AoP Tech News February 2018

Tech News, Support, and Information for AoP Educators!

And the Beat Goes On

by Aaron Heintz, Technology Integration Coach PreK-12

I am always amazed at life before the internet, especially as a teacher. When I was looking for my next lesson activity, one of the first things I did was a Google search. The number of free resources, lesson plans, videos and primary source documents widely available on the internet amazes me. I love that when I designed a lesson, I did not have to start from the beginning. I could view, use and build upon content that already existed. For me as a young teacher, the ability to have high quality resources to reference at my fingertips, was one of the reasons I feel that I became a successful teacher. It goes without saying that it is important to always appropriately attribute, quote and cite your sources. Copying without credit is plagiarism. Always cite your sources.

In this month's column, we will be discussing the Constructive Pillar of Digital Literacies. And in this case it’s simplest definition of Construction that we will address - the aspect building something, both in the real world and in the digital one. If you have missed previous editions of this column I encourage you to check out the AOPTech Newsletter archives to fully understand our journey and discovery of the Doug Belshaw’s 8 Pillars of Digital Literacy.

At the end of last June, I had the privilege to provide the opening keynote at the Summer Tech Academy. On my closing slide, the opening song on the Incredible Bongo Band’s 1963 hit “Bongo Rock” album automatically started playing. While most of the audience may have just assumed that I wanted some groovy exit music to pump up the crowd, (and seriously the driving backbeat is killer) it also was one of the early songs that would eventually become part of the now famous song Apache by the Sugar Hill Gang. A classic dance party song that would eventually be sampled over 500 times, and remixed by artists such as Missy Elliott, Sir Mix a Lot, and Kanye West. Check out this awesome TED talk by Mark Robinson on remixes to learn more about it.

In the music world, the terms “remix” and “sample” have always existed in form; however, they are increasingly being discussed and identified in music commentary today. The same techniques I used as a teacher, taking existing lesson plans and other internet finds, and building my own lesson on top of, was in all aspects, a remix of those original lesson materials. “It is as much about knowing how to put together other people’s work in new and interesting ways as it is about understanding the difference between the digital and physical worlds” (Belshaw 49). In both my lesson plans and the song Apache we see the Constructive element at work. As a society, we are increasingly become comfortable with the open and free exchange of ideas and the open and free remix of those ideas as well. Two really exciting trends directly tied to the Constructive element are the Open Educational Resources and the Creative Commons. I encourage you to check them out.

February Challenge: Go ahead and click that Apache link above and have a 5 minute dance party with your students.

February Bonus Challenge!: Film it and send it to us on Twitter @AOPTech

Leadership Feature: Mr. John McGrath, Our Lady of Mercy

Smore is a great way to communicate with parents, faculty, in fact, the entire school community. It allows you to create professional-looking electronic flyers and newsletters. It costs $59 per year and can be found at . I have been using Smore for the past three years. Smore simplifies electronic communication in an easy and eye-catching way. It is a fun and user-friendly platform that has proven to be very beneficial in communicating to parents and faculty. I send the Smore Newsletter out via a link in My Students Progress (MSP) – our school’s student management system. This site also allows you to track how people are reading the newsletter – that is, via Facebook, Twitter, or by way of the email that contained the link. It also provides analytics on how long people spent reading the newsletter, and what links contained in the newsletter were opened and how many times. My newsletter receives – on average – 1200 hits a week. This platform lets you get creative with backgrounds, fonts, colors and even lets you attach files. Create a fun and relative name for your newsletter. My newsletter is entitled “Mercy Peek & Ponder”. I highly recommend Smore.

Newsletter example:

AoP Tech Team

Bill Brannick, Director of Technology

Alissa DeVito, Associate Director of Educational Technology

Aaron Heintz, Technology Integration Coach

Annabel Dotzman, Technology Integration Coach