Thursday, April 6, 2017

Media Tech Assistants in Moore County

As I sat on a small fishing pier at a local farm pond, I noticed a couple of ducks land and begin to swim across from one side to another.  They looked so majestic as they glided across the calm water making it look effortless to the passer-by.  What you don't see from the duck is the hard working legs kicking underwater to keep it afloat.  This image is a perfect representation of our Digital Learning Initiatives here in Moore County.  From the community on-looker, the Digital Learning Showcase a couple weeks back looked amazing.  It was an exhibition of all of the hard work and creativity students had put into digital projects that allowed them to master the content while being engaged at the same time.  The teachers of those students worked with Digital Integration Facilitators (DIF's) to plan the lessons. These types of awesome lessons and many more are what is at stake with our budget crisis.  If the cuts proposed are made, the domino effect will subsequently take its toll on the level of learning and engagement that is taking place in our schools.

One of the positions the district is in danger of losing is the Media Tech Assistant.  Without a doubt, this position has been most valuable in the roll-out, collection and day-to-day maintenance of our Digital Learning Initiative.  I have seen the impact the Media Tech Assistants have on a daily basis for the last 4 years at North Moore High School.  Jenean Garner, Media Tech Assistant at North Moore High School and 28-year veteran of the Moore County School System, works tirelessly everyday so I am able to meet with teachers more and spend less time fixing mouse pads and wireless issues with the Chromebooks.  Because of Jenean Garner, our Media Specialist can work with students taking Sandhills Community College courses and teach them how to cite their sources for research papers.  Because of Jenean Garner, teachers can continue to teach with minimal disruption when there are technology issues.  Because of Jenean Garner, students have a go-to person when their Chromebook is not working.  Because of Jenean Garner, our turn-around time for Chromebook repairs has been drastically reduced.  Because of the Media Tech Assistants, our Digital Learning Initiative has been a success.

So while the public sees the duck gliding across the water, don't lose sight of the work being done that you can't see.

Tyler Callahan
Digital Integration Facilitator

Monday, April 3, 2017

What's Your Story?

   I am sure everyone here has heard the groans from students when told to "pick up their pencil and write/tell a story". Many kids have become reluctant writers and creative story tellers, but why? There is nothing scarier than a blank, white piece of lined paper staring you in the face when you know you have words to write. Often times we give our students specific tasks to write about, which leaves out the element of creativity. 
 About a year ago, I was able to attend a Lego conference in High Point, NC that completely changed my view on Legos in the classroom. I am not going to lie, I was a little skeptical about this whole "Lego thing" when I first arrived at the conference. Upon doing our first task of creating a duck with specific traits, I was immediately humbled at the difficulty to create such an object. My attention was hooked from that moment on!

   We began to discuss kits called Lego Story Starters. These kits were fascinating as you could use them for any subject area and virtually any grade level. I particularly like that these kits lent themselves more the ELA and Social Studies topics. With these kits students can build predictions, summaries, settings, mood, re-create scenes, etc. In addition, writing becomes a major component of these kits. Students can write a creative story about what they built, create a comic strip, or create an expository news report. The sky is the limit!

   After trying these kits out in a few classes, I was beginning to see excitement and enthusiasm on the kids faces. They were able to build according to the standard taught and explain their build in great detail down to the reasons certain colors were picked. When asked to write about their builds after, I honestly did not have one student not know what to write about. The scariness of the blank, white piece of paper was gone! I had a third grade teacher at Pinehurst Elementary School tell me that her student, we will call Jacob, wouldn't write more than a few words all year. After this activity he had a two paragraph story! 

   Lego story starters are a great tool to get your students engaged in an activity and reinforce the skills already taught. You can purchase the kits at the Lego Education store and I typically use one kit to four students. Let creativity and story telling come to life with the Lego Education Story Starter Kits! Happy building!

~Deanna Boesch