Saturday, August 13, 2016

A New Year, New Challenges

A new school year brings new challenges, but first, I'll look back at my summer.

What a busy summer! I visited the following places: Victoria, BC, San Jose, San Francisco, Beatrice, NE, Denver, Bethesda, MD, and Washington, DC.

Touch Screen Devices/Apps
Ever since I earned my masters in instructional technology, I notice how technology is used in different places.  Going through customs, as I reentered the U.S. in Seattle, I faced multiple rows of touch screens which gathered information, scanned my passport and sent me to the next area for verbal questions.
In Victoria, my wife and I ordered from iPads at one restaurant.  We took pictures with our phones of the beautiful scenery and shared that with friends and family.  I used PicCollage and Typorama to capture the highlights of each trip.  We used FaceTime to talk to our children.
In San Jose, we rented a car to drive to San Francisco.  Google Maps took us to the "Full House" house, Fisherman's Wharf, Google Headquarters, Apple Headquarters, and the Golden Gate bridge.  We were also able to find the nearest gas station to the airport so I could fill up before returning the rental.
In DC, I used Google Maps to navigate.  With Google Maps, I was able to find the nearest Metro station to get us from one place to another.  I rented a car one day to visit the town where I was born.  After riding the Metro from Bethesda to Reagan National Airport, we used Google maps to find the Battle of Bull Run site, the Army base where I lived, as well as the town where I was born.
As we waited for a weather delay at Reagan National Airport, I used the Southwest app and checked weather on Safari via the National Weather Service website.  I used Twitter to keep my mind occupied as well as to message Southwest airlines to find out more information about the delay.
In Denver, I attended the ISTE Conference with several colleagues.  I used my iPad to take notes, take pictures of presenters' notes and to communicate with my family.  I used a Google Doc to take notes so that I could share that with my staff.
In Beatrice, I was asked to present on live streaming.  I used a Google Presentation and in the sessions I attended, I used Google Docs to take notes so I could share with my teachers.  One highlight was learning from Leslie Fisher!  If you ever have an opportunity to attend one of her sessions, you must!

The summer ended with the death of a former student/athlete I taught and coached.  Cole Bergan was part of one of the best classes to ever come through Southern Valley.  He was a great young man that worked hard, served our country in the Navy, and became a teacher.  He was a member of the first Southern Valley football team to go to the playoffs in back to back years and will be sorely missed.  The members of those teams will always be special to me as I enjoyed coaching them as well as having them in my classes.

Upcoming Challenges
We've added 6 grades of devices to our 1:1 program!  We now have laptops for students in grades 7-12 and iPads in grades 3-6 as well as two carts of 20 iPads for grades K-2 to use.  One of the major challenges was setting up the devices, as we are in a unique situation with our technology coordinator.  With the help of an elementary teacher, we were able to get all of the devices set up!  I am still working on getting charging cords into laptop bags and am getting tired of labeling, but we'll be ready to go when students return.
One challenge I will have this year is an expanded teaching load.  I will be teaching digital citizenship to 7th graders.  I love this age group and we have an outstanding group of incoming 7th graders.  The challenge will be to try to help teachers, supervise the 1:1 program, and handle online behavior discipline while teaching 3 periods every day.
Another challenge will be to find time to assist teachers in integrating technology into their lessons.  It seems that we are not going to be doing much PD during our designated teacher workdays, so I created a Technology PD class in Schoology to help teachers.  I hope this is more effective than the Google Classroom I used last year.  Teachers, like students, have different learning styles.  Some would rather meet in person and be shown how to do things.  With my schedule, this will be difficult, but I hope teachers are willing to make use of time before school and during lunch in order to seek ways to use technology effectively in their classrooms.

Looking back at the apps that I used this summer, I'm going to make a point of teaching these apps to the students at Southern Valley.

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