This post is brought to us by Abby Smith, a Math teacher at Pomona High School. Abby has been working with her students and technology integration this year to Transform Student Tasks. Abby shares here an incredible example of how she is working to make learning relevant for students as she seeks to provide them expanded opportunities to develop the Jeffco Generations skills through math and technology. We are grateful to Abby for sharing her expertise and learning as she seeks to make learning with digital tools purposeful for her students.
“When are we ever going to use this?” As a high school math teacher, I despise this question. Let me rephrase, I used to despise this question. Now I see it as a challenge. Students are living in a different world than most of us in the education profession experienced as high school students. These kiddos have a powerful device within reach most moments of the day that can answer questions with a quick Google search. Today's students do not see the value in having information readily stored in the back of their brain because it is stored in their phone. As an educator, I have seen it as my role to help students realize how the information we cover in the classroom can help them make decisions instead of answer questions. This is how my accommodated algebra classroom transformed into a medieval war zone during our unit on graphing parabolas.
Let’s rewind to my first few years in the classroom. My students completed worksheets, occasionally used tools like Plickers or Desmos, and then completed a test. We did fine on standardized assessments, yet every year, students are retaught some of the same material from years before and the lower students act like they’ve never seen the stuff before. I began asking a similar question as my kids were asking: Why am I teaching this material? I became unmotivated to continue the fight to convince struggling kids that the material was important when I didn’t believe in it’s value for my students who struggled the most.
To aid in the transition with 1:1 devices as a new pilot program at Pomona High School, I was apart of a cohort lead by EdTech Specialist Nick Steinmetz. Nick challenged the members of the group to take risks and learn with their students. We were charged with Transforming the Task in our classroom in new ways that were not available before the chromebooks were assigned to our students. I decided to transform the unit on graphing parabolas. My goal was to leave the unit with students being able to answer the question: “How can graphing parabolas help me make decisions?”
The idea of recreating medieval warfare came to me while researching parabola PBL’s. The path of an object catapulted follows a parabola. We started to build catapults out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, clothes pins and more. Once we learned the basics of graphing parabolas in various forms, we started our project of bombing enemy ships just as Hannibal did with snake bombs during the Punic War. (Pause now and research it!)
Students filmed the flight of their catapult with their phones (here is a video example), used Webpaint to find exact points the object flew and imported a screenshot of the flight of the object into Desmos. For the majority of my students who didn’t know how to take a screenshot, this was challenging but they began to see how valuable their new devices could be. At this point, they utilized their knowledge of the equations of quadratics and how the parabola is graphed to create the equation that best represents the flight of their catapult.
Now we were ready to put their project to the test. Students were tasked with bombing an enemy ship that was approaching a cliff. The cliff (desk) was a given height (27 inches). The students had to decide how far away the ship (saucepan) needed to be in order to bomb it within 3 attempts by using the graph of their parabola. Once finished, students reflected on the main question: How can graphing parabolas help me make decisions? Best of all, this project was a quiz score which assessed if the students understood how to write the equation of parabolas and determined if students could use the graph to decide the distance a ship needed to be off shore before bombing the ship.
There were parts of this project that made us want to scream. To my one group who had to re-film the flight of their catapult 5 times, I think you can agree with this last statement! There were parts of this project that made us laugh and cheer. My students were flabbergasted when their prediction was accurate when attempting the final bombing. Students who were unsuccessful asked to try again in order to be more accurate. Most importantly, this project sparked energetic mathematical conversations with my students. I have found that students are more likely to give an honest effort if they can see the curriculum come to life beyond a worksheet. While there are aspects of the project that I will change for next year, I can safely say that taking the risk with a group of tough students was a challenge that I will try more often! Here is a link for the student directions to the project.
We are excited to announce that Bridge to Curriculum is getting some amazing upgrades! You may notice some subtle changes this year, but most of the new functionality will be released this summer.
Professional Learning Library
In addition to the Resource and Assessment Libraries, there will now be a Professional Learning Library in the Bridge to Curriculum. This library will function just like the Resource and Assessment Libraries, but will contain professional learning resources. Educators will be able to access just-in-time PL resources in a multiple modalities such as videos, websites, podcasts, etc. Educators across the district will also be able to contribute to the Professional Learning Library! Users will be able to review and rate PL resources as well.
New SMART Search
A major upgrade is to make the filter in the libraries a SMART Filter. Once implemented (sometime this summer), when a user types in a word, the system will map that word to other like words, so the user gets more choices when searching. Imagine a thesaurus on the backend. For example, if I type in "fractions" the system will search, not just fractions, but a variety of words that align to fractions. See this Microsoft Word image as an example.
You may see this upgrade soon... Another upgrade to the SMART filter will make searching much easier. We are combining the Title, Description and Tags search boxes into one. This upgrade will allow the user to put a single word in this box and the system will search for that word throughout.
Rating Criteria Document
We brought a team of Teachers, Digital-Teacher Librarians, and Instructional Coaches together this year to create the Rating Criteria Document. The intention of this document is to help users rate and add helpful comments to resources in the libraries. Once this upgrade is implemented, users will get a prompt, in the form of a pop-up box, reminding them to rate a resource, assessment or professional learning resource. Here is the actual Rating Criteria document.
Filtering by Most Rated or Title
You will be able to filter by Most Rated or Title by using the radio buttons at the top of the filter. This functionality is being designed just like Amazon! Users will be able to filter by the most rated items, as these rise to the top in popularity. This functionality will be available soon.
Adding a Link to the Digital Tools Database
Soon you will be able to access the Digital Tools database from Bridge to Curriculum. With the ease of one click, you will be able to access Digital Tools from within the curriculum system. The Digital Tools database contains the list of district vetted tools which supports data privacy for our students
Important: Transitioning from Hangouts to Hangouts Meet & Chat
In 2017 Google announced that they will be replacing Classic Google Hangouts with 2 new products, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. In August, Jeffco will officially transition from Classic Hangouts to Hangouts Meet and Chat.
Hangouts Meet and Chat are currently available on the web for those that are interested in trying out the communication tools (see document below for setup directions). Please know, that in this transition period, some features of Classic Hangouts are not operable in Meet and Chat. Until August, it is important that those who have relied on Classic Hangouts continue to keep that tool available to avoid missing essential communication. More detailed communication will be available in August.
Tech Tip: Hangouts Chat Support Document
Fix: Chrome Cast for Education
We have noticed that some schools are having trouble with Chrome Cast for Education connecting to student and staff Chromebooks. In this scenario, staff and students see the message "no device found." IT has created a Tech Tip document to help you troubleshoot this error.
This error is caused when cloud services has been disabled on the Chrombook. This error is likely caused when a staff or student member added an extension that turned off the cloud service. Because extensions change how your browser functions, it's important to be thoughtful and selective with the extensions you and your students choose to add.
Tech Tip: Chrome Cast for Education Issue
What are Extensions
Goo.gl Shortener End-of-life
As announced last spring the goo.gl URL shortener reached its end-of-life on March 30th, 2019. No new shortened links can be created with this tool.
Our contact at Google has suggested, as a best practice, that we begin to change out old goo.gl shortened addresses. Google does not plan to remove or delete these shortened URLs but it’s never a good idea to rely on outdated technology for important documentation. We have seen some instances where links are receiving errors.
If a shortened link is needed, please consider using bit.ly or tinyurl.com. Also, before shortening, consider when you would need to use a shortened URL:
If users are accessing a link from a digital document (ex: lesson plan, HyperDoc, playlist etc.), you do not need to use shortened URL; simply hyperlink the text or copy paste the actual URL.
Reminder: Sharing Permissions
When sharing documents, it is important to be thoughtful about how you permission the document. When sharing a file in Google you have several choices:
Google Drive Help: Sharing Files from Google Drive
Docs Editors Help: Make Google Docs, Sheets, Slides &Forms Public
What's new in Google Classroom?
Classroom is one of Google's fastest-changing apps and April brought a few new features to make using the tool a bit easier.
Google Educator Certification: Level 1
This fall, Jeffco 5th and 9th grade students will be receiving a personalized learning device. When each student has their own device, the learning (and teaching) experience should change. One way teachers can prepare for this change is to become a Google Certified Educator! The Certified Educator program teaches you the fundamentals for using the G Suite for Education in the classroom. Once you've completed the training, you can elect to take the exam ($10) and receive your official certification. Additionally, you can submit your certificate to Jeffco to receive clock hour credit to support credential re certification (ESS: ETGCER). The Level 1: fundamentals course covers the following content:
This week's blog explores National Robotics Week, using robotics in middle school math, and an excerpt from guest blogger, Kyle Walker, about Vex Robotics Tournaments.
National Robotics Week, April 6-14 2019
National Robotics Week (RoboWeek) is a series of grassroots events and activities during the month of April aimed at increasing public awareness of the strength and importance of the U.S. robotics industry and of the tremendous social and cultural impact that robotics will have on the future. Activities come in all shapes and sizes from a robot block party, university open house, or a robotics competition. The mission of RoboWeek is simple — to inspire students in STEM-related fields and to share the excitement of robotics with audiences of all ages. Celebrate RoboWeek by hosting an event in your community, sponsoring or attending a local event, or spreading the word on social media.
The Purpose of National Robotics Week
Radical Robotics Cohort
This process supported the resilient thinking at the core of Jeffco Generations. One teacher shared their thinking around motivation and robotics in their classroom. He said,“ intrinsic motivation was built in when using robotics and coding. Students receive instantaneous feedback once a program is run whether their program met their goal, did the robot perform the desired behavior. Students are intrinsically motivated to troubleshoot and rewrite their code to meet the program goal.”
Students at Moore Middle School worked with Spheros to look at unite rate and proportions. The first lesson let students experiment and to find the different speeds (Unit Rates) of their Spheros. In the second lesson, students shared the numbers that they acquired and created class average. Students then used class averages to find unit rates that were not tested for by using proportions. The final lesson was based over two different days. Students had to create two mazes for the Spheros to navigate through. They needed to measure the distance of the maze and then time themselves to see who could make it threw the fastest by finding the unit rate.
The teachers used Sphero EDU and the Cubelet Hub as launching pads. Both of these sites house lessons created by teachers. Cohort and others have begun writing lessons that are being shared in the Bridge to Curriculum Resource library. The hope is that these lessons can be a springboard for other Jeffco teachers to begin using robotics and coding in their classrooms as well. To find some of these lesson look for the tag words: Sphero or Cubelet. (Here is a quick reference guide to find resources in the Bridge to Curriculum).
VEX IQ Robotics Club at Kullerstrand Elementary
Kullerstrand Elementary just finished its third season of hosting an after-school competition-oriented VEX IQ robotics club. At the start of the season, teams of three had to analyze the yearly competition game (played on a 4’x8’ playing field), and then they started designing and building their robots. VEX robotics kits are comprised of LEGO-like parts and center around a programmable robot brain, which can connect to various sensors and motors. The teams do not have to program the robot in order to compete, but doing so does give a team a competitive advantage over teams who simply drive the robot with a wireless controller. One exciting feature of our program is a continuing wonderful partnership with students from School of Mines who have not only been serving as referees and judges, but who also have come out and presented in our sessions. Last year they brought our whole group out for a tour of the robotics area of their campus, and we are hoping to do the same again this spring.
This year, Jeffco hosted two official VEX IQ tournaments and had multiple teams qualify to go to the state championship in Erie, Colorado. One of the teams going to state was from Kullerstrand, and it was certainly an eye-opening experience. Our students were exposed to teams from other districts whose enthusiasm, focus and dedication to robotics was both inspiring and challenging. Such things as teamwork, sportsmanship, and professionalism regarding such mundane tasks as keeping up with an engineering notebook and following the design cycle… the importance of all this was driven home in a powerfully experiential way. We are looking forward to next year when we will take the things we learned and apply them to a fresh season of robotics. (Excerpt from Kyle Walker, Digital Teacher Librarian, Kullerstrand Elementary)
Way to go Kyle Walker and THANK YOU for all you do to support robotics in Jeffco!
Ready for more robotics learning?
Attend Rock CS or the Computer Science Learning Academy at InnEdCo this summer! Click on the links to learn more about these new conferences.
A journey Begins
The 2018-2019 school year began a little differently for some teachers in the Pomona Articulation area. Elementary teachers in first and fifth grade partnered with the district to implement a 1:1 Chromebook program in their classrooms. Preparing for a new school year comes with some butterflies and many to-do lists. Additionally, our partner teachers embraced a growth mindset to use technology to transform the task with their students in their very own 1:1 classrooms. Teachers from Little, Parr, Warder and Weber Elementary are on a journey to provide learning experiences that prepare students to thrive in a digitally connected world. We are excited to capture their story and share it with others.
Starting with the "Why", not the device
Our beliefs drive our practice. Before unpacking devices, we need to unpack our school's underlying beliefs about teaching and learning with technology. Writing a school belief statement can help staff articulate the impact of going 1:1.
A common element of writing a belief statement is collaboration. Having multiple voices in the process can help build efficacy and ownership.
Resources which helped the Pomona area schools develop their "why" included:
Building a Roadmap
Communication & Partnerships
In order to open communication channels with families, each school sent home an informational letter and invitation to a family night. The open house was created in collaboration by the Digital Teacher Librarians at the four schools to be proactive to community needs. The event was held before devices were handed-out to students. A common Google Form was created to capture questions and concerns. The feedback helped create Frequently Asked Questions which was posted for families after the event. A goal of the evening was to strengthen the partnerships between families and schools.
Expectations and Digital citizenship
Preparing students to make smart choices online is a priority when going 1:1. Direct instruction and on-going conversations about these 6 topics are available for K-12 students in the Common Sense Media curriculum.
Pedagogy: Professional Learning Plan
"The Learning Labs effectively introduce new tools for teaching. [The facilitator] is intentional about supporting us in this learning by modeling how technology can be intentionally integrated to transform our classrooms rather than just as a shiny, new gadget. I always come away from our Learning Labs with tons of new ideas - maybe not things I will implement the next day just for the sake of it, but ideas that have changed entire units of instruction to be more meaningful and that ask students to think and work in new ways." 5th grade teacher
Transforming the Task
The Journey Continues...
Each school continues to engage in continuous learning and reflections about their 1:1 implementation and growth. We are thankful for the school partnerships and for their willingness to share their story with others!
JAMBOARD FOR WEB: NEW FEATURES
Google has added several new features to Jamboard which makes it easier to create and collaborate on jams on the web. Some of the new features include:
New: View your own Tours on Expeditions
Google's Tour Creator allows anyone to be able to create their own virtual reality (VR) tours. Students can use images from a 360 degree camera, or they can curate images from Google Street View to create their own virtual field trips. In Tour Creator, you can enhance the 360 images by adding in details, audio files, information, highlights and points of interest, just like you see in a Google Expedition.
Last week, Google announced the new ability to view Tour Creator projects through Expeditions on iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). So now, not only can you make a field trip, you can go on your field trip in 3D! Once a student creates a tour, they will need to publicly publish their tour to Poly, Google's library for 3D assets. This will allow you to view or guide student tours in Expeditions. If you would like to view your tours in 3D, please be sure to check out one of Jeffo Ed Tech's Google Expedition kits.
Tour Creator FAQ
First Day with...
Did you know Google offers lots of professional development courses for free through their Teacher Center? One of their PD series is called "First day of..." These PD sessions offer just the basics for getting up and going with a few of the G Suite for Education apps. This is a great place to start if you, or an educator you know, needs some beginner resources! Be sure to also check out the Teacher's Lounge section to see tips and tricks from other educators. More tutorials on the other G Suite for Education apps are coming soon!
With more and more Chromebooks entering the district, there is an increasing need to understand the power of the Chromebook and how it has the potential to change the landscape of teaching and learning. This self-paced PD unit on Chromebooks, created by Google, walks you through the following concepts:
Innovation ACCELERATION Funds in Action: Evergreen High School is Transforming the Task with 3D Printers
Brent Olyowski had a vision for Transforming the Task in Physics. So he submitted his idea for an Innovation Fund and was awarded funds to purchase 2D and 3D printers. Brent's idea is the epitome of Transforming the Task. In Brent's own words, "In an effort to make physics fun and engaging, we want our students to design, build, then use those creations to perform physics experiments using 2D laser cutters and 3D printers."
Matt Cormier, Evergreen area principal, notes, "This will help prepare students for emerging careers that are going to be part of their future. The possibilities that are created seem limitless. Evergreen's teachers are so strong and Mr. O does amazing work and he is also planning to partner with some superstars in his building. He will have the support of an excellent digital teacher librarian and tech staff. This is a great team to make the investment powerful, however, everyone will be in awe of what the students create."
Making the innovation Come to Life in the Classroom
Brent was happy to share his plans to implement his 3D printers in the classroom. Here are some highlights from his Innovation Acceleration Fund application:
"First semester is about Newtonian Physics and we try to relate it to driving since almost all of our physics students are beginning drivers. The vision is the students design cars to perform simple experiments with. We would start with basics like velocity, acceleration, stopping distance, and inertia; and then get more complex with momentum, impulse, friction, collisions, energy transfer, and circuits. We can even convert the cars to solar cars near the end of the school year. The idea would be to modify their creations to make it more complex as we get into the more complex ideas. The evolution would go from cars they send down a ramp all the way to cars with solar powered with sensors on them. "
From Teacher tool to a universal OPPORTUNITY
What is Whiteboarding?
Whiteboarding allows for the creation and spreading of ideas for a variety of learners. It can be a blank canvas with a variety of pens, shapes, texts, and backgrounds allowing for open ended creation and sketchnoting. It can be a place where student teams collaborate on tasks and learning or a slide deck designed by a teacher for students to demonstrate a skills. The options are endless.
Today a variety of web based tools are also available for teachers. Web based tools have the advantage of not being tied to a particular device. Most are free and can be use on PCs, Chromebooks or iPads. Some examples are Google Jamboard and Kami.
Finally, many classrooms still have an interactive display of some kind. It might be a Smartboard, Epson Interactive Projector, or a Mimio Panel. Each panel has a coordinating installed software (some have costs) that allow for the creation of files that can be used for whole group direct instruction or small group practice that can be saved and reused.
Whiteboarding today is a space for learners and educators to process and demonstrate learning. The possibilities are endless! As spaces are redesigned or upgraded in schools, explore what might be the best projection display using this self guided projection solution tool. Also reach out to your Ed Tech Specialist and ITSS to help think through future plans.
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