Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Teacher Technology Leaders: iTeacher Program

Last week the instructional technologists had the pleasure of working with some of our technology leaders in the classroom. We have a group of iTeachers that serve as our model classrooms, professional development presenters, and first line of defense for technology assistance in our schools. This year we received approval to increase the number of iTeachers from 1 to 2 or 3 per school. We were very excited to increase our numbers.
For our first official session together we wanted to explain the program, discuss presentation skills, and begin planning for our summer conference.

We utilized Google Classroom to deliver presentation slides and materials so as our iTeachers entered the room, there were instructions on how to join the group. We also asked those without Twitter accounts to create one. Kristen created these awesome place cards with all of their information, including name, agenda for the day, Google Classroom code, spot for Twitter handle, our district hashtag, and an icon of the presentation tool they would be using that day.

After a round of icebreaker questions we shared the pencil metaphor and talked about how excited we were to have such amazing teacher leaders with us. We shared some of our plans for the June conference and explained their role in the conference. We shared the different types of presentations we need their help in presenting. We had already created intentionally diverse groups based on presentation tool so we asked them to get together with the others with that same tool on their place card. We gave them the option of using Flowvella, Haiku Deck, Prezi, Nearpod/Classflow or Keynote/Google Slides. We thought that we could avoid a PowerPoint flooded conference if we shared alternatives with them.

After breaking into their group we shared their assignment: Create a presentation using your assigned tool. Include your goals for being an iTeacher, strengths, presentation ideas for professional development and fun ideas for the conference. We gave them plenty of time to create their presentation. I loved hearing them share their technology experiences throughout that creation process.

Each group shared their presentation and then we asked them to read this article from Lisa Nielsen:
We looked at the plans we had made for that day and talked about how we intentionally used her advice in creating our session and we asked that they consider this advice when creating their presentations for June. Before breaking for lunch we asked each teacher to summarize the morning in a tweet using the district hashtag.

Our iTeachers from last year joined our new group after lunch. We played "Switch Sides if..." as an icebreaker. This is where I found that idea. Then we shared a Padlet we had created with our session ideas and some from the morning's presentations. We decided to choose topics using the White Elephant/Dirty Santa game. If you've never played here are the official rules. We had several steals and lots of laughs, but I think everyone ended up with a topic they liked. Click It to Win It was the most stolen topic!

Then we explained our idea for an App Gallery at the conference. Instead of a traditional vendor hall our iTeachers will create a booth advertising an app that they recommend. Teachers have a stamp card and they have to visit a certain number of booths, listen to the explanation and maybe even create something using the app to earn a stamp. After some time in the App Gallery to explore teachers will choose one of the apps and go to a breakout room with the iTeacher where they will go into more depth about using the tool. We created a shared spreadsheet in Google Drive so that our iTeachers could select the app they want to share.

Finally we gave them some time to begin working on their presentations and asked them all to share another tweet about the day. I left full of excitement for the conference. We are lucky to have so many amazing teachers in our district.

If you have a similar program for your tech leaders I would love to hear about it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Techie Holidays

I was inspired after seeing the adorable creations from this teacher on Flickr:

We used parts of our district's motto to create a personalized image. Then we used that Keynote image in Thinglink, added a few fun holiday themed links and sent this out as our holiday card from the instructional technologists. 

We became the prize patrol to deliver the prizes for Tech the Halls. 
I was so impressed with the boards our students and teachers made. The district winner had Aurasma ornaments for every child that shared their favorite parts of the holidays, stocking for every teacher that linked to Chatterpix or Jibjab dance videos, music notes that played carols, and snowflakes with AR codes to content questions. Wow!
Here is a video that shows all of the boards.
Enjoy and happy holidays!

Discover PD Series

We chose three words to be in our logo for our ipad initiative: discover, transform and excel. We took these three words and used them as inspiration for our PD plans. 
In the Spring we will be offering monthly professional development to our schools so that they can "discover" new tools for their classroom. 
Our district just purchased Notability for all of our students so we will begin with learning this app. After the holiday break we will be sharing tips for managing a 1:1 classroom, using Twitter, digital assessment tools, Google Apps for Education and a session designed specifically for the needs of our individual schools. I will be sure to share materials for our sessions here.
I am looking forward to getting in to see each of my five schools and continuing to build relationships with the teachers. I have found that time like this with the teachers has really increased their trust in me and their willingness to invite me into the classroom. 

Our annual June district PD days will be a conference style event. We are calling the event Transform 2015. There will be traditional sessions, but also an unconference style portion, App Gallery, Creation Stations and many more fun, interactive learning opportunities. We are very excited about the event and created this Save the Date card.

The Excel portion of our plan is still in the works, but we hope to celebrate the achievement of our students when we return next Fall. 

Does your district organize PD based on themes or annual goals? I would love to hear about it.

K-2 Tech Fun Day

One of my elementary schools asked if I would organize an event for their K-2 students that would be similar to the fun had by our 3-5 students on iPad roll out day.
Thankfully the related arts teachers were willing so we planned 8 different stations for the day.
1. Kahoot games with me. The students had a blast answering questions about animals and cartoon characters using public Kahoot games I found online. They loved the competitive portion and screamed after every question. Yes, every question. Several teachers had not seen Kahoot before and asked if I would show them how to use it in their class. Score!

2. HMH Readers app with the reading coach. The student enjoyed reading and being read to using this app. Other popular reading apps in my district are Raz Kids and Epic.

3. My Heart Rate, Virtual Heart and NFL Play 60 with the PE teacher. 

4. Tune Train and singing with the music teacher.

5. Colar with the art teacher. Often mentioned as one of their favorites that day (after Kahoot of course).

6. Lightbot coding in the computer lab.

7. Chatterpix for sharing their favorite book in the library.

8. Common Sense lesson about online safety with their classroom teacher.

All of the kids had a blast and several teachers learned about tools and apps they had never seen so I was very happy!
What are your favorite apps for our youngest grades?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tech the Halls

The Instructional Technology team is celebrating the holidays with a bulletin board contest called Tech the Halls. We will visit all of our schools in a few weeks to take pictures of the boards and a panel of judges at the district office will choose their favorites. School winners will receive ornaments made from recycled tech gadgets like mice and RAM and a bag of holidays sweets. The district winner will receive a new iPad case with a customized vinyl monogram. Southern women love monograms!

How do you recognize the holidays in your school?

Monday, October 20, 2014

A1Digital Expedition

For the past several years our district has offered a course called 21 Things that was designed by me and a few other tech leaders in our district. It has been very popular and so important to our district tech goals that it became a requirement for technology certification renewal. This summer we decided to update the course.
Now instead of 21 Things the course is called Digital Expedition. The title ties in with our A1 Digital Innovation initiative. We made several improvements including creating a version for teachers and another for administrators. We cut down to 15 tasks, but they are more in depth. Finally, we made the course more iPad focused and moved the course from Wikispaces to iTunes U. We wanted the course to serve as a model for how teachers could deliver content to their students on the iPad.
The teacher version is still facilitated by the librarian at each school. The three instructional technologists debated this choice because we don't want to burden others with technology tasks, but in the end we decided that it was important to have someone at each school that was easily accessible. I also wanted the librarians to remain in this role to illustrate that they are still tech leaders in our district.

Our 15 tasks for teachers are:
  1. Office 365
  2. Schoolwires
  3. PD Express
  4. Using the Smartboard with the iPad
  5. iWork Suite
  6. Edmodo
  7. Core Apps
  8. Beyond the Core
  9. Flipping the Classroom
  10. Formative Assessment Tools
  11. Blogs and RSS Feeds
  12. Using Twitter
  13. Curation Tools
  14. Evaluating Apps
  15. Goals and Reflection

Our 15 tasks for administrators are:
  1. Office 365
  2. Schoolwires
  3. PD Express
  4. Building the Home/School Connection
  5. iWork Suite
  6. Edmodo
  7. Using the iPads for Evaluations
  8. Beyond the Core
  9. Flipping the Faculty Meeting
  10. Formative Assessment Tools
  11. Blogs and RSS Feeds
  12. Using Twitter
  13. Curation Tools
  14. Evaluating Apps
  15. Goals and Reflection

The course is a public course on iTunes U if you'd like to take a look.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Individual Tech Goals

In my home state all teachers are required to create a goal for Goals Based Evaluation each year. This includes the instructional technologists, as we are still classified as teachers. This year we tried to not only write our goal, but help our teachers write theirs.
I loved this article about individual technology goals:
The three of us put together a presentation that stated our district goals and provided a few sample tech goals. We knew that not everyone would write a technology related goal, but we wanted to help those that were interested in pursing a tech goal. We shared the presentation with the principals and were even invited to share these goals at some of our schools. I've even been pulled aside while walking down the halls to help teachers come up with something. This was an excellent way we could serve our teachers as well as opening the door to future collaborations.

In addition to offering sample goals we asked teachers to answer this survey. The survey was intended to help us tailor the professional development we design to the needs and requests of our teachers.

For my own goal I utilized the questions shared in this blog post to reflect and focus my thoughts.

I'm still thinking about these four and trying to make sure I address them throughout the year.

1. How can I build my working relationship with the teachers I serve to become collaborative and trusting?
4. What instructional problem is the technology integration solving, or what problem does it need to solve based on these students' needs?
7. How can I plan time to observe teachers and listen to their needs?
9. How can I plan to constantly reevaluate my coaching strategies throughout the year and not just set a plan in place at the first of the year?
How do you design your goals for year?