Entering our third year of TechforEd, the Ed Tech team wanted to create opportunities for our 5th grade students to learn the digital tools through an asynchronous course. Students start by joining a Google Classroom for the following tools: Adobe Spark, WeVideo, Book Creator, or Soundtrap. These four tools all allow for the 4 C's: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication. The students have an opportunity to grow their own knowledge and choose how they want to show their understanding of the digital tools through their creations.
Using the Tools
Each of the Google Classroom course begin with learning around using the tools designed specifically for 5th grade students. Then the students complete the course by submitting their own creation to the Ed Tech Team. So far we've seen videos, books in Book Creator, music made with Soundtrap, flyers, and web pages.
Our 5th-grade student ambassadors are learning more than just technical skills with the Digital Tools Student Course. They are now taking on a leadership role in our school and sharing what they have learned with their younger peers. ~Jessica Jones, Media Specialist, Kendallvue Elementary
Lucy, a 5th grader, created this story using Book Creator. She was able to import pictures, use existing backgrounds, and write a story about a gorilla told from the gorilla's perspective. Before she created the book, Lucy worked through the course to learn the different elements of Book Creator so that she could utilize the different multimedia tools available.
Beckett at Wilmot created this flyer using Adobe Spark. He chose to pick a relevant topic to show his creativity and was an innovative designer as he worked through the process of learning a new tool. As more and more students complete the course, the more students have the knowledge of the tool and can then help their classmates and teachers too!
Learning & Creating Independently
"This type of independent, self-driven learning helps differentiate for kids what they are interested in and has them very motivated to learn new technology!" ~Lisa Polacsek, Digital Teacher Librarian, Vanderhoof Elementary
5th grade students all across the district can now learn the functionality of several of the district purchased digital tools. This allows them to have more voice and choice with showing their learning! For more information contact the Ed Tech Team.
“The way a team works as a whole determines success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” - Babe Ruth
We all know Babe Ruth is talking about the great American sport of baseball in this quote, but the same could easily be said about Jeffco Public Schools. Our district is filled with so many key players: thoughtful teachers, amazing administrators and second-to-none staff members; however, unless we are all working #BetterTogether, then we aren’t meeting our potential worth.
When it comes to solving district-level technology problems, it truly takes a diverse team of players to make sure we are meeting the needs of our superstars: our students. Some of Ed Tech's closest team players in this work are our colleagues in IT. Every day Ed Tech and IT partner together to ensure that students are at the center of every technology-based decision.
Simply put, “Learning happens better when we work together.” - Tracy Dorland.
10 Ways your Jeffco Ed tech and IT Teams are #BetterTogether
Share your #JEffcoBetterTogether STory
We would love for you to share your success stories of how your school, Jeffco Ed Tech, and Jeffco IT have worked to be #JeffcoBetterTogether! Submit your story below or share your ideas on our social media accounts! Be sure to use the #JEFFCOBetterTogether hashtag and tag @JeffcoEd Tech @JeffcoIT and @TeamJeffco!
STUDENTS SHARE MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES THROUGH PODCASTS IN SOUNDTRAP
“Starting school this year felt like we were a new blended family all moving in together,” Jacquie Hemphill, a DTL at Mitchell Elementary stated. “In August, we had new students, remote learners, teachers, and staff joining us at Mitchell Elementary in person. We had to patiently pursue a new normal together.”
After a gradual reintegration early this year, and a lot of reviewing of the norms…Jacquie and Josh Hallerberg, a 5th-grade teacher wanted to take the learning deeper and infuse technology simultaneously. Josh asked Jacquie to collaborate with him to guide his students to get back on the steeper learning trajectory by working together to create a podcast in Soundtrap. Jacquie had already laid the groundwork last year in introducing podcasts and was ready and willing to team with Josh and the Mitchell 5th graders.
Check out this 3-minute Adobe Spark Video that captures students explaining their podcasts in soundtrap
Walk into Becky Wilson’s STEAM or Robotics class at Three Creeks K-8 and you will see engaged students, seamless technology use, and computer science in action. Students are collaborating, designing, iterating and problem solving. This week's Ed Tech blog highlights a morning spent with Becky Wilson, STEM teacher at Three Creeks K-8 in Arvada. Becky teaches STEAM, Robotics, and Digital Design classes.
First Period: STEAM and IF/ELSE Statements
Her morning kicks off with her STEAM class of 6th graders, focusing on conditionals in programming. What better way to learn this than an active game of Red Light, Green Light with a twist? Students adjourned to the basketball court to partake in a quick warm up. With Becky Wilson at the forefront, students practiced conditionals in action--
"If you are wearing long pants take one step forward, else take 1 step backward". Utilizing this game, students learn in an unplugged manner, incorporating movement, and reaching kinesthetic learners to help create transfer for a difficult concept.
When they came in students were given 6 minutes to illustrate IF/Then statements about the weather. They chose different mediums to answer- some answered on paper, some on the table, some on an ipad app. Whichever the medium, the result was imported into their journal in Book Creator.
Next, students learned about variables by programming micro:Bits to play the classic game, “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. Becky asked her students, “What is the variable that changes each time you play? How do we program the computer to select this variable randomly?”. Students programmed micro:Bits, a pocket sized microcontroller that holds one program at a time. Using MakeCode students can code in block-based or text-based programming. Since her students gave her feedback that they appreciated when they had a choice in their learning, they were given a choice board of different tasks that they could program the micro:Bit to do after programming their game.
Second Period: ROBOTICS- CUE to the rescue!
Next her class of Robotics students arrived, consisting of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Students were given a real-life scenario, using robots in search and rescue missions. Using cardboard and legos, pairs of students needed to program a CUE robot to sense obstacles and rescue a mini Lego figure. Teams needed to follow the design process to ideate, plan, build, test, and refine their mission.
They have to work with constraints- the robot should be able to perform the rescue by themselves from the code, humans can't get into all places for rescue, we need to code the robot to assist.
Good instruction is evident in everything the kids are doing; real world tasks, learning for a purpose, using the design cycle, dealing with constraints and persevering through a problem. Teams presented their rescue mission to the class, talking through their design process, planning with pseudocode. and casting their code to the projector for other students to see. They were frustrated with constraints from time and materials, but they learn to work through them. They have some video footage of successful runs in case it does not work correctly when they are presenting.
"They learn that the end product does not have to be perfect but that what they learned and how they solved the problem is the focus and the real winner."- Becky Wilson
ready for the rescue
A Reflection from Becky
"The authenticity of learning is so evident when kids are problem solving through robotics. The immediate feedback that they get from video games and their world, they get with robots, which leads to a higher level of engagement. At first, I designed this big complex project but stopped and said why am I doing all the work? I put the cognitive load on the students, the assignment was better because I put it on them.
I have been finding ways to differentiate for my students that need to be pushed. Most are willing to persevere, some have that and are ready for the next piece. I think you need to keep kids where they need to be so they are not overwhelmed, and keep them working toward creating intrinsic motivation to challenge themselves to take on the next level."
When asked how they would change their search and rescue mission--most said they would have added more obstacles to make their code more complex.
You gotta love when students say they would do more work and make it harder! Thanks Becky!!!
Simple - team with your DTL. DTLs are not only your go-to for library books and resources, but they are also the best go-to collaborator, co-teacher and co-planner for your whole staff. DTLs are the best way to move towards collective teacher efficacy.
Some important work your DTL does:
DTLs working with teachers on Research Skills:
DTLs are collaborating, co-teaching and co-planning at all levels to increase student learning, share the workload, and drive curriculum through use of our TechEd tools and our Jeffco Library resources.
So, if you really want to make a change in student effect size?
Team with your DTL.
Tech-empowered learners, requires ongoing opportunities to learn and practice in a safe environment where mistakes are encouraged.
However, we know that students will not master collaboration skills in simple, one-and-done lessons. Above all, they will need your guidance and support on this learning journey.
Use this four-step process to help design repeated learning opportunities that will empower your students with the critical life skill of confidently being an "Internet Awesome" citizen.
4 STEP Steps to Empowered Citizens
Internet Awesome REsources
Self-described as “not techy,” Stephanie Flynn is one of the top Book Creator users in Jeffco Public Schools.
How did Stephanie get to be one of the top users? She has been using Book Creator for the past three years at Vanderhoof Elementary School. After learning about the digital tool from an Ed Tech specialist, she was given time to explore the tool. She and her fourth grade team realized the platform would be a great way to publish and present student work.
Digital Citizen- Best Practices
Stephanie presented the tool to her own students. “Kids know what to do. Show them the tool. Give them parameters to use it, and they will figure it out more than you.” She planned out the lesson, set expectations for students and parameters for a new tool’s “best practice.”
TIPS From Stephanie for behavior management in a digital age:
Empowered Learner- Teach the Teacher
Students were given time to explore the tool and dig into its resources with a clear question in mind:
How could we use this tool for our own learning?
While we typically pair digital tools with content, sometimes the learning should be about the tool and its potential uses. This provided Stephanie’s students with the WOW factor and engagement. Exploring also gave Stephanie’s 4th graders not only the confidence to navigate the tool themselves, but a platform to construct their own ideas of how Book Creator could support their learning. Stephanie reflected that her students ended up “teaching the teacher” about the tool and felt confident moving forward with this new tool.
Knowledge Constructor - 4th Grade Natural Disasters Unit
At first, they used Book Creator to publish writing. Students conducted research from books and websites to hand write their drafts before publishing with Book Creator.
The 4th grade team team created a mentor text/exemplar for students to follow.
Creative Communicator - Book Creator Evolved during Remote Learning
During Covid, the students shifted from a publishing tool to a creation tool. Students created Word Work notebooks to take notes on different figures of speech. Stephanie kept track of their work through the Book Creator dashboard and provided timely feedback to her students.
In another unit, students conducted a research project. They were paired up to teach a younger class and recorded their voices to provide support for younger students. Not only did their younger students learn, but Stephanie learned about the students’ fluency skills.
Student Use of the Tool Changed during Covid
Students needed a way to present their learning to parents. Using Book Creator, the students created a “Learning Portfolio” for the year including;
Empowered Learner- Resistant Writers
“This tool is very motivating for resistant writers.”
One student of hers was a twice exceptional student who refused to write in class. This student was so engaged with the tool, they “produced more with Book Creator than they ever did on paper.” It gave them a platform to not only type but also use speech to text and recordings to share their thinking. In addition, the photos and pictures feature gave them more motivation to write. After experiencing a newly-found interest in writing, Stephanie’s student realized that they have the capability to write, but needed a platform that allowed them to reach their potential.
After COVID, Stephanie sees the potential that Book Creator has to continue elevating her students’ learning. Upcoming projects planned:
Up your Book Creator Game
As we begin thinking about next month’s parent teacher conferences, things will probably look different. Virtual conferences will be a probable solution to safety concerns as well as being convenient for busy families. Most likely schools will be offering a virtual option for conferences this year. Below, you’ll find guidelines for parent-teacher conferences during remote learning, tips for getting students involved, and more!
Getting students involved
With district provided tools available to all students, put them to work. When students are involved in sharing their own work in parent teacher conferences, it encourages them to take responsibility and ownership of their learning. Family and teacher conversations become more rich and transparent when students have had time to prepare material and reflect on their own learning. Teachers can set the criteria for what is to be presented to parents. Students can then choose a tool that helps communicate their learning. Here are some tools with samples and ideas.
Students can use Google Slides to share work exemplars, content from multiple subject areas, MAP & other assessment data, and any other creative ideas that teachers have empowered the students to share. Here is an example from the 5th grade team from Deane Elementary.
Wevideo has powerful communication opportunities for students. Students can upload images of their work, slides they have created, pictures of class projects and so much more into a video that they can narrate (with or without sentence stems). See this powerful blog on using WeVideo for student voice in Conferences.
Google Meet platform has made some changes over the past few months. Getting familiar with this tool will help make conferences more effective. Here is a help guide for creating a Meet link just for conferences, preparing families, and other helpful tips. As always, you can reach out to your EdTech specialist for additional support and resources.
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a structure to provide consistent access to instruction and resources. It provides a pathway for students, families and teachers to access the learning and feedback at all times. Many teachers and families had their first experiences with an LMS in response to Covid-19. However, a Learning Management System, whether it be Schoology, Google Classroom, or Seesaw has a purpose and a place far beyond a pandemic.
In a world where all educators are working to guide students to become Global Collaborators, Creative Communicators, Knowledge Constructors, Empowered Learners, and engaged Digital Citizens we need to provide the structures and spaces that authentically deliver these opportunities on a daily basis. A well organized and thoughtfully implemented LMS is the foundation to this work.
Access to a Learning Management System provides students:
For Our Families
Use of a consistent LMS means that caretakers will have peace of mind knowing their students have access to all the resources listed above. It also means that families will:
Learning Management Systems in jeffco
Over the past few months Google has made some updates that will allow users in Jeffco to be more productive in the classroom. Students and teachers both can benefit from the updates.
Ed Tech recommends scheduling your Meets using Google Calendar. Using the calendar to schedule meets adds the following functionality to the meet:
Meet controls all in one place at the bottom bar of the meeting window. The leave call button has been relocated to prevent accidental hangups.
Meeting details, participants, chat and activities are all on the bottom bar.
See what you're presenting
When you present your screen, you can see other participants—and what you’re presenting—at the same time.
In the meeting window, point to your presentation feed to: