Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Small Things I Want to Do and You Can Do, too!

Last week, I had the privilege of visiting the Hilliard City School district near Columbus, OH. I made the journey with a small group from my own district. I chose to focus on the elementary options of the visit since that is the grade level I work at. (Others in my group got to see the amazing things at the middle and high school level.) 

I'd like to share some of the things the 2 elementaries are doing. I visited JW Reason Elementary and Brown Elementary. Kudos to BOTH principals! Both were very energetic and passionate about their jobs and roles in moving their staff and students forward. Kudos to all the staff at both for the awesome things I saw going on! You should all be proud!

So many of these are things are low-tech, and high impact.

🔻FOLDER OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM  easy access to a folder containing students who shouldn't be photographed. I could see this working in any school. Going a step further, teachers could include other specific info (just be careful with HIPPA). I could see it being the "go-to" for fire or safety drills and hanging in a spot in the classroom near the door.

🔻GOALS OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM  each student's photo was hanging outside the classroom with a speech bubble that can be written on with dry erase over and over. Even the teacher was included! What a great visual on what each person is working towards. Some were school related, but not necessarily.

🔻DISTRICT UNITED PLAN, YET BUILDING UNIQUE  everywhere I went, it was clear Hilliard had bought into a program called the R-factor. I heard a lot about it. And the message clear and united. But each of the principals made it clear they were allowed their own twist to it. The underlying message is the same ... but the implementation was specific and unique to the building. It was also great to hear from the 2 tech guys who split their time between 2 buildings - this is my role as well! They both shared they could use the same vocab in each building.

🔻POSTCARDS  JW Reason shared that at the beginning of each staff meeting, each staff member picks up a JW Reason postcard (with the theme of their buildings 60th birthday) and write a personal note to a student. Sticky address labels will help ensure all students receive one. Super 💗 this one!!! She said they send out about 40 postcards after each meeting. Wow!

🔻SUB BAGS  Brown Elementary shared this idea and, with the shortage of subs, I thought this was perfect! Their kindness club decorates brown paper bags and then they add in a few "supplies" a sub might night: a bottle of water, a handwritten thank you note from a student, etc. I'd want to add in our sub lanyards, a small treat bag, and a notecard with pertinent info - like phone #'s of who to call.

🔻STAFF ONE WORD WALL  Brown Elementary took us into their staff lounge and shared their "one word" wall. Each staff member picked out a word to be the theme for this year. Done in the school colors, they were hung in a quilt-like fashion. Such unity & again, public admission of a goal.

🔻FRIDAY MORNING 'CLASS'  JW Reason had a pretty awesome way to have what I'd have assumed to be after-school clubs during the day. A small amount of time was set aside each Friday morning for non-traditional activities. There is a "tasting" period where students can check out various options, and then I believe they will stick to an activity for 4 weeks. This continues for the remainder of the year. I saw classes like "Diving into Game Boards" & "Yoga Pretzels". How awesome of an experience for the whole school!

🔻SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL INSTRUCTION  both elementaries have invested a lot of time and energy into this aspect of their school culture and climate. I could tell it's very important and a focus for the buildings. In our world today, I agree this is an important piece to our education. It was great to see schools who were a few years into their SEL work. It won't be a cure, but it will certainly help. Several staff members shared about experiences with students using the vocabulary built AT school OUTSIDE of school (at the local pool, in Boy Scouts, their own children who attend Hilliard).

🔻BADGE TRACKING  I love the idea of gamifying in the classroom - it can add a layer of fun that pushes teachers & students in a way a worksheet never will. Outside of classrooms at JW Reason was a small poster with a blank spot awaiting a badge for completing/mastering that months focus lessons. What a great way to publicly announce that this classroom IS improving?

🔻CHECK-IN STICKS (for lunch & more)  This is super cool! My background is teaching middle school, but at the elementary level, it seems taking attendance and getting a lunch count go hand-in-hand. Brown Elementary kicked it up a notch & added colors. For example, if a student is having a rough morning, when they check in, they might choose their red stick & indicated their lunch choice. The teacher knows right away something is going on & can address it quickly. On the other hand, if a student indicates their lunch choice with a green stick, they are feeling a-okay!

I truly wish that I could have seen more of the schools in Hilliard, but this one day gave me numerous ideas I can take and share with my district and as well as you, too! Some will require more work than others, but many are just so amazing how can you NOT??

Which one(s) can you ... no, which one(s) WILL YOU do? 

A special thanks needs to go out to all at Hilliard who arranged this site visit. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful way for outsiders to peek into the awesome things your district is doing. Congratulations on a job well done! 

Follow them on Twitter: @jwreasonelem @BRN_Elementary @HilliardSchools @drjcm

To wrap it all up, I heard a few things that I'd like to share ...

"Culture eats strategy."

"If permit it, you promote it."

"We can't do Bloom until we do Maslow."

Please reach out if you have questions. You can comment below, or find me on Twitter @kiefersj -- or Google+ +SarahKiefer .

Monday, October 15, 2018

7 Tips for Successful Screencasting You Can Do

Last week, I wrote about 4 reasons why screencasting has greatly helped me. And from looks of it, I wasn't the only one who was talking about screencasting last week! 

You can read last week's here ↬ Screencasting You Can Do.

Another EdTech guru I follow - Jake Miller - shared "3 Screencastify Features You (Probably) Didn't Know About". He's right! I didn't know about these 3! You definitely should read this.

Today, I want to share some tips if you've not started, or are new to, screencasting. Screencasting is a great tool for teachers for the reasons I shared last week, but it's also a great tool for students to use, too! They will most likely take to it easier than you or I!

Here are a few suggestions & tips:

When setting up your account (or setting up accounts with students), make sure you set it to automatically save to Google Drive. To do this, click on the extension, select  "Options" & on the new browser window, the top option is saving to Drive or on local device. I LOVE the Drive option. It will create a Screencastify folder for easy access with ALL your recordings in one place.

Learn and think through the potential uses for the recording options. You can record the browser tab, the entire desktop, or just the webcam (meaning what your camera sees). Each option has it's pros & cons. If you just choose the browser tab, you have to stay in just the open tab. The desktop will capture everything you can see on your screen. The webcam can capture outward images.

There's a time and place for your just your webcam to record. There's a time and place you don't want the webcam at all. There's also a time and place to have the webcam AND your screen being recorded. 

Be sure to point out specifically to your students the little black circle IS their camera! Some may not make that connection without it and be unsure where exactly to look.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Screencasting You Can Do

One area of tech I did nothing with when I had my own classroom was screencasting. To be honest, I had a hard time listening to myself! Then, one of the first things I was asked to do when I started as a tech integration person was to screencast how to log into various programs. Gulp! Now, I had to!

I won't lie - it took me FOREVER! I made and deleted and remade and deleted some more. Fast-forward 2 years, and while I still do not really care to hear myself, I find it much easier to do as well as a HIGHLY efficient way to accomplish various tasks. (I'll explain later.)

I truly wish I had gotten on board with screencasting while I was in the classroom because I've found some pretty awesome ways to use it that save time and allow you to build a bank of good resources.

I know there are all kinds of screencasting tools out there - my preferred one is Screencastify. It allows me to log in with my Google account and I choose to have it automatically save my videos to My Drive. SUPER easy! I only use the free version & have yet to hit any need for a paid version. (Sure some of the editing tools would be nice, but I've made do.)

I'll share some tips at the end. Here are some of the ways I've found screencasting is helpful:

"How To" or Demonstrations

I am split between two elementaries and I often am asked "how to" questions or "I need help with" ... but I'm at the other elementary. While I could type out directions, I've found it very helpful to create a quick little video and then share it. I've received very positive feedback from this - it's specific to the person and it provides a visual along with the auditory instructions. 

CHALLENGE: record a "how to" for your students.


A big part of my job is supporting teachers with integrating tech into their classrooms. Last winter, we did a district-wide professional book study on George Couros "The Innovator's Mindset". It was fantastic!!! As part of the wrap up, I devised "The Innovator in YOU" so our teachers could capitalize on these great ideas. One was a 2nd grade teacher who said he'd like to make videos to share with the parents on how to do the math. (Don't laugh ... this is a regular complaint for math at all ages! It's mostly a vocab thing.) I helped him get going on this project. Eventually, the hope is he will teach his students how to create these. But for now, wow! What a great idea! 

You can check him out his YouTube channel is "David Williams". I love this & I've shared it with as many primary teachers I can. Better yet, subscribe and you'll be notified each time he posts a new video.

CHALLENGE: record a video on a specific area your students struggle & share it.