Wiss21 Boot Camp

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The second day of school is always an exciting one at Wissahickon Middle School, for that’s the day that about 1,200 students receive their Wiss21 laptops and begin or continue their journey through the challenging yet exhilarating wilds of 21st Century Teaching and Learning.  As sixth grade is the first year that the students are issued a laptop that is theirs and theirs alone that they can use in school and at home, not only do they receive their laptops on the second day of school, but WMS 6th graders begin the first of several sessions of what we lovingly call ‘Boot Camp’, otherwise known as computer orientation.   Read on to learn how Wissahickon School District trains the “troops” to be responsible digital citizens who not only use their computer efficiently and effectively for their schoolwork, but also to be problem solvers and assistants to their fellow students and teachers.

Wiss21 Resource Guide

Before getting into the schedule and content of sessions, it is important to mention the “Wiss21 Resource Guide”.  The Guide is a OneNote Notebook provided to all WMS students and teachers that serves as a type of manual for their computers and the Wiss21 initiative, as well as other goodies such as the WMS Handbook and other school-related topics.  As this notebook is a view-only notebook living on our district’s SharePoint server, content can be added to the Guide at any time that automatically shows up for the students.  In it there are many helpful sections and pages for students, including Quick Reference, Office 365, Creativity Tools, Boot Camp, Digital Portfolio and more…

6th Grade Wiss21 Resource Guide 2015

6th Grade Wiss21 Resource Guide 2015

Boot Camp Session #1 – Computer Orientation

As previously mentioned, students receive their computers on the second day of school. The 6th graders receive their computers first so that they can attend computer orientation later in the day.  That day, during either their science or social studies class (or sometimes both!) the students attend their first Boot Camp session that provides just enough instruction for them to get acquainted with their computers, get the Wiss21 Resource Guide, and learn a bit about OneNote, Outlook, where and how to save files, etc.  The entire lesson is outlined in the Wiss21 Guide and is taught by team teachers who have stepped up to the plate to conduct the orientation.

Session #1 Agenda

Boot Camp Session #1 Agenda

After the second day of school, students are free to take the computers home and use them in classes.  Teachers continue to orient the students to the computers and although some were a bit hesitant during the first few years, the teachers are becoming more and more comfortable with the use of the computers and guiding their students in their procedures and expectations with the laptops.

Boot Camp Session #2 –  Office 365, OneNote & Digital Portfolios

Fast forward to the second week of school.  During this time, all 6th grade students come to the library for two hours to continue with Boot Camp.  During this time, students are taught by me, the Instructional Technology Specialist.  When we embarked on the Wiss21 initiative, we knew that teachers should not be expected to teach all aspect of the computers to their students.  After all, they aren’t computer teachers, they are Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, etc teachers.  Therefore, Boot Camp was created and is continually taught by me.  Because I am the one teaching it, I have the ability to change the content from year to year to fit the most current needs and technology in the district.   For example, this year we are embarking on Office 365 as a district so I am including it in our time together as well as having the students create their portfolio OneNotes on OneDrive instead of on their computers as we’ve done in the past

Sessions #2 and #3 are taught together during these two hours, covering the topics below.  As it was for Session #1, all the information and additional helpful tutorials are included in the Wiss21 Guide.

Boot Camp Sessions #2 & #3

Boot Camp Sessions #2 & #3

This year, I created a Sway for this part of Boot Camp to guide our time together.  Check it out below or at this link here!

This second session of Boot Camp focuses on the creation of what will become their Digital Portfolios to which they will add artifacts and reflections of their learning throughout not only 6th grade, but 7th and 8th grade as well.   As they learn about the Digital Portfolio project and its expectations and requirements, students are also learning how to create and share documents through Office 365 and the basic ins and outs of the program they will use the most – OneNote.    We get their entire Portfolio template set up together and they begin working on their “About Me” page by adding fancy text, images that represent their hobbies, etc.  If you are interested in learning more about our Digital Portfolio project and to see student examples, visit this link.

Digital Portfolio Overview

Digital Portfolio Overview

Boot Camp Session #3 – Digital Citizenship

The second hour of our time together during the second week of school we discuss Digital Citizenship.  Although this part of the lesson has also evolved over the years, I always want to start out with asking them what they already know.  We put the technology aside for a few minutes and the students discuss what they already know about Digital Citizenship, online safety, privacy, copyright, etc., first with each other in small groups, then all together as a larger group.  As the years progress, I’m pleased to find out that the students already know quite a bit that they’ve learned from parents, previous teachers, etc. but am also surprised at some of the gaps and/or misconceptions.

What is Digital Citizenship?

What is Digital Citizenship?

From there, we watch a video from InCtrl called Living in a Digital World and discuss it.

Then, just as the students are getting a bit ancy for being with me for 1.5 hours and talking about some heavy topics, we jump into this game of Kahoot!  to really hit home some of the more important aspects of Digital Citizenship.  I stop the game after each question and discuss the reasons why.  I love teaching this topic this way because I get to see their prior knowledge on EVERY question, and then address the incorrect answers to broaden knowledge and squash misconceptions.  Needless to say, the students LOVE it and even debate some of the answers!  (BTW, if you don’t know about Kahoot! You need to!  Check it out here.)

Digital Citizenship with Kahoot!

Digital Citizenship with Kahoot!

After the game, we end our Digital Citizenship lesson with logging into our Digital Passports.  As the topic of Digital Citizenship is very large, there is no way that just an hour can justify the learning that needs to occur.  Therefore, the students are all required to log into their Digital Passports and earn a badge on all five of the games to be certified Digital Citizens!  They have the entire first marking period to complete their Digital Passports and they receive a grade in their Social Studies class for not just completion, but accurate completion higher than 80% on all games.  The Digital Passport comes from Common Sense Media and although it is recommended for elementary school, is VERY much appropriate for middle school and includes videos and scenarios for the middle school age group.  The students are very motivated by the gamified aspect of the Digital Passport and often play the games even after they’ve earned their badges.

Boot Camp Session #4  – Productivity Tools and #5 – Creativity Tools

After their two hours with me in the library, the students continue their Boot Camp training on Productivity Tools (Office Suite mostly) and Creativity Tools (MovieMaker, SongSmith, Google Earth, SMART Notebook, Sway, etc.) in other classes.  The Science teachers take care of the productivity tools through a unit on weather during the second marking period through which students must track the weather of an adopted city, use Excel to make graphs, create a presentation with PowerPoint, etc.  The Math teachers conduct the creativity tools section of Boot Camp by having their students create review lessons, videos, games, etc. for the Midterm and Final exams.  And lastly, all 6th graders have a class called “iSkills”, either during the fall or spring semester, during which they examine the ISTE Standards for Students and dig deeper into technology integration and 21st Century Learning.

Boot Camp to be Continued

Boot Camp to be Continued

Now that you’ve gotten an overview of how Wissahickon School District provides computer orientation and training for the 6th graders, can you understand why we call it “Boot Camp”?

How does your school or district orient your students to their devices?  I’d love to hear how other people do it.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Wiss21 Summer Institute 2015

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wiss21-white-bkgrdLast week, during the very last days of summer vacation, while most teachers are trying desperately to soak up the last rays of sunshine, riding that last adrenaline-pumping roller coaster, or savoring the cuisine of backyard BBQs, a group of teachers from the Wissahickon School District were devoting their time to personal and professional growth at the Wiss21 Summer Technology Institute.  The Institute ran Monday-Thursday, from 8:30-11:30 am, offering 2 sessions each day on technology integration and 21st century learning.

As technology integration and 21st century learning are large and broad topics, we put together and sent an interest survey in the spring to gauge interest for the Institute and its offerings.  From the list we provided and other “write-ins”, we determined the sessions and schedule for the week.  As we are embarking on Office 365 this year, it was important to include those as topics as well as other Microsoft tools and resources.

Therefore the sessions included:

  • Flipped Learning
  • Office Mix & Sway
  • Formative Assessment Tools
  • OneNote for Beginners
  • OneNote for Intermediate/Advanced
  • 21st Century Learning Design
  • Office 365 Introduction
  • Office 365 for Collaboration

As usual for Professional Development these days at Wissahickon, a OneNote Notebook was created to provide session agendas & slides, resources, areas for participant notes,  and areas for experimentation and exploration.  In addition, the OneNote Notebook is available to any Wissahickon faculty member (or anyone else, including you!) to access, even if they were not in attendance at the Institute.

Front page of the Wiss21 Institute OneNote Notebook

Front page of the Wiss21 Institute OneNote Notebook

For the session presentations, a mixture of PowerPoint, OneNote, Sway and Padlet were used throughout the Institute.  When it comes to tools, it is always best to use the tool to teach the tool, so we did so when it was appropriate.  Check out some of our session resources and presentations below:

Overall, the sessions were well attended, especially the ones towards the end of the week on the newer tools and resources to WSD.  Teachers were engaged during each workshop and are looking forward to utilizing what they’ve learned as they design their learning activities and lessons this year with their students.

Kudos to the teachers who gave up those precious last mornings of summer to come and learn about some of the great tools, resources and best practices for technology integration and 21st century teaching and learning at Wissahickon School District.

welcome sign

Photo Credit

Top 5 Back-to-School Tools for Creation, Collaboration and Communication

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Along with the preparation of bulletin boards, seating charts, classroom procedures and syllabi, it is also important for teachers to consider the go-to digital tools and resources they will rely upon as they head into the school year.  The five tools and resources outlined below can be utilized by teachers and students in many different classroom settings, grade levels and subject areas for creation, communication, collaboration, and so much more.

Tool #1 – OneNote & OneNote Class Notebook

To maximize efficiency and rise to the top of the class in organization, consider using OneNote (free to download for any device) and the OneNote Class Notebook as the backbone of your digital life. Teachers can deliver engaging and interactive content easily and efficiently to their students and students can complete work by typing, annotating text, inserting images, linking notes, drawing with digital ink, etc.  With Class Notebook through Office 365, teachers have immediate access to all student work and can provide on-going, detailed and specific feedback to each student privately, through text, ink, audio or video recording.  Class Notebooks also have a Collaboration Space through which all students and teachers with access to that notebook can collaborate, communicate and create together.  OneNote really IS the ultimate classroom tool!

class notebook

Example of a Class Notebook

collaboration space

Collaboration Space

Be sure to check out http://onenoteforteachers.com to learn about OneNote and its use in school, and don’t forget – OneNote is free on all devices!  http://OneNote.com

Tool #2 – Office Mix

It is easy to flip, blend, individualize and differentiate instruction with Office Mix. Although Office Mix is an excellent tool for any classroom, many educators believe it is THE ANSWER for the flipped or blended learning environment.  This free add-in to PowerPoint allows teachers and students to enhance and amplify their presentations by adding interactivity and engagement through voice and screen recording, digital ink annotation, embedding videos and polling. Content creation and delivery is not only easy and efficient, but highly motivating to the end users – the students!  Also remember, it’s not just for teachers!  Students too can get “in the mix” to demonstrate their learning or teach a new concept to their classmates – and ask questions of them to see if they were listening!  To get Office Mix visit http://mix.office.com and to learn more about using it in your classroom visit http://mixforteachers.com.

Office Mix Toolbar

Office Mix Toolbar

Check out this great video for an introduction and step-by-step guide on how to create your first Office Mix.

Tool #3 – Sway

Are you ready to Sway?  In just minutes, teachers and students can create stunning visual presentations with a unique web URL that can be easily shared for viewing or collaboration.  By adding interactive content such as photos, videos, audio files, Twitter feeds, charts, documents and maps, students can easily demonstrate their learning and present their thoughts and ideas without having to spend a lot of time on design.  As each Sway has its own unique web address, it can be used for a variety of items in the teaching and learning environment including delivery of content, demonstration of learning, but also for communication such as blogging, parent newsletters, student publications, faculty updates, etc.


A Sway in Edit Mode

Learn about the “Sway Way” below:

Don’t miss the new Sway tutorial videos and start Swaying today!

Tool #4 – Skype

How have you connected your classroom with the world?  With Skype and Skype in the Classroom, it is easier than ever to connect your students with other teachers, classrooms, experts and projects to help break down the walls of your classroom to bring the world in.  Not sure where to start? Play Mystery Skype with another classroom from somewhere around the world.  It is a fun and easy way to get started with Skype and providing global opportunities for your students.

Tool #5 – Microsoft Educator Network

Learning and using tools and resources from tutorials and websites is an awesome way to be a lifelong learner, but learning from and with others is the true hallmark of a 21st century educator.  The Microsoft Educator network provides today’s educators access to a plethora of resources including hot topics blogs, discussion communities, professional development courses, quick tip videos, tutorials, learning activities and opportunities for educators.  In addition to all that, the Educator Network also provides access to a host of FREE Microsoft tools & resources and the Bing in the Classroom daily lesson plans based on the Bing image of the day.  Join the Educator Network today!

Microsoft Educator Network

Microsoft Educator Network


Dianne’s Daily Discoveries 08/05/2015

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  • “Getting teachers comfortable with technology is a process, and few understand that process better than Dianne Krause. Krause has been helping educators in her district integrate technology and 21st century learning for eight years now, and has a unique perspective on the journey teachers must take.”

    tags: dailyedventure MIEE Mieexpert15 Miechat

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Dianne’s Daily Discoveries 08/03/2015

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  • KTI 2015 TeachMeet Projects and activities

    tags: KTI2015 KTI TeachMeet projects sharing

  • “Rubik’s cube is more than a puzzle- it’s a question waiting to be answered. And when the right person finds the right question, it can set them on a journey to change the world. We salute Ernő Rubik and everyone helping young minds find the questions that challenge, excite, and let them see the world in a new way.

    tags: questions inquiry questioning inspiration rubik’scube education technology

  • “Learn more about this film and download the free companion poster here: http://fablevisionlearning.com/blog/2…

    Peter H. Reynolds, creativity advocate and best-selling author and illustrator, and co-founder of FableVision Learning, has created a new animated short called The Testing Camera — a whimsical poke at high-stakes, standardized testing and a reminder that real assessment is as easy, and — at the same time — as challenging as getting to really know the gifts and talents of every child.

    “We’ve gone through a very test-centric decade which, in my opinion, has consumed a lot of time, energy, and resources,” Reynolds shares. “Many teachers have had to adhere to new mandates and measures that require a ‘teach to the test’ approach. Public schools redirected funding for art, music, theater, libraries, field trips, and more. It’s a discouraging picture for those trying to reach all children in creative, engaging ways.”

    Reynolds, who is known for his books encouraging creativity, The Dot, Ish, Sky Color and The North Star among many others, penned this whimsical and poignant story about a young girl named Daisy who, dismayed at her art class being canceled, nervously faces her turn with the “Testing Camera.” This huge apparatus snaps at her with a few blinding flashes of light. Weeks later, her father’s reaction to the test results surprises Daisy in a most wonderful way.

    “This is my gift to educators to remind them to follow their instincts and remember why they got into teaching in the first place: to see the potential in every child, to nurture those emerging gifts and talents, and to change lives,” Reynolds shared.

    The film was produced by FableVision, the transmedia studio in Boston founded by Peter and his twin brother, Paul Reynolds, author of Going Places and the Sydney & Simon series. The Testing Camera was directed by John Lechner with music by Tony Lechner, and animated by a team of young animators interning at FableVision for the summer. Broadway actor Chester Gregory lends his voice to the project.”

    tags: reynolds fablevision testing assessment The Testing Camera video inspirational

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.