On February 14th, my Tech Tip Tuesday was all about Office Mix. I was so inspired from the STAT Conference that I had to share this tech tool with my staff. I had overwhelming interest at this Tech Tip Tuesday due to the previous engagement my staff had with Office Mix through my Twitter chat presentation. Office Mix is quite the buzz around the “The Lane”! It has now become a great way for our teachers to flip lessons and/or use it for reteach moments. Teachers also appreciate the accountability piece through checking the analytics. The following are some ways we are using Office Mix at Church Lane Elementary.
"Students listened to me notice and note/think aloud about two pieces of text in order to determine how problem and solution leads to theme. Then, they watched two short video clips (one from Land Before Time and another from Rudy) to analyze how the problems and solutions in each video clip showed the theme of friendship in different ways. They were using the digital sticky notes to monitor the videos so they could perform their written response as their assessment."
– Mr. Miller, 4th grade
“I have used Office Mix as a flipped learning tool for my accelerated learners as well as an instruction and reteach tool for all learners. I first used Office Mix by embedding video clips, adding anchor charts, and including guided questions for students to use when they were not meeting with the teacher in small group. After seeing the impact on my students, I decided to use Office Mix a little differently by embedding all students’ “menu of activities” and including organizers, links, and videos differentiated for each groups’ needs. Once they met in small group, they continued working through their menu by completing the activities either listed on or embedded in the power point. The students love the accountability of following the PowerPointt without the teacher’s help, and I love the accountability of the students being able to answer their own questions, especially the “what I am I supposed to do” question because it is all laid out for them.”
–Ms. Mueller, 5th grade
“I used Office Mix with PowerPoint to make a lesson on finding and using text evidence to support the moral in a fable. My class had practiced this skill the previous day. In Office Mix, I recorded my slides or used my document camera to record a video of myself explaining directions while pointing to the text that students would be working with. With the slides that I recorded, I went over our objective, expectations, and the activity. Throughout the various slides, I would tell my students to pause and do something in real life and then come back to the Mix when they had completed the task. By doing the lesson this way, I was able to pull a small group of students who I noticed the day before had a good bit of difficulty with the objective of the lesson. We did the same lesson that I had put into Office Mix, but with me scaffolding everything a bit more. My students who I knew were ready to tackle the task more independently, but still with a little teacher help, were able to navigate through the Office Mix with a partner. The ability to record my voice and the documents my students would need and adding in pauses for students to complete chunks of work, was very successful. I effectively had a whole group lesson going while meeting the needs of each of my unique learners. Office Mix is an exciting tool that I plan to use for many more lessons and many different skills!”
–Mrs. Wurzbacher, 2nd grade
“It can be difficult to plan and execute effective instruction when you have a classroom with such diverse needs. Officemix has allowed me to meet the needs of all of my learners. I have used Officemix as a flipped learning tool during my math workshops. Officemix has allowed me to deliver content to my accelerated group who I do not get to meet with right away. Through Officemix I have used screen recording to show my accelerated group different tech tools and websites to access during a lesson. Slide recording has also allowed me to record how to solve problems by using the inking tool. It also allowed me to upload videos to further my student’s understanding of a topic or skill. Overall, Officemix has given me a pathway to accelerate or modify instruction for my students through a flipped learning experience."
–Ms. Listman, 3rd grade
"As the STAT teacher, I get the chance to assist teachers in a lot of their lesson/activity creating. It has been a great help taking some of the time and stress off the teacher’s shoulders. I have used Office Mix to record stories and create direction slides for teachers to use with their class. Teachers can easily take these slides and import them into their presentation or place the link onto the lesson tiles. Students also get a kick out of hearing my voice!"
–Ms. Whorton, STAT teacher
Twitter chats have become my new favorite choice PD for my staff. I will admit, I was a little taken back by the chaos that can sometimes come with Twitter and its posts. However, being someone that tweets on a daily basis about my school’s journey, I felt it was the natural next step. I started by hosting a mock Twitter chat during a Tech Tip Tuesday. I encouraged teachers who already had Twitter accounts to attend and see what all the buzz was about. Teachers were engaged, motivated, and ready to give it a go! We selected a hashtag - #cletschat and voted on what our first topic would be – Formative Assessments. The evening had come for our first Twitter Chat and I was a nervous wreck. I decided to go to the gym to ease my nerves and participate while I was on the exercise bike. There was the awkward virtual silence of me waiting for my teachers to join. Within 5 minutes into the chat, I had 4 teachers join! I couldn’t wait to get the conversation started. The chat was so engaging that I ended up being on the exercise bike for a while hour! I was so engulfed into everything my teachers were talking about. Various grade levels were sharing ideas, pictures/photos were being shared, and plans were being made. This increased our in school communication in a way I had never imagined! Since our first one in March of 2016, we have Twitter chats at least once a month. Take a look at the first Twitter chat by clicking HERE.
For 2017, I was looking to add some spice to our Twitter chats. Enter the teachers of Mays Chapel. Katie Cox, STAT teacher of Mays Chapel Elementary, and I planned a combined Lighthouse school Twitter chat that would focus on New Year’s resolutions for teachers. We gathered at one of the planning sessions during our S.T.A.T. conference to curate the questions and potential answers for ourselves. We set a date and started advertising this PD opportunity to our staff immediately. Katie and I were both pleased with how well this Twitter chat turned out. With using the hashtag #bcpslhchat, teachers from both schools chimed in on answering questions and responding to each other. Ideas were shared, bonds were formed, and resolutions were made! The beauty of a Twitter chat is that you can multitask while participating. Teachers can decide when to chat and when to take a step back! The possibilities and topics are endless with Twitter chats. I can’t wait to see the journey that #cletschat takes us on!
Submitted by Stacy Siegel, Reading Specialist
Morgan R. and Chris B., 5th Grade Students
Fort Garrison Elementary School
Our school got 1:1 devices for all students in grades 1-3 two years ago. School was very different before computers. When it came time for tests, we had to use paper and pencil. It was a lot harder because it took longer, when writing a BCR there is no spell check, and it really hurt your hand because you had to write so very much. In addition, prior to computers, we did not have access to math websites to help us in math. Finally, before computers, we did not have BCPS One which allows us to see our grades and know which grades/classes we need to improve.
Now that we have computers, it really makes school so much easier and fun. Morgan has a student in her class who is from another country. Her class uses Google Translate to communicate with this student. This student also uses different websites to help her with her English. Chris really enjoys using DreamBox and ABCya!. DreamBox helps him improve his math skills and lets you play games and have fun while using it. ABCya! is one of his favorites as well because you can play math games. Morgan really loves to write and enjoys using Microsoft word to write her essays. She feels limited when having to use paper. Morgan likes the variety of homework that teachers can assign using the technology rather than worksheets. Chris enjoys when his Science teacher, Ms. Gill, uses Kahoot to review for tests and quizzes. Morgan enjoys using PowerPoint to make presentations to show to the class. Chris uses Destiny to help improve his reading skills as well. Overall, technology has really helped us learn and made school a lot more fun!
Submitted by Mike Cooney
5th Grade Teacher, Mays Chapel Elementary School
One misconception that we often hear about students using computers is that the 1:1 devices take away from the important social and emotional learning usually found in elementary school. The idea is that children who are sitting in front of a computer all day are isolating themselves within a digital world.
At Mays Chapel, I have found that the opposite is true. Collaboration is happening more often than ever. Students can often be found sitting close together, devices open, talking about what they have learned.
The STAT program has never been solely about the devices. It has never been about giving the students a computer and having them work independently for the majority of their school day. STAT is about the transformation of teaching and learning. It’s about making learning more accessible to students. It’s about giving students choices. It’s about preparing them for the future by making them problem solvers and creators. When students have these choices and opportunities, they are actually more likely to want to share their ideas with others.
Samantha Amato, a third grade teacher at Mays Chapel, notices the effect that her devices have on her students’ interest and engagement. “Seeing their work in a digital format gives students and audience and makes the work more authentic, so they are more likely to want to collaborate on a project because of the pride they have in their work.” As a result, human interaction and collaborative connections are not replaced by technology; they are fostered by it.
So how do students at Mays Chapel communicate and share their ideas? Several traditional cooperative learning techniques are used and enhanced by the opportunities the technology provides.
Jigsaw method: In my classroom, for example, there might be a time when the students are working in a group on something, such as a research project. Each group member might be responsible for a different aspect of the research. Using tools like OneNote for notes, students can then bring their devices to easily share what they have learned to their collaborative group. The devices make this easier because of their compactness; anything they would want to show their partners or classmates is right in front of them. Switching back and forth from notes to resources allows the students to share how they got their information for clarification.
Collaborating in person with devices: Mrs. Amato often has her students working in small groups with each child on his or her own device. “One student might have a text resource open, while another student has the product they are working on open on a separate device.” While students all have their own devices, occasionally it is easier for students to use one centralized computer to gather or record information. This allows the students to become more familiar with tools and resources that they might not be ready to use independently.
Using tech tools to collaborate: If you were to ask any teacher at Mays Chapel which tools he or she uses the most in the classroom, the answers would not consist of computer games. Instead, the most common tech tools we use encourage collaboration and communication: Padlet, Kidblog, OneNote’s collaborative space, just to name a few. The technology makes sharing easier with tools like these that update in real time as students compose and edit responses. After the students share their ideas online, face to face whole group and small group discussions are often used to further share and refine the ideas that were shared online, giving the students more opportunity to communicate with each other.
When the technology is placed in the hands of every student and teacher, we as teachers must give the students even more opportunities to work together. Our students are realizing that tech tools do not replace quality teaching and learning; they enhance it.
Kara Delenick’s 6th grade classroom is one of a kind. In June, Principal Harvey Chambers tweeted a challenge to teachers and a picture of a room with no desks from ISTE: Create this look in your classroom—first teacher to tweet back wins funding. Delenick won the challenge and immediately began scouring Pinterest and kindergarten catalogs for seating arrangements and furniture ideas. By the first day of school, Delenick’s room was a collection of high and low tables, squishy seats and stools, cushions and boogie board, and only 3 desks—two of which were used to charge devices. She repurposed items from her first year as a lighthouse teacher, covering a table with whiteboard contact paper and wrapping it with tie-dyed duct tape. Two months into the school year, Delenick says, “The room works because there is no front, no point of focus, so it doesn’t matter where students congregate. Students take ownership of their space, and they have pride in it. They always return the furniture and materials.” She has also noticed that each of her classes is unique in how they use the furniture. Students gather in a different area and use the furniture in different places. Students rarely sit in the same spot every day. They also like to move the furniture around to see if there is a new and fun arrangement. Her deskless room makes it easy for students to collaborate and determine their own groups. “I am always looking for things to add to our room to spice it up,” Delenick added. “Students gravitate toward new furniture. They figure out how to use it.”
Submitted by Lindsay Montanye
5th Grade Teacher, Fort Garrison Elementary School
As a first year teacher, working in a county that has been so technologically advanced has truly been a blessing. I just recently graduated from Salisbury University, and I was actually required to take a class about how to use technology in the classroom. I also took many classes through Salisbury’s Education Program that enabled me and showed me how to make the most of the technology in my classroom. Going from the college experience to actually being a classroom teacher means that I get to apply everything I learned in college to my classroom, teaching, and students.
I am very happy and thrilled to be teaching 5th grade at Fort Garrison Elementary School, a Lighthouse School. Working in a Lighthouse School gives me endless opportunities and possibilities in the sense of how I teach the material given to me in Baltimore County’s curriculum. Each one of my students has had and used their own device on a daily basis for three years now. This means they are well versed in how to use their device properly and effectively. My students are so great at using their devices that they even run to my side if I am ever having trouble working my technology. Also, in the case that we have a student who is new to our Lighthouse School and new to devices in general my students are so remarkable at teaching the new student how to work a device that it brings me a sense of peace.
My 5th grade students use their devices in a countless number of ways daily. For example, they go on Dreambox to practice their math skills, they use Discovery Education and BrainPop for research projects, and more. Since I teach 5th grade, my students are very independent learners and love to have opportunities to explore their own learning. I make the most of this independence by assigning them lesson tiles with links, files, directions, and more that students will need throughout a lesson. I also make a chart each day with each reading group’s rotations and post it to a lesson tile so students can work at their own pace and be informed as to what they have to get done for the day. Another efficient way that I use my device is by creating turn-ins on BCPS One. Students turn in their work to the turn-in in the form of Microsoft Word documents or PowerPoints to decrease the amount of paper we use.
Overall, being a first year teacher in a Lighthouse School has been an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to continue to use technology on a daily basis in my classroom! I am happy that I’m able to use the knowledge and skills I gained in my college career in my classroom. I also feel that being a teacher in a Lighthouse School has supplied me with endless opportunities to engage and captivate my students in our everyday lessons. I am especially thankful that our county is so focused on preparing its students for life in a digital age.
As the focus this year includes infusing 21st century skills into teaching and learning, Pikesville Middle School teachers used collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and higher-order instructional feedback to work through a series of tasks in order to “break out” of a locked box during a faculty professional development. Table teams were presented with a number of items, some of which were red herrings or dead ends, which included a QR code, professional learning books and resources about 21st century skills, a flash drive that housed a numbered map of the school, and a black light. Among other tasks, teachers had to work together to fill in the blanks about effective feedback and determine examples and non-examples of collaboration. Following the fun, teachers reflected on ways they effectively used 21st century skills and how they can implement these skills in their classroom, and then they posted their responses on a Padlet. One teacher offered the following insight: “This learning experience was a great way for teachers to revisit what it takes to work effectively in a group. In order to be successful we had to speak and listen effectively, delegate responsibilities, and keep time in mind. We also had to be mindful of others’ needs. These are the skills we have to teach our students.”
The activity and tasks were borrowed and modified from a Breakout Edu session run by the Office of Digital Learning for STAT teachers in September. Much appreciation goes to the outstanding training that STAT teachers are receiving this year!
I have taught kindergarten for 8 years at Church Lane Elementary Technology. Our Lighthouse Status and one-to-one devices have opened doors to new and exciting resources. During the 2015-2016 school year, our kindergartners received their devices. My teaching team headed full-force into small group instruction to implement them into the classroom. The students showed such amazing knowledge with computers and programs. Many students were able to teach me new things and, therefore, teach their peers. We call these geniuses, “Device Managers.” This enabled me to focus more on interventions and small group instruction. By the end of our school year, devices were being used in various ways across curriculum – with research, writing, publishing, learning activities, and, etc.
This school year, I moved to 1st grade; it has been a great transition due to several factors. First, I know where the students are coming from, the knowledge they have gained and the curriculum instruction they have received; they have also had an entire school year of learning how to use our devices and programs. This has made settling into our routines faster and easier. With little-to-no reminders, students are getting into programs on BCPS One and on their desktops with ease. Even our two new students are easing into use of devices and programs so much so that they are becoming Device Managers as well. This is enabling me to assess students, instruct in small groups and intervene for students who are approaching grade level. We have approached and tried new programs, like Classflow and Board Builder together. As we use these new programs, we discuss our successes, the best ways to use them and how to solve problems together. It seems as if our growth this year could be endless.
During the early days of summer, Pikesville High School (PHS) teachers engaged in a week of professional learning to transform their instruction using formative assessment, small group instruction, and meaningful technology integration. Following this experience, teachers were eager to learn more about the challenges that both the students and they would face as they begin the 2016-2017 school year as one of the first BCPS Lighthouse high schools.
In an effort to answer some circulating questions, I sought out the help of others who embarked on this journey before us in elementary and middle Lighthouse schools. Through this use of VoiceThread, the views of many were captured to not only acknowledge challenges that may arise, but also help clearly articulate the true meaning of S.T.A.T. Being new to PHS, this tool allowed me to share ways that I could best support teachers in the journey of instructional transformation, while remaining their biggest cheerleader!
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.