June 2016 Edition


Making Global Connections Through Poetry

By Kristi Schmidt, Secondary ELA Teacher Specialist

Sixth grade language arts students in Mrs. Katie Shaffer's class at Middletown Middle School collaborated via Google Docs and Hangouts with sixth grade language arts students 200 miles away on Maryland's eastern shore to analyze a text and compose two-voice poems. Near the end of the project, student pairs co-presented their two-voice poems with their cross-state partner via Google Hangouts in front of diverse audiences at both schools. Students' engagement and achievement sky rocketed as a result of the harnessed educational technology. Using educational technology as a vehicle for learning is redefining the roles of teachers and students in the classroom and creating new opportunities for authentic learning tasks.

Learn more about this project by watching this video or reading this Storify!

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Advancing Teaching & Learning in the Elementary Math Classroom:

Developing Understanding of Best Practices with Instructional


Elementary mathematics continues their focus on the proper integration of instructional technology in the elementary math classroom by supporting and developing teacher leaders’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and skills, realizing that math content requires specialized technological skills and capacities so students are able to communicate mathematical ideas, reason and represent their mathematical thinking, and solve mathematical problems. iMathUniversity is another avenue for supporting elementary school mathematics programs and elementary math instructional leaders (EMILs). This program supports the work of EMILs through participation in a multi-week summer experience that includes:

-Orientation / Planning week

-Summer Math Camp Experience with students in grades 1-5

-Reflection / Action Planning for the upcoming school year

During the school year iMathU participants receive monthly job embedded coaching and professional learning support from their colleagues. Additionally iMathU participants are called upon to develop and implement professional learning and take leadership roles with other EMILs locally as well as showcasing work through the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual conference in October.

We are excited to launch iMathUniversity 3.0 this upcoming summer with a new cohort of elementary math leaders and math campers! We strive for excellent 21st century mathematics programs for ALL students that integrate the use of mathematical tools and technology as essential resources to help students learn and make sense of mathematical ideas, reason mathematically, and communicate their mathematical thinking.

Contact: Angie Waltrup - Elementary Math Teacher Specialist, iMathU Program Director

Twitter: @elemmathgurl

Blended Learning Retreat

The CII Department’s book study of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools culminated in a full-day retreat for instructional leaders, a representative principal from all three levels, and staff from MSDE. This was not a typical day of professional development because attendees experienced Blended Learning first hand.

A week prior to the retreat, attendees were assigned a “playlist” for homework so that when they arrived, they had similar background knowledge. The playlist consisted of articles and videos to prepare attendees for a day of learning about the potential of Blended Learning in FCPS.

During the retreat, CII staff and invited guests were divided into four groups that rotated through learning sessions. These learning sessions included:

  • Oakdale High School 1:1 ELA Project: 9th grade English students at OHS have been engaged in Blended Learning all semester. Their teachers shared their experience and their journey to success.

  • Vanguard Teacher Model: Attendees learned about the proposed Vanguard Teacher program and how it will support Blended Learning in FCPS. Stay tuned as this program rolls out this summer.

  • Interoperability, the Digital Ecosystem, and You: Attendees learned about the importance that all educational technology companies FCPS purchase integrate smoothly with one another. If not, it takes too much time to ensure data are secure.

  • Self-Directed Learning: Using Lucidpress, attendees explored resources about Blended Learning and how it has been implemented successfully in schools across our nation. This activity was an example of personalized learning, as participants moved through the resources along their own path and at their own pace.

To end the day, attendees participated in a wrap-up activity, making suggestions and asking content-specific questions about FCPS’s transition to Blended Learning. The transition is an ongoing process that will require much teamwork and communication. We still have more learning in front of us and hope you will join us on this journey as we strive to engage students, personalize their learning, increase their achievement, and prepare them for success in the 21st century.

Oakdale High School Blended Learning Environment

Teaching and learning is being transformed in English 9 classes at Oakdale High where students are reaping the benefits of a 1:1, blended learning environment while field testing Collections resources created by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). The classrooms of Alysa Greer, Lauren Graziano and Caitlin Patrick are part of this field test where blended learning, Collections resources and Chromebooks for each student combine to change the way teachers teach and students learn. According to OHS literacy specialist Carrie Mehl who is a major player in the success of this endeavor, “the OHS blended learning team experienced an awakening as well as realized the educational freedom that the 1:1 initiative provides for the students involved in this field study.” Carrie goes on to call this experience “life changing for both teachers and students.” Likewise, she goes as far as to say that “students are engaged in their learning and are experiencing a freedom in their personal journey that is remarkable and quite inspiring.” When visiting these classroom, it is obvious that students are thriving and growing academically while being totally engaged in their own learning.



The Summer of Edcamps

"It's about connecting people with purpose and finding new ways to learn." (Kristen Swanson, Edcamp Foundation)

In thousands of cities around the globe, authentic professional learning is energizing educators. Edcamps — teacher-driven and teacher-led professional learning events — are multiplying on a national and international scale, creating local and global communities of passionate educators. At the beginning of an Edcamp event, attendees create the session schedule, and participants are encouraged to leave a session if it is not meeting their needs. It is an opportunity for proactive, motivated teachers to collaborate, generate new ideas, and walk away with new connections and resources.

Take Charge of Your Own Professional Learning! This summer, Edcamp Maryland is facilitating content-based events across the state in various locations and on various dates. Find the ones that interest you and register today. Registration is free, but spaces are limited, and tickets are going fast!

EdCamp 101

Education Symposium Day, Call for Proposals

Call for Proposals is open! Visit our impressive informative website:

to submit a proposal and for updates on the symposium.


Middletown High School will host summer curriculum writing workshops from June 27- July 14. The Staff Development Center in Walkersville will host summer curriculum writing workshops from July 18- July 28.

The Curriculum Focus AL meeting will take place on July 13th at Middletown High School. A catered luncheon provided by FCASA will follow the AL meeting.

Special thanks to Lee Jeffrey and Linda Civetti for hosting Summer Curriculum Writing Workshops. Curriculum Specialists are excited for the workshops to begin. You can click on this link to preview information about the work being completed in workshops this summer.