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, Professional Development, Teaching, Webinars
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Presentation Tools for Classroom, Blended, or Online Content

presentation tool imageWebinar re-cap of a presentation by: Becci Zwiers from Inno-Versity

Are you tired of using PowerPoint and want to create more interesting presentations? Or are you looking for ways to create instructional content for you online or blended class? There are a variety of ways to present information to students in an engaging manner. In this webinar Becci explored use of Prezi and Powtoon Slides as alternative presentation tools. She also walked attendees through at Piktochart as a tool to create infographics. Finally, we got a crash course using Powtoon to make cartoon scenarios as instructional content for students.

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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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Blended Learning, Devices, Professional Development, Teaching, Webinars
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Online & Blended Course Content – What Is Out There and How Can I Use It?

Blended_LearningA Webinar Re-Cap as Presented by: Becci Zwiers from Inno-Versity

Are you overwhelmed by the amount of content found online? Or certain there has to be a better way to find content for your class? There is! Enjoy this archived webinar to learn about Open Educational Resources (OER) and Learning Object Repositories (LOR) that are free and available for use in your classroom. These are items such as media, lesson plans, assessments and other activities that you can make use of in your class. The resources presented about were carefully curated to provide the most useful and well respected sources. See the list of these below.

About the presenter:
Becci Zwiers, a West Michigan native, is Inno-Versity’s in-house K-12 and Moodle guru. She’s the all-around life of the party. As a Calvin College graduate with a master’s degree in Gifted and Talented Education from Grand Valley State University, she brings a unique set of gifts and talents to Inno-Versity’s clientele. She has additional certification in Online Teaching from Michigan Virtual. Becci’s expertise morphs projects from basic concept to digital masterpiece. She is the champ curriculum writer and developer on the team. She is an experienced and impressive online trainer as well. Becci has taught over 30 online professional development courses over the past 10 years.

Becci will be teaching CSI’s online course for teachers and administrators called “Building a Blended Course.” This course is scheduled to begin mid-June through the month of July.

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Blended Learning, Devices, Professional Development, Teaching
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EdTech Team Summit – Featuring Google for Education

EdTechTeamEveryone is invited to Google Apps for Education — June 23-24, 2016!

Sioux Falls Christian Schools in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is excited to be hosting the 2nd Annual “EdTech Team Summit – Featuring Google for Education.” This two-day event (with an optional pre-summit “dive deep” sessions on June 22nd) includes two keynote presentations, eight breakout sessions each hour, a demo slam competition, and a closing capstone session. Participants will be able to attend beginner through advanced sessions on the uses of Google Apps in the classroom for iOS, Chromebooks, Macs, and Windows machines. All presenters are Google Certified Teachers, Google for Education Certified Trainers, Google Employees, or teachers with local success stories in the integration of Google tools!

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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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Blended Learning, Online Learning, Professional Development, Teaching
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Space for Student Voice

studentvoicePost by: Marita Damghani, online learning consultant for Christian Schools International

In a classroom full of a variety of students, it’s important for educators to find creative ways for individual students to have a voice in classroom conversations. For some educators, like Tyler Amidon from Denver (Colorado) Christian, it means giving students a platform to share their ideas and express themselves. For Tom Deelstra, high school vice principal at Chatham Christian Schools in Chatham, Ontario, it means students are actively involved in their learning as givers and not just receivers of information and ideas. And for Rachel Diephouse, a middle school teacher at Holland Christian School in Holland, Michigan, it means giving her students the opportunity to share what they know, think, and believe. In an environment where ideas like these are shared, questions can be asked and ideas can be stirred up by others. For great teachers, this is optimal and exciting learning. But Dan Meester, superintendent of Holland Christian Schools, points out that before any of that can occur, students need to care about what they’re learning enough to want to share it.

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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, Devices, Professional Development, Sevenstar, Teaching, Webinars
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Flipped Classroom Adoption

flipped-classroomWritten by: Marita Damghani, Online Learning Consultant for Christian Schools International

Educators are often asked to set aside traditional education models to try something new. Flipped classrooms are often the new challenge. Those who are looking to make the switch can learn from those who are already doing it and are teaching others to do it successfully. I got the opportunity to be a panelist on a Sevenstar-sponsored webinar presented by teacher, researcher, and speaker Aaron Sams. This post is a collection of his tips and resources.

Educause, a digital tech-for-education non-profit, defines the flipped classroom as “a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.”

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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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