Dawson County Schools Tech Update

Sharing the good news of Instructional Tech in our schools

Instructional Technology Committee News

The instructional technology committee met Thursday, March 17, 2016. Mr. Gaddis reported that the process of adding devices to our new Active Directory network has started. RVES teacher MacBooks have been added already and the tech team will visit each campus and add MacBooks to the directory. This process takes a few minutes and does not change the user experience. Active Directory simply allows devices to be recognized on the network and will allow large group enrollment of users, maintenance, upgrades and updates. Eventually all iMacs, MacBooks and PC's will be added to the Active Directory.

Implementation of Bus Boss, a new service used to build bus routes and identify which students need to ride which bus, has begun with professional learning sessions.

The Special Education program is implementing a new solution for writing IEPs.

Online student registration through Powerschool will become active in June. This feature will allow parents to register different grade level students in appropriate schools, at one time.

The 1:1 iPad Proposal (to be presented during Board retreat in April) will be for:

    • iPads for grades 6-8 and all teachers (2016-17) Year 1

    • iPads for students K-5 and 9 (2017-18) Year 2

    • iPads for grades 10-12 (2018-19) Year 3

The committee then discussed the selection of a Learning Management System. Schoology and Canvas by Instructure were the two finalists. The committee reviewed both products on MacBooks and iPad Apps and considered the requested capabilities:

• ease of use for students and teachers,

• a simple, easy to understand user interface,

• connectivity to Powerschool for grade reporting and adding students to courses,

• works great on a mobile device and

• has a user interface that is appropriate to a wide grade range of student abilities.

The committee has made the final recommendation of http://www.schoology.com, pending BOE approval, and a beginning date of July 1, 2016. Professional learning will certainly be part of the implementation plan.

How We Teach with Tech

DCSS has many talented teachers and this section will highlight their efforts to integrate technology in their instruction and provide a resource for others.

Deborah Huggard, Math teacher at DCHS

One word the best describes how I teach: Independence

Current mobile devices: Bring your own device (BYOD), 6 old MacBooks and 4 iMacs in classroom

Current computer: Macbook Air

What’s on my desk or classroom? Smartboard and Projector

What apps, software or tools can’t you live without: IMMPad http://www.recordexusa.com/interactive-slates.html, Screencast-o-matic http://screencast-o-matic.com/home, Schoology https://www.schoology.com/ , SmartNotebook http://education.smarttech.com/products/notebook, Desmos (free graphing utility app) https://www.desmos.com/

What is your favorite app for instructional organization, management: Schoology

What apps or tech activities appeal the most to your students? Desmos Activities, QR reader (for quick access to websites on their mobile device) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/qr-reader-for-iphone/id368494609?mt=8

Where do you find more ideas for technology integration in your classroom? Twitter http://twitter.com, Schoology groups

What advice would you give other teachers on how to integrate technology in their classroom? You don’t have to do everything at once, and you don’t have to be an expert before you start. If you wait to know it all before you begin, you never will!

I “flip” my classes, which means I record video lessons, which students watch at home for homework BEFORE we cover the topic in class. This frees up an incredible amount of class time since students already see it once, get the basics, have taken the notes and have tried a problem or two on their own (never more than that). Class is then the place that all the “hard” work happens, with peer and teacher assistance. Students learn independence, self-reliance, responsibility and critical thinking and well as group/teamwork skills. Oh yeah, they learn math too! Feel free to contact me for help if you’re curious about trying some version of “flipping” in your own classroom.

Technology Integration Strategies

Technology device integration has been a common practice in a number of school systems through out the nation for a number of years. The Eanes Independent School District, Austin Texas, has been a leader in iPad integration in their classrooms. Here is a "Top Ten iPad Classroom Management Tips and Tricks" from their district. These tips are valuable using any device in your classroom; iPads, MacBooks, iMac or BYOD.

10. You can’t over communicate

Repeat yourself twice as often as you think. Just about the time you are sick of saying it to one class, they’re starting to hear it. Don’t forget to communicate with parents! They hear from you even less frequently than your students!

9. Set clear behavior expectations. Daily.

Remind students of what proper iPad use looks like in your classroom. Also, see #10.

8. Rethink and Relocate.

Success lies in how well you manage your classroom, which will mean more “management by walking around” and interacting with your students. This is very difficult to do from the front of the room. Hey, you can always use the “it’s not you, it’s me” line if you’re having trouble saying goodbye to the podium.

7. It’s OK to NOT use the iPad sometimes.

Not every lesson or activity is best suited for the iPad. Remind students that non-iPad activities should mean “Apples up” and we’ll get back to the iPad later.

6. Practice your lesson/activity/workflow at least 24 hours before class.

Murphy’s law on this one. If it can go wrong, it will, but practice beforehand is good “Murphy

repellant.” Find the flaws/idiosyncrasies BEFORE the students do.


You never know when you’ll be sick or who will watch your class. Be sure to have a write-up of your iPad expectations and guidelines available for your sub. The more thought and care you put into your sub plans, the easier it will be to rest while you’re out.

4. Have an established procedure for the beginning of class

Will you always have an iPad-friendly warm-up? Will you always start with iPads under their desks? Have you used Rule #10 on these procedures?

3. ALWAYS have a tech-free back-up plan

See #6... When Murphy strikes, you’ll be ready!

2. Ask yourself, “What is the ultimate point of what I’m trying to accomplish?”

Begin with the end in mind and design your lesson for learning. Don’t design your lesson based around how best to use the iPad. Think about what they are to learn and then look for ways to use the iPad to accomplish those learning targets.

1. Help your students get organized

Spending a few minutes a week making sure your students are organized with their digital lives will save you time! Use tools like Google Calendar and teacher web pages so students can keep track of who assigned what and when it’s due.

Here is a great link to more iPads in the classroom resources http://wrms.eanesisd.net/leap

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Learning Resources

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and specifically, Google Drive and YouTube give teachers a great place to store instructional videos they create for the "flipped" classroom. Here is a link to a great Blog entry by Alice Keeler, a teacher who uses and teaches with GAFE each day http://alicekeeler.com/2015/08/30/30-second-videos-for-your-students/

Did you know that as a Google Apps for Education user you have your own YouTube account? YouTube is a powerful resource for learning. Good teachers are always sharing good resources, and you can share a great Youtube resource with others. Paola Epstein, DCHS Spanish teacher shares this great link to many YouTube resources http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/teaching-youtube-197-digital-channels-learning/

A Tip of The Hat!

A Tip of the Hat to Dawson County instructional technology committee members for their efforts in reviewing, demoing and discussing potential learning management systems.

A Tip of the Hat to Dawson County technology department members Carol Helton and Karen Wilson for preparing student devices for GMAS testing.

A Tip of the Hat to Laura Ledbetter, second grade teacher at RES. RES Assistant Principal Linda Bearden reports " Mrs. Ledbetter’s 2nd grade class pretended they were Martin Luther King, then completed a Chatterpix. The exciting part for Mrs. Ledbetter was getting them to send the Chatterpix to her using the website dropitto.me. This is great because when we go 1-to-1 this will be important to turn in their work".

A Tip of the Hat to RES first grade teacher, Sallie Power. Her students read several different Tacky the Penguin stories. Then, her students wrote their own Tacky stories and published them using ABCYA writing online.

A Tip of the Hat to RES teacher Cindy Estes, who installed the LEGO program on lab iMacs. Ms. Power's class then used the program to draw a Lego picture which included in the student's stories.

A Tip of the Hat to RES 4th grade teachers Kristy Moore and Lydia Burnett, whose social studies classes have used QR codes and iPads to complete a Webquest about the Declaration of Independence.

A Tip of the Hat to RVMS 8th Grade social studies teacher, Andrea Smith. Denise Hunt, RVMS assistant principal reports "Ms. Smith is using the QRafter App https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/qrafter-qr-code-barcode-reader/id416098700?mt=8. This app allows you to scan QR codes which takes you to a URL. Her URL was Blendspace which is similar to a Webquest. It has a PPT with videos embedded and a Google formative assessment at the end. An additional assignment is included to allow the students to type text (great practice for GMAS!)".

A Tip of the Hat to teachers and staff who are using their teacher webpages to reach out to students, parents and the public, providing up to date and relevant information.

A Tip of the Hat to BMES Visual Arts Educator Tracey Burnette and Technology Department member Karen Wilson for implementing iPads as cameras in a photography lesson for 4th and 5th grade students at BMES.

Tech Tips

It is no secret that the Chrome Browser is the best environment to use Google Apps for Education (GAFE), Google makes the Chrome Browser! Here is a great link about the best chrome extensions as chosen by teachers https://www.thegooru.com/8-chrome-extensions-teachers-love/ An extension is something that you can add to the Chrome Browser to add more features. I use the goo.gl URL Shortener https://goo.gl/SPmX4 to shorten long web addresses and create QR codes right from the Chrome Browser.

I follow a number of different teacher Blogs as part of my professional learning network and I ran across this great post about things to remember when you communicate to parents by email, consider your message from the parent's perspective: http://texasedtech.blogspot.com/2016/03/30dbb-day-5-11-things-that-make-this.html

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