Schools share a common desire with families to help students be healthy digital learners. The addition of technology as a learning tool provides new opportunities to strengthen the connections between schools and families and engage in conversations about digital wellness for students at home and at school.
What is Digital Wellness?
When we explore the impacts that our digital lives have on our well-being, we are monitoring our digital wellness.
How do I feel after spending time on social media?
I wonder if I can keep my personal data more secure?
Am I spending time with my friends online and in person?
Do I act online in a way that represents the real me?
Some examples of topics which can fall into the category of digital wellness include, but aren't limited to: cyberbullying, screen time, self-image and identity, violence in media, social media, online privacy and safety, healthy relationships, and digital reputations.
In schools, digital wellness is often a part of a larger Digital Citizenship curriculum.
It takes a village
Preparing students to be digital citizens and make safe, smart online choices has become a shared goal of many school staff including digital teacher librarians, counselors, school resource officers, social-emotional learning specialists, principals, and more!
Curriculum and resources have been developed to support learners of all ages (K-12) for teachers to bring to life real dilemmas and conversations with students.
Over the years, our blog has shared resources to support Digital Citizenship instruction in Jeffco for teacher and student supports:
Building Opportunities to Explore Digital Citizenship
Be Internet Awesome: Digital Citizenship and Safety from Google
Digital Citizenship: Lessons Now Available in C-CAP(now Bridge to Curriculum)
But in our outreach, we hear increasing desires to bring this learning beyond the walls of the classroom and connect to our strong partnerships in the home. So, this blog post will dive deeper into resources to support communication and conversations with families.
Host an Event
Digital Wellness events are great ways to engage the community in face-to-face conversations. Some schools hold special event nights with a focused topic invite a guest speaker from the community. Some schools combine events and share digital wellness resources at back-to-school nights, parent-teacher organization meetings, curriculum showcases, etc... I've even heard of a digital citizenship dance.
Preparing for an event has been made simpler with presentations for parents and families available from Common Sense Education. Presentations are ready-made and come with talking points for school-based facilitators. Parent packets provide hand-outs which accompany presentations and can additional resources for parent information tables or newsletters. You'll even find presentations and resources available in Spanish. Utilize the presentation in it's entirety or trim it to fit the time and needs of your event. Take a look at the research-rich presentations in support of digital drama, social media, or learning with technology. You just might find you are one step closer to hosting your very own family event at your school!
Facilitate a Conversation
Perhaps a whole-group presentation is not quite what your family event would benefit from. Do you have a smaller group of parents/guardians? Do you have an identified need that you'd like to engage in rich discussion? Then consider a facilitated conversation utilizing Conversation Cases from Common Sense Education.
Conversation cases contain curated research and questions to consider about a digital topic, family resources, and a digital dilemma (a fictitious scenario to spark conversations). For example, is media multi-tasking and distraction a shared concern of teachers and parents? There is a conversation case for that! Grounded in research and with the goal to make common structured discussions possible.
Check-out a Conversation Case and download the participant resources, facilitator tips, and even watch the short video to get a feel for how it sounds to facilitate the discussion.
Post, Share, Print
Digital wellness communication doesn't have to start with a big event. Consider, what are effective ways you already communicate with your school community? How might bite-sized digital wellness resources be shared in Friday folders, social media posts, or online newsletters? Consider running a campaign, or short concentrated bursts of resources on a topic for a set time period. For example, a post a day for a week all about screen time.
Common Sense Education has curated an educator toolbox and a family toolbox. Find your favorite article, video, or handout and then pass it along. Post it. Print it. Link it.
Ed Tech support
Are you a Jeffco school considering hosting a family event between now and May? Contact your Ed Tech specialist to learn more about available planning time, resources, and support.
New Feature: Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop (CRD) is a remote control software that allows a user to access one device remotely from another. CRD is now approved and available for use by all educators across Jeffco. With CRD you can control a desktop, laptop, or Chromebook from across the classroom without a wired connection. For example, a teacher can use an iPad or Chromebook to control a desktop or laptop that might be connected to a projector, SMART board, television, or other display solution. The power of this tool opens up un-tethered instructional opportunities for educators as they can move around their classroom in complete control of what's on the display without being connected by cables.
CRD install requires administrator access on the device being controlled. To get set up, begin by submitting a work ticket in ESS with your request to use CRD in your classroom. A support tech will contact you to install CRD. Once the install is complete, you'll be able to install the CRD app on an iPad, Chromebook, or other device to begin remote controlling your desktop or laptop. CRD works on Windows, Mac, and Chrome devices on both district devices and BYOD's More information and support can be found in Tech Tips or by contacting your Ed Tech Specialist.
Google + Shut Down
Google + has acted as Google's social media platform for the past several years. Due to low engagement, some Google+ communities will be shutting down in April. Google has been notifying, via email, members of G+ communities that are being shut down. Currently, Google plans to keep the product available for educational groups who use it to facilitate conversations among co-workers. If you are a member of Google + communities created outside of Jeffco, you will want to connect with that group to make plans for how to continue communications in another manner.
Classic Google SItes Shut Down
Google has updated their timeline for the depreciation of Classic Sites. The final date to transition from a Classic Google Site to a new Google Site is the end of 2021. Google has recognized that the Classic Sites tool still offers some unique features that are not yet built into the New Google Sites product. Some of the features that will be coming to New Sites are as follows:
NEW Feature: GOOGLE GRAMMAR SUGGESTIONS
When a possible grammar error is detected in Google Docs, it will be underlined in blue. Similar to the spell-check functionality, users can right-click to see possible suggestions, or users can choose to dismiss the suggestions.
This new feature has the ability for students to receive real-time feedback on their grammar and to contextualize ideas for how to improve their writing. Additionally, teachers can focus the feedback they provide to students around context and content, rather than on grammar.
New Features: Google Classroom
Stephanie is a first grade teacher at Foster Elementary, a Title I school in the Arvada Area. She has graciously penned this blog as a way to share her learning around how she has integrated STEM to transform the learning experience for primary students.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter @STEMphanieTime for more inspiring ideas!
Empathy Inspires Change
My love of STEM came about a couple of years ago. I was in my 11th year teaching, and it was the first time in my career that I was actually considering leaving the profession. I was unhappy, and my passion was gone; how could my students learn if I wasn’t passionate?
Everything changed during a school technology committee meeting when I was tasked with figuring out why teachers were not using our 3D printer. There was just one problem…I had no idea how to use a 3D printer. My school was, and is, a STEM school, but we were still in the very beginning stages of trying to figure out what that meant.
Ideas Create a Path Forward
I started little by little. First, I taught myself how to use the printer; then how to print something. Finally, I tried creating my own model to print. Everyday I was a little bit happier. It was fun, and I started including students in my learning process. We learned how to fail together and succeed together. It was a long and slow process, and I had a lot of help from Jacquie Adkins, a Jeffco TOSA who specializes in science. We found a program called Maker’s Empire that made creating and printing 3D models easy for first graders to use! Students’ behavior improved because they were engaged and motivated to design and print their own models.
Prototyping the Student Experience
I figured if changing the student task through 3D printing was working so well, maybe I should try adding other STEM-related tasks to my students’ learning experience. Through code.org, I learned coding and then taught my students how to code. The more I learned, the more I integrated it into my classroom. As a result, my students’ were more engaged and their behavior continued to improve. Students learned that failure is a part of the learning process and started using it to fix their mistakes. I also noticed that they were much more willing to take risks because they knew that our classroom was a safe place, whether their answers were right or wrong.
Flash forward to my class today; it looks a lot different than it did a few years ago, and my passion for teaching is back! At the beginning of this journey, I would use technology just because I wanted to see how it works. Now I choose digital tools that match my lessons' learning objectives. Students are held accountable with apps like Showbie and Pear Deck. They use the 3D printer for creating beginning of the year nametags, bringing characters to life, and designing products to sell for our economics unit. Our bulletin boards come to life with Augmented Reality, which shows our work and enhances our goals. Even when we aren’t using our iPads, our STEM philosophy always remains: we strive for learning from our failures, adjusting our thinking when something isn’t working, and using collaboration to help us see tasks from a different angle.
Testing our TEaching
STEM is changing the landscape of our teaching in a good way. It allows us to are create an environment where students can learn and fail forward without fear of receiving bad grades. It gives choice to students and encourages them to learn real-world skills that they will be able to transfer to jobs they will have in the future. Teachers can weave STEM into every content area and grade level. It's is not just a subject, it is how I teach and how my students learn. As educators, we need to take a risk to transform the task and continue to better adapt our teaching. STEM changed how I taught and I became a better teacher because of that.
Time. No one ever has enough. Especially teachers! But what if there was a digital tool that could help you feel like you have cloned yourself? What if there was a place where students could access differentiated learning, submit assessments, review their own data and progress toward proficiency of standards, make their thinking visible AND communicate with their teacher and peers? Good news- THERE IS! Our district LMS or Learning Management System does all that and more! Schoology is a powerful platform for hosting the entire learning cycle: Pre-assessment, differentiated learning, formative assessment, feedback and revising, summative assessment, grading and tracking mastery of standards. WHEW! All in one place. When you combine Schoology with the power of the G Suite... BAM! Superhero level! And while students are accessing all of this amazing digital learning, you can be meeting with individual students or small groups for extension or support.
Image courtesy of https://www.achievementnetwork.org/anetblog/leader-learning
But even if you only use one or two of the tools available in Schoology you can save yourself and your students time. Here are a few of our favorites:
Discussion boards: They can be used to make thinking visible so that students can learn from each other or engage in questioning to push each other. Students can post links to their writing and engage in peer editing or review. Students can share videos they made, Google slide decks, images of hands-on projects and more.
Grading Groups: Schoology allows you to create grading groups in the members list that can then be used to assign individual students or small groups different content, assessments and/or assignments. It’s a super slick feature that helps you differentiate your instruction (can be used on a page of content or links to other tools) or your demonstration of learning (can be used on discussions, assessments, and assignments). And students can be in more than one group so if they are in a lower reading group but a higher math group, no problem! If they are on an IEP or 504 but also are a strong writer, no problem!
Gradebook: Schoology’s gradebook allows teachers to have a digital gradebook even if the work isn’t digital or collected in Schoology. This way students and parents can see grades and feedback the teacher leaves. And when you align your gradebook to learning objectives and standards you can track your class or individual student’s progress toward mastery. This allows you to have conferences with students and set goals for their learning with just a few clicks.
Google Drive Assignment: This functions much like Google Classroom in that it makes a copy of your Doc for each student. (Schoology is also developing a group assignment feature to assign to multiple students so they share one copy.) But, you can also attach a rubric right to the assignment for quick grading and improved feedback to students on how to improve. It allows you to view student work in progress in one simple screen, so you don’t have to open multiple tabs or wait until a student submits their work to give feedback.
And all of this is visible to parents and guardians by logging into Schoology using their Jeffco Connect credentials. They can see their student’s work, grades, teacher feedback, and mastery tracking with no set-up required by the teacher. We’ve done the work for you!
Schoology is constantly upgrading their system and rely on user feedback to design and make changes to their platform. For example, coming soon to a Jeffco school near you is QR Code logins to Schoology! So even our littlest learners can quickly get to learning.
Looking for more information on these features or others in Schoology? Check out this Tips and Tricks document. So take a chance and try something new. Use technology to transform learning and also save some time. You can also sign up to be a Schoology Ambassador for your school to get the info on the new releases first, learn how to use tools to your advantage from your colleagues and to provide feedback to Schoology on future requested items. Click here for more information on Jeffco's Schoology Ambassador program.
For additional support with Schoology in your classroom, contact Jeffco Ed Tech!
Logic and deduction, algorithms, deconstructing problems into manageable pieces... these are integral parts of computer science, and Jeffco students are ready to investigate.
Ideas, images, and information can be translated into bits of data and processed by computers to create apps, animations, or autonomous cars. The variety of instructions that a computer can follow makes it an engine of innovation that is limited only by our imagination. Remarkably, computers can even follow instructions about instructions in the form of programming languages. More than just a tool, computers are a readily accessible medium for creative and personal expression. In our digital age, computers are both the paint and the paintbrush. Computer science education creates the artists.
--From "Defining Computer Science"-- The K-12 Computer Science Framework
How Are Jeffco Elementaries laying a Foundation for Computer Science?
Many schools have started with participating in Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a world wide effort to provide an introduction to computer science to show that anyone can learn the basics. Held during Computer Science Education Week in December, this year's Hour of Code theme was "What will you create?" and featured a Dance Party. Schools from all over Jeffco participated in the event. At Ryan Elementary, Digital Teacher Librarian, Kelsey Shearer, co-taught with her AMP team to integrate the event into movement and music.
"My favorite part of this year's Hour of Code was to see how excited kids were to share what they had created as an end product. After kids created their final dance party, they shared the public link with their teachers, friends, and parents. For me, this demonstrated a shift from "learning to code" to "coding to learn." As I started thinking about it, I realized that our fifth graders were the first class to try Hour of Code as kinders six years ago. It is now a part of our culture here at Ryan, and we are looking forward to elevating the idea of integrating computer science as a language across our curriculum. " -- Kelsey Shearer
Some schools have extended this event to a Day of Code. Digital Teacher Librarian, Michelle McHugh, partnered with Amazon to facilitate the event at Three Creeks K-8. Students received an introduction to coding from Amazon's software engineers while hearing about their journey to gaining employment at Amazon. With her excitement from the day Michelle stated that "Computer science enables students to develop skills and competencies in problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration that will help them excel in today's increasingly digital world."
Ann Rames, DTL at Coronado, has taken the next step by holding an after school coding club. Over 50 K-5 students are going through the design process using Makey Makey and Cubelets, completing challenges with Dash and Dot, and even designing their own video games with Bloxels. She frequently checks out robotic kits* from the Ed Tech Team but also uses coding games and puzzles as unplugged activities. Ann partners with her community having a parent volunteer from Lockheed Martin assist with her club.
*Check out the Coding and Robotics website for information about checking out robotic kits.
Hutchinson Elementary is getting parents involved! They held a Family Coding night in December. According to Gallup, 90% of parents want their child to study computer science.
Learning to Code, Coding TO Learn
Many schools are embedding coding and robotics into their instruction. Through a grant from CDE and a partnership with mindSpark Learning, Jeffco is offering 2-day workshops to build a foundation for computer science in elementary schools. On Day 1, participants dive into the Code.Org Computer Science Fundamentals curriculum. Teachers come back on Day 2 to apply their knowledge with hands-on applications of coding with robots. Lessons are designed cross-curricular and incorporate collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Teachers are seeing immediate connections with Sphero and Dash particularly with their math units. Time is also spent on building a computer science implementation plan for your school. Not only do participants learn about basic computer science concepts, but they learn about using coding and robotics to demonstrate learning in any subject area.
Over 50 elementary schools have participated in the learning so far!
Although, computer science can be tied to every leaf on the Jeffco Generations tree, Critical & Creative Thinking, Self-Directed Learning, and Agility & Adaptability are at the forefront of the student experience. Using robotics provides hands-on and creative opportunities for learners to invent, solve problems, and create. Computer science can be taught in a multi-disciplinary way, with a hands-on approach which happens to be engaging and fun, while preparing students for their future.
Check out the Leadership Memo for announcements about upcoming professional learning opportunities. Questions? Contact Marnie.Roush@jeffco.k12.co.us, Computer Science Specialist, 303-982-6292