Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Follow Your Bliss-Back to the Library

After three years as an instructional technologist, I am excited to announce that I will be returning to the library. I have learned so much and enjoyed getting to know teachers across our district. It has been a pleasure to be on the team that rolled out 1:1 iPads to our schools.
Even though I have enjoyed this position, I have missed being in the library, promoting reading, planning student programs and being an integrated part of a school culture. I was thrilled to find out that I had been hired as one of our high school librarians. It was obvious to me that I had lost a bit of my spark when I realized that I had not blogged in about one year. I even found myself approaching kids wandering the stacks of a library that I was working in so that I could recommend a recent read or help them find a book.
I hope to share more of my journey during my transition back to the library. I already have several ideas in the works for this summer. Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope that you are following your bliss-advice I haven't forgotten since watching Bill Moyers' interviews with Joseph Campbell in my high school senior ELA class.


Image result for joseph campbell follow your bliss

Monday, February 29, 2016

Launching a SC Instructional Technology Network

Our team often remarks on how difficult it is to find and connect with other instructional technology coaches/facilitators. We try to connect with those that perform the same job at conferences, but we would like to connect more regularly. In an attempt to create a network of instructional technologists we arranged for a meeting last week and invited all of the instructional tech faculty from surrounding counties. Even finding names to invite was difficult. We pulled names from conferences, websites and Twitter to send invitations. We created a Google Form sign up sheet so we would know who to expect. Our first meeting brought seven other instructional tech professionals to our team of three.

These are the slides we used to keep us on track for the day.


We started with a "smashing" introduction. You can see our creations on this Padlet wall.
Then we visited a few classrooms, broke for lunch and returned to an afternoon Edcamp style discussion. You can see our topics in the Slides at the top. Throughout the day we asked our visitors to play a little scavenger hunt using different apps and tools. There were six clues that required the use of Shazam to identify songs, Sphere to find clues in pictures, Google Translate to translate words, Google Cardboard to determine a location and a hidden Bit.ly link on the school map. When the clues were all found and filled in on the back of their agenda card, the letters spelled LAUNCH. The first to tweet the word received their very own Google Cardboard.
We ended the day with plans for our next meeting. We hope to regularly meet and change the location so we can all learn from each other. We are investigating the possibility of visiting a nearby university. Overall it was a fun day and I look forward to getting together again soon. I hope this is just the beginning of a great collaboration with our neighboring districts.
I would love to hear how you connect with others in your same position and would appreciate any advice if you've started a group before.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

PD Projects for January and February

My last post ended with our Tech the Halls contest. We had a lot of fun visiting the schools, judging the bulletin boards and handing out prizes. We chose a winner for each school because they were so creative this year. Enjoy this Animoto video of the winning boards.
We went with a Star Wars theme for our prizes. The winners received lots of sweet treats and a Star Wars Google Cardboard to use with their students.

We had the opportunity to spend a day with the student teachers, setting up their iPads and showing them a few tech tricks. We split the group into elementary and middle/secondary. They attended two sessions: SAMR Model and Classroom Management with me and Kristen Hearne and Core Apps with Kristen Gunter and Jessica Preisig.

As you can see we went with the Star Wars theme again. We served popcorn in Star Wars cups and handed out Google Cardboard for prizes. It was great to see such enthusiastic student teachers as they begin their journey with our district.

For January we hosted a PD session called "Let's Collaborate". Each grade has a shared Google Slides presentation and we asked each teacher to contribute one lesson idea using technology. What began as a way to encourage sharing became a lesson in using Google Drive and Slides so overall it was very successful. Our teachers now have access to several ideas and we will be revisiting the presentation to add more ideas after each PD session for the rest of this year.
This is the video we used to kick start the lesson.

In February I shared virtual field trip apps and green screen projects with the elementary schools. 


This session was a lot of fun and so important for our low income students that do not get to travel much (I was one of those when I was little). You can see the lesson ideas and green screen images we made on this Padlet wall.



This month in the middle school and with my high school ELA department I led a PD session on teaching vocabulary with tech tools. I used ten pop culture slang words as their "vocabulary" and led them through a model lesson before showing them Marzano's six steps for vocabulary instruction. Charades Kids was a big hit.

 You can see their vocabulary creations using Big Huge Labs on this Padlet wall.

For my high school science teachers I set up three stations for them to experience using a picture from the conclusion of a lab/experiment. As an exit ticket they had to answer a few questions on Quizalize, a tool I think they will enjoy using in addition to Kahoot. Since this PD several teachers have used Thinglink with their students. Yay!


Coming up soon are PD sessions on Chrome extensions for teachers, a session for high school Social Studies on alternatives to note taking and blended learning tools for high school math. Our instructional technology team is also planning a networking, edcamp style day for all the other tech coaches/instructional coach/insert title here in neighboring counties. I'll share all of the information from that day soon.

If you would like more details about these sessions or copies of the materials, I'll be happy to share.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fall & Winter PD Projects

A lot of emphasis is placed on professional development before a big technology initiative. That time to prepare is so important for teachers to feel ready. However, we are facing a possibly larger task: keeping the teachers interested in technology PD.
This year is a particularly stressful year because of a change in teacher evaluations on the state level and a district accreditation review. I think in some minds that has allowed technology to take a back seat. Our instructional technology team is trying very heard to keep technology PD in the spotlight and push our teachers to go beyond the substitution level with tech use. Some of the PD I have offered recently include...

Simple K12

Our district purchased the Mobile Learning webinars for our teachers so we wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this amazing resource.

Edpuzzle

Now that we are set up for Youtube in Education our teachers can approve videos for our students to view. This also opens the doors to tools we have not previously had access to like Edpuzzle and Educannon.

Safeshare.tv

Teachers loved learning about this tool because it strips the ads off of Youtube so they can safely share the video to the class without worrying about an underwear ad popping up.

Infographics

Our high school students needed practice using graphs and data so I shared resources like Daily Infographic, Human Face of Data app and infographic creation tools like Canva, Piktochart, Visual.ly, Easel.ly and Google Slides.

Creation App Practice

Our teachers are always looking for more choices for projects so I shared this session with my middle and elementary teachers. Thanks Kristen Gunter for sharing.

A few apps I've shared recently that were well received:
Schoolkit Math
Learning Tools
Flashcards NKO: our middle and high school love this app purchased by the district

I've also had sessions on Seesaw and Showbie for those that are still not using one or both of these tools. They are very popular district wide.

Last month our district hosted the Digital Innovation Institute. We invited administrators and teachers in to visit classrooms, hear about our technology journey, share our professional development and give teachers ideas for their classrooms. We had a good turn out and enjoyed sharing and learning with districts from all over the state.


Our second annual Tech the Halls bulletin board contest will be judged in the next few days and we'll deliver prizes this Friday. This was a lot of fun last year and I look forward to seeing the displays this year.

On a personal note, I've finished my first semester of classes for my Doctorate in Education in Curriculum and Instruction with the University of South Carolina. This is a three year plus dissertation program so I'll have lots of time ahead where I'll be juggling work, school and family. The struggle is real! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Google 911 and Tech Tricks and Treats

Now that the school year has settled in and our technical problems are at a minimum I'm able to focus more on professional development, my favorite!

For September I visited each of my four schools and offered a day of Google questions and answers called Google 911. Most of the questions I've had from teachers are about the subtleties of Google Drive, such as share settings. The teachers were very appreciative and happy to have their questions answered. They loved the little shortcuts and tricks I was able to share to make their daily tasks a little easier. Sometimes these informal sessions are the most helpful to the teachers.

For October I'm offering a session called Tech Tricks and Treats. I started a Google Slides presentation and shared a few tricks that I think they'll enjoy. I'm encouraging each of them to add a slide and share a trick of their own. I'm bringing hot chocolate and a few prizes as I travel around to each school. This should be a low stress PD option for our weary teachers. We have a new evaluation system this year and extensive required reading training in the elementary schools, making the enthusiasm for scheduled PD wane.

The iTeachers have been offering bimonthly PD sessions. While attendance has been small, the feedback from these sessions has been overwhelmingly positive. They've shared presentations on Book Creator, Google Forms, Art Apps and more. I'm especially excited about November's session on "Becoming a Digital Pirate" from one of our amazing teachers, Hope Meares.


I found out that my Donor's Choose project, "I Can Show You the (Virtual) World" was funded. Yay! Now I'll have several Google Cardboard glasses to use with my students. I can't wait to try them out as soon as they arrive. Thank you, College Football Playoffs Extra Yard for Teachers program!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Becoming a Lifelong Reader

If you haven't read Jennifer LaGarde's post, Learning to Read Alone is Not Enough. Your Students Need a Reading Champion, and Gwyneth Jones' response, Reading: A Passionate Love Affair, go immediately and read them.
Gwyneth challenges her readers to write their own reading story, highlighting those teachers that influenced us, and those moments and book titles that touched us. Here is my story.

I can not remember a time when I wasn't around books and reading. My mother reads all the time and she took us to the public library regularly. I used to love participating in the summer reading programs and browsing through the shelves. The smell of that building brings those feelings rushing back even now.
I don't remember reading instruction strategies, but I distinctly remember my first grade teacher, Fran Mauney. I still see her a few times a year at conferences and we exchange big hugs. I credit her with teaching me to read although she claims I already knew how. I was placed into an advanced reading group with two other girls in my class. I felt so special every time we were pulled out to read something different in the hallway. One of those two girls became a math professor at a university nearby and the other is a guidance counselor in one of the schools I serve. I don't remember a specific book title as my favorite. I read anything I could get my hands on.

Throughout elementary school I read everything by Judy Blume and Betsy Byars, all the Ramona books, and all the Babysitting Club books. I remember rummaging through the stacks at a local flea market hoping I would find a title that I had not already read.

In middle school I had another amazing reading teacher,Vicky Galloway.We read Across Five Aprils which peaked my interest into all things Civil War. I devoured every novel set in that time period. I read Gone With the Wind in three days and read lots of adult historical fiction that school boards would probably not approve of for an 8th grade girl.
I hit a dry spell in high school when I did not enjoy any of the assigned novels. I hate you Silas Marner! I continued to read, but friends definitely took a higher priority. I came back to reading more in college. After finishing my assigned work I would read for fun: titles I felt I should have read in high school but didn't, philosophical novels my "intellectual" friends recommended, and mysteries loaned to me by my favorite college professor, Meredith Uttley.


If I'm not in the middle of a book I feel like something is missing. Sometimes life catches up with me and I don't have a lot of time to read, but it is a huge part of my life and always will be. None of my love for reading came from the traditional reading instruction strategies. My love for reading came from teachers and titles that reached my heart.

Teachers, please keep this in mind as you prepare for another year with your students. Read Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, and dare to change your classroom in order to reach out to your students.

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Day of School Signs

I'm sure you've seen the First Day of School signs on Pinterest and Facebook. A neighboring district created custom signs for parents to print and use. We loved this idea and made some for our parents as well.
I used my son as our model to advertise the signs.
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You can see the signs here. We're hoping our parents will share their pictures using the hashtag #a1firstday and we can repost on our district Facebook page and website.

Does your district make signs to share with their parents?