Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blended Learning with OnSync

The Community Learning Center has been using Google Hangouts to bridge math and science content from TJ Martin's classroom at Crain's Creek Middle School to Holly Blackmon's classroom at CLC.  Principal Shaun Krencicki plans to expand the Blended Learning taking place at CLC to the high school classroom this semester.  Nicole Matthews, social studies teacher at Union Pines High School, will be streaming her Civics and Economics classroom to students at CLC in Jennifer Cunningham's classroom.

While Google Hangouts was able to accomplish the basic streaming needed for the middle school content, Mr. Krencicki wanted something more robust in place for the high school students this semester.  After careful research and discussion with colleagues, we decided to 'pilot' this semester using OnSync by Digital Samba.

During our trials so far, OnSync has been able to deliver all of the things Mr. Krencicki wanted available for his students at CLC.  With OnSync, CLC students can listen and watch the lesson from Union Pines on their Chromebooks by simply attending a web-based webinar.  There is no software that needs to be installed to get started.  Teachers can store up to 50 recorded video sessions with the Pro account.  Teachers delivering the content can screenshare, share documents, chat and communicate via video/audio chat with their students.  

The 'archived videos' feature will be great for absent students at CLC and Union Pines and those students that transfer into the school mid-semester.  

I look forward to learning more about OnSync in the coming weeks as I support the teachers and students involved.  

Tyler Callahan

Friday, January 23, 2015

Teacher Feature - Ashley Lynn

As a DIF my schedule is usually slam-packed full of meetings, lessons in classrooms, professional development, and other goodness but I always try to make time to step into Ashley Lynn's 5th grade classroom at Vass-Lakeview Elementary. Each time I pop in, I take something away from her lesson that would make me a better teacher. Whether it's her classroom management, her ideas for making literacy and social studies engaging and meaningful for her students, or her pedagogy. You often hear phrases like "Don't just teach the technology, use the technology to enhance the teaching." That is exactly what happens in Mrs. Lynn's classroom. The technology isn't the focus of her lessons, the curriculum is still the top priority and the instruction is enhanced with the infusion of technology.

I asked Mrs. Lynn to give me an idea of how she plans her lessons with the integration of technology. Here's what she told me:

"I think you have to start by getting students engaged. Once you have them hooked you can go wherever you need to go. We use technology to differentiate our instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners, including students who are auditory and visual learners. I think about those 21st century skills that students will need, not only for the students who will continue their education through college or university, but also those students will join the work force once they graduate from high school. Our students have been given an amazing opportunity with the deployment of Chromebooks for every student in my class. This evens the playing field because some students may not have the opportunity to use a device at home.  I also think it's important for students to publish and share their work because when they get a job they will have to stand up and present in front of their coworkers. I think being able to relate to the students and being able to predict what students will enjoy is very important. I try to plan lessons that I would be excited about as a student."

Mrs. Lynn utilizes a variety of digital tools in her classroom. She truly does a wonderful job of exposing her students to a number of different apps to add to their toolbox so that they have choice when they are creating and producing their work. Here are a few samples of some products that students have created in Mrs. Lynn's class:

Mrs. Lynn is a wonderful teacher to work with. She is open-minded, willing to take risks for the benefit of her students, creative, enthusiastic about her craft, and her students LOVE having her as their teacher. She is an inspiration to me as an educator and I am most positive that she is an inspiration to her students as well. She makes a positive impact on so many lives and Vass-Lakeview is lucky to have her.

- Clint

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Teacher Feature - Jason Burman

Jason Burman has been teaching for 14 years.  He started out at J. Glenn Edwards Elementary School in Sanford.  He has taught every subject K-5 and High School Health and PE.  Many refer to him as Coach Burman because of his background as a soccer coach. He currently teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Math at Crain’s Creek Middle School.  

Math is often considered the most difficult subject for technology implementation.  What could be more effective than the old fashioned pencil and paper while solving your equations?  Mr. Burman is an inspirational digital pioneer.  Every time I enter his classroom I see some form of technology being implemented and his students are always engaged.  

He created his own website so that both students and parents could stay up to date with his assignments.  Students may access classwork and homework assignments, interactive web tools, math games, which he creates, and assessment tools.  He will also post tutorial videos, which students may access at home, if he finds they need extra assistance with certain standards. Even during his planning time, Coach Burman is not only figuring out new technology tools to share with his classes, he also works diligently to create strategies which address the individual needs of his students.  

He especially enjoys using the following tools in his math classes:  

When I interviewed Mr. Burman he stated, “It is important to implement technology in math classes because it allows students to receive feedback immediately.  It allows them to receive instruction on their individual level.  So many programs allow students to be successful at various levels.  It also helps to teach them responsibility by being accountable for their actions online and meeting deadlines.

Hats off to you Coach Burman!  Thank you for your awesomeness!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Paperless Math Class?

The first time I met Mr. Webster he said, "You and I are going to be good friends! I want to learn how to make all my class materials digital and I'm not too good with this technology stuff." Great - we can do that!

First Mr. Webster created a Google classroom account and added all his classes - Math and Science. Codes were shared so his students could join the class. 

The next step was to show him how to scan his documents, creating PDF files which were e-mailed to him. We tackeled accessing them through Outlook and saving them to some "safe location". Mr. Webster quickly mastered this. These files were then added to Google Classroom for students to access. He started by just sharing homework documents, then added classwork. Once he was comfortable with this step, we were (he was) well on our (his) way to a paperless class. 

His next question was, "Why can't I put the test in Google Classroom and create the answer sheet in Schoolnet. It will be graded and go straight to my Powerschool, right?" Absolutely, we can do that!

Apprehensive about the process, Mr. Webster created a six question test. I worked with his students to open the document in one tab and the test in another tab. Students used calculators, paper and pencil to figure out the answers to 
the questions, and mark the correct answer in the test. 

This has been a four month process but how wonderful to look back and see how far we have come! Look at all the paper he has saved which translates to a huge savings for the school!

Way to go Mr. Webster! I am proud of your efforts and the example you are setting for other teachers!

Scanning on Toshiba Printer

Google Classroom


Mr. Webster is a 7th Grade teacher at New Century Middle School.

ThingLink - Cool Creation Tool

Screenshot 2015-01-14 at 10.27.11 AM.png

As the DIF at schools with three different devices, I love when I find a tool that can be used for all the students I work with.  ThingLink has an app for Apple and Android devices, and our Chromebooks can access it through ThinkLink.com.  I love that this tool can be used in the classroom for creative exploration of content.  ThingLink converts images into interactive experiences by adding video, music, sound, text, web content, and Google Docs that are all linked into the same image.  By embedding links within the image, students are able to get deeper into the explanation of a topic and are able to take control of their learning experience.

In this example, students in Ms. Strock's second grade class wrote their own "Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" after they completed the novel by Kate DiCamillo. They used PicCollage to organize the pictures they had taken of Edward around the room and then added links to their collages with their stories. Ms. Strock then had her students post their ThingLinks on a Padlet wall so they could explore each other's projects. This particular example was submitted by Jack G. in Ms. Strock's class.

This is an example that could have been from a history class. In this example, added links shows a deeper understanding of Mary Todd Lincoln. This example was created by Becky Keith (@KeithTis) of eTechCampus.

Finally, this is an example that students could re-create to illustrate steps in a process. Great for elementary students. This example was created by Bridget McKnight (@McKnightBrigdet), from eTechCampus. I had the pleasure of meeting her at an iPad workshop in October when she introduced me to ThingLink.

This is a tool that truly can be utilized in all content areas. You are only limited by your imagination, the possibilities are endless!

Happy creating!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Student Reflections on 1:1

Twelve months ago, Union Pines High School began their 1:1 experiment with Chromebooks. In this Student Feature issue of CBiE I asked UPHS junior Bailey Marona, to share her thoughts on the first year of implementation. Here is what she had to say...

...The first time I heard we were getting Chromebooks I was thrilled to know that we would be allowed to use technology more in a classroom setting. The Chromebooks, although they have their disadvantages, have made my high school education easier and more manageable. In class I am able to do research all over the web and use specific sites such as Quizlet, PowerSchool, and Google Classroom on a regular basis to help me study, prepare for tests and also manage all of my school work. This year I was introduced to Google Classroom and I must say this is my favorite website that I use with my Chromebook. This site allows me to turn in all of my work online and know when things are due and never have to worry about losing papers or being absent. Even when I am absent, I am able to turn in work on my Chromebook and get makeup work so I don’t get too behind. The Chromebooks have also allowed me to better stay in touch with my teachers about deadlines and my teachers are also able to send reminder emails that help out a lot. (Its hard to remember all the things that go on everyday in the life of a junior). In the past 12 months I’ve learned to enjoy classes more due to the fact I get to interact with the information I am being taught. In two of my classes, I do all my work on the Chromebook. These are the two classes that I am most successful in and I feel like I learn the best in. My all time favorite thing about the Chromebook is that there is  no more sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher talk while you scribble notes down that you can’t understand later that night. Typing my notes electronically is faster, easier to study, and more efficient. Now that we have the Chromebooks I don’t think I could go back to the way school was 12 months ago. I am very glad that the school system saw the need to supply us with these tools. They have been put to good use and will help me each day get one step closer to graduation...

Thanks Bailey and we hope you will share your insights with us again soon!

Will Herring
Moore County Schools
DIF Team

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Best Digital Tools of 2014

   For this month's blog, on a cool tool used in digital learning, a colleague and I decided it may be best to recap the "Best Digital Tools" used by teachers in 2014. There were so many foundational tools used this year, which encouraged teachers to step out of the box when it came to digital learning and teaching. As a team, we compiled a list of the top three tools used at schools throughout Moore County.
   First on the list is Kahoot. This tool was an immediate hit at professional development meetings and conferences. Teachers quickly starting integrating this engaging, formative assessment tool in the classroom, and students from all grade levels loved it! A Kahoot quiz can be made by going to getkahoot.com and creating a free account. Kahoot allows the user to import pictures, videos, and has unique settings to meet student needs. In addition, this site hosts public quizzes for teachers to use, which helps save on time. If you have not experienced Kahoot with your class, it is definitely worth your while!

  Movenote is another tool that really took off in the fall for Moore County. With Movenote, students and teachers are able to upload various types files to create a presenation. Some file types that users can upload are pdf, jpeg, png, Google Slides, and Powerpoint. After file(s) have been uploaded, the user can then record themselves to make a presentation while their slides run in the background. The operator has complete control over slide/picture advance and can rearrange slides as necessary. Movenote is a terrific way to put a digital spin on oral presentations!

   Last but not least, Google Classroom was reported to be a pivotal tool in schools with chromebooks. With Google Classroom teachers can communicate easily with students and create assignments that are planted directly in students' Google Drive. Management of assignments and sharing resources with various classes is at the core of Google Classroom. Many schools have adopted this approach to a digital classroom, as MCS embraces a Google Apps for Edu environment.

  If you are interested in learning any more about this year's top tools in Moore County, contact your school Digital Integration Facilitator (DIF) or media specialist to get more information!

Deanna Boesch

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rachel Davis - Discovery Education Tech Book

Discovery Ed - Tech Book

Ms. Rachel Davis

As eighth graders enter Ms. Davis' Social Studies class at New Century Middle School, they know they are in for an engaging experience. As class begins, students open their Chromebooks and log in to Discovery Education. 

Discovery Education has a Social Studies Techbook which is phenomenal. The digital Techbook, aligned to the North Carolina Essential Standards and Common Core, allows teachers to transition to a digital classroom while actively engaging students to read, write and think critically. It reaches all learning modalities as it incorporates text, audio, video, images and digital investigations. 

In addition to the Techbook, students use a variety of other tech tools including Edmodo, Moodle, Schoolnet and Google apps. Students use Kahoot to create their own review questions to quiz their classmates. They have also used Movenote and PowToon to create informative presentations.

As I watched the students interact in the discussion, some were taking notes "the old-fashioned way -- with paper and pencil while others were carefully color-coding the notes they were typing in a Google Doc/Slide. This form of differentiation was powerful for the students. What was powerful for me was that EVERYONE was taking notes and remember, these are 8th graders!

"The Techbook is easy to use and we use it as we take notes or create quizzes for each other," Blake explained.

"I have been using the Techbook for two full years in all three grade levels, 6, 7th and 8th. It definitely  has streamlined my research for lessons and resources. One thing that I like is that students have the ability to change the reading level which allows for differentiation and greater student success. The translation feature allows non-English speaking parents to assist their students with homework assignments. The exposure to primary source documents deepens the knowledge and understanding of many historical concepts. When it is time to assess, the Techbook offers constructed response and higher level thinking questions that I can amend and incorporate into my test."

The closing activity was Six Square Review. Students "danced" around the room until the music stopped and then collaboratively shared answers.

Ms. Davis is an 8th Grade teacher at New Century Middle School. She has been teaching in Moore County for four years. New Century has had their Chromebooks for about seven months. 

*The Social Studies Techbook is a paid-subscription. All Moore County School teachers have access to Discovery Education! Be sure to explore for ideas for your own classroom!

Discovery Education


Kahoot - Getting Started



Student Samples: