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Turning the Page

Posted on October 25, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

UTC 12

Turn the page…and—
Create
Innovate
Discover
Explore
Inquire
Achieve
Collaborate

Turn the page…
to new worlds
to the future
to where no one has gone before!
to new beginnings
to discover the wonder

Are you turning the page?

Good teaching begins and ends with the learner. Turning the page means we are giving our students opportunities to wrestle with real problems by turning and twisting their minds around challenging ideas and applying content in meaningful ways. We are preparing our students for the 21st Century as we provide opportunities for students to collaborate, think creatively, and solve problems. It is time to teach well with technology, not just differently. Are we turning the page by connecting students with a world of ideas? Do we as teacher/learners engage in opportunities-alone or with our peers-that call for creativity and innovation or are we still on page 1?

Join us at UTC 12 as we turn the page together.

http://www.tagxedo.com/art/273d187901ad4395

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UTC 11 Share your Vision

Posted on October 10, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Fran Mauney

We had our first official meeting for UTC 11 (really about our 4th meeting) last week and we’d like to see if you can help us with a few things. 

1.  UTC 10 survey results commented about having more skype, blogs, podcasts, tweets, about the conference…….. maybe have a few overflow rooms for popular sessions……… can  you wrap your brain around this and give feedback about the best way to do this?  Will you ask your professional learning community how we can best meet the needs of the teachers that attend?  That would be huge.

2. What topics do you think we need for next year?  Our theme is “What’s Your Vision?” spinning off the point that Hall made last summer about the lack of a shared vision……Will you tweet about this, post on facebook or ask your plc?

 
3. We have 4 big solutions to make this year’s conference better: 
a.  no long lines when you enter the building……. just grab a registration form, card and return the form to us with our card number on the form.
b. extra parking down the road at the athletic fields, I’m checking on buses to transport from there
c. shorter time to get your credit from the conference (new program was written for that) GCSD teachers will have a shorter wait getting points uploaded to the portal.
d. hopefully, less crowded rooms if we have more presenters and overflow rooms (we need YOU to present)
e. food tables spread out and colored coded tickets for different food choices.

Using the professional learning community mind-set, could you share ideas about ways to make the conference better?  Add your comments to this blog. I look forward to hearing from you and if you’d like to volunteer, let us know.

What is your vision for UTC 11?

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Assessing Your Students: Be a Power Teacher

Posted on August 28, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Fran Mauney

Are you ready for the new school year? Have you considered how you will assess your students’ progress this year? Hopefully, you will use work samples, checklists, conferences, student response systems such as Activotes, Activexpressions, Senteos or the good old-fashioned dry erase white boards to gather feedback as you teach, along with teacher made tests, group projects, MAP tests, and standardized testing.

Will the assessment results alter your instruction? Will you work with individuals who may not have grasped the concepts the first time you taught it? As we strive to meet the needs of all the students in our classrooms, we are constantly assessing, analyzing, and providing differentiated instruction to ensure our students are meeting their learning goals.

In Greenville County, we are implementing the online grade book using Power Teacher this year. We will have a new tool that will enable us to gather much needed information about our students learning. Teachers will love the Reports they can generate to analyze and compare results of students in each class or group. The Student Rosters are my favorite of the Reports. As a first grade teachers, I was constantly creating checklists from scratch to gather information about my students’ learning. Now with Power Teacher Reports, teachers can use the Student Rosters to record lunch numbers, Field Trip permission forms, Letter Recognition forms, Writing and Reading Conference Forms, Pre and Post Test checklists, Daily Checklists and the possibilities are endless. Yet, the best part of Power Teacher is parents can access their child’s grade daily by visiting a website. No longer, do teachers have to email parents grades or waster paper by printing weekly grade reports. All grades are accessible online.

“PowerTeacher is seamlessly integrated with both PowerSchool , so almost no setup is required for teachers. All classes, rosters, student demographic information, grading periods, standards, rubrics and grades scales are automatically loaded. As teachers use PowerTeacher, all data flows back to your central database in real time, providing all stake-holders, including parents and students with instant visibility to assignments, scores, grades, comments and progress toward each standard.”

Read these case studies of how Power Teacher is reducing the achievement gap. http://www.pearsonschoolsystems.com/company/press/casestudies/

One important factor to remember when grading students work this year is whether it is a Major or Minor Assessment. Make sure that you are recording your assessments properly by keeping a copy of the Weighting Guidelines at your fingertips.

Be a Powerful Teacher this year, assess often, vary your instruction and assessment, and alter your teaching to make sure your students are reaching their potential.

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Assessing Your Students: Be a Power Teacher

Posted on August 28, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Fran Mauney

Are you ready for the new school year? Have you considered how you will assess your students’ progress this year? Hopefully, you will use work samples, checklists, conferences, student response systems such as Activotes, Activexpressions, Senteos or the good old-fashioned dry erase white boards to gather feedback as you teach, along with teacher made tests, group projects, MAP tests, and standardized testing.

Will the assessment results alter your instruction? Will you work with individuals who may not have grasped the concepts the first time you taught it? As we strive to meet the needs of all the students in our classrooms, we are constantly assessing, analyzing, and providing differentiated instruction to ensure our students are meeting their learning goals.

In Greenville County, we are implementing the online grade book using Power Teacher this year. We will have a new tool that will enable us to gather much needed information about our students learning. Teachers will love the Reports they can generate to analyze and compare results of students in each class or group. The Student Rosters are my favorite of the Reports. As a first grade teachers, I was constantly creating checklists from scratch to gather information about my students’ learning. Now with Power Teacher Reports, teachers can use the Student Rosters to record lunch numbers, Field Trip permission forms, Letter Recognition forms, Writing and Reading Conference Forms, Pre and Post Test checklists, Daily Checklists and the possibilities are endless. Yet, the best part of Power Teacher is parents can access their child’s grade daily by visiting a website. No longer, do teachers have to email parents grades or waster paper by printing weekly grade reports. All grades are accessible online.

“PowerTeacher is seamlessly integrated with both PowerSchool , so almost no setup is required for teachers. All classes, rosters, student demographic information, grading periods, standards, rubrics and grades scales are automatically loaded. As teachers use PowerTeacher, all data flows back to your central database in real time, providing all stake-holders, including parents and students with instant visibility to assignments, scores, grades, comments and progress toward each standard.”

Read these case studies of how Power Teacher is reducing the achievement gap. http://www.pearsonschoolsystems.com/company/press/casestudies/

One important factor to remember when grading students work this year is whether it is a Major or Minor Assessment. Make sure that you are recording your assessments properly by keeping a copy of the Weighting Guidelines at your fingertips.

Be a Powerful Teacher this year, assess often, vary your instruction and assessment, and alter your teaching to make sure your students are reaching their potential.

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What’s Your Vision?

Posted on July 5, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Fran Mauney

Hall Davidson, nationally known speaker with Discovery Education, inspired over 1000 participants, presenters, and vendors last week at the Upstate Technology Conference to meet the needs of today’s learner.  He challenged us to create interactive student centered lessons using free technological resources that are available at our fingertips. When asked why teachers are not engaging students in the learning process, the answer was not the lack of funds, or the lack of good teachers, but the lack of a shared vision.  This revelation exposes how crucial it is that we form professional learning communities with the shared vision of revolutionizing our schools.

According to Education Week, “learning is no longer preparation for the job, it is the job. In a world in which information expands exponentially, today’s students are active participants in an ever-expanding network of learning environments. They must learn to be knowledge navigators, seeking and finding information from multiple sources, evaluating it, making sense of it, and understanding how to collaborate with their peers to turn information into knowledge, and knowledge into action.”

Sir Ken Robinson  challenges the way we’re educating our children. “He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligences.” It is true that most adults don’t enjoy what they do for a living, they simply endure their jobs until the week-end. But there are others who love what they do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Their work defines who they are. Listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s inspirational talk at TED in February 2010 and see how we can help students find their talents and abilities.

It will require extra planning, more conversations with colleagues, time spent researching while we break out of our comfort zones and share the successful (and not so successful stories) we experience in the classroom. We need to form professional learning communities within our schools, district and across the state with teachers, administrators, university professors and student teachers as we collaborate about the best ways to help students find their talents. We need learning teams to help us become better teachers.

This summer as you prepare for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year, challenge yourself to incorporate more student centered activities. Choose one project that you could easily add to an existing unit and observe your students as their interest, excitement, and achievement soars. Give your students choices about how they’d like to learn. Incorporate the multiple intelligences in your lessons and add a technology feature. Check back on the Upstate Technology Conference website for hand-outs and links to help you prepare more student centered activities this year.

Our students spread their dreams beneath our feet, we need to tread softly.

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Let’s NOT go phishing…

Posted on May 3, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Van Heule
Distance Learning Coordinator

Dateline NBC was on last night. I’m not a huge fan of Dateline NBC because most of the stories don’t really interest me. The story that aired last night was about Internet/email scams. I wasn’t really watching because these types of phishing emails have been around for so long now, that it’s hard to believe that people still get hooked. But then again, when you hear the stories and the promises that those running the scam make, you can see how convincing they appear. These scams continue to evolve.

So, you may be asking yourself, “Why is he writing all of this?” The answer is that as I logged into my email this morning, there in my inbox was a scam email message. I did the best thing possible, I ignored it and deleted it. But as I was deleting the message, I couldn’t help but think about how many people may respond.

The scam email message I saw this morning didn’t promise me millions of dollars or even ask me for my bank account information, it simply stated that it was from my email administrators and they were going to delete my account if I didn’t verify the account by replying with my username and password.

There seem to be more and more of these types of emails arriving daily in our inboxes. Often times, we read them and we cautiously delete them only to discover that the same message appears again in our inbox. When this scam email message appears again, we’re just not sure what to do – we think to ourselves, “Maybe the first email was legit and they are giving me a second chance?” These scam email messages are never legit. The second chance they are giving us is the second chance to steal our information.

Email system administrators don’t need to ask people for their account information, they already have access to all of that information – that’s why they are the administrators of the email system. This is especially true here in Greenville County, our email account administrators will never ask for that information. As a general rule, you should never open emails from people you don’t know and definitely don’t open any attachments or click on any links that may be in these emails. The best thing to do is just delete them.

If you happen to click on one of the links or open an attachment from an email scam message, you should contact your information technology (IT) people right away. They should know what to do to resolve this breach of security.

Email scam attachments generally contain a virus that can infect your computer with spyware or malware, often the information you enter on your computer is delivered back to the sender. Email scam links redirect you to a webpage that may look real, often with your company branding and logos. Any information that you enter on these fake webpages is delivered back to the sender and they use your information to deliver spam or viruses to others around the world.

In closing, always remember to delete emails from people you don’t know. Never open attachments or click on links in these emails, and always keep your username and password to yourself – don’t share it with anyone. 🙂

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HUE and DimDim

Posted on April 12, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By Fran Mauney

I have to tell you about the latest technology toy that is a must for your classroom! It is called a HUE webcam and it only costs $50!!!!  It can be a web camera or a document camera and best of all, it is so easy to install and use.  Simply install the CD that comes with the camera.  Then, plug the camera into your USB drive and click the camera icon on your screen. Automatically it begins working. Now you can have a document camera or a web cam in your classroom and you don’t have to pay $500-$1600 for it.  How does it work?  Think of a small lamp with a flexible neck, if you tilt the camera head down, it works like a document camera and projects on your computer screen. If you tilt the camera up it acts as a webcam and can be used for Skype and other programs.

Why would you need a document camera in your classroom?  Well, I use the HUE as a document camera to show students’ work, science experiments, math manipulatives or textbook or newspaper pages.  We edit students’ work together by using the ActivInspire software and highlighting, underlining, or drawing on the screen.  Everyone can see the science experiment as it is projected on the interactive white board or screen. (You do need an LCD projector in order to project the image on the board, screen or wall.) I can take pictures of the steps of a scientific experiment AND it works as a video recorder as well.  You can capture the recording by choosing to in the File menu or take pictures by pressing the silver button on top of the camera. It is that easy! If you’d like more ideas about how to use a document camera in your classroom here is a list:  Document Camera in the Classroom

I also tilt the camera neck up and use it as a web cam when I am teaching using the program called DimDim.  Here is a quick start guide telling you how to set up your account. Setting Up DimDim  This is how it works, Schedule Your Meeting and invite attendees.  Why would I use DimDim?  As an Instructional Technology facilitator, I use it to train teachers.  I can email the teachers and invite them to a meeting, they can click on the link, sign in and see my computer screen.  If my HUE camera is attached, they can also see me as I teach. They can type questions while I’m teaching and the questions will appear on the side of the screen.  That way I can answer questions while I teach.  As a classroom teacher, you could use DimDim to meet with other teachers from other schools and share ideas. This could cut down on travel time and you could meet online instead of in person, or you could use Skype to communicate with each other.

One more thing, the HUE comes in great colors: blue, red, green, white, black, and pink.

These are a few ideas that could help you communicate better with your students and teachers. I hope that you will find this useful in your classroom.

You can learn more about exciting new technology toys/tools at the Upstate Technology Conference. Sign up to present or participate today!  c u @ utc!

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Technology Integration: It’s a Science!

Posted on March 23, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Jeff McCoy

Technology Integration is one of those things that come naturally to some, while others have to work at it. I’d liken it much to those who are inclined artistically or musically. I appreciate art and love browsing galleries, finding new artists and expanding my experiences when it comes to new art. As much as I can appreciate fine art, there’s always been that part of me that would love to actually create art. Unfortunately, the art gene definitely passed me up!! My students always loved it when I drew illustrations on the board, for them, it was a little like a game of Pictionary!

Coming out of college, I was not really tech savvy. My college program did not prepare me to integrate technology into the classroom. However, I found that technology is something that came fairly easy to me and it was something that I quickly became passionate about. I made many mistakes my first years of teaching, but got better at it each time. I truly believe that true technology integration comes naturally to some teachers, while others really have to work at it. I still walk into classrooms to observe and evaluate throughout the year. I find the wheels of my mind start turning immediately as to how technology could be integrated into the lesson!

There are many processes out there that guide technology integration. I find that processes are good even to keep teachers who are good at technology integration focused on what is important. Technology integration for the sake of just doing it is not a good reason or within best practice. Integration should be seamless, part of the curriculum if you will that the line is blurred between technology and just good teaching strategies. 

There are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help guide the integration process, especially when it comes to technology rich projects. These type of projects do take time and cannot be done every day or even every unit. Hopefully, technology is a strategy used in your classroom on a very regular basis, but technology rich projects take on a different look and feel in the classroom. Done right, they can leave a lasting impression of the content covered. My students often remembered the technology projects we did in class, even years later as they moved on into higher education. My technology rich projects were problem based. They were hard and at times frustrating to my students because it made them reach outside of the boundaries of what they were used to doing in class.  In short, they had to think! Sometime there was no “right” outcome, and that was hard for my students to grasp. The value was the process. They had to evaluate, create, analyze and apply. There isn’t always a specific right answer to a problem, a lesson that all our students need to learn.

Below are some guiding questions when it comes to designing a unit that is technology rich. In an age of accountability, we have to get as much “bang for our buck” as possible. 

Determine the Advantage

EQ: Does the time spent on the project justify the curriculum goals and the material that will be learned?

Is the project you are about to embark on a good investment of your time? To put it in business terms, what is the return on investment? If the standards you are addressing are minor standards and the project is going to take several weeks, the return on investment may actually be very low due to the fact that those standards are not tested as heavily or maybe they are not key standards. Students will hopefully learn, but the time spent learning those standards may cause you to have to skimp when it comes to other major standards. What are the big standards in your subject area? Which ones are hard to teach? These are the questions that can help guide where your major technology-rich projects will take priority. Whenever I needed my students to know something critical, something that was a must for them to be successful, I always tried to infuse a technology-rich project. These projects made them think and it also made them “do”. Anytime a child is “doing” or “creating”, they are using the highest levels of the thinking process.

Determining the Key Elements: Objectives and Assessments

EQ: How will I know that my students have learned and met the objectives of the lesson?

Again, standards are important. They drive everything we do. Determining the objectives a project or unit based off the curriculum standards is key if you are to know where you are going to go. Objectives should drive the learning process and your students should be aware of the objectives and understand the expectations. Many times, objectives are expressed in the form of essential questions which are easier for students to understand and search for an answer.

Of course, no project would be complete without some sort of an assessment. You have to know whether or not your students have learned. Where the objectives of the lesson met? A good assessment will give you that data. Assessments of course do not always have to take the form of a test or quiz. Projects and non-traditional assignments can give you just as much good information.

Designing the Lesson and Integration Strategies and identify Appropriate Technology

EQ: What strategies and lesson activities will best meet the needs of the students

Student needs vary from student to student and even from year to year depending on the make-up of the students in the class. Identifying which strategies work best with your students will help them be successful in the lesson, project or unit. Once you determine the strategies, you can begin to decide which technology will best support your objectives and strategies. Are your students pairing up for group work? Would a wiki help support their work by giving creating a common sharing place?

When determining what technology to use, make sure you consider the time it will take to teach students to use that technology. If too much time is spent teaching how to use the technology that it eats up the content of the lesson or unit, then you may have to re-think. Some technology can be introduced to students slowly over a period of time so that you don’t have to spend days teaching a technology. Look for the technology that is easy to use and will not take up much time to teach. Content is the focus! Never lose focus of that!

Prepare the Instructional Environment

EQ: Is everything in place that is needed to support the project and the technology needed in the project?

Part of the ISTE standards contains Essential Conditions. These are the conditions that are necessary in order for technology integration to be successful. For example, if you are using laptops in the classroom, do you have enough power outlets for students to plug them into if they start dying? Is a wireless overlay in place so you can access the Internet (if necessary).  Identifying what you need will cut back on the frustration of trying to troubleshoot when the students are in front of you. Something will always go wrong with technology, that’s inevitable. The good thing is that you have 30 warm bodies in the classroom who are quite adept at technology and can probably fix whatever is wrong. Don’t overlook the resources you have right in front of you.

Be sure you have your procedures outlined for students when using technology. If using laptops, have each student assigned a laptop number so you know who has what computer. Make sure you have procedures for getting the laptops out of the cart and putting them back. You must protect the equipment you are using and discipline in the classroom using technology is different due to the element it adds.

Reflect and Revise!!!

EQ: What worked well and what needs to be changed?

 A good teacher always reflects! You have to know what worked and what didn’t. Your assessment will give you valuable information when it comes to what your students learned. But there are many other areas to assess. You may need to change the technology due to some glitches or something that didn’t work. Maybe some instructional strategies need to be changed. What about student input? I always gave my students a survey to assess the unit and how they liked it. They told me what they liked and what they didn’t like. This gave me valuable feedback and many times it was the basis for changing some of the assignments. Reflection is important to continue to improve as a teacher!

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Technology New Year’s Resolutions

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Fran Mauney

1.  Exercise More:  Have you tried the Wii Fit or Wii Fit Plus?  It’s an amazing (and fun) tool that measures your BMI, creates a Mii, and tracks your weight and progress as you exercise. There are tons of games that and activities for Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics, Balance, and Fit Plus games. Brain research supports movement to enhance learning.  Challenge your right and left sides of your brain by performing exercises from the book “Brain Gym” by Paul Dennison with your students. Visit his website: www.braingym.com. Try the Lazy Eights or Cross Crawl to see if your students can cross the midlines of their bodies.  This will help you see if the right and left sides of the brain have strong bridges built to transfer information easily to each other.

2.  Eat Healthier:  Visit websites that provide recipes that are good for you.  Join the free community healthy living program called Activate Upstate. Activate Upstate’s Kickoff Rally 2010 is Jan. 19, 4:30-7 p.m. Carolina First Center, Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville.
For more information visit www.activategreenville.org or call: 864-242-1111.  You will receive free recipes and healthy eating tips each week via email when you sign up.

3. Relax and Read:  Have you heard of the Kindle by Amazon?  Watch the video on this website and you will be amazed. This is the wave of the future.  No more buying books that sit on your shelf and collect dust.  Your books are automatically downloaded onto your Kindle wireless reading device after you shop at the Kindle store.  Wherever you are – at home, in the car, on the beach, you can access the Kindle store and buy books for much cheaper than you would at a book store. Most books run around $6-$10.  When you buy a book, it is auto-delivered wirelessly in less than one minute. There are more than 400,000 books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs available and they have free book samples.  Also, you can download and read the first chapters of a book for free to see if you would like to purchase it.

4. De-Clutter:  Would you like to get rid of the piles of books that you’ve collected over the years?  You can donate your books to the local library, shelters, churches, or sell them back at used book stores.  Or you could sell them online using Amazon.com or Half.com.  My son spent $700 last semester buying his college textbooks at the campus book store.  This year he used Amazon. com and Half.com and his books were only $200.  This inspired me to sell some of our books and I sold 3 in one day.  (After paying to have the books mailed, going to the post office and buying the padded envelopes, I only made $5.00!) but they are off my shelf and I’m a little richer!

5.  Make learning fun and exciting and enjoy the opportunities you have to shape the lives of your students! Add a little more technology to your lesson plans this year. Engage your students by using more interactive websites that foster learning in your classrooms. I put together a list of websites for you to use with your students this semester and I hope you will find it beneficial.   Here is the link to the websites for teachers:  Websites for Teachers  Make sure you open the Wonderful Winning Website document and click on the links.

6. Share your ideas: Remember to register to attend the Upstate Technology Conference this year on June 22 and 23 at Wade Hampton High School. Click here to share your ideas as a presenter.  We’d love to hear all the great things you are doing in your classrooms! If you’d like to be a participant click here.

Happy 2010, I hope it is a Technologically Fun Year!

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Transforming Your Classroom Blog…into a Published Book

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Cushman

Many teachers across the district have successfully integrated the district’s WordPress blog platform to create a safe, digital space for students to engage in educational conversations with one another and the greater global community.  We find that students have become accustomed to interacting with an audience beyond their peer group outside of school with tools like social networking sites and gaming communities through consoles from Sony and Microsoft.  Blogging has become a natural activity for citizens of the “digital nation” (see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/).

One of the advantages of a blog is that it can act as a digital portfolio for a classroom or individual students.  Sites like www.blurb.com, www.mypublisher.com, and www.lulu.com take online publishing a step further by turning a blog into a print book (http://www.blurb.com/create/book/blogbook).  For example, one school turned a school mural project into a picture book using blurb.com (see http://www.blurb.com/books/1030436).  Books from blurb.com range in size from 7″x7″ to 13″x11″ and lengths from 20 to 440 pages.  Prices start at $12.95 for a single copy.

A book based on a classroom blog could easily turn in to a class or school fund raiser while giving students a meaningful purpose for writing.

Teach for Greenville County Schools and don’t have a blog?  Setting one up is easy by following the print or video tutorials at http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/gcsd/depts/ets/its/blogs.asp.  Blogging ideas and research is located at http://timcushman.com/presentations.htmlBe sure to carefully follow the steps for configuring the “moderation” settings when creating your blog.  This is a critical step in exercising control over the content that appears on your blog.

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