Defining Your “Language of Innovation”

Setting The Stage For Higher Ordered Thinking

One of the most powerful teaching and learning capacities adults and students have is the ability to adapt and learn new vocabulary to scale their understanding. With most fields of study, a student can learn the general vocabulary and corresponding meaning across contexts very quickly. With technology, the ever changing landscape continually shifts, requiring users to adapt to new vocabulary to use it most effectively. Understanding the language and the context of student learning with technology is a necessity to prepare students to understand the scale of skills and associated knowledge’s to achieve higher ordered learning experiences. A never ending shift of transitioning terms and learning experiences providing tremendous amounts of innovation in schools and in preparing students to be college and career ready.

The Words We Use Create The Context Of Our Learning

In the past few years alone we have seen several words come to the forefront in education that challenge the context of teaching and learning. Words like personalized learning, gamification, college and career ready, big data/data driven have arrived and begun to become a consistent language of teachers, administrators and students. These words inspire a new type of learning that supports enabling students to have access to a more individualized experience with their content. Not only is learning content on a pathway which meets them where they are at but it is also delivered using technology interfaces and devices that meets them in equitable ways. Well aligned digital curriculum and devices which enable teachers to assess and measure each student to best identify their needs has shifted student learning experiences.

Shifting Teacher  Practice Through Language

Educator’s awareness of the tools to shift their practice to provide deeper student learning with technology drives digital learning. It can be extremely difficult for teachers and students to find the time to become familiar with these terms and to recognize the ways to shift their practice and learning. A district needs to adopt a “language of innovation” which can be a part of their culture and to implement this language with a sincere approach that is collaborative and includes sharing their early adopters experience liberally.

To assist in scaling the digital learning initiatives in North Reading, I believe it will be essential to keep in mind the key terms and goals in educational learning environments.  Identifying a common language of terms can assist to scale student and teacher understanding around powerful dialogues in educational technology.  Scaling student understanding between grade levels will require compelling conversations around the integration of technology to support student learning that are considerate of the most innovative strategies.

Defining Key Areas & Support Needs

Within K-5, words arise quickly out of the components of our current digital learning curriculum. Words like online safety, digital citizen, coding and information literacy are commonplace in the elementary schools and serve to provide a base of knowledge to protect students as well as support their growth with technology. Digital learning specialists and teachers work in traditional and interdisciplinary spaces like the Makerspaces which also introduce a range of new understandings such as the Design Thinking and Engineering Design Process. These learning spaces are shifting the contexts of student experience and also adding new entry points for learning in hands-on ways and provide a systematic problem solving process that enables them to engineer the futures.

Within the 6-12 grade levels, the “language of innovation” continues to challenge traditional classroom pedagogy and enable students to be to college and career ready. Students are refining their ability to communicate digitally and utilize web based citation tools to improve their writing. Students are exposed to robotics and the prototyping processes that drive creative solutions and improve collaboration skills. Topics such as cloud computing, sensors and user interface design support students in the early stages of considering college and career focus areas to explore deeply.

The digital learning team teaches and supports the “language of innovation” across the schools. It is important that we scale understandings, tools and pedagogy related to personalized learning and college and career options for students. When we scale these understandings, we are scaling the opportunities for our students. With technology it is important to keep an open mind and recognize the tremendous trans-formative powers it has to student learning and how we can best prepare students whose futures require that we are open to it.

10 Big Things You Might Not Know About Digital Learning In North Reading

Coming to the end of my first year as the Coordinator of Digital Learning in the North Reading Public schools, I wanted to take the opportunity to share a list of activities and initiatives that you may not know are going on in the schools related to Digital Learning. These items represent some of the most exciting uses of educational technology and showcases the many innovative and talented people in the district.
Additionally, I want to express appreciation for all of the hard work on the part of the Digital Learning team and the teachers who worked alongside them to integrate technology and explore a range of new tools and resources. I also appreciate the support of Superintendent Jon Bernard and Assistant Superintendent Patrick Daly who have provided tremendous support and guidance in my process of joining the district leadership. This list is my attempt to share a snapshot of the great experiences in the past school year as well as highlight some things to look forward to in the fall.
We love robots!
In the grades K through 8 a huge commitment to Robotics and computer science programming has been made not only in the digital learning curriculum but also in the after-school clubs and Middle School classrooms. Students have a range of robots to work with from the Lego platform. Student opportunities to be involved with robotics includes not only the K-5 Digital Learning Specialists Curriculum but also robotics courses in Middle School and the Robotics Club after school.
Makerspaces are coming!
Makerspaces are coming to North Reading!  With the support of parents the hood School we put in the other its first Makerspace before the fall. This Makerspace will support a variety of new design thinking and STEAM (Science, Technology, Art & Math) based learning experiences for students. A team of teachers from the Hood Elementary are currently in the planning stages of this space and have had the opportunity to travel to other local school districts that have Makerspaces and learn from their experiences.
Digital Learning Specialist Model!
The Digital Learning Specialist rotating model brings digital literacy, Project-Based Learning with technology and programming and robotics curriculum to all three elementary schools. Co-teaching with classroom teachers, the Digital Learning Specialists work alongside teachers utilizing digital tools, resources, and classroom curriculum.
“Change Team” High School Student Technology Team
The North Reading High School Change Team & Technology Solutions Team was introduced at the high school this year. The North Reading Change Team & Tech Solutions program enables students to deepen their learning with technology while supporting teacher needs. The projects from the past year included an introduction to Raspberry Pi, Creating an App with App Inventor, Programming with Microsoft Visual Studio and Addressing Teacher Needs with Tech Help Videos. It is anticipated that this “Student Run Help Desk” will continue to evolve and play a huge role in including the student voice with digital learning initiatives.
The Digital Learning Lab is a beautiful space to learn and collaborate!
On a variety of occasions, the Digital Learning Lab was an amazing space to utilize to have a multiple classes or groups participate in web-based activities. It was a great place for students to be able to come in, set up their Chromebooks, and log on to an educational website. Students were able to participate as a group and utilize technology seamlessly. Not many districts have such a great space for students to learn together using some of the greatest technology available.
The “Hour of Code” will be back!
Next year we plan on even making the hour of code even a larger event. This past December the North Reading Public Schools participated in the hour of code in huge numbers. Students K-12 took an opportunity during the week of December 7th thru 11th to be able to try their hand at programming skills and other computer science related activities. It was a great to get students involved with better understanding the potential careers and opportunities related to computer science and engineering. Our guest speakers were great and truly enhanced the experience.
Digital Learning Adopts Open Educational Resources  
This Digital Learning is joining a Department Of Education initiative #GoOpen to commit to using online resources for curriculum development. The Digital Learning team will utilize open source educational resources in order to expand its curriculum K-8. This decision will enable the department to keep its vision aligned to procuring the best open source educational resources available and make recommendations based on their experiences.
Math Department at High School Commits To Online Curriculum
The math department at the high school has committed to an online curriculum which will utilize the Chromebook carts located at the high school. This commitment to an online curriculum is the first by any of the departments at the high school. This adoption by the teachers shows a commitment to expanding their skills as digital educators to have more streamlined pedagogy using technology.
Digital Learning Educators Making Impact!
Digital learning specialist Kathy Dasho and Middle School Library Media Specialist Laurie Walton have been selected to present their collaborative work with the Spanish language teachers in the Middle School at the MassCUE Better Together Conference at Lesley University on August 25th.
Excited About The Future Of Digital Learning!
These events, initiatives and learning experiences are truly empowered by the enhancements that using rich digital learning resources and adequate tools brings to education. Digital Learning is never truly about the devices but about the engagement it brings to the content and the variety of delivery methods that are possible in this digital age. I am eager and excited about what lies ahead for Digital Learning in North Reading and will look to create a supportive culture of sharing these technology driven education experiences as we integrate technology into the classrooms.
Follow @digitalhornets On Twitter for Updates on Digital Learning in North Reading

Tech Buzz Resources: Google Tools For Research: Middle/High School Edition

Google Tools For Research: Middle/High School Edition
This a list of tools, websites, and resources which assist students with organizing resources for research. Some of these tools can be used in the process of research or used to collect search specific statistics. Many can be used within the Google For Education platform or used within the Chrome Browser.
Google Tools:
Review consumer trends, marketing insights and industry research. The site includes statistics, a research library including videos and infographics, planning tools, and a section for emerging digital trends.
Based on Google Search, Google Trends shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.
Google Scholar is an online, freely accessible search engine that lets users look for both physical and digital copies of articles. It searches a wide variety of sources, including academic publishers, universities, and preprint depositories looking for: Peer-reviewed articles. Theses.
The service sends emails to the user when it finds new results—such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research—that match the user’s search term entered.
Google Research group explores how information visualization can make complex data accessible, useful, and even fun. Work includes public and Google-internal projects.
Power Tips:
Research Tools For Chrome Browser
Citation Websites: Some are available as Chrome Browser Extensions

The fully automatic bibliography maker that auto-fills. It’s the easiest way to build a works cited page; and it’s free. Search for a book, article, website, or film, or enter the information yourself. Add it to your bibliography and continue citing to build your works cited list. Download your bibliography in MLA, APA, Chicago, or Turabian format. Bibme is very easy to use, but you need to pay for a pro account to save your bibliographies.
Citation machine helps students and professional researchers to properly credit the information that they use. Its primary goal is to make it so easy for student researchers to cite their information sources. However, again, if you want to save your bibliographies you need to pay for a pro account.
Cite This For Me allows you to automatically create website citations in the APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard referencing styles at the click of a button. Cite This For Me also comes with a Google Chrome extension.
Cite your work at APA, MLA, and Chicago without leaving the homepage in 3 easy steps. The fourth step allows you to download your bibliography; you can even save it if you create an account. Your citations will be kept as long as you keep visiting the site, but after four days of inactivity your citations will be deleted.
Creating a complete and correctly formatted citation is a challenge for many students, especially documenting sources such as art and music that aren’t included in traditional citation formats. OttoBib
Creating creates citations from ISBNs (which means that your book needs to have a clearly visible ISBN), it also comes with a Google Chrome extension.
An extension for your Google Chrome browser, RefDot makes citation easy; it allows you to cite and store books or journal references, as well as add books automatically from Amazon book pages, which comes in handy.
Zotero is a veteran and completely free browser based plugin that helps you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.
Easy Bib – MLA Free
A great citation generator, EasyBib compiles your bibliographies and citations for you, saving you valuable time. You don’t need to create an account if you are using MLA.

Recognizing Digital Learning Outcomes Are Skills for the Future

   

  Digital learning Specialists & Technology Teachers are challenged with keeping their curriculum relevant to the needs of the 21st century student. Our students’ immediately recognize the benefit these skills bring to their ability to communicate in today’s technology driven environment. On a daily basis I see students utilizing the range of technology resources to support learning goals of teachers of all content areas and recognize that these students are acquiring skills which will serve them well into their educational future.

Design of Instruction with Technology
     The effectiveness of what we bring to students in the classroom is based on the design of instruction when using technology. The needs for elementary aged students to explore tools and develop an awareness of their applications to their learning requires a different approach than the more targeted subject area skills important to develop research and project creation skills as students move in the middle and high school levels.
     Curriculum development in Digital Learning involves a careful selection of technology applications and strategies for maximizing students learning experiences with digital tools. Collaborations with content area teachers and the ever changing landscape of technology resources challenge the Digital Learning team to refine student skills with technology while also enabling them to analyze, evaluate and create with modern tools.
     In North Reading, content area teachers are supported with Digital Learning Specialists who provide technology skills and their assimilation of these tools into the classroom. The Specialists also bring a specific technology curriculum content to each of three elementary schools.  The design of the instruction impacts the how and why students learn as much as the tools themselves. Staying flexible and responsive to the changes that technology can bring to the learning landscape and the world at large.
Impact Areas of Digital Learning Curriculum
      I would like to outline some of the essential areas that Digital Learning touches upon across grade levels that will serve students well into their future. These learning opportunities are constructed from a curriculums focused around essential skills and skills that carry beyond the tools. We live in world which requires a range of skills to succeed, and these skills are integrated into instructional approaches for students to learn with technology.
     Students with technology in their hands become more responsible. Technology helps students be more responsible for appropriate communication and to take more control over their own learning. Students can seek out feedback and improve their ability to listen and clarify their learning. The resourcefulness that technology enables students to develop allows them to be self-directed with their learning and define their own goals and to create and curate their own content.
     Learning is now more tool oriented and student success is weighed increasingly more on the ability to access and disseminate information from sources which are in ever increasing numbers moving to web platforms. Supporting students in acquiring these skills prepares them for skills necessary in higher education and develops their ability to adapt to the constantly changing environment which requires validating resources.
     As our nation becomes increasingly more technology-dependent, it becomes even more necessary that to be successful citizens, students must learn to be tech-savvy. When is readily available in the classroom, students access the most up-to-date information quicker and easier using mobile technology and robust research databases.

     The demand to keep students skills up to standards in the areas of computer science, robotics, digital learning and digital citizenship is a day and day out process of identifying the tools, software, applications and instructional methods to meet students ever increasing needs. Ensuring that educational technologies are thoughtfully integrated into teaching and learning enhances student outcomes and provides new opportunities for students in their classrooms now and in their future endeavors.

Using The “TIM Matrix” For Identifying Best Practices For Digital Learning-Authentic Learning With The iPad In 5th Grade

I have chosen the TIM Matrix as a tool to look more closely at how technology is used across educational settings and with a variety of instructors in my district. By selecting a tool like this I have also selected to get down to the nitty gritty of what I feel is valuable with the integration of technology and also what best practices I can extract from our current practice.



I recently walked into a 5th grade classroom for a 10 minute observation. The teacher was working on a multi layered project with students using multiple apps on the ipad to have students create presentations which present their research on different states. To give a background on how I am framing my view I am looking to select a level of how the students are using the technology and the instructor’s level of integrating it. With the way I am using TIM, I am looking at these two components and selecting a level. I am then doing a general observation of the teachers practice and students engagement.  



In this lesson I observed:



The teacher is working with individual students to create guided tours using the Tellegami App on the iPad. Students are using a guide sheet with questions to collect their research and then answer questions about their state. The questions include topics such as the longitude, latitude and continent. There are also questions about the land forms existing in the state such as rivers and mountains. Students are also researching the natural resources and climate of their chosen state such and industries. Students are also identifying a few points of interest and famous people from the state.
It is clear the teacher has collaborated with the subject area teacher before . They are able to have discussions about web based resources and parts of the lesson which go beyond surface level use of technology.
The title of this project is “Interactive State Tour Project”.
  • They create a Telegami app to create a video introducing the state and location.
  • Create a Piccollage about a landmark.
  • Create a resources page in Google Docs.
  • Create a Chatterpix of a famous person from the state.
  • Create a map outline with QR codes linking to the resources developed.



Students are working collaboratively(paired groups of varying sizes), emailing their videos and re-sending artifacts from the lesson.
Students are engaged with the lesson(asking questions, discussing content) and are making the connections with the content.
Teacher has assisted students with emailing the resources and helping them put the artifacts together in terms of sizing and organizing images.
Teacher has an organized folder of materials from the lesson.
She is discussing the components (completed parts,student progress) of the lesson with the teacher.
Teacher works with a student to locate resources on an iPad and ensures the student has backed up the video.
Teacher arranges with a student extra time to finish her project that did not show up as saved on the device.
Teacher checks on the script (student created written narrative) and tells the student she will see her in the morning.



Using the TIM Matrix has enabled me to look more closely at defining the best practices of the teachers and also how these practices influence student learning.  Let me explain below and identify key components of this lesson which supported these descriptions.



Level Of Technology Integration Into The Curriculum



Transformation-At the Transformation level, students use technology tools flexibly to achieve specific learning outcomes. The students have a conceptual understanding of the tools coupled with extensive practical knowledge about their use. Students apply that understanding and knowledge, and students may extend the use of technology tools. They are encouraged to use technology tools in unconventional ways and are self-directed in combining the use of various tools. The teacher serves as a guide, mentor, and model in the use of technology.



Observation Evidence Of Transformation:



  • Multiple apps used in the projects for creation. 5 applications used at varying times. Students are creators and are asked to use the apps to display their research and presentation soft skills. The focus here is more on how each app was used for a specific purpose than the quantity.
  • Kids backup and manage backup files of student work. Students show ownership of their project and utilize project management skills
Characteristics Of Learning Environment
Authentic-The Authentic attribute involves using technology to link learning activities to the world beyond the instructional setting. This characteristic focuses on the extent to which technology is used to place learning into a meaningful context, increase its relevance to the learner, and tap into students’ intrinsic motivation.



Observation Evidence Of Authentic Learning Environment:
  • Students are self directed and allowed to work on different phases. In this lesson students were in a variety of phases and has dedicated a different level of craftsmanship to their project skills.
  • Students can manage their work level.
  • Authentic Project. Students are asked to solve a real world problem. In this case a presentation of the geography of an area with valid and reliable sources in a way which uses multimedia.
  • Collaborated with teacher. The teacher has developed a working relationship in which each accountability in the success of the project. Each can bring their strengths to the table.
Utilizing the TIM Matrix helped me identify the key elements of collaboration and authentic learning that drives this lesson. The technology supports the teachers strategies and enables the students to more independent learning opportunities and diverse teamwork. It is great to see this in our classrooms and is even better to share with my Digital Learning Specialists the best practices that we can think about as we develop lessons and co-teach with other teachers.

Digital Learning In The North Reading Public Schools-October 2015 Share

The month of October has flown by in the digital learning team has done a tremendous amount of work with teachers across the schools. 

At the Hood School Digital Learning Specialist Helen Kelly has embraced digital literacy with her co-teaching and use of the web-based tool pic collage. She has also created more collaborative  environment for students using the iPads. Some of her projects for the month of October include lessons which include the students learning the difference between “Fact and Opinion” and reading the story “Leaf Jumpers”. Helen Kelly has also effectively integrated of the use of the interactive SmartBoard into these lessons.  



At the Batchelder School there a future programmers at work. The K-5 students of the L.D. Batchelder School are using Bee-Bots and the Scratch Junior iPad app to learn basic programming skills. Students are also using the scratch software created by MIT to help develop these programming skills. Digital  Learning Specialist Chris Lindsay has assisted teachers at integrating robotics within her co-teaching. At the Little School Sam Anthony has integrated the use of WebQuests within her co-teaching with classroom teachers. With the use of Google Sites to enable students easy access, she has been able to embed research skills and digital literacy within her classes. These tools enable students to walk through an introduction and process section for students and allow students to  investigate a variety of different topics such as Space and Science related topics.



In the middle schools in North Reading students are beginning the I-Ready testing on the Chromebooks. I-Ready is an educational software which provides a valid and reliable growth measure for students K-12. Digital Learning Specialist Joanne Coughlin as assistant teachers and students at effectively administering the test and guiding students and staff through the online testing process.



In the North Reading Middle School technology education course Susan Wasaukee oh has students delving into web design using a rich methodology of research process and also learning HTML programming. Students are developing topics researching these topics and creating timelines and concept maps and then assessing themselves with the use of Google forms. Students are learning how to hand code there HTML webpage is based on their topics.



Also in the Middle School robotics teacher Chip Osgood has students learning how to create interactive animation scratch programming. His students are designing their own video game which features an original character is fully user controlled within the environment. They are also creating a variable of responses to onscreen interactions and ultimately control the end of the game.



A highlight for our department was K-12 digital learning specialist Kathy Dasho presenting at MassCUE 2015. Kathy presented digital storytelling at the Massachusetts Computer Educators Conference on October 22. Her presentation was well attended and many stayed after to ask her questions about the use of Alice programming and Google earth for digital storytelling. The entire group were impressed with her technical knowledge and are sharing of best practices.


In an effort to streamline the use of Google Apps For Education members the digital learning team attended a training on the Google Admin Console training held at the SEEM Educational Collaborative in Woburn Ma. This training help to ensure the proper management of Google accounts and Chrome devices within the district.



In the North Reading Middle School Library Media Center all middle school students have had an orientation to the library media center where they learned about all of the resources available to them in the library on the library website. Due to having a certified library media specialist in the middle school North Reading middle school students now have access to over 30 Gale databases for research.
In the North Reading High School Library Media Center, Kim Smith has been working with reading classes to instruct them on how to locate print and electronic resources, books and the library catalog. Students have also learned how to locate electronic books and e-books from the Commonwealth e-book collection. They have also learned how to locate and borrow books, audiobooks, movies and music from Hoopla using an electronic Boston Public Library card. Additionally, students learned how to navigate the media center website and find sources for research.
Around the schools Data Specialist Nan Cook has been working diligently to ensure accurate data submission for state reporting to the Massachusetts Department of Education. She also is the district go to for managing passwords and ensures student data security. Network 
Administrator Nick Langford manages the schools wired and wireless networks as well as providing robust customer service for the variety of hardware and software support needs throughout the district.



It has been an eventful month as I still continue to learn about the district and the variety of talented educators that make North Reading a great place to work. In the coming month we will

be organizing our district wide “Hour Of Code” event and looking forward to defining new ways to work with teachers in Digital Learning across the district.

Instructional Technology Update & Andover Innovation Lab Week of March 17-21 2014

At the Andover Innovation lab and student run help desk we are busy planning for our promotion efforts for next year! We had current students create flyers to hang around the school promoting our program. Students will be able to sign up for the help desk next year during the week of March 24th thru 31st.



From an instructional technology perspective teacher awareness of the use of web 2.0 tools is been a major focus this month as I have been sharing the district resources for Digital Learning. These resources help teachers to integrate a variety of web 2.0 tools into the classroom and also be able to differentiate what the difference between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools is. Please review the link below to review some of Andover Public Schools Digital Learning Approved Tools. At a recent faculty meeting I was able to present the availability of these materials and  presented to faculty the tools and suggestions for integration.





A tool that I was able to directly introduce to them at the same meeting was the social bookmarking tool Symbaloo. This is a very graphical bookmarking tool that allows you to set its interface as the homepage of your computer and also create multiple pages of bookmarks. I can highly recommend the use of this tool for teachers particularly for creating specific pages of bookmarks to share with students and also the ability of this tool in other users

“webmixes” of links and resources.





This is great for finding new resources and also sharing specific subject area links. Another option would be to have students create accounts and make their own list of links to share with the teacher.



This week at Andover High School we were in the midst of MCAS testing. It became a great time to catch up on projects but also to connect with teachers more easily about how their technology is functioning and how their current projects may be developing.



On Thursday I had Natalie Pinta come and shadow me for a day at Andover High. She was interested in viewing how were integrating technology into our classrooms and the tools and culture we were creating with student and staff use. She was really impressed with the collaborative approach and willingness of teachers to let me into their classroom.