Monday, February 29, 2016

NCTIES Conference Week!

In a close second to Spring Break week, the week of the annual NCTIES Conference is one I look forward to every Spring semester.  Not because it is an entire week off, but because I get to spend a couple of days with some of my innovative colleagues learning about new and exciting ways to incorporate digital tools into instruction.  NCTIES provides a 'breath of fresh air' and allows me the opportunity to learn more about technology from others in the field of education.

A few members of the Digital Integration Facilitator (DIF) Team will be presenting this year at NCTIES.

DIF Presenters

Follow the conference on Twitter with #NCTIES16.  You can also check out NCTIES on Facebook for upcoming events and dates.

Here are a few of my favorite presenters that I try to visit each year:

Some of the sessions I am looking forward to attending deal with:
  • Green Screen Technology
  • Maker Space ideas
  • Coding in the classroom
  • Classroom management with 1:1 environments
  • Deployment processes
  • Canvas LMS 
I can't wait to share what I learn with the faculty and staff of Moore County Schools.  

2nd Annual Digital Learning Showcase: a Huge Success!

Crain's Creek Video Game Creators w/Dr. Bob
On the night of Thursday, February 18th, North Moore High School hosted a tremendous showcase of digital learning for our Moore County community!  Students from across all grade levels and schools were invited to participate, with a focus on our northernmost students (North Moore HS, Elise Middle, Highfalls Elementary, Westmoore Elementary, and Robbins Elementary).

Here were the schools that were able to participate and the topics students showcased:

Carthage Elem - Dash and Dot Robotics
Vass-Lakeview Elem - Lego Story Starters
Carthage Elem/Vass-Lakeview Elem/Robbins Elem/Pinecrest HS - 3D Printing Collaboration
Robbins Elem - WeDo Robotics
Aberdeen Elem - 3D Printing & Tinkercad
Elise Middle - Lego EV3 Robotics
Westmoore Elem - Augmented Reality
Westmoore Elem - 3D Printing & Desmos
Westmoore Elem - Lego EV3 Robotics
Highfalls Elem - Touchcas Green Screen Broadcasting
Highfalls Elem - Digital Story Writing
Highfalls Elem - Web Page Design
Highfalls Elem - Blended Math in 3rd Grade (Seesaw)
Southern Middle - iMovie Projects / Song Creation with Soundtrap
Crain's Creek Middle - Video Game Creation with Bootstrap
North Moore HS - Mustang News Team
North Moore HS - Cyber Patriot
North Moore HS - FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics
North Moore HS - 3D Animation

The Pilot wrote up an excellent article about the event from multiple perspectives.  Make sure to check it out here!

Lego Story Starter Projects from Vass-Lakeview ES

The students, their teachers, and the DIFs that support them did an excellent job of showing how digital learning can have a lasting, profound impact on student learning.  It's an exciting time to be a part of Moore County Schools and we look forward to providing more meaningful and innovative digital learning opportunities across all grades and areas!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cyber Patriots in Moore County

by Will Herring

On Saturday February 20th, four teams represented Moore County in the Regional Round of the international Cyber Patriots competition. If you haven’t heard of Cyberpatriot, it is a competition run through a partnership between the Air Force Association and Northrop Grumman to increase the knowledge and skill set of students interested in cyber security. Student teams are presented with multiple computer operating systems and tasked with finding and correcting access points that would make those systems vulnerable to a cyber attack. Learn more by clicking the Cyberpatriot link below.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 11.54.15 AM.png

In the 2015-2016 season of Cyberpatriot, 3,379 teams registered to play (see the map below). Moore County high schools produced ten of those teams this season; North Moore 2, Union Pines 4, and Pinecrest 4.
Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 12.20.54 PM.png
Those 3,379 teams were whittled down following the State Round. Multiple MCS teams made the cuts and were invited to continue playing deeper into the competition. A Pinecrest HS team had the special honor of being invited into the Platinum tier to compete for a chance to go to Nationals in Baltimore, MD.
Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 12.16.20 PM.png

Great job kids across Moore County and good luck next season!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

One of Moore County Schools' Finest

If you've ever had the privilege of working with the media center specialist at Pinehurst Elementary School you know how fortunate the staff and students of PES are to have Cathy Wilkison as their librarian. I started my career in education as a fifth grade teacher at Pinehurst Elementary in 2008 and Cathy was someone I looked up to from day one. Not only because Cathy is extremely helpful and willing to go out of her way to support teachers in any way possible, but she is a leader in integrating technology in the land of the dolphins. She's a very busy lady. Cathy teaches Kindergarten through fifth grade classes all day, fixes any computer/iPad/SmartBoard/technology issue that she can, leads the Battle of the Books team, creates a weekly newscast called the "Hello Dolphin Show", and she always does remarkable job of integrating technology to enhance her instruction.

As a teacher, I always wanted to take a moment to sit down with Cathy and talk about how she's able to juggle all of her commitments to Pinehurst Elementary School while advocating for teachers and students to use more technology. I was able to do just this on Monday. Here's some of the interview I had with Cathy:

Question: How long have you been in the school system?
Answer: 25 years in the state. 21 in Moore County Schools. Westmoore for 5 years. I subbed for a bit, then I became the Media Center Specialist at Pinehurst Elementary.

Q: What were some of your earliest lessons that incorporated technology?
A: I remember introducing an IBM computer at Westmoore and teaching students/teachers what a mouse was. We used it as an online encyclopedia. There was no internet. It was a self-contained CD.  It was amazing that it would talk to you. You could click on MLK and he would talk to you. Another year I did an after school keyboarding class.

Q: Where do you start when you’re planning a lesson?
A: Everything I do, I start with literature, but I make sure there is technology in every single lesson for every grade level. It could be a video that I share, or integrate the iPad. I don’t say this is a technology lesson. I use technology to help teach the content that I’m already teaching.

Q: What’s one of your favorite lessons that you really enjoy teaching? What makes it your favorite?
A: Because I have a class set of iPads, I try to make the best of that. So one of the lessons I really like to do is a qr code scavenger hunt. You could use that for any content. I have one on North Carolina authors for fourth grade. I have another one for the 50 states using the almanac. I pin them up around the room, then the students work in groups to use an almanac, an ipad, and scan the qr code to reveal the answers. The first group to get back with 10 answers correctly is the winner. When they’re participating in this activity they’re moving, working together, and they’re learning.

Q: What are some of the lessons where you’ve used the green screen?
A: One lesson that I’ve done recently is when I used the green screen for inventor’s day. We were practicing research skills with fifth grade. First, I had them do Cornell Notes. Then they had to do a sixty second recording of their five facts using the green screen. They had to back it with still shots or motion with the green screen. They used the app “DoInk” to create the videos. I published the videos on Twitter and then DoInk started to follow me.I followed them back and I’ve been getting some really good ideas for ways to use the green screen. I love how they post videos for examples. They even made some videos with pizza boxes. They had one video where a student put their face through green bulletin board paper and then talked about landforms. Then they used the app to put a mountain as the background so that it looked like it was a talking mountain. It was really cool.

Q: The Hello Dolphin Show is a staple at Pinehurst Elementary School. How did it start?
A: Long, long ago before I came to this school my predecessor Clarice West started an in house broadcast using VHS cameras that she got with a grant. I followed her example. Our equipment and the newscast has evolved into what it is now.

Q: You’re an inspiration to many people, including myself, what inspires you?
A: I am motivated by the children, it’s the truth. You can tell when they’re excited and you can also tell what makes them excited. It does take a lot of different kinds of interaction. To provide that you must use technology. Everybody gets excited when they use something new. Even if it doesn't work well.

Q: You’re involved in so many things at PES. Battle of the Books, Hello Dolphin Show, teaching classes all day, etc. How do you do it?
A: You have to prioritize the day. Use your planning wisely. I think you have to provide choices and variety for your students. That way if they’re not engaged in one thing, maybe they’ll want to be a leader in something else.

Cathy is most definitely a leader in everything that she does. I was spoiled as a beginning teacher when I was lucky enough to work with her on a daily basis. She is always open to using new technology and she embraces new opportunities in digital learning. She understands the top priority in education: the kids. And she always does what's best for them. Cathy is an amazing media center specialist and Moore County Schools is lucky to have her.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Howdy Do" with Dash and Dot

   Meet Dash and Dot, the two robots that have started making an appearance in your child's classroom. Dash and Dot take your children on fabulous robotics and coding adventures, while helping them practice skills learned in the classroom. These robots have made appearances at some elementary school classrooms in the county and have been met with open arms!

   Mrs. Vuncannon and Mrs. Garner, kindergarten teachers at Westmoore Elementary School,  have used these robots to assist students in practicing math skills. Students were asked to compare numbers and objects to determine which was greater or less. Not only were the kindergarteners excellent at this skill, but they loved having Dash help them on their math adventure!

   Dylan, a kindergartner, stated that, "Dash was so cool and I loved his dancing when we got the questions right!" Dylan couldn't be more correct! The kids loved having interactions with Dash and it made practicing math skills more enjoyable. This is that unique type of learning that motivates kids to work hard in class, and gives them something to look forward to. Alyssa, another kindergarten student, stated, "Dash was so funny because he kept running around! He was really smart though and I helped him learn math."

   These type of stories are the best to hear! It is refreshing to observe that a subject was interesting and fun for students. It warms my heart to think that students are looking forward to coming to school and seeing what the day has in store for them. Mrs. Vuncannon also had some insight to offer others, who were considering using Dash in their classroom. 

Here is some of what she said:

   "The students really enjoyed the robot. The robot excited the students about their learning and was a good way to check their understanding of the concept of equal, more than, & less than.  The students were motivated to show what they had learned about comparing numbers."     -Mrs. Vuncannon

Thank you again to Mrs. Garner and Mrs. Vuncannon for letting their students experiment with technology and being such strong advocates for its use in the classroom. I truly enjoy working with you and your kids and seeing them explore day to day. Thank you for all you do!

-Deanna Boesch

Monday, February 1, 2016

Coding in Math: Video Game Creation With Bootstrap

We all know about the computer games students play, which are designed to increase math skills while making learning fun.

Well, what about teaching students how to create their own video games while infusing math concepts such as: coordinate planes, ratio/proportion, pythagorean theorem, piecewise functions, algebra, and word problems?

  "Many video games we play each day           Games created may also be transferred to apps.
   are on a coordinate plane we don't
   even see."

60 students at Crain's Creek Middle have already created and coded their own video games and will be presenting their finished products at a "Video Game Release Celebration" on Thursday, February 25th from 6-7pm in the CCMS Cafeteria.


Over 100 students at Southern Middle have started this program and are well on their way to publishing their own games as well.  



As a digital integration facilitator, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to join many 6th and 7th grade math classes and share the free lessons and resources available through Bootstrapworld. 

The most amazing thing I have witnessed throughout all the classes that take part in these lessons is that there is always 100% engagement and the lessons are automatically differentiated so they fit the learning styles and needs of every student.  

... it's not easy!

Examples of some game code:




We invite you to check out our Bootstrap Booth at the 2016 MCS Digital Learning Showcase on Thursday, February 18th at North Moore High School.  

In the meantime, we invite you to play some of our games:

Crain's Creek Middle Students:

Jordan C.
Amber W.
Aidan M.
Spencer E.

(Use the up, down, left, and right arrows on your key pad to play.)

Crain's Creek and Southern Middle Schools will also be taking "Digital Learning Day" by storm and completing the Bootstrap Version of "The Hour of Code" on February 17th.

Want to try it too?  Learn the basics of the Racket Programming Language Here!


Update: 3/1/16

First Official Video Game Reveal Celebration Clips