Week 1 Retrospective

Hello, friends!  I’ve been in high school (part two) for a full week now, and it’s better than I could ever have imagined.  Although it is a whole new ballgame, it takes elements from the two worlds that I’ve been living in for the past few years (middle school and professional learning), and splits them right down the middle.  I’ll keep this short and sweet, because I have to jet, but need to blog.  Here goes.

The Change

The opportunity to go to high school, after seven amazing years in my K-8 came along.  I realized that I had become good at what I did, but if I were to continue to grow, I’d need to try something new.  After making this creepily foreshadowing video nine days before I even knew about the opportunity:

I decided to go for it, with a little nudge from my PLN, as well as my family.

First Week with Staff

When I arrived at the first day back for staff, I was immediately struck by the happy realization that I left one familial environment, only to join another.  This was a huge relief, as I was going through major anxiety the night before, as evidenced by this blog post I wrote to process what was going on (lol…hey, we’re all human).

The entire staff was so welcoming, and I was happy to see many familiar faces: parents of former students, spouses of former co-workers, people who I’d been following on Twitter for years, and folks I had met through county workshops and conferences like ISTE.  I probably knew a good third of the folks there already, so this helped a lot.

My team was also on point.  I learned so much from them in the first few days, and am continuing to learn.  It was from our department chair that I got my first explanation of how 3D printers work, something I’ve wanted to learn forever and a day.  Everyone on the team brings the heat in his or her own way, and I’m so proud to be part of this.

The atmosphere was very high-energy and supportive, but it was still a major change for me.  At one point I started to doubt myself a little bit.  However, our final assembly of the week was all about how important we all are to students, and about moonshot thinking.  After watching an inspirational video and hearing the principal’s speech, I felt renewed and ready for Monday.

Time to Meet the Students

Sunday night, surprisingly I slept like a baby.  I woke up early to work out, which I incorporated into my daily routine before school (we have to be there at 9 a.m.).  I found that it helps me focus, and I’m in an overall better mood.

Monday was Freshman Orientation, and they stayed in each class for about 30 minutes to meet all of their teachers from both days (block scheduling).  In our class, we introduced ourselves, then played a game of Kahoot to go over expectations.  In it, there were questions specific to the course itself, the school culture, and random trivia about me to keep them on their toes.

The day went by fast.  Tuesday was the real first day, with the freshmen and upperclassmen at school.

Day One

Since we are on block scheduling, we have A Days and B Days.  So, this will be a culmination of both days.  I teach three different classes, but the first five days of each class is roughly the same.

Warm-Up

The students did a survey that I whipped up on Google Forms, which included info about their strengths, goals, and an anonymous gamer tag for our leaderboard.  When they were done, they signed up for EverFi Ignition, a free self-paced digital citizenship resource, and began completing the activities.

Class Time

After warm-up, I told students how important storytelling is, and how we each have a story and something to bring to the table.  I challenged them to prepare a presentation of no more than five minutes about themselves to introduce themselves to the class, and modeled what this could look like through an ignite(ish) speech of my own.

Afterwards, we played Kahoot again, because most students were not present on Monday.  Lastly, we went over class expectations.  On the last slide, there was a link to an activity, which we didn’t get to until Day Two.

Day Two

Warm-Up:

On the second day of class, students began the day with their EverFi warm-up, except for those who hadn’t yet completed the survey.  On Friday (B-Day #2), students were invited to vote for their favorite class more from the 3rd period A-Day class.  We have a new class showcased every day, and the public is invited to vote as well.

Class Overview:

I explained the routine to students, that we would reconvene after warm-ups to go over the leaderboard, as well as any relevant announcements.  By this time, I had updated the leaderboard with their pseudonyms and points earned on Day One, so then I told them about the items they could “purchase” with their points in the Swag Shop.

Next, we moved on to the Class Activity for the day, Balloon Cars!  (The site where the activity is described is hyperlinked on the last slide of Day One’s course overview.)  This was a great group work activity where the kids were able to get out of their seats and work together on the design process.

Some groups got it on the first try, and many more had to try and try again. Overall, it was a great learning experience.  I was really touched when groups who had success split off to help their classmates experience the same success.

In some classes, we were able to get started setting up reflective blogs via Blogger (thanks to the EduMatch crew for the sugestion).  In others, we jotted down notes for later blogging.

Homework

I’m not very big on homework, especially in a class pretty much rooted in PBL.  However, I am a huge proponent of flipping.  My school happens to have a 1:1 Chromebook initiative, so this will make flipping easy.  In addition, most students do have cell phones.  I took full advantage of this knowledge to craft my first 360 degree flipped video via my Ricoh Theta camera, to show students what is possible:

FYI, this video may not work properly in some browsers, but I had lots of success on my phone in the YouTube app, as well as on the YouTube site itself, where there is a directional control pad located in the top left of the window.

Reflections

I know I promised to be short and sweet, but I got carried away.  Here are a few take-aways that will drive me into next week:

  1. Find some comfortable shoes.  I’m not feeling heels.
  2. Stick to the model of one reading/writing day and one lab day.  This will help get students ready for the college model.
  3. Implement “Figure It Out” Fridays, where we all get together to…well…figure something out lol.
  4. Get the blogs up and running ASAP, so that students can reflect and comment on each other’s musings.

I’d love to hear what everyone else has going on the first week of school.  Please drop a comment below.  Thanks for reading!

Day 10 – Clubbin’

Today, we took the SRI.  Nothing to report.  Almost everybody finished.  Most of Third Period got through it a little too quickly for my taste.  I asked them if they checked their work and they assured me they did.  A lot of kids said it was “easy.”  The scores will speak for themselves.

In Fourth Period, the kids took a little longer.  For some reason, this made me feel a little better.  I think (hope) they were careful.  There are about five students who need more time tomororrow, which is fine.

The big excitement for the kids today was turning in their club pre-authorization forms.  I lead five different technology clubs for the students.  That may sound like a lot, but really, it’s helping everybody in the long run.  The kids learn some cool skills that they can bust out later in life, and I get some help and don’t lose my mind.  These are our five clubs:

  1. A/V: Sets up and breaks down equipment, and runs the sound board during chorus concerts and plays.
  2. Photography:  Captures special moments at our school through photos and videos.
  3. Morning Announcements: Produces and edits our morning announcements in the school, via Google Sites (see video below).
  4. Yearbook Committee: Open to eighth graders only.  My right hand, helping me plan fundraisers and design the school yearbook.
  5. Repair Squad: Helps teachers with basic troubleshooting.  Also designs websites, logos, etc. for our special events.

The eighth graders have first dibs.  They are super-excited, because they paid their dues last year and took all the sloppy seconds.  Poor seventh graders, last year there were no sixth grade slots left for them.  This year, I’ll try to keep this in mind, and save a few spots for the underclassmen (and underclasswomen lol).  Most groups will have seven slots, four for eighth graders, two for seventh, and one for sixth.  This will be first come, first-served.  With Yearbook, though, all seven slots will be filled with eighth graders.

One year, we even had a Music Production squad.  The eighth graders of two years ago were incredibly musical, and a student approached me with that idea, so we did it.  Last year, I was stretched really thin, especially coaching basketball.  Plus, the students were more into sports than anything else, so it worked out.  One seventh grader asked me to do a Drama Club, but I really couldn’t fit it into the schedule.  Maybe we’ll try it this year.  We might try a Ted-Ed Club later in the year, since I’m freed up a little bit, but I don’t want to bite off too much.

Anyway, I was bombarded by students for signatures, ever since the papers came out.  When they turned in their pre-authorization forms with all of the teacher signatures, I passed out permission slips for them and their parents to sign.  Hopefully we will get clubs underway shortly.  The sooner, the better.

On another note, I explained to students about the self-assessment for the collaborative work that I talked about yesterday.  I actually developed a Google Form, and asked students to fill it in tonight.  The evening is still young, so we shall see what they report back to me.  So far, a couple of students have filled it out, and the comments are very fair.  One said to divide the points for his/her group evenly, and that the assignment was challenging, but s/he appreciated the teamwork dynamic.  Another assigned points based on contribution, and had similar feedback about the process.

One last thing…as a team, we came up with a way to hold people responsible for checking out the shared iPads via QR Codes linking to a Google Form.  I played with the customization.  Here it is.

Tomorrow: Genius Day, because it’s my birthday and we’ll be smart if we want to!  Woohooooo!!!  Adios.

Guest Post!!! 4 Things to Consider when Going 1:1 (via @iamdrwill)

Hi readers!  Here is a fantastic guest post written by Dr. Will Deyamport, III, regarding 1:1 programs, tying in with the theme of BYOD/1:1 for the DC Metro Area Google Educator Group.  

Dr. Will’s Bio:

“I am a district instructional technologist, connected educator, and ed tech consultant. I began teaching the educational applications of digitals as the Campus Outreach Coordinator for CAREEREALISMcampus.com. I also spent another two years as the Chief Social Strategist for StrengthsFactors, where I oversaw and managed the company’s social strategy, created and curated content for the company’s Ning, as well as launched multiple projects that expanded the company’s digital brand.  Currently, I work with teachers in discovering how they can use a multitude of technologies, such as Compass Learning, ActivInspire, Google Hangouts, etc., to create an array of interactive and engaging collaborative learning experiences, with a focus on differentiated instruction and connecting students to a global community.

Over the past several years I have presented at a number of conferences, guest lectured, and regularly blogged and produced online content aimed at the educational uses of web tools and social technologies.  In my travels, I have met some amazing educators. Along the way, I earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University, where my research concentrated on digital leadership and teachers using a Twitter-supported personal learning network (PLN) to individualize their professional development. And this past year, I was part of a dynamic group of educators who organized the first Edcamp in Mississippi.”

You can find his blog here.  Without any further ado, let’s roll this blog post out!

4 Things to Consider When Going 1:1

Infrastructure:

This involves the broadband, network, access points, etc. You have to have enough broadband that can handle the number of devices you rollout. You also have to have the access points needed to keep students from being bounced off the network. My suggestion is one AP per classroom.

In terms of your network, how many SSID’s are you going to have? Are you going to create a separate network for students? How are you going to monitor devices and the amount of broadband being used? Do you plan on capping the usage of certain sites? For example, instead of blocking Netflix altogether, the network administrator can set it where videos can only be viewed in standard definition.

Please note, before you buy one device, get your infrastructure in place. If you don’t have the set-up to handle 300+devices, there’s no point in moving forward with a 1:1 rollout.

Professional Development:

This is one of the most important components of going 1:1. Teachers will have to be trained how to not only use the device, but how to effectively use said device for instruction. They will also need to how to best utilize the LMS (Learning Management System), any sites, resources, and applications that work best for their students.

Another important aspect of the professional development needed for going 1:1 is shifting the teachers’ mindset, expectations, and instructional practices. In my opinion, an effective 1:1 does away with the teacher sitting at his or her desk. The teacher really is “the guide on the side”.

Now that doesn’t mean that teachers won’t deliver direct instruction. Quite the opposite, this shift involves teachers working with smaller groups on projects or discussions, while another group of students are engaged in self-directed learning via an LMS, which I will get into in more detail in the next section.

In going 1:1 it is essential that professional development isn’t a one and done or a lecture-style delivered professional development. Teachers need hands-on instruction. Even further, teachers need to be coached, as well as seeing the tools and instructional practices modeled for them. Jennifer Magiera wrote a brilliant piece on the practice of creating IEP’s for teachers – you can read her post here. Above everything, work with teachers in feeling comfortable about the journey they are about to take.

Instruction:

This is what going 1:1 is all about. How is going 1:1 going to enhance instruction? That is the question you should ask yourself everyday. In fact, every decision should be based upon how it empowers students.

For me, implementing blended learning, using an LMS, is the best instructional method when going 1:1. What this does is allow the teacher to not only differentiate instruction, it provides students opportunities to own their own learning. Which empowers students to work at their pace and to develop their individual strengths.

Another point regarding the adoption of an LMS is the kind of LMS to use. Meaning, will you choose a LMS to be used district or school-wide, or will you leave it up to each individual teacher to decide which LMS he or she will use? There are pros and cons in each route.

The pros being teachers having the ability to make such a key decision based up the needs of their students. The cons being the lack of management and oversight from administration. My district has gone with the enterprise version of the LMS that was chosen for our school that recently went 1:1.

Devices:

There are some amazing devices out there. From the iPad to the Nexus tablet to a PC to a Macbook, there is plenty out there to choose. Don’t get glossy-eyed by the new shiny or giddy over the new sexy. You must go with the device that fits your instructional needs. There’s no point in buying iPads if they can’t do what you need them to do. The same goes for the Chromebook or any other device you can think of.

Once you have narrowed down your choices to two devices, or let’s say you have decided that you are going to go with the Chromebook, buy a class set and start piloting them. Doing so should give you an idea of what to expect in a 1:1 environment.

After you are sold on your device, now you have to deal with the choice of carts, how you decide to assignment carts to teachers, as well as the checkout process for the devices, which is another process in itself.

Thank you, Dr. Will, for dropping that knowledge!  Until next time, readers 😀