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!
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!
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.
This blog post is by Tracy Peronard, a math teacher at Dakota Ridge High School. She has had a fascinating career track and shares some amazing insights into how Book Creator can be used for creative instruction and to set examples for students when using Jeffco Digital Tools.
Tracy has been teaching in Jeffco for nine years, eight of which have been at Dakota Ridge. She is from Atlanta, GA. and has a BS in Management from Georgia Tech. Tracy also completed a post-baccalaureate program at Georgia State University in Secondary Mathematics Education and is working to finish her Masters in Mathematics in the fall. Tracy and her husband moved to Littleton, CO. in 1998 where she was a stay at home mom for the first few years. In 2001, she went to work for the Lakewood Police Department as an Investigative Technician. She then left the LPD in 2010 and returned to the classroom. Her son graduated from Dakota Ridge in 2011 and her daughter graduated from Lakewood High School in 2014. She likes to run, play soccer, and go to the gym.
Tracy currently teaches trigonometry and Integrated Math 3. The Math 3 class is comprised entirely of juniors who are working on a math Capstone Project to fulfill the new graduation requirement. Tracy uses technology almost everyday in her math classroom. Thank you Tracy for sharing your expertise with us!
Dakota Ridge High School went 1:1 three years ago. I was excited that my students would each have a device of their own. I dove head first into the technology pool. Despite a lot of groaning from my geometry students, I had them use Geogebra for many tasks that once had been paper and pencil lessons and activities. By the end of the first six weeks, most students were able to successfully use the technology that I presented to them. Through Google Classroom, I provided links to various resources for my students. Since Chromebooks were new for both myself and my students, there were some bumps along the way. My students let me know what was good and more importantly what was bad.
This school year, I started teaching Trigonometry. The school has a set of books that the students can use in the classroom but the students cannot take the textbooks home. I saw students taking pictures of problem sets from the book. They did not take pictures of any of the examples, definitions, or formulas. I also noticed that students rarely used the textbook if they had access to the material electronically.
Nick Steinmetz (Jeffco Ed Tech Specialist) and our DTL Robin Luster, did professional development training at the start of this school year that included a brief overview of the new digital tools that were available throughout Jeffco. Book Creator was one of those tools. Initially, I was not interested. Nick used the example of English teachers using Book Creator; and I thought how fun it would be to have my math students write pages of a math book. From that "aha" moment came a spark. What if I wrote a book for my students?
Trigonometry is a one semester class. The first unit covers some topics that I taught my Honors Geometry students. I knew that I had some electronic resources that I wanted to share with my students; so I decided that I would write a book for this first unit. I worried that the book might flop, but I had not invested a lot of time writing a book covering only one unit. I decided not to start Unit 2 until I had feedback from the students.
The best part about writing an eBook is that you can include links to Geogebra activities, Khan Academy practice problems, and my own videos showing how to do select problems. The other advantage to putting all the resources into a book was that students did not have to search Google Classroom to find one old video or link. I watched a YouTube video to learn more about how to use Book Creator, then I started writing.
This is a snapshot from the Unit 1 book. It has a link to a Geogebra activity and an example video about Coterminal Angles.
Like all new tools, there was a learning curve. I clicked on every button to see what would happen. Sometimes, I discovered things by accident. The first few pages were slow, but by the time I had written the material for the first lesson, I felt fairly competent. I was hooked. I worked on the book on and off for a few days before school started. Once it was complete, I was proud of myself.
It did not matter how enamored I was of the Trigonometry Unit 1 book, because the true test was whether or not the students found value in it. I put a link to the book on Google Classroom and told the students that it was there. Not only did the book contain the Google Slides presentation that I would use in class but it had so much more, including homework for each lesson. Below is the Google Classroom post I showed my students when I introduced them to the book.
When it was time for the first test, the book became a valued resource to some of the students. I knew that some students would not use it, but my hope was that a few students would. Much to my delight, I had students ask if I was going to write a book for the next unit. That was all I wanted to hear. You can see the Unit 1 book here.
Since the first book, I have written one for each unit of Trigonometry and they have been easy to revise. The students like the interactivity of the book and students who want to work ahead now have a resource available so they can be self-paced. I use the same language when I talk in class as what is written. The two biggest sells for writing an eBook are that I am not trying to fit my way of teaching to a textbook that is 20 years old; and that I am presenting material to my students in a format that is tailored to their way of learning.
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.
Make any Google Slide Presentation Interactive with Pear Deck
Pear Deck is an online tool that provides formative assessment in real time. It's web-based so it works on any device. Teachers are able to check for understanding in their classroom through a variety of question types. When teachers use Pear Deck they are able to adapt instruction based on student understanding and students can receive feedback in real time.
How Does Pear Deck Work?
Pear Deck is an Add-on that works with Google Slides so it is easy to use! We have automatically added it for you in Google Slides! To utilize Pear Deck, you can create a new Google Slides presentation or add Pear Deck to an existing presentation. Once you've opened the Pear Deck Add-on, you can create your own questions or use the Template Library.
Pear Deck Math Templates
Get Started with Pear Deck
Here are some great ways to start using Pear Deck in your classroom:
Formative Assessment with Pear Deck
Pear Deck is designed so that all students are engaged in the learning. Students answer questions in real time and teachers are able to give quick, immediate feedback to the students. Teachers can see who is answering and able to project student responses that are anonymous. Through the teacher dashboard, teachers can see each student's responses. Teachers can even add a question on the fly to help alleviate misconceptions or get additional information from the class. At the end of the session, teachers are able to publish student takeaways. These takeaways are sent to the students and the teachers.
Present With Pear Deck
After creating your slides or adding your questions, it's time to present. Make sure to use the green present with Pear Deck Button. When you Present with Pear Deck, your students will join your class with a code and your lesson can get underway. Pear Deck is a great tool to get students and staff engaged in their learning. Being a Google Add-on allows anyone to create a Pear Deck slide presentation. Contact your Ed Tech Specialist or your Digital Teach Librarian to get started using Pear Deck.
This post is brought to us by Abby Smith, a Math teacher at Pomona High School. Abby has been working with her students and technology integration this year to Transform Student Tasks. Abby shares here an incredible example of how she is working to make learning relevant for students as she seeks to provide them expanded opportunities to develop the Jeffco Generations skills through math and technology. We are grateful to Abby for sharing her expertise and learning as she seeks to make learning with digital tools purposeful for her students.
“When are we ever going to use this?” As a high school math teacher, I despise this question. Let me rephrase, I used to despise this question. Now I see it as a challenge. Students are living in a different world than most of us in the education profession experienced as high school students. These kiddos have a powerful device within reach most moments of the day that can answer questions with a quick Google search. Today's students do not see the value in having information readily stored in the back of their brain because it is stored in their phone. As an educator, I have seen it as my role to help students realize how the information we cover in the classroom can help them make decisions instead of answer questions. This is how my accommodated algebra classroom transformed into a medieval war zone during our unit on graphing parabolas.
Let’s rewind to my first few years in the classroom. My students completed worksheets, occasionally used tools like Plickers or Desmos, and then completed a test. We did fine on standardized assessments, yet every year, students are retaught some of the same material from years before and the lower students act like they’ve never seen the stuff before. I began asking a similar question as my kids were asking: Why am I teaching this material? I became unmotivated to continue the fight to convince struggling kids that the material was important when I didn’t believe in it’s value for my students who struggled the most.
To aid in the transition with 1:1 devices as a new pilot program at Pomona High School, I was apart of a cohort lead by EdTech Specialist Nick Steinmetz. Nick challenged the members of the group to take risks and learn with their students. We were charged with Transforming the Task in our classroom in new ways that were not available before the chromebooks were assigned to our students. I decided to transform the unit on graphing parabolas. My goal was to leave the unit with students being able to answer the question: “How can graphing parabolas help me make decisions?”
The idea of recreating medieval warfare came to me while researching parabola PBL’s. The path of an object catapulted follows a parabola. We started to build catapults out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, clothes pins and more. Once we learned the basics of graphing parabolas in various forms, we started our project of bombing enemy ships just as Hannibal did with snake bombs during the Punic War. (Pause now and research it!)
Students filmed the flight of their catapult with their phones (here is a video example), used Webpaint to find exact points the object flew and imported a screenshot of the flight of the object into Desmos. For the majority of my students who didn’t know how to take a screenshot, this was challenging but they began to see how valuable their new devices could be. At this point, they utilized their knowledge of the equations of quadratics and how the parabola is graphed to create the equation that best represents the flight of their catapult.
Now we were ready to put their project to the test. Students were tasked with bombing an enemy ship that was approaching a cliff. The cliff (desk) was a given height (27 inches). The students had to decide how far away the ship (saucepan) needed to be in order to bomb it within 3 attempts by using the graph of their parabola. Once finished, students reflected on the main question: How can graphing parabolas help me make decisions? Best of all, this project was a quiz score which assessed if the students understood how to write the equation of parabolas and determined if students could use the graph to decide the distance a ship needed to be off shore before bombing the ship.
There were parts of this project that made us want to scream. To my one group who had to re-film the flight of their catapult 5 times, I think you can agree with this last statement! There were parts of this project that made us laugh and cheer. My students were flabbergasted when their prediction was accurate when attempting the final bombing. Students who were unsuccessful asked to try again in order to be more accurate. Most importantly, this project sparked energetic mathematical conversations with my students. I have found that students are more likely to give an honest effort if they can see the curriculum come to life beyond a worksheet. While there are aspects of the project that I will change for next year, I can safely say that taking the risk with a group of tough students was a challenge that I will try more often! Here is a link for the student directions to the project.
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.
Stephanie is a first grade teacher at Foster Elementary, a Title I school in the Arvada Area. She has graciously penned this blog as a way to share her learning around how she has integrated STEM to transform the learning experience for primary students.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter @STEMphanieTime for more inspiring ideas!
Empathy Inspires Change
My love of STEM came about a couple of years ago. I was in my 11th year teaching, and it was the first time in my career that I was actually considering leaving the profession. I was unhappy, and my passion was gone; how could my students learn if I wasn’t passionate?
Everything changed during a school technology committee meeting when I was tasked with figuring out why teachers were not using our 3D printer. There was just one problem…I had no idea how to use a 3D printer. My school was, and is, a STEM school, but we were still in the very beginning stages of trying to figure out what that meant.
Ideas Create a Path Forward
I started little by little. First, I taught myself how to use the printer; then how to print something. Finally, I tried creating my own model to print. Everyday I was a little bit happier. It was fun, and I started including students in my learning process. We learned how to fail together and succeed together. It was a long and slow process, and I had a lot of help from Jacquie Adkins, a Jeffco TOSA who specializes in science. We found a program called Maker’s Empire that made creating and printing 3D models easy for first graders to use! Students’ behavior improved because they were engaged and motivated to design and print their own models.
Prototyping the Student Experience
I figured if changing the student task through 3D printing was working so well, maybe I should try adding other STEM-related tasks to my students’ learning experience. Through code.org, I learned coding and then taught my students how to code. The more I learned, the more I integrated it into my classroom. As a result, my students’ were more engaged and their behavior continued to improve. Students learned that failure is a part of the learning process and started using it to fix their mistakes. I also noticed that they were much more willing to take risks because they knew that our classroom was a safe place, whether their answers were right or wrong.
Flash forward to my class today; it looks a lot different than it did a few years ago, and my passion for teaching is back! At the beginning of this journey, I would use technology just because I wanted to see how it works. Now I choose digital tools that match my lessons' learning objectives. Students are held accountable with apps like Showbie and Pear Deck. They use the 3D printer for creating beginning of the year nametags, bringing characters to life, and designing products to sell for our economics unit. Our bulletin boards come to life with Augmented Reality, which shows our work and enhances our goals. Even when we aren’t using our iPads, our STEM philosophy always remains: we strive for learning from our failures, adjusting our thinking when something isn’t working, and using collaboration to help us see tasks from a different angle.
Testing our TEaching
STEM is changing the landscape of our teaching in a good way. It allows us to are create an environment where students can learn and fail forward without fear of receiving bad grades. It gives choice to students and encourages them to learn real-world skills that they will be able to transfer to jobs they will have in the future. Teachers can weave STEM into every content area and grade level. It's is not just a subject, it is how I teach and how my students learn. As educators, we need to take a risk to transform the task and continue to better adapt our teaching. STEM changed how I taught and I became a better teacher because of that.