A Monthly E-Newsletter for Spotswood Educators
Motivating a Community
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
As we move into December, our transition to Google starts with the first PD Academy Session on December 15, 2014. Eric Sheninger will provide an overview training on Google for staff interested in attending the session. You can sign up for the session by completing this Google form: Introduction to Google PD Academy Session Sign-up
In addition, we now have our "Going Google" link up on the district home page. You can find all our Google information, which will grow as the year goes on, at this location.
CLICK HERE for a direct link.
Finally, a timeline was developed and will be added to as the year goes on to provide you a listing of topics that will be addressed each month going forward. That timeline is included below for your review.
As I mentioned last month, transitioning from a system you are comfortable with to something new can be filled with challenges but I am hopeful and excited that the transition timeline we are developing, professional development trainings we will be offering, the implementation of a pilot program, and continual feedback from all of you will make all of us more comfortable with the transition.
I hope to see you at our first official Google training.
Going Google Timeline ... September 2014 to January 2015
Going Google Timeline ... February 2015 to June 2015
Apps and Tech Stuff
Educational Articles and Resources for Your Review
FACT Meeting Minutes
Fact Meeting Minutes 10/15/14
Technology - Google
Mr. Eric Sheninger will be our new Director of Technology Integration and Innovation.
Mr. Sheninger will be in our district three to four days per month to help us in our classrooms, teach professional development workshops, and help us transition to Google Chrome.
Our new domain name will be (your first initial and last name)@SPSD.us. For a while, both emails will be available until our transition to Google is completed.
Volunteers will be selected to pilot the new Google system. The team piloting this will create little video snippets to familiarize and teach others not in the program about the system. A new application will be focused on each month.
Staff will be sent out to become Google Trainers and then they will train the rest of the district. Any staff member may be Google trained.
Word documents can either be left in Word format or converted to Google.
When we transfer to Google all devices should be in-sync.
Ultimately all students will have their own email address.
Professional development will be offered over the summer to learn this system.
Email Dave if you need an external drive to play cds or dvds.
U drive and printer issues will be looked into.
The district is looking into end of the year course testing to replace mid-terms/finals.
Some teachers felt this might reduce student motivation to work hard throughout the year.
All testing will be administered digitally.
Students should be exposed to computers whenever possible to help prepare them for PARCC /others computerized tests.
In the future, there will be sample PARCC texts which will familiarize students with the test format and toolbar.
FACT Meeting Minutes 11/13/14
Calendar and School Improvements
The draft of the 2015 – 2016 calendar has been reviewed by many committees. The last day of school for staff and students is tentatively scheduled for Friday, June 17th. This will allow enough time for the various construction projects to be completed before school opens in September. Some of the improvements being made to some of our schools are: updating security cameras and systems, new fire alarms, and replacement windows in the high school. Other projects might be completed based upon the community survey.
Teachers voiced concerns about having strangers in our buildings on Election Day. While schools are closed for major elections, the district will look into having a police presence in our schools instead of a security guard when schools are opened to insure the safety of our students.
Parent Teacher Conferences
Dr. Rocco will look into the possibility of having one afternoon conference day and then one day that has both afternoon and evening conferences since many teachers live a distance away, they cannot go home on the half day. While the staff will still be working the same number of hours, the schedule would just be rearranged.
New Lesson Plan Guidelines
Teachers stated that they already write thorough lesson plans and questioned how much more detail was necessary. Teachers expressed concern that they are spending more and more time on paperwork, leaving them less and less time to do what they love, preparing for and teaching their students.
Google (GAFE and the classroom)
Please contact Dr. Rocco if you would like to be part of our Google pilot program. Those teachers who join the pilot program will learn the new system and turnkey it to their colleagues. The teachers in the pilot will become certified trainers. During training, a new Google item will be explored each month and short videos/blogs will be created to teach staff that is not in the pilot program. Some teachers expressed concern that the many changes in technology the district has/will implement in such a short time is a little overwhelming in conjunction with their regular teaching duties.
Teachers wanted to know if there was a district policy or philosophy as to what should be posted on-line. Some teachers believe all work should be posted on-line while others believe if students can go to a website for all their homework and projects, they are not learning to take more responsibility for their own education. A teacher stated that in college students will not have all their assignments placed on-line, and therefore, need to develop good work habits while they are still in high school.
It was also discussed that while a paperless system is good, there are many families in Spotswood who do not have a computer at home or cannot afford multiple computers. This might create issues if all work is placed on-line. If homework and projects require computers to complete, and families have multiple children, it might be difficult for those families to complete all assignments in addition to the parents’ own work. As the district becomes more and more technology-based, will the district adopt an initiative where they supply all students with a computer to use at home?
The PARCC is still scheduled for this year. Teachers are encouraged to give students as much computer time as possible to prepare for this test.
Blizzard Bags / After School
Helmetta students cannot stay for extended time for tests and do not have access to the computer center for projects after school since they do not have transportation home.
Eventually snow days may be eliminated by having “blizzard bags.” These bags would have the day’s work in them so children can work from home. The teacher could communicate with students via the internet. This again raises issues for families with multiple kids and for those with one or no computer.