Tiger Tech Update

Week of April 27


This will be the final Tiger Tech Update for the 2014-2015 school year, so it seems appropriate to wrap things up with some reflections. By nature, teachers spend a lot of time thinking about the next day, next week, or even next year. In this state of constant anticipation, along with the typically hectic pace of any given school day, we often forget to think backwards and consider how far we and our students have traveled. When I look back to the end of April 2014, I am in awe of everything we as a staff and our students have learned in the past year. It's worth celebrating!

  • Every student in our district, K-12, has access to a personal mobile device. It doesn't matter what the device is (in fact, it's probably best to expose children to a variety of devices), but just the fact that they have unlimited information at their fingertips is ground-breaking. It challenges us as teachers to reconsider what student learning looks like when all the "facts" in our content area are readily accessible.

  • Our staff, student, and parent populations are digitally connected through our Learning Management System. Schoology offers a variety of interactions within our community. As a teacher, I can send pertinent updates to all of my students, and students can reach me with individual questions any time, any place. As a coach, I can release announcements to my team, poll team members, and share photos. Students can have rich discussions surrounding class topics and share their digital work with each other. I feel like I have a window into each of your classrooms as you share photos, videos, and student work via the Connected Learning course. Parents have direct access to all the class content their children view and complete on Schoology. Beyond the school day and the school building, students are accessing their groups and courses on Friday nights, Saturday mornings, at home, on their phones, and on the road.

  • Students and teachers have had the opportunity to create, explore, and innovate like never before. Through working with ICU students and as part of my tech integration role, I am lucky enough to witness how all of our students and teachers are using technology daily. I've been amazed at the thought-provoking research questions students are able to probe, supported by powerful online resources teachers archive for their classes. Assessments are becoming more varied and incorporate more student choice, as I'm watching kids working with Prezi, iMovie, Adobe Voice, Voki, Google Slides, Animoto, Comic Creator, and ThingLink. Teachers often describe an expectation, and then let students figure out what tool works best from them to meet that goal. I get to see students working at their own pace on math facts or reading, each with his/her own device, and also working together to create a video or a digital poster. Oftentimes, students' own voices and unique styles are incorporated into these assignments.

Although Technology will always present challenges for teachers, students, parents, and the entire district, it never hurts to take a moment to reflect on the progress that has been made so far. I'm always striving to become a better teacher and therefore get bogged down in my failures and frustrations. But at the same time, when I look back to the teacher I was 15 years ago, I can also appreciate how much I've learned and changed. The same applies to technology in the classroom. I guarantee it will often be exasperating, time-consuming, and unforeseen problems will always arise. However, the connections and learning facilitated by technology have also inspired curiosity, joy, and creativity in us and our students. Just take a moment to reflect, and I bet you'll see the changes too.

Check out all the use Springfield Schoology gets in a 30-day period!

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Spotlight on Classrooms

Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Veenstra, Mrs. Jensen

Mandy's Senior English students wrote and illustrated children's stories with the option of using two different apps: Book Creator and Steller. The plan is for the Seniors to read their stories aloud to the appropriate-aged Elementary students. Mandy's class has done this project in previous years, but this is the first time they've been able to use iPads to make digital books.

Diana's Media Lit 8 students designed PhotoStory videos about online safety. They covered various topics from passwords to misleading advertising to cyberbullying.

Brianna has been using a Schoology group to communicate with Speech Team members all season. She's been sharing updates and photos, and team members can contact her if they need to change a practice time or if they have a question. Traditionally, the Speech Team members vote on awards for the end of the year, and this year Brianna is planning on using a Google Form to make this process easier and more efficient.

Looking For More?

Need A Brain-Break for A Testing Day?

Check out GoNoodle.com for some great classroom activities for kids to get their blood flowing while in the classroom. (The site is mostly geared for K-6 students.) Once on the site, you set up a class account and then get access to a variety of videos that guide your class through dances, exercises, and just fun ways to work out the "wiggles." The videos range from zumba for kids to running simulations. An avatar keeps track of how much time your class spends in the videos and gives them encouragement to keep going. Go Noodle seems a perfect fit for a spring day when kids are getting restless and need a quick energy burn.

One More Thing...

Last call for filling out this Summer Tech Training Survey I posted last month! So far I've had 25 responses. The data will be used to design a summer schedule that makes sense for our district.