Category : Guest Post

Blended Learning, Devices, Guest Post, Professional Development, Teaching
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Increasing Student Responsibility with Google Classroom

google_classroom_logoI teach middle school. That means that I teach students a lot of content, but I also teach students about what it means to be human. Part of teaching students to be human is about teaching them to be responsible.

At San Jose Christian, we have a 1:1 laptop program in our middle school, where students all have their own MacBooks.  We use Google Classroom to offer students tools, resources, and a management hub for classroom work.

However, Google Classroom is not just for middle school. It’s great for students to use to turn in work at almost any level. They have a great app for iOS and Android as well, which makes it easy for students to use on any device or even across the multiple devices they have.

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Guest Post, Professional Development, Uncategorized
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Four Apps to Help You Fundraise for Your School

onlinegivingEven though educational research is inconclusive as to whether technology actually increases students’ learning, we do know that technology integration in the classroom prepares students for Christian life and service. To function in today’s world, we need to know how to integrate technology into our lives.

Technology is important in the school’s office, too. Technology improves both effectiveness and efficiency of office functions. I have found the following technology-based applications extremely useful in my job as fundraiser at the Potter’s House School.

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Devices, Guest Post, IT Specialists, Teaching, Uncategorized
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Growing Digitally… Ditching Computer Labs

tumblr_nwmkeowj7P1r8o3vyo1_1280At some point during the 2015-16 school year I heard our technology coordinator utter words neither of us dreamed would be spoken in the “tech age”: “We may no longer need a computer lab.”

I remember my first experience with a computer lab as a student. It was the only place in school where students could access computers, and the weekly assigned times in front of turquoise and purple iMac G3s were a highlight for me. Through my years as a student and continuing into my days as a teacher, the computer lab was where students came to type papers, conduct research, or try to get around filters and play games of Hangman olemonader Lemonade Stand.

So how is it possible that we could consider getting rid of such a room? Over the past three years, we have moved from a single mobile cart of 30 laptops to a pair of mobile carts before increasing our number to over 80 laptops to allow our middle school students (grades 6-8) to go 1:1. This left only our fourth and fifth graders in need of using the computer lab. While it was convenient for them, since the computer lab was much more open and available for their use, the lab’s 25+ Mac desktops had aged to the point of being unable to be updated, and new ones would have to be purchased.

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Blended Learning, Guest Post, IT Specialists, Professional Development, Teaching
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Introducing Coding in the Elementary Classroom

Intro Coding ImageCode is the language and grammar used to produce the apps and software we use every day. While real life coding can be complex, introducing students to coding in the classroom doesn’t have to be. However daunting it may seem, you can present coding to kids in second grade and even earlier. Best of all, there are great free resources you can use to jump in without much prep or expertise required on your part.

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Blended Learning, Guest Post, IT Specialists, Professional Development, Teaching
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Professional Development Excitement! Is It Possible?

julie-davis-1As an instructional technologist, when I’m introducing new technology ideas, I find that educator personalities generally fall into one of four categories:

  • I’m in!
  • Show me what you mean.
  • I’m not convinced.
  • Not in my classroom!

It’s not easy to meet the needs of all these types at the same time, so the way I introduce new tech ideas varies. It is my goal to meet teachers in their comfort zone and take them the next step. When I know whole-school PD days are on the horizon, I start asking my teachers what they want to learn in the area of educational technology. Our curriculum director and I then map out an EdCamp experience for our teachers that includes not only technology options but a variety of helpful authentic “take this back and make it work” ideas. Teachers are offered three or four choices of learning topics every 30 minutes. This format allows the teachers to quickly digest something they might want to learn more about and also allows them some choice in their learning path.  julie-davis-2

When we set up the day, we often ask teachers that are exceptional in different areas to share or demonstrate. This makes them feel affirmed, and it grows teacher leaders as resources as well. I’ve found teachers are much more receptive to learning from each other than from me, the technology person, telling them how great an idea is – especially when I don’t have a classroom of students with which to try these concepts. I enlist early adopters to lead sessions so that teachers see it from their real-world perspective, and anytime teachers can take an app/website/idea for a “test drive” alongside someone who has used it makes it far less scary. Setting up those opportunities during professional development days is a plus. While this is a brief introduction time, it allows me to ascertain who sees value in the concepts and to follow up for more one-on-one instruction with specific teachers.

julie-davis-3This year, we introduced some required curriculum changes to the teachers. Unfortunately, it was during the back-to-school rush. I tried to make the experience as hands-on as possible, with the goal of each teacher leaving a session with a lesson plan in hand. I often will introduce the concept with a hook that they can use in their classrooms as well. For instance, to introduce a day of project-based learning curriculum writing, we used a BreakoutEDU  game to encourage rapid learning of the basic concepts. Not only did our teachers learn about project-based learning but they also found out I had a BreakoutEDU toolbox available that they could utilize for critical thinking opportunities.

If you want teachers to try new thijulie-davis-4ngs and to teach using different methods, you have to model that in professional development opportunities! Look for ways to create small group, station rotation, flipped learning, inquiry-based, hands-on, connecting concepts to tasks type things that aid teachers in thinking outside their norm. The phrase professional development often incites moans of despair, but it doesn’t have to. Find the pul se of your teachers, engage them, and then ask for reflection to so that future professional development days will be seen as opportunities rather than a burden.

julie-davisA guest post by Julie Davis:

A former accountant, Julie Davis has been an educator for 14 years. She earned her master’s degree in instructional technology and serves as a technology coach and lower school technology coordinator at Chattanooga Christian School, the largest private K-12 school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This school is knee-deep in technology integration and a 1:1 computing initiative in grades 5-11. She enjoys helping teachers integrate technology into their lessons while giving them the support and tools to be successful. You can reach her at jdavis@ccsk12.com.

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Blended Learning, Guest Post, Online Learning, Professional Development, Teaching, Uncategorized
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The Open Source Remix

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The Remix Culture

I love Bob Ross. I’m not sure if it’s his poofy hair, his soft voice, or perhaps his “happy little trees,” but nothing relaxes me more on a Saturday afternoon than sitting back and watching reruns of the 80s PBS sensation The Joy of Painting. Apparently, I’m not the only one. PBS Digital Studios created an homage to the painter/host by remixing clips from his shows into an uplifting song. Join nearly 11 million other fans by watching the tribute below.

The video above is a perfect example of what has been coined the remix culture, which is a society in which one is encourage to create new derivative works from the original work of others. Rather than viewing such activity as the theft of copyrighted materials, members of an open community deliberately share their work so that others can build upon and improve it. We have seen the power of this open source movement most clearly evident in the development of the software that powers many internet applications, Moodle and WordPress being two prominent examples.

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Guest Post, Professional Development, Teaching
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How Tech Savvy Are Today’s Novice Teachers?

savvy-teachersGuest post by: Dave Mulder, Assistant Professor of Education at Dordt College

What do we make of the Millennials? Are they digital natives, or are they “the dumbest generation”?  Now that they are graduating from college and joining the team as professional educators, how shall we—the more seasoned educators—think about them, and their use of technology?

Marc Prensky, in his 2001 article, introduced the terminology of “digital natives” (referring to the Millennial generation) and “digital immigrants” (everybody older than the Millennials). And the argument was compelling: kids growing up with ready access to digital technology seem to think differently about the tools at their disposal. Seeing students (college, high school, middle school, or even elementary students) so attached to their handheld devices and social media makes it seem that Prensky’s words were prophetic: “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” Perhaps the Millennials are better suited for teaching their fellow digital natives.

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Blended Learning, Guest Post, Online Learning, Sevenstar
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3 Benefits of Hosting a Hybrid Summer School Program

A guest post by: Bob Kraft, Director of Program Growth at Sevenstar. 

HybridSchoolWhy would you even want to entertain the idea of starting or expanding your summer school program? After all, summer is a time to slow down and recover from the school year! True. However, you may be missing a great opportunity to:

  1. Raise the academic bar at your school
  2. Build loyalty with current families/students
  3. Connect with new families/students to grow enrollment.

We understand there is a legitimate shortage of energy and resources during the summer. That is why we propose structuring a hybrid summer school where you offer a mixture of on-campus mini-events and a combination of online and/or traditional classroom academics. In other words, gain the benefits listed in the first paragraph above without taxing your staff and facilities.

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Devices, Guest Post, Online Learning, Social Media, Teaching
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Students Learn How to Leave Positive Digital Legacy

Digital Citizenship Guest post by: Bryan Winfrey, Director of Communications and Student Recruitment at Valley Christian High School in Chandler, Arizona

You can’t watch the nightly news without being exposed to a story revolving around social media. Unfortunately, many of the stories are about the inappropriate or misuse of social media by teenagers. Understanding the new and broadening challenges students are facing, this year Valley Christian implemented a digital citizenship component to students’ computer curriculum. “Digital Citizenship teaches online ethics to give a moral compass to everything we do online,” first-year faculty member and computer teacher Tom Croke said. “We live in an age where we all have digital footprints; digital citizenship is understanding what footprints we leave and how they impact us.”

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Guest Post, Marketing, Social Media
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Building Alumni Relations Through Facebook

facebook-school-6001-367x235A guest post by: Pam Lasher, alumni coordinator of NorthPointe Christian Schools, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Connecting with alumni, seeing them return, and saying “Welcome home!” is a gift to me after teaching at NorthPointe for over 30 years. NorthPointe Christian Schools is 43 years old with 2,700 graduates, as well as many others who attended for part of their education. I connect with “my kids,” those I taught, and all NPC alumni. Embracing social media to stay up-to-date with NPC alumni has been priceless.

In addition to email, the applications I use regularly are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. My own Facebook (FB) account and a FB page created for NPC alumni have been the best way to find and stay in touch with our alumni. This format reaches each decade of graduates. Even young alumni are on FB, even if they don’t use it often. I message them and often get an immediate response! Of course, that means one by one–lots of time involved, but well worth it. It has been THE best way to ask for their contact info, as well as send out announcements and invitations.

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