Becoming a Technology Department of “Yes!”

Wilmington Area School District has transformed into a regional leader in Educational Technology and is a pinnacle example of how Questeq can transform K-12 schools from tactical to strategic.

Wilmington Area School District Faculty and Staff

Just over two years ago, Wilmington partnered with Questeq with the hope of revitalizing their technology and every aspect of it. The District had major issues at every level. As Wilmington’s new Technology Manager, I believe that if “school choice” is going to be a thing, then Wilmington will be the best choice. Over the past two years, Aaron McConahy, Infrastructure Engineer, and myself have worked hard to make that happen.

The District is now 1:1 K-12 with a solid infrastructure. Everything has changed for the better, and it all started with a change of culture. We’ve turned the Tech Department into a Department of “Yes!” where we do everything possible to meet the needs of our faculty and staff. No matter how small or insignificant the request might seem to us, it may mean the world to a teacher. So, we exhaust every effort to say “yes” instead of defaulting to “no.” When the default response of technology staff is “no,” faith in the Tech Department will diminish so far that most teachers won’t bother to ask for help. With a positive change in culture, the whole district has regained trust in their Tech Department, and teachers are eager to learn and try new technologies.

Recently, Wilmington has fully immersed itself in everything Google. We are 1:1 with Chromebooks 5-12, and are using G Suite for Education extensively. The usage of Google Classroom, for example, is a requirement of all middle and high school teachers. Several teachers are now Google Certified Educators, and many more have expressed interest. Wilmington’s usage of Google products and services has spiked so high that even Google took notice. In July, we were selected as a Google Reference District.

Google Reference Districts are distinguished schools that utilize everything Google and are intended to show other districts what Google can do for education. Becoming a Google Reference District can only start with an invitation and involves a detailed application process. There are less than 200 districts in the world with this distinction. Needless to say, everyone at WASD is very proud!

Questeq’s impact at Wilmington has been positively remarkable. In just two years, Wilmington has changed its entire culture and is now a leader among leaders. We’ve shown that enrollment numbers don’t matter. Any district can accomplish the same feats regardless of size. All it takes is a Technology Department with motivation, perseverance, and a heap of gumption.

– Matthew E. Maine, Technology Manager

Greencastle-Antrim to Implement 1:1 Technology Program

Greencastle-Antrim School District was recently featured in the Pubic Opinion for its newest technology initiative. As GASD’s technology management partner, we are excited to help implement and support this program within the district.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Beginning next school year, high school students at Greencastle-Antrim will have access to new technological devices in the classroom.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District will be implementing its own one-to-one technology program, dubbed Equal Technology Opportunities, starting with the 2016-2017 school year for high school students.

Read the full article here.

Common Sense Media 1-to-1 Essentials Program

The 1-to-1 Essentials Program recently released by Common Sense Media aims to provide a proactive plan for implementing a successful 1-to-1 program in your school or district. To use the resources you must create a username and password but all of the resources appear to be free of charge.

The program introduces three phases towards a successful implementation: Envision, Communicate, Implement. Each phase provides a downloadable action plan and many downloadable tools and resources for your use. In addition, helpful videos appear for each phase to support the ideas being discussed.

This program is very new so expect new features and resources to be added as they develop and refine the offering. One interesting feature that is “coming soon” is an online compass which will allow you to survey and monitor your stakeholders on their comfort level with the 1-to-1 implementation.

To learn more about this program visit http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1.

Classroom Management & e-Learning Tools for Teachers

Online classroom management and e-Learning tools have been around for several years. These tools have become more popular and accessible in K-12 classrooms due to BYOD and 1-to-1 programs being implemented in schools across the country. Take a look at these online programs if your school doesn’t currently provide an easy way to connect and communicate with your students. All of these programs are currently free and provide a rich set of collaborative tools for your classroom.

Edmodo – http://www.edmodo.com

edmodoEdmodo has been around since 2008 and has continued to evolve and change with the needs of teachers and learners. The online learning platform has enabled over 15,000,000 learners to connect within their school walls and globally. Schools or individual teachers can sign up for free access to Edmodo.

Edmodo features list (partial):

  • Classroom calendar
  • Google Docs integration
  • Assignments and homework submission
  • Quizzes, Gradebook
  • Post moderation
  • Badges
  • Student & teacher file storage

In addition to the many features Edmodo has to offer, they also have a mobile version of the website in addition to an iPhone and Android app.

Common Sense Media and Edmodo have released a Digital Citizenship Starter Kit that aligns with Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship curriculum. This collaboration is a great benefit to using Edmodo as your e-learning platform.

Collaborize Classroom – http://www.collaborizeclassroom.com

Collaborize ClassroomSimpleK12, a wonderful community and resource for K-12 teachers, has developed and released the Collaborize Classroom platform for teachers.

Collaborize Classroom Features List (partial):

  • Classroom discussions (forums, voting)
  • Groups
  • Participation reports
  • Topic library for resource sharing with other teachers

In addition to these features, a free or pro (.99) app is available on the iTunes store for iPad and iPhone.

EDU 2.0 – http://www.edu20.org

EDU 2.0EDU 2.0 is an e-learning platform designed for entire schools. Unlike the other tools shared, EDU 2.0 encourages schools to register instead of individual teachers. If you are a school or district administrator take a look at this tool as an alternative to Moodle or more costly solutions.

EDU 2.0 Free Plan Features List (partial):

  • Unlimited teacher accounts
  • Up to 2000 student accounts
  • Customizable portal
  • Classes, lessons, resources
  • Five types of assignments
  • Quizzes and question banks
  • Rubrics
  • Gradebook
  • Collaboration tools
  • Portfolios
  • Parent accounts
  • Unlimited storage

ClassDojo – http://www.classdojo.com

Class DojoClassDojo is a behavior management tool instead of an e-learning platform. Check out ClassDojo if you are looking for a fun and engaging way to monitor, track and improve student behavior. This tool features a mobile friendly version.

From classdojo.com:

ClassDojo is a classroom tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms quickly and easily. It also captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators.

Do you have any other e-learning platforms or classroom management tools to share? Please let us know in the comments!

South Side 1 to 1 Project

 

Starting this year, students at South Side Area School District will be part of a district-wide 1 to 1 technology program. All students in grades K-5 will receive an Apple iPad and students in grades 6-12 will receive a Lenovo laptop. This new initiative has been a tremendous undertaking and has involved everyone from the maintenance staff to the superintendent.

The devices, at least initially, will aid in the delivery of existing curriculum, not change it. One device per student allows for differentiation on a mass scale not possible with traditional laptop carts and computer labs.

Elementary instruction will be focused on ways to differentiate and enhance math instruction. The past success of the (CFF) Classroom for the Future program has helped lay the foundation for secondary teachers to get started with their students. Students will be using the devices, in part, to supplement their instruction based on individual test data.

A small group of teachers at the elementary have volunteered to act as technology integrators to support the use of the iPads. These volunteer teachers visited a school to talk with colleagues already fully engaged in a 1 to 1 program. In addition, many elementary teachers will be participating in a professional development opportunity facilitated by Apple in August.

The middle and high school teachers have been fully engaged in Model Schools and in personal learning communities (PLC) for the last four years. The PLC structure empowers each group to make decisions based on the needs of students. The implementation of one laptop per student will only enhance the ability of each PLC to extend student learning.

It is vital that planning for the expansion of infrastructure (wireless access points, other networking equipment) is done in advance. Because of the expansion, testing and monitoring of district-wide wireless over the last 2 years, the district only needed to add a total of four access points this summer.

Practically speaking, students and teachers will receive either a laptop or iPad with their name on the back. Students will leave their device with their last period teacher at the end of the day. Each teacher will make sure all are charged and ready for use each day. Each morning students will retrieve their device and proceed to homeroom. Student devices cannot be taken home this year but it is being discussed for the future.

Mike Lipnicky, the Questeq Director of Technology at South Side, will be providing updates throughout the school year of their progress. We look forward to hearing how the students are using and benefiting from this valuable initiative.

South Side Area School District Collage