Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Teacher Google Certification Training

    Central Unified has put together a team of teachers and support staff to lead school sites in technology professional development.  The goal is to build an internal network of master teachers who can support others at each school site.  Right now the team has 10 members who have all volunteered to join the group.  
    To build the capacity of the group to support teachers with Google in the classroom, members elected to try and get Google Certified.  Google has a program where educators can go through a series of training online, and in the end, take a certification test that shows their proof of mastery of the tools.
   On May 1st, the team met in one location and reviewed the study materials and lessons online.  Through support and teamwork, many were able to pass the test on the first try.  Congratulations to our new group of Google Certified Teachers.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Teen Tech Week 2017 in Central Unified

Ever wonder what the inside of a computer looks like? For Teen Tech Week, March the 7th,  students at Central High School West, had the opportunity to compare two different generations of computers taken apart to see the difference between each.  Under the supervision of community member volunteer, John Souza, students learned about the different components that make up the insides of a computer.  

They were able to learn the names and functions of the different parts.  For some students, this was their first time seeing what went inside the metal case.  For other students, it was an opportunity for them to show off their knowledge and experience of the inner workings of computers.  For all students, it was an engaging activity that involved questions and comments that made for a happy learning event in the library at lunch time.  Students were also able to document the experience by emailing photos from their phones to their teacher-librarian, Ms. Cheek.  Students earned prizes for their photos that they shared.  Teen Tech Week was an enthusiastic success! This annual event will be held next year on Thursday, March 8th.  We look forward to hosting even a larger event then.

Our goal during Teen Tech Week was to share with students the various forms of technology available within our Library’s Makerspace. One program, in particular, Canva.com, was used by students to create infographics illustrating their use of technology on a daily basis.

Rio Vista Middle School also participated in Teen Tech Week.  In celebration of Teen Tech Week in the library, Mr. Tosto was our lunch guest on Wednesday.  Attended by nine students, the Makerspace workshop used Google Apps for graphic art and design projects.

Students learned how to make a graphic organizer including shapes and callouts along with their photo.

Central High School East Campus Library hosted their second annual STEM Career Fair on Thursday, March 9th from 9 AM to 1PM.  This event is done in conjunction with Teen Tech Week.  Students from the Robotics courses and the 3D Imaging classes shared projects and demonstrations.  There were 19 vendors from a variety of fields in science, technology, engineering and math to visit with students about educational, military, and careers in STEM.  In addition, the Fresno County Deputy Coroner, Deputy Gentry, gave two, one-hour presentations (in the PAC), explaining the science, technology, and math used in death scene investigations.  Students from more than nine classes were able to attend these presentations.  Teachers brought scheduled classes through to visit the vendors and all students had access during break and lunch.

Students at El Cap Middle School participated in a lunchtime Markers Space which included the use of Ozobots and Little Bits.  Additionally, students were challenged to a scavenger hunt in the library wherein students had to use QR codes, Destiny, and Google to complete the mission.  Students used the ReacTable app which allowed students to explore synthetic music manipulation.  Additionally, students participated in animating sessions and block coding games.

The Glacier Point Library was thrilled to host for the second year in a row, Teen Tech Week 2017! This year’s theme, “Be the Source of Change” was the basis for creating a Retro Tech Museum featuring vintage items such as a manual typewriter, mechanical calculator, floppy discs, and so much more.  

The responses from staff and students on the Retro Tech Museum was extremely positive, as it provided, meaningful dialogue between teachers and students about the path technology and innovation has/is taking us.

Thank you to all of our amazing teacher-librarians: Ramona Cheek, Annie Lokrantz, Rosie King, Tommy Martinez and Christine Flores for supporting Central Unified students during Teen Tech Week and contributing to this blog post!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Digital Learning Day 2017

Digital learning was in full swing at Central High School West campus today, February 23, 2017.  While teachers invited me into their classrooms in honor of Digital Learning Day it was evident that technology is regularly integrated into classroom activities in these classes due to the ease of transfer from one activity to another, as well as routines in place for the student checkout and check-in of devices.

Mrs. Ghosoph's 2nd block English 3 class was immersed in digital learning when I entered their classroom this morning.  Students were logged into Pearson Realize and were navigating the myPerspectives curriculum as part of the group piloting curriculum for the current English Language Arts pilot.  In addition to using resources provided through myPerspectives, Mrs. Ghosoph utilized YouTube to introduce a different interpretation of Sorjourner Truth's "Ain't I A Woman" speech.  Students analyzed a digital version of the speech on their individual Chromebooks.

I was envious of the student discussion and collaboration taking place in Mrs. Bettencourt's Ag Biology classes throughout the day.  I heard students debating the structures and functions of various cellular organelles in ways that I only wished I would have overheard in my biology classes.  All of the debate revolved around student engagement in Quizlet Live.  I was impressed not only by the tech tool, but the way that it was seamlessly integrated into the class routine.  This was my first experience with Quizlet Live and I am sold!  There are very few tech programs that I would be willing to pay to use and Quizlet Live definitely makes that list.

Students join the game using a class code and are prompted to enter their first name.  While this is similar to many other programs I have seen, the next feature blew me away.  With the push of a button, the teacher is able to shuffle students into teams.  The classroom routines were evident as student quickly and excitedly found the other students in their group.  Already I was intrigued.  I remember many class periods where students shared a classroom with classmates the entire school year and never learned one another's names.  My amazement continued as students readily engaged with each other in dialog revolving around the questions flashing on their Chromebook screen.  Mrs. Bettencourt later explained to me that Quizlet Live is designed so that students don't always have the correct answer on their own screen and therefore must collaborate with group members to find the correct answer within the group.  While I often see technology use in classrooms as isolating, Quizlet Live promoted collaboration and academic discussion in an innovative manner.

I rounded out my day with several visits to Mr. Day's classes to witness the varying ways that he is leveraging technology in his social science classes.  There I had my second exposure to Quizlet Live with the same seamless workflow and student enthusiasm as in Mrs. Bettencourt's classes.  In his US History class, juniors navigated Google classroom, YouTube, and EdPuzzle to explore and analyze primary sources.  In another block, Seniors were given the opportunity to work at their own pace completing a hyperdoc assignment, navigating websites, maps, and videos.  Although each student had their own Chromebook and assignment in front of them, quiet, on task discussions could be heard throughout the room as students turned to neighboring students for assistance or to engage in discussions based on the material.  My Digital Learning Day ended in Mr. Day's World Geography class where students were given time to explore one of my favorite tech tools, Piktochart.  As an introductory assignment, students were given instructions in Google Classroom on the components required in their "About Me" infographic.  In a world where we are asking students to be able to analyze and interpret large quantities of information on a daily basis, allowing students to create an infographic on a topic that they are experts, themselves, is a great way to introduce data literacy.  While each infographic had the same basic components, each student's unique personality was evident.  I know that this project is just the first steps towards amazing creations by these students.

This is just a small glimpse at the digital learning that took place in Central Unified today.  I left West Campus feeling inspired by the varying ways that technology is being used to support student learning, promote collaboration, and allow for student creativity.  Thank you again to Mrs. Ghosoph, Mrs. Bettencourt, and Mr. Day for inviting me into your classrooms today!

All teachers in Central Unified, I challenge you to send us pictures of how you are promoting student learning using technology or better yet, we would love to pay a visit to your classroom to document digital learning making a #impact on student learning.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Flexible Classroom Seating

After watching a Channel One story on Flexible Classroom Seating, students in Mr. Satre's and Ms. Ogle's 5th-grade classrooms at Harvest Elementary School began bringing balance balls to school.  Balance balls have many benefits for students including engaging both sides of the student's brain which allows students to focus better than in traditional settings.  The addition of balance balls to the classroom environment required some repositioning of desks, but overall the effects have been positive.

Similarly, students in Mrs. Grigsby's 4th-grade class at Polk Elementary School have had the opportunity to participate in flexible seating.  One of the options for students in Mrs. Grigsby's class is adjustable standing desks.  Students have definite opinions about the use of standings desks.  While many students appreciate the adjustable nature of the desk height, some students prefer traditional seating options.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Teague Elementary School: Prodigy from Their Prospective

When the Ed Tech Team visited Teague Elementary school earlier this school year we noticed that students were actively engaged in math concepts through using Prodigy.  We recently asked Jessica Gutierrez, 5th-grade teacher at Teague Elementary School, to tell us a little bit more about Prodigy from her perspective and from her students' vantage.

We appreciate the guest blogging of Jessica Gutierrez:

      As far as my perspective, I started using Prodigy last year as a way to try to get my students excited about practicing math.  From the start, the students have loved working with it.  They love that they get to create their own character and choose different worlds to go into.  It's a lot like a fantasy type video game.  

     What I like is that I can set up the practice to mirror what  I am currently working on in class and alter the questions.  If we haven't reached a certain part of that lesson, I can just click off that particular piece until I can cover it.  It also has an assessment feature so I can get an idea of how they are performing on a certain piece and the students don't even know they are being tested, they just think it's part of the game, which helps ease the stress of the students.  Everything is aligned with Common Core standards and it does provide extra practice in areas that are always kind of weak, like using number lines or working with missing digits in a problem.  Areas that I wish were a bit better are that it doesn't allow for a lot of individual work, it's set up pretty much whole class.  The initial set up is easy, but you do have to make sure that the students write down their username and password as you cannot set that up for them.  It is easy to find it once they set themselves up though.  I use Prodigy mostly as a free time choice, rainy day schedule activity or as a reward for hard work on something, like a benchmark. 

Jessica, thank you for sharing how you are using technology to make a #impact in your classroom!

Friday, January 20, 2017

3D Printing in Mrs. Shoaf's Class

Herndon Barstow shows off their creativity with new technology

The 6th-grade students in Mrs. Shoaf’s class at Herndon Barstow have been given the opportunity to explore the world of 3D printing.  Thanks to 2 projects funded through DonorsChoose.Org, the students have daily access to a 3D printer and a variety of colorful filaments at their disposal.  The students began their journey into 3D printing by becoming familiar with the machine and how it works.  Then they were each able to print an educational 3D object created by a 3rd person using a website called Pinshape.

Students were hooked and soon discovered that they could create their own projects using a free web-based program called Tinkercad.  The students began their journey into a 3D design by using the 3D modeling lessons that are provided free by the website.  Once students had completed just a few simple lessons they felt ready to start tinkering themselves.  They created Christmas ornaments during art and then used their newfound knowledge to help their 2nd-grade tech buddies create ornaments as well.

Most recently the 6th-grade students applied their knowledge of 3D design to create rectangular prisms that were proportionate, requiring them to apply their knowledge of ratios and proportional reasoning.  In a single lesson, they learned how to design a rectangular prism, find the length, width, and height in millimeters, and then create the second prism with the same proportions.  Their designs were then printed.  They saw the immediate real life application of this skill and enjoyed working with models of the shapes instead of trying to visualize them on paper. 

The use of 3D technology has opened doors for these students to explore and grow in ways that were previously outside their grasp.  There is 100 percent engagement when the students are taught utilizing this 3D technology.  It is a welcome addition to the educational setting.