Category : IT Specialists

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, IT Specialists, Professional Development, Teaching, Webinars
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Google Classroom Tips and Tricks

GoogleClassroomAn archived recording of a live webinar event presented by Rachel Medieros and hosted by Christian Schools International.

Google Classroom helps teachers and students stay organized and enjoy a supplemented curriculum. In this webinar, Rachel Medeiros, a Google certified teacher and innovator, shared San Jose Christian School’s philosophy for technology integration and demonstrate how that philosophy works with Google Classroom, a free learning management system for Google Apps for Education schools. Click on the recording link below and learn the details of how to use Classroom, best practices for using it in your school, and the many great benefits for both students and teachers.

We were thrilled to see many of you were able to join us for the live event, and enjoyed watching you network and share ideas via the Twitter chat #CSI4EDU during the presentation. If you get a moment, search #CSI4EDU and check out what others had to say.

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Blended Learning, IT Specialists, Professional Development, Social Media, Webinars
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The Power of Social Media for Leaders – Webinar Re-Cap

social media cubesIn today’s world, a school leader is called upon to communicate with his or her community on a daily basis. However, sending an email every day is not what is expected today. There are so many tools and so many mediums for us to use to communicate. Tyler Amidon from Denver Christian Schools and Mike Wiersma from Ontario Christian Schools demonstrated how they use many different tools to meet community members, students, and staff where they are in the 21st century. If you missed the live event, be SURE to catch the recording.

Click here to learn about daily podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, weekly blog posts, YouTube, Google Hangout, Instagram, Remind HQ, weekly timeline to teachers, backchannels, and more. All these tools, when used properly, can inspire and connect your community in more ways than you can imagine!

Those in the live event walked away with a myriad of new ideas to utilize immediately. The tips Tyler and Mike shared were attainable, useful, and shared with ideas for easy application. The entire hour was spent introducing educators to social media tools (some well-known and others new) and helped them understand great ways to integrate them in our schools communications to share God’s story with our communities.

View the Webinar Archive Here

Connect with Tyler (@TylerAmidon) and Mike (@MWiersy) on Twitter if you have any follow-up questions or comments. They’d love to hear from you!

As presented by: Tyler Amidon, Denver Christian Schools, and Mike Wiersma, Ontario Christian Schools in Nov 2015

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Blended Learning, IT Specialists, Online Learning, Professional Development, Sevenstar, Webinars
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Social Media & Flipped Classrooms

professional-development-coursesIt is time to schedule some great professional development! During the month of November we are partnered up with two member school administrators and our online learning partner, Sevenstar, to share some great information. You have surely had conversation around how to best use social media as leaders in education, and you have begun to explore and understand best practices for flipped classroom formats. Take a moment to read about two upcoming webinar events to assist you in these ventures, and register to participate.

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Blended Learning, Devices, Givaway, IT Specialists, Professional Development, Teaching, Uncategorized
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Back to School Giveaway Celebration!

giveaway1Welcome to the new school year! We want to celebrate this milestone with you by starting off with two exciting drawings. Today, we’ll introduce you to the GoogleFEST giveaway and opportunity happening in Lansing, Michigan. Then, in just a couple days, we’ll post the information about two online course scholarship drawings! So, stay tuned.

 

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Announcing GoogleFEST!

Many schools are making use of the apps, devices, and programs Google has created to make education more efficient and student centered. The folks at Google have created GoogleFEST, a one day professional and personalized learning conference for educators. The topics being covered by the keynote speaker, author and teacher Pernille Ripp, and the workshop leaders will surely enhance how you use technology in the classroom. We want to encourage you to sign up for the registration give-away ($95 value – covers one participant’s registration and parking) below and share the opportunity with your administrators and staff.

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Blended Learning, Guest Post, IT Specialists, Online Learning, Teaching
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Using Blended Learning to Offer AP Courses

Steenstra_APCS_1 Guest post by Mark Steenstra, technology director at Calvin Christian School in Escondido, California

This school year Calvin Christian High School in Escondido, California, offered a new course, AP Computer Science. This was possible because we utilized the blended learning model.

I teach a variety of technology-related courses at Calvin Christian School, including Computer Programming. A few years ago, I discovered there were several students that desired to take AP Computer Science. Our school did not have the time or resources to establish a traditional AP Computer Science course, so I recommended that students take the class online. Finding a high-quality online course is difficult, and I confess the one I recommended had some shortcomings. Not that I took my recommendation lightly; in fact, I was directly impacted because my son was one of the students.

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Blended Learning, IT Specialists, Online Learning, Professional Development, Teaching
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Building a Blended Course – A Summer Professional Development Experience

Professional_Development_Logo“Blended learning” is the catch phrase in K-12 education today. Christian schools span the spectrum of participation integrating blended learning into their classrooms: some are fully on board, while other schools have yet to dip their toes in. The online class Building a Blended Course is a great opportunity for educators to understand blended learning and to be equipped with helpful tools for implementing their own blended learning courses.

This summer, Christian Schools International is offering the Building a Blended Course for the second time for K-12 teachers and administrators. Beginning June 15, 2015, the course is asynchronous and allows for summer vacation schedules; it’s designed to cover seven weeks of content but allows eight weeks for completion (ending August 3).

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IT Specialists, Professional Development, Teaching, Webinars
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Why Schools Need Curriculum Mapping – Webinar Re-Cap

PrintWebinar led by: Dan Beerens & Mike VandenBerg, Dynamics Internet Solutions

Dan and Mike uncovered many reasons why schools need to be mapping curriculum. Their digital solution is unlike any other. During this webinar, Dan gave us a virtual tour of Curriculum Trak, the web-based tool that Christian schools use to drive their school improvement process. In this webinar he also explored the new faith learning integration tool. Check out the latest way to track curriculum over subject areas and grade levels. This tool even allows schools to network, sharing great ideas, curriculum standards and lesson plan ideas.

View the webinar recording here.

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