Category: Staff Development

Digital Citizenship Presentation

Our county is switching over from a digital citizenship curriculum that our team developed to Common Sense Media’s digital citizenship curriculum. It’s a great curriculum with lesson plans, videos, games, and activities. This week I have been giving presentations at each of my schools explaining how to use the new curriculum. First we said good-bye to the old curriculum, and then I went through the process for adapting the new curriculum. We discussed the eight topics of digital citizenship: communication, privacy security, internet safety, cyberbullying, self image, digital footprint, information fluency and copyright. You can take a look at my presentation here.

VSTE Conference 2018

This week my friend, Alfonso, and I presented at the VSTE Conference in Virginia Beach. We had three sessions. In the first one, “Classroom Clickbait,” we explained how you can use the science and psychology of online clickbait to tap into your students’ curiosity. We used the acronym CLIQS (cliffhangers, lists, images, questions, and secrets) to categorize the types of clickbait, and we gave examples of how to use each type in your classroom. Our next session, “Civil Debate,” provided the rationale and some ideas for including debate and public speaking activities in your instruction. In our final presentation, “Top 5 Tools You’ve Never Heard Of,” we shared several (more than five) useful web tools and examples of how we have used each one with students. You can access all of our presentations here. UPDATE: We presented again at ISTE in Philadelphia and updated our slideshows: Classroom Clickbait and Top 5 Tools You’ve Never Heard Of.

2018 Summer Elementary Conference

Today we had our 2018 summer elementary conference. Our theme was “Dive into Deeper Learning” because we wanted to focus on the four principles of deeper learning: learning is anytime/ anywhere, student-owned, authentic and connected, and community supported. Along with this focus, we revealed our newly developed Henrico Learner Profile (HLP) which will prepare our students to be #lifeready. We know that successful graduates demonstrate six traits: Quality Character, Global Citizenship, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Communication. So each session of our conference included one or more of these elements. Lastly, we wanted to train our teachers how to use the new technologies they would be receiving this Fall: new iPads in grades K-1, new Chromebooks for students in grades 2-5, and new teacher laptops with Windows 10. Since teachers from across the county were taking a day of their vacation to attend this conference, we tried to make it fun and informative. We played games, gave away prizes, invited food trucks, and had a DJ playing music! Our “deeper learning” cruise launched with a Love Boat intro video starring the technology instructors, who are now called Innovative Learning Coaches. Then the teachers attended four sessions, or cruise destinations. Alfonso and I taught sessions on: (1) Windows 10 Tips; (2) Civil Debate in the Classroom; (3) Video & Animation; and (4) Blogging with Google Sites. It was a great day of learning from each other! We look forward to doing it again next summer.

New Teacher Academy

Today was New Teacher Academy, our county’s training session for newly hired teachers. My team’s job was to share ideas for using technology in the classroom. Alfonso and I presented a session called “Mysteryland” with the 4th grade teachers. Mysteryland is a music festival that I attended one summer, but it could also be your classroom, because classrooms are places for exploring mysteries. When you present topics as mysteries to solve, it stimulates students’ natural curiosity and increases motivation to learn. We used clouds (SOL4.6) as an example to show that every topic has plenty of mysteries to investigate: How much does a cloud weigh? Why does a cloud form in one spot and not another? Does anything live inside a cloud? Does lighting come down from clouds or up from the ground? Do clouds protect us from anything? Does wind speed and direction have anything to do with cloud cover? (Look here or here and turn on cloud cover)? Technology can be used by teachers to present these mysteries to the students in creative ways, but once a few mysteries have been presented, technology can be used by students to share their own questions with each other, research the answers collaboratively, and publish their findings online. We shared a variety of webtools for accomplishing these tasks. For example, we asked each new teacher to research a cloud mystery and post their answers on a shared Google spreadsheet. Try adding an element of mystery to your lessons this year!

Field Day of the Future

Today was our annual teacher conference, and this year our theme was “Field Day of the Future.” We trained our teachers to flex their technology muscles in new ways. We even had an inspirational video to get them pumped up at the beginning. My teammate, Alfonso, and I shared various webtools in our session, “Funky Tech CafĂ©.” The tools were arranged by TSIP categories: Delightful Research, Scruptious Problem Solving, Savory Creativity, and Palatable Collaboration. For Research, we looked at Kiddle (a kid-friendly search engine) and the new Google Earth online (you might need to open an Incognito window in Chrome to visit the site). For Problem Solving, we shared CoSpaces (a site for creating virtual 3-D worlds with the ability to code different elements) and ABCYa! Animate (a site for making animations). Our Creativity webtools were StoryboardThat (for creating comics) and WeVideo (for making movies). Finally, we shared two websites to help with Collaboration: Padlet (an online bulletin board with many updated features) and TodaysMeet (an easy-to-use private chat room that you can customize). If you’d like to try some of these tools, let me know, and if you missed this year’s conference, be sure to attend next summer!

Social Studies Digital Resources

One of the great things about attending conferences is getting the opportunity to come back and share what we learned with other teachers. Today I was asked to present at the Social Studies contact meeting, and I shared many of the things I learned at VSTE. First, I created my presentation using the new Google sites, so they could be inspired by the new layout, like I was. I showed them the cool, creative ways to use Google maps in their Social Studies lessons, which I learned from one of the VSTE presenters. Carol Simopoulos, the director of Elementary Social Studies, also asked me to share some of the resources available through the Library of Congress (LOC). If you haven’t been there in a while, you may want to check it out. It has an incredible collection of primary resources that are clearly organized and easily searchable. You can find historical maps, early children’s books, vintage news broadcasts, and more. Finally, I shared a few links to webtools that students enjoy using for Social Studies projects. StoryboardThat is great for creating comics about people and events in history. Padlet provides an online “bulletin board” for quickly sharing projects. Kahoot is a fun way to assess student understanding, and WeVideo is an easy-to-use movie editing resource. Let me know if you’d like some help using some of these ideas in your classroom!

VSTE 2016 Conference

This year the VSTE Educator’s Technology Conference was held in Virginia Beach from December 4-6. My friend, Alfonso, and I presented a session called “EDM: Educator’s Doing Multimedia.” We shared how teachers and students can create videos, animations, and music using free online tools. We also shared several examples of student projects using multimedia (you can find many more examples on our blogs). Since Alfonso and I are DJ’s on the side, we included some of the other EDM (Electronic Dance Music) in our presentation. There was a disco ball, lasers, and glowsticks for the crowd. At the end we collected the attendees’ names using a Google form on our website and pasted them into a random name picker to choose a lucky winner for an iTunes gift card. The random name picker is a great tool to use in your class as well. We attended several other VSTE sessions yesterday and today, but my favorite was one about Google maps by Adam Seipel. I learned some cool tricks and features I didn’t know about and was inspired to redo my own session’s website using the new Google sites (in your Google Drive click New > More > Google sites). Tonight we DJ’d a special reception for the vendors (that’s where the photo in this post was taken). If you get the opportunity to attend VSTE or another educators’ technology conference in your state/country, I’d encourage you to go. It’s a wonderful way to expand your professional knowledge and network.

Techapalooza 2016

captureEvery August we host an elementary technology conference here in Henrico, Virginia. This year it was called Techapalooza, and it had a music festival theme. We had a full day of presentations by fantastic educators sharing how they use technology in their classrooms. There were also food trucks, great door prizes, and DJs spinning tunes. It was a great day all around! You can check out the conference blog here, and if you join the G+ community, you’ll find links to most of the presentations. I presented on two topics. First I shared examples of how teachers and students have created their own videos, animations, and music using free, easy-to-use webtools. It was called “EDM: Educators Doing Multimedia” (since EDM, Electronic Dance Music, is often heard at music festivals). My second presentation was about using student response webtools in the classroom. There are several sites that give you live feedback from assessments, and some of the sites provide practice with TEI (technology-enhanced item) questions, similar to those found on recent standardized tests. You can explore the tools I shared here: “PLUR: Processing Live Uploaded Responses” (since PLUR–peace, love, unity, respect–is the music festival mantra). If you couldn’t make it to our technology conference this year, come out next August!

VSTE Conference 2015

Capture2This weekend Alfonso and I presented at the VSTE Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. We shared our “Moo Goo Gai Google Classroom” presentation and highlighted some of the newest features in Google classroom. We also attended some great sessions. We especially enjoyed Justin Birckbichler’s “Be A Green Screen Machine” presentation. Here’s his online portfolio if you’d like to explore more of his creative technology ideas. We also shared some updates to our Virginia Trekkers website. Our newest videos are about Nat Turner (VS.7c), King William County and the Pumunky Indians (SOL VS.2g), States of Matter and Water (SOL2.3), and Lake Gaston and Hydroelectric Power (SOL3.11). Later on that evening we DJ’d a party for the vendors and saw some great dance moves! The VSTE Conference is always an awesome experience, and we’re looking forward to attending next year in Virginia Beach. I made a short recap video that you can watch here.

New Teacher Technology Training

4thFestToday we welcomed all the new elementary teachers to Henrico County and provided them with some technology training. Even if you’re not a new teacher, you may want to check out our new hire blog to get some fresh ideas for the upcoming school year. The ITRTs were paired up with grade levels to discuss possible projects and lessons for the 1st nine weeks. Alfonso and I worked with the 4th grade teachers. We used the new pacing website to find out what they would be teaching in language arts, math, science, and social studies. Then we shared some ways technology could be used across the curriculum as well as for simplifying classroom management and assessment. Take a look at our presentation here and feel free to share ideas of your own using the links in the slideshow (created using a template from SlidesCarnival).