Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Useful Library Databases: Featuring "Hoopla" (It's Netflix for free!)

With so many ways to obtain information it is easy to miss out on the resources available through your local library.   The Kent District Library is constantly looking at new databases and resources that will be useful to their patrons.  It is always fun to see what they will offer and how Godfrey Lee teachers will utilize these items in the classroom.  With the limited financial resources, library databases are a great way for teachers to get great sources with just the use of a library card and no money out of pocket.

To start let's first figure out how to get to the databases. You will first go to the Kent District Library homepage at www.kdl.org and click on the "Reference Resources" tab at the top of the page as shown below.

This will bring you to the "Reference Resources" or Database page.  Click on the “Research Databases” link.

After you click on the “Research Database” link you will see a listing of all the subject categories for the databases.  You can choose to look at the databases through the subject links or click on the “View All Databases” link to see them all at the same time.

Although you can spend hours searching the vast amounts of information in these databases, today we will focus on the “ebooks and downloads” category.  This will give you something fun to explore over the Winter break.  Today we will look at a brand new database to the Kent District Library collection called “HOOPLA”.  "HOOPLA" is a streaming database that allows you to borrow up to 4 items per month, per library card.  These items include both television shows and educational and popular movies.  They also allow the borrowing of music albums and audiobooks.  Again, there is no cost to use this database. Watch the video below to see how to sign-up and how it works.


Friday, December 13, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 12 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 12!

To view what is in store on Day 12, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 12, please click here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 11 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 11!

To view what is in store on Day 11, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 11, please click here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 10 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 10!

To view what is in store on Day 10, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 10, please click here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 9 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 9!

To view what is in store on Day 9, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 9, please click here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 8 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 8!

To view what is in store on Day 8, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 8, please click here.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 7 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 7!

To view what is in store on Day 7, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 7, please click here.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 6 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 6!

To view what is in store on Day 6, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 6, please click here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 5 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 5!

To view what is in store on Day 5, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 5, please click here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 4 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 4!

To view what is in store on Day 4, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 4, please click here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 3 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 3!

To view what is in store on Day 3, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 3, please click here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

EdTech Cheer 2013: Day 1 #EdTechCheer

Come join the fun on Day 1!

To view what is in store on Day 1, please click here.

To see how I implemented the ideas presented on Day 1, please click here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

JB Tech Info: RebelNet + IXL + Tips + Updates

RebelNet Updates:
Added Single Sign on login for IXL under Classroom Resources for HS/MS students and Staff Resources for HS/MS Staff.  Click on the icon, enter your username and password, then click save.  It will remember your credentials and sign you in automatically from then on.

Fixed the Discovery Education single sign on as well.  It had not been working for a few weeks, they changed some of their website and it broke.

They recently changed how you switch to other services in Google Apps.  Now you click on the little grid in the upper right hand corner of Gmail, Drive, or other services.

Added a wireless access point to the OAC at the HS/MS.  

Bandwidth issues have been a problem since the start of the year.  We've added many devices to our districts network over the summer.  We have plans to add additional bandwidth and are working around current contracts to get that done as soon as possible.  In the mean time I've implemented some bandwidth shaping on our web filter.  This means that certain websites and other network usages are being throttled.  For example students can only use up to 1/10 of our total bandwidth during school hours for YouTube.  As we go toward 100% total usage it will decrease to 1/50.  Meaning as Staff require more bandwidth it will take it from student's YouTube bandwidth first.  This helps, but we have many resources that students require that we cannot throttle.  I try to keep an eye on large spikes from certain devices/user and block any game sites or non-essential websites I happen to see.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time to Get Your EdTech Cheer On! #EdTechCheer

December 2 - 13, 2013

The season for my 12 Days of EdTech Cheer is upon us!
This year, I would really like to encourage any and all teachers, educators, and administrators to participate (not just GLPS teachers).  There is so much we can learn from one another about utilizing technology as a tool in learning and instruction that does not need to be confined within the walls of a classroom or district.

This year, the theme for my EdTech Cheer is professional development.  The goal of this year's online professional development is to provide you with 12 days of ideas that you can implement in just 15 minutes a day.  That means that if you complete the full 12 days, that equals 3 hours of professional development!  We are all busy during the day, and 15 minutes is much more manageable that 3 hours at one time!

Check out my promo video below to see what is in store for the 12 Days!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

21 Things 4 iPads

If you are looking for ways to use your iPad more effectively, visit http://21things4ipads.net. This site has many valuable resources that you can use to become a more efficient iPad user. You will find documentation about iPad basics, Photo Editing Techniques, Classroom App Recommendation and much more.

This PD site is modeled after 21things4teachers and was recently featured in the latest issue of the MACUL journal. It is put together by REMC Instructional Technology Specialist from across the State of Michigan.

As always, the Godfrey-Lee Tech Department is available to meet with any staff member who may need PD beyond the online resources we send out. If you would like to have training or discussions with any of our staff please fill out this form.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

MacBook Navigation Basics

Having trouble using the touchpad on your new MacBook or want to know more about what it can do for you?

Check out this support page that helps you figure out all of the useful navigation tools that are built into your MacBook.

Also discover the trackpad on your own by going to System Preferences>Trackpad. This will allow you to modify your trackpad to fit your needs. Change the Point & Click, Scroll & Zoom options or explore More Gestures.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from your neighborhood Tech & Media Team!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2nd Grade MacBook Basics {Tech PD Recap}

Yesterday I was able to meet with most of our second grade team to learn more about their new MacBook Pros.  They are a dedicated group of teachers!  We met early in the morning and despite the early hour, they were awake and ready to learn more about their devices.  As stated in a previous post, our Tech & Media Team is focusing on providing teacher-directed professional development, so based on the feedback we received, the meeting met their needs, as it was driven by their input and questions.  I introduced them to our new approach to PD that integrates the adopted learning design model as well as Kagan structures and they were very receptive and eager to learn new strategies that they could implement with their students.

In surveying the teachers, they identified many areas that they would like to learn more about in regards to their MacBook Pros.  All information was recorded in a presentation (found below - if you are unable to view the presentation below, please click here) and was used as a reference during the meeting.  Also included in the presentation is a link to our meeting agenda.
This was our third meeting with teachers since we implemented our new professional development approach.  I feel with each meeting, we are becoming more comfortable and reassured with our approach to our professional development.  When reviewing the feedback from the post-PD survey, a teacher left the following quote regarding the PD session:
"I love the way you incorporated usable ideas for lessons and also features that I was unaware of but will find extremely useful. MORE of the same. I love the small groups and appreciate you taking the time to individualize this to our needs."
We couldn't be happier to read this, and know that teachers are taking more away from our professional development other than just technical knowledge. We are working towards a more integrated model of technology use, where the computer or other device is a tool that supports teaching and learning. This quote reaffirms that we are definitely moving forward and teachers value their own professional learning time.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rebel U Fundraiser - Water Bottles!

Every year we like to re-evaluate our Rebel U program and make any changes and adjustments to meet the needs of our teachers (and subsequently, students).  Some of the things that teachers would like to see and we would like to do to enhance our program cost money and we would like to try our best to make those things happen for our awesome teachers!

The GLPS Tech & Media Team is doing a fundraiser to raise money to support our Rebel U teacher professional development program.  The design for our water bottle is given below in the form with the 4 available colors.  The water bottles are similar to that of the "Nalgene" brand water bottles and cost $10 each.

All payments are DUE by THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2013.  If payment is not received by then, your order will NOT be submitted.  Payments may be submitted to the Administration Office.

You will be notified by email or phone when your order is ready to be picked up.

All water bottles will have to be picked up from Sarah Wood at Lee High School no later than Friday, December 13, 2013.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sarah Wood.

If you are unable to view the form below, please click here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

3rd Grade Apple TV Basics {Tech PD Recap}

This past week, we met with part of the third grade team who wanted to learn more about how to effectively utilize their Apple TVs.  In keeping with our approach to professional development this year, we designed the professional development meeting where it was aligned with the adopted learning design model as well as integrated Kagan structures to increase teacher engagement and participation.

In surveying the teachers, they identified many areas that they would like to learn more about in regards to their Apple TV.  All information was recorded in a presentation (found below - if you are unable to view the presentation below, please click here) and was used as a reference during the meeting.  Also included in the presentation is a link to our meeting agenda.

Before our meeting, a few teachers already had Apple TVs installed in their rooms while others would be receiving theirs soon.  With this being said, some had already utilized their Apple TV a bit and had questions about the functionality, while others had questions as to what exactly the device was and how it fit in with the use of their new MacBook Pro.  As some were unfamiliar with the purpose of the device, the Kagan Pairs Compare activity was not beneficial to all members in the group, but did spark new questions and discussion points.  Based on the feedback collected from the post-PD form, each teacher was able to learn something new about their Apple TV and were happy to learn about how to be able to turn the connection code on and off as needed.  As the rest of them receive their Apple TVs become more comfortable with their new MacBook Pros and iPads, I know they will have great new teaching and learning opportunities to share!

To view a spreadsheet with cumulative data about the professional development that our third grade teachers have participated in, please click here (includes school improvement correlation).

5th Grade MacBook Basics {Tech PD Recap}

Our meeting with fifth grade kicked off our new professional development offerings for the 2013-2014 school year.  All of the fifth grade teachers had requested help in learning more about their new MacBook Pros.  As stated in a previous post, we are focusing on providing teacher-directed professional development.  A couple of our Tech & Media Team members have been working with coaches to provide effective, teacher-driven professional development.  We have been working to provide professional development that integrates with the adopted learning design model as well as integrating Kagan structures to increase teacher engagement and participation.

In surveying the teachers, they identified many areas that they would like to learn more about in regards to their MacBook Pros.  All information was recorded in a presentation (found below - if you are unable to view the presentation below, please click here) and was used as a reference during the meeting.  Also included in the presentation is a link to our meeting agenda.

As this was our first professional development meeting since starting our new approach this year, we couldn't be happier with how well it was received.  The teachers were very open and receptive to our new approach and their feedback (provided via the post-PD form) was encouraging.  They liked the teacher-driven approach and everyone was able to take something away from our meeting.  We had some good conversation and laughs as we went through our meeting activator.
The one thing that I felt as a facilitator that went really well was our Kagan activity (Pairs Compare).  The teachers were able to interact with one another, hear directly from their team members what each other already know about their MacBook, and share with one another.  Each teacher was able to create a list of all of the things they knew, as well as what other members on their team knew (as documented in the presentation above).  After their lists were compiled, as a group we went through and addressed the rest of their questions that were not already discussed through our activity.  I was happy to see the team interact with one another, teach each other, and openly ask questions so that they can more effectively utilize their devices.  I am excited to work with the fifth grade more and see how they translate their knowledge and use of their devices into instruction and student learning.

To view a spreadsheet with cumulative data about the professional development that our fifth grade teachers have participated in, please click here (includes school improvement correlation).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Identifying Phishing and Scam E-Mails

We've received a few e-mails from staff around the district asking about e-mails they have received and whether or not they were real.  So I decided to write a blog post on a few ways to identify a fake e-mail.

 The following is an actual e-mail received by a staff member:

From: Miranda Killian 1
Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2013 2:16 PM
To: Miranda Killian 
Subject: IP Security Alert!! 2

This Message is From the Admin Help Desk 3. Due to our latest IP Security upgrades we have reason to believe that your E-mail account was accessed by a third party. 4
Protecting the security of your E-mail account is our primary concern; we have limited access to sensitive E-mail account features.
To resolve this issue you have to Re-validate your e-mail account. Failure to Re-validate your E-mail account as soon as you see this message will cause the deactivation of your E-mail account be warned. 5
Help Desk requires you to validated your email account by clicking HERE 6
Thank you for your cooperation.
Admin Help Desk 2013 © 3

When I see an e-mail like this I break it down in my head, similar to diagramming a sentence.  Here is my thought process:

1.  Identity
The first thing I look at is who sent it.  Do I know this person/company?  Was I expecting this e-mail?  If you know for certain they're not part of your organization or a company you can't identify, then this is a red flag.  At a large organization it's hard to know every person that works there, so this can be difficult.  Try using a staff directory to be certain.  Don't reply to the e-mail and ask that person, of course they will say yes!  Ask someone you know for sure works for your organization.

2. Bait/Hook
The subject will often try to catch your attention by throwing out buzz words.  While this is also the case for legitimate e-mails, please use caution.  In this case these words are not used correctly and make no sense to a person who is tech savvy.  If they make no sense to a tech savvy person, they will definitely not make sense to a less tech savvy person.  Don't let tech words make you complacent.

3. Validation/Credibility
They will try to provide credibility by throwing out terms/titles that seem important.  This puts you at ease and makes you want to trust what you read after this.  Often it will be vague and not make sense.  Notice this does not mention any organizations?  Don't be afraid to do research on a search engine.  Others may have already seen the exact hoax e-mail you received.  They will often reword the body of the e-mail, but if you search for the subject or something like "Admin Help Desk 2013", you'll see results flagging this as a phishing scam.  This is where #4 comes in to make you ignore your reasoning ability.

4. Reason
They give you a reason (in this case scare tactic) why you should trust what they're telling you.  They may also entice you to trust them by promising money, items, or some other incentive.  If it's too good to be true, it is.  Greed and fear motivate people to do things they would not normally decide to do.

5. What do they want?
This is the most important part of these e-mails to pay attention to!  This is where they tell you what they want or what you need to do.  In this case they want you to "re-validate your e-mail".  Now if you followed the e-mail up until now, they're hoping you put little thought into this part and do not ask questions.  What are they REALLY getting from me? My e-mail and password.  This is the reason for the whole e-mail and should be your main concern.

6. Their Solution
They want you to visit a link and provide information.  Do not do it!  Links can easily be faked to look legitimate (hover your mouse pointer over the link and it'll show the actual website in the bottom bar of your browser). If someone informs you of a problem you didn't know you had, but has a solution handy, be suspicious (infomercials/telemarketers anyone?)!  If you were not expecting an e-mail, most legitimate organizations will give you instructions on how to change your password or validate your account by visiting the website (without using a link).  If you initiated a password reset or were expecting an e-mail confirmation from an organizations, then you know you the purpose of the e-mail.

Hopefully this thought process helps you in deciphering what's real and what's fake.

Guest Post: Dojo and PBiS

Today's guest post is brought to you by 5th Grade teacher, Olivia Alkema.
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I had heard great "buzz" about the Class Dojo app. So I downloaded the app, set up my class, and started brainstorming with colleagues about how to best use this tool in my classroom. I love it AND my students love it! My students love their little monster icons. I use it along with the school wide PBiS system. Anytime I would normally hand out a Bee Cool slip I give my students a Dojo point. Also anytime I see "off" behaviors I can deduct a point. This has saved me from carrying around my little clipboard of Bee Cool Slips and helped me to focus on the positive side of PBiS rather than the discipline part of it. The students also respond really well to the system. When they heard the "ding" of a point being given, I see them immediately check their behaviors to see if the point may have been given to them or if their behavior might earn a point. At the end of the day, the total positive points they get a Bee Cool slip for each positive point they received throughout the day. As a teacher I love this, because I only hand out Bee Cool slips once per day, the kids have a time to fill them out once per day, and they are eager to see how many they earned. There are reports you can run for a data piece, but I have not looked into that quite yet. Try it out! It might work for you too!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Guest Posting on Our Blog

Our team is always looking for new perspectives on how technology can be used for instruction, assessment, learning, and overall student achievement.  We feel as though there is so much out there that we can learn from teachers and there is no way we can know everything or have the perfect solution for everyone.

We encourage all Godfrey-Lee teachers to share how they are using technology in their classroom.  Starting this October, we implemented a new way of being a guest blogger on our blog.  We are asking anyone who would like to be a guest blogger to simply fill out our Guest Blogger Form.  This gives us some information about your blog post and allows you to provide a link to your blog (if you would like to post from there), or provide the content for your post to be published on our blog.  That is it!

Much like many other aspects of our initiatives and work this year, we are looking to collect data about our projects.  Listed below gives you a snapshot of our guest bloggers (starting in October) and some information about them.  It will be great to see what these charts look like come June 2014!

Also, if you are a guest blogger for us, you can receive a "Blogger" badge for your documentation of professional learning!

Guest Post: Remind 101 in Elementary

Today's guest post is brought to you by 5th Grade teacher, Olivia Alkema.  

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I attended Elayna Durso's session in RebelU about her use of Remind 101. I had already signed up for an account but was excited to see how I could use this system in an elementary classroom. Elayna used the program mainly with students as most of her students had their own cell phones. In elementary, I was curious to see the response. I pushed hard for sign ups at the beginning of the year. I had students bring in their device to show them how to sign up. Only 5 of my students had personal cell phones and we found out that an iMessage account was not compatible with the program therefore an iPod account with iMessage could not sign up. However, in that "in-class" mini-lesson, I got these 5 students signed up, and I also showed the whole class how to teach their parents how to sign up. If their parents signed up, I would give them a "Bee Cool" slip or a reward "ticket" the next day at school. I continued daily reminders for the first week of school and then I tried to sign the parents who had not yet signed up at open house. One problem I had, was that my Spanish speaking parents do not find this very usable, as the texts will be written by me, in English, and there is not a translation option available at this time. I currently have 20 out of 28 parents signed up to the Remind 101 program. This allows me to send group texts directly to the parents cell phones regarding important school reminders. I have sent reminders about field trip permission slips, due dates, early release, snack sales, pictures, and MEAP testing. The program only allows group texts and I cannot individually text parents with personalized reminders. The program says that it is a "public" safety net to protect both the program and its participants. I was very happy with how many parents I was able to get signed up, and I feel it is an excellent and convenient tool to use for parent communication, in all grade levels.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

GLPS Tech PD {Digital Learning Badges}

As stated in a previous blog post, our Tech & Media Team is taking a different approach to the professional learning opportunities we are providing this year.  We are focusing on providing teacher-driven professional development and making learning meaningful and relevant.  Part of this process includes gathering data, but also includes some fun incentives - digital learning badges!

At Rebel U this year, some of our teachers were introduced to the concept of gamification in the classroom environment.  To model a concept of gamification, this year we will be incorporating digital learning badges into our professional development opportunities.  Once a teacher has completed a professional learning opportunity with us and completed the Post-PD Meeting Form, we will issue that teacher a badge marking their completion of a technology professional development offering.

So what does this mean to you as a GLPS Teacher?

  • This provides you with a great way to show off your professional learning participation
  • As you will have filled out the Post-PD Meeting Form, this will serve as documentation of your professional learning (if needed for certification)
  • New badges will be added throughout the year based on teacher input and participation.  Don't be afraid to share what you are doing!

If you are a teacher that has received a digital learning badge - now what are your next steps?
  1. You will receive an email from GLPS Tech & Media notifying you of your badge.  If you choose to do nothing with your badges, you are done at this point.  We recommend saving the email though in case you would like to reference it in the future.
  2. If you would like to keep track of your badges, we recommend creating an account with Credly (the service we are using for issuing digital badges).
  3. Once you have created an account, it is helpful if you create a "Category."  This will help you organize your badges and allow you to embed them on your website if you choose to do so.
  4. Select your badges and place them in a category you created.  Once you create your category and place badges in that category, you will see a button that looks like "< >" that will provide you with some HTML code.
  5. If you would like to show off your badges on your website, simply copy this code and paste it onto your website.
  6. After this initial set-up, when you receive a new badge, simply accept the badge from the email and select a category for it to be placed in, and your website will then automatically be updated with your new badge!  If you would like to see an example of how they would be displayed on your website, take a look at my site to see.
We are always looking to celebrate the awesome things our teachers are doing with students, so don't be afraid to share!  It could earn you a shiny digital badge! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013-2014 GLPS Technology Professional Development

This year, our Tech & Media Team is taking a new approach to our professional development.  In the past, we have heard from teachers that they would like training on a specific topic (for example, Google Docs).  When we would prepare for the training, we would pull many resources and come prepared with different topics to discuss based on the direction of the conversation during the meeting time.  This approach worked well for some groups, but not so well with others.  Just like students, teachers have different preferred learning styles.  In order to provide the most relevant professional development that meets teachers' specific needs, we decided to use teacher input to drive our on-going professional development.

On our website, we have provided information about our PD process.  In a nutshell, we are taking a 4-step approach.
  1. Before - Before we schedule a time to meet with a teacher (or group of teachers), we ask each person attending to complete this form at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled meeting time.  This information is CRITICAL in structuring a professional learning meeting time.  As the meeting is teacher input-driven, we must know what is important to you before meeting.
  2. During - During each meeting time, we will provide a document that outlines our learning targets, agenda, and corresponding resources.  This will be posted online as a reference.
  3. After - After the meeting time, we ask that each person attending to complete this form within at least 24 hours of the meeting.  The information gathered from this meeting is very important to us in self-evaluating if we met teacher needs, other areas that might need revisiting, and data for moving forward.  The completion of the pre-meeting form and the post-meeting form also allows us to document teacher attendance so that proper credit may be given for professional development hours for certification.  We will also be using Credly to provide teachers with badges that document their professional learning.  Once the post-meeting form is completed, teachers will receive their digital badge.
  4. On-Going - We will be documenting meeting times so that we can provide information for teachers and provide reference materials.  Data is continually collected (data can be found here) and published to provide transparent information about our technology professional learning opportunities.
Some of the data we have gathered about our program to date is listed below.  For more in-depth information and data
We always welcome feedback and comments about our programs, as we are continually learning ourselves and trying to provide our staff with the best possible support.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Twitter for the Classroom??

As Twitter is gearing up to go public, it seems that the social networking site is coming up in conversations more and more. Many of our students have twitter accounts and are tweeting quite frequently. But are they really saying anything? Not yet.

Most teachers will say that twitter is a distraction in the classroom and will request that it be blocked by the district. Last year we saw exactly that and shut down access to twitter district-wide for students. As we continued to monitor student twitter feeds we found out that many students were still tweeting during class hours. They were most likely tweeting from their cellular devices since they could not access it on the network. Of course what we saw on student feeds was irrelevant to their education and usually hinted towards some sort of drama that took place in the hallway before class.

This year we decided to take a different approach. We know that humans, by nature, will misuse something if they don't know the purpose for it. Our school district may be the only place where students can be taught the purpose of social networking and how to use it effectively. One of our teachers, Gabriel Snyder, was the first to step forward and take the challenge. By having students create school twitter accounts, separate from their personal accounts, we believe we can teach students how to connect with the world in a positive way.

Gabe plans to have his students use twitter to take notes during class using the hashtag method and connect with experts in their related field of study. We believe that this will be able to engage students in the classroom and convey to them that there is a world outside of celebrity entertainment. Our plan is to support our teachers who are exploring this tool and help create best practices to use in the classroom.

~Dan Townsend | Tech and Media Director

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rebel U 2013: Guest Post

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2013.

As part of the Rebel U 2013 evaluation, we asked participants if they were willing to be a guest blogger on our Godfrey-Lee Technology & Media blog.  We were not only interested in hearing (and sharing) first hand accounts from attendees and presenters, but also introducing some teachers to collaborating in an online environment and being a part of an online professional learning community.

Today's guest post is written by Lee Middle School English Language Arts teacher, Alissa Huggins.  You can find Alissa online here.


This year, I presented at two Rebel U sessions and was able to attend two. I chose Libbie and Erica's "Tech Tools for ELLs" because I attended the SIOP training earlier in the summer and I want to be able to focus my instruction for this huge population in LMS. Libbie and Erica have an abundance of tools, tricks, and information for teaching these students. I knew that this would be a valuable session that I couldn't miss.
So what did I learn? They introduced us to a wide variety of glossaries and dictionaries that will help students learn and build their vocabularies. These resources include both verbal and visual tools. I can't wait to start using them with my students. What's awesome about the tools they share is that all students benefit from them, not just ELLs.
Some of the other tools that they shared with us are awesome visual organizers and presentation resources. Some of the tools also allow students to narrate a video or presentation without having to speak in front of the class. I think this is a great way to get students speaking without the fear of messing up in front of their classmates.
I'm looking forward to post-SIOP trainings this year, and incorporating these tools and strategies into my daily instruction.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rebel U 2013: Your Questions Answered!

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2013.

At the end of the day at Rebel U, we ask each teacher to complete an evaluation form.  We cannot stress enough the importance of this evaluation and need each attendee to complete the form.  Despite what people may think, we take the time to go through and read each and every response.  We listen to your concerns and try to address any issues or questions you may have as we plan technology professional development for the year and start planning for future Rebel U days.

Below are some of your questions or concerns that were voiced on the evaluation this year.  We wanted to take a moment to share some words on these to keep lines of communication open.

I would love for tech people to do some sessions.
Our Tech & Media Team each presents a session. We have learned from past Rebel U's that by presenting more than one session, we are over-extending ourselves. In order to effectively run a full-day, district-wide professional development, supply lunch, and provide tech support, it takes many hands. To see what members of our Tech & Media Staff presented this year, check out our sessions below.

It was good, but we need more presenters.

We open a call for presenters months in advance of Rebel U. We extend invitations to teachers, Kent ISD professionals, and other educational technology professionals. As Rebel U takes place at the beginning of the year, it is often difficult to bring in outside presenters as many interested presenters are tied up with their own professional development in different districts. We rely heavily on our own teaching staff to share what they are doing. If you know of someone who is doing something awesome with technology, please encourage them to be a presenter for Rebel U!

Keep sessions focused, it doesn't help to have a bunch of resources with no time to explore.
Each session is planned by the presenter. The Tech & Media Team does not require a particular presentation format. We feel that there is so much that teachers can take away from watching their peers present and seeing different teaching techniques and methods. Much like students, teachers also have their preferred learning styles. Even though a presenter doesn't present the material in a way that meets your preferred learning style, it equips you with a new tool for your teaching tool belt that you might be able to use in the future with a student. We encourage everyone to present because we know everyone has a different teaching style and can bring something new to the table!

You called the afternoon project a collaboration project, but I didn't understand how it was collaborative when I was in a room with people that were not part of my grade level or content area. I felt it was an individual project that I had to complete and it was difficult because I did not have my standards with me.
As described at the movie reveal, the purpose of the collaboration block was for everyone to have a common topic that is relevant to our district and classroom and determine a way to integrate that topic into your curriculum. The project was meant to be a little challenging and make you think outside of the box and try out a new tool, resource, or method that you learned during the day. We randomly assigned people to rooms so that you would not be with others in your grade level or content area so that you could talk to the people in your room and get a different perspective and feedback than your usual team (an example of cooperative learning). We also asked each teacher to complete a slide with their ideas so that you could go back to your grade level or team and discuss several different ways of implementing something and then potentially create something that would be feasible to do with your students. We knew people would not be bringing their standards with them, but also understand that they are all online, so that anyone could access them. We also understand that this was something new and different than past professional developments, but we like to stay on top of current trends and help model and bring ideas and concepts to you in a way that might be useful in your professional practice.

Tech problems at the end of the day were the only down point of the day. 
(This comment is in regards to too many people trying to access and edit one Google Presentation at the same time.)
Although encountering technical difficulties is never ideal (especially for our team on this big day!), sometimes it is almost a blessing in disguise. When something unexpected happens, it teaches us to think on our feet and react quickly. When you taking steps forward to integrate technology into your classroom, you can never observe others too much. Even though there were technical difficulties, it was great to see how others came up with their own solutions without being given direction or giving up on the project (emailing information, creating own Google Doc and sharing it, working off someone else's computer who had access to edit, etc.). This problem solving and communication demonstrated that we have amazing teachers who are proactive and willing to create solutions to problems.

I did like the fact that there was training in other things rather than technology only.
Such a compliment to receive! Our team strives to not only make technology integration meaningful and relevant, but help teachers understand that it is nothing more than a tool that can enhance learning and instruction. If you attended a session where you did not feel it was about technology, hats off to the presenter for making it a seamless integration where the technology utilized complemented the curriculum!

It would be nice to have my own iPad and laptop to be more fluent with the things you would like me to learn.
The district tries to provide all teachers with a device. Although this district-provided device may not be uniform across the district, it can be a powerful tool in your learning environment. We understand that your device may not be the one that you wish it would be, but one of the things we pride ourselves on with Rebel U is the fact that it is self-directed learning and everyone can use the device that works best for them. You get to pick sessions that are interesting or relevant to you, not what the district feels you should have or should learn. Mobile devices offer portability and some different capabilities, but many of the same ideas or concepts can be implemented on a desktop as well, sometimes just a little bit differently or with a different resource.

Please feel free to ask your questions about Rebel U! We are continually evaluation the program so that our professional development is meaningful and relevant.


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