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That is the age-old question, eh? I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but was recently inspired to address this more directly in our schools by this post. A 14 year-old came up with an idea to cut costs at his school, which in his case, specifically related to ink and toner costs. Check out the statistic about toner costs vs. perfume!

We’re currently evaluating the amount of printing and copying that happens in our schools. The costs for this are astounding. The impact on the environment is definitely another consideration. As a school that utilizes Google Apps for Education, the numbers are surprising.

CHANGEBut most of all, we’re hoping to change our culture. We have brainstormed ideas, but welcome yours as well.

  • Change settings so that users can only print to certain printers.
  • Reduce the number of printers overall.
  • Require that print jobs over 10 pages are sent to the copier instead.
  • Draft a list of what not to print- email, personal items, anything from Google Drive. How do we monitor this?
  • Educate teachers and students about how to print- selecting a printer, print settings, double-sided printing, color printing vs. black and white.

Some ideas to present this to our faculty, staff, and students:

  • Host a contest to have others come up with creative ideas to reduce printing and copying.
  • Read The Lorax to students, with this topic as one focus.
  • Create an infographic for all to see, detailing our printing/copying costs, use, habits, and more to educate everyone about our culture.
  • Encourage everyone to make a personal pledge about how they’re going to reduce printing and copying. Post the pledges on a Padlet, a Thinglink, or even on a public bulletin board in the school for all to see.
  • Recognize those that model positive habits and behaviors in our school Google+ Community.

Other ideas? What have other schools done to change the culture? We don’t need to go totally paperless, but we do need to address our habits.

 

Recent Reflections

Wow- It’s been a month since my last post and I don’t know where the time went!

Here are a few things that have been happening:

Theme Week- Each year our building with 3rd-8th graders has a Theme Week hosted by the related arts teachers (Music, Art, P.E.) and the World Language teachers. Instead of students going to those classes, they go to a few workshops based on a central theme – this year it was the Olympics. Other adults in the building pitch in to make the groups smaller and the offerings larger. The tech integration team did a workshop using Augmented Reality this year. We only had our groups for one session, about 70 minutes. In that time, students created short videos about an Olympic sport, athlete, or country. Then they selected a trigger image and set it up in the Aurasma app on the iPads.

Some of the Olympic trigger images used to access the videos students made.

Some of the Olympic trigger images used to access the videos students made.

Voila! Now there are trigger images all over the school that anyone can scan and then view the videos that pop up.

We culminated Theme Week with the annual Faculty-Student basketball game. We streamed it live via UStream and recorded it for future reference. The students came from behind to win it- and the gym erupted at the final buzzer!

We have many more teachers using Voicethread or getting ready to use Voicethread. This ranges from first and second graders for an exploration of constellations, to middle school students describing their families in French for pen pals in France.

First and second graders have become news anchors and have put together a news video to share. The topics of their features have to do with various aspects of the community around our school.

Teachers had another in-service day focused on the Common Core. We also took a closer look at some SBAC sample items. In addition, the teachers shared and celebrated their work this year on implementing Common Core writing standards. We captured some of that sharing on video. I was happily surprised by the amount of technology being integrated into the Writing Workshop model. There were many teachers reporting out the positive aspects of Google Drive and blogging as critical elements of the writing process. (third-fifth grades)

I’m noticing that I am devoting less time to staying connected with my PLN via Twitter or Google+ and am reflecting on what’s taking priority over that. I feel disconnected and am not benefitting from this great resource of mine. Time to re-examine that!

Both Digital Learning Day and the 100th Day of School fall this coming week in our schools. I have no idea which teachers it was, many years ago, that made a holiday out of the 100th Day of School, but it’s celebrated in elementary school classrooms nationwide, at the very least. Students bring in displays of 100 Cheerios, pennies, etc. and honor the day in creative ways.

This year, the schools in which I work are compiling a list of how we’re integrating and using technology, both with students and as professionals, to see if we can get 100 examples by the end of the week.  We’re hoping not to necessarily add on something new, but to celebrate what we already are doing. I’ll likely share more about that soon.

A few years ago, I created a Google map at this time of year and shared it with the world via my PLN on Twitter. (zoom out to see all of the pins) I invited educators around the world to drop a pin on the map, showing us where they were, in the hopes that we’d get 100 pins by the 100th day of school. It worked – we had well over 100 pins. It was very exciting for students in various classes in our schools to check the map daily to see the new pin locations. It opened up conversation about geography, time zones, hemispheres, seasons, and much more.

This year, we’d like to try something similar. If interested, please add a pin to this new 100+ Favorite Books map. Tell us your class’s favorite book, your location, the age/grade of your students, and anything else you’d like to share. Please try to do this by Friday, February 7th.

Thanks for your help! Feel free to pass this along to others in your PLN.

Communication is Key

As the technology integration specialist for two schools that encompass grades K-8, I have many people with whom I work. I am frequently pondering how best to share the many resources, tip and tricks, and ideas that I come across from my PLN or that I have learned about via my own professional development experiences. I share things with specific groups (science teachers, for example) when a resource is content-specific.

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/cu3jnE via Intersection Consulting

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/cu3jnE
via Intersection Consulting

I also share many of these things via a Tech News that I compile every other week or so. This came about after it was made clear that I was sending too many emails with too much information, feedback that I greatly appreciated! The Tech News includes timely announcements from the tech department, tech-related professional development opportunities, new collaborative and global projects, and tips and tricks involving the tools we use on a regular basis. There’s more too- innovative videos, sharing examples of what educators in our schools are doing, and information about how/when to get support. It turns out that the Tech News is read and viewed by quite a few people, but not enough people. It’s just another thing for the teachers who already have too much on their plates.

It has also become clear that those who don’t get to the Tech News aren’t aware of the things I assume they know. That’s a big mistake on my part. I wonder why everyone else isn’t in my head?!

I get very excited about the things I learn and come across and am eager to share, but what is the best way to do that? How can I share things in a timely manner, but in a way that doesn’t overload the teachers even more?

Suggestions? How do YOU communicate and share with those in your schools/districts?

Student-Centered Learning

A group of technology integration specialists from our supervisory union, plus some other key critical friends are participating in a MOOC together for the next 8 weeks, called Digital Learning Transition. Here’s a link to the MOOC .

We spent some time together in a Google Hangout last week discussing and filling out the self-assessment for our team. We had very rich discussions about what is and is not happening in our supervisory union. At the heart of the matter is student-centered learning. It’s a key component of our tech plan and those of other districts in Vermont as well. Yet, who has had the discussion about what IS student-centered learning? Have our superintendents and curriculum coordinators? Have our principals?

Our teachers are being asked about whether or not this is a focus, yet do they know what it is? Do we have a shared definition? How do we help clarify that for all audiences, provide examples so that it’s not confused with differentiated learning, and provide support and professional development? Who takes the lead on this?

I wonder about a few things… I believe in student-centered learning, at least as I understand it. I see the value of passion-based learning, problem-based learning, and place-based learning as well. But in these times of data driven instruction and new assessments and standards, how will we or can we allow for the 3 PBLs to happen?

How are other schools already succeeding?

One of our first/second grade teachers approached me recently to brainstorm about a math activity with her 2nd grade math class. In the Bridges math program, they are learning about data collection and different forms of representation. We explored a few tools they might use, and decided to use what we already had on hand.

This teacher is very systematical and methodical. She took students through this step by step and with great success. Here’s what they did:

griffin's form

One example of a student-created form.

Each student, using their own account in our Google Apps for Education domain, created a form. The form included one question, asking visitors to select one favorite item from a list of four choices. The topics ranged from sports teams to colors, to songs, shoes, and favorite primates! Students shared their forms with the teacher, who then sent them out to parents. They collected data via the forms for about a week.

The next step involved looking at and working with the data. The students accessed their responses and showed a summary of them, which came up in a pie graph, The chatter in the room was fabulous as they all compared notes on what they saw.

avery data

Students see data in 3 different ways on the response sheet.

As they’ve been learning about bar graphs, the teacher wanted to incorporate those as well. At this point, the students added four rows to their response spreadsheets, copying their data. They selected the data and inserted a chart to show their collection in yet another way. Here’s a finished product:

This multi-step task didn’t take too many class periods. Embedded in this activity were many basic technology skills including: accessing their Google accounts, going to Drive, creating a form, typing, sharing the form, viewing responses, adding data, creating charts, working between multiple tabs, and much more.

2nd grade. Data, graphs, collaboration, and more!

Afterward, students met in partnerships to reflect and evaluate the data further.

Afterward, students met in partnerships to reflect and evaluate the data further.

The Numbers Game

There are so many posts out there that include a number in the title. 7 Characteristics of an Innovative Educator, 6 Types of Digital Content Sharers, 10 Digital Citizenship Resources, and so on. One of my favorites is Tom Barrett’s (@tombarrett) “Interesting Ways” series where the number keeps changing as more people add resources and ideas.

I realize that when I see a tweet or a post shared that includes a number in the title, I’m drawn to it. Perhaps I’m thinking that just it feels manageable. I often share resources with the educators in our schools and everyone is busy and overwhelmed by the job of teaching. But if they see a post with a number, maybe they can consider those few things.

Image credit: Creative Commons/flickr by Benefit of Hindsight http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdell/548548453

Image: Creative Commons/flickr by Benefit of Hindsight http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdell/548548453

When I think about my role in our schools I think of just one thing. Relationships. Just as it’s critical to build relationships with our students, it’s also important to build relationships with one another. We can do that in many ways. I have relationships with many in my PLN whom I’ve never met face to face. But the best way to build relationships among those we work most closely with is face-to-face. Have lunch together. Send along an article or post about something you were just talking about in the hall. Show that you listen and care. Have a sense of humor. Build trust through those relationships.

Just one thing.

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