Wednesday, March 13, 2013

School 1TWO1 Spotlight - Spring Valley High School

*Guest blogger, Rob Herron, Spring Valley High School Assistant Principal tells us a little about how Spring Valley is transitioning to 1TWO1.

Over the last 2 years, Spring Valley High has prepared for the full school 1TWO1 roll out, what are some practices your faculty, staff, and administration have started to help move towards school wide 1TWO1?

Spring Valley has really done a great deal in a relatively short period of time.  We have a new Principal, Dr. Baron Davis, who is really committed to using technology in a variety of ways.  Of course, the major effort underway is training our teachers to use technology in appropriate ways that increase student interest in what they are being taught, thus increasing their level of engagement with the material, and ultimately enhancing learning.  We have a lot of really excellent teachers who didn’t need much coaching or instruction.  And we have some folks who desired a bit training.  We’ve offered a lot of it.  During the second semester, for example, Debbie Easler (Media Specialist) and Jason Paddock (ITS) are offering sessions on different topics every Wednesday.  Teachers can select the sessions that most appeal or apply to them.  The classes are offered every period of the day to make it easy for a teacher to attend.  Debbie and Jason have really gone above and beyond in providing relevant training tailored to meet the needs of our teachers.  

We added a Quick Link on our website that we’re calling “1TWO1 in Practice” where we are showcasing student work that could not be easily produced without the 1TWO1 initiative.  The work we will showcase will be great things are students are doing in their classes, with technology, but not just for technology’s sake.  The work chosen will be at least at the Modification level on the SAMR model.  
Spring Valley is doing lot with technology in other ways as well.  The move to Google has opened a lot of opportunities in terms of the ease with which a school or its teachers can communicate information to students, their parents, or the community.  Google Sites is an example.  We’ve made a big move into Sites as they are relatively easy to set up and afford teachers unprecedented ease in communicating information about their courses.  This year we've required all of our teachers to have a basic Google Site for the courses they teach.  The site must contain their contact information, course syllabus, lesson plans, and a Google Calendar with assignments from their courses.  Parents can subscribe to the calendars and have information about upcoming quizzes, tests, and the like delivered to them.  We did a lot of training at the end of last school year, and over the summer, and in the first week of school, to help the teachers get their sites up and running. It’s been very collaborative.  The decision to require teachers to have a site really helped teachers learn Google Apps, and aside from the improvement in communication with parents, that was the real goal. You can view any of our teacher’s Google Sites from the staff directory on the SVHS website.  If anyone is interested in learning how to create a Google Site they are more than welcome to use some of the resources we created (here or here).

We've also moved to using Google Forms for our administrative walk through observations this year, and that's a big improvement.  Google Forms allows us to create a single database shared among the members of the administrative team.  Having all of the observation data in a single database is really powerful, and much more useful than an electronic file folder of a few hundred individual files (i.e. each walk through for each teacher).  Before we moved our walk through to Google Forms someone would have to have opened and read 500 documents to figure that out. A demo version of our form is available for you to see along with the backend spreadsheet.

Spring Valley has changed how we are communicating all of the wonderful things going on.  We used to send out a static, monthly PDF attachment called Viking Update.  Now we use Blogger.  Parents can follow the Viking Update via email or they can read it online.  It’s been pretty popular.   Here is a promo video we made about Viking Update.  We also Tweet everything that we put out on the blog, and much of it ends up on Facebook as well. The blog has had over 12,000 page views in the past 2 ½ months.  Last week we added a Spring Valley YouTube channel, and we put our daily in-house news program on the channel, and that’s linked to the blog, so we hope that encourages even more people to view the blog.

How has the District Quality Implementation Tool (QIT) helped with this transition?

The QIT has definitively guided some of the dialog that we have had with members of our school-level technology advisory board.  It’s caused us to reflect upon much of what we have done, and to think about what needs to still be done.  It’s helped ensure that we have an adequate number of representative stakeholders involved in the conversation.

How does Spring Valley High communicate what is going on with 1TWO1 with your stakeholders, primarily parents and the community?

Thus far our major method of communicating some of what’s been going on with 1TWO1 at SVHS is via the web.  As I mentioned above, Spring Valley has made a big leap forward this year in how we are using available technologies like Google Sites and Blogger to help inform our parents and public.  We have over a hundred teachers individually telling their stakeholders what is going on in their classes everyday via their websites.  In years past some sites were little more than a place a parent might find a teacher’s phone extension.  So while the web itself is hardly revolutionary at this point, the way we are utilizing it, and the number of people who are utilizing it, has changed monumentally.  

We’ve made a big move to web tools with products like Blogger and Twitter.  Parents can simply subscribe to our feeds and the information comes to them.  We’re trying to make it is easy as possible for them to stay abreast of things going on at Spring Valley High School.

We have had several discussions about the 1TWO1 initiative with our School Improvement Council over the past two school years.  I think those conversations have been really productive in that they allayed some concerns that some parents had.  Change is frequently met with a lot of questions.  The resulting dialogue between school officials, our teachers, and our parents was really good, and parents clearly understood that we were not just going to hand out Chromebooks and leave the students to their own devices.  

We have done a fair amount to help the parents with some of this technology.  We had a “Google Parent Night” as part of Open House where parents could go and sit down with an ITS and learn how, for example, to subscribe to a teacher’s Google Calendar. Once parents see how easy it is they love it. We even made a how-to video for the parents which many of our teachers put on their sites.  

How has professional development/learning played a roll in the 1TWO1 transition?

You could not accomplish the things we have without providing professional development opportunities for the faculty.  Jason Paddock and Debbie Easler, and others, have worked tirelessly for the past two school years providing dozens of sessions on various 1TWO1 topics.  The work they have done has taken a lot of the potential trepidation out of something like moving into a one-to-one computing environment in every classroom.  Though it would have been nice to have a Chromebook for every student from day one, the school truly benefited from the gradual roll out.  It gave us a lot of time to plan, train, reflect, amend our plans, re-train, etc.  It also gave us the opportunity to tap into the power of our faculty.  Those who got the devices in their classrooms first were a great resources in helping train the groups who got them subsequently.  We used a “train-the-trainers” approach in some respects, and that helped a lot.  

One thing we’re doing right now is providing optional, weekly staff development opportunities every period of the day every Wednesday during Semester Two.  We are asking our teachers to select a minimum of four sessions over the course of the semester.  Instead of mandating that teachers attend certain things, we are giving them the flexibility to select topics that appeal and apply to them.

If you are an administrator and would like us to spotlight your school's 1TWO1 implementation, please contact MaryAnn Sansonetti-Wood