Friday, December 19, 2014

How We Are Keeping Parents Informed of DPI Learning Progress







This week the Instructional Technology Facilitators embedded in each DPI school in the Limestone County School District were asked by our IT Director and Digital Passport Initiative (DPI) visionary, Karen Tucker, to provide documentation regarding state curriculum evidence standards for technology.


Technology 5. Does the LEA implement the Tech Plan to ensure the effective use of technology to promote parental involvement and increase communication with parents?  

Technology 6. Does the Tech Plan include how the parent will be informed of the technology being applied in their child's education?   

I began collecting the information I have shared regarding what the 3rd and 4th grade teachers and students at Elkmont High School have accomplished thus far this year.  It was thrilling to take few moments to walk down memory lane and see all the progress we have made so far this year.  Below is the report I submitted.  

Please let me know how YOU keep your parents and community members informed of the amazing things happening in your classroom, school, and district.  I am always looking for new ideas on how to include parents in what we are learning with DPI.




Parents are kept up to date on all things DPI related through weekly blog posts, newsletters and the recently added Virtual Hallway.  Teachers make sure to include links to this information in their weekly parent newsletters that are sent home with students.  Parents can also follow our DPI learning via Twitter, FaceBook, or Google+ using the following hashtags:


Here are links to DPI Parent/Community information:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

This Week @Elkmont & Beyond: December 7-13, 2014




Hour Of Code: Look What We Made! 

This week students from Pre-K to 12th graders at Elkmont High School joined a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries: Hour of Code
Hour of Code is designed to highlight the importance of computer literacy in today’s students. Computer science and computer programming is an essential 21st century literacy and should be a part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.

Students of all ages participated in a variety of coding activities. Some of our coding creations can be viewed on our Virtual Hallwayhttp://limestonedpi.weebly.com/special-hour-of-code.html

If you would like to explore the world of coding be sure to visit our Hour of Code Symbaloo page for links to lots of exciting coding opportunities: http://lcsk12.symbaloo.com/home/mix/AAAAARZB-hQAA41-4VpM7w==

Read this article from Time for more about why learning to code is an important skill: http://www.timeforkids.com/news/computer-science-education-week/199721



EdChat Interactive ShinDig! 


This week I participated in my second EdChat Interactive PD Session via ShinDig and invited my fellow Instructional Technology Facilitators to the fun.

What is a ShinDig? 
Shindig is a NYC start-up committed to unleashing the unrealized potential of video chat. Shindig's proprietary technology enables you to give an online reading, talk, or interview in front of an online group of 50 to 1000. In Shindig, you can share the stage with fans and take questions from audience members. Additionally Shindig adds a unique social dimension to events by allowing fans themselves to also interact with one another in private video chats.

What is EdChat Interactive? 
Edchat Interactive started with Steven Anderson, Tom Whitby, and Mitch Weisburgh. 
The three of us saw an opportunity to conduct PD more in tune with the way we learn, and to use technology to bring the skills and knowledge of education thought leaders to hundreds of thousand of educators. 
People don't learn just by watching. We need to interact, reflect, and participate. That's our model, in 45 minute segments that fit into the busy lives of educators.


This week the topic of the EdChat Interactive PD Session via ShinDig was Student Voice, Aspirations, and Santa Claus, moderated by Dr. Russell Quaglia and Dr. Michael J. Corso.

I concur with Dr. Quaglia's three factors that make up the Achievement Gap:
  • Relationship Gap
  • Participation Gap
  • Expectation Gap
Although the video below is directed to Ohio educators I feel the message applies to all educators.






Thought For The Week




Weekly #iCONNECT Tech Tips Newsletter for Elkmont High School



Monday, December 8, 2014

Hour Of Code: Day One A Success Despite Glitches




Today, Monday, December 8, 2014, kicked off the world wide event known as Hour Of Code.  Elkmont High School has a full calendar of classes participating in Hour Of Code this week and I guess we were not the only people jumping in head first today because the Hour Of Code website wasn't working for many of us throughout Limestone County Schools.

Luckily, being educators, this was no problem and we forged ahead with "unplugged" coding.  The first class to test out the coding waters at Elkmont today was Ms. Atina English's 3rd grade class.  Ms. English's students are amazing in about a million different ways and were very sweet as we worked through the morning glitches.

We started the day with an "unplugged" coding activity.  A student was chosen to be our "robot".  Using a blank Google Document, the class wrote code for our "robot" to follow.  Our "robot" was coded to go to the TV int he back of the room.  Once we had written the code on our Google Document one student commented, "We had to write all of that just to get our robot to the TV?!"  YES! Lots & lots of coding goes into building the games we all love to play.

The next "unplugged" coding activity required a few volunteer robots.  This time I started typing the code on the Google Document.  See if you can figure out what I was coding our robots to do: (disclaimer: I don't know nothin' about writin' no code!)

self.moveRightFootForward()
self.moveRightFootBack()
self.moveRightFootForward()
self.shakeRightFootAllAbout()
self.moveRightFootBack()

Have you guessed yet??  Right! It's the Hokey Pokey!

Below are Ms. Tamara Holt's 6th graders being coded to do the Hokey Pokey.


Later in the day I had our 6th graders code The Cotton Eyed Joe dance (Their PE teacher would be proud!)



After our "unplugged" coding activities we opened up our MacBooks and explored Made w/Code by Google since the code.org website was still glitchy or not working at all.  We coded the White House Christmas Tree, coded our faces, coded snowflakes and so much more! One of the favorite coding activities of the day was playing CodeCombat

When I pointed out to students that they were doing math when they were coding the response was, "WHAT? HOW?!"  That's when I pointed out the various coding activities were had done that used variables as well as x & y axis points.

President Obama even got into Hour Of Code today with the Frozen Coding adventure!



President Obama also had a message for students to motivate student worldwide to try Hour Of Code.




I will visit all the 3rd & 4th grade classes twice during the week of Hour Of Code.  During my 2nd visit with classes we will code (fingers crossed) a holiday greeting card using Scratch!

Watch our tweets all week long by following the hashtag #HourOfCode!

See more of what we did in our Flickr show below:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Who Really Learns From the RED PEN?



I am the daughter of English teachers.  I watched them as night after night they made student's papers bleed, folded the papers in half and wrote the grade on the outside.  Personally, when I received these types of papers back from my teachers I never even looked inside at the corrections, suggestions and notes my teacher had spent hours making.  I saw my grade and that was that.  So my question is this.  Who really learns from the RED PEN?

In a perfect world teachers would have time to sit down one on one with students to discuss their writing and allow time for revising, editing & rewriting with continuous feedback from the teacher before the final grading process.  But my experience as a child of English teachers and as an educator for 23 years is that we (educators) rarely go beyond the pre-writing/rough draft phase with our students; assigning grades to first drafts.  Our time is limited and a new writing prompt is in the pacing guide for the following week. There simply isn't time to go through the entire writing process: PreWriting, Drafting,  Revising & Editing, ReWriting, & Publishing. 

The 3rd grade teachers at Elkmont High School recently decided that they needed to spend more time assisting students with the writing processes and not rushing to the next writing prompt as the skills in each writing prompt role back around and are repeated in multiple content areas.

Using the MacBook Airs provided to each 3rd grade student via the Digital Passport Initiative and the Google add-on, Kaizena, 3rd grade teachers will provide students with a type of one on one conferencing that will have students making corrections rather than the teacher's red pen making the corrections.

So how will this work you might be wondering.  First, the teacher will send out the writing prompt to students via Google Classroom.  Students access the prompt via Google Classroom and will type their rough drafts.  The teacher will use the Google add-on, Kaizena, to provide students with recorded feedback on their writings as if the student was sitting next to them for a one on one conference.  Once all the writings have received feedback, the teacher will instruct students to put on their headphones, listen to the feedback and make the suggested corrections.  This process may need to be repeated.  Finally, student writings will be published to an authentic audience in a variety of ways including our 3rd grade blog, ebooks, comic strip makers, etc.

This Week @Elkmont & Beyond! November 30th-December 6th, 2014





It is amazing to me just how quickly December has arrived this year. I started out my week doing GoNoodle BrainBreaks with Ms. Walker's 3rd Grade students.  They had been working on a particularly tough skill all morning and decided to give their brains a break with GoNoodle! It was fun to stretch and give my brain a break too!

I like looking for GoNoodle activities via Tags and even using them for myself when I need to de-stress, change my attitude, or just get my blood circulating.  You can find activities by grade level, subject area, amount of time, etc.  





Our 3rd and 4th grade teachers meet this week to reflect on our Digital Passport Initiative (DPI) notable achievements and plan out our target areas for the second semester.  


Notable Achievements:


3rd & 4th grade DPI Teachers have done an outstanding job this semester getting acclimated with using MacBooks in the classroom.  


My favorite quote from this semester came when I walked into Ms. Adams’ room and she exclaimed: “Look what we did without you!”  This is exactly the goal of DPI.  Getting teachers to the point where they feel comfortable exploring and applying technologies to lessons on their own.


Their positive attitudes and willingness to explore and learn right along with the kids is to be commended!  In my 23 years as an educator I haven’t worked with a better group of teachers.


Target Areas for Second Semester:


Finding “time” to use the MacBooks is still a struggle for some of the 3rd and 4th grade teachers.  Getting to the point where the MacBooks are used as a naturally as a textbook, worksheet, etc will come with time and practice.  Some suggestions include using the MacBooks:


  • Morning Work
  • Reading Centers
  • Small Groups
  • Think: How could I use technology with this lesson?


These suggested times could also be used to give students time to work on individualized learning paths to help improve skills for Aspire testing.


3rd grade wants more opportunities to work with Ms. Pam Hammock to improve student  writing skills.  3rd grade teachers are also going to use Google Classroom and Kaizena to improve student writing skills and build eporfolios to show student writing progress over time.  4th grade would benefit greatly from doing this as well.


During the 2nd semester we will continue to work with the technologies below so that teachers feel comfortable using these with little guidance next school year:

  • Google Drive/Classroom

  • Moodle
  • Symbaloo
  • Power My Learning
  • Kahoot
  • iMovie
  • StoryBird





DIY Professional Development

This week I participated in two professional development opportunities.  The first was using a brand new format, ShinDig, with the #EdChat group.  

What is a ShinDig? 
Shindig is a NYC start-up committed to unleashing the unrealized potential of video chat. Shindig's proprietary technology enables you to give an online reading, talk, or interview in front of an online group of 50 to 1000. In Shindig, you can share the stage with fans and take questions from audience members. Additionally Shindig adds a unique social dimension to events by allowing fans themselves to also interact with one another in private video chats.


What is EdChat Interactive? 

Edchat Interactive started with Steven Anderson, Tom Whitby, and Mitch Weisburgh. 
The three of us saw an opportunity to conduct PD more in tune with the way we learn, and to use technology to bring the skills and knowledge of education thought leaders to hundreds of thousand of educators. 
People don't learn just by watching. We need to interact, reflect, and participate. That's our model, in 45 minute segments that fit into the busy lives of educators.


This week the topic of the EdChat Interactive PD Session was "Collaboration Beyond the Classroom" and was lead by Mark Barnes using his book, Teaching the iStudent, as a framework for the conversation. The format using ShinDig was exciting and quite easy to use as a participant.  

Steven Anderson got the session started by introducing Mark Barnes. Mr. Barnes introduced the topic of conversation and explained briefly how ShinDig works. After a few minutes, Mark presented the audience with two questions and had us partner up or form small groups to discuss our thoughts regarding the questions.  

I partnered up with Stella from Argentina and Tami from Hawaii. We were able to see and talk to each other quite easily, although there may have been a bandwidth issue with Stella's connection from Argentina. It was cool also to see thumbnails of the other partnerships/groups that formed outside of our own.  

After a few minutes Mark brought all the groups together again and then asked for a spokesperson from each group to summarize what their group had discussed.  

This method of presenting, grouping, sharing was the pattern for the evening. I found this webinar method to be engaging, fun and just outright COOL!

If you would like to participate in one of these events sign up HERE.



The second professional development I participated in was a #ptchat Twitter chat session discussing the very serious subject of Ferguson and how to deal with this topic in schools.  I feel that I came away from this conversation more prepared to talk about it with students yet saddened that the event happened at all.  

Here is a link to the Twitter chat archive or you can view it below: http://goo.gl/cXd35d







#iCONNECT Tech Tips Newsletter

Each week I create a newsletter for my school using S'more.  Here is our latest issue:










It's An EdChat Interactive ShinDig!



This week I finally participated in my first EdChat Interactive PD Session via ShinDig.

What is a ShinDig? 
Shindig is a NYC start-up committed to unleashing the unrealized potential of video chat. Shindig's proprietary technology enables you to give an online reading, talk, or interview in front of an online group of 50 to 1000. In Shindig, you can share the stage with fans and take questions from audience members. Additionally Shindig adds a unique social dimension to events by allowing fans themselves to also interact with one another in private video chats.

What is EdChat Interactive? 

Edchat Interactive started with Steven Anderson, Tom Whitby, and Mitch Weisburgh. 
The three of us saw an opportunity to conduct PD more in tune with the way we learn, and to use technology to bring the skills and knowledge of education thought leaders to hundreds of thousand of educators. 
People don't learn just by watching. We need to interact, reflect, and participate. That's our model, in 45 minute segments that fit into the busy lives of educators.


This week the topic of the EdChat Interactive PD Session was "Collaboration Beyond the Classroom" and was lead by Mark Barnes using his book, Teaching the iStudent, as a framework for the conversation. The format using ShinDig was exciting and quite easy to use as a participant.  

Steven Anderson got the session started by introducing Mark Barnes. Mr. Barnes introduced the topic of conversation and explained briefly how ShinDig works. After a few minutes, Mark presented the audience with two questions and had us partner up or form small groups to discuss our thoughts regarding the questions.  

I partnered up with Stella from Argentina and Tami from Hawaii. We were able to see and talk to each other quite easily, although there may have been a bandwidth issue with Stella's connection from Argentina. It was cool also to see thumbnails of the other partnerships/groups that formed outside of our own.  

After a few minutes Mark brought all the groups together again and then asked for a spokesperson from each group to summarize what their group had discussed.  

This method of presenting, grouping, sharing was the pattern for the evening. I found this webinar method to be engaging, fun and just outright COOL!

If you would like to participate in one of these events sign up HERE.  

The next EdChat Interactive sessions are:


December 11, 2014 3:30PM  and 4:45PM Eastern time (Thursday)
        Moderators: Dr. Russell Quaglia and Dr. Michael J. Corso

What do these three things have in common you may ask? More than you can imagine! Whether you have been naughty or nice you will want to spend 30 minutes with Quaglia and Corso as they discuss the importance of student voice and how that impacts student aspirations and overall student success in schools. Data will be shared from both the Student Voice and Teacher Voice Surveys and implications for Santa will be evident. See more...
        
        Register Here

December 15, 8:00 PM Eastern time (Monday)
Feedback, Feedback and More Feedback
Moderator: Phil Stubbs

This session will be a discussion on strategies for developing student capacity to give and receive feedback, and to transfer ownership of the responsibility for learning to the student. More ...

Register Here

December 17, 8:00 PM (Tuesday)
Eliminating grades, what can we do now?
Moderator: Mark Barnes

Mark will lead a discussion on what actions we can take now to transition from traditional assessment. This has been a topic of such interest that Mark is writing a book on it (due in February), but you can get a preview on Edchat Interactive and start taking action today.

Register Here

January 7,  and January 21 8:00 PM Eastern time (Wednesday)
Genius in Your Classroom
Moderator: Don Wettrick
Don Wettrick is the author of Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and is an Indiana Educator with a passion for student directed learning.
Do you want to ignite the fire of engagement with your students? Do you want to be amazed by what they've accomplished? Then you need to participate in this two-part web event starting January 7 and continuing on January 21. You won't just be listening to an "expert"; you will be interacting with other educators as you explore how to and how not to infect your students with the innovation bug.

Register for Don's Sessions Here

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Unplugged Hour of Code with The Hokey Pokey




While planning for Hour of Code week (December 8-12, 2014) I was looking for ways to teach coding to Pre-K through 1st grade students without using technology.  At #EdCampSandMtn I attended Faith Plunkett's session on coding.  Faith demonstrated how she has younger students code each other to move through a maze, grid, etc. This week, in the middle of the night, it occurred to me that line dancing is a type of coding similar to what Faith had her young students do!  

Next week is Hour of Code.  For our Pre-K-1st grade students who do not have access to iPads or other devices I thought we would code ourselves to do the Hokey Pokey!  I thought I would start the lesson by briefly explaining what coding is as it relates to robots, do a couple of simple coding activities like Faith demonstrated where students assume the role of a robot and the other students "code" the robot, and then move into coding students to do the Hokey Pokey but not tell them what I am coding them to do.  The first student to figure out what I am coding them to do will win a prize. We will then build the rest of the code  together from the point where the student won the prize. In the end we will turn on the Hokey Pokey video above and dance our Hour of Code as robots!

Code.org has lots of great lesson plan ideas for unplugged and plugged activities.  Be sure to visit them today! 



Disclaimer: I know almost nothing about coding.  I am following the example from CodeCombat using Python programming language (whatever that is) and am sure someone who knows code will cringe at my mistakes, but hey, at least I’m willing to try!


self.moveRightFootForward()
self.moveRightFootBack()
self.moveRightFootForward()
self.shakeRightFoot()
self.moveRightFootBack()
self.moveTurnAround()
self.clap()
self.say”That’sWhatIt’sAllAbout”()

self.moveLeftFootForward()
self.moveLeftFootBack()
self.moveLeftFootForward()
self.shakeLeftFoot()
self.moveLeftFootBack()
self.moveTurnAround()
self.clap()
self.say”That’sWhatIt’sAllAbout”()

self.moveRightHandForward()
self.moveRightHandBack()
self.moveRightHandForward()
self.shakeRightHand()
self.moveRightHandBack()
self.moveTurnAround()
self.clap()
self.say”That’sWhatIt’sAllAbout”()

self.moveLeftHandForward()
self.moveLeftHandBack()
self.moveLeftHandForward()
self.shakeLeftHand()
self.moveLeftHandBack()
self.moveTurnAround()
self.clap()
self.say”That’sWhatIt’sAllAbout”()

self.moveForward()
self.moveBack()
self.moveForward()
self.shake()
self.moveBack()
self.moveTurnAround()
self.clap()
self.say”That’sWhatIt’sAllAbout”()