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Hats Off Part II
As we have just had Teacher Appreciation week, it seems an appropriate time to recognize some of the amazing things the BUSD teachers have been doing. The Common Core has moved the curriculum into technological integration. It is no longer a choice and is reshaping schools and asking educators to make big changes in how they teach and run their class. The Bellevue Union School District teaching staff has really embraced the challenge and has taken very proactive steps in leading the way in Common Core aligned, technologically integrated instruction.
The first and most visible shift has been in teacher produced and published websites. Currently 52.9% of our teaching staff have produced and published a classroom website. As one parent spoke about at a board meeting, these websites allow our parents to feel connected to the education of their children and become more of an active participant, viewing assignments and helping their children access the online learning portals these websites feature. The effect of teacher websites is also supported by research, indicating that parents are more involved in the school and know more about what is happening in their child's education when their is a teacher-produced webpage for them to access (Rogers & Wright, 2008).
Another less visible, but arguably more educationally relevant measure is the huge increase of Google Apps usage. Currently, 62.4% of teachers in grades above first have asked and have had Google Apps for education deployed for their students. This is important for a few reasons, the first being that this is not just Google App deployments that are perhaps being used, but these are accounts that teachers asked for and that are currently being used by students. This is very significant because a large push in 21st century learning is student to student collaboration and Google Drive and Apps are a hugely powerful and robust collaboration platform for students that also allows for teachers to track a student's work over time. It also allows them to see who contributes what, with the aid of the revision history feature. As a small sample of what is being done with them, here is anonymized example of what a grader has been doing with this new tool for a research project on Steelhead Salmon in Jim Boyce’s (one of our Teachers of the Year) class.
Our teachers have also made pushes into the cutting edge with the recent work of students learning programming. Our Kawana campus has programming fever and in my most recent visit to Kulbir Sandhu’s classroom some of the students had progressed into high school programming on the code.org website. Not only is programming a highly sought after skill in the job market, but it is also all based on mathematics and logical problem solving ability- great skills for our students to develop regardless of the field they may become interested in. This is something that is being talked about for nation-wide adoption. England already has adopted programming as national curriculum but I haven't heard of any schools in the U.S. outside of specialized private schools that have made such a large push to bring these skills to young students.
A recent shift in our district that I am particularly excited about is the new BUSD Tech Panel. We currently have five BUSD teachers on the panel: Lisa Chierici, Sarah Goodin, Shirley Jenner, Celeste King, and Kulbir Sandhu. SPA is also sponsoring the participation of one of their teachers- Joel Kriner. This panel is bringing a needed teacher voice to technology acquisition decisions, helping to rewrite our tech plan and is creating a scope and sequence for the technological skills we hope our students will gain in their time with us. In August there will be a working draft of the scope and sequence to give staff some grounding on what and when technological skills should be integrated and what they can expect in terms of students that have graduated from previous grades with us. This is a much needed grounding for technological literacies, giving some framework and guidance for skill development. The teacher participants are also currently piloting Google Play for education with Android tablets as well as Chrome cast with Chromebooks. This will help focus future tablet deployments for the younger grades and allow new presenting options to be explored for deployment. This panel and the teacher input it brings is a great move towards a collaborative tech integration process for us as a district.
The BUSD teaching staff is really leading the way in a number of areas. Not a week goes by that I don't hear about a teacher doing something new, interesting and creative with their students using technology. It seems teachers of various comfort levels are willing to push themselves to acquire new skills and take risks with new things in their classroom and our students are reaping the benefits. One of the most enjoyable things you can ask for in a job is working with people that inspire you. I really can’t thank the BUSD teaching staff enough for being so inspirational!
P.S. To showcase the amazing work of our teachers there is a new page on the district page under parents->21st Century Learning. This page will continue to be fleshed out to recognize the spectacular work of our teachers and students. You can view it here
As promised here is the answer to the logic puzzle form last week. If you don't remember here is a refresher.
Now this is a bit odd as this is a tool that is not even released yet but it looks very promising. Google is releasing Google Classroom for teachers that allows ventral management of students' drives and Google docs, allowing grading and managements to go much more smoothly. What is great is based on a non-disclosure agreement it looks like they worked closely with Hapara to bring some of their great functionality to Google docs for free!
Miracast is the open source equivalent of Airplay with a few important distinctions. Airplay is great but has some limitations. The first and most problematic is that the communication takes place over the network that all other devices are using. As this a video and audio stream it is a huge amount of traffics and causes congestion and their are documented problems with large numbers of apple TVs on wireless networks for site-wide airplay. The other issue is Airplay only works with Apple devices. Mircast, while not perfect, solves both of these issues. It is a standard protocol, meaning any manufacturer can adopt it and work with devices from another manufacturer. An Asus tablet can mirror to an Action Tec receiver for example. The other benefit is the device and receiver send data over what is called an ad hoc network. This is a separate network so the large transfer of data from the device to the receiver leaves the rest of the devices unaffected and is unaffected by them. Currently the Tech Panel is piloting this tech for potential adoption.