Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You Wanna Hangout?

With the district switching to using the full Google Suite for its communications next year, Google Hangouts may be the tool you need to take your conversations to the next level. Google Hangouts is a way people with Google accounts can communicate via simple message, audio or video, all over wifi.

One of the primary uses for Hangouts in schools is the video feature. Essentially, Hangouts creates a video conference with anyone in the world that has a computer with a camera and a microphone (all of the district Chromebooks do) a Google account with Hangout permissions turned on (all of the WCS staff do), and wifi (all of the WCS buildings do). Teachers have been using this feature to bring in experts from around the world to their classroom without the need for travel. Teachers can also use this feature to collaborate inside or outside of the district with other teachers, exponentially expanding their PLNs. Instead of scheduling a meeting in one of the buildings after school, why not simply set up a Hangout, and teachers from around the district can "meet" right from their own classrooms!

Here are just a few examples of how teachers are using Google Hangouts:

Another cool feature of Hangouts is the instant message feature. Currently, some teachers use the instant message feature of Groupwise to communicate to other staff members in their buildings and around the district. This feature is currently available on the desktop computers inside WCS. Hangouts takes this capability to the next level. Hangouts is associated with your Google account, so any device that you are logged in to will have access to send messages to other account holders. This by itself is not much of an improvement from the Groupwise Instant Messenger. But since this is a Google product, it is also available on Chromebooks, as well as mobile devices! [iOS/Android] This means that as staff members move around the building, communication can still be happening, instead of sending an email and waiting for that person to return to their desks. Using Google Hangouts combines the communication tools of email, instant message, and text messaging all in one account, across multiple platforms, with everyone inside of the WCS domain.

Google Hangout messages can also be accessed inside of Gmail! Start using Google Hangouts today, you won't regret it!

Looking for someone to "hangout" with? Join the Google+ Hangout Community!

Note: In the Westerville City School District domain, staff members have access to all features of Google Hangouts, however these features are currently blocked for students.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Students Explore, Discover and Engage during Hanby's Magnet Power Hour

Hanby Magnet School implemented Magnet Power Hour this year with their students in first through fifth grade. Hanby Magnet Power Hour is a special hour of learning where students  “Explore, Discover and Engage”.

Hanby Magnet School teachers have offered their students exploration time during Power Hours to integrate the Science, Technology, Arts and Math (STEAM). During this hour students explore questions and find interesting and relevant subjects that inspire them to learn more.

Hanby teachers ask their students: What do they want to learn?
Students are allowed time to explore their ideas with guided instruction.  Power Hour is schedule once every six days and the students look forward to this special time for learning.  Students choose what they are passionate about and spend time discovering.

An example project by our first grade students in Mrs. Smith’s class included exploring various coding activities.  Some of the sites used for these activities are as follows:
  1. Code -Learn to code, for students
  2. Espresso -Coding–for youngers
  3. Hopscotch -Programming on the iPad
  4. Kahn Academy -A personalized programming learning resource for all ages

Mrs. Plumb, a Hanby 3rd grade teacher lead a project on  Antarctica. Students  in various grades discovered  animals and explored their habitat. Each student documented their findings with Google Docs.

What do you do during Power Hour?
  • “We get to do candy experiments, create animations and study reptiles” said Ella, first grader.
  • “I like Mrs. Smith candy experiment and how we get to journal.” said Nana, third grader.
  • “I like Power Hour because I’m learning about reptiles, painted turtles and how the shell grows,  it’s my favorite class.” John, third grader.  “We also used Google Docs to show our research on Antarctica.” Nana, third grader.
Hanby teachers offer student choice during Power Hour.  Students love Power Hour and look forward to it every week. Power Hour gives Hanby students choice, time to explore, discover and engage.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Starry Night

Sunday’s Starry Night will Fuel Imagination through Art and Science

On Sunday, April 10, from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., families are invited to the 4th annual Starry Night learning festival, sponsored by Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Westerville Partners for
Education. The event will take place at Westerville North High School, located at 950 County Line Road. The festival will offer dynamic learning experiences with experts from Columbus’ premier educational, business, and community organizations.

The Festival is geared toward students in preschool through grade 8, along with their caregivers and families, the event will highlight the connection between arts and science. The theme this year is, Art
and Science – Fueling Imagination.

Generous sponsor support brings diverse exhibitors together under one roof, including
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Performing Arts Medicine and “Stinky – U”; Otterbein Physics
and Biochemistry; The Ohio State University’s Electrical Engineering Outreach; Insect Petting
Zoo; Byrd Polar Research Center; Westerville Parks and Recreation; Musical Instrument Petting
Zoo; Westerville Electric’s Energy Bike; S_E_A Engineering; Coding with the Girl Scouts;
AvcomSMT; Westerville Arts Council; Dramatic Impact with Candace Darman; ZenKidz;
Walnut Springs Maker Space; Laser Cutting; a Trash to Fashion show; and much more.
Westerville Partners for Education organizes this event as an annual opportunity for families to learn together and develop relationships with community organizations.