I think we could all agree that our jobs over the past year have changed a lot. Just like everything in 2020, education has changed in many ways. As we packed up last March to what we figured would be a few weeks going remote, it turned into over two months of remote learning. That led us all to start thinking differently about how we do our jobs. When August came around, we were all hoping for some sense of normalcy, but that quickly changed to starting the year remotely--then some switching to hybrid while others came back full time. Now we are all back again in the remote world with, thankfully, more online learning experience. Yet many of us feel that we can’t catch up or do our job effectively--especially our Digital Teacher Librarians.
A Digital Teacher Librarian’s job is constantly changing. Sometimes, things change weekly, daily, hourly, and even minute by minute. A DTL’s job is rarely the same day to day, and they are often pulled in many different directions. This year has allowed them once again to reinvent their positions. There are many examples all across the district of ways DTLs are adapting, pivoting, and finding ways to do their jobs to help students, teachers, and parents succeed in this new normal.
Most DTLs spend some of their time working on the technology in the buildings. This may consist of making sure projectors are projecting, doc cameras are working, that devices are distributed, and students are successfully engaging with technology. This has now become a major part of the DTL’s job. Linda Tatalaski, DTL at Creighton Middle School, has actually gone to families’ homes to help troubleshoot a Chromebook to make sure it functions properly. Tobye Ertelt, DTL at Oberon Middle School, used to have the help of her student tech crew, but since we had to go remote that left more of the responsibility on her. In response, she created a Technology Guide. This guide helps families troubleshoot and fix their own tech issues. Angie Wagner, DTL at Bear Creek High School, spends some of her day arranging device repair via curbside as well as providing office hours for students and teachers. I am sure that none of these DTLs thought their job would involve so much tech troubleshooting.
Another way the job of a DTL has changed is how we are checking out books. Remember when you used to be able to just walk into a library, check out a book, and take it home? Now this process looks very different. Libraries across the district had to figure out a way to get books into kids’ hands safely without them ever stepping into the library. One big change this year is students must put books on hold in order to check them out. This is an easy process but does require some instruction from the DTL. Some teachers have assigned this as homework or have set up “Library Time” in their classroom to simulate actually going to the library. Once the book is on hold, it requires someone from the library staff to pull the books and check them out. Finally, the DTL has to creatively figure out a way to safely deliver the books. Heidi O’Leary, DTL at Bradford North, is using grab and go book stations. These books are from different subjects and genres. Heidi said that the best part is when a student requests a book and she actually can find it either at the Bradford Library or the Jeffco Public Library and is able to get the book into the students’ hands!
Finally, one of a DTL’s most important jobs is to collaborate with teachers on lessons. They provide resources as well as support students and their learning. This is challenging in a remote world, but DTLs once again are finding ways to get it done. One resource many are creating is a Bitmoji library space. These are fun and engaging for students as well as providing online resources. Andrea Gilmore, DTL at South Lakewood Elementary, created South Lakewood’s Virtual Library that includes virtual books, book talks as well as Hour of Code activities. Oberon Middle School has also created Oberon Middle School Virtual Libratory that links to the Jeffco Public Library as well as links to Oberon’s library resources. Elizabeth Mehmen, DTL at the Bergens, has created Picture Book Nominees for the CCBA Books for students to become familiar with these award winning books, and to vote for their favorite.
This has been a year to “pivot” at a moment’s notice and to find new ways to keep the library engaging for ALL students. DTLs are constantly reinventing their jobs and spaces to best meet the needs of their students, teachers, and communities. As we wind down 2020 and can see 2021 on the horizon, we can only wonder what new exciting practices will we see next!
Whether our students are working remotely, hybrid, or in-person collaboration is a key element to students being successful. Collaboration allows students to share ideas, fosters authentic learning, and allows for peer interaction and feedback. As we move into being fully remote, students need collaboration more then ever.
Considerations when Collaborating remotely
Virtual Small Groups
Digital Tools that promote student collaboration
While there are numerous digital tools that support collaboration while working remotely, a few of our district supported tools are perfect for allowing students to work together and share ideas.
Book Creator Login
Adobe Spark Login
Collaborating using Google
G Suite Apps are collaborative, which makes them highly powerful. They offer opportunities for students to engage in so many different ways. Here are 30 ideas for using them with your class.
Using Book Creator to Collaborate
Wevideo as a collaboration tool
Recently, WeVideo added a new collaboration feature. Now students can collaborate on projects in real-time.
WeVideo’s Chief Education Officer, Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad, said, “Real-time collaboration is a core part of every career field and subject discipline. The same holds true for the classroom. More than ever, learning should be part of a social context, as learners collectively rely on each other’s thinking to solve complex problems and create. No matter what subject or concept we teach, collaboration is a crucial component of blended learning.”
Collaborating using Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark is one of the newer tools that we support. Adobe Spark is an integrated suite of media creation applications for mobile and web developed by Adobe Systems. It comprises three separate design apps: Spark Page, Spark Post, and Spark Video. While real time collaboration isn't available yet, users can pass the project back and forth to create something together. Click here to learn more about how to collaborate in Spark.
While it isn't easy to make collaboration work in a remote environment, when it does work, students are creative, gaining valuable skills that prepare them for the future and teach students to overcome challenges and conflict.
Comment below on what you've used to get students collaborating during remote learning.
Actively Learn is one of the newest additions to the premium tools available to teachers and students in Jeffco! Teachers and students grades 5-12 have premium access to this robust interactive platform. Filled with carefully curated content including appropriate articles and readings (even some videos!), thoughtful standards-aligned questions in a highly customizable environment with numerous accessibility tools, Actively Learn makes finding, personalizing and assigning readings a snap. Here’s a quick video overviewing what Actively Learn is capable of bringing to your students.
Logging in to Actively Learn for the first time is a little different than other Jeffco Digital Tools. Find the tech tip here!
Or watch this quick YouTube video overviewing the process.
NOTE: In the future, you’ll be able to simply sign in with Google.
Students will always sign in with Google; no need to do anything different the first time for them!
To learn more about how to create classes, customize and assign content, and grade assignments, take a look at this brand new eBook from the EdTech department: Introduction to Actively Learn - Asynchronous Learning.
Jeffco’s EdTech department has also made an Actively Learn YouTube playlist with tutorials for many of the basic functions of Actively Learn. (See below!)
Actively Learn also has a very robust Help Center to answer your questions on the fly!
Don’t forget about the EdTech Office Hours for teachers! We are available 7am-4pm Monday-Friday to help with your Actively Learn and other digital tool questions. Find the link for Office Hours and other EdTech resources here!
Recently, Google announced that they will be retiring Classic Google Hangouts. In August, Jeffco will officially transition from Classic Hangouts to Meet and Chat. This means that Classic Hangouts will no longer be available.
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).
Here is the Official Communication
Here is a Tech Tip to support the transition
Updates To Google Meet
Grid View is now part of Meet! Click on the three dots in the lower right-hand corner and then click on "Change Layout". Choose from 3 different layouts: Sidebar, Spotlight, and Tiled. When using Tiled, you can see up to 16 participants at a time.
You will want to delete the Grid View extension from Chrome if you previously added that.
You can now find Google Meet in your Google Calendar! When you create a meeting, you can add a Google Meet to the calendar invite. You can take it one step further and create appointment slots. This would be a great way to set-up specific office hours for students. For support, contact the Ed Tech team.
What is Coming to G-Suite Google Meet (Late 2020)
Google will be releasing many new and exciting functionalities to G-Suite for Education Meet in late 2020!
Cast for Education
WeVideo is one of the core digital tools for staff and students in Jeffco this year. As a result, students and staff have access to a wide range of opportunities to engage in deeper learning activities that personalize and authenticate learning through film and multimedia. Getting started with WeVideo is fairly straight forward and there are plenty of resources such as the WeVideo MMTS to help you get started. (Click on the image below to open the MMTS and start exploring.) However, getting started with using film creation and WeVideo for authentic tasks can be a little more challenging. Here we hope to provide a few ideas and inspirations to help you get started.
Capturing and creating videos as part of instruction can seem daunting at first however, it's doesn't need to be a complicated process. One approach is to begin with photo stories. Challenging students to capture or collect photos that tell a specific story and compiling those photos together with a narrative or background music allows us to practice compiling stories and using video editing tools. Photo stories can be about academic content such as a historical time period, scientific or mathematical processes, or about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They can also be about personal things such as our daily journey to school or our family history. Everyone has different perspectives so our photo stories can be shared to deepen the learning and understandings.
One of the biggest challenges to using technology in classrooms is to ensure it is not a distraction from the larger goals of learning and content mastery. A great way to begin addressing these challenges is to empower students to lead their own learning. As students gain foundational understandings of content, they can be challenged with application of the content and creating products to share their learning and additional understandings. For example in mathematics, we often ask students to memorize key facts and processes but seldom challenge them with application and sharing of the learning. We can empower students to lead their learning by asking them to look for examples in their lives where they can apply the content they're learning and capture those applications to tell their stories. With this challenge, students gain deeper understandings of why content is needed and ways in which it fits into their worlds. Students can then share their creative stories of content application with each other, another class, or students at another school, which leads to deeper learning of the content.
One of the essential skills across many content areas involves the ability to effectively conduct research and compile our findings so we can form argumentative or persuasive claims. As humans, we regularly find ourselves in situations where multiple views are represented and the need to understand and respond respectfully to others is a foundational aspect of any democracy. As students conduct research and capture evidence that supports their claims, they can put together short films with photos or video clips to support their stance. When sharing with each other, students have access to practice listening and summarizing skills that lead can lead to civic and global engagement or the continued development of communication skills necessary to succeed in settings beyond the classroom.
Teachers are experts at creating links between outcomes and learning which drives us all to the continuous search for new ideas and strategies. Here are a few tips to consider as you begin to design learning opportunities involving film and multimedia:
Back in July, Teach Thought published a short piece on 6 Powerful Strategies for Deeper Learning in Your Classroom by Dr. Monica Martinez who is one of the leading experts on deeper learning. These 6 strategies are a great way to get students engaged in learning that involves their passions and interests. Film creation can be used in a variety of ways to implement and achieve all 6 strategies. As students are challenged to create films demonstrating their knowledge and understandings, they are provided additional opportunities to share their learning. Not every film needs to be publicly shared, there might be some short films that are simple reflections allowing us to go back and revisit some of the learnings we gained. Think of them more as selfie videos that are for the purpose of journaling or compiling a personal narrative. Ultimately, remembering the last strategy of "Making Technology the Servant, Not the Master" will help us leverage the power of film in more ways. As we use technology to capture and tell stories rather than consume them, we will be the masters of the digital tools we use and the time in front of a screen will have far greater purpose and outcomes.
Looking for more ideas on how to use film in your instruction? The WeVideo blog is a great place to find ideas and examples.
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.
Digital annotations are not new to the realms of technology and education. Digital annotation tools continue to be available and ever changing. The power of digital annotations rests with the user and their abilities to capture their thinking, as well as, share it with others. In K-12 classrooms, digital annotations can be a great tool that empowers learners to begin capturing their thoughts and ideas leading to artifacts of learning which demonstrate understandings. Digital annotations can also be a great source for digital/e-portfolios allowing learners to reflect on their growth and development.
Why use digital Annotations?
Why should digital annotations be a part of every classroom and learning environment? Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are all fundamental components of learning which lead to critical thinking and digital annotations have the ability to cover all four areas. Digital annotations empower us as learners to engage with text, capture our thoughts, share with others, and gain insights from others thinking. Writing is a great way to process our thinking and allows us to begin identifying the process to where our thinking is going. When we digitally annotate and begin to share those annotations in collaborative spaces, our annotations become the center of collaborative dialogue and learning in which we grow collectively. When we begin to learn about annotating for learning, collaborative spaces for sharing and engaging in digital discussion opens doors to understand annotation strategies and processes from other learners with more annotation experience.
Getting started with Digital Annotations
Where and how to begin using digital annotation tools can be daunting and intimidating however, there are a few simple tools that can empower us as learners to get started on the journey. The comment feature in Google is one of the simplest ways to get started. The feature is available on Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings and a few other tools in the G-Suite. It is even now available on any file housed in Google Drive. Comments can be added to PDF's, images, MS Word documents and more when stored in Google Drive. A simple highlight of targeted text or information allows a user to capture thinking and share thoughts collaboratively.
If you're looking for a more robust tool with increased options, Kami is a great selection. Kami has paid versions with additional features however, the free version has plenty of options that are perfect for learners to get started annotating digitally. Highlighting, underlining, and strikethroughs (in a variety of colors) are all available at no charge. Additional features include adding text, comments, and drawing shapes. Under a 14-day free trial when you begin your account you'll have access to drawing, text to speech and a few other advanced options to try them out. Collaborative annotations with Kami are a breeze and users can save their annotated files in Google Drive if need be. It also works well with Google Classroom.
Digital annotations can occur on web-based material as well. Hypothes.is is a great option to consider for annotating web sites. Hypothes.is is entirely free to all users for all features. The tool was originally created for medical professionals who were collaborating around medical journal readings to increase learning and growth. Hypothes.is requires a login which is fairly simple and free to set up. Users can highlight information on websites and even add annotations (notes) which appear in a side bar. Annotations can be public, private, or in collaborative groups. Tagging annotations is offered as an advanced feature at no charge as well for users to quickly access collaborative discussions or topics. Annotations appear to users when visiting websites while the Hypothes.is extension is enabled.
Digital annotations can be highly beneficial to us as educators along with our students. Collaboration is now easier than ever with access to new technologies and the tools shared above work just as well for adults as they do for kids. Curating and sharing resources saves us all time and energy and digital annotations can be a quick way for us to collaborate across schools, districts, states, and more. How are you thinking about using digital annotations whether for your professional practice or during instruction with students? We'd love to hear your thoughts using the comment section of this post and look forward to learning more about how you are transforming tasks through digital annotations.
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.
New: CLOSED CAPTIONING IN GOOGLE SLIDES
Presenters can now opt to show real-time automated closed captioning while presenting in Google Slides. Google uses your computer's microphone to detect your spoken presentation, much like using the voice-to-text option that is available within many G Suite tools. This feature can help make your presentation more effective for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, non-native speakers, visual learners, and in loud learning environments.
Need to make a recording of your entire mini lesson or direct instruction while teaching? Enable the closed captioning feature and use a screencasting tool, wuch as Screencast-o-matic or Screencastify, to record the progression and pacing of the slides WITH the words you are speaking. This video can be distributed to students via Google Classroom or embedded on a website so that students who missed instruction or need reteaching can watch the video on an as-needed basis.
For directions on using automated captions visit the Google Help Center