Tech U

July 27-31, 2015

Announcing Tech U: Reforming Juvenile Justice Education Through Blended Learning and the Power of the Internet

Tech U was a five-day intensive training on blended learning that CEEAS ran in late July for teachers and administrators from juvenile justice facilities. Ninety-five professionals from nineteen facilities and eight states participated. Tech U is the kick-off event for our year-long blended learning initiative, called Unjammed 2.0. At CEEAS, we believe that combining the power of the Internet and blended learning with individuals fully committed to doing what’s best for children can lead to transformation in juvenile justice facilities. That is our goal for Unjammed 2.0 and Tech U.

Over the course of the week, forty-one teachers (Fellows), who were selected through an application process over the spring, were exposed to a range of blended learning tools designed to help them bring engaging, high quality content and adaptive, highly tailored instructional tools into their classrooms. The Fellows were joined by over fifty agency and site level administrators after the third day of Tech U. Administrators learned the latest options for delivering Internet-driven blended learning in a safe, secure environment.

By bringing teams of teachers and administrators together, we hope to create momentum to change the policies and day-to-day practices that can stymie innovation and impede education reform in juvenile facilities.

Below is a daily log of Tech U 2015. Enjoy!

Daily Log

July 27: Day One

Tech U started bright and early Monday morning. All forty-one Unjammed 2.0 Fellows from eight states gathered in a classroom on the Seattle U campus. The day was launched with the marshmallow challenge. Fellows worked in their homerooms to build the tallest freestanding structure out of spaghetti with a marshmallow on top. Afterwards, it was time to pass out Chromebooks! (Yes, each Fellow received a Chromebook to keep as their own). The cart of Chromebooks was wheeled in and teachers came up to get their new computer while the song Geronimo blasted in the background. A few teachers remarked that this was their first personal computer ever. Afterward, it was time to start working on the fundamentals of Blended Learning. Workshops topics included Classroom Management, Digital Citizenship, Tech Tools, and Blended Instructional Design.These fundamental workshops helped teachers master the building blocks of blended learning such as SAMR model, learning menus, mini-lessons, personalized learning,and managing a blended classroom. At the end of a long, but energizing day, Fellows had the baseline skills to start working on their task of planning a unit with the tools of blended learning.

July 28: Day Two

Day Two started off with a three hour work session were Fellows spent time developing the unit they will teach in the first semester that is infused with blended learning. Teachers will take a piece of each session and apply it to the blended unit design.They will teach this unit during the first semester when they head back to their schools. After lunch, Fellows participated in a Makerspace learning rotation where they were introduced to some new tools they would take back to their schools, Littlebits Synth Kit, Leap Motion, Makey Makey, and a 3D printer.

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The last part of the day was spent mastering a set of communication tools: Twitter, Slack, Edmodo, and Google Hangouts. These tools are a big part of the Unjammed Fellowship community and help keep everyone connected during the school year. They also are tools that teachers can use in their schools, with colleagues and students. After all the hard work was over, it was time for the Fellows, organized into ‘homerooms‘ to face off in a scavenger hunt. Teams scoured the local area to capture items, photos, and videos.

July 29: Day Three

The Fellows started their third day rotating through the the Makerspace classes. In one workshop, the Fellows experimented with the the Littlebits and Makey Makey devices to remix Happy Birthday into different music genres. [Salsa Happy Birthday Remix]. Along the way started to see how the devices would be applicable with their students--to teach the science of sound, electrical currents, and magnetism.

"Little Bits is a wonderful resource to have in a classroom full of boys that are full of energy and main learning strength is hands-on, tactile/kinesthetic. The Little Bits equipment is very easy to use.”

-Lucia Jacobs, Teaching Fellow from South Carolina

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Later in the morning, the Fellows participated in a workshop where they used Tuva Labs to develop a music survey and data literacy project. After lunch, Fellows rotated through three sessions focused on Coding and Programming: Using CodeHS, Programming in ‘Scratch,’ and Getting Started with the Hour of Code. That evening we closed out the day with a LIVE #jjedtech Twitter Chat.

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July 30: Day Four

Tech U just got a little bigger! Fifty-four administrators from the eight participating agencies arrived the night before, so as of Thursday morning, there were ninety-five professionals at Tech U. Administrators include school principals, juvenile justice agency leaders, school district leaders, technology specialists and secure care staff.

"Technology and blended initiatives improve the relationship between secure staff and the youth that we serve, making a positive impact on both behavior and education."

-Josh Boggs, Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice Secure Care

The first combined session is set up as a living museum. Administrative teams visit ten different pairs of fellows to learn about the blended learning tools they focused on during the first three days of camp. The rotations included: Classroom Management, Digital Citizenship,Tech Tools, Cultivating Instructional Designers, Blended Unit Design, Makerspace, Communication, Ambassador Project, Coding and Programming, and the #jjedtechTwitter Chat. Teachers gave administrators a preview of what they had learned and how it will apply to their classroom.

"I could really feel the enthusiasm of the teachers when we got there on Thursday; although they were dog tired from all the work they had done, they were excited to share, interested in learning more, and adamant about improving things back at their schools."

-Kathleen Sande, Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

The rest of the day is focused on establishing the policy framework for sites to implement blended learning at the start of the school year. State teams identified fears and hopes for the upcoming year. Later, teams attended workshops designed to address challenges and support implementation. These workshops included technical sessions focused on installing and using monitoring tools such as Insight , teaching digital citizenship and how to become a certified teacher and a certified school through CEEAS’ partnership with Common Sense Education. Site-based teams also developed draft Responsible Use Policies for students and teachers. The day ended with a workshop where the state teams started to plan the ‘pitch’ they would be making to agency or executive level leadership when they returned home--clarifying the support and policy changes the team would need in order to implement blended learning at their sites (here is an example of a team’s pitch: Nebraska’s Pitch).

July 31: Day Five

The last day is here and you can feel the excitement and anticipation. Teaching Fellows are ready to try out new tools in their classrooms; administrators are planning out how they will be able to support their teachers in this process. During a round of individualized workshops, administrators attended sessions on how to more fully utilize their Student Information Systems, using real-time systems to support behavior management strategies, and importance of tracking and using student achievement data. Meanwhile, teachers had a chance to work on their individual blended units, and rotate through workshops highlighting content-related tech tools.

Over the course of the day state teams finalize their outlines for their agency pitches and present them to their peers for feedback. Later, teams meet to plan out next steps and develop a timeline of key implementation dates for their foray into blended learning. We finished the day reflecting on Tech U and celebrating everyone’s hard work and success.

"One of the most powerful things to come out of Tech U is a unified sense of 'we're going to do this.' We had teachers, secure care staff, principals, our technology expert all together, all in agreement about the need to make the technology work for our kids. That's what we left with on Friday--a real sense of purpose and agreement."

-Jennifer Sanders, Superintendent of Schools, Buckeye School District (Ohio’s Department of Juvenile Justice)