Monday, March 31, 2014

First Grade Writing Project

Students in First Grade worked on an important capstone writing piece to meet grade level curriculum requirements. They drafted their writing with procedural prompts and incorporated the use of a hook to draw in their audience. Illustrations also went through a drafting process to include details that were accented in the writing. 

First Grade drawing from "How to Plant a Strawberry."
The First Graders photographed their drawings using the iPads and the teacher made a small movie with each student in which the audio is the student reading their story. Each class member has their own film stored in their Google account as a digital portfolio item and Miss Kelley has the class film posted on the writing page of her website.

Cute & Easy

Student Tech Teams: What Do They Do?

As a team, the RSU 20 Tech Integrations have made it a priority this year to organize and expand student technology teams throughout our schools, and the results have been amazing.  But what do student technology teams do?

The better question is, what don't they do?

A fifth grade student at K. Nickerson listens to two first grade
students reading their stories, and helps with revision.
Finished stories will go into their ePortfolios. 
Generally speaking, student technology teams assist their teachers and classmates in their use of technology in the classroom.  On a basic level, this means learning basic tips about using the laptops or other devices (things like keyboard shortcuts for copying, cutting, and pasting text), or specific programs on the devices (for instance, inserting a picture into a slideshow in Google Drive).  Tech team students also learn basic troubleshooting techniques and how to fix issues with the devices (like resetting the WiFi when a laptop does not connect to the Internet on the first try).  Students also help model and communicate good digital citizenship and proper handling of the devices, like making sure students are holding their laptops with two hands, and not carrying it around with the lid open.

And that's just at the elementary level, where Tracy Hayslip and I manage a total of six teams at the seven elementary schools in the district.  At Searsport District Middle School, Laurie Rule's sixth and seventh grade Viking Pilots are building and modeling exemplary ePortfolios in Google Sites to help teachers integrate ePortfolios into their curriculum, and are helping others use technology to take non-digital work like handwritten papers and art and turn them into digital artifacts that can be put into their ePortfolios.  At Belfast Area High School, Liz Small's team has been working on rebuilding the local TV station that used to operate out of the school, and have also been recording Board of Directors meetings for Belfast Community TV and on demand on Vimeo.  They also get more hands on with the troubleshooting and repair of broken laptops and other equipment.

Fourth and fifth graders at Searsport Elementary School help
prepare 40 Chromebooks and two laptop carts for use.
What makes student technology teams so powerful is that the experience is really not about the technology.  Rather, technology is the vehicle for the more important lessons around leadership and helping others.  In just the second week of meeting with my new fourth grade team at Searsport Elementary School, they were teaching their classmates about how to use Google Drive, and since then both teams have worked with third graders on using Google Drive and their recent solar system slideshow projects.  Fifth grade tech team students at K. Nickerson School have just started helping their first grade buddies with writing ePortfolios of their own.  I've even had students help image laptops and prepare laptop carts! (I write more on my student tech teams on my personal blog)  Students, especially elementary students, are very motivated to help other students (and even more motivated to help their teachers!), so student tech teams create a opportunity for the tech integrators of RSU 20 to foster communication and leadership skills in ways that engage students in real-world settings.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Student-Generated Clicker Questions

Physics Class
David Thomas, BAHS

Mr. Thomas has his Physics students type one multiple-choice question and associated answer choices for each unit in physics and then add them to a shared Google folder. The questions are then used in conjunction with a student response digital clicker system ( in which students use handheld devices to answer these questions that are projected in the classroom. 

This activity serves as a formative assessment before a unit test as a means to gauge student understanding and preparedness. The supporting digital clicker software allows student responses to be saved, and electronically graded. Furthermore, bar graphs showing percent of students selecting various answer choices are displayed, which helps to identify major misconceptions. This technology allows him to use assessment to drive instruction. The digital student response system is also used during teacher presentations to make them more interactive and keep students engaged.

A shared Google folder is created by each student and titled with their name. All computer assignments completed by the student are placed in this folder, which serves as a digital portfolio of the student’s electronic work throughout the course.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Information Security - what is it?

In an effort to address issues raised in our recent IT customer satisfaction survey, I decided to dust off some old information security blog entries, update ‘em, and once again provide you with important security tips.

Computer security may seem to throw unnecessary roadblocks into your daily routines in RSU #20: password protected networks, admin logins required for installations, website blocks. Key to effective information security is awareness. This information security blog, as part of our new RSU #20 technology blog, is designed to raise awareness of information security. It is also designed to provide you and our students with tools and skills to manage information security.

First, I would like to once again recommend a basic, easy-to-read booklet on computer security. It is titled, "Computer Security, 20 Things Every Employee Should Know, " ISBN-10 # 0-07-226282-6, ISBN-13 # 978-0072262827 and published by McGaw-Hill Professional Education. The cost is about $8.00. It is available in print and e-book format. This booklet is a few years old now, but is still relevant. It contains basic security information and is written for the non-geek. It is not full of technical jargon and drives home the importance of maintaining computer security.  

There are three fundamental principles in effective information security: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. In the information security (infosec) field, we refer to this as the C-I-A triad. Confidentiality implies a trust or a feeling of assurance. In infosec, this is ensuring data is not disclosed to unauthorized persons. Integrity is defined as, "a rigid adherence to a standard of values." In infosec, data integrity is the reliability that information received is in an identical state to when it was last accessed by an authorized person. Accessibility describes access to data by authorized users. Infosec attempts to balance confidentiality and integrity with accessibility. It is a fine line and sometimes we (IT) err on the side of caution.

The C-I-A triad forms is the base for information security. Your role in information security is vital. Security is similar to a chain and is only as strong as the weakest link. When working with data (digital, verbal, or written), we, as employees, present a vulnerability to that data. To have an effective information security program, we all must be aware of our responsibilities.
Here is a bit more on C-I-A & infosec:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Smart Phones = Learning

SDMS teacher Michelle Wakeman is mostly a math teacher but when she needed an engaging lesson for her literacy block she turned to Teachers Pay Teachers, an online community where educators buy, sell and share original resources.  The QR Scavenger Hunt lesson she chose had students moving about the room learning word meanings by scanning QR codes with their smartphones.  Not everyone had a smartphone but that did not stop the learning.  Students worked in small teams, everyone took turns and no one minded sharing.  A webpage resource alternative to QR codes was provided for students who chose not to use smart phones.  Clearly engagement, enthusiasm and learning were in the classroom.  Watch the video to hear seventh graders, Lauryn and Skylor, explain how they did it.  

Check out 50 QR Code Resources for the Classroom, A Teacher's Bag of Tricks and for the little ones Obsessed with CVC Words...and QR Codes (Freebie)! for other ways to use QR codes with students.  Contact Michelle at or Laurie Rule at to learn more.