Jeffco Ed Tech welcomes Guest Bloggers: Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey, from Dunstan Middle School.
At Dunstan Middle School, the computer science department is composed of Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey. Together these two teachers cover a very wide range of computer science material in order to prepare students for high school and beyond.
In Janna Golgart’s Computer Science courses students begin by learning the basics of encryption, decryption, using cyphers, as well as learning the basics of binary. From there students progress to block based programming and then on to Python text language. CodeCombat is a wonderful resource for Janna's students to begin Python with, and then advance to CodeHS. CodeHS reinforces and is more challenging which strengthens students’ Python skills. Ms. Golgart's Computer Science course also gives students the opportunity to explore robotics using Spheros. Students learn how to program the Sphero, then create a maze and program the robots to complete the maze. In addition, students learn about physical computing using Raspberry Pi’s and create circuits. This class gives students a strong foundation of computer science.
Video Game Design
In Mrs. Golgart’s Video Design course, students learn the basics of video game design programming and graphic design. Students then use several different software applications such as GameMaker, Scratch, Agentsheets, and Agentcubes to apply their programming and graphic design skills, seeing how the concepts and execution transfer from program to program. In addition, students learn and create animations which is a key part of video game design. Animator and GameMaker are both used to create these animations. This course provides students the opportunity to display their creativity.
Mr. Starkey also has a separate Robotics course, in which students alternate between an online robotic simulator, Microbit robots, and Lego EV3 robots. The online simulator is through RobomindAcademy.com. This site introduces students to the basics of robotics through script based programming. The Microbit unit combines Makerspace with programming. Students are given the opportunity to create a cardboard robot combining Microbit motors & control boards, then programming the robots to participate in a drag race against other students. The Microbit robots provide a great resource for students to learn different block based programming as well as put some creativity into their robots. The majority of the class, however, is based around the Lego EV3 robots. Students begin with basic movements, then progress to the different sensors available. Students program the EV3 with block code and use the EV3s to complete several different types of obstacle courses.
Mrs. Golgart and Mr. Starkey have also participated in several industry related field trips and guest speakers. These include a trip to the Boulder Google campus & Dire Wolf Digital as well as guest speakers from Colorado School Mines, CodeHS, and Amazon Web Services. Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey have dedicated a lot of time and effort into making a strong and respected Computer Science program at Dunstan Middle School.
Thank you for sharing your program with Jeffco teachers and the Ed Tech Team!
*Please see the Jeffco Approved Digital Tools page for approved status of tools mentioned above.
Did you know that April is National School Library Month? 30 days to celebrate the staff & collection of resources that come together to support schools.
Most Jeffco schools are supported by a digital teacher librarian (DTL). DTLs are teacher leaders, who collaborate and co-teach with fellow teachers. The focus in these collaborations is supporting student learning within the curriculum while authentically integrating technology and information literacy skills. DTLs also work to create a library space that is an inviting hub of the school with a well curated library collection that promotes a love of literacy.
Be sure to stop in and say "Hi!" to your Digital Teacher Librarian, they would love to see you!
In previous blog posts we shared the partnership with JCPL and the Community Shares ebook collection that is accessible through Destiny Discover. We also shared an update on the State Libraries grant and how all elementary students now have access to PebbleGo Science, while middle school and high school students each have access to an interactive ebook collection purchased for their school (with a print copy for their school libraries).
And as of March 24th, students and staff now have ease of access to a curated collection of audiobooks through our Community Shares partnership with Jefferson County Public Library. These audiobooks are accessible on our Destiny Discover library platform. To learn more about accessing the audiobooks on Destiny Discover, please talk with your school's Digital Teacher Librarian.
Benefits of audiobooks
We Are Teachers, 7 Ways Audiobooks Benefit Students Who Struggle with Reading
From author Jon Scieszka (2008)
‘In my Guys Read work, I’ve met all kinds of boys who are crazy for audiobooks. I think it’s partially because audiobooks appeal to a lot of guys’ love for messing around with any kind of technology. … Guys also think they are getting away with something by listening instead of reading. We don’t have to tell them that they are learning vocabulary, story structure, sentence composition, and a dozen other literacy skills.’
Opportunities AudioBooks provide:
For further reading, from the National Literacy Trust, Audiobooks and Literacy: A Rapid Review of the Literature
Screencastify and Google Slides
"App Smashing", the act of using more than one digital tool at the same time for a student product, can yield creative results. This blog outlines how to "smash" Screencastify and Google Slides for student reflection.
From the blog:
In her article Digital Portfolios: The Art of Reflection, Beth Holland points out that when students reflect on their learning experiences, “they become more aware of the processes and strategies that make them successful, allowing them to learn from their successes as well as their challenges or failures.” Thus, a reflection journal that also includes video screencasts not only provides students with the opportunity to look back and reflect on their work, but also facilitates a media-rich experience for doing so.
Fortunately, Google Slides offers two great features — the ability to easily create links to outside content and the ability to play YouTube videos in a slide — that can be combined with screencasts to enable students from elementary school through high school to create powerful video reflection journals in just a few steps.
In all, students could create a media-rich screencast after writing an essay, creating a presentation, constructing a drawing, or creating any type of artifact of learning and reflect on their learning using audio and video. In their reflection, they could discuss their process of creation, their feelings of success, or explore the challenges they experienced along the way.
Some reflection questions students might discuss are:
Is this my best work?
What could I have done to improve this essay?
Why was I successful when I created this presentation?
What will I do differently next time to augment the process?
What did I learn?
How did I learn?
Why do I think that I learned the way that I learned?
Google Drive is our storage area for all Google files.
Read on to see how Drive is so much more than cloud storage.
The priority page allows you to access the files you need through a combination of suggestion and work spaces.
The prioritized files are the documents that Google thinks are most relevant to you. It will also pull up files that you open regularly at that time of the day or week.
Make it Visual
Store files in two places at once.
You can make a file appear in more than one folder by using shortcuts. This is different than making a copy, as the shortcut traces back to the original file. Anybody with access to the folder can see the shortcut. However, if they don't have access to the actual file, they won't be able to open the shortcut.
To make a shortcut right-click the file and select Add Shortcut to Drive.
Convert Microsoft Files and PDFs to Google.
Upload a Word file or PDF to Drive by dragging it from your desktop into the correct folder in Google Drive. You can also click the +New button in Drive and then select "File Upload." Then, in Drive, right-click your Microsoft file and choose "Open With" and choose the appropriate Google Match for your file
Keep multiple versions of a file.
From Drive right click on the file and click "Manage Versions." You can then upload and save a new version of the same file. Versions will be deleted after 30 days unless you manually select "Keep Forever."
Use the Explore button.
You will find a star shaped button at the bottom of each of these Apps that will open a right-hand pane while you are in the program.
Sheets: highlight your data and Explore will offer you functions, formatting, data analysis and more!
Slides: Explore in slides will offer suggestions to make your slides more visually appealing.
Docs: Explore in Docs allows you to do manual searches. You can also cite your source.
See Revision History.
When you are in a Google File (Docs, Sheets, Slides etc.) you can click on File > Version History > See Version History. Here you can name versions, see who made which edits, and restore the document to an older version, if necessary. Note: you must be an editor of the file in order to use version history.
Use the right mode for the job.
Editing: The standard editing mode.
Viewing: Let's collaborators see, but not edit, a file.
Suggesting: Each edit you make to the document will strike-through, underlining suggestions for editors to either accept or reject.
Access Calendar and Keep from Google files.
This is handy so that you don't have to open multiple tabs in your browser. Simply click on the Calendar, Keep or Task icon in the right-hand menu of your screen in Docs, Sheets or Slides. You can also drag and drop content from your Google Keep directly into your Docs, as well!
Communicate while you collaborate.
Google Drive shows your fellow document collaborators in the upper-right corner. Click the chat bubble next to the collaborator chatheads and type your message. Unlike a private message, everyone else in the file can see your discussion, too.
Jeffco Ed Tech Ebooks
With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way students and educators learn and teach, Jeffco Ed Tech has also changed the way we provide professional learning. Sure, we continue to offer in-person sessions on Jeffco Ed U days, but we realize those days and times many not work for all staff. We wanted to give the opportunity for more faculty to engage in the learning we offer, so we began building out our professional learning sessions as eBooks. And, what better way to do that than with our new Jeffco-supported eBook tool, Book Creator?
You can find all of the Jeffco Ed Tech eBooks on our our internal Ed Tech website and by clicking on the eBook button. Our eBooks can also be found on respective tool pages, as well. For example, you should be able to find any books related to Pear Deck under our Pear Deck site.
Staff that read our Ed Tech eBooks are eligible to earn a 1-hour PD Certificate, which can be used for relicensure. All you need to do is read an eBook of your choice and then fill out the Form at the end of the book. Ed Tech will email out the certificates monthly; you will not find them on your ESS report.
EdTechTeam Inc Free Conference Resources
Did you miss the free conference last weekend? Register HERE and get access to the entire Untamed Learning Recorded Experience for Free! You will get the following: Access to 34+ session recordings, access to all 3 keynotes, a PD certificate form for recertification, and access to all session resources. You will have access for 1 year.
EdTechTeam Inc Course Catalog
ALL Jeffco staff have FREE access to EdTechTeam’s on-demand course library until May 31st, 2021!
Course content includes topics such as:
Jeffco staff members will need to create their own individual account in order to access the courses. Use your @jeffcoschools.us account and your Jeffco password when creating your EdTechTeam PD account. Please see the videos on the site for support in creating your account and signing up for courses.
* If you previously completed coursework with EdTechTeam Online, then you will not need to create a new account, but will need to complete this form in order to have the subscription added to your account
Each course is FREE and requires 15-hours of learning and creation. Your work will be evaluated and graded by a member of EdTechTeam Inc. Upon successful completion of the course, you will receive a certificate of completion that can be submitted to CDE for recertification. Additionally, you may apply for graduate credit through Adams State at an additional cost ($155/credit).
Please see specific courses for additional details.
JEffco Ed U
Save the date! The next round of Jeffco Ed Tech Ed U sessions will be on April 30th!
InnEdCO 2021 will be June 14-18, 2021 in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado (remote option available)
ISTE is going remote this year during the week of June 26-30. Registration information can be found HERE
This Friday, March 12, various departments will be gathering (online, of course!) to provide professional learning opportunities for teachers. The EdTech department will be bringing you a variety of options throughout the day to further your skills and knowledge on our digital tools!
Here’s is an overview of the sessions being offered by our department this week… Also linked below, some of these sessions come as asynchronous learning eBooks as well!
If you have questions about any of these sessions, please reach out to your EdTech Specialist. To join these sessions and to see the full line-up of sessions for Friday, please click here.
As we continue to teach, work and learn in these challenging times, we all need brain breaks. A brain break is a break from whatever we are focusing on. They may have an elementary notoriety, but they are also needed for teenagers and teachers. The key is to get them in BEFORE fatigue, distractions, or academic overload sets in. According to Morin, “For grade-schoolers, that’s typically after 10 to 15 minutes of work. At that point, they may need a three- to five-minute break. Middle- and high-schoolers can work for longer—up to 20 to 30 minutes before a break.”
Brain break research has continued to show positive effects on academic performance and behavior management. A simple brain break can decrease stress, increase productivity, boosts brain function, and provides opportunities to learn social skills. These can all lead to replenishing attention, improving learning, and boosting creativity.
Here are a few tips to get you started (from Understood.org)
Here are a few digital & Socially distanced ideas
Check out our C & I partner's blog - https://www.thepulsefromcandi.com/
Look around your tech filled world. Beyond the screen used to read this blog, technology and the computer science behind it is in everything we do. We can help students not only understand this world through computer science education; we can lead them to design and innovation. The goal of computer science is to teach your brain new, general purpose, and widely applicable ways to think. The concepts are applicable to everyone and help students think in ways that apply across content areas.
What does it look like?
How can we start this foundation early?
Code.org, Tynker, and CodeSpark Academy all have free and approved curricular resources to use in the elementary classroom. Although students can lead this learning, here are some ways to dive in for your own learning:
Try this 2-day virtual workshop through mindSpark Learning:
Code.org Computer Science Curriculum/Robotics
Over 80% of Jeffco Elementary schools have had teachers attend this learning and 35 schools have received Robotic kits from the Gill Foundation!
Ready to Learn on Your Own?
TRY THESE ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES:
Teaching CS Fundamentals
Teaching CS Fundamentals K-5 is intended as an introduction to Computer Science Fundamentals and the Code.org K-5 resources for elementary teachers. Through reading, viewing videos, completing interactive puzzles and reflecting on your learning, you'll develop your own understanding while preparing to teach computer science in your classroom.
No previous experience with coding or computer science education is assumed. This is a beginner's course.
Brand New Robot Modules!
Checkout a robot to take home and learn in these modules!
Get to Know Dash and Dot! In this self- paced asynchronous course, you will learn by doing! After checking out a Dash robot kit (including Dash, Dot, accessories, and challenge cards), learn what these sassy and mighty robots can do and how to incorporate computer science thinking and problem solving into your classroom.
Just want to focus on coding?
Ready for something more advanced? These tools are approved and have free tutorials:
Popfizz Computer Science is created for Middle and High School teachers and students. With hundreds of exercises, auto-grading features, and step-by-step tutorials, learners are able to progress from basics to Advanced Placement Computer Science.
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.
Using Digital tools to create in the classroom
Book Creator allows you to bring creativity and critical thinking to your classroom in any grade level or subject area through the creation of digital books. Combine text, images, audio and video to create: interactive stories, digital portfolios, research journals, poetry books, science reports, instruction manuals, 'about me' books, comic adventures and more! All Jeffco K-12 students have access to premium Book Creator accounts.
How can book creator be used?
Book Creator can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom. It can also be used for professional learning and as a way to communicate with other teachers, parents, and students.
Teachers can create exemplars, how to books, or even a course guide or textbook. Book creator can be used as a way to communicate with students and parents.
Students can use book creator in a variety of ways too! Check out these great examples.
New to Book Creator-Templates
Adobe Spark is an integrated suite of media creation applications for mobile and web developed by Adobe Systems. It’s comprised of three separate design apps: Spark Page, Spark Post, and Spark Video.
Adobe Post allows students to make graphics, posters, flyers, and infographics. These single images can combine text and images. They’re saved as picture files. There are numerous templates or you can start from scratch. Here are some ways to use in your classroom:
Adobe Spark Page is a web page builder that puts the power of creating a web page in the hands of anyone with a story to tell, a product to sell, or a passion to share.
Adobe Page is a great tool to create web pages, slides, and web stories. Some ideas for the classroom include:
➊ Photo Essays
➌ Online Journals
With Adobe Spark Video, you and your students can create compelling videos in just a few minutes using professional looking themes and music. Adobe Spark Video is a free online video making software that allows you to easily combine images, video clips and icons into a beautiful, shareable movie. Add text, music and your own voice to personalize your video. Here's a video made with Adobe Spark Video:
Making it work in the classroom
Both Book Creator and Adobe Spark are great tools for creation and allow students to express themselves. Students can create original works, communicate complex ideas through a variety of multimedia tools within each of these and publish and present their work to their classmates, teachers, and globally if they choose. Check out the Technology Integration Ideas for Upcoming Units for ways to use these tools in the classroom.
For more information on these tools check out the Jeffco Ed Tech website or our YouTube channel.