Teach Learn Tech

FTIS Teaching and Learning Newsletter November 2019

FTIS Teachers,

The Teaching and Learning Team has collaborated to develop a newsletter for the purpose of promoting digital learning strategies, sharing resources that may support classroom instruction, and to provide ongoing informational updates. We expect to be preparing regular correspondence such as this throughout the year as a supplement to the services that our Digital Learning Coaches are able to offer on a daily basis. Jody Johnson, Brian Mercer, and Heidi Neltner are ready, willing, and able to partner with you to enhance the student experience in effectively using technology and digital materials to master grade level standards and to demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways.


As a reminder, our Digital Learning Coaches are consultants and supports for you in the classroom and in lesson/unit planning. Please engage with Jody, Brian, and Heidi to determine opportunities to further integrate digital learning efforts into your teaching and the students’ learning. The Digital Learning Coaches are specialists in a variety of areas, such as Project Based Learning, and are also district leaders in the implementation of the Portrait of a Graduate. Let’s continue to exemplify the idea that our students can achieve at high academic levels and become proficient in valid 21st century skills, such as our PoG competencies!


By: Bill Bradford

The Big "FT" Idea Search: Coming Soon

Stay tuned, everyone! The "Big 'FT' Idea Search" is coming back for a 2nd year!


Do you have an idea for our school district? Ideas can generate from anyone, anywhere - nothing is too big or too small. We are interested in ANY idea that you may have for how to make things better. This is your opportunity to contribute to our mission of "rich in tradition and focused on the future."


Consider, "What if...?" and give us your idea, which could make an immediate impact in the district. We aim to collect and respond to your ideas and solutions for how we can accelerate our efforts towards comprehensive improvement planning and the realization of our Portrait of a Graduate competencies. Our goal is to provide the voice and choice in allowing all employees to participate in the conversation of how we can make the educational experience better for students. Your voice matters and we value your input!


More information coming soon...

In this Issue

Welcome to our first Teach Learn Tech, where your favorite Teaching and Learning Team cover some of the things going on around the District and ideas to help you navigate that digital world.


Scroll down to see more about:


  • Student Engagement with PIES: Digital engagement strategies inspired by Kagan
  • Digital note taking trends
  • Collaboration between Johnson's fourth grade and high school students
  • iMovie and Schoology
  • Kindergarten and new social studies standards
  • Portrait of a Graduate portfolio review
  • Digital Citizenship Week Recap
  • Minecraft implementation ideas

Student Engagement with PIES

In October Brian Mercer and I had the chance to attend a Kagan training. One big take away for me, was the PIES acronym.


When planning activities in your classroom that encourage student engagement and foster accountability for all, the Kagan group offers the PIES acronym as a guide. Consider your activity and ask yourself if it fosters:


  • Positive Interdependence - Do kids doing well have an opportunity to help others? and Does completion of the task depend on everyone doing something?
  • Individual Accountability - Does everyone perform in from of someone?
  • Equal participation - Is participation about equal in terms of time and number of turns?
  • Simultaneous Interaction - What percent of students are performing at any one moment


Check out this Kagan post for more information about each principle.


You can get a lot of bang for your buck at all levels by using those common Kagan structures like Rally Coach and Talking Chips.


We might consider how to take these concepts into the digital world, as well. In their future, many of our students will need to collaborate effectively online. How can we foster that same level engagement digitally - when it's so easy to hide behind a screen?


Consider the Timed RoundRobin

The Timed RoundRobin for sure hits hits on those PIES principles of engagement. To capitalize on that, in a digital manner, you might do the following:


In teams each student shares orally for a given time while group members take notes on a shared document. Student groups can run their own timer embedded in the document, or the teacher can

  1. Teacher assigns a group leader a document template that includes questions through Schoology Assignments (either Google or Microsoft). This way teacher has access to work

  2. Group leader shares the document with members of their group for collaboration

  3. Groups or teacher runs a built in timer from YouTube

  4. One student at a time provides oral answers - all members have a turn

  5. Teammates listen and take notes in the digital document on the presenters ideas


Below is a link to a document template to give you an idea of how it might look.


If you want help creating an activity like this or using Schoology to distribute, we'd be happy to help!


By: Heidi Neltner

Timed Round Robin Document Template

Take Note: Not Just Verbatim

Putting technology in student and teacher hands helps move the learner through content with efficiency and efficacy. However, it can also provide an avenue for poor learning habits.


Over the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to work with a few student groups on digital note taking strategies. I always reference a MindShift article that states “When scaffolded for students, digital note taking has the power to transcend the traditional definition of what has been typically considered ‘notes.’ By encouraging students to focus their note taking on building deeper connections instead of just capturing content verbatim, then they create a more integrated neural network around the ideas.”


The article cites research that shows that typing notes verbatim with an electronic device does more harm than good. However, using digital resources to categorize and map concepts creates deeper learning.


Check out the complete article here: “Digital Note Taking Strategies That Deepen Student Thinking.”

To get assistance with some of these strategies, contact your Digital Learning Coach.


By: Jody Johnson

Students Play a Part in Johnson's Future

Not all of the planning for the new Johnson construction project is happening by those with drafting pencils and hard hats. Students in Johnson Elementary’s fourth grade class and the HHS Engineering Design program are playing important roles as well.


Jillian Booth and Heidi Neltner started a Project Based Learning activity that placed Johnson fourth graders on the forefront of reestablishing native species to the new Johnson Elementary School once all the dust settles. As part of that process, it became apparent that it would be helpful to bring in high school students who could assist with the designing of landscape and ancillary structures.


Engineering Design students from Ron Rosel’s class are collaborating with Johnson students groups on building habitat structures for native birds, bees, bats, butterflies, and owls. Mr. Rosel also has Landscaping Design students working on landscaping plans to support these species using plot plans provided by the project’s architectural design firm, Robert Ehmet Hayes & Associates.


Student research, artifacts, and plans will be presented to various community members and school personnel. The technological resources available will provide students the background needed for research, critical thinking, and design work. The key elements of PBL provide students with the authenticity, voice, and choice in their learning.


Digital Learning coaches, Jody Johnson and Neltner, are working closely with the content area teachers to facilitate this unique opportunity. However, the students are in charge of ensuring that these animals of flight are welcomed back to Johnson Elementary when they themselves return. While that may seem like a significant responsibility, they are filling what they saw as a void in the overall construction planning.


By: Jody Johnson

Resizing iMovie for Schoology Uploads

iMovie is a great tool for students to show learning. However, Schoology has a size limit of 512 MB per file. By changing a few settings one can turn a 10 GB file into a 345 MB.


See the steps below.

Kindergarteners Travel Back in Fort Thomas History with New Social Studies Standards

A roller rink, a dairy, and a grocery store. These were some of the things the Johnson kindergarteners got to imagine as they walked through the Fort Thomas Central Business District on a cloudy Friday afternoon.


When the new Social Studies standards were released Katie Mills had the amazing idea to turn her dad, Bill Thomas's, work into a text that kindergarteners could engage in.


Inspired by the "Then and Now" approach her dad took, Mills dug into the city's history to identify the key places that would help students compare life in communities today to the past and construct an explanation about Fort Thomas history.


Through their exploration, kindergartners are having the chance to create community maps, view, in person, places as they are today and consider primary source photographs to learn about what those places were in the past.


Using their iPads, kindergarten students took a community walk and photograph significant places. They will then explore the text Mills wrote with primary source photographs and videos from the Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum compiled in Book Creator with the help of Digital Learning Coach, Heidi Neltner.


Students will add their photos or drawing and their own explanations to the book in the Book Creator app. Book Creator is a paid app on the iPad that our students have access to in the App Portal, but for students using MacBooks there is a free version available through the Chrome Browser. Want to know more about this tool? Don't hesitate to reach out!


Check out the book the kindergartners will be using below. Students were able to view images from original locations and then drew pictures or added photos of what the place looks like today.


By: Heidi Neltner

Schoology Portfolios: Detailed How To

Portrait of a Graduate: Schoology Portfolios

Digital Citizenship Spotlight

While every day provides an opportunity to discuss things like privacy and a positive digital footprint with our students, the week of October 14 was a great time to really dive in deep.


Common Sense Media offers excellent resources to beef up your discussion. Check them out here. You can find topics about media balance, being responsible and respectful when engaging with others online, cyberbullying, and information literacy.


You might even consider becoming a Common Sense Media Educator.


Common Sense Media is a great spot to get information and ideas for how to help our students be their best selves online. For example, you might find inspiration in the article "How to use the Vaping and Juuling trend to teach Media Literacy" or "Help Students Think Critically About October Surprises and their Impact on Elections".


Check out tweets from HHS librarian Jason Gay from that week to see even more resources to consider.

Using Minecraft to Inspire Curious Critical Thinkers

Minecraft: Book & Quill

If you want to hold students more accountable for their builds in Minecraft, consider having them create build logs using the Book and Quill. This allows students to capture images from their work and write about it. Students can then submit their work to Schoology as a PDF for easy grading.
Minecraft Education: Book and Quill