Friday, November 12, 2010

QR Codes for the Library

Tuesday, I showed some of our staff members a QR Code and I posted a couple around the building.  The media specialists, Diane and Michael,  showed me a poster in the library that had a QR Code printed on it.  "Why would they use a code and not print the text?", was the question.  I demonstrated how, with my iPhone, I could go directly to the website associated with the poster.  No typing, no mistakes.  I piqued their interest.  How could we use this?

Today, two days later, I went to school to find out the media specialists had printed a QR Code with a link to the school's library website.  They were so impressed with themselves.  I had shared with them the QR Code post of Jeff Utecht, that contained information on how to print QR Codes as well as how to read them.  They utilized the websites and printed their specific code.  I am thoroughly impressed.  I believe they are going to print bookmarks for the students to take home with the code printed for their use.  I also believe they will add the code to other print material that goes home with students.  This will make accessing the website a little easier.

I also received a lot of feedback from one of our secretaries.  She had seen these symbols in magazine adds.  She brought me the Target ad from that week, that contained a lot of these same symbols.  Those codes were sending shoppers to Target online to purchase the product that was associated with the code.  Once we start to figure out how we can utilize these symbols - it may make access to material more efficient and accurate.  It is amazing how much can be figured out just by "putting something out there".  No explanation needed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tech Tuesdays

On many Tuesdays in my building, we have "Tech Tuesday".  Tech Tuesdays are days set aside to provide technology in-service/training to teachers and staff.  Teachers and staff are provided the opportunity to come in during their plan time and see presentations and receive instruction on various topics from basic skills to advanced applications.  Sessions last about 40 minutes and typically are voluntary.  It is important to provide sessions that teachers will find helpful and interesting.

The Basics

Early in the year, the Tech Tuesdays tend to provide instruction on the implementation of necessary technology skills.  These topics include First Class - our email system and communication tool, ProgressBook - our online grading tool, MasteryManager - our assessment analysis tool, as well as other software pieces that teachers need to be able to use.  There are also sessions regarding PowerPoint/Keynote, word processing, and Mac basics - since we are an Apple district.

Extended Thinking

As the year goes along, we spend time with more advanced topics as well as other tools that teachers might find helpful.  We have already spent a day working with teachers on how they can use Twitter - see earlier post.  Our focus was on how they would use Twitter for personal and professional learning, and how they can follow people to grow their PLN, connecting with people with common interests.  Our school has recently started Tweeting and we feel that it can be another way for communication and sharing to occur.  We are also planning future events to include topics like Google Applications, Online tools - like FlickrSlideShareAudioBoo, etc.  

One of the other high schools ran a day called "Tech Fair" - like science fair - by demonstrating different ways that teachers use technology in class with the students at their building.  By exposing their teachers to different technology integration methods, their teachers were able to see what is available to them and also see the application into the classroom.  We will try to hold a day like that at my building during the next couple of months.

It is important to provide opportunities for teachers to grow personally and professionally using technology tools.  The more tools that they can be exposed to, the more opportunities that they may be able to share with the students.  Their comfort level will be higher, their interest will be greater, and their chance of looking for implementation will be increased.  Not all teachers will know all things, but if there are tools that they can learn and use, it will benefit instruction and learning.   Tech Tuesdays is about supporting teachers as they grow and learn.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blogging with Students

Today, I had the opportunity to work with our IB Art Teacher, Kate Menke, as she is implementing blogs with her students.  We are working on creating blogs with the students so that they begin to develop an online digital portfolio.  They are going to display their work and explanations, as well as demonstrate their critical skills with comments on the other students' work.  These students will be able to follow each other and see the growth over the years.  I believe it is the start of something awesome for these students.

Early in our process, we talked about digital footprint, and what that means for these students.  We talked about what the world can see about them and that it is important for them to share all of the incredible work that they do with society.  It is important that they display their work in ways that impress the readers, whether it is classmates, teachers, family, friends, or anyone else that may find their work.  We also talked about the permanence of their work and that what they post is a permanent statement to world.  Also, part of this discussion was the need to be good digital citizens.  They discussed the need to be honest and sincere, thoughtful and kind.

We then talked about the steps necessary to create a Blogspot blog.  We went through the following presentation and talked about the importance of keeping their profiles empty and keeping the amount of personal information shared to a minimum.  We stressed the importance of the students moderating their comments, so that comments that are questionable can be discussed before going out to the world.  It was a nice process and one that the students will actually go through in the next few days.  The students seemed so excited to get going.

We have involved the parents in this whole process.  It is important to us to have everyone on the same page as we move forward in this project.  The teacher is excited.  The students are excited. And, I am excited to see how this goes.  I believe the students will grow incredibly throughout this process and they will end up with a product that they can be proud of and show off.