Wednesday, May 6, 2015

iStudent Technology Group

The instructional technology team will be taking over our student technology group for next year. We wanted a fresh start so we changed the name to iStudents. Our teacher technology leaders are iTeachers so we thought that name was a natural fit.
We sent out an application form to all of our rising 9-12th graders. Besides the basics they were asked to share an example of when they were responsible and to rate their leadership, punctuality and attitude. Applicants had to submit two teacher's names for recommendations and to create a multimedia project explaining why they wanted to be in the group and how they would contribute to the team.
This is the flyer that was sent out to the students.

After reviewing and scoring the applicants we selected 20 students from our three high schools. This is a Thinglink we put together to introduce them.

We spent one of the staff development days in March working with the group. This was the schedule for the day:
8:30 - Selfie PicCollage posted to Padlet Wall
Intro Questions
9:15  - Create Presentation for Goals for iStudent
9:45  - Share Presentation
10:15 - White Elephant App Gallery
11:15 - Introduce School Project
11:30 - Lunch (discuss school project)
12:00 - Troubleshooting with the Techs
12:30 - Group Multimedia Project
2:00  - Share Projects
2:30  - Moving Forward, Expectations, and Survey

After sharing their introductory Pic Collage to the Padlet Wall and a few icebreaker questions, students were randomly split up into group based on which tool they would be using to present to the group. The options were Haiku Deck, Thinglink, Keynote, Flowvella and Smore. They had to share their goals for the group, expectations and a few fun ideas for the conference.
Each group presented and we were impressed with their goals. Every group shared the concern that they felt the iPads were not being used to the fullest potential in the classroom yet and they wanted to help our teachers and students learn to use them in more powerful ways.
We told the group about the App Gallery planned for the conference and they used the White Elephant game to choose which app they wanted to work with at the conference.
After lunch and some basic troubleshooting with our three iPad technicians we grouped the students by school. They were asked to decide upon a project for next year and put together a short presentation to share with everyone.
My area's group decided to bring back the news show to the high school and include tech tips and apps regularly. Another group decided to create a monthly newsletter using Smore to share with teachers that would include apps and tech tips and tricks. The final group decided to create professional development to lead teachers away from Power Point. Each group had to share their idea and include the ISTE standard(s) their project addressed, how they would implement their idea and a timeline for their project.
Finally we wrapped up the day by assigning jobs for the conference such as help desk, photographer, lead blogger, app gallery tables, etc. The two fun projects they chose for the conference were a green screen booth on the morning of day one and karaoke at lunch on day one.

I'm looking forward to working with them at the conference in a few weeks, presenting at state conferences with them this summer and helping them implement their project next year.

Teacher Technology Badge Update

The instructional technology team wanted to recognize those teachers that went above and beyond in their participation in the training we offered this year. We have been giving out badges for participation. Here is the original post for all the details on the badges. We sent an email asking all of those with at least 5 badges to take a picture of their badges and tweet using the hashtag #a1techabadges
We are going to select one of these teachers at random from each of the three areas and give them a new iPad case at our conference in June. You can see the hashtag feed here:

I was very happy with the number of teachers that have already shared their badges. This is definitely something we will adapt and use again with our PD next year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week I sent this Buncee card to all of my teachers and gave them these adorable, home button stickers from Amazon. They were a big hit! How did you celebrate?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Meanwhile in K-2...

Next week our state testing begins, which means our teachers from 3rd grade and up will be unavailable. The instructional technologists decided to use this opportunity to reach out to our kindergarten through second grade.
I made this Buncee card and sent out to all of my K-2 teachers.
I now have fourteen lessons lined up next week. I'm so excited. The lessons range from Shadow Puppet animal research projects, green screen in Keynote, Popplet character descriptions, Buncee books, Chatterpix opinion writing to Telestory weather reports. Next week will be tons of fun.

Honoring Choice in Professional Development

Giving our students choice is important for engagement in our classroom. It is equally important when planning and offering professional development sessions for teachers. The instructional technology team is currently planning the district end of the year conference and we wanted to ensure that our teachers had plenty of choices. In addition to offering several sessions for each time slot we also have some exciting non-traditional activities available.
1. App Gallery
2. Innovator's Lounge
3. Share Sessions
4. Appmazing Race

With the help of our iTeachers and iStudents, we put together an App Gallery. The app gallery is similar to a vendor hall at a conference, but instead of selling a service or product our teachers will be highlighting their favorites apps. iTeachers were asked to choose one app, then create a short presentation sharing what the app will do, resources, and ideas for the classroom. Our conference participants will pick up a card upon entering the gym. On the card there are ten stars. They will have the stars stamped as they visit at least ten different app booths. Teachers will earn a technology renewal credit for visiting the stations. We contacted the app developers and requested swag so that we could have freebies as each table. The apps that are included are: Showbie, Kahoot, Padlet, Tiny Tap, Thinglink, Stick Around, Venn, Timeline, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, Shadow Puppet, Smoop, Buncee, Canva, Doceri, Pic Collage, Word Study Apps, Pear Deck, Haiku Deck, Flowvella, SeeSaw, Digitwhiz, Socrative, Desmos, iTunes U, Charades,, Blendspace, Stop Motion, Remind, and 3D Gallery. I will share pictures and feedback after the event.
Too often we hear about lots of tech tools at a conference, but then never have time to meet and plan with our colleagues about how we can use them in the classroom. This year we wanted to offer our teachers a time to do this. The instructional technologists will be taking turns facilitating the Innovator's Lounge so that our teachers can meet with one another and put together ideas for next year.

Last year was the first year that we offered SHARE sessions for our teachers. Each grade level and subject area was scheduled a time and given a room so that they could get together with their peers from other schools and share favorite lessons, tips and tricks and plans for next year. They were a big hit last year so we are offering those sessions again this year. One change is that our administrators will be facilitating those sessions to help get the conversation started and keep it going.

We were inspired by this article in Edutopia to put together an Appmazing Race. The race consists of 10 different tasks that teams of two or three teachers complete to earn an extra technology renewal credit. We will also be recognizing the winning team with prizes at our awards ceremony on day two. You can see our task list here. One of our iTeachers will be monitoring Twitter that day for submissions and answering questions for teams that have any kind of problem. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the teachers put together. It should be a lot of fun.

How do you honor choice in your professional development offerings? I would love to hear about your ideas.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teacher iPad Walk and Twitter Blitz

In a previous post I shared our Admin iPad Walks. These have been extremely successful. The iPad Walks have allowed our administrators to see and share ideas with their teachers and also for each school we visited to be able to "show off" and brag about the amazing things going on in the class with technology. For some it has even been a motivator for encouraging teachers to use technology more.
The instructional technologists wanted to recreate the iPad walks for our teachers, but ran into challenges quickly. We can't possibly get enough substitute teachers to cover so that our teachers can visit another school and there isn't enough planning time to travel to another school. We finally decided to host a walk within their home school and have them visit classrooms just down the hall. We combined this day with our goal of promoting Twitter.
Teachers were surveyed so that we could make a schedule for each school showing which classrooms were open to visitors and what tools or apps they would be using. We distributed the schedule to the teachers and asked each of them to visit at least two classrooms. Teachers then had to share about the visits on Twitter using our district technology hashtag, #a1digitalinnovation.
These sessions were a big success. I have seen much more activity on our hashtag feed, one school created a school Twitter account and a hashtag, and many, many teachers told us that they loved getting to see the other classrooms and take those ideas back with them.
This PD session was completely free and very effective. I encourage you to give it a try and celebrate the innovation going on just down the hall.
Our Twitter efforts will continue. I sent a #ff email to each school sharing the handles of everyone in the building that tweeted so that they can follow each other. We also plan to have Twitter activities during our June conference and we've been regularly asking our teachers to tweet something they've learned at the end of a PD session as an exit ticket. There is an excellent article from Edutopia that lists other Twitter ideas.
Do you promote classroom visits or Twitter? I would love to hear about your ideas.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Teacher Technology Badges

As part of our Discovery PD series, we have been using a badge system with our teachers. You may have read about badges or gamification of professional development before or seen it used on sites such as Smore, Graphite or Foursquare. We wanted to use this as a motivational tool for our teachers. We discussed using virtual badges, but thought they no one would see them if we only shared on the teacher websites. Instead we decided to go old school and use paper. Each teacher received a tech badge sheet that looks like this:

We made these in Keynote, nothing complicated. Teachers display them on a bulletin board in the room or outside their doors.
Then for each session or activity we have given out badges. The response has been surprising. I worried that some teachers would think it was too corny, but most teachers have enjoyed it and some are VERY competitive. They want a badge for everything and have told us that if they knew certain activities earned them a badge then they would have been more likely to participate.

This was a very easy component to add to our scheduled PD sessions and has proven to be a worthwhile and cost effective way to recognize those teachers that go above and beyond.

This is one of our iTeacher's almost full page now.