Tiger Tech Update

Week of September 15

A Growth Mindset

Have you noticed how students seem to be really well-behaved during the first two weeks of the school year, until the third week rolls around and you find yourself dealing with more and more behavior issues? At first they're small things, like a couple of students whispering in the background when they should be listening, but then you suddenly have your first major "confrontation" of the semester. We all know that how we deal with these challenges early on can have implications for the entire school year.

It seems to me that trying something new in your classroom, whether it be technology-related or a different teaching practice, follows a similar path. The first few weeks can be exciting and full of high expectations, but it doesn't take long to hit that first stumbling block. I had a lesson last week that took a lot of thought and planning on my part. Not only did it use technology that was new to me, but I was also exploring a different way of introducing content to students. To make a long story shorter, it flopped. The students didn't engage in the topic like I thought they would, one of the tech pieces gave us trouble, and when it was all said and done, I don't think it promoted the student thinking I was hoping for.

While my knee-jerk reaction is to throw up my hands in exasperation when these set-backs occur, I try to focus on having a Growth Mindset, knowing I can improve the lesson through additional reflection, practice, and time. After all, isn't this the same expectation I have for my students when they struggle?

So as we approach the midterm of Quarter 1 and that "beginning of the school year" glow starts to dim, I encourage you to give yourself a break! Not everything new you try in the classroom will work perfectly the first time. But don't let those set-backs stop you from moving forward either. After all,

"If we only did things that were easy, we wouldn't actually be learning anything. We'd just be practicing things we already knew." - David Dockterman

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

Spotlight on Classrooms

Mr. Fink, Mrs. Madsen, Mrs. Prechel

Bob has been working hard to organize his class materials on Schoology, and on Friday his work paid off when his math students took an online test. He used images from practice problems to design the quiz and was able to give immediate information to the students on which problems they answered incorrectly.

Elizabeth has been using the Class Dojo app in her Junior High science classes to promote positive class behaviors. Each student gets to choose an avatar and receives regular, instantaneous feedback on various "soft" skills such as listening, cooperation, and timeliness.

Julie has a unique situation in her classroom in that the computer that's connected to her SmartBoard is tucked away in her office. She's recruited technology to work around this problem by using the Splashtop Whiteboard app to control her computer screen from her iPad.

*Special Student Anecdote: A band student told me how excited he was that Notability allowed for audio notes. He said he recorded one of the songs the band practiced during class so that he could remember all of the pointers Ms. Generous gave the students, perfect for review when he plays at home.

Need to Know

App Requests

Now that the iPad carts are ready and all students have access to devices, app requests are beginning to roll in. Please remember to use the online app request form in the Connected Learning: Staff Schoology course if you'd like an app placed on cart iPads, student iPads, or a group of teacher iPads.

A few other updates regarding app requests:

  • I will let you know if/when I've added a free app to the app catalogue.
  • I'll do my best to not "double up" on apps. In other words, if we already have an app that accomplishes the same task as the requested app, we more than likely won't be adding the new one. Most experienced iPad programs suggest keeping the number of apps low to prevent overwhelming students.
  • When a request for a paid app is submitted, I will pass it on to the appropriate administrator for approval. Your administrator will let you know if the app has been approved.
  • Submit your request at least a week before you'd like to use the app in class. This gives me time to research the app or talk to administrators as needed.

Student Updates

Notability & Google Drive: Some high school students were not able to initially download Notability from the app store. This week, I took care of all the students I was aware of, but if you know of any other students that don't have Notability, please send them in my direction so I can get it on their device. Also, I can reset Google passwords for students who have forgotten them.

Schoology Discrepancies: Since the beginning of the year, there have been some students who have been enrolled in extra Schoology courses, and teachers who have extra classes on their course list. TIES and Schoology have been working together, with data from Mrs. DeBerg and myself, to try to figure out a fix for this. I'm hopeful that some progress will be made this week. The good news is that nobody is missing classes!

Student iPad Cases: In the high school you may have noticed some "rogue" cases showing up. The iPad Handbook specifically says students should not remove their cases for insurance purposes. If they choose to do so, they are forfeiting their insurance coverage. We need your help in keeping track of students who have changed cases. Mr. Moriarty will be sharing a Google Doc for teachers to record names of students with personal cases. With this list, we'll be able to have a record of which students violated the policy if there is damage to the iPad. Thanks in advance for your help with this.

Looking For More?

Adobe Voice App

A popular request from teachers so far has been a "presentation" app. iPads don't have PowerPoint, so teachers are looking for something similar for those types of assignments. What's great about a new device is that it helps you push an old lesson to a place it's never been before. How about an app that not only allows a student to create a presentation, but can also turn that presentation into a video the student narrates?

Adobe Voice is a free app that is straight-forward in use and provides professional-looking videos without taking a ton of time. The app has its own gallery of icons and images, but you can also upload your own from your camera roll. There also built-in themes and music choices. The addition of student voice truly personalizes the outcome. When you're done, a web-link is generated for the video so it can be shared in a variety of ways.

Play with this app a little bit and see what you think! We don't currently have it in the app catalogue, but if anyone decides they'd like to use it with a large group of students, simply fill out the App Request form. I'd love to visit your classroom and see students in action while they design their presentations. Below is the link to an Adobe Voice video I created just to give you a taste of what it's all about!

Final Word

Schoology Poll

I've added two new polls regarding "Breakfast Bytes" technology opportunities on the faculty Schoology course, Connected Learning. When you get a chance this week, please indicate the topics and times you'd prefer by completing the polls. Thanks!

Photo/Video Credits