Friday, February 22, 2013

Technology Spotlight - Sheena Ryant, North Springs Elementary

Ms. Sheena Ryant has been teaching 4th grade at North Springs since 2005. She had 5 years of experience in an ITEC classroom, prior to the 1:1 roll out this year. She became Nationally Board Certified in 2010 and has been a part of the STEMS program for 2 years. She believes that if technology is used effectively, it can be vital learning tool in any classroom.

From one of her students:
"Some types of technology we been working on with technology are Tagxedos, Windows Movie Maker, Flip cameras, and Chromebooks. Tagxedos is a website where you can type different words and turn it into a shape with any kind of color and font. We made a Tagxedo with our 2013 goals. With Windows Movie Maker you can make movies with sound and pictures. You can add different effects for the pictures and make the pictures have color. We made a Windows Movie about an explorer and the French and Indian War. Flip camera is a small camera where you can take pictures and videos. We used the Flip cameras to make a 13 Colonies Regional video and a French and Indian War video. A Chromebook is a laptop with Google Chrome. We use the Chromebooks almost every day. We use it for typing assignments. Our whole class works with all kinds of technology everyday and it’s fun!"
The School ITS, Nikki Allman also adds the years Ms. Ryant spent in an ITEC classroom has prepared her for the 1TWO1 roll out. She is not afraid to embrace the new technology options out there. Her students are challenged to create unique presentations for the content they learn in Language Arts/Social Studies. This allows students to have an opportunity to show what they know, instead of relying on just assessments. Within the first month of getting the Chromebooks this year, her students were creating documents, sharing, and organizing with the peers and teachers. She has jumped right into other Google Apps for Education. Ms. Ryant's first project using the Chromebooks this year was with Google Drawing. She never worked with the program, but envisioned her students using the Chromebook to publish their imaginary country and her students successfully created detailed countries. Chromebooks are not the only piece of technology utilized in the classroom. Her students have created various types of movies, from Paper Slide movies to documentaries using Windows Movie Maker Live. Her students continue to benefit from engaging, collaborative, and creative activities.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SC Midlands Summit Registration and Call for Presenters is open!

The SC Midlands Summit is back for year 2 and we need you to make it happen!

Mark Your Calendars!
June 12-13, 2013
Westwood High School
180 Turkey Farm Road, Blythewood,  SC
Registration is now open for everyone. Go to the SC Midlands Summit page and click on registration for details. 

We are also looking for presenters. Do you have what it takes? Are you trying new technology rich activities with your students that you can share? Do you have ideas on how to make technology professional development meaningful for your faculty and staff? Have you unlocked the key to assessment with technology tools? Are your students flipping over your 'flipped classroom?' If you answered yes to any of these questions and want to share with your fellow educators, submit a proposal today! 

Proposals for session and workshop presentations will be considered for inclusion in the program if they are received by midnight EST on Thursday, February 28, 2013.  Notifications of acceptance or regret will be e-mailed on or before March 28, 2013. The main presenter will receive a complimentary registration (workshop fee excluded).  Apply to present today!  

Have you seen the list of keynote/featured speakers? I think there is a little of something for everyone.

Lodge McCammon
A Specialist in Curriculum and Contemporary Media at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation ( His work in education began in 2003 at Wakefield High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he taught Civics and AP Economics.  He finished a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in 2008 where his work at The Friday Institute continues to bring innovative practices to students, teachers and schools.  He developed a teaching and professional development process called FIZZ which encourages and models best practices in implementing user-generated video and online publishing in the classroom to enhance standards-based lessons.  He is also a studio composer who writes standards-based songs, with supporting materials, about advanced curriculum for K-12 classrooms. (

Tammy Worcester Tang
Tammy Worcester Tang began her career in the classroom, teaching nearly every grade from kindergarten through middle school. Currently, Tammy works for ESSDACK, an educational service center in Kansas, as an Instructional Technology Specialist, providing staff development and training in the area of technology integration.

Tammy is extremely innovative and resourceful and specializes in finding unique and creative ways to use traditional computer tools in the classroom. She enjoys sharing her ideas with teachers throughout the nation, at conferences and in schools, and has a presentation style that can be described as inspiring.

Her website, “Tammy’s Technology Tips for Teachers” ( is a popular online resource for teachers around the world. Tammy is also the author of nearly a dozen best-selling technology resource books that are published and marketed nationally.

Greg Tang
A famed author and speaker, Greg’s goal is to to develop a more intuitive approach to teaching math, one that combines problem-solving and arithmetic and integrates math with language and art.

Greg has written a series of best-selling children’s books starting with “The Grapes of Math,” and has developed several award-winning math games and apps including Kakooma.

To see more about Greg, go to or

We will be adding more featured speakers as we get closer to the SC Midlands Summit!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Technology Spotlight - Staci Weeks, Ridge View High School

Flipping Calculus 

Ridge View High School teacher, Staci Weeks did not want her students to skip a beat when she was out for maternity leave. Since cloning was out, she decided to go with the next best option--flipping. (Flipping is a form of teaching in which a teacher uses technology to teach content outside of class so that students have more time to practice what they have learned in the class. This allows a teacher time for small group and individual instruction.) Mrs. Weeks used a combination of Tech Smith’s Snagit software, a Smart Slate, and Edmodo to teach her lessons. She uploaded the videos to and to Edmodo so that students would have access to the videos both on and off campus. Students watched the videos for homework and then came to class the following day to practice what they had learned for homework. Students helped one another in class and asked questions on Edmodo. 

How did the students feel about the flip? Many would like this method to continue. One student said, “. . .The method of her teaching was rather enjoyable. While learning lessons at home, it was much easier to understand because I could rewind a lecture whenever I did not understand something and replay as many times as I wanted. Doing homework in the classroom allowed me to look to other students for guidance if I was ever stuck on a problem.”

Mrs. Weeks gives the following advice to teachers thinking of trying to flip: “If you're planning on flipping, know that it will be time intensive at first, but it will save you time in the long run.  There is a learning curve to making the videos, but once you get the hang of it, you can make a video in less than 15 minutes, and it saves you SO MUCH classroom time.  I didn't realize how much time I lost in a lecture due to small interruptions like administration calling for a student, small discipline issues that need to be addressed, waiting for a slower student to copy notes, or PA announcements until I actually started fitting 45-minute lectures into a 15-minute video.” Here is a sample of Mrs. Weeks Flipped Lesson.

Student Approved:
This way of learning was better than I thought it would be. If Mrs. Weeks wasn't out, it would provide a way to learn the lesson at home, and then ask questions in class if we needed further assistance. Virtual lessons also allowed me to pause the video if i needed to and rewind if i she was moving too fast or if i didn't fully grasp the concept. I am able to learn the material at my own pace. In the end, I think I would much rather learn through the virtual lesson, compared to the in class lessons we have now. I am glad I had the opportunity to experience something like this, because it might be a method of learning I would need to use in college”
C'Asia .

“During the time that she was out on maternity leave, we had a "reverse classroom" meaning she would teach the lessons online, which we would learn at home, then we were to complete the assignment in the classroom. Personally, I had mixed feelings towards this. Learning the lesson at my home was nice. I was able to stop the lesson and rewind it whenever I didn't completely understand anything which was helpful. However, I didn't like the lack of a teacher who knew the subject in the classroom. If I had a question about a problem, I would have to ask a fellow student or email Mrs. Weeks and wait for a response. I prefer a more hands on or personal experience. Although, if we were to continue this sort of teaching with the actual teacher present, I would probably prefer it over the traditional classroom standard of teaching” Haley.

“ I would first like to say learning from videos was a different experience and took some getting use to.
Learning from the videos was sort of the same as if learning in class.  An advantage was being able to pause the video to write down the slides and then listen to the teacher.  It was also helpful to watch the videos as homework and practice problems together in class with my fellow students.  The only difficult part was adjusting to the videos & any technical problems and being able to ask questions and have answers right away.  Overall I believe it was a nice experience and was a nice way to learn from the classroom atmosphere” Kiana.

“The virtual experience with Mrs. Weeks was remarkable. The pros of virtual AP Calculus are : Even though our teacher was not at school, we could stay in touch with her in terms of lesson plan.
We could replay the video. Thus if we miss something, we could replay and watch it. We did not have to worry about taking notes, instead we could focus on the material”  Shadman.

Staci Weeks has been a math teacher at Ridge View High School since 2007.  She loved math as a student and earned her diploma from the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics.  After a part-time tutoring job in college, she decided to pursue a career in public education.  She married while attending USC for a BS in Mathematics.  She has since earned a Masters in Teaching, also from USC, and currently lives with her husband and two children in Lugoff, SC.  The newest addition to her family, her son Jack, was born on November 1, 2012.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

App of the Week - The Plague

Plague Inc. is a unique mix of high strategy and terrifyingly realistic simulation from developer Ndemic Creations. Can you infect the world?  

Your pathogen has just infected 'Patient Zero'. Now you must bring about the end of human history by evolving a deadly, global Plague whilst adapting against everything humanity can do to defend itself. 

"Brilliantly executed with innovative gameplay and built from the ground up for mobile, Plague Inc. evolves the strategy genre and pushes mobile gaming (and you) to new levels. It’s You vs. the world -only the strongest can survive!" Google Play
iPad: 0.99
Android: Free  (unlock full version in app 0.99)
Chrome: not available

Classroom Use: 
The Plague Inc. will be used by Muller Road Middle students to create a multi-media project that demonstrates the connections between the history of infectious diseases, their impact on the human body, and the application of statistics to the spread/outbreak of infectious diseases.

Just as epidemics infected our world years ago, Plague, Inc. spreads diseases through animals and international travel. This allows the lesson on Epidemics to come to life for the students. They can choose and name a pathogen to infect the world. Students will research 10 different diseases before deciding which one they will use in both the project and the game. Students will use the app parallel to their unit on Epidemics.

Also in Plague, Inc., students have to select a country where the disease will originate. This is a strategic way to begin the game. Students will apply what they are learning in Social Studies about countries around the world. They will need to be familiar with the geography of the country, its demographics, and its climate to recognize how easily the epidemic will grow. 

In Science, students will study the human body. Looking at the major organs and tissues as well as how organs and tissue are infected by each disease. They will also learn about the DNA associated with each epidemic. Plague, Inc. allows the students to collect DNA points and spend them to avoid detection. It also allows the students to create the symptoms of their disease and the strength of it. Just as humans in real life, the people in Plague, Inc. do everything possible to fight the disease by either slowing it down or destroying it. Students will have to be strategic in using their DNA points as they decide how to react to the government’s counter-attack.

Plague, Inc. supplies all the necessary data the students need as they plan their attack on the world. The app shows various types of graphs to describe the number of people infected etc. It uses line graphs, circle graphs, and bar graphs. The students will be creating their own graphs in math class with the data they collect about their epidemic. Plague, Inc. has great examples of how scientists and mathematicians use displays of data to compare what is happening in the world. 

A design team at Muller Road Middle School will be implementing a new unit on Epidemics at the end of February. This team includes Lakeshia Mitchell, Marquis Ardoin, Michelle Mauney and Christy Stokes. 

The team looks forward to the implementation of this unit and how Plague, Inc. will aid the students as they discover the effect of epidemics on the world. Not only do they expect it to be a fun addition to the curriculum, but also expect it to grab the students’ interest and make an impact on their learning!

*Christy Stokes is our guest blogger! Thank you for the information on how students at Muller Road Middle will be using this app!