Thursday, September 19, 2019

Voices in Tech: How edtech coaches aid classroom instruction

We are excited to share an article from District Administration featuring our very own Nichole Allmann.  See the excerpt below and be sure to head to the full article to read about all of Nikki's experiences and wisdom. 

"A well-trained team of coaches helps teachers manage the potentially overwhelming integration of new technology"
By: Emily Ann Brown | August 8, 2019

...Technology never takes center stage In the coach-teacher partnership. Instead, coaches help teachers examine standards and curriculum, and identify learning goals. They then recommend tools that will facilitate desired outcomes, says Nichole Allmann, a technology integration specialist who oversees coaches at 10 schools...

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Getting parents up to date with technology

Social Justice, Media Literacy

What is your school doing to inform parents of internet safety, media balance, and learning with technology? What are you doing, as an educator, to provide ongoing information so parents are learning how to “monitor” their child(ren)’s technology use at home? Just as we did not grow up in the digital age, the parental community in each of our schools did not either. They are just as unequipped and unaware as we are when it comes to digital citizenship.

As an educator, it is imperative we are knowledgeable and stay up to date with how to develop our students to be responsible online users. Much of what we do with our students is online and can be overwhelming, ensuring they make the right choices and be informed users of the internet. Many of our students are currently developing an online reputation that will impact their future. Just as we are learning how to teach this to our students, parents need to learn what steps they can take to keep their child(ren) safe and responsible when they are at home. Common Sense Media has many resources to help us teach and reach our parents in a variety of ways. The beginning of the school year creates many opportunities for parents to be in our schools; whether it is “meet the teacher”, “parent orientation” or parent university events that tend to be centered around various topics or curriculum. Here are some simple ways to inform parents at these events.

      • talk about tools
      • talk about expectations
      • talk about privacy
      • talk about parent-teacher communication
      Icon, Polaroid, Blogger, Rss, App
    • Another way to reach our parents is through newsletters, school/teacher websites or blogs. Create a section that gives parents a tip a week to keep their child(ren) safe online. If a lesson you are doing that week requires students to communicate online, share a couple of tips about appropriate ways to communicate online.
    • October is National Bullying Prevention Month. This is another perfect opportunity to share those online tips for parents to learn what cyberbullying is, the effects of cyberbullying and how to deal with their child if they are either being bullied or are bullying another child. Common Sense Media provides a toolkit already prepared for you whether it is through your newsletter, handouts or an event at your school.
    Some of these events may have already come and gone at your school, but don’t let that deter you from starting today. Start including tips on your website or newsletters. Your parents will thank you.

    Thursday, September 5, 2019

    The 5 steps of Focused Note-taking (with Google Slides!)

    For years, the AVID instructional framework recommended a specific note-taking strategy, called Cornell Notes, to support students in processing the information they learn in class.  Recently, however, AVID revised the note-taking recommendations to be more broad rather than solely focusing on Cornell Notes. The new recommendation is that educators teach students to use a focused note-taking strategy.  This is fantastic because it allows for student choice and voice in how they process their learning and can incorporate technology in powerful ways.  This blog post will overview the 5 steps of focused note-taking along with some digital strategies that align with each step.

    Step 1: Taking the notes

    This is an obvious first step!  In this phase, students are capturing information using a method they feel most comfortable.  If students are new to taking notes, very young, or have instructional accommodations, teachers can just share the notes and skip step 1.  Plenty of learning, as you’ll see, happens in Steps 2 - 5.

    Obviously, there are many ways to support students with a focused note taking strategy. This example, using Google slides, just offers a support that can be highly visual and very powerful with sharing, linking, and commenting capabilities. Share your favorite focused note taking strategy in the comments!

    Step 2: Processing notes
    Notes are meaningless if you don’t do something with them!  In this phase, students are asked to review, reflect, and manipulate the information in their notes.  

    In Google slides, students can adjust text formatting adding highlights, underlines, or colored fonts using the toolbar, but they can also easily add headings via their slide format and paste in images from the toolbar to highlight key information.

    Step 3: Connecting Thinking
    In this step, we ask students to think deeply about the information they are learning and connect it to other content knowledge.  

    Technology adds a great value to this step because students can share their notes with a peer to see if they generated the same connections and key concepts as another student.  They can also easily hyperlink to additional content (their previous notes or other media) within their digital notes.  Using Google slides, arrows and lines can be drawn to visually represent connections.  Commenting features can also be used for students to track questions they have as they process their notes.

    Step 4: Summarizing and Reflecting on Learning
    For step four, students create summaries of their learning.  Technology adds value because students can easily share and compare their summaries.  In the example using Google Slides, students can use the presenter notes section to write a summary of their learning.

    Step 5: Applying Learning The final step of focused note taking takes place outside of Google slides. This is where the student is able to use the notes to apply the learning in an authentic context. By now the notes have been reviewed by the student multiple times with additional layers of learning and understanding being added in each step. In this example, students could use the notes to create their own models of different cell types or use the notes during a lab activity where they classify organisms seen under the microscope.

    Obviously, there are many ways to support students with a focused note taking strategy. This example, using Google slides, just offers a support that can be highly visual and very powerful with sharing, linking, and commenting capabilities. Share your favorite focused note taking strategy in the comments!

    Tuesday, August 27, 2019

    Stream Now With SCETV Resources


    It’s that time of year where you are looking for additional media content to add to your direct or blended instruction. We (re)introduce to you SCETV Streaming Resources and the best thing about these resources is that they are all completely free. 

    Know It All
    Since 1999, this interactive web based media has been frequently adding South Carolina based content. The site provides 21st century educational experiences for K-12 educators and students with content that can be searched by the South Carolina State Standards or by grade level. Some of the most popular series are Artopia for visual and performing arts and GullahNet that shares experiences of the Gullah culture. If you’re looking for content and resources to support upcoming events or celebrations, Knowitall has a blog that includes links to resources inside of their site to support your topic.

    PBS Learning
    Maintained by SCETV and PBS Media, PBS Learning’s K-12 platform consists of over 100,000 classroom-ready digital resources. Resources here are organized by Common Core and National Standards, grade level, and subject area. Teachers are able to build lessons, quizzes, and storyboards for students to have interactive learning experiences with multimedia content. To help users stay organized, LearningMedia offers folders where users store media to be able to share with others including students. For teachers that have a Google Classroom, there is the capability to import a class from Classroom right to PBS Learning classes
                                                    for seamless sharing.

    Learn 360
    The Learn 360 media collection gives users the ability to segment video, pull citations for resources, and create playlists for pertinent topics. This platform provides lesson plans and activities to accompany its robust content collections. These collections include maps, audio, and printables to support student learning at every grade level. The calendar feature gives users content that is applicable to a day in history or a particular celebration during that time of year.When clicking on the date, users will find media to support these topics.

    Whether you’re looking for a map of France, a simulation on how balloons fly, or a narrative SCETV has developed and curated resources to meet the needs of all K-12 teachers. With a couple of clicks, teachers gain access to over 100,000 free resources that offer students 21st century learning experiences.

    Wednesday, August 21, 2019

    Let's Talk Digital Procedures!

    Image result for welcomeIn a time-honored “beginning of the year tradition,” teachers are going to start the year off going over classroom rules, procedures, and expectations for the year. They will cover everything from bathroom passes, sharpening pencils, turning in assignments, entering and exiting the classroom along with many other expectations.  How much time will classroom teachers spend talking about their digital expectations for students?

    With schools moving to a 1:1 environment and more and more students showing up with cell phones, it is time to spend just as much time on students' online behavior as you do on their physical actions.  As the teacher, you establish the culture of your classroom with high expectations for student behavior and student to student interactions, both online and face-to-face.  

    Because accessing devices for learning is an integral part of teaching and learning in Richland 2, it is important that conversations about behavior and consequences happen between the classroom teacher and the students.   The teacher sets the culture of high expectations with their classroom for student behavior and student to student interactions, both online and face-to-face. If you take the time to address digital expectations at the beginning of the year and continue to reinforce these expectations throughout the year, you are setting the stage for a more successful year in the classroom.

    The Richland Two Technology Integration Specialist Team has created videos specifically for elementary, middle, and high school students with the goal of communicating the expectations of the Responsible Use Procedures.  The videos explain the RUP in an age-appropriate way and provide teachers with prompts for classroom discussions. We hope these resources can help classroom teachers with setting expectations for how students use and interact with digital resources.

    Check out the resources for your level here:

    Wednesday, August 14, 2019

    New and Revised Curriculum for Digital Citizenship

    One of the critical areas we, as educators, focus on daily with our students is being a responsible citizen in our society. We work on building character skills on a daily basis in various ways, whether it is circle time/morning meeting, community building activities or reteaching those quick lessons when students need a “refresher” on those good habits of mind. The question is, how do you implement the learning required for students to be responsible “digital” citizens? So you know where to start? Common Sense Media has recently released some new and revised lesson plans that are FREE and completely ready to use. Here are some highlights of what you can find on their website:

    Lessons are organized based on revised topics under the big umbrella of “Digital Citizenship”. This list also reflects the new “scope & sequence” where the first topic is more general, progressing to a more complex topic.

    • Media Balance & Well-Being: We find balance in our digital lives.
    • Privacy & Security - We care about everyone’s privacy.
    • Digital Footprint & Identity - We define who we are.
    • Relationships & Communication - We know the power of words & actions.
    • Cyberbullying, Digital Drama & Hate Speech - We are kind & courageous.
    • News & Media Literacy - We are critical thinkers & creators.

    *You will find at least 1 lesson per topic for each grade level.

    Common Sense MaterialsEach lesson comes with everything you need; slide deck, handouts, engaging student activities, quizzes, and family resources. The teacher guide assists your instruction from the beginning to the end, so if you are not familiar with the topic this will help reassure you are on the right track. You can adapt the lesson as you see fit, especially if you only have 10 minutes to spend on the topic that relates to what you are working on in class or discussing during classroom/community meetings. The goal is to have ongoing conversations around digital citizenship when it is appropriate in your instruction and student learning. For example, if you are asking students to post online, have a quick mini-lesson about communication and your expectations so students are aware of the appropriate ways to communicate online and what may not be appropriate.  Even if it is a think aloud, where you are modeling your thinking and reflecting as to the appropriate content to post online. Your students are listening to the deeper thinking as you model the activity.

    In order to be more effective when it comes to digital citizenship, keep the learning ongoing rather than a couple of lessons done at the beginning of the year, reviewing the Responsible Use Policy that was signed by parents and students. This builds a positive culture within your classroom, the entire school and online.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2019

    5 ways to use WeVideo in your classroom

    Richland Two purchases full student and teacher subscriptions to WeVideo, a cloud-based online video editing software.  You may be thinking video editing doesn’t quite work in your content area if you don’t teach a computer-related content but that’s not the case at all!  Check out five ways you and your students can use WeVideo in your classroom.  Remember, to login and access your full subscription mode, just click “Log In with Google” and sign in with your Richland 2 email account.

    Teachers, make your lecture digital!  Simply turn on WeVideo’s screen capture feature, present your slide deck on your device, and begin talking!  Give your lecture exactly how you would in class - no need to even worry about sounding perfect (after all, we all make mistakes when we are teaching ‘live’ in front of our kids).  The power of this strategy comes in after producing your video because kids

    • can watch the video multiple times at their own pace, 
    • access the video after class hours, 
    • review content with support lab teachers or parents, 
    • work ahead in small groups while you go over content face to face with students who benefit from one on one attention, and more!

    Tell students to record their digital work!  Now that you know how to make a screen recording, take this tool a step further and ask students to record their screen.  While students are working, they can display their essay, digital notes, or a reading passage and narrate their progress on the work.  They can talk about where they are finding successes or also ask questions about specific portions of the work while showing it on the screen.  You can ask students to share their work updates with each other or submit them to you - either way, students are talking about what they know or where they need to learn and getting more specific feedback on their work.  Win, win! 

    Introduce yourself to your students' parents/guardians and ask students to introduce themselves to you/each other!  WeVideo offers the ability for the user to record footage within the platform.  Simply turn the camera on yourself and record a brief introduction video.  This way you can share a little bit about yourself to parents/guardians who are unable to make it to Open House.  You can quickly and easily begin connecting with families which always starts the school year off smoothly.  Once you’ve introduced yourself, you could ask students to introduce themselves.  These videos could become part of a class gallery.  This will make community building go even faster in your classroom.  Check out this tutorial to learn how to record with your webcam.

    Convert some written assignments to video assignments.  Just because you are asking students to turn in a video doesn’t mean all of the skills required of written work is lost!  Creating videos requires a significant amount of drafting, revision, and writing.  Assigning videos instead of essays, however, may lead to higher engagement of your students and they may even love the writing process more.  Check out how these examples of assignments that are typically written translate to video:

    Create a class podcast.  Yes, WeVideo markets itself as a video platform, but you can extract audio and easily produce class podcasts!  What if you chose one student each week to do a 10 minute review of key concepts your class worked on each week?  This would allow you to see if your goals for the week’s lesson were accomplished, provide support for students who may have missed some key objectives, and creates media to easily share with families to keep them up to date on all your students’ growth and learning.  Podcasting sounds hard but it can be quite easy and WeVideo can be just the tool you need to start you on this journey.  Check out this blog post from Jennifer Wolfe about her student podcasting process. 

    WeVideo is a very robust tool that can be used in many ways throughout the learning process - it just isn’t for culminating projects!  Hopefully, these ideas inspire creative uses for this tool.  If you have any questions about using this tool, be sure to connect with your school’s Technology and Learning Coach.  

    Monday, May 20, 2019

    Is Anybody Out There? Getting and Holding Students’ Attention by Larry Coty, USATestprep

    Please enjoy this guest post by USATestprep, a sponsor for our SC Midlands Summit.

    One day I came to school sick.

    I wasn’t too sick -- I just had a cold -- but I was sneezing occasionally and sounded stuffed-up.

    “Come on, Mr. Coty! Why did you come to school today? Do you want to make us all sick?”

    My reply to the students was this:

    “Don’t worry. Between you and me there is a powerful, though invisible, barrier; and this barrier allows absolutely nothing to pass through: bacteria, viruses, mathematical knowledge -- anything that could be harmful or even fatal is permanently barred from ever infecting you.”

    Of course I wasn’t being completely serious. I had pretty good evidence that some mathematical knowledge had, in fact, been “spreading” through the class during the preceding weeks and months.

    But there are times, aren’t there, when every teacher wonders: Is anybody out there? Is anyone paying attention?

    Getting and holding students’ attention is a constant struggle for teachers, not only because it can be so tricky to do, but also because it is the very first thing you must do if you are to be able to get anything else done with them.

    Here are a few tips for making sure that your students are at least somewhat aware of your presence:

    1. Stop trying to get their attention. Sounds odd, but the best thing you can do is to design class-starting routines to ensure that students are already focused on class business before you even address them directly. Whether you use a bell-ringer, a journal entry, a set of warm-up problems, or something else doesn’t matter. What matters is that the students are expected to begin this activity without you. This kind of routine allows you to take care of other pre-class matters, such as attendance, without then having to face a crowd of distracted students. Getting this routine working can take a firm hand, especially at the beginning of a year or semester. For the first few weeks you have to watch students very closely, rewarding those who do what they are supposed to do and (dare I say?) punishing those who do not. In my high school math classes, by the third week of school a student who hadn’t started the bell-ringer on a sheet of paper after 2-3 minutes was “rewarded” with detention. There can be no compromise on this, or it won’t work.

    2. Stop yelling. It can take some practice, but it is important that you break the habit of raising your voice to get their attention. If a student is talking while you are talking, there is a problem -- and if you are loud you only make it easier for them to “fly under the radar” and to talk/whisper while you are trying to tell them something. You may want to use positive reinforcement, such as rewarding students who are listening well. Sometimes a little negative reinforcement can be effective, too -- especially if it is delivered to a talkative student in a low, calm voice, right after he or she has just emitted some unasked-for verbal gem.

    3. Make sure that all speakers are respected. Enforce the same rules of decorum regardless of who has the floor in class. Even if a student is asking a meandering question which may well, ultimately, turn out to be meaningless, you must listen as though hanging on every word -- and require that entire class does likewise. This helps to create a culture of “one at a time,” which will help keep the students from trying to talk over you, too.

    4. Don’t talk too much. Talk is cheap, they say -- and it definitely gets cheaper, the more of it there is. The tendency to try to explain everything in full detail is something that new teachers soon outgrow, but you must always guard against its reappearance. Tell students what they need to know to get started, then stop. If students begin to think of your voice as analogous to the buzzing from the fluorescent lights, you have a problem. Your voice may not crack into their ears like the thunderbolts of Zeus, but it should at least be something they haven’t gotten so used to hearing that they can ignore it without any effort.
    Larry Coty is a math and ELA academic manager with USATestprep, responsible for the rigorous alignment of our state-specific, performance-based curriculum. In his former life, he taught mathematics for 31 years at the middle school, high school, and college levels. 

    Since 1998, USATestprep has provided resources for teachers to help prepare their students for high-stakes testing with content that is specifically aligned to each state’s learning standards. The company’s solutions are delivered via an online platform enabling teachers to access up-to-date content across all core subject areas, to customize the learning pathway for each student, and to provide insights through benchmarking to administrators. USATestprep was developed for teachers, by teachers, and is currently used by nearly 2 million students across more than 3,500 schools nationwide. For more information, visit

    Monday, May 13, 2019

    SC Midlands Summit - 1 Month Away

    Come join us for 2 days of learning, focusing on the integration of technology. Topics include leadership, Google Suite, learning environments, innovation, 21st Century skills, AR/VR and much, much more. Earn up to 12 hours of recertification hours. Click here to learn more about this premier technology and learning conference.

    SC Midlands Summit

    Monday, April 29, 2019

    Need Recertification Hours?

    Come join other educators on June 12-13, 2019 for 2 days of fun learning. Numerous choices of sessions, you are guaranteed to learn something new. Check out the sessions and register today! 
    Earn up to 12 hours of recertification hours.

    Memes in the classroom

    Everybody loves a good meme.  From teachers to students, these days memes provide a lot of entertainment.  Have you ever thought about assigning memes as student work, though?  Asking kids to make and share memes could get us further in the engagement battle and really the kids are doing much more than creating memes.  See some examples below:

    My Favorite Mistake Meme
    So often teachers spend tons of time reviewing student work and providing feedback only to have it be ignored by the kids.  What if you asked students to meme their favorite mistakes?  This would force them to review the work and the feedback, and if you as a teacher only identified where the mistake was rather than what the mistake was, it could force them to do some focused error analysis.  Teachers can then anonymously share memes that address common mistakes or misconceptions in student work.

    KWL Meme
    KWL charts are an often used strategy but sometimes they deserve a technology upgrade.  What if you asked students to meme a portion of the KWL chart - maybe a key takeaway for the learning portion?  That way you could see what sticks with the students and they can create a library of key points from the unit.

    Generating Questions Memes
    Once students have accessed information, it can be a great process for them to create conceptual questions about the content.  Students can display their questions in a meme format and then peers can provide comments or answers.  

    Six Word Stories Memes

    The Six Word Story memoir is a great strategy to ask students to really narrow down and essentialize their thinking.  Asking students to develop a Six Word Story after a reading or a unit can be a great way for them to capture and create themes for learning.  After students create their memes they can review their peers’ work and decide if their six word story is on track or needs adjusting.  This is a great practice in evaluating information, reflecting, and improving student work.

    All of these memes were created using a Google Drawing template.  You can simply share the template in Google Classroom with the feature ‘make a copy for each student’ and they can edit it to fit the assignment requirements.

    This is also a great opportunity to bring in conversations about digital citizenship and copyright use of photos.  If students find images within Google Drawings using the INSERT > IMAGE tool, these images are all available for reuse and modification.  Otherwise, teaching students to ask permission and/or cite sources of images is a valuable skills in this digital era.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    Monday, April 22, 2019

    Digital Strategies to Make Learning Visible

    Gone are the days that students must memorize facts, dates, and people. Nowadays most educators would agree they want their students to not only “know” the information but be able to do something with the new knowledge. Simply put, students need to be able to critically think about the content and put it into application. However, as a veteran educator or even a novice educator, what does that type of “active” learning look like? It was certainly not how we learned when we were going through school, nor did our colleges prepare us for this type of teaching. I want to share a few strategies that can be applied in any subject and any grade, though you may need to modify them to meet the needs of your students in order to get your them critically thinking about the subject matter.


    Tweet This
    Bring the idea of social media tools to help students formulate their own understanding or opinion on a topic they are learning. At the end of your lesson, ask students to create a “tweet” regarding specific content or making connections. Limit students to the initial 140 characters or the recently modified 280 characters to allow revision and fine-tuning of their thoughts. Add in the #hashtag for an additional main point or connection to the content. Many templates are already created and shared for educators to use, sustaining students focus on organizing their thinking with the content in mind, not designing the graphic organizer. Here are some suggested ways of incorporating into content areas:
    • book character conversations
    • a summary of a current writing piece they are working on
    • historical figures/time periods and events
    • current events
    • scientific findings
    • results from a science lab
    • environmental concerns
    • current events
    • math talks - description of a process to solving a math problem or method
    • Facilitate conversations on Twitter using a hashtag, (Twitter Chats)
    Discovery Education has an entire library of resources and instructional strategies that allow for meaningful and effective learning opportunities. The Spotlight on Strategies library has simple instructional strategies that are organized based on skills that are taught/practiced. Each skill has at least 15 different ways to either teach the skills or ask students to practice it. Within each skill, a video and PDF is available for educators to become familiar with the strategy.

    Spotlight on Strategies

    An example I found that can be used in any content area is “They Said What”, focusing on the skill of point of view and purpose. After selecting a content related image that contains at least 2 characters, upload it to Google Drawing or Google Slides in order to add in the speech bubbles and share the template with your students. Ask students to make inferences as to what the people may have said to each other or thought in the picture using the content knowledge learned. Allow students to fill in speech bubbles and have them share with their peers to look for similarities and differences between the conversations. For an asynchronous opportunity for conversations between peers, ask students to upload it to a shared VoiceThread and have students compare a variety of images.
    They Said What? strategy

    Some students have a knack for retelling a story or an event through illustrations. Storyboardthat is a free resource that allows students to create 2 boards a week, 3 or 6 cell stories and provides thousands of illustrations for students to communicate or explain their new understanding. Storyboardthat has a library of lesson plans for all grade levels, content areas and examples of storyboards to use as models for your initial instruction.
    Here is an example of an elementary math lesson where a student created examples of fraction sets using an illustration and written format.

    Fraction Sets

    Another example of using is detailing the major components of the Declaration of Independence using the 5 W's.

    5 W's of the Declaration of Independence

    "Exit Tickets"
    This is a fantastic way to formatively assess ALL your students as they "summarize" what
    they have learned from the day's lesson.
    Here are some suggested sentence starters:
    • Today I learned...
    • I was surprised with...
    • I'm beginning to wonder...
    • Now I understand...
    • If a friend was absent from class today, what would you tell him/her?
    • At first I thought... but now I...

    These exit tickets can be paper/pencil or digital; written and shared in student journals, sticky notes on a “parking lot” chart paper/bulletin board, as a discussion board in Google Classroom or create a Padlet board for students as a digital response.

    This may be a new learning curve for your students. Start out small and model the process with your students. Similar to the “I do, We do, You do” method, students will learn the expectations and instructions for these types of activities. Your students will gain a deeper knowledge of your content and better prepared with those essential 21st Century skills. This also allows you to have a better understanding of what each of your students knows about the content. If you have already done something similar or can suggest some other strategies, please leave a comment below to share with everyone.

    Voices in Tech: How edtech coaches aid classroom instruction

    We are excited to share an article from District Administration  featuring our very own Nichole Allmann.  See the excerpt below and be sure ...