BY GUEST BLOGGER Christopher Brannon Church
Brannon Church is a technology teacher at Carmody Middle School. He has been a teacher in Jeffco for 19 Years. For the first 18 years, Mr. Church taught 6th Grade and this year has joined the Carmody team as their Robotics Teacher. Here he shares how he is making impacts in student lives through the development of Jeffco Generations. Mr. Church provides some great examples of how students learn with technology and ways teachers can access resources to begin integrating technology that engages students in creative learning opportunities.
I have always felt the need to incorporate technology into my day. I realized early in my career that very few things can improve student engagement like introducing a new tool or program. However, this usually only works if the teacher is as excited to explore new opportunities with their students. Fortunately, opportunities are much easier to come by nowadays because of the availability of chromebooks and free software. 95% of the curriculum we are exploring at our middle school comes from free programs that coexist with student Google logins. The Jeffco Ed Tech team is extremely supportive, and has equipment/resources for teachers to borrow to show their administration how important purposeful play can be in learning.
With all the free resources out there that appeal to the STEAM driven teacher, there is no excuse for not trying to implement computer science into some aspect of their day. Most educational apps use the Google Identity Platform which eliminates the burden of student login problems. I feel that Jeffco is headed in the right direction when it comes to preparing students for a successful future.
Demonstrating how to use Makey Makey & Scratch:
An Exit Ticket Using Makey Makey. Students were given the opportunity to create a project using Makey Makey and Scratch. I wanted them to see that they are limited only by their imagination. One on my administrators came to me looking for ways to make exit tickets more engaging and relevant. With student input, we created our interactive exit ticket using Makey Makey and Scratch. It was a huge success, and students immediately tried to jump on the “aluminum foil switch” idea for their own projects.
Jeffco Generations Skills:
These are examples of using technology as a tool to develop Self Direction and Personal Responsibility as well as Communication skills from Jeffco Generations. As an initial activity with Makey Makey, students were to research their favorite childhood song, find the sheet music, create a piano in Scratch, and use the controller from Makey Makey to recreate their song. The most amazing part of this activity is that students completed this project with very little guidance. Students relied on each other to figure out how to fix bugs in their program to make their music selection work.
How do I get access? - I am extremely fortunate to have 1:1 chromebooks in all of my Robotics classes, and nowadays there are hundreds of reputable websites that are available at no cost. Many of the hands on materials that I rely on have come from my own pocket, or were funded through the Donors Choose website. Any student can learn to code!
Funding is out there - After borrowing Makey Makey kits from Jeffco Ed Tech I decided that I had to have a set for my class to take our scratch lessons to the next level. Believe it or not, it was fairly simple to acquire the funds needed for a Makey Makey kit. Donors Choose and Google’s CS First are practically giving away money to teachers that complete a few simple activities with their class.
Skill Application Across Content Areas:
One of the favorite parts of my job is giving students an opportunity to show off what they have learned in Robotics/Coding and using those skills in other content areas. An example this year is a 6th grader who decided to retell the entire story of Maniac Magee using Scratch by taking her character on a journey through the story. It was amazing! This clearly demonstrates proficiency in computer science as well as a deep meaningful comprehension of a novel in literacy.
Below are just a few activities where application of the following Jeffco Generations Skills were imperative to complete the activity. As students completed these activities, they developed these Jeffco Generations Skills:
Sphero Bridge Build: Students were to demonstrate Critical and Creative Thinking along with Communication skills as they used the Engineer Design Process to research, design and build a bridge with drinking straws. Bridges needed to support the weight of a Sphero and span over 50 centimeters.
Friday Fly Day: During this activity, students were to research ramp design and create their own ramp to support the weight and acceleration of Sphero. This activity supports Collaboration and Leading by Influence.
Sphero Battle Tanks (captured with a 360 Camera): Students demonstrate Agility and Adaptability during their Sphero Battle Bots competition. Students used the Engineer Design Process to create “tanks” for their Spheros.
Merge Opportunities: During our introduction to 3D design, students were able to use Merge Cubes and AR/VR Goggles to check their 3D Prints. Instead of wasting printer filament, we are able to upload our designs to Object Loader and see if there are any flaws to our design. Students demonstrate Self Direction and Personal Responsibility as they create their own designs using Tinkercad, view their design in Augmented Reality, and print a clean final project.
In conclusion, I would urge all educators who are interested in integrating tech into the classroom to join Twitter. I have found so many creative educators on Twitter that share an endless number of incredible projects or ideas. Feel free to follow me @MrChurch (shameless plug) and make some connections with teachers all over the world that are passionate about integrating technology into their classrooms.
The Global Read Aloud: One Book to Connect the World
Read their blog: theglobalreadaloud.com/blog/
It all started with Facebook. The Global Read Aloud Facebook group is where teachers find a classroom, other than one in their school, to connect and collaborate with each other. The premise is simple; groups pick a book to read aloud to students during a 6-week set period. During that period, classes try to make as many global connections as possible. The Facebook group helps to bring understanding about what The Global Read Aloud entails. Students don't actually access Facebook. They engage in collaborations using a variety of digital tools. The website (linked in the title) matches up classrooms where students from different schools engage in digital activities together.
The Facebook group does host educator book studies. There is one starting in January called, "The Passionate Readers Winter Book Study" The book study discusses teacher reading identity, student reading identity, classroom libraries, and of course, share must-read, must-add titles for you to consider adding to your classroom. The book club is free, all you need is your own copy of Passionate Readers and to join the Facebook group where the questions and discussion will happen.
Teachers across the groups will plan purposeful instructions with tech infusion. One goal is to match a digital tool with the task, in order for students to collaborate. The K-1 class at Peiffer is partnered with another school in Virginia, a kindergarten class. Algonkian Elementary, which is named after a Native American tribe that is widespread and in Virginia. We have done a Mystery Google Hangout to launch our connection (both classes got to ask questions to guess where the class was located), a Flipgrid coming up soon, a Padlet this week, and Seesaw Blog. We have shared the various activities we have done in Seesaw through our blog. We have answered prompts like "What fills your heart with happiness?" "How do you hold someone up?"-
Digital Tools used in the Peiffer Global Read Alouds
The teachers at Peiffer are using Seesaw Blog to communicate among students from the two schools. The picture above was taken from the blog. You can learn more about this free tool by watching this video.
I was lucky enough to witness a FLIPGRID that the K-1 class at Peiffer used to draw pictures from a main idea in the the book and the explain their thinking. Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create "grids" of short discussion-style questions that students respond to through recorded videos. Each grid is effectively a message board where teachers can pose a question and their students can post 90-second video responses that appear in a tiled "grid" display. Click here to try FLIPGRID out!
Transforming the Task in the Global Read-Alouds
Peiffer teachers have been Transforming the Task using the SAMR Model, as well. They are creating, transforming, and evaluating student tasks that register M/R on the SAMR Model. For more information on the SAMR model and how strong learning happens when tasks register on the M/R, check out this Multi-media Text Set.
Move over HGTV, the fifth graders at Maple Grove Elementary are the stars of their very own school library redesign! Budgets, research, surveys, and floor plans are being drafted in
Ms. Ligrani’s and Ms. McCormick’s 5th grade classes as students create their proposals in hopes to be selected for the final design.
This unique PBL (project based learning) asks the students to apply math, economics, technology and reading skills in an authentic way in order to create a flexible learning space for their school.
The innovative idea began last spring, as the teachers recognized a need to replace the old and uncomfortable library furniture. The library is a shared learning space for everyone at Maple Grove, and Principal Chris Neville began to ponder how students could be involved in the improvements. He was inspired by Jeffco’s vision to transform the task for student learning.
When asked how they felt about being entrusted with the library redesign, 5th graders Lilly and Cameron smiled. “I think it was pretty cool! Since this is our last year at the school, we would like to use some of the furniture that we’ve wanted and to help everyone else get a new library.”
Handing over the reigns to the students has been an exciting adventure for Digital Teacher Librarian, Amy Stahura. “I’m totally game! The whole school is really excited about changing the look of the space. Hopefully it will look a lot different in here! I told the kids you can even my office space. The office would be a great green screen room.”
The Design Process
Students have been learning about design thinking (with resources from the Stanford d.school and ISTE Standard "Innovative Designer").
Research began in the field as students explored three sites in the community with flexible learning spaces. Their inquisitive minds visited "The LINK" at the Jeffco Education Center, fellow Jeffco school, Three Creeks K-8, and mindSpark Learning.
Ben and Jack were amazed by one site on their visit. "It was hard to believe that mindSpark was an old library and had no windows!" In their own design, the boys are interested in understanding how the wall colors might help learners in the library.
Empathizing with multiple stakeholders is important to the fifth graders, so the students have been collecting input from students, staff, and the community.
Surveys created in Google Forms allow students to collect and analyze data and share the results across groups. "We're working on a survey to the teachers right now. The teachers still use [the library], so they still have a voice in it," commented Austin and Ben H.
The student's creative juices are flowing as they ideate multiple scenarios for their new space. Tristan shares a draft design with considerations for height of the learners. iPads in the library will have the AutoCAD app available for groups as well.
The budget is on the mind of Bren and Stephanie. "Our budget is really really tight. We may have to reuse some of our stuff. We could reuse the bookshelf and make it a reading space to look outside." A generous donation from the PTA is funding the redesign and community partnerships are at the heart of the project. Parents with backgrounds in architecture, design, and furniture sales have become local experts from which to learn.
Instructional Coach, Amy Ellerman, a collaborator in the PBL remarked, "This project has provided such an authentic opportunity for collaboration between students, Maple Grove staff members, and our community. It is expanding our understanding of where and how learning happens."
We will have to wait until the end of the trimester when students share their proposals with school leadership and the PTA to find out the final design.
Ms. Stahura plans to reveal the renovation and invite all the partners who have supported the project. The celebration will not only be of the new space, but of the contribution of the fifth grade students to this authentic need in their school.
Want to learn more about designing learning spaces?
Read the review for The Space: A guide for educators
By Guest Blogger Felicia Frantz
Felicia Frantz is a computer science and business teacher at Alameda International Jr/Sr. High School. She is one of 300 teachers certified by Rasberry Pi in the United States and has been teaching at Alameda International for 4 years. Here she shares how she and her colleagues started a successful STEM program that has caught the attention of many, including 9News. Big thanks to Felicia for sharing her amazing expertise and experience!
About ten months ago my principal, Susie Van Scoyk, had submitted for a Title IV grant being offered offered through the district. Me and four of my coworkers were designated as the design team (think The Breakfast Club but much cooler). We were tasked with creating a STEM program, initially for 7th and 8th grade, but our hope was to be able to quickly expand it in to 9th - 12th grade as well.
We were nervous but excited over the opportunities and possibilities this grant afforded our students, and, although each of us had experience with one or multiple STEM focus subjects, we were not sure what exactly a “STEM” program would look like at Alameda International. There were so many options and we felt truly overwhelmed.
The grant consisted of $8,000 to spend on resources and $1,500 for professional development. In order to receive our grant we had to complete a training through the Choice Programming Department which would guide us in designing our program and spending our grant money. After a day of studying the concepts of project based learning and attempting to align it with the International Baccalaureate MYP Design Cycle, we had an idea that we wanted a lab or something that would give as many students and teachers access to the resources as possible, but we still could not visualize what exactly “STEM” was as a program or what this would look like at Alameda.
One of the members of our team, our DTL Dorina Miller, suggested we check out the ideaLab at the Denver Central Library. She had modeled several elements in her redesigned library makerspace after their area. We decided to check it out and were instantly enamoured. We decided we wanted to completely mirror the ideaLab in one of our classrooms. We also decided we would have the lab open before and after school so students could have access to come in and create and design at will. One other thing we decided to do, in order to help encourage the use of STEM in non-STEM classrooms was to offer the space to teachers to use for their classes.
Despite our decision on how to spend the grant, we felt like we were still missing some key elements to drive the idea of STEM at Alameda. As a team and as individuals we tried attending trainings and workshops over the summer, but could not find what we were looking for. We brought back great ideas that would definitely contribute to the enhancement of our program, such as industry contacts, ideas for authentic assessment panels, and the desire to build our own R.A.F.T., but we still felt like something was missing.
When we returned to school we were excited about the new journey we were about to embark upon. We were a newly minted department, in IB language we became the Design Department. Our course offerings had tripled and we had numerous sections being offered from 7-12 grade, including computer science, pre-engineering, imagination by design, to 9-12th grade robotics, computer graphics, and audio/visual production. Despite these wonderful offerings, we were still unsure how to bring STEM and the IB Design cycle into non-STEM classes. This concern plagued me more as I had been the author of our proposal and the IDEA Lab was under my care.
However, as people wandered by my room and as I shared out the resources we were collecting in my room a wonderful thing happened. The teachers started identifying ways in which they could use the resources with their students. An English teacher started talking about how she could have the students actually weave one of the textiles talked about in a book they read. The drama teacher started talking about his students using the sewing machines to create costumes or the resources to create props. The science teachers started talking about using augmented reality to allow the students to bring certain concepts to life, such as the muscular, vascular, and skeletal systems. And a geography teacher wanted to use virtual reality to take her students on field trips of geographical features.
On the outside these probably look just like forms of substitution and adaptation from the SAMR model, but in all honesty these are the examples of STEM we had been looking for all along. By merely sharing the potential resources with our peers, on their own they were able to identify a problem or challenge they had been facing in their classes, in many cases how to make something like literature or reading hands on, tangible, and engaging. From there, they were able to brainstorm ideas on how they could use the resources they now had access to to help solve that problem, as a result, they began to make a plan on how they could incorporate that experience into their lessons. Eventually they will get the chance to reflect on the experience and modify it where necessary.
In time, they will feel comfortable enough with the design cycle to begin letting the students identify their own problems or challenges and developing their own solutions. Because this is really what STEM is. It is not a set curriculum. It is not technology or special set of manipulatives. What STEM is, is teachers digging through recycling boxes looking for resources which students could upcycle into something else. It is providing students and teachers access to resources, skills, and a safe environment where they are free to identify potential problems based on their experiences, where they feel safe and empowered to brainstorm ideas and create solutions to those problems, to design them with guidance when they need it, to fail when things do not go just right (or celebrate the successes when things do go right), and are given the freedom and opportunity to reflect on the experience and what they learned, so that they feel empowered to go out and try again.
Postscript: As I was in the process of writing this post, our school had learned it had been selected by 9News at their first “CoolSchool” of the year because of the cool things we have going on here at Alameda, in particular the addition of our STEM program and that two of our middle school Society for Hispanic Engineer Jr. teams qualified to compete at the Technology Student Associations’ TEAMS competition in Atlanta this past June. 9News came an interviewed some of our STEM teachers and then also held a pep rally to help us celebrate. You can check out the story and the video segments at 9News Cool Schools: Alameda International
If you're interested in developing STEM programs or pathways at your school, contact Heather.Waldron.jeffco.k12.co.us, STEM Pathway Designer for Jeffco Public Schools.
Setting the stage
As Gru from Despicable Me exclaims… “Light Bulb!”
This is exactly how I felt when I saw the transformative learning in my classroom this past week. I have been using HyperDocs for two years now, first learning of HyperDocs while attending the Google Summit in Denver 2016. My DTL picked up the book “The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps” by Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, and Sarah Landis. Let’s go back to 2016...I POURED over this book.
I sat in the HyperDoc session (and honestly the others I attended) going through my current lesson plans in Google Drive, trying to figure out which ‘activities and lessons’ I can turn into a HyperDoc… I mean, it's just a glorified webquest right? Throw in my digital link for my note catcher, attach the same news article for kids to read.. And boom ‘HyperDoc!’... Right? I was so wrong.
The past year or so I have been reinventing my so called ‘HyperDocs’. I have been very pleased with my latest HyperDoc - The Bill of Rights Restaurant, A Learning Menu.
I teach 8th grade US History at Summit Ridge Middle School. Knowing that freshman year the students will have an entire semester of government, I wanted to make sure that the students understood how citizen can participate in government. Moving forward into freshman year, they then can fully understand the role of a citizen in a society and how citizens can affect change.
As we know, menus are all about choices. And with a variety of choices comes a variety of prices. The ‘price list’ on my learning menu indicates the level of activity students can expect if they choose the menu item. $ = not there yet, $$ = ready and waiting, $$$ = yes and I’m off! Presenting level indicators allows students to self-reflect on their own current ability, yet provide opportunity for students to challenge themselves with the next activity or text set.
As with most HyperDocs, having students engage and explain are pretty common. These menu options include a Smart Songs Rap, Mr. Betts Video, History.com article, and Scholastic books I have in the classroom as resources. Just because the HyperDoc is digital, does NOT mean EVERYTHING on the HyperDoc must be too. Many of my students picked the Scholastic books over the internet articles. But the important part was the choice. This differentiation of resources allows ownership on the students part to decide how they will acquire the information. If the resource is not a good fit, then they have other options handy, as happened several times over the course of the week. This self-awareness of student learning is incredibly powerful when in action.
Next on the menu, drinks. Here I provided three different articles with three different content topics related to individual rights. My students love to read about real world examples. They also love to see what their peers think about these real world examples. After reading the articles, student used Padlet to answer a form of an analysis question. Students can also read/comment on each other's posts, creating a dialogue that goes beyond the classroom walls. A student from my period 1 class can read the same article as a student from period 5 and they are dialoguing about how our rights as citizens are protected or bent in order to provide security in America. That is powerful.
Dinner is the next thing on the menu, where the application occurs. Here students were able to pick from 3 application activities. A Summit Ridge Bill of Rights, Analyzing the Bill of Rights to real world situations, or Petitioning their local, state, or federal representatives about a topic of their choice. Again, the $ indicators reveal the level of each of the activities. I hyperlinked each of the activities directions and expectations via Google Docs. Additionally, I allowed for students to partner up for this part of the learning menu, further expanding the dialogue and learning beyond the computer. The product topics range from changing school cell phone policy to a federal ban on certain assault style weapons. Students are transforming their learning and applying real world issues in the classroom. Many are researching who their local representative is in order to petition for change. Why did they drain the Blue Heron Lake?
Finally, as with most Americans who dine at a new restaurant, we want to leave that Yelp! review to praise or warn others. I am extremely excited about this part of the menu, as this is the sharing and self-reflection and evaluation of the dinner option. Flipgrid allows students to posts videos, much like a digital bulletin board (padlet). Students were given three prompts to answer, one required and two choices, but must do in video form. For many students, recording themselves is a risk, so I am allowing them to use their dinner product at the visual for the video. To calm their nerves, I posted several video explanations on how to use flipgrid (and ridiculous stickers on my face). Check out my student A.K. and his self-reflection. He wants to run for Congress! After recording and posting, students can, once again, view and comment on eachothers product and self-reflection. The opportunity for self-reflection provides students ownership of the learning and deeper processing of the information. They were able to identify their own gaps in learning, if any, and where to focus their attention moving forward. Check out my Bill of Rights Flipgrid HERE
If you are like me, I am constantly trying to reinvent my teaching. I do not think the old saying ‘why reinvent the wheel?’ applies in education…..we’re not even using wheels anymore. We are provided with an almost infinite amount of resources for our students to transform their learning into something deeper and long sustaining. When we teach students to use the technology as a tool, not a toy, they tap into their creativity and ingenuity.
The possibilities become unlimited.
Define the Problem:
Last year, I found myself in a bind when creating my schedule. Thomson was moving to a 90 minute weekly PLC for all grade levels, and I was tasked with covering students for half of that time. I stared at the daunting content colors in front of me, realizing I had much more scheduled time with students on a weekly basis than I had in the past. At first, I tried to fill the time with a variety of tasks, but they didn’t seem to engage the students. These tasks involved all students working on the same thing, at the same time, with the same technology.
Passion Projects seemed to be the answer, so I decided to try this type of learning out with my 4th-6th graders. As I started to put all the pieces into place, I began to think I was crazy. How was I going to be able to manage a whole grade level that was working on different topics, at different stages in their project, with different technology tools? There was only one way to find out, so I took a risk and went for it.
As with anything new there come successes and challenges. I would have to say that my biggest success was the student engagement. At first, when I told them what we were going to do I didn’t get quite the response I wanted. They were moaning and groaning about having to do another research project. As the year went on I saw a huge change in my students. I rarely had to redirect students because they got to choose what tool to use and the topic they were most passionate about. I also found it to be a great way for students to collaborate with each other. I allowed students to use the following tools to show their learning, but didn’t limit them to these:
My biggest challenge was supporting and giving feedback on all the different projects. When I implement passion projects again this year, I will be very intentional about when and how I give feedback. Check out these resources on giving feedback while facilitating Passion Projects or Genius Hour in the classroom:
One thing I would advise is to have a way to track where students are in their projects because once you get this started they work at different speeds and it is hard to keep up with all of them. Some ideas and tools for how to manage many different projects at once include:
My biggest takeaway from this whole process was that our students needed to be risk takers. So many students were afraid to push the button and try something new because they were afraid they were going to break something. It took many conversations with them about being risk takers for them to finally see that they could do it. As a result of this learning, instead of library orientation this year, I tasked the students with creating a book (Book Creator) or a short video (PowToons) that explains different technology and library expectations. Doing this task pushed them to be risk takers from the moment they walked into the library this year. I know that there will be some growing pains when we begin our passion projects again this year, but that is the BEAUTY of education; you never know if you can do it unless you try!!!
Want More Passion Project Info?
Would you like more resources on starting Passion Projects in the classroom? Check out these articles and books!
"Make something that does a thing." This was the challenge put out to 10th grade students at Golden High School by their teacher, Mr. Gitner. Students were engaged in a very broad PBL. The sky was the limit. Their task was simply to create something that does something.
Gitner said of the task, "If I do not explicitly name a tool for them, at the end they create something that they feel is important. It ended up being a passion project where I just became the coach." The students went out and decided what they wanted to learn and found the right tool for the job. “What you know isn't what is important anymore, it's what you can do," says Gitner. At the very heart of this task was the foundation of student choice.
The results from the students was phenomenal. One student got her artwork on a brochure that fights to end violence against women. Another student created a mockumentary. This student learned a valuable work-life lesson. He says of the leadership within the project,
“What I really learned is how difficult it is get people together without intrinsic motivation. Bringing people together and giving them a task is not enough. It takes true leadership to engage others." This is the essence of The Jeffco Generations skill, Collaboration and Leading by Influence.
Last year, Gitner created a task called "Walk in Someone Else's Shoes". He had students create Trello Boards. A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, used by you and your class. It's a lot more than that, though .Trello has everything you need to organize projects of any size. Open a card and you can add comments, upload file attachments, create checklists, add labels and due dates, and more. Here is a video Andrew made for his students. You can also access his example of a Trello Board here. You can find this lesson on the Bridge to Curriculum in the Teacher Resource Library.
Andrew started his school year by reading Bold School this summer. This book was written by Jeffco parent, Weston Kieschnick .
This book overlays SAMR with Rigor and Relevance. Andrew says he creates experiences for students that span the SAMR model, but spends a fair amount of time creating experiences for students that asks them to Augment. "Students can't always be in Modification. Student experiences should span the range of the SAMR model." The Jeffco Ed Tech Team will be hosting a Bold School Book Study in the Fall. More information coming soon!
So what is next for Gitner's 10th graders? A phone scavenger hunt at the Clyfford Still museum. Students will use their phones to complete tasks around the museum.
"The key to any great musician is an outstanding music teacher." - student
Spend a couple of minutes in Mr. Goodman's music classroom at Thomson Elementary, and you will discover he is one of those teachers. Sam's goal isn't to make every student into a musician; he knows that isn't a passion for every child, just like he admits to not loving football; however, he does hope to instill an appreciation of music into each of his students. To do that, he uses technology to help make music relevant and authentic.
Keeping it Real
Students select an instrument of their choice for the semester. The class starts together and talks about the goal for the day. Then, they get started practicing their instruments. As they practice, Sam moves from group to group, providing mini lessons and support to his students. Knowing that he can't support all groups simultaneously, he has created a YouTube channel that provides just-in-time support for students. Students can watch, pause, practice, and rewatch segments of the video, based on their individual needs.
Pulling it all together
Some of Mr. Goodman’s students head off to middle school and high school and continue engaging in their passion for music. He receives invitations from former students who are pursuing interests in sound engineering and instrumental music. For him, that is the best part of being a music teacher -- seeing his students grow an everlasting appreciation for music.
Interested in Getting STarted?
Do you want to know more about Ableton Live and The Push? Check out this district-approved software on Ableton’s website and watch artists use the instrument on Ableton’s YouTube channel. If you are interested in having students learn about creating beats and loops, but are not ready to purchase Push devices, you can experiment with Ableton's web-based program. Sam has also graciously offered to connect with any Jeffco teachers who have questions about Ableton software or the Push devices emai him at Samuel.Goodman@jeffco.k12.co.us
Lastly, YouTube videos and playlists are a great tool that can be used in any grade or subject to flip or blend learning for students! If you are interested in learning more about creating YouTube channels and playlists for student use, check out our Jeffco Ed Tech YouTube website to help you get started.
If there is one device that we are seeing more readily used throughout the district, it’s the Chromebook. Chromebooks allow students to easily utilize the G Suite, a variety of web tools, and other platforms that help them to create a more personalized learning environment. The only problem is, oftentimes, not all students have access to the technology that they need in order to truly be future ready-students. This was the issue that was presented to students at Dakota Ridge High School in a US History class. What world issues do students see? For one group of students, this was clear. “Our generation is growing with technology, and some kids don’t have the opportunity to take part,” said one student. So together, a group of four students, with the help of their teachers, decided to solve that problem be creating the non-profit organization Chromebooks4Kids.
As stated on their website, the goal of Chromebooks4Kids is to raise money to purchase Chromebook carts for schools that need access to these devices in their classrooms. Currently, the organization is working with Colorow Elementary in hopes that they can raise enough money through both fundraisers and donations to purchase a Chromebook cart for these future Dakota Ridge High School students. After that, “We’ll keep building it one cart at a time,” said the group’s student leader. “We want all schools to have the technology and maybe even promote technology careers,” he added.
This project is a perfect example of how we can empower our students by creating authentic learning tasks with real-world implications. These students have learned everything from how to start a non-profit, to how to run a profitable fundraiser, to how to improve their organization and get more volunteers to support their cause. They also continue to build their positive digital footprint by building their social media presence on both Instagram (@chromebooks4kids) and Twitter (@ChrBooks4Kids).
We can’t wait to see where this student project and many others throughout our district can go. If you want to learn more about this organization or if you’d like to help their cause, you can visit http://chromebooks4kids.net/
First year Digital Teacher Librarian, Tanya Jensen, has been collaborating with the Jefferson County Public Library (JCPL) and her English teachers to develop a website that supports summer reading at Standley Lake High School. The website functions like GoodReads, but has been created specifically for students; high schoolers can write reviews and search for titles based on genre and recommendations. In addition, the staff will participate and add their reviews to the website. The school's vision is to grow the site so that it is an easy way for students to locate books of interest, based on peer reviews. Students can also submit suggestions for books they want the library to purchase in the future.