Thursday, May 30, 2013

Technology Spotlight - Mary Ellen Bequette, Lake Carolina Elementary

Chromebooks and Google Drive are a norm in 4th and 5th grade classes at Lake Carolina. Mary Ellen Bequette's fourth grade classroom is an example of how well 1TWO1 is being implemented at the school. From individualized assignments to collaborative partner and group projects, Mrs. Bequette uses Google Apps for Education as a regular part of her classroom instruction since implementing 1TWO1 with Chromebooks this school year.

Students have a variety of experiences with technology. Examples from this school year include differentiated workshop assignments in reading, collaborating on group projects with Google presentation, working as partners to write a fairy tale in a shared Google Doc, individual expository writing in Google Docs with teacher feedback and comments, adding data collected in a Google spreadsheet, using web 2.0 resources like Edmodo, Quizlet, and Socrative, and web sites such as for math and science concepts.

The latest assignment in Mrs. Bequette’s class is “Teach for10” which has each student choose something they want to teach their classmates within 10 minutes. They can choose the format or a combination of formats they prefer for teaching such as creating a video, Google presentation, Prezi, or Powerpoint. They can use online sources/video or make everything themselves. Each student works on planning their presentation, researching content and resources to include, and creating the final presentation. One student has video taped themselves teaching how to draw a self-portrait with images of his work in the steps as he is teaching.

The use of technology and 1TWO1 has truly made a positive change in the teaching and learning in Mrs. Bequette's classroom!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Music to your eyes at Dent Middle School

So what do you do at the end of the school year after all testing is done to keep your students engaged in learning? Ms. Huff, a seventh grade TLC Science teacher, and Ms. Sawyer, a seventh grade TLC social studies teacher, are collaborating on an end-of year music video review project. Students are working in collaborative groups to create a music video based on concepts learned throughout the year. The two classes are allowed to choose any topic they learned this year. Mrs. Huff and Ms. Sawyer said the groups picked evenly from science and social studies concepts. The only stipulation for choosing their topic is once it has been chosen another group cannot pick the same topic. Students write appropriate lyrics to accompany a karaoke track of a popular song. Then the soundtrack is then combined with a video created by the students using original and stock images in Movie Maker or other video editing software. Final projects are presented to and shared with all class members during the last week of school.

Here is a playlist to all the student videos.

Ms. Sawyer teaches 7th grade social studies in The Learning Collaborative. She is in her 4th year of teaching, the last 3 at Dent Middle School in Richland School District Two. Ms. Sawyer was in an ITEC classroom before moving to TLC. "I try to take a creative approach to social studies, encouraging students to experience history first hand."

Mrs. Huff is the TLC Seventh Grade Science Teacher at Dent Middle School. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (2008) from The State University of New York College at Brockport. Mrs. Huff holds a Masters in Adolescent Education (minor in grades 5-6) from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY (2009). She also holds certification in Gifted and Talented Education from Coastal Carolina (2012). Mrs. Huff has taught in the private and alternative school settings in New York. When she moved to SC in 2010, she taught high school biology and health at Edisto High School. This is her second year with the Richland School District Two.

Here is a playlist to all the student videos.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

SC Midlands Summit is fast approaching! Only 20 days away!

We have an amazing line up of featured speakers including: Lodge McCammon, from the Friday Institute; Tammy Worcester Tang, with class integration of Google and iPads; Greg Tang, author of math story books (The Grapes of Math) and developer of math apps; Dan Russell, Google's ┼░ber Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness. Returning for a second year is Jaime Casap, Google's Senior Education Evangelist and Tim Childers, Assistant Principal for Technology Integration at the L&N STEM Academy, a STEM Magnet for Knox County Schools There are over 100 sessions for you to attend during this two day event. You have the ability to receive up to 14 renewal credits for attending all of the sessions.

There are only a few spaces left if you plan on attending! Registration only costs $35 for this amazing line up of featured speakers. 

Interact with sessions! 
Jaime Casip and Dan Russell, two of our featured speakers from Google, will host Q&A Time with Google Gurus Wednesday, June 13 at 2:25pm. If you are interested in attending this session please post your questions and vote on questions that others have posted in Google Moderator

Important Summit Information!

Lunch Choices- Westwood High School is not easily accessible to restaurants so we will have lunch choices for you to pre-purchase. 
Order lunches here before June 10, 2013.

More tips and important information on the SC Midlands Summit.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Technology Spotlight - Janice Rice-Kafafy, Ridge View High School

Technology has always had a special place in Ridge View High Teacher of the Year, Janice Rice-Kafafy’s heart. That love grew two years ago when her then boyfriend now husband proposed to her via a surprise Skype call (from Egypt) during class one day.

Today, she makes technology an integral part of her self-contained special education classroom. Mrs. Rice-Kafafy was frustrated by the fact that her students Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings often consisted of parents and teachers discussing a student’s needs while the student sat mute and unable to express concerns. Last March, when she received a class set of Chromebooks she decided to use these new tools to help improve the IEP process. Now students use computer time each week to plan their own IEPs. Mrs. Rice-Kafafy believes that students must have the ability to advocate for themselves. The technology available at Ridge View High School allows the students to communicate, research future careers, create presentations about themselves, and learn about their strengths. Mrs. Rice-Kafafy hopes that by next year students will be able to lead their own IEP conference, and therefore, become a more active participant in their education. “I have seen the students. . . flourish; not only verbally, but in the knowledge of what their disability is and how they can advocate for themselves and how they can use technology to advocate for themselves.”

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dent Middle School gets a visit from Google - "You are What You Share"

Google visited Dent Middle School last Friday to kick off it's "You are What You Share" Campaign. The sixth graders were invited to learn about how to keep themselves safe online brought to them by Google Good to Know

“We are truly honored Google has chosen Dent Middle School as a site to kick off its digital literacy campaign. This campaign coincides perfectly with our District’s efforts of not only increasing student engagement and achievement through the use of technology but also reinforces our commitment to ensuring students are equipped with the knowledge, tools and strategies needed to use social media responsibly,” said Principal Dr. Randall Gary.

The hour long assembly covered five tips students need to be aware of stay safe online.

1. Think before you share 
Any blog post, status update, picture uploaded, etc affects not only your online life but your offline life. Items can be forwarded via email; Copied: a text or image can be easily copied by taking a screenshot and sending it to more people. Anything you share can be found. Just because you deleted the original place it was shared doesn't mean copies are deleted. There are over 2.4 billion people online around world that have the potential of seeing things you share that equals 29,814 full Williams Brice Stadiums!

2. Protect your stuff 
Set your passwords with at least 8 characters. Mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Have a different password for every site. The most common used passwords , which are also weak passwords are hello, 12345, and password.

How do you remember your password? Think of a favorite song, memory, or person and create a password around it. Google's motto is 'Don't be evil.' This can be made in to a password by creating a mix of letter and numbers, D0ntbe3vil. Of course a great way to stay safe is to not share your passwords!

3. Know and use your settings
Be sure to lock your devices and sign out of sites you use on computer when you are finished.

4. Avoid scams  
Understand what phishing is. "Phishing is the act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames,passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Be wary of any emails that promise fortune for responding or clicking on links to see if you are a winner.

5. Stay positive 
How do you stay positive? Report things that are not appropriate online. Always respond to posts comment in positive manner. A challenge to everyone is to post at least one positive comment a day.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gamification in Science

A new term is popping up in education called, gamification, and it seems to be causing a stir. Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. Can gaming help students with content in the classroom? Recently the PBS Idea Channel posted this video on using Minecraft in the classroom. 

After watching this video I thought, 'How cool would it be to use a game students are all ready playing to teach content?' Little did I know the next week I would showing some visitors Mrs. Juli Jones' classroom at Kelly Mill Middle School and see two students creating a review game using Minecraft on one of the desktop computers in the classroom. I couldn't believe this is what I was seeing but it was. I was able to sit down with Mrs. Jones,  Jimmy, and Coltan to ask about this project. 

The students were creating a review game on the respiratory and circulatory systems. Jimmy and Coltan decided to work together when Mrs. Jones said they could create a Minecraft game. Both students play Minecraft at home and thought it would make an interesting review game. They learned to play Minecraft from friends and have been playing for a few years.

I asked the students how creating this game changed the class, the students responded by saying, they wanted to do the work. It also allowed Jimmy and Coltan to work and talk with someone as they completed the project. Both students also said they worked on the project longer creating the game then they would have if had chosen something else. Coltan said the best part was Mrs. Jones told them they were "building science."

Mrs. Jones is what I consider to be a risk taker with technology integration. The times I have been in her classroom she is willing to let the students try new things to see what/how they learn. She says it's her way to "connect with student engagement and makes it exciting for the students to come to school." The ideas the students come up with for completing projects helps the students make "connections to the content." Mrs. Jones says, It's "fun to teach people who are excited to learn."

Jimmy and Coltan took time to show me their project and a few tips on how to create in Minecraft. 

If you are interested in finding out a little more about Minecraft see the links below:

Minecraft the game

Minecraft in Education links

Friday, May 10, 2013

Technology Spotlight - Lorena Swetnam, Blythewood Middle School

Lorena Swetnam is the media specialist at Blythewood Middle School. This is her fourth year as a media specialist and at BMS. She loves coming to work everyday because everyday is different. "I have the best job in the building. I get to promote reading, research and technology to students and teachers every day."

Mrs. Swetnam works collaboratively with classroom teachers and Mrs. Shelley, the school's ITS, to design engaging lessons and activities that incorporate literacy, technology and research. "A couple of years ago I learned about a term called 'transliteracy' and it resonated with me because it describes what we do in the library everyday.' Transliteracy ( is defined as "the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks."

Examples of Technology & Learning:
Mrs. Swetnam works with classroom teachers to embed digital literacy skills at the point of need. She teaches students how to use the resources in DISCUS ( for research projects, how to cite sources using citation tools like Noodletools and teaches students how to evaluate resources for authenticity.

The media center program received a class set of iPod touches through the iPac program The iPod touches have been used in lessons designed by Mrs. Swetnam and the classroom teacher. Students in Language Arts and Science classes have used the Storyrobe app to create digital stories where students share their learning through images and audio. Often times, the final product is featured on the morning news show which Mrs. Swetnam also helps facilitate.

Mrs. Swetnam has been working to promote e-reading at BMS. This year Mrs. Swetnam visited each Language Arts class to teach students how to access ebooks in Overdrive and Follettshelf. The BMS media center is also circulating five Nook e-readers, loaded with up to 20 title, to students.

Mrs. Swetnam facilitates the school's student produced news show program. The news show team accesses the announcements each morning on Google Docs and adds current news events to be featured each morning. Students use cameras, sound equipment and a Tricaster to showcase videos, music and BMS happenings to the school each morning.

Mrs. Swetnam has been working with Language Arts teachers this year to design literacy cafes where students come to the media center to read and view materials that provide background information on a novel students are reading in class. In this activity, students read nonfiction informational text and view videos that help deepen the learning in the classroom. "This has been my favorite activity this year because I work with the Language Arts teacher to determine what skills and information the students need to learn more about and I research and gather the needed material. During a literacy cafe, I may select any or all of the following for the literacy cafe: picture books, poetry books, videos from Discovery Education, news articles from DISCUS or nonfiction texts from our school collection. The teacher and media specialist also collaborate to determine whether students will write reflections in their online journals, create videos or digital posters of their learning during the literacy cafe.