Entering our third year of TechforEd, the Ed Tech team wanted to create opportunities for our 5th grade students to learn the digital tools through an asynchronous course. Students start by joining a Google Classroom for the following tools: Adobe Spark, WeVideo, Book Creator, or Soundtrap. These four tools all allow for the 4 C's: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication. The students have an opportunity to grow their own knowledge and choose how they want to show their understanding of the digital tools through their creations.
Using the Tools
Each of the Google Classroom course begin with learning around using the tools designed specifically for 5th grade students. Then the students complete the course by submitting their own creation to the Ed Tech Team. So far we've seen videos, books in Book Creator, music made with Soundtrap, flyers, and web pages.
Our 5th-grade student ambassadors are learning more than just technical skills with the Digital Tools Student Course. They are now taking on a leadership role in our school and sharing what they have learned with their younger peers. ~Jessica Jones, Media Specialist, Kendallvue Elementary
Lucy, a 5th grader, created this story using Book Creator. She was able to import pictures, use existing backgrounds, and write a story about a gorilla told from the gorilla's perspective. Before she created the book, Lucy worked through the course to learn the different elements of Book Creator so that she could utilize the different multimedia tools available.
Beckett at Wilmot created this flyer using Adobe Spark. He chose to pick a relevant topic to show his creativity and was an innovative designer as he worked through the process of learning a new tool. As more and more students complete the course, the more students have the knowledge of the tool and can then help their classmates and teachers too!
Learning & Creating Independently
"This type of independent, self-driven learning helps differentiate for kids what they are interested in and has them very motivated to learn new technology!" ~Lisa Polacsek, Digital Teacher Librarian, Vanderhoof Elementary
5th grade students all across the district can now learn the functionality of several of the district purchased digital tools. This allows them to have more voice and choice with showing their learning! For more information contact the Ed Tech Team.
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a structure to provide consistent access to instruction and resources. It provides a pathway for students, families and teachers to access the learning and feedback at all times. Many teachers and families had their first experiences with an LMS in response to Covid-19. However, a Learning Management System, whether it be Schoology, Google Classroom, or Seesaw has a purpose and a place far beyond a pandemic.
In a world where all educators are working to guide students to become Global Collaborators, Creative Communicators, Knowledge Constructors, Empowered Learners, and engaged Digital Citizens we need to provide the structures and spaces that authentically deliver these opportunities on a daily basis. A well organized and thoughtfully implemented LMS is the foundation to this work.
Access to a Learning Management System provides students:
For Our Families
Use of a consistent LMS means that caretakers will have peace of mind knowing their students have access to all the resources listed above. It also means that families will:
Learning Management Systems in jeffco
It is hard to believe that it is already May! As we wrap up the 2020-2021 school year, students, teachers and parents are looking forward to summer vacation. Many of us have spent way too much time looking at screens this school year and are hoping to power down and enjoy some unplugged time. We all are hoping to find activities to do this summer without a screen and that will help students stay on track and not be part of the “summer slide.” This slide may affect students of all ages. Studies show that students who read during the summer gain an average of 1 month of reading proficiency. Students who don’t read lose an average of 2-3 months of proficiency and over time, those lost months add up to years. By high school, 2/3 of the reading achievement gap can be attributed to summer learning loss during the elementary years. One way students can avoid the slide is to participate in the Jefferson County Public Library Summer Challenge.
This year's library summer challenge is titled “Wild Ideas.” Registration opened on May 1st and the challenge runs from June 1st to July 31st. The Summer Challenge has many different ways to engage students. The activities are categorized by Read, Explore and Connect. As students complete activities, they are eligible for prizes. This is a great way to motivate students and to keep students learning while school is not in session. Just for signing up, students can either receive a sticker or a PopTart, yes I said Pop Tarts! Other prizes include an Elitch Gardens pass, iPads and of course books. Learn more about prizes and sponsors here.
Participating in the challenge can also provide schools with some much needed funds. The school with the highest number of finishers wins $800. This will help schools purchase books in a time when budgets are low and Digital Teacher Librarians are trying to recoup the loss of books from COVID circumstances. Last year's winners all used their money to build their collections and resources. Tobye Ertelt, DTL from Oberon Middle School, purchased some new graphic novels, fiction and nonfiction books as well as some ebooks. Heather Kramer, DTL from Devinny, Elementary School, purchased more PebbleGo modules so that students, both remote and face to face, had access to this amazing resource. Wheat Ridge High School’s DTL, Debbie Livingston, spruced up her fiction section to entice high school students to check out more books.
Finally, participants earn points which go towards Jeffco Eats, a program that provides food to Jeffco residents. For every 1 million points we earn as a group, Jeffco Eats will get $100, up to a maximum of $500.
As the countdown to vacation is on, please encourage your students to sign up for the Summer Challenge at Jefferson County Public Library. If you have any questions ask your Digital Teacher Librarian.
School budgets are always a sore subject--especially when we are also experiencing a pandemic. Often, schools need to be creative on where to find extra pots of money. This year, like past years, schools and districts looked to grants. One grant that provides many school district library departments and public libraries with funding is the Colorado State Libraries Grant.
The Colorado State Libraries is a division of the Colorado Department of Education. Their mission is to help libraries, schools, museums, and other organizations improve services, making it easier for all Coloradans to access and use the materials and information they need for lifelong learning. Every year they offer the State Libraries Grant for school districts as well as public libraries to apply for funding. These funds help libraries provide resources they would otherwise be unable to afford.
Once again, Heidi Floyd, Library Services Coordinator, applied for the grant and was awarded a little over $20,000. Heidi spends countless hours to ensure that the funding will affect as many of our students as possible. She begins by gathering feedback from DTL’s (Digital Teacher Librarians) on what resources they feel will be most helpful to their staff and students.
In previous years many of our students have benefited from these funds. Last year, over half of our elementary schools received a one year subscription to one module from the online database Pebble Go. This is a favorite database for both students and staff. It is a safe, fun, curriculum-based research tool to use with our younger students that allows them to research a topic on their own. Not only does this database provide engaging material, it also will read the text to students which improves accessibility for all students.
Another purchase with last year's grant money was padcasting and podcasting (videocasting) kits. These kits have all the necessary supplies one would need to create a podcast or a padcast/vlog. Using these kits empowers students to become creative communicators (ISTE Standards). Schools may check out the kits for two weeks at a time. For more information go to the Ed Tech page.
With this year’s grant money we will again be purchasing a module from Pebble Go. The exciting part is that we get to purchase it for ALL our elementary schools. After gathering feedback from our DTL’s, we are changing it up this year and will be purchasing the Science module. This will offer all elementary students the opportunity to use Pebble Go to research or just to learn more about different science topics. Some of the topics are Physical Science, Important Inventions, Math, Science and Engineering Practices and many more. All in all, teachers and students will be learning a lot over the next year as they dive into this engaging online resource.
The State Libraries Grant will be supplying middle and high schools with sets of Lightbox interactive books. These books incorporate videos, Google Maps, worksheets, audio, quizzes, and other exciting interactive features. Each bundle provides unlimited access the ebook, along with a hard copy for the library. Middle schools will receive an Ancient Empires and Civilizations bundle made up of 6 different titles and High schools will receive a Psychology bundle, consisting of 5 unique titles; both supporting the social studies curriculum.
These resources are a great addition to our schools this year when so many things are in flux. Students will be able to use these resources to complete assignments, but also have the opportunity to just use them to explore new topics on their own. If you have any questions please ask your Digital Teacher Librarian.
With National Library Lover's month starting in just a few days, we thought it would be great to share some of the work that has been happening in libraries over the past 10 months.
Since March 2020 our schools have worked through a flux of transitions between remote learning, in-person learning, and hybrid learning. Not just once but multiple times during the school year, depending on the health and status of each cohort, class, school, our county and the state. As our schools have focused on supporting students and families while continuing the learning, our school libraries have continued to work to meet the needs of each instructional mode, safely providing access to resources and instruction for students and staff.
Libraries are the heart of the school community. Often referred to as the hub of the school, school libraries offer support for all students and their families, host community events, hold a diverse collection of books and resources for all, offer a place for all learners to explore interests and provide an instructional partner for teachers in the Digital Teacher Librarian (DTL). DTLs serve many roles in a school, but one of the most critical is to be a partner and coach for teachers, as teachers and DTLs collaborate and explore innovation in their teaching practice, in particular integrating technology and critical thinking skills throughout lessons.
The work for libraries, in particular our Digital Teacher Librarians, preceding the pandemic helped to prepare our schools for a smoother transition into remote learning. Grounded in the ISTE Standards, DTLs authentically embed digital literacy skills in content, working to prepare our students to be future ready citizens. Information and Media Literacy coupled with fostering a love of reading, DTLs curate relevant and meaningful resources for all students, providing opportunities through instruction to reflect and grow as learners.
In a traditional, non-pandemic setting, the library is a busy space all on its own. Now with the added challenges that come with properly quarantining resources and overseeing the management of the library in a whole new way we have found some great opportunities and continue to address the evolving challenges.
Bradford K-8 South Digital Teacher Librarian, Denise Cushing, found a new way to connect with students and promote a love of reading with their “Breakfast and Books” program. The group, of over 40 (mostly Kindergarten - 2nd grade) students, meet online weekly before school starts and engage in discussions and share books. Over Winter Break, Mrs. Cushing and the students participated in Read Across America and shared titles connected to states, such as Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (Utah) and Big Moon Tortilla by Joy Cowley (Arizona).
From the start of the pandemic the request for books to be read aloud has been resounding nationwide. Publishers have responded and have temporarily adjusted their copyright permissions during this time to allow read alouds. With the guidelines shared, students and teacher librarians have found new ways to share their love of literature.
Kyle Walker, Digital Teacher Librarian at both Kullerstrand Elementary and Maple Grove Elementary, recently shared his read-aloud of Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, retold by Eric A. Kimmel. (you can watch as snippet of the video below).
Another success during the pandemic, students discovered new access to thousands of ebooks on their school library websites (Destiny Discover Library System). This is the result of a project three years in the making that happened to come together in the Spring of 2020.
During the periods of in-person learning, school libraries have worked to continue to support the desire for books. More now than ever before students appreciate and miss the ability to browse the stacks of books in the library. Our elementary libraries are working diligently to fill the demands as students request and place Holds on selections of books. The challenge in this time is managing the balance of properly allowing books to sit in quarantine for 72 hours, pulling the requested titles and (the best part) delivering the books to students in their cohorts. Our DTLs have had to think creatively about how best to support teacher and student requests, some schools are managing well over 200 requests at a time. Now, 10 months into this pandemic each day seems to get a little bit smoother.
Delivering books to students in classes has been one of the highlights throughout this time -the students are all so excited for new books!
Secondary students have been managing remote and hybrid learning throughout the school year. Middle School and High School libraries have worked to support students and staff through the new and innovative formats of asynchronous and synchronous learning. It has been a challenge to support the ever growing demands of overseeing the management of thousands of TechforEd devices deployed throughout the district, while continuing to keep the focus on the instructional practices that have grounded our DTLs, as they are teachers first.
Angie Wagner, DTL at Bear Creek High school, shared that she feels that one positive that has come from this time is that , “The students appreciate our space and all we do more, knowing how good it used to be when they could come and hang or work on work, a place to recharge.” While the challenge has been “Helping those students who really like coming in and thumbing through books. They like to put their hands on them, see the size of the font, the length, etc.”
At Conifer High School, Digital Teacher Librarian Karen McIntosh, reached out to the author of Watermarked, Danielle Butler, from the UK and connected her virtual reading group for an author visit.
Colleen Sologub-Sobering, DTL at Brady High School, said it well when she shared, “We are a conduit for our students and our teachers and staff to navigate through this uncertain time. They are looking to us for help in researching, learning, and trying new things. Not that this is so unusual, but it is the fact that we are working without always seeing the kids face to face, but we are helping them as much as we can.”
So if you get a chance this February - share some love with your school libraries! It will be greatly appreciated.
check out "The Elementary ELement" Below:
Jeffco's one stop curriculum resource shop for K-5 teachers!
No doubt you have grown familiar with the concept of screencasting: Creating a recording of your screen or face (or both!) for demonstration and communication purposes. Below is a quick list of best practices and considerations for creating engaging videos for your students, staff or the community! While Screencastify is the premium screencasting tool for Jeffco Public Schools, the hints below are useful even if you’re using another application or web tool!
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!
This year's summer reading contest was different than any other summer reading program Jefferson County Public Library has ever created. The program was completed 100% virtually and expanded to include activity tracks for writing, thinking, doing and playing. The theme was Imagine Your Story which allowed participants to choose their own quests to follow all summer long. In the past, most of the record keeping was done by paper, however this year tracking was done through a digital platform which allowed JCPL a safer way track participation.
The virtual format provided many different types of activities that allowed students to participate easily from their homes. There were storytimes, coding camps, crafternoons and mental fitness programs to name a few. The JCPL staff also created lists of books they recommend. One of those lists encouraged spending time outside by pairing local trails with related books. One could pop in some headphones and learn about bears while hiking on a local trail. Overall, there were over 318,998 different literacy based activities to chose from to complete your quest.
Another favorite part of the contest was earning funds for Foothills Animal Shelter. Just by signing up participants were working towards helping care for animals at the Shelter. By the end of the contest they had earned over $300 for the shelter.
And now for The winners...
The JCPL Summer Reading Contest was extended an extra month to coincide with the start of school and officially concluded on August 31st. The first place schools were: Kyffin Elementary - Preschool, Devinny Elementary, Oberon Middle School, Wheat Ridge High School and Excel Academy. Each school will be receiving a trophy and each of their libraries will be receiving a check for $800. Just like everything else this year the actual award ceremony will also be different. JCPL will be creating and sharing pre-recorded celebrations for the winners. If you participated in Summer Reading, be sure to connect with your local library to pick up your prizes and complete the wrap up survey, if you have not already done so.
Like past years, this year was a big success for JCPL and all the Jeffco Schools participants. Thanks JCPL for giving our students an opportunity to imagine their own story in a world of uncertainty. As summer ends and we move into winter we can only dream about what next summer has in store for us.
“Change will come our way. We can go through it or we can grow through it. We grow when we seek out solutions rather than let obstacles hinder us.” - George Curous, Innovator's Mindset.
School Libraries in 2020
School libraries are often considered the hub or heart of the school community. Frequently, their goal centers around the ability to provide the essential resources that empower students to become lifelong learners, with an avid love of reading.
When you picture a school library typically it is the stillness and quiet of books and print resources that first come to mind, but in 2020 the school library is so much more. Today’s library continues to embrace and promote reading at its core, but also promotes creativity, communication, collaboration, and innovation through a multitude of ever adapting activities including programming and Computer Science, STEM and Makerspace, Book Clubs, and Geek Squads. Technology integration is a part of the fabric in the libraries of today. In March of 2019 the demand for access to digital resources changed. As we have long anticipated, technology has found it’s space as an essential resource in education next to paper, pencil and textbooks. It is not the only tool but it is an essential tool in the 21st century.
Last school year alone, elementary students checked out over 89,000 ebooks provided through this partnership. Today, the culmination of efforts can be seen, as we are now able to extend this opportunity to the remaining schools that use our Follett Destiny Discover Library system. It is a true collaboration and combination of efforts between Jefferson County Public Library, Jeffco schools, Baker & Taylor (Axis 360 Community Share) and our Follett Destiny Library system colleagues that have made this possible.
Students and staff are able to access the curated collections that align with our library guidelines, seamlessly by logging into their school’s Destiny Discover account with their individual credentials. Students are limited to borrowing ten ebooks or audiobooks at a time and titles are automatically returned to the eshelf, without any worry about due dates or lost books. Because the books are accessed through the Follett Destiny platform there are a variety of digital annotation tools provided. Not only can students highlight text, take notes, and search for keywords or phrases, students may also have the text read to them (depending on publisher permissions). Direct links to titles can be added to any learning management system including Google Classroom, Seesaw, and Schoology.
And Finally, the How...
To learn more about how to access these digital resources, view the presentation and videos linked below and on our Ed Tech Youtube channel under the playlist for Follett Destiny Discover. If you have questions or wonder about how to use this resource in your classroom please reach out to your schools’ Digital Teacher Librarian. Watch for more titles to be added to the collection as the year progresses!
View the informational presentation and videos here.
Summer Reading UPdate & New Resources...
Did you know…that Jefferson County is comprised of 773 square miles (or 494,588 acres) and has approximately 580,000 residents across the county?
With such a large county we have some amazing resources that are available to all of our residents and in our case, all of our students and staff. Jefferson County Public Library and Jeffco Schools have historically had a supportive partnership, over the last few years this parternship has grown dynamically and continues today. The collaboration supports a variety of experiences, from the Summer Reading program to the Jeffco/JCPL newsletter that supports our DTLs and teachers to STEM Clubs (and upcoming MS EPIC STEM program) as well as Speed Dating with a Book and other literacy based ventures in schools.
Our Jeffco Squared team (comprised of Jeffco’s Library Services Coordinator & a mix of JCPL teams) meet monthly to collaborate and find more ways to bridge our work in order to support our community. Beyond the summer reading challenge, one of the other topics we discuss on a regular basis is the collection online tools and databases that are available for use. Listed below is the 2019 Summer Reading Challenge update along with a small selection of tools available through JCPL.
Summer Reading Contest
The JCPL Summer Reading Contest concluded in August and now the results are in! Each of the following schools will be receiving a trophy and each of their libraries will be receiving a check for $800. To read more about the contest and to see where other schools ranked, visit the JCPL website.
The resources mentioned below are all available through JCPL, and can be accessed with a JCPL library card. These tools have been vetted by the district and approved for use. However, they are not district supported - meaning that staff need to contact the vendor or JCPL to work through potential issues, as Jeffco IT does not manage the technical side of these tools. Kanopy has been vetted by Jeffco, however the platform is best used by teachers, as it is not filtered and contains adult content.
Mango Languages describes themselves as, “the only single solution that combines quality content, intelligent technology, and an adaptive algorithm that delivers practical phrases from real situations”. Just recently, Mango Languages increased the total number of languages they support to 71 different & unique languages!
They offer engaging interactive lessons in everything from the most common languages studied, such as Spanish, English, French, and Chinese to unique languages such as Bengali, Dutch and even Pirate! Participants can easily access Mango by visiting the JCPL site and entering their library card number. There is no need to create an account, as users can particpate by selecting guest user at the Mango login screen.
CreativeBug is a new addition to JCPLs collection of resources this year. It has been vetted by Jeffco and is an approved resource that like Mango Languages, is not district supported. Creativebug does offer online video arts and crafts workshops and techniques. Particpants can learn how to paint, knit, crochet, sew, screen print, and more. Their topics range from Art and Design to Furniture Refinishing to Cake decorating and Canning.
Some ideas for curriculum connections with CreativeBug, include using the videos as
Kanopy (Teacher REsource)
An additional resource that is great for teachers is Kanopy. Kanopy is a tool similar to that of YouTube, in that it offers a wide variety of videos. In Kanopy Kids, they offer popular book titles as videos including documentaries, Global Studies, Education, Instructional Films and Lessons. Kanopy also offers an elementary based collection for preschool and up. Kanopy Kids categories include Learning Languages, Animated Storybooks and Classic Films. The Animated Storybooks category in Kanopy Kids is a great resource for our elementary teachers, when connecting literacy to learning.
These are just a few of the many tools JCPL offers their patrons. If you have questions about the resources and databases available please connect with your schools' Digital Teacher Librarian to find out what resources might support your next unit.