Spot On!

A Monthly E-Newsletter for Spotswood Educators

December 2014 Vol 3, Edition 4

Motivating a Community

of Learners

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Dear Colleagues,

December has been a busy month with the start of our Going Google training schedule. I'm excited to begin this transition and I know the next few months will be filled with lots of information and opportunities to participate in this transition.

As a reminder we have a number of resources for you during this transition, which includes a link on our district home page. You can find a growing list of our Google information at the Going Google tab under Staff Quick Links.

(CLICK HERE for a direct link)

You can also find information in this monthly newsletter and we have started putting up training videos on our PD Academy YouTube Channel.

(CLICK HERE for a direct link)

Additionally, you can participate in our monthly trainings by signing up through the Google Form that is sent out monthly. The sign up for next month's training on Going Google - Chrome, Drive and Gmail can be found if you CLICK HERE

Finally, I wish all of you and your families Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. I hope the Winter Break provides you an opportunity to enjoy this holiday season.


Google Pilot Teams

Thank you to the many volunteers who want to be part of our Google Pilot Teams. We made every effort to provide first or second choice requests but were not able to do so for everyone. The teams are listed below.

Team Members - Those on the team who will work with other team members to develop presentations, trainings, videos, and the blog posts.

Building Leads - These are the staff members for each building who will work with their colleagues in each building on the Google topic. They will also do training on this topic during the month listed in the chart.

Team Organizer - This is the person who works with the whole team, meets with small groups, assures presentations, trainings, videos and blog posts are ready for staff.

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Going Google

Going Google Training Schedule

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Apps and Tech Stuff

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December 2014

  • Google PD Academy schedule has been posted in every district building so all staff understand when trainings will be happening.

    • staff can attend any meetings they are interested in

    • over 60 people already signed up for second session (1/26/15)

    • The 1/26/15 session will also cover Google Chrome, Drive and Gmail. Google Calendar will also be part of this training. The training will be differentiated based on survey results to fit the needs of each attendee.

  • Spotswood Public Schools PD Academy YouTube channel has been started. Staff can subscribe and view videos about going Google. We can use this aspect to show evidence that we are training other staff members on Google. Any of our staff can use this resource to learn more about Google or review topics from the PD training sessions.

  • App: Google Keep

    • Select the waffle, click more, even more, yellow light bulb is Google Keep

    • Google Keep makes to do lists for you and allows you to change color of list, share list, and cross out things from the list.

    • You can archive items which moves it from the screen but does not delete the item.

  • Next meeting Paige Bestoff will be demonstrating Google Forms, spreadsheet, and flubaroo.

  • We will be receiving our new emails around the first week of January.

  • The procedures for technology issues will be changing. The email went out today (12/17/14) and will make the process easier for fixing computer problems. Staff will be aware of when their issues have been corrected. Soon our tech department will be able to fix certain problems remotely which will speed up the process.

  • What should technology be doing for our students and teachers? (group discussion)

    • gathering and analyzing data through Google Classroom

    • immediate assessment of student progress (formative assessments)

    • cuts down teacher time analyzing student responses

    • teacher made videos to help educate one another on tech use

    • PARCC preparation brings up many issues about typing, computer skills, our technology accommodations, and the scheduling for this unlimited timed test

  • Ideas:
    • PM Supervision stipend staff members could perform supervision in the media center at the schools so that other students can gain access to computers after school hours.

    • Begin asking for donations/sponsorship to convert media centers into digital learning centers.

FACT Meeting Minutes

November 2014

Calendar and School Improvements

The 2015 – 2016 calendar has been reviewed by many committees. The last day of school for staff and students will be Friday, June 17th. This will allow enough time for the various construction projects to be completed before school opens in September. Some of the improvements being made to some of our schools are: updating security cameras and systems, new fire alarms, and replacement windows in the high school. Other projects might be completed based upon the community survey.

Election Day

Teachers voiced concerns about having strangers in our buildings on Election Day. While schools are closed for major elections, the district will look into having a police presence in our schools instead of a security guard when schools are opened to insure the safety of our students.

Parent Teacher Conferences

Dr. Rocco will look into the possibility of having one afternoon conference day and then one day that has both afternoon and evening conferences since many teachers live a distance away, they cannot go home on the half day. While the staff will still be working the same number of hours, the schedule would just be rearranged.

Lesson Plan Guidelines

Teachers stated that they already write thorough lesson plans and questioned how much more detail was necessary. Teachers expressed concern that they are spending more and more time on paperwork, leaving them less and less time to do what they love, preparing for and teaching their students.

Google (GAFE and the classroom)

Please contact Dr. Rocco if you would like to be part of our Google pilot program. Those teachers who join the pilot program will learn the new system and turnkey it to their colleagues. The teachers in the pilot will become certified trainers. During training, a new Google item will be explored each month and short videos/blogs will be created to teach staff that is not in the pilot program. Some teachers expressed concern that the many changes in technology the district has/will implement in such a short time is a little overwhelming in conjunction with their regular teaching duties.

Technology discussions

Teachers wanted to know if there was a district policy or philosophy as to what should be posted on-line. Some teachers believe all work should be posted on-line while others believe if students can go to a website for all their homework and projects, they are not learning to take more responsibility for their own education. A teacher stated that in college students will not have all their assignments placed on-line, and therefore, need to develop good work habits while they are still in high school.

It was also discussed that while a paperless system is good, there are many families in Spotswood who do not have a computer at home or cannot afford multiple computers. This might create issues if all work is placed on-line. If homework and projects require computers to complete, and families have multiple children, it might be difficult for those families to complete all assignments in addition to the parents’ own work. As the district becomes more and more technology-based, will the district adopt an initiative where they supply all students with a computer to use at home?


The PARCC is still scheduled for this year. Teachers are encouraged to give students as much computer time as possible to prepare for this test.

Blizzard Bags / After School

Helmetta students cannot stay for extended time for tests and do not have access to the computer center for projects after school since they do not have transportation home.

Eventually snow days may be eliminated by having “blizzard bags.” These bags would have the day’s work in them so children can work from home. The teacher could communicate with students via the internet. This again raises issues for families with multiple kids and for those with one or no computer. NOTE: This is an issue being discussed by the NJ Department of Education for on-line learning during snow days. This is not a project Spotswood is working on.

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