Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math all come together at Rodgers Forge Elementary every day, but on Tuesday, March 21st these five areas of the curriculum were specially showcased in the school’s third annual STEAM Night. This well-attended event was an evening of fun and excitement for students, parents, and teachers alike. Activities included pendulum and catapult painting, coding, origami, and even a cool paper flashlight making activity provided by the Digital Harbor Foundation. Student volunteers working the event exhibited their musical talents through a coffeehouse setting, answered questions about their STEM Fair projects, displayed their art bots, and shared their SafeRacer vehicles. Special thanks goes to HotSpots and the Education Foundation for funding a $3,000 enrichment grant that allowed us to purchase materials for our school makerspace as well as for the event. The school was able to purchase LittleBits and 3Doodler Pens for student use. The STEAM Night committee at Rodgers Forge will reflect on the successes of the night, as they begin planning even more exciting events to include next year!
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
On November 2nd and 3rd, superintendents from all over the United States and professionals from the world of education and educational technology gathered in Baltimore County schools as part of the League of Innovative Schools 2016 Fall Meeting. BCPS co-hosted the event with Digital Promise. The purpose of the meeting was for school and educational leaders to collaborate on shared priorities in providing access and opportunity for all students. Windsor Mill Middle School was fortunate to be selected as one of two schools to highlight the STAT 1:1 Learner-Centered Environment initiative. Student participation was central to the success of the two-day event, and students at WMMS proudly served as BCPS Ambassadors to their guests. Students launched the event by welcoming visitors as they arrived by bus. Student Guides led small groups on Learning Walk tours of classrooms. Guide Khalil Davis said, “I like to meet new people, and today I had the chance to do that.” Selvin Gonzalez reflected that he was proud to show off Windsor Mill. “I could see on the faces of the visitors that they were amazed at what they saw.” To close the day, a Student Panel eloquently described their journey in a Lighthouse school to the audience of educators. Eighth grader Alesha Pryor said participating on the panel gave her an opportunity to hone her skills in speaking in front of a large audience, and for that she was grateful.
Mr. Park, 8th grade ELA teacher at Windsor Mill Middle School, opened the world of inquiry and technology to his students in the form of Genius Hour, a movement that provides students the opportunity to explore their interests and passions. Tech firm, Google, a leader in the movement, allows its employees to spend 20% of their time pursuing an idea that inspires them. More than half of their new products have been generated as a result of the practice. Gmail and Google news are just two examples of the fruits of Google’s Genius Hour. Google’s philosophy is simple: give people time to work on an idea that interests them, and productivity will go up. Mr. Park brought the philosophy into his classroom by providing students the time and structure to pursue a question they had. Students delved into issues about mental and emotional health and race relations. Park videotaped students presenting the ‘first draft’ of their presentations and sent them the link, pairing it with a rubric for self-assessment. Using their personal videos, students critiqued their performances and reworked their projects and presentations as needed. The Genius Hour projects have has taken on a life of their own; Windsor Mill students will use the research discovered by a student on anger as the text for an upcoming school-wide Socratic Seminar.
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.
Submitted by Laura Wurzbacher
2nd Grade Teacher, Church Lane Elementary School
In second grade this year, we are focusing on a wide variety of skills to improve our reading fluency. Each week, we provide our students with a checklist for ELA with tasks that we work on throughout the week. One block on the checklist focuses specifically on improving our reading fluency skills. Using Vocaroo (a voice recording tech tool), our students record themselves reading their differentiated leveled texts. They then are able to copy and paste a web link that Vocaroo provides and use a BCPS One turn-in to submit their personal recording link to their teacher. Then, using a recording sheet, students listen to their recording and reflect on how they read in terms of the characteristics of fluent reading. We call this “Glows and Grows”, with glows being what the student feels that they excelled with and grows being what the student feels they can improve upon next time. Students are expected to determine whether each given characteristic was a glow or grow for them and they also explain why they rated themselves this way.
We have found that when given this opportunity to be reflective readers, our students are comfortable with being honest with themselves and work to improve their grows the next time around. Eventually, we plan to have students listen to a partner’s recording and complete a glow/grow for them. Also, having our students’ recorded readings in a turn-in format on BCPS One easily allows us as teachers to check in with our students’ reading fluency abilities in a quick and simple way. This also allows our students to be able to listen to their older recordings to hear how far they’ve come with their skills! Our reflective reading practice was modeled and demonstrated multiple times in order to explicitly provide students with our expectations for this assignment. Students love to volunteer their recordings as whole-group examples and everyone enjoys hearing their friends read by clicking on a simple web link and then providing both compliments and constructive advice for next time. This activity has been very productive and successful so far in helping our students hear and understand what they can work on to improve their reading fluency skills. As a second grade team, we look forward to developing this task further with our students!
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.
History came alive this year for students in Windsor Mill Middle School social studies classes. Department Chair, Rick Kline, transformed desks into super pods and designed inquiry-based projects for his classes. In March, students ran an election campaign to elect the most effective leader for ancient Rome. Students selected candidates and created Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and commercials to garner support leading up to the final debate and vote. In April, students researched the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages to determine if the price of the church’s influence was worth the cost. Students vigorously defended their positions with textual references during a lively Philosophical Chair. In May, Chelsea Bracci from the Maryland Historical Society beamed into the classroom, leading a virtual lesson on National Anthems using the Star Spangled Banner original document as a primary source.
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.