put together!  If you are a school thinking about a 1:1 or BYOD initiative OR if you already have  a 1:1 or BYOD initiative it is IMPERATIVE that you connect with Project 24.  Project 24 is completely FREE and will assist you in not only evaluating the technology needs of your district but also provides easily clickable resources to help support you as areas that need to be addressed are discovered.  Not using Project 24 leaves you flying blind and hoping you are doing the right thing.  Project 24 provides with with a framework or roadmap for success.  Did I mention that it is FREE?!

Tuesday night I went to see Dr. Tommy BiceAlabama State School Superintendent, speak at Lee High School in Huntsville, AL.  While not a personal friend of mine, Dr, Bice is a friend to innovative teachers who have been trapped in antiquated schools with administrators who are more comfortable towing the line rather than rocking the boat.  I love that Dr. Bice has given us the freedom to rock the boat, shed the antiquated, ineffective means of teaching and empower students to be masters of their own learning! 

Our Week in Pictures


Learn, grow, and share with us by following the Limestone County School's Digital Passport Initiative Blog as we bravely move forward this year as a 1:1 and BYOD school district.


Congratulations to Ms. Candi Holt! Her Dive Into Technology Donors Choose project was successfully funded!

Donors Choose project was successfully funded!

PLC Leaders used a Google Document to schedule a date and time for our first PLC Meetings in September. We will build our professional learning goals within our PLC to compliment growth goals set in our Educate Alabama PLPs.

Kenny Jordan learned about Weebly to create a website for parents of children with disabilities. He will use this site to create a place for other parents to learn about, celebrate, get advise and support each other. I am looking forward to seeing the final website Mr. Jordan puts together using Weebly.

Ms. Pat Gartman has set up a Google Calendar for teachers and is ready to start using it. next step is to train teachers just how easy it is to plan on a shared Google calendar!

Katherine Pankey uses Remind messages with links to video tutorials to help students to review what was covered in class. This is very helpful for students who were absent! Ms. Pankey also sends attachments via Remind so that parents can see what will be on this week's test!

Linda Smith and Beth Bates are embracing the wonders of Kahoot! Here is a quote from Beth, "You may have already heard of this, but if you haven't, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, take a minute to check it out. It's awesome and it's FREE! And it's great for BYOD!"

Harnessing The Power of BYOD

One quick and easy way to use the devices students bring to school is as clicker/response systems. By using teachers are able to gather information quickly to drive instruction in real time, provide ongoing feedback and help students identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Basically, BYOD is a great formative assessment tool.

Socrative is a system that uses cell phones and or laptops (user's choice) for gathering feedback from students. You can post as many questions as you like in a variety of formats. One of the more "fun" question formats is the "race" format in which students can work individually or in teams to answer questions as quickly as possible.

Kahoot! allows learners to both respond AND create with any device that has a web browser and works over wifi or 3G/4G, creating a variety of trusted learning spaces.

Poll Everywhere is a service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging. The free plan for K-12 educators provides selection of features and quantity of responses that is adequate for almost any classroom. One of the neat ways to display feedback gathered through Poll Everywhere is in word clouds. The word cloud feature integrates with WordleTagxedo, and Tagul.

For more BYOD ideas follow my BYOD Pinterest Board here:

6 Things We Need To Stop Saying in Education from Dr. Justin Tarte's blog 

  • Instead of saying 'teaching,' let's start saying 'learning.'

  • Let's stop saying we are trying to increase 'rigor,' and let's start saying that we are trying to create an environment that 'appropriately challenges' our students.

  • Instead of saying 'professional development,' let's start saying 'self-directed growth

  • Instead of differentiated instruction start saying 'personalized or customized learning.

  • Let's stop saying 'assessment' and let's start saying 'input and feedback tool.'

  • I challenge you to replace the word 'meeting' with the word 'gathering.'

To read more about the 6 Words We Need To Stop Saying in Education click here:


The first 25 Elkmont High School teachers to add how they are using technology in their classrooms will receive a free Flocabulary tote bag!

Must include your name and HOW you are using technology in your classroom to alter learning for students.

Adding pictures and links will get you a special BONUS PRIZE!

Our Weekly Smore!

Each week I send out to faculty and staff an #iCONNECT Tech Tips Newsletter made with Smore.  Please feel free to share these with your teachers as well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This Week @Elkmont & Beyond! August 17-23, 2014

Digital Passport Initiative Set To Launch at Elkmont High School

Elkmont High School is proud to announce that on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm CT Limestone County School District’s Digital Passport Initiative will officially launch for the 3rd and 4th grade students at our school.

The Digital Passport Initiative is a 1:1 (student to laptop) initiative of the Limestone County School District. Under the supervision of Dr. Tom Sisk, Limestone County is dedicated to providing a device per student which will serve as their "Passport" to 21st Century Learning. This initiative is not a device initiative; it is a curriculum initiative. Limestone County Schools are dedicated to using the device for instructional purposes to advance student learning. A 1:1 initiative has proven to increase test scores and student attendance and decrease student discipline in districts all across America.

The rollout for the Limestone County 1:1 Initiative is different than most other districts. We believe we should begin at the elementary level and foster these digital natives early rather than the widely used method of a top-down approach. Therefore, we will begin placing 11” MacBook Air laptops in students hands in grades 3 and 4 in September 2014. This rollout will include approximately 1400 students and 130 teachers district wide.

Teachers of these grades have already received the laptop in the Spring of 2014 and are familiar with the device. Ms. Nikki D Robertson at Elkmont High School, along with Instructional Technology Facilitators embedded at each Limestone County School with 3rd and 4th grade classes, have been hired to assist teachers with the digital curriculum pedagogical change that will take place as a result of having devices in the classroom.

To keep up with the learning taking place with these devices and the objectives of the Digital Passport Initiative visit the Limestone County Schools DPI Website at Each week a blog post detailing our learning adventures will also be posted at

If you would like to learn more about the LCS Digital Passport Initiative at Elkmont High School please contact Ms. Nikki D Robertson at

This Week in Pictures

3rd & 4th Graders Continue Digital Citizenship Lessons

This week the 3rd & 4th Grade DPI lessons veered away from Digital Citizenship. We spent this time learning several important things as well as having a bit of fun with our MacBooks. We started out learning how to sign into the MacBook using our personal usernames and passwords. It is very important that student know how to do this on their own so that they can use their laptops at home. We also discussed how to completely shut down your computer and why. For instance, no one in Ms. LuAnn Adams class could get their login credentials to work. We held down the power button until the computer screen goes black. Then press the power button to turn the computer back on. 90% of the time powering your computer all the way off and back on again will solve most computer problems. We also learned how to log out of our accounts so that someone else can log in to the computers we are currently sharing. The last "technical" thing we learned and practices was how to properly take care of the charging cable for the MacBook Air.

For fun we explored Photo Booth. We had such a good time being absolutely silly! We then transitioned into a bit of musical fun by becoming beat box musicians using IncrediBox.

Next week will finish up our Digital Citizenship modules.

Just 5 more days until our BIG DAY! YAY!

Celebrating Our Successes!  

Mr. Kenny Jordan, Assistant Principal, walked and talked with me this week about how much he likes using Remind (formerly Remind 101). We then went door to door down the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade hallway knocking on doors and asking teachers about their experiences using Remind as a way to communicate with students and parents. Every teacher that uses Remind had great stories to share. One teacher shared that she sent home a Remind message for her students to wear red for Spirit Day. All of her students came to school wearing red the next day.

Paper notes and newsletter can get lost or never read. Emails, websites, blogs, and electronic newsletters are often left unread as well, but a recent study proved that 100% of all text messages are read. Thus, if you want to make sure your message has been received use a text messaging service like Remind.

Another service that I like even better than Remind is Check it out if you would like or stop by E1 to have Ms. Robertson help you set up an account to use with your students/parents.


Ms. Pat Gartman, Assistant Principal, continued learning about Twitter and the power of a hashtag this week as she tweeted about the 5th Grade Project Based Learning field trip to Downtown Elkmont.

Be sure to use hashtags like #EHSRedDevils, #LCSForKids, and #iConnect to share the learning fun we are having at Elkmont High School this year.


5th grade teachers, Ms. Tessa Hardiman, Ms. Candi Holt, and Ms. Missy Bailey, used digital cameras this week to begin documenting their Project Based Learning (PBL) Unit. You can follow the pictorial history of the project as it happens by checking back to the Flickr album below from time to time. Pictures will be added as new events are captured.


Ms. Katherine Pankey, Mathematics Teacher, signed up for Google Classroom this week. 
Ms. Robertson has setup a Google Classroom Classes for each of Elkmont High School's PLCs.

Not familiar with Google Classroom? Watch this will blow your mind!

Professional Development

Thursday I had the pleasure of spending the evening learning from the always inspiring Jennifer Lagarde as she presented 27 Ways To Make This The Best Year EVER!  Check it out for yourself and see what you missed! Then make a note to never miss anything Jennifer presents again!

Saturday I got to spend the afternoon doing PD in my PJs with SimpleK12.  Not only was I able to learn great information about Google from presenters like Kyle Pace, Monica Burns, & Kimber Thompson, Caitlin Tucker, and Lori Maldonado,  but I had the honor of presenting as well.

My presentation was about using Google Hangouts to make learning rewindable.  The great thing about SimpleK12 is that the learning can take place 24/7 and is there for you when you are ready.  Plus, they have engaging, well informed presenters.  You can't lose when you use SimpleK12 for your PD needs.

Fun with Family

Friday, Saturday & Sunday my daughter and grandson from Atlanta made the three hour trek to Huntsville to visit.  Our weekend was fast, exhausting and fun!  We took the grandson to Sci-Quest which features more than 150 interactive exhibits pertaining to the principles of science.  Even at 3 years old, he loved it and so did we!  The Earthquake simulator ROCKED! Literally!  The other place we took the grandson was to the US Space and Rocket Center.  It was truly an amazing experience to see and do some many things there.  I love that I was able to spend some quality time with my family while building brain synapses that will help my grandson have points of reference as he learns and grows.  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

This Week @ Elkmont High & Beyond: August 11-15, 2014

DPI Modules:

This week 3rd and 4th grade students began using MacBooks to explore how to be good Digital Citizens and how to stay safe online. Students are completing five learning modules through Common Sense Media's Digital Passport programMrs. Laura Dougherty's 3rd grade students were the first to get their hands on the MacBooks and did an AWESOME job!

I learned quite a bit from that first lesson and adjusted the lesson accordingly. Next, Mrs. Atina English, Mrs. Tina McMunn and Mrs. Anita Bates classes got started on their learning modules.

During our first visit students learned how to make safe passwords, how hard it is to multitask while using a cell phone to talk or text, and the importance of staying safe while online as well as online privacy.

Tech Comfort Survey:

Tackling a new position this year offers great new learning opportunities.  To get a better feel for the educational community in which I am now working and as the Instructional Technology Facilitator, I followed the advice gleamed from the Flipped and websites and sent out a Tech Comfort Survey.  While the results in the slideshow below may look dismal to some, to me they let me know where the "need to work on" areas are as well as who my "experts down the hall" are. 

My next step will be to work with my administrative team to create blocks of time during the school day each month for small groups of teachers to meet in a workshop setting. This workshop time is vital as it allows for collaboration between teachers and professional coaching from the Instructional Technology Facilitator.

Other open ended questions asked on the survey that will also help navigate the professional learning needs of my new school community included:

  • What technology (app, website, etc) not mentioned above do you have a high degree of confidence in using in a school/classroom setting?
  • What technologies have you heard about through PDs, other educators, or friends that you would like to learn more about?
  • If you could only learn three (3) technologies this school year, which three (3) do you feel are critical to helping you in the classroom?

Perhaps my favorite and arguably the most important open ended question came last in the survey:

I'm looking forward to an amazing year of developing meaningful learning connections with my new school community.  

Presentations & Connections:

This past Tuesday I had the wonderful opportunity to present to the Lauderdale County School Librarians.  The invite to speak with this amazing group of librarians came from District Technology Teacher, Carol Pace, who I met at the Alabama Educational Technology Conference (AETC) this past summer.

I feel as if the presentation was an epic fail, however, because I, despite having experienced a few previous bumps in the road, have still not secured a HotSpot in case the venue in which I am presenting does not have adequate Internet service.  

The lack of adequate Internet (speed in this case) prevented use of several valuable audio and video components of the presentation.  The worst aspect of my over site, however, was that the attendees were unable to actively participate in a presentation that was designed for audience participation. 

I hope that despite this, the attendees gleamed something from the session and didn't feel as if their time was wasted.  

Here is a link to the presentation and if you have adequate Internet service be sure to click on the many links embedded in the pictures to get the full effect: 

Friends shouldn't let friends listen to Voxer and drive.   

I feel very fortunate to have friends who are in this "starting a brand new job boat" with me this year.  We have our own little, private Voxer group where we can vent, encourage, support and make each other laugh as we journey down our new found paths.  

With that said, friends shouldn't let friends listen to Voxer and drive.  Jennifer, you know what you did.  I almost peed my pants and drove off the road I was laughing so hard! 

Despite the almost peeing in my pants incident I am so very grateful that I stepped outside of my comfort zone, began connecting and building professional relationships on Twitter and have developed true friendships with professional educators across this country.  If you do ONE thing this year make it TWITTER!  It will transform your life.

#iCONNECT Tech Tips Newsletter-August 11-15, 2014