Tuesday, May 22, 2018

How to Create a Schoology Course for the Summer

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Want to create a Schoology playground for the summer? Creating a course on your own will allow a place to add materials and test the different functions without students in the course. 

Watch this to see how its done!

Or check out Schoology's Help Desk resources for more info!

If you have any questions or need some help, don't hesitate to contact your Ed Tech Coach!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I'm leaving Westerville City Schools, now what?

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Over the past years we've been creating, sharing, and learning using Google's G Suite of products (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.). These products have been an amazing tools in the educational setting. However, the products were all used using a Westerville Google account that was created and owned by the district. So what does someone do if they are leaving the district (i.e. graduation, retirement, etc.)

This is where we introduce you to Google Takeout!

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Google Takeout allows individuals to either download or transfer all of the content they own within G Suite so they can use that material with a different account outside of the Westerville domain.

Google actually makes the process pretty easy. Just follow the steps they provide in their help center.

If you are not sure if you will be using a personal Google account with this material later, use Google Takeout to download all of the content to be uploaded/converted into whatever product you will using later. This downloads an archive of all your material to be saved on an external storage device (i.e. flash drive). Once a new account has been created, these files can be uploaded and converted into that account's format. NOTE: some formatting may not stay consistent in the conversion.
You can find Google Takeout HERE.
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If you plan on using this content with a personal Google account later, use Google Transfer. This will simply take all of the material in the Westerville created account and transfer it to a personal Google account.
You can find Google Transfer HERE.

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Westerville Central's own Amy Farris has put together some amazing directions specific for Westerville students. You can read them HERE!

We hope this helps! If you have any questions or need some help, don't hesitate to reach out to your building's Ed Tech Coach!

And if you are using either of these products, the WCS Ed Tech Department just wants to say...

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Spotlight on Pointview's Efforts to Reach Parents and Strengthen Communication

Creating a communication system that is accessible to families, supports a wide variety of content, is easy for staff members to use, and doesn’t cost any extra money is a dream for many school leaders seeking to build stronger school-home connections. Pointview Elementary principal Sherry Birchem is one such leader. Sherry is in tune with the needs of her families and her staff and has worked diligently to build a strong sense of community in her building, including spearheading the effort to streamline school-home communication. After many trials, Sherry has found the system that fits the bill: Schoology. Through making use of Schoology's easy sign-up process, closed system for sharing images and video, and ability to send emails and text messages to families when updates are posted, Sherry is set to create a robust communication system that meets the needs of Pointview’s staff and families.

Watch this video to learn about how Sherry is working to better connect the Pointview community, including what she has tried in the past, why she is excited about Schoology, and what lies ahead:

Interested in setting up a school-home communication system in your building through Schoology? Contact your Ed Tech Coach today!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Alexa, Siri, Google, whoever you are, set up voice control for my classroom.

The ever more ubiquitous Amazon Echo devices and other smart assistants like Google Home are great for home use. If you have one, you may have already realized some of the things it can do: play music, change the thermostat, read recipes, and a host of entertainment options. Most of these functions come from third part apps. There are thousands of existing skills or apps with more being added daily.  One of the most useful functions is that a smart speaker has an answer to most questions you can ask. If you ever wondered what imitation vanilla extract is (you don't want to know), Alexa or Google has the answer. While all of this is a nice gimmick and a fun addition to your home, smart home  devices have some useful applications for school as well.
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1. Automating class procedures: Smart home devices can set timers, play music, keep calendars, and play reminders for transitions in classes allowing the teacher and students to focus on learning.  They also has a number of built in skills like rolling dice, picking random numbers, picking cards, calculator, thesaurus, and dictionary functions as well. Simply ask for what you need and you get it!

2. Specific questions: Smart home devices can also help students to find basic answers to questions they may have. If the teacher is busy working with a student and someone wonders how long the Great Wall of China is, they can ask and get an immediate answer all through using their voice.
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3. Custom Skills: Amazon recently created a system for creating custom Apps called Skill Blueprints. You can choose from a variety of premade templates to create skills that can assist in the classroom. There are a large number of options, but some will be more useful in the classroom than others.

-Storyteller: Students and/or teachers can create custom made, interactive stories that follow a genre theme. Right now there are options for fairy tales, sci-fi, fables, and adventures.

-Custom Q&A: set up custom questions and answers for common questions in the classroom

-Babysitter: Avoiding the name, this skill allows you to set up instructions and steps to follow. This could be very useful for when a sub is in the room, or for setting up recurring sets of instructions for classroom procedures.

-Quiz/Flashcard programs: You can also create quiz and flashcard skills that are custom built for any subject area you might want. You can choose the questions, answers, and hints. There is a learn mode and a test mode for these skills as well.

-Others: To add a bit of fun depending on your classroom, there are customizable jokes, inspirations, insults, and games that can be used in the classroom as well.

But Wait! There's more!
Chromebooks have a built in voice assistant as well. It is turned off by default, but can be turned on. While there is not the level of customization available that Amazon has (for the moment) It can be used to control Google searches, timers, calculators, and other basic functions using your voice. If you would like to set it up, follow the instructions here

If you have a smart device at home, try out the  features and consider if it would be a good addition to your classroom. If you are interested in learning more, contact your Ed-Tech Coach! or check out the additional resources here:
ITSE on the use of digital assistants

Friday, April 13, 2018

Create 360 degree images with Google Street View

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With all the ways that educators are using virtual reality in the classroom, its important to note that you can create your own 360 images using Google Street View!

Google Expeditions packages are in a few of the Westerville City School buildings, and kids are having a blast looking at images as if they were in the location of the photo.


Image result for google expeditionsImage result for google expeditions     

Using the Google Street View app [iOS / Android] on any phone or tablet, individual users can create the same type of images that are used in virtual reality applications. Just open the app and it will guide you through taking multiple shots from one spot. Google then stitches the pictures together to make a 360 degree image! These images are stored privately with your account, or you can publish them and add them to Google's searchable images.

Here's how it works:

Did you visit the Grand Canyon over the summer? Did your students attend a trip to Washington, D.C. over spring break? Do you have a relative that lives near the ocean? Why not start capturing these real life images and have kids visit the world without leaving your classroom?

Google is also expanding Expeditions to include augmented reality as well...

So how could you incorporate virtual reality, augmented reality, or other remote viewing technology with your students?

Don't be afraid to try! (Its easy enough for a sheep to do...)

As always, if you have any questions about how this could work with your students, don't hesitate to contact your building's Ed Tech Coach!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Augmented Reality Sandbox in Action

If you read our earlier blog post on our district’s Augmented Reality Sandbox, you likely have an idea of how the tool can enhance student learning through hands-on and experiential activities. As the sandbox has made its way to different buildings in the district this year, our creative teachers have added their own spin to how they use the sandbox to engage their students.

Amber Korn at Huber Ridge is one such teacher. Amber took full advantage of the sandbox’s time at Huber Ridge to deepen her 4th graders’ understanding of weathering and erosion. Working in stations, students built landforms, reproduced natural events, and observed the impact of weather on topography. While they greatly enjoyed building mountains, digging out lakes, and causing earthquakes, the most exciting part for many of the students was making it “rain” in the sandbox with virtual water. By making it rain, they were able to see the movement of the water and predict the impact water has on landforms. But Amber didn’t stop there! She brought the learning experience home through the use of higher-level thinking activities. Once everyone in the class was able to experience the sandbox, the students got together and connected what they had observed in the sandbox with what they had already learned about landforms, developing a more thorough understanding of the meaning and impacts of weathering and erosion. The class created a collaborative document detailing their understanding of these concepts and each student made their own artistic representation of the impact weathering and erosion have on Earth’s landforms. Through manipulating the content in multiple ways, Amber used the power of experiential learning to engage her students and bring her science unit alive in a new and exciting way that her students won’t soon forget.

Watch this video by UCLA to see how the AR Sandbox works.

The AR Sandbox has great potential for any grade level and subject, such as illustrating point of view, making inferences, solving multi-step problems, demonstrating cause and effect, creating sculptures that reflect contour lines, and even helping students process emotion, to name a few. Want to experience the AR Sandbox for yourself? Good news! The sandbox will be a part of Westerville Partners for Education’s Starry Night event on April 8th at Westerville North High School. Come and check it out!

If you would like to explore how to use the sandbox with your students, contact your Ed Tech Coach!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Capture the Flag


Hacking is a scary word that most people hope they never have to hear used in a conversation about them or their personal information. As we move to a more digital world we are constantly faced with cyber security issues to keep our digital information private. As the world increases the amount of information available digitally, the world also needs more people to keep that information secure.

This is why the Ohio National Guard has created the Ohio Cyber Collaboration Committee (OC3). This group has been tasked with increasing the number of people qualified to work in the field of cyber security. They are starting by creating a place for high school students to learn how. Inside the OC3 Cyber Range, students have a chance to play "Capture the Flag" in a virtual world. The goal is for kids to learn how to hack into a virtual system so that they can eventually become people who will defend against similar types of attacks in the real world. The hope is that cyber security clubs will be created in schools across the state in the near future.

Westerville North High School hosted a Capture the Flag event this week. The event brought cyber security experts from the military and private sector in to help students from around central Ohio hone their skills. The event took place in "The Shop" where a leader board tracked how effective the kids were "hacking" into different systems.

In addition to cyber security experts, the event was also attended by members of the Westerville City Schools District Office and members of the Ohio Department of Education (including the State Superintendent). This event created quite the media frenzy!

(By the way, a Westerville kid ended up winning. #JustSayin')

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spotlight on Blended Learning: The “Switzerland” Project

Switzerland is known for its mountains, chocolate, and neutrality. Recently, at Pointview Elementary, Mrs. Lester’s fourth grade ELA students were reminded of Switzerland’s notoriety in neutrality during an engaging lesson that focused on close reading for pros and cons and practicing civil discourse.  

The students began by reading an article assigned to them through Schoology from the Newsela website. The article focused on the pros and cons of self driving cars. (Newsela works well for finding resources like this as the articles can be narrowed by Lexile level and the topics are high interest and timely. You could also assign different articles depending on level to differentiate for all students.) First, the students read for understanding. Some used the “read-to feature from Google Read and Write. Teacher/Coach created annotations were written in the article ahead of time so that all students could read them and respond as they read. The students read a second time searching for pros and cons. They were asked to use the highlighting tools to save the pros and cons which they then transferred to their graphic organizer.

After a quick group discussion in which students compiled and expanded on the pros and cons they realized the importance of gathering solid evidence as it would be used to have a civil debate. The students would have the chance to role play three roles, “pro”, “con”, and “Switzerland”. Mrs. Lester, Mrs. Lacy, and Mrs. Mantinieks would model this type of civil discourse in a “fishbowl” scenario. As the teachers respectfully supported their assigned role, students took notes about what they were watching. They addressed the prompts of “What words did the speakers use to debate in a kind way?” and “What body language did the speakers use to debate in a kind way?” Students noted that “they used words like “please” and “thank you”, “they used calm voices and mentioned that they liked hearing new ideas”, and “they nodded their heads, smiled, and kept their hands to themselves”.

After the “fishbowl” the group debriefed what they saw and prepared to practice civil discourse themselves as they play each role. The students look forward to continuing this next week.

This lesson could be adapted in many ways and with many topics, with many grade levels. It provides opportunities to develop multiple skills such as close reading, writing a balanced opinion, and practicing friendly debate and conversation.

Educator Reflections: 

What would you repeat from the lesson?“They were SO engaged while reading-that was beautiful!”
What would you change for next time?
Next time “I would like to find a way to have the kiddos mark their citations so they know where they found the info.” 
The group also agreed it would be neat to add more choice for the students next time by having several topics with pros and cons from which they could choose.
How did the collaboration between the classroom teacher, curriculum specialist, and blended learning coach improve this lesson?
”Taking a little time to collaborate was an energizing experience. Together we made sure that the lesson was relevant for the kids and tied in to their prior knowledge. We took a leap together to try a new approach to engage a very social class. Having the technology integration specialist there put us at ease that we could work through any tech issues that might pop up. Having the three perspectives also leads to great post conference debrief conversations”. 

Coach Reflections: 

“I think it would be great to model a “mistake” in the fishbowl and show the “civil” way to handle when you or someone else makes a mistake”.

What a great lesson Mrs. Lester!

For more information on teaching civil discourse concepts check out the book, Engaging Children, which will be available April 9, 2018. https://www.heinemann.com/products/e09949.aspx#fulldesc

For help implementing any of these ideas in your classroom please contact your Ed Tech Team.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Unpacking the TPACK Model for lesson design

The education world has created many models of learning, from Bloom's Taxonomy to the P21 Framework, there are models that fit pretty much any theory of teaching and learning that has ever existed. Despite this, most models work to structure learning in the same way: a continuum of lower to higher level thinking. As teachers, these models can be useful for structuring lessons, but the focus on student learning doesn't always correlate well when trying to visualize good lesson design. The TPACK model attempts to bring together the most vital pieces of lesson design into one easy to follow graphic.
The TPACK model breaks a lesson into three parts: Content knowledge, Pedagogical knowledge, and Technological knowledge. While good lessons can be created with portions of this model, use of the entire trinity yields lessons that plan for the greatest student experiences. Unpacking TPACK can help in designing the best lessons possible. 

Content knowledge is a vital part of teaching. If the teacher is unsure of the subject matter, chances are that the students will not effectively learn about it.  The most direct application of content knowledge tends to be a lecture based class, a method that makes use of the teacher's knowledge to disseminate information to students. Taken without the other two facets of the TPACK model, a focus on content while excluding pedagogy and technology makes student centered instruction much more difficult. 

Second in the TPACK trinity is Pedagogical knowledge. Without understanding how students learn, it is difficult for a teacher to achieve any goals they may have. The traditional methods of education combine the pedagogical and content portions of this mode to create curricula. These may be student or teacher centered, and may or may not provide ways for all students to access and engage with content in ways that work best for them. 

Technological Knowledge:
Technological Knowledge represents the last of the three components of TPACK. it is also the newest. While new educational technologies have always existed (pencils anyone?) The speed and impact of current trends in educational technology make knowledge of technology and how to best implement it incredibly important to our teaching practice. Technology on it's own is a gimmick that will not create strong learning opportunities, but combined with strong pedagogy and content knowledge, it creates opportunities to personalize learning for all students. Prior to having good access to educational technology, teachers could customize learning for all students by creating tiered lessons, providing different resources, and alternate means of assessment, but in order to do this well, it required a large time investment. Today, learning technologies allow teachers to create banks of resources, assessments, and assignments that can be differentiated based on student need. It also enables greater collaboration and sharing of resources, expands methods of demonstrating knowledge, and provides opportunities to strengthen the effect that good pedagogy and content knowledge have. 
Want to know more about TPACK or work to build your skills in any of the three categories of TPACK?  Contact your friendly local ed-tech coach!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Personalization- The Growing Reality in Westerville City Schools

The Goal... to be an educational leader who collaborates with stakeholders to better personalize professional learning for your staff.  

The Goal... to be a adult learner who continuously grows in an environment of professional learning that is designed to meet your needs and with your input.

Sound out of reach?  It isn't- it is becoming a growing reality in Westerville City Schools.  Inspired by their own professional learning, like Leadership in Blended Learning, the Future Ready Institute, and knowledge about how adult learners grow best professionally, WCS is gradually replacing leader-centered staff meetings and other professional learning opportunities with a                                                       more personalized, customized and individualized approach.

Teachers leading staff meetings by sharing practices that are working in their classrooms? 

Teachers reflecting on what they need as a learner to improve instructional practice to benefit their students?

Building leaders reflecting on how to make learning opportunities more meaningful?

Building leadership teams working together to involve staff in how we can achieve these goals?

Yes- these things are all happening!  We are making amazing strides toward personalization very quickly.  

You may be asking yourself....How do we get started?  What are the steps to move in this direction?  How do we do this together, as a community of learners?  

We would like to share this Future Ready Personalized Professional Learning Self-Assessment which defines elements of personalized professional learning that many of us are working toward.  It's a tool to help grow our thinking and spur further conversations.  If you have any questions about personalization of professional learning, contact your Ed Tech Team.  We are supporting this work each and every day and can connect you with a growing group of educators who believe in the importance of this journey to personalize education- for everyone!