Thursday, February 26, 2015

ActivExpression Devices Support Student Assessment

Sephanit and Ali participate in the trivia contest based on
books nominated for the 2014-15 Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Librarian Kim Miller recently hosted 37 third, fourth, and fifth graders at a Bluebonnet Books party. Students were invited to the milk and doughnuts celebration if they had read ten or more books nominated for the 2014-15 Texas Bluebonnet Award. Students also competed in a trivia contest to earn a spot on Herrington's Bluebonnet team, which will compete at the fifth annual Round Rock ISD Battle of the Bluebonnets on March 12.

For this contest, students answered multiple choice questions.
However, ActivExpressions support a variety of responses,
including short answers and even paragraphs that students type.
How did Mrs. Miller keep track of trivia answers from 37 students? She used Promethean individual response devices called ActivExpressions. Each student submitted answers on a device, and the ActivInspire software saved their answers to a spreadsheet. Mrs. Miller was able to tabulate correct answers and then pick her team from among students with the most correct answers. Students enjoyed the trivia contest AND the doughnuts!

Tierenee and Rebecca will represent Herrington at the RRISD
Battle of the Bluebonnets. Enzo, Makayla, and Mason were also
chosen for the team.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

KLHE Broadcast News, Produced by Fifth Graders

Every morning at 7:45, all the projectors in the building switch to our KLHE News broadcast, which is produced by teams of fifth graders. Counting students, staff members, and visitors, this show is viewed by approximately 950 people every day!
Broadcast Team 3 rehearses: Sage and Rebeca (in front of
the green screen) are anchoring; Makayla (in yellow jacket)
is scrolling through the script, which is displayed on dual monitors;
Austin (in blue jacket) is controlling the PowerPoint presentation
which includes backgrounds and videos; Sephanit (in sleeveless
shirt) is controlling the videomixer; and Alex (in orange jacket)
is running the audiomixer.

The anchors greet their viewers first, followed by a video production of the pledges to the American and Texas flags and the 60-second moment of silence. The anchors then read news announcements or reminders. On Mondays, Principal Julie Nelson introduces student super citizens, who are nominated by teachers. The weekly birthday book club video airs on Thursdays. On Fridays, Mrs. Nelson introduces her community super citizens, as well as super citizen staff members who have been nominated by their peers. Broadcast closes each day with student viewers joining the anchors in repeating the Hawks Rules - have respect, act responsibly, work together, keep safe, and soar to success.

Special features are also included in broadcast. Since February is Black History Month, student-created videos of famous African Americans are being played several days a week on broadcast. (See the Jan. 29 tech blog entry: Creating Videos for Black History Month Broadcasts.)

Fifth graders must apply to participate on Broadcast, and they must pass all their classes and exhibit appropriate behavior. Each team works approximately 4 weeks, and students rotate through the jobs, so they have the opportunity to anchor as well as run all of the equipment. Students also learn teamwork, responsibility, and the importance of reporting on time for work. It's a great experience for our fifth graders!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Expressing Creativity Through Digital Art

Digital art is art that is created using technology. The TEKS for art encourage students of all ages to create art in a variety of mediums. When students design art with programs like Tux Paint, they are expressing personal creativity and they are also learning technology TEKS, like opening and closing programs and naming and saving their work.

Breno and Abbey work on their art pieces, while Ms. Spady
instructs Bronwyn and A'Mariee on how to save their work.

Here are some examples of digital art created by these fourth graders from Ms. Hadamek's class:

By Breno.

By Abbey.

By A'Mariee.

By Bronwyn.

These four pieces were created using Tux Paint, which is free, open source software that is compatible with many computer operating systems. Click on the link below to read more about the program and download it for a home computer, if you'd like to.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Power of Professional Development

This tech blog usually features the work and learning that Herrington students complete using technology. This week, though, I'd like to discuss professional development - the continued learning that enables educators to improve their craft and better meet students' needs. 

Moby, from BrainPop, poses with Mrs. Edwards in the
exhibit hall at the 2015 TCEA Convention..

Teachers graduate from college knowing the basics of the technology that they need to teach. However, technology changes rapidly and every school district has different programs and equipment that teachers need to learn, so they can teach their students technology skills and use technology effectively. As Herrington's instructional technology specialist, that's where I come in. Some important parts of my job are to provide training for teachers and staff and to help teachers and students integrate technology into the curriculum.

The first week of February brings a special event for technology educators - the annual Texas Computer Education Association conference. This conference , which is held at the Austin Convention Center, is MY opportunity to learn about new programs, new apps, new ways of teaching technology literacy, and more. And I'll bring back what I learn to share with Herrington's staff and students. Some examples - we will be rolling out new teacher web pages for the 2015-16 school year, and I got some great ideas for using Google's Blogger to create web sites. One of the presenters demonstrated a nifty way to use Google forms that teachers could utilize for scheduling conferences. I'm excited to show our specials teachers how easy it is to record using Vocaroo and then embed the audio in a web site. 

I'm a LEARNER this week, and that will help me to be a better teacher. That's what professional development is all about!