Thursday, February 25, 2016

Collaboration is Effective

Effective teachers make the most of their resources, even if it's just brainstorming with their librarians/"techbrarians."  As a result of these brainstorms, exciting projects are occurring in our schools right now!  So this blog post serves to highlight a few of them!

Bold/italic links will take you to actual student projects.
  • Brent Gordner's Sports & Entertainment Marketing students worked in teams in the library to advertise a school event.  This year, it was the faculty/seniors basketball game.  They share compelling marketing strategies on websites they build using Weebly.
  • In response to student inquiry around the upcoming election, Brian Shaffer and Amy Swartz had their 9th and 10th grade World Cultures/AP World History students find and share their own answers.  
  • Courtney Shandera and Megan Seymore have their English 9 students choose independent reading books each quarter.  For their culminating projects:
    • In Q1, they made book trailers using WeVideo.  
    • In Q2, they created infographics to show a journey from their books (character, setting, or plot) using Piktochart.  
    • In Q3, we plan to share book talks using Sound Cloud.  
    • These projects were done independently (as was their reading), then shared with their teacher in a Google Form.  The entire list was then shared with all English 9 classes so students could complete cross-class "peer review" exercises.
  • 8th grade Science students use Google Drawings to create and add illustrations to lab reports for Eric Greb.
  • Jeremy Betz works with Theresa Bartholomew to complete paperless research projects with 7th grade Social Studies classes.  They use Google Docs, Slides, and Forms, plus Noodle Tools Express to formulate, organize, and answer research questions.
  • Sarah Cronin and Nancy Mathna check their 6th grade Language Arts students' understanding by embedding Youtube videos in Google Forms, which are used as online quizzes.  They then grade these quizzes using Flubaroo.
  • With their 5th and 7th grade Language Arts/Social Studies students, Amy Bowers and Megan McCormack utilize Hapara to distribute independent station activities to their students in their hybrid classrooms.

  • Deanna Dincher and Megan Munyat work together to promote art and literacy.
    • Gifted student enrichment
    • Annual Art & Literacy Night
  • Teachers collaborate with the librarian to reinforce literacy concepts
    • Word walls
    • Crocodile game and Great White Shark game to reinforce basic skills

Please continue collaborating!  
Students benefit from collaborating with each other - we can too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Do’s and Don’ts of making student accounts on websites

It’s the internet age and not using websites for education would be cheating our students of their ability to participate in a global community.  However, with that comes a number of unknowns regarding the audience, what information is provided about the student, and interactions that can take place online.  In order to keep your students safe online, please keep the following information in mind.

What do I need to know about CIPA?

CIPA is the Children’s Internet Protection Act.  All schools are required to comply with this in order to protect their students from dangerous content on the internet.  This includes the instruction of safe online interactions to our students.

What do I need to know about COPPA?

COPPA is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and it provides the baseline for children’s privacy in the United States.  This includes the requirement of parental notice and consent when using web services directed at students under the age of 13.  The new changes made have said that data collection about students is important, but deciding who should be doing the collection is a matter for schools and school districts.  For this reason, it’s important to know what information your students are using when they make accounts online.

Types of sign-ins
Since most of the district is using Google Apps for Education, we have the benefit of having secure logins as school Google accounts.  When using Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, or other Google products, you can be sure that your students’ information is secure and in compliance with CIPA and COPPA.

If you are using a website that offers a single sign-on, such as Piktochart, then when your students go to sign in with their Google accounts, it’s going to list for you the information that the website is collecting from their Google account.  In most cases, it’s just their name and their account username.  This is not necessarily a COPPA violation, but it’s important to make sure that this is the only information that it is collecting.  If you have questions, please be sure to contact us!
Read the fine print!
If you are using a website that requires that you make accounts, such as Animoto, keep in mind the following limitations:
  • concerns for creating accounts for students under the age of 13
  • that account will exist forever
  • there is no way to recover passwords through e-mail
  • there may be an alternative that has similar functions but offers Google single sign-on

While these concerns are worth consideration, they should not stop you from using that site.  Some successful ways to still implement them include:
  • creating a teacher account with a very basic password that all students log into in order to use the site content (this has been very successful with Animoto)
  • create the account with student initials instead of full names
  • providing the family with the information about the site and encouraging them to use it at home for extra practice or enrichment purposes
  • sending home information about the site, with explicit instructions that the parents can “opt-out” of the account if they contact you accordingly
  • talking to your building administrators, librarians, or tech director about using the site as a building or district across content areas
Your building librarians are problem-solvers, so talk to us if you need help!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Thinking about Moving to a Digital Portfolio?

A teaching portfolio is an essential part of your professional development. It is a document that records your achievements, allows you to reflect on your teaching, holds evidence needed for evaluations, and supports your applications for tenure and promotion.*

An electronic portfolio (also known as an eportfolio, e-portfolio, digital portfolio, or online portfolio) is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the Web.**  It serves as digital version of a traditional hard-copy teaching portfolio.

How to Get Started

Choose a platform to build your portfolio.  Weebly and Google Sites are free and easy to use.  Teachers and students use these web tools regularly.  Other great options include Wix, Doodlekit, and Moonfruit.  It’s a matter of personal preference, but these tools will accomplish the same goals.  They’ll all let you customize your URL so it’s easy for you to remember and share your portfolio later.  Each tool will also allow you to choose a template to match your style; keep the design clean and simple, and make sure you have permissions to use any photos.

What to Include

Clearly labeled navigation is important.  Include a title and a menu.  You can organize the pages to suit your needs.  Since we’re evaluated in the four Danielson domains, it might make sense to include a page for each domain.  If you like, you can add an “about me” page as well.  Depending on the platform you’ve chosen, you’ll be able to upload your artifacts in various forms.  Feel free to add text, images, videos, links, PDFs, and whatever else you’re able to.

How to Maintain It
The beauty of a digital portfolio is that you can update it anytime, anywhere, with anything.  Whenever you do something that you deem “portfolio-worthy,” you can quickly log on to your portfolio to add them where you like.  

What They Look Like

You can use use a web platform to host your teaching portfolio.  You can showcase everything you need to meet evaluation criteria, and send them to administrators (and whoever else!) via a customized URL.  Take a look at some examples here:

If you have any questions or would like help in person, please contact your building librarian!