MCSD Ed Tech Review
Tools & Tips Worth Your Time
Thanks to the leadership of Mr. Griffin and support from the Board of Education, we were able to significantly alter that timeline, and the next phase began on November 6th. On that night we started distributing Chromebooks to all students in grades 9-12. On November 27th and 28th, we will begin distributing them to all students in grades 6-8. In the coming weeks, all 4th and 5th grade classrooms will be receiving Chromebook carts, and each elementary building will also have a number of additional carts for sign out use by Pre-K through 3rd.
The accelerated timeline is, at the same time, problematic as it involves truncating much of the preparatory professional development that was being planned. When we were still thinking true 1:1 would come in 2019, there was a range of PD that we were planning on implementing in this school year just to get teachers ready for teaching in an environment where every student has a device. We did run our mini Chromebook tech camps this summer, but not everyone was able to attend. We want to assure you that we are committed to providing the training and support to all teachers to help you in transitioning to a 1:1 environment.
In the coming weeks, a new batch of after school workshops will be announced. Based on these circumstances and overwhelming needs, those workshops will be focused on our 1:1 initiative. They will will include basic sessions, along the lines of some of the training in those mini tech camps, up to more advanced methods and tools.
If you have a pressing concern, or an issue comes up with the devices in your room, please do not feel like you have to wait, though. Remember, a major part of my job is to provide on-demand help and PD. So just get in touch.
What's the point of 1:1?
Let's be honest, this is still how technology is often used in our classrooms. That's not saying these are bad uses. But, as the world around us changes the way technology is used, both at work/school and in our personal lives, we came to realize that technology can and should have more complex uses as well.
In 2013, Dr. Ruben Puentedura, an award winning chemistry teacher, came up with the SAMR Model for integrating technology in teaching. This model has gained a lot of attention in the world of pedagogy, and for good reason. It is a very easy way to look at how you're using technology in any given lesson, and think about how you can use it to increase your students' skill level, content attainment, engagement, and more.
One of the things that makes it easy for teachers to use is that it correlates fairly well with Bloom's Taxonomy, something all teachers are very familiar with. As a district we are focusing a great deal of attention on critical thinking skills. The SAMR Model meshes with that well, and can be used as a tool to help ensure you're pushing your students toward those upper level skills.
The same is true of the SAMR Model. Every time that your students take out their Chromebooks in class, they will not automatically be functioning at the transformative Modification or Redefinition levels. There will be times, and there will be activities that involve the lower levels, and that's ok. But, just as with Bloom's, your goal, when looking ahead in your lesson planning, should be to give them as many opportunities as you reasonably can to operate at those higher levels.
Why? Well, I can think of two good reasons right away. First, it is at those higher levels that your students will be building and practicing the skills that will give them the greatest chances of success whether they'll be going on to college or entering the the workforce after they leave us. It isn't just the technical skills I'm talking about. Yes, more and more employers are looking for specific computer/internet knowledge and skills, but operating at those higher levels also involves a large number of the so-called soft skills that are harder for us to measure. Here I'm talking about things like creativity, the ability to innovate, problem-solve independently, work collaboratively as part of an effective team.
The second reason to give your students chances to operate at the Modification and Redefinition levels is engagement. It isn't always the case, but more often than not, moving into those levels require the students to become active participants in their own learning. There is plenty of research out there to back up the assertion that students actively involved in learning are more engaged. But if you're being honest with yourself, as a teacher, you don't need to see it. You've already seen it in your own classroom. When you have allowed students to choose how they demonstrate their own learning, letting them pick methods, media, etc. that they are interested and excited about, they are more engaged with your content. Still don't believe me? Think about your own experiences. Which have you found more worthwhile, a conference where you sat in an audience with dozens or hundreds of your peers while someone stood up front and read bullets from a PowerPoint to you, or a hands-on workshop where you were given time to take what you were taught and use it to generate actual materials you could use in your class?
So to sum up, in a 1:1 environment, yes, there are times that you might be using the Chromebooks as essentially a digital version of a worksheet. But, that shouldn't be your big picture goal. It sounds antithetical, but the point of 1:1 is not really in the technology. The point is in building those higher level skills. The technology can make it much easier and practical to do this by allowing for activities and projects that would be difficult or impossible without it. But in the end, the Chromebooks themselves are just tools.
After a great deal of research, we are hoping the answer to both of those questions is the same: GoGuardian. GoGuardian is a product we are licensing for all of our students affected by the 1:1 initiative, including grades 4 and 5.
In answer to the first question, it provides 24/7 content filtering on all student accounts. So what this means is that when a student signs into a Chromebook (or even Chrome on a PC), that Chromebook is automatically filtered, and inappropriate content blocked, and all activity logged. It makes no difference where in the world the student is; if they have an internet connection, their traffic is being filtered and logged. Now, just as with our network's filter, it isn't perfect. If you find any cases of content that should be blocked getting through, or sites that are educationally appropriate being blocked, please let me know immediately (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I will take care of it.
The answer to the second question is a bit more involved, and more impressive. Every teacher in the district has been set up to be able to log into GoGuardian as a teacher and set up classes. It takes a few minutes to set up, but the payoff is pretty cool. Once you have a class set up, when those students are with you and you run a GoGuardian session, you, on your teacher dashboard, can see what tabs every student has open, which tab they are currently looking at, you can close tabs, you can open tabs, you can send them on-screen messages should you want to quietly remind them to get to work or provide feedback, you can limit the number of tabs they can have open (very handy if you are using the Chromebooks for an assessment), and you can even blank their screens if you need their undivided attention. All sessions are recorded as well, which can be useful for your own review, or should you want to use the information in a parent meeting.
As I said, getting started takes a little bit of setup, but nothing technically challenging. I would be happy to help you if you run into any issues with getting started or using it. Here is how you do it.
Go to teacher.goguardian.com, and click the button to log in. In the box that comes up, click on the button to log in with Google.
Create Your Classes
Once you're logged in, you will be on a screen that shows all of your GoGuardian classes. If you're reading this, the screen will be blank. You will click on the green button to add one.
If you are setting up your class manually, you will have the option of either directly adding students to a roster using their Google usernames (in the email format), or with a code that you would have students go to GoGuardian and use to enroll themselves. To be honest, some teachers have found that last method to be buggy and problematic, so I really don't recommend it.
Start a GoGuardian Session
If you provide this information, GoGuardian will automatically start a session every day your class is scheduled to meet for that block of time. So even if you aren't logged in and actively monitoring it, your students' activity will still be monitored and available for your review after the fact.
Alternatively, you can skip this step. If you do that. When you wanted to use GoGuardian to monitor your students, you would simply log in, open the class, and start a session manually by clicking the button.
By default, when you start a session, you're in tile view. This gives you a chance to quickly see what every student is looking at by showing their active tab. You can also see what other tabs they have open.
Now, here's something that's pretty cool about GoGuardian. We all know that a class period can go by in the blink of an eye, and you can find yourself wishing you had looked in on a particular student.
If you went ahead and set up your class time and days in the first steps, then you don't actually even have to have GoGuardian open or logged in for these sessions to be saved. They'll start and end on their own, and you could log in and review them when/if you wanted.
Or, maybe you have a meeting with a parent and you'd like to provide them with some concrete examples of their student's activities. These timelines are recorded in your sessions, and at any point you can bring them up and go through them, access any snapshots you took, etc.
In addition, when you end a session, the system automatically sends an email to your maloneschools.org Gmail account with a summary of the class's activity. The example below is a poor once since there was only one (fake) student in the session, and it sat on the same tab for the whole time, but you get the idea.
Knowing that many of you are really just now experiencing teaching in a 1:1 classroom for the first time, I wanted to use the Resource Roundup in this issue to remind you of some services that are available that you could give you the most "bang for your buck," as you start to try a few things out. So there isn't anything here that I haven't brought up in past issues, but again, if you're just get started with 1:1, these are pretty sure bets.
Remember, no one is saying you should be completely upending what you do overnight. Start small. Pick one or two services to start with, get comfortable, and then add something new.
Also, don't forget that you can find a more complete list of the district licensed services on the Malone Teacher Resources site.
When your students all have devices in front of them, and all have district Google accounts already set up, Classroom can be a great place to easily distribute materials, provide links to videos and sites you want to use, and give, collect, and grade assignments. This video gives a short overview of how it can be used.
Discovery Education has thousands of high-quality streaming videos available, many with supporting teaching materials already created. You can just log in on a presentation center and show them in class, but with 1:1 devices, you can also set up classes within the service, and then assign videos for students to watch on their own. If you don't have an account set up, contact your building's library media specialist for the code you'll need to create one.
If you have a standardized test that you need to prepare your students for, then Castle Learning is a site that you will probably appreciate. You can set up each of your classes, create assignments from there extensive databases of past state assessment questions, have your students take those assessments on their devices, and they'll automatically be graded for you. If you have a student who doesn't have an account already, let me know.
Hey, Watch This!
Google Pro Tip
Most of us, and our students, don't know much about keyboard shortcuts beyond CTRL + c to copy and CTRL + v to paste. If you don't know it, by the way, learn CTRL + z; it undoes the last thing you did, and can be a life saver.
Many of those shortcuts, which you may have already been using for years on PC's, also work on Chromebooks. But, there are a few that are more specific to our devices that you might find useful.
Swipe Between Tabs
If you have multiple tabs open, and want to move through them without clicking around, put three fingers on the track pad and swipe right or left to move through your open tabs.
Take a Screenshot
There are many reasons you might want to take a picture of your screen. For example, if you're putting together directions for a lesson, you might want students to see what something should look like.
- CTRL + F5 = take a picture of the entire screen
- CRTL + Shift + F5 = take a picture of just part of the screen - you will be able to drag a box to select the portion
Open a Link in a New Tab
You're reading a page, run across a link you'd like to explore later, but want to keep reading the current page first.
- CTRL and click the link = opens the link in a new tab, but keeps the current one open
- CTRL + Shift and click the link = opens the link in a new tab and switches to that tab
Reopen a Tab You Closed
It happens to me all the time, I close a tab I didn't mean to, or close one and then realize I still needed something from the page.
- CTRL + Shift + t = open the last closed tab - keep pressing the combination to keep moving back through your closed tabs
Find a Download
In your Chrome settings, you can set it so downloads go directly to Drive. If you haven't, though, you might have a hard time finding something you downloaded. You're looking for the Files app, a window that includes anything you've downloaded to that Chromebook's drive.
- CTRL + Shift + m = opens the Files app window
Find Something on a Page
Ok, this isn't specific to Chromebooks, in fact it will work in many browsers and programs, but it is very handy. Use this if you're on a page or in a document that is extensive, and you need to find a specific piece of content quickly.
- CTRL + f = opens a search bar where you can enter a word or name to search for
2 - January 2016 - YouTube: Channels, Playlists, Content Create, Classroom Integration
3 - February 2016 - Formative Assessment Principles and Tools
4 - March 2016 - Brain-Based Learning Techniques and Tools
5 - May 2016 - End of the Year Tips and Reminders
6 - September 2016 - Welcome Back
7- November 2016 - Situational Awareness & Review Tools
8 - February 2017 - The ISTE Student Standards Intro & Standard 1
9 - April 2017 - District Makerspaces & ISTE Student Standard 2
10 - September 2017 - Welcome Back
Get In Touch
- Mark Dalton, Ed Tech Coordinator