10/9 IDAY

"10/9 IDAY" is the headliner for the large amount of collaboration notes and documents being shared among our Professional Learning Committee, iLead Team, Administrators, teachers and staff. Please let me tell you, 10/9 IDAY was a blast and only the beginning of what's to come of future institute days for Oak Park 97 teachers, administrators, and support services. 

My favorite part? The afternoon iLearn/ IB sessions led and facilitated by D97's very own teachers and administrators, providing over 150 teachers, administrators, and support service staff members the opportunity to choose from 18 different workshop sessions. Out with the google forms and in with Sched, an event scheduler and agenda planner. Using Sched allowed our teachers to have access to ALL workshop session descriptions, room numbers, times, and facilitators as well as access to additional resources. Facilitators were able to reach out to their attendees to notify them of any additional items needed to be prepared for the work session. 

Afternoon hot topics included:    The Digital Portfolio and You;  Class Dojo: Teacher, Class, or Team Tool;  Explain Everything in the Engaged Classroom;  Engaging the IB Learner Using NearPod;  Twitter 101;  Magic of the Invisible Web;   Motivating the Underperforming Student using Self Assessment;   Managing Your Google Lifestyle;   Defining Group Roles;   Legos, Divergent Thinking, and Embracing Your Creativity;   Lesson in a Bag: Two Places @ One Time;   Tools to Support Literacy: Co-Writer and Snap&Read

Back to School

First Day of Middle School - "check"

Yes, today was the first day of middle school for about 350 sixth graders at PJMS. The first day of school at any grade level is a big deal, but the first day of middle school? Paramount. PJMS consists of four floors, four wings, two gymnasiums, a workout room, auditorium, large media center, multicultural center, and common area (aka cafeteria). Oh, and about 1,000 students.  Yes, middle school is a big deal. 

Towards the end of last school year, our improvement team developed a collection of lessons, activities, and student created videos which support our building expectations. During this first week of school, each department is responsible for facilitating the lessons. This way, each department is essentially allocating the same amount of time to share our school's expectations. Throughout the week, students will participate in two "Welcome Week" activities per day. Topics include IB (International Baccalaureate) MythBusters, Organization in a 1:1 Environment, Hallway/Lunchroom/Common Area procedures, and ExtraCurriculars.

Lessons/activities were scheduled throughout the week so students weren't overwhelmed with "expectations" in one day. We also wanted students to start middle school on their regular schedule, without delay, to minimize later confusion. So, our bell times this week? The same as any other week. Between classes, you will find teachers, support service teachers, and administration in the hallways, pointing students in the right direction to their next class. 

Needless to say, PJMS Welcome Week was AWESOME. Our 6th graders (along with 7th and 8th) are in the safe hands of PJMS teachers and staff.


Building a Student Innovation Team

After a year of 1:1 iPads under our belt, we are ready for (and in need of) a Student Innovation Team (SIT) to take on some of the challenges we face as a large middle school servicing up to 960 students and 80 plus staff members. I have attended several professional learning opportunities and have heard Jennie Magiera speak in regards to the roles her SIT played. Ideas continue to pour out of my head providing both opportunities to empower students while enriching our professional development experiences. 

  • Student Tech Office Hours - times where my team of student are available to help their peers troubleshoot errors or work through an app.
  • Student Tech Support for Teachers - opportunities for members of the team to be part of introducing a new application or supporting teachers while using a specific application; Institute Day attendance.
  • Leadership and Empowerment Experiences - including enrolling iPads, playing a part in the distribution, update, and collection processes, out of school visits and field trips, community awareness.
  • PJMS News Channel - filming monthly highlights and publishing a monthly/weekly news broadcast to keep students informed on school highlights and news. 
  • Maintain a Student Blog Site - a place to house new tips and tricks the team can share out including "How To" videos.


I am thinking a student application would be necessary, but what does this look like? Setting some realistic goals for the school year and trimesters is probably an idea to consider, but what is most important? Members of SIT owning this team is most empowering, but how does this work? Looking for feedback, resources, and ideas.

"Back it Up!"

We are nearing the end of a school year and I've been compiling some notes on backing up projects, files, work, etc for both teachers and students. I've shared this resource I created with PJMS teachers in hopes they will post on their Canvas page somewhere. Students have worked so long and hard on many projects that are kept on their iPad, why not back them up!? At the beginning of next year, I hope to introduce the idea of backing up content on a regular basis with both teachers and students. 

SAMR @astaffmeeting

No, it isn't another initiative, I promise.

How do you introduce teachers to the SAMR model without lending them any chance to think to themselves, "Ugh, another thing I gotta know or learn how to do..." ?

There are a handful of SAMR analogies out there. Initially, I was drawn to the coffee analogy; however, coffee trends have changed just in the last few months! I needed something solid, something that would be more difficult to throw wrenches at - keep in mind, I was sharing the SAMR model idea with a group of about 80 educators. When choosing the best analogy for myself and teachers at PJMS, I had to go with one we could all relate to - the beach analogy. People who go to the beach, go to enjoy. The added technology is what changes the rating one might give for the day at the beach. Original task, remains the same - An enjoyable day at the beach. 

Thank you to Beth Holland from edTech teachers for explaining this model to me in such a valuable way so that I could turn around share with my teachers.

So CRAY Tive? SOCK Ruh Tiv?

Either way, this particular application puts smiles on teachers faces! 

Although we've encountered scrunching eyebrows when approaching the pronunciation of this application, it seems we are all getting relatively comfortable saying it three or four different ways when asking our students to open up this application. No big deal, they know what we're talking about. Right? 

Quite a few of my teachers have used Socrative in their classrooms these last couple of months. I love the idea of using this application to target instruction or for learning target checkpoints. One of my Humanities teachers gave an (impromptu) pre-test on WWI simply to test the application out for the first time (originally the pre-test was going to be on paper). He had students partner up and complete a Space Race quiz, projecting progress on the board. While I was observing in this classroom, it was clear to me students were engaged with each other, talking through questions, and checking their progress being displayed. When students were finished, the teacher shared results with students and could easily identify areas he would need to target or maybe spend more time on. He was able to revisit the questions student missed which lent itself to classroom conversations. The results chart in Socrative is very clear. Red areas identify wrong answers while green are correct. At a glance, this teacher knows questions 5, 6, and 7 are areas he will be sure to go more in-depth (or reteach).

Our health teacher carries full class sizes all day long. Unfortunately, the LMS doesn't easily support the schedules our PE/Health department maintains each trimester. Therefore, it has become difficult to use the quiz feature within the LMS. Using Socrative has allowed for our health teacher to easily create and give quizzes to her students with a less strenuous need for grading. Including an image is one of my favorite features, great for diagrams, math problems, matching, and visualizing opportunities. Teachers can also monitor the pace at which a student is working.

A couple resources we came across include the Socrative Garden (a blog) which offers many different stories and ways in which Socrative is being implemented into the classroom and the massive bank of quizzes that have already been made and shared (on your MAC, use Command F to search for tag words.) Consider sharing your quizzes too by completing the Google Form they have included in the upper left hand corner of the bank spreadsheet. 

At our last Institute Day's Socrative PD session, we created a google form for teachers to complete as an exit ticket from the session. Teachers shared the quizzes they were able to make during the allotted time. We are now building an Oak Park Socrative bank of quizzes for our middle school teachers. We continue to add these quiz codes into our International Baccalaureate unit plans so teachers can import and share quizzes. Imported quizzes can be edited which is a great for our co-taught classrooms.