Spring Digital Learning: Global Connections & Students as Creators Dr.Daniel Downs

Our world is changing. We are adapting to new technologies, new required skills and constantly shifting our understanding of how technology changes what is possible in the world. As educators, it is more important than ever to support our students to recognize this expanding world of technology in a safe and thoughtful way. One of the primary roles that technology has played in education is that is has enabled students of all levels to envision themselves as digital creators. I wanted to share some of the digital learning infused projects in the North Reading Public Schools that have been completed in the past month that support students understanding of the global classroom and their inherent nature as creators. Please feel free to view samples and photos of these projects on our April Share located at http://bit.ly/aprilshare

Spanish teacher Maggie Miller completed an amazing lesson with her 9th grade Spanish class with the assistance of a Kathy Dasho K-12 Digital Learning Specialist. The class conducted a Google Hangout with a school in the Dominican Republic and during this online hangout students were able to connect with their pen pals and ask a series of questions. Students during this lesson were expected to speak entirely in Spanish and utilize the webcam to be able to view and interact with the students in the Dominican Republic. This was an exciting lesson which connected two worlds’ together and enabled students to improve their fluency with a foreign language. It was truly a great example of a global classroom.

At the Batchelder School 5th grade students have been introduced to the digital tool Canva in their Digital Learning block. Canva is a graphic design tool which enables students to make their own infographics by providing an interface to create a background, add icons and use a range of shapes and styles of text. The 5th graders assignment was to create an infographic about a World Explorer and define the explorer’s country of origin, country sailed for and their impact in the world. This tool enables students to become creators and supports their ability to research and explain their learning with graphics.

In the Middle School World Language Department Ms.Houghton and Ms.Lahaie  worked on their Mi Familia project with the support of middle school Digital Learning Specialist . The Mi Familia project has students utilize web based digital tools to collect and upload images family images to Google drive and use Google Docs web based text editor to describe their families using the Spanish language. The final project was a digital board created by the students using Thinglink.com.

Thinglink.com acts as a virtual poster board that has links to sound, images and text. Students can share the link to their final project to teachers, family and friends to show off their work. This project greatly enhances students’ connection to their language learning by connecting their descriptions of their family. This lesson improves their fluency using a non-native language during their presentation as well. The students’ use of a range of digital tools also supports their adaptable use of technology in the classroom.

In the Middle School robotics classroom Charles Osgood has been working with students on implementing the engineering design process with students. Utilizing a “Speed Maze Challenge” students learn about gears and how to use the engineering design process to assist in solving real-world problems. One of the central components of this lesson is that students are able to review and understand the drive ratio of a transmission and be able to create engines that can meet different speeds. Teacher Charles Osgood was recently named the MassCUE Featured Educator. See the link here or the April Share link above for more information.

The Spanish 2 honors course in the high school students used the Pixntell app to create videos in which they narrate slides that are responses to questions around the Spanish speaking country’s geographical location, local food options and experiences of navigating in a Spanish speaking country. The Pixntell app enables students to create a presentation and narrate over the presentation and record the combined audio and video. These types of projects support the students’ ability to apply research skills in the content area and share their learning and fluency with the language. Students can also authenticity describe their research discoveries and drive the depth of learning.

Assisting teachers to support teachers with engaging and creating with digital tools are the Digital Learning Specialists. Beyond the time in the dedicated blocks in the elementary schools and classroom integration at the middle and high school they support teachers at adapting to new skills. In April, elementary Digital Learning Specialist Sam Anthony provided a multi-session professional development for teachers at the Little School on using Google Apps for Education.  Multi-session tiered trainings like Sam Anthony’s support teachers’ ability to embed technology into their lessons successfully. Each month the Digital Learning Specialists are providing a range of professional development to provide support to teachers to try new tools and enhance their instruction with technology tools.

These are just a few of the in-classroom projects and technology integration which are bringing students and teachers together to expand learning opportunities with digital tools each day. Digital Learning is more than the tools in the classroom, it includes how these tools are embedded and into lessons and support the instructional goals of learning the content. In North Reading we are supporting students as they begin to connect with the larger world around them and support them with the tools and skills to create, collaborate and engage in their world.

Low Cost Tech Professional Development: Finding Conferences & Support For Innovating In Your District

A challenge to many educators is finding out about many of the opportunities to go out and get professional development in areas of high need or to come across sources of inspiration or to network with other educators. In this presentation I have attempted to organize a list of opportunities in Massachusetts or with national organizations to connect with other educators and get empowered by learning about a new topic.

You can find this presentation  online at  http://bit.ly/lowcostpd

Daniel Downs, Ed.D.    @danieldowns    

MassCUE Board & Coordinator Of Digital Learning North Reading, Ma

ITS/Technology Teacher Challenges

  • Licensing Needs: PDP’s & Content Knowledge
  • Classroom Technology Shifts In Devices & Software
  • Digital Curriculum
  • Supporting Teachers With Classroom Content
  • District Initiatives (1:1, Personalized Learning,GAFE)
  • Time For In-Person PD
  • Cost Of Conferences & Classes

Organizations To Consider Joining Or Following

Professional Organizations

COSN/METAA (Tech Directors & Administrators)

MassCUE Membership includes an Atomic Learning Account

New England ISTE

BATEC Summer Institutes

CSTA-Computer Science Teachers Association Email List (Western Mass & Boston Lists)

EdTech Teacher

November Learning

MassCan

Collaboratives

EDCO Collaborative (accepts non EDCO members)

SEEM Collaborative

Salem State “The Collaborative Project”

Member Districts

Initiatives & Events Which Keep You In The Loop

EdCamp Calendar

#GoOpen Initiative: Summits and Open Group

Future Ready

District Based Innovation Summits: Natick Innovation Summit

Office Of Digital Learning

ODL Blog

Present, Present, Present………

Fall Conference, Spring Leadership Conference & Sponsorship For District Events Worcester & Foxborough

Online & Community Based

Free Webinars

New England ISTE

November Learning

EdTech Teacher Webinars

PBS Learning Webinars

Education Week Webinars

Google+ Groups & Communities

Google Educator Training

Intel Teach Elements

PBS Teacherline

Annenberg Learner

International Society For Leadership In Education

Library Of Congress Teacher Modules

Online PD Courses

ASCD

Focus Areas

Google

Teach For Google

STEM/Computer Science

Boston STEM Network

MassCAN Workshops

Caite

Massachusetts Exploring COmputer Science Partnership

Exploring Computer Science Summer Trainings

MIT Scratch, App Inventor and STarlogo training for teachers

Personalized Learning

The Friday Institute

The Friday Institute Math & Technology

SIG Groups Through MassCUE

  • Makerspaces
  • Personalized Learning
  • Computer Science

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

Andover Innovation Lab & Help Desk Experiences At MassCue 2014-Lab Overview and Student Help Desk

On early  Wednesday October 22nd 5 students left early and  travelled to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro,Masachusetts from Andover High School as members of the Andover Innovation Lab and Help Desk to be part of the MassCUE(Massachusetts Computer Using Educators event in the form of the student help desk featured in the main concourse. The students participating were Eli Gukovsky,Ari Primak, Will Owen and Bryce Corbitt.

With the assistance of Dan Downs and Dan Brennan the students set up a video which promoted their endeavors at the help desk and helped outline the curriculum which they are part of at the high school. The video below helps outline the process of the Andover Innovation Lab and Help Desk.



This was a great opportunity for the students to better understand the huge movement they are apart of which empowers students to use technology more efficiently with teachers and enables them to work on their own innovative technology driven project. Students had an opportunity to network with other teachers who use technology as a main part of their instruction. 
The students also had a visit from Andover Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marinel McGrath who visited and chatted and tweeted out her visit with the group.
I was also able to present the Andover Innovation Lab curriculum to a roomful of teachers eager to see how we work on our projects and use blogging as a reflective form of the process. The presentation below outlines the design of the curriculum used at the help desk and provides an overview of several of the students projects. This was a highly beneficial opportunity to share what we do at the Andover Innovation Lab and how this model continues to evolve as we integrate technology in the district.