Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Star Wars-Themed Mailbag on Instructional Technology on May the Fourth

May the Fourth be with you!

The Force One to World initiative is Awakened on the rise. We are Jedi teachers, armed with the best lightsabers MacBook Airs and iPads and ready to fight the battle for The Resistance the students against the evil of The First Order time. Jedi Teachers continue to use the Force best practices in a battle against the Dark Side instruction and assessment. The Resistance Students use lightsabers technology to wage war against the tyranny of evil of Kylo Ren and The First Order transform how they learn and demonstrate learning. There are still stormtroopers questions to destroy answer and this secret map mailbag will show you the way to Luke Skywalker help prepare you for an aerial space assault unlike anything you've ever seen a summer of professional development ahead of a gut-wrenching lightsaber duel great 2016-2017 school year.

This photo misspells "One to World" and "MacBooks and iPads" (Slashfilm.com)

All of the following questions are actual questions posed by actual District 220 staff.

Hi Joe,
What technologies do our staff and students now have access to? What are the plans for next year?

This year, our BHS staff and students continued using their MacBook Air laptops. Every certified teacher and student received a MacBook Air laptop. Middle school certified teachers received both a MacBook Air laptop and an iPad Air, while the students received an iPad Air. Elementary certified teachers received a MacBook Air for the first time this year. Several teachers and students participated in the LaunchPad program, which provided selected teachers and students with access to iPad Air devices in preparation for all PK–5 teachers to receive an iPad Air this spring. Elementary students will receive one iPad Air per student in Grades 1–5 and one iPad Air per two students in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. More on the One to World Initiative: http://www.barrington220.org/onetoworld 


Yo Joe,
What professional development is being offered to staff this spring and summer to help teachers learn to use the technology to improve instruction and assessment?

There are some pretty incredible options for teachers this year. This spring, we offered on-site Schoology training by Schoology experts to all BHS teachers to attend. Those opportunities were differentiated for the participants. BMS teachers attended staff meetings designed by Digital Age Learning coaches around self-directed instructional technology professional development opportunities stemming from teachers who either attended the ICE Conference or had a skill or workflow to share. Our elementary teachers received iPad Air devices and self-directed options for professional development offered by Instructional Digital Age Learning coaches, Librarians, TSAs, and Techs. These teachers used professional development time to choose from differentiated topics varying from "How to use the Camera App and AirDrop" to "Giving Students the Choice with Explain Everything, iMovie, and Schoology." Each topic was offered in the form of a screencast and printable tutorial in Schoology for later access.



Additionally, there are many learning opportunities for teachers offered through Staff University. These courses include subjects specific to learning technology skills or apps, such as "iPad Basics" or "Schoology Basics" and self-directed options such as the "Technology Playdate," an Edcamp-y, teacher-driven, laid-back approach to differentiated professional learning for PK-12.


Hey Joe-Joe,
I just learned about this amazing software/app called [insert name of amazing software/app here]. I'd like to try it out, but it costs [a bazillion dollars]. Can I get it for my students?

This is so tough for me. I mean, I'd love to just say "yes" to every request. When I taught, I asked for cool stuff all the time and then just hoped and prayed that my Director of Technology and Assessment would say "yes." So, I take these requests very seriously. A software request prompts me to research what we already offer, what the requested software offers, and then compare the value of what the requested software brings against what workaround we can cobble together at the price the requested software is quoted. When the request is an iPad app, this process can be much more tedious. Comparing one app request to the bajillion other apps available in the App Store is daunting, but we have a nice collection of apps that I've already reviewed this year (over 800); thus, the process a bit more smooth than it was in the fall. If you're interested in requesting any software or apps, please complete this Google Form: bit.ly/220SARF (Software/App Request Form). It helps when you also send me an email with as much information as you can offer about your request.

JJ,
What's up with this blended learning mumbo-jumbo? Are you trying to push the teachers out and have students only learn online? Are we going to be the Barrington Virtual School District 220.0?

Blended learning in Barrington 220 is going to rock your socks. But, let's be clear: blended learning is an instructional strategy, not a technology initiative. Blended learning can be (and has been) done in absentia of 1:1 technology. Blended learning is about meeting the students at their ability level, prescribing personalized access to the content, measuring student understanding, and then repeating the process. Imagine a lot full of cars in need of mechanical attention. Blended learning allows teachers (mechanics) to address each car individually, rather than just replace all the carburetors, fix all the brakes, change all the oil, etc. Each car probably would benefit from those changes, but for the car that really just needs an oil change, replacing the carburetor and fixing the brakes isn't the best prescription in that moment. Blended learning requires that all students receive access to the content both through an online environment and face-to-face time with teachers. So, no, we aren't going to be the Barrington Virtual School District 220.0. And don't call me "JJ."


As always, you can contact me via email: jjrobinson@barrington220.org or text/talk: 224.230.8520.




iPad Accessibility Options and Apps to Support Reading & Writing

Kelly Key’s Top Picks
AT Coordinator, Barrington 220

Supports for Reading

Enable Text-To-Speech with additional Highlighting Feature
Prizmo App
This app allows you to take a picture of a document, and it has text-to-speech, highlighting, notes, and more. This app translates and reads out loud, too! You may also send content to another app to read and annotate on it, i.e., use iAnnotate to read, highlight, type, and write. Also get quick access to the dictionary, Wikipedia, Google, etc.  Click here to learn more about Prizmo

Read2Go App
Pull books from bookshare.org and read them out loud. The student will need a Bookshare account (and an IEP or 504 plan). If you have a student that you would like to have access to digital text, please send me their first and last name to set up an account. Click here to learn more about Read2Go and Bookshare

Supports for Writing

Word prediction is built into the iPad keyboard and part of iOS (the iPad's operating system).

Siri Microphone for Speech-to-Text
  • Built into the keyboard for text-to-speech. Tap the mic icon and speak text directly into a Google Doc or any other app that allows typing.
  • For more tips on how to teach speech recognition skills to your students click here to access the e-book I co-authored.
Alternative Keyboards such as Keeble
This is one of the many options of alternative keyboards you can load for students to use. The Keeble keyboard is designed for users with fine motor challenges, switch users, and users with vision impairments to type in any app. It also has a more sophisticated word prediction capabilities, as well as the ability to customize the look of the keyboard (i.e., color, font, etc). Click here for more information on the Keeble keyboard

Co:writer App
  • This is the most sophisticated word prediction application. It recognizes spelling attempts and corrects common spelling errors.
  • Includes text-to-speech as you type,
  • Adds a topic dictionary option.
  • Click here for more information on Co:Writer
Supports for Worksheet Completion

Snap Type Pro
If you would like more options, the student can send their document to:

Type on PDF App
  • Complete a worksheet in this app (type, write, use speech to text, circle, highlight, etc), and send to Google Docs.
Additional Options to Consider

Guided Access
This feature allows you to lock a student into an app or hide features within an app. Access the feature by tapping Settings > General > Accessibility. Turn Guided Access On, set a pass code, open the app, triple-press the home button, circle buttons you want to hide, and push start. To end Guided Access, triple-press home, type the passcode, and tap end.

Larger Type
When this is turned on all apps that support this feature will increase the text size.

Additional Resources

New Option to Post Grades for Multiple Sections at Once

Infinite Campus recently updated Campus Instruction to allow for posting grades for multiple sections at once! This enhancement is coming just in time to save a few extra steps and clicks as teachers prepare to submit final grades for the 2015-16 school year.

Have you ever visited Campus Community? The article below is a good example of the "how-to" information available to everyone.


Post Grades for Multiple Sections in the Post Grades Tool

Path: Campus Instruction > Post Grades > Multi-Post Grades

The Multi-Post Grades tool can be used to post and update posted grades for multiple courses at one time.

  1. Select Multi-Post Grades.
  2. If desired, use the Post to Filter dropdown lists to limit the posting options to a specific term, section and/or task.
  3. If only a specific section(s) and standard/grading task should be selected for posting, uncheck the Select All checkbox at the top of the Section column. This will be selected by default. Sections to be included in the posting of grades will need to be manually selected. Individual sections may also be manually deselected.
  4. If the term from which grades should be posted is the same for all courses, select the term in the Post from Term dropdown list at the top of the Post from Term column.
  5. If the standard or grading task from which grades are being posted is the same for all courses, select it in the Post from Standard/Grading Task dropdown list at the top of the Post from Standard/Grading Task column. This will change what is displayed in the corresponding dropdown lists for the sections listed.
  6. Individual "posting from" selections may be made for sections if the term, standard or grading task varies by section.
  7. Click Next.

  8. If desired, individual student grades may be reviewed by selecting a specific section. The number of grades being posted will be displayed in the New/Updated Grades column. The number of students for whom there are no grades to post will be displayed in the No Grades column.
  9. When finished, click Post.



Overwrite Existing Grades

  1. If desired, use the Post to Filter dropdown lists to limit the posting options to a specific term, section and/or task.
    Mark the Overwrite Existing Grades checkbox.
  2. If only a specific section(s) and standard/grading task should be selected for posting, uncheck the Select All checkbox at the top of the Section column. This will be selected by default. Sections to be included in the posting of grades will need to be manually selected. Sections may also be manually deselected.
  3. If the term from which grades should be posted is the same for all courses, select the term in the Post from Term dropdown list  at the top of the Post from Term column.
  4. If the standard or grading task from which grades are being posted is the same for all courses, select it in the Post from Standard/Grading Task dropdown list at the top of the Post from Standard/Grading Task column. This will change what is displayed in the corresponding dropdown lists for the sections listed.
  5. Individual "posting from" selections may be made for sections if the term, standard or grading task varies by section.
  6. Click Next.

  7. Review the posting from and to options before overwriting posted grades. If desired, individual student grades may be reviewed by selecting a specific section. The number of grades being updated will be displayed in the New/Updated Grades column. The number of students for whom there are no grades to post will be displayed in the No Grades column.
  8. When finished, click Post.

Blended Learning to Launch in 2016-17

At last night’s School Board Meeting (May 3, 2016), members of the  Barrington 220 Department of Technology & Innovation presented a Blended Learning Update. Administrators LeeAnn Taylor (Director of Media Services), Joe Robinson (Director of Instructional Technology), and Matt Fuller (Assistant Superintendent for Technology & Innovation) were joined by two Barrington High School teachers, Tom Bredemeier and Wendy Sanchez. Mr. Bredemeier, a BHS Computer Science teacher, and Ms. Sanchez, a BHS Physical Education teacher, both spoke eloquently about their efforts creating some of Barrington 220’s first-ever blended learning courses to be offered during the 2016–17 school year.

Blended learning is an education program where students are taught partly online and partly face-to-face, while students have some control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning. Blended learning is an instructional initiative, not a technology initiative. Blended learning strategies, such as flipped classroom, may be used by any teacher at any time. However, for a complete course to be blended, significant time and care are required to re-envision instructional strategies to best capitalize on the blended options offered.

The overall presentation is just over 20 minutes. To listen to any part of the presentation, click the links below to jump directly to different parts of the video. Highlights from each section of the presentation are also provided below.

Presentation Opening

end: 1:04:32

Matt Fuller introduces LeeAnn Taylor, Joe Robinson, Tom Bredemeier, and Wendy Sanchez.

Review of Blended Learning

end: 1:09:36




Blended Learning is:
  • NOT technology-enriched instruction.
  • NOT learning in an online-only environment.
  • NOT eliminating the need for teachers.
  • NOT intended to increase class sizes.
  • NOT solving a particular problem with our current practices.
Why Blended Learning in Barrington 220?
  • Meets the needs of all learners.
  • Cultivates an environment where all students have unique opportunities and are inspired to excel.
  • Contributes to a flexible learning environment.
  • Demonstrates best practices in instruction.
  • Creates a hybrid traditional/digital student learning environment.
  • Prepares students for post-secondary experiences.
Professional Development

end: 1:11:02

Barrington High School Blended Learning Study Group (2015–16)
  • Provide professional development in a modeled blended environment.
  • Utilize blending strategies in current classrooms.
  • Create recommendations for possible courses.
2016–17 BHS Blended Course Update

end: 1:19:09

Area of Focus: Blended instruction will increase opportunities for students to have additional access to individual or small group instruction.

Blended Learning in the Classroom

end: 1:26:28

BHS Teachers
  • Mr. Tom Bredemeier shares his vision for his 2016–17 BHS Computer Science course.
  • Ms. Wendy Sanchez discusses the development of her 2016–18 BHS Physical Education course.
School Board Questions and Answers



More Bits and Larger Pipes!

As a result of the Barrington 220 PK-5 LaunchPad iPad pre-launch program, our district Information Services team learned some valuable information for the near-future. Elementary LaunchPad teachers used iPads for instruction using the "one-device-to-one-student" (1:1) model already in place in Grades 6-12. As the program draws to a conclusion, Information Services is already ramping up our summer projects which include network revisions to accommodate a full-blown iPad deployment for every Barrington 220 student in Grades PK-5.

More Bits
As multiple iPads within the classrooms connect and collaborate via the Internet this next school year, additional network devices—wireless access points—are required in each elementary school.  These additions will help with the flow of all those new bits and bytes across the Barrington 220 information network. We have calculated that 138 additional access points will need to be deployed in our schools. During Summer 2015, our Information Services team was able to complete much of the needed network wiring to accommodate the anticipated additions. During Summer 2016 we will mount and connect these new access points to the Barrington 220 network.

Larger Pipes
Cables connecting network devices have maximum limits of how much data can flow through them at any point in time. When we talk about these connections in regards to data flow, we (techies/geeks) sometimes refer to these connections as "pipes."  The actual term is "bandwidth." The idea is that a larger pipe will move more data. We definitely need some larger pipes! Our Internet connection is now maxed-out at 1 Gbps (1 Gigabit per second, or 1,024 Megabits per second) and we are set to add well over 3,000 additional iPads to our network. To provide some perspective, our connection was at 7.7 Mbps when I first arrived in Barrington 220. During this upcoming summer, that 1 Gbps pipe will double in size to 2 Gbps. This should be more than enough bandwidth to handle both the additional elementary student iPads, as well as the ever-increasing use of bandwidth intensive multimedia content used in our classrooms (at least for now!). Best of all, we will get this additional bandwidth at less cost.

There is plenty of back-end work needed to make this all happen, but I will spare you the details.  These changes will allow us to increase our Internet bandwidth for the next few years without additional device changes. A jump to a 3 or 4 Gbps Internet connection will require no more than a contract revision with our Internet service provider.

Throughout the summer our team will deploy our devices, set up our systems, fire up our firewalls, switch out our switches, construct our controllers, and work out our wireless systems. If you see any new blue-glowing LEDs on your classroom ceiling, you will know we have already come and gone.

Earn PDH Credit for Apple Teacher in Barrington 220

With  Apple Teacher , teachers learn and build skills on iPad and Mac that can be used in the classroom with a self-paced learning environme...