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:
While we were all enjoying some fun in the sun, vendors were making upgrades to some of our favorite Jeffco Digital Tools. From new functionality in Screencastify to a whole new facelift in Actively Learn, some incredible changes have taken place over the summer. Read below to get the "What's New" with our Jeffco Tier 1 Supported Tools.
Read & Write PDF Reader Is now OrbitDoc
Here is some information about Read & Write. The PDF Reader that is a part of the Read & Write extension pack has changed to OrbitDoc. The old PDF Reader extension looked like a bird, now it looks like an Orbit! OrbitDoc is still an extension but it also a progressive web application now as well.
Click below for more information:
READ&WRITE'S ORBITDOC PDF EDITOR AND GOOGLE CLASSROOM/SCHOOLOGY
You can annotate PDFs using Read & Write's PDF extension and web-based application called OrbitDoc. These PDFs can be distributed via Google Classroom and Schoology so that students can easily mark up their own copies or work together to annotate a single PDF.
Google Classroom Directions
Here is what the new extension looks like. We pushed it to all users in Jeffco. If you are using a Chromebook-it will automatically be there. If you are using a laptop or desktop, you will need to go to the Chrome Webstore to add it, or use the web version. Make sure you are logged into chrome and Google with your @jeffcoschools.us
It doesn't matter if you build a “Geek Squad” of K-5th graders, a middle school full of “Cyber Kids” or a high school-led “Virtual Help Desk,” any flourishing student tech assistant program will share common attributes.(See below)
1. Recruit and promote- Seek out students who seem interested in how technology works or who value helping others. Invite them to join personally or ask for teacher nominations. Post an application on your school registration form. Tend a table at Back To School Night encouraging students to complete an online application or post a QR code. Muster your troop by searching through the technology clubs e.g. robotics, coding, etc.
2. Provide a value-added program- Both the student assistants and the people they support need to benefit. Through hands-on experience and practice, students can gain valuable technical skills and workforce experience for years to come. Members of the team should walk away with problem solving abilities as well as technical and personal skills which are sought after by future employers.
3. Empower the student- Invite students on the ground level of developing the team. Listen to and encompass their ideas and insights. Build boundaries and expectations of the team together.
4. Provide various training opportunities- Uphold a variety of scaffolded training options that the students can choose from such as, hands-on practice, videos, visuals, infographics, flow maps, step-by-step directions. Encourage other students to teach a training session or to create resources and videos. Often our students are our best teaching resources.
5. Keep it basic- Start with clear, concise tasks. e.g. Provide a video and written instructions explaining how to reset a Chromebook. Let them practice. Access their understanding and celebrate their success (virtual badge, certification chart, etc.) Then, mobilize your troops. Allow students to train and move forward as they gain experience, expertise and confidence.
Helpful Tools and Ideas From Teachers:
Elementary-Christy Yacano, DTL at Sierra has a “Geek Squad” composed of 1-2 students per class, K-5th. Students are sometimes recommended, but all students can apply via a Google form. The Geek Squad meets monthly, has lunch together, and trains. Their main focus is to assist their classmates, teacher and substitute teacher with technology issues. They also help orient new students to Sierra. New student checklist (Yacano,2020) Other supports they offer include: troubleshooting interactive boards, AV equipment, connections, and Chromebooks The skills the students gain and share, can easily be transferred to learning and leadership opportunities in the future.
Middle School- Karrie Zanetti, DTL at Deer Creek Middle School empowers her 6th, 7th and 8th graders differently. She invests time upfront to develop step-by-step resources and video tutorials equipping all students, families and staff to troubleshoot technical issues independently. Deer Creek launches a Tech Help Page, (Zanetti, 2021) on their library website full of ideas which includes: video tutorials, flowcharts, Infographics and checklists to provide a self-service IT pitstop . Karrie also provides next steps and avenues if further assistance is needed.
High School- Leah Linblom @Arvada West HS and Jim Bartuska @Chatfield HS both teach and certify Cyber Crew high school students (see video above) upon completion of a credited technology class. They recruit students who seem “techy”, love learning, and/or enjoy helping others. They offer industry certifications upon completion of each of the courses they provide. (Instructor Agreement and Instructions, Lindbolm,2020)
The big event that CyberCats and CyberChargers look forward to attending each year is Jeffcon.net This is a tech conference designed for students interested in “all things technology.” All Jeffco high school students are welcome to attend. Jeffco.net launches in late January, 2022. Be on the lookout!
Students of all ages can be valuable members of a technology assistant team. Every program looks different and each student obtains real-life skills and experiences that carry over into nearly every other avenue of their life.
Image- Four Boys and Wires- Edsurge.com Beyond the Genius Bar: Cultivating Leadership With a Student-Led Tech Team. 2016
Image- Students in line with device- tophat.com How Does Technology Impact Student Learning? Vawn Himmelsbach. 2019.
Image- Students gathered around a laptop- The Edvocate, 2016
Tynan, Dan. School Focus K-12. Schools Tap Students to Provide Enough IT Support. October, 2017.
Our students are not like us. They have never lived in a world where almost everyone has a device in their hands almost all of the time. They are digital natives, but that does not mean they inherently know how to use a device in a healthy and productive manner. It is a collective responsibility to teach digital citizenship. It cannot be left to parents or the digital teacher librarian. Just like we are all trying to help students live in a social society properly, we all have to collectively show them how to navigate the digital world too.
you are off to a good start
Fear not! It is not something that has to be added to curriculum as a burden. As a teacher, you are probably already teaching some aspects of digital citizenship. For example, classes involving research and writing typically include how to evaluate a website’s credibility and writing proper citations. Any time students need to search the internet, direct and explicit instruction on the credibility and reliability of information, as well as research tips, are helpful to steer students toward useful information while disregarding inaccurate or unnecessary information. This is organically digital citizenship. But we also need to be intentional.
Did you know our district has monthly topics? Take some time to familiarize yourself with these topics so that you can support the systemic message in Jeffco.
It is our collective responsibility to teach digital citizenship. These skills are essential to ensure students' safety and protection. While kids today may have no problem navigating the web, they're less likely to know how to vet sources, understand the sensitivity of the information they're sharing and take in the gravity of conversations they're having online. It's up to us and families to reinforce these concepts. There are several distinct resources available. JEFFCO EDTECH WEBSITE
More resources in Seesaw, Actively Learn, Newsela, Google Classroom and Common Sense Media are coming for Jeffco teachers in August. For now, please start thinking about how you can have everyday conversations with students knowing you make a difference daily.
It is hard to believe that it is already May! As we wrap up the 2020-2021 school year, students, teachers and parents are looking forward to summer vacation. Many of us have spent way too much time looking at screens this school year and are hoping to power down and enjoy some unplugged time. We all are hoping to find activities to do this summer without a screen and that will help students stay on track and not be part of the “summer slide.” This slide may affect students of all ages. Studies show that students who read during the summer gain an average of 1 month of reading proficiency. Students who don’t read lose an average of 2-3 months of proficiency and over time, those lost months add up to years. By high school, 2/3 of the reading achievement gap can be attributed to summer learning loss during the elementary years. One way students can avoid the slide is to participate in the Jefferson County Public Library Summer Challenge.
This year's library summer challenge is titled “Wild Ideas.” Registration opened on May 1st and the challenge runs from June 1st to July 31st. The Summer Challenge has many different ways to engage students. The activities are categorized by Read, Explore and Connect. As students complete activities, they are eligible for prizes. This is a great way to motivate students and to keep students learning while school is not in session. Just for signing up, students can either receive a sticker or a PopTart, yes I said Pop Tarts! Other prizes include an Elitch Gardens pass, iPads and of course books. Learn more about prizes and sponsors here.
Participating in the challenge can also provide schools with some much needed funds. The school with the highest number of finishers wins $800. This will help schools purchase books in a time when budgets are low and Digital Teacher Librarians are trying to recoup the loss of books from COVID circumstances. Last year's winners all used their money to build their collections and resources. Tobye Ertelt, DTL from Oberon Middle School, purchased some new graphic novels, fiction and nonfiction books as well as some ebooks. Heather Kramer, DTL from Devinny, Elementary School, purchased more PebbleGo modules so that students, both remote and face to face, had access to this amazing resource. Wheat Ridge High School’s DTL, Debbie Livingston, spruced up her fiction section to entice high school students to check out more books.
Finally, participants earn points which go towards Jeffco Eats, a program that provides food to Jeffco residents. For every 1 million points we earn as a group, Jeffco Eats will get $100, up to a maximum of $500.
As the countdown to vacation is on, please encourage your students to sign up for the Summer Challenge at Jefferson County Public Library. If you have any questions ask your Digital Teacher Librarian.
Jeffco Ed Tech welcomes Guest Bloggers: Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey, from Dunstan Middle School.
At Dunstan Middle School, the computer science department is composed of Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey. Together these two teachers cover a very wide range of computer science material in order to prepare students for high school and beyond.
In Janna Golgart’s Computer Science courses students begin by learning the basics of encryption, decryption, using cyphers, as well as learning the basics of binary. From there students progress to block based programming and then on to Python text language. CodeCombat is a wonderful resource for Janna's students to begin Python with, and then advance to CodeHS. CodeHS reinforces and is more challenging which strengthens students’ Python skills. Ms. Golgart's Computer Science course also gives students the opportunity to explore robotics using Spheros. Students learn how to program the Sphero, then create a maze and program the robots to complete the maze. In addition, students learn about physical computing using Raspberry Pi’s and create circuits. This class gives students a strong foundation of computer science.
Video Game Design
In Mrs. Golgart’s Video Design course, students learn the basics of video game design programming and graphic design. Students then use several different software applications such as GameMaker, Scratch, Agentsheets, and Agentcubes to apply their programming and graphic design skills, seeing how the concepts and execution transfer from program to program. In addition, students learn and create animations which is a key part of video game design. Animator and GameMaker are both used to create these animations. This course provides students the opportunity to display their creativity.
Mr. Starkey also has a separate Robotics course, in which students alternate between an online robotic simulator, Microbit robots, and Lego EV3 robots. The online simulator is through RobomindAcademy.com. This site introduces students to the basics of robotics through script based programming. The Microbit unit combines Makerspace with programming. Students are given the opportunity to create a cardboard robot combining Microbit motors & control boards, then programming the robots to participate in a drag race against other students. The Microbit robots provide a great resource for students to learn different block based programming as well as put some creativity into their robots. The majority of the class, however, is based around the Lego EV3 robots. Students begin with basic movements, then progress to the different sensors available. Students program the EV3 with block code and use the EV3s to complete several different types of obstacle courses.
Mrs. Golgart and Mr. Starkey have also participated in several industry related field trips and guest speakers. These include a trip to the Boulder Google campus & Dire Wolf Digital as well as guest speakers from Colorado School Mines, CodeHS, and Amazon Web Services. Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey have dedicated a lot of time and effort into making a strong and respected Computer Science program at Dunstan Middle School.
Thank you for sharing your program with Jeffco teachers and the Ed Tech Team!
*Please see the Jeffco Approved Digital Tools page for approved status of tools mentioned above.
Did you know that April is National School Library Month? 30 days to celebrate the staff & collection of resources that come together to support schools.
Most Jeffco schools are supported by a digital teacher librarian (DTL). DTLs are teacher leaders, who collaborate and co-teach with fellow teachers. The focus in these collaborations is supporting student learning within the curriculum while authentically integrating technology and information literacy skills. DTLs also work to create a library space that is an inviting hub of the school with a well curated library collection that promotes a love of literacy.
Be sure to stop in and say "Hi!" to your Digital Teacher Librarian, they would love to see you!
In previous blog posts we shared the partnership with JCPL and the Community Shares ebook collection that is accessible through Destiny Discover. We also shared an update on the State Libraries grant and how all elementary students now have access to PebbleGo Science, while middle school and high school students each have access to an interactive ebook collection purchased for their school (with a print copy for their school libraries).
And as of March 24th, students and staff now have ease of access to a curated collection of audiobooks through our Community Shares partnership with Jefferson County Public Library. These audiobooks are accessible on our Destiny Discover library platform. To learn more about accessing the audiobooks on Destiny Discover, please talk with your school's Digital Teacher Librarian.
Benefits of audiobooks
We Are Teachers, 7 Ways Audiobooks Benefit Students Who Struggle with Reading
From author Jon Scieszka (2008)
‘In my Guys Read work, I’ve met all kinds of boys who are crazy for audiobooks. I think it’s partially because audiobooks appeal to a lot of guys’ love for messing around with any kind of technology. … Guys also think they are getting away with something by listening instead of reading. We don’t have to tell them that they are learning vocabulary, story structure, sentence composition, and a dozen other literacy skills.’
Opportunities AudioBooks provide:
For further reading, from the National Literacy Trust, Audiobooks and Literacy: A Rapid Review of the Literature
Screencastify and Google Slides
"App Smashing", the act of using more than one digital tool at the same time for a student product, can yield creative results. This blog outlines how to "smash" Screencastify and Google Slides for student reflection.
From the blog:
In her article Digital Portfolios: The Art of Reflection, Beth Holland points out that when students reflect on their learning experiences, “they become more aware of the processes and strategies that make them successful, allowing them to learn from their successes as well as their challenges or failures.” Thus, a reflection journal that also includes video screencasts not only provides students with the opportunity to look back and reflect on their work, but also facilitates a media-rich experience for doing so.
Fortunately, Google Slides offers two great features — the ability to easily create links to outside content and the ability to play YouTube videos in a slide — that can be combined with screencasts to enable students from elementary school through high school to create powerful video reflection journals in just a few steps.
In all, students could create a media-rich screencast after writing an essay, creating a presentation, constructing a drawing, or creating any type of artifact of learning and reflect on their learning using audio and video. In their reflection, they could discuss their process of creation, their feelings of success, or explore the challenges they experienced along the way.
Some reflection questions students might discuss are:
Is this my best work?
What could I have done to improve this essay?
Why was I successful when I created this presentation?
What will I do differently next time to augment the process?
What did I learn?
How did I learn?
Why do I think that I learned the way that I learned?