PTS EdTech PD

Educational Technology Support for Phoenix-Talent Schools' Teachers

Making Strides

While chatting with some of the TWI folks in our district, I realized that many of you were not familiar with an awesome program that is available for migrant students: Stride Academy. Stride is an award-winning, cross-platform adaptive learning program for pre-K through high school. It uses personalized, digital, game-based learning to help students build skills. Their F.A.S.T. 360 adaptive engine creates personalized, self-driven learning paths for students, and provides teachers with insightful performance data.

The catch is that, for our district, the program is only available for students who are classified as "migrant." This is because it is provided through a grant, and as we all know, those pesky grants can be very meticulously strict. However, that shouldn't stop you from finding out more about this great tool, and using it with your qualified students.

For more information about the program, click HERE. For PTS-specific information, contact Maria Lee or Heather Ayers.

SO EdTech!

For more years than I can count, I've been a part of an educational technology cadre through the SOESD. The group has undergone a few name changes, many member variations, and has taken on an assortment of responsibilities including the planning and implementation of the Southern Oregon Educational Technology Summit - now in its seventh year!

The newly named group SOETI (Southern Oregon EdTech Integration) has a website where you can find links to some great resources, including Future Ready Schools, ISTE Standards, and my favorite: "checkoutable" tech! Yes, that's right - SOESD not only provides its members with traditional media like video, but you can also check out lots of fun tech toys for your students to use.

The website can be found here: SoEd Tech Integration - or - skip right to the Checkoutables!


The Summit Is Coming!!!

Southern Oregon University and the Southern Oregon Educational Services District bring you another wonderful day of educational technology learning opportunities! Save Friday, April 21st for the 7th Annual Southern Oregon EdTech Summit! You can experience this fun and exciting day as an attendee, a presenter, or both!

Click on the image to the right for more details!


iStation Hints (12/16/16)

Lately I've worked with a few teachers on iStation, the reading and math program we've acquired for our elementary and middle-school students. One of the recurring questions that comes up is "how do I see the data?" Most teachers are interested in the reporting features, and it can be a little confusing as you start using a new tool. After a bit of digging, I've managed to uncover some fairly robust reports, and it looks like a pretty powerful tool for students to get practice with their skills, and for teachers to assess them. If you have been using it and are not sure how to get to the data you need, here are a couple helpful links (please note that you will need to be logged in to view these resources):

There are many customizations that can be made, and the ability to "drill down" into individual student data is quite good. The videos are very helpful - and what better way to spend a winter afternoon than with your feet up, drinking cocoa and watching tutorials? But if you're still having a tough time figuring things out, don't hesitate to book some time with me!

Hey Kids! I'm a Google Certified Educator! (12/14/16)

I did it! I took the Google Certified Educators' Level 1 exam, and I passed! Yep, I now get the proud honor of displaying a cool Google badge on my page, and join the ranks of GCE's around the world. It was a somewhat tedious process, involving a training course (free, not required but very recommended!), a very reasonable exam fee, and the actual three-hour, webcam-monitored exam (it likely won't take the whole three hours). My brain was definitely fried by the end. But it was well worth the effort, as I spend so much time working with GSuite (formerly GAFE, or Google Apps for Education) and I might as well have something to show for it.

The next step: Level 2, and then perhaps the Certified Trainer certification...

If you're a GSuite nut like I am, you can get certified, too. Just click HERE to find out more.

Data Dashboard: What's the Buzz? (12/2/16)

There's been a little buzz around the district about something called "Data Dashboard". In case you've heard about it, and are wondering what it is (or not, in which case I'm going to tell you anyway!), Data Dashboard is a central clearinghouse, or better yet, a repository, of student data that is collected from multiple sources and delivered in a variety of clear and easy to interpret ways.

This excellent tool, brought to us by the fine minds at Willamette ESD, integrates our existing data from sources like Powerschool, SBAC/OAKS, Dibels and more, allowing us to easily see student progress and trends, all in one central location. For example, just looking at a single page, you can get attendance data, state assessment scores and other meaningful stats. Check out a sample with last year's data:

Here's more, according to WESD's site:

DW Dashboard Characteristics

· K-12 public education data integration

· Allows longitudinal analysis

· Student centric

· Historical (2001 forward, when available and current data)

· Confidentiality ensured (personally identifiable information removed)

· State-of-the-art analytical capabilities

DW Dashboard Benefits

· Provides capabilities to track students over time and across delivery systems

· Provides capabilities to perform trend analysis

· Provides decision-makers with tools and information necessary to make informed, fact-based decisions about education

DW Dashboard Contents

· Attendance

· Behavior

· Discipline

· Test scores

One of the best things about Data Dashboard, at least for PTS folks, is that it will replace the Mastery in Motion data entry we've become so fond of...yes, no more MiM! Soon, we'll have the dashboard set up so that you'll enter any worksample or essential skills data there. From what I've seen so far, it's much more user-friendly and intuitive. I think you'll be pleased!

Trainings will start with the high school soon, and the middle school and elementaries won't be far behind. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting new tool! And if you have any questions that you just can't wait to have answered, shoot me an email at heather.ayers@phoenix.k12.or.us!


A Few Updates... (11/18/16)

Ah, here it is, the Friday before conferences and Thanksgiving break, and I have a (rare) moment to breathe, and to write. Might as well take advantage of the time and catch you all up on what's going on in the EdTech corner of the PTS world... we have a few new programs available to our district, of which many of you are aware. I've gotten a few questions, I've worked with a few folks, but it's always a good idea to get everybody up to speed.

First off, there's iStation, an online comprehensive reading and intervention program for grades K-8. iStation offers research-based, individualized instruction and provides teachers and parents with valuable information, resources and materials to help students become successful in reading, writing and math. TMS, TES, PES & OHES have access to both reading and writing; the elementary schools also have math, and reading in Spanish. The program is game-based, and an adaptive engine ensures that the activities are always challenging for students.

Next up: Wonders! If you're an elementary teacher, you no doubt know what this is, and hopefully you've taken some time to poke around a little with this online supplement to your reading curriculum. Wonders helps connect your classroom to core standards, inspiring literature and the world with a comprehensive literacy program.

Another program I've been working on bringing to staff is a new data management system, Data Dashboard, which will pull together information from a variety of sources such as SBAC/Oaks, Dibels, Easy CBM, PowerSchool and more. It will replace the old Mastery in Motion system we've been using with a more user-friendly interface and powerful reporting. Training will begin soon for PHS folks, with the middle school and elementary schools not far behind. I've been digging around in it and am pretty impressed with what it has to offer.

Oh, and one last thing: though the first two Tech Tuesdays were "lightly" attended (meaning, John Maulsby and I had a great time talking tech over a cold beverage), I do intend to continue with them after the conference break. See you at Kindred Spirits at 4pm on Tuesday, November 29th!

That's about it for now! Hope you all have a restful weekend, successful conferences, and a very happy Thanksgiving!

Scam Alert! (10/27/16)

Recently one of my students was having problems with her computer. Every time she tried to navigate to a page, she would land on a random site, eventually taking her to what appeared to be an official Windows page. A pop-up then appeared that said "Warning! Your computer is infected!" and warned that her personal information was at risk. It then urged her to call tech support at a toll-free number to remove the virus.

Today one of my colleagues had a similar issue, and I had the same answer/solution for both: it's a scam, don't click, and most importantly, DO NOT CALL the number they give you to call for help with the matter. If you do, they will convince you that all of your personal and financial information is at risk, and in some instances, they'll try to get you to let them access your computer remotely. They can be pretty convincing, but don't fall for it!

Unfortunately, a lot of people fall for this scam, and unwittingly pay large sums of money or allow remote access, which does put you at risk. Avoid it all together by following these simple tips:

  1. NEVER click on pop-up alerts! Don't even click on the cross ("x") to delete the pop-up alert as this may result in getting more pop-ups. Instead, hit control + alt + delete to view a list of programs currently running and delete the pop-up alert from the list of running programs.
  2. Use reputable pop-up blocker software to avoid pop-ups on your computer.
  3. Keep your computer updated with the latest anti-virus and anti-spy ware software. Also use a good firewall.
  4. NEVER open email attachments unless you can verify the sender and you trust them.
  5. NEVER click on the links in spam email.
  6. NEVER rely on the contact details provided in a pop-up message. Instead, find your anti-virus vendor's contact details through an internet search.
  7. Avoid questionable websites. Some sites may automatically download malicious software on to your computer.

I hope this helps keep you from falling prey to these scum-sucking lowlifes! If you're confused about any of the above, please contact me with your questions!

(Tips courtesy of www.scamwatch.gov.au)

Getting the Word Out (10/19/16)

I had a moment of clarity at our district inservice last Friday: even with all of the tech that's out there and being used in our schools, there's still some great need! Mostly, the need is for training. We have the tools, the technology, but we don't necessarily have the know-how.

That's where I come in...

I've been trying to figure out how best to reach our staff. I've sent out emails, taught sessions at inservices, chatted with colleagues informally, and probably a lot more. I've even been working on a self-paced, online course for staff to hone their Google skills and earn PDU's (that's taking way longer than I realized - BIG job!) Meanwhile, I feel like I'm not out doing what I'd like to be doing: connecting with staff to help them use technology to enhance their teaching. That's what my job is. So how can I reach the most folks on a regular basis? Hmm...I have a couple of ideas...

One: this site! I'm going to regularly post here, whether it be blog posts, updates on cool tools to use (check out my Fab Five post under Cool Tools!), or screencasts on whatever the problem of the week might be. Bookmark and check back often!

Two: Tech Tuesdays! I got this idea from a friend at Mazama High School. Let's meet after hours, over a beverage and some snacks, and talk tech! I'll award badges for attending, and maybe even a little swag. Stay tuned for time and place!


Apple & Assistive Tech (4/19/16)

I recently attended a half-day seminar put on by the folks at Apple. The topic: accessibility features.

In case you are not aware of what these accessibility features are, or where to find them, here's the scoop: in your settings app, under General<Accessibility, you'll find a plethora of settings including VoiceOver, Zoom, Invert Colors, Grayscale, Speech and many more. There are settings to convert text to speech, settings to change the size and contrast of text, settings to make an iPad compatible with Braille keyboards - there are even settings to allow your iPad to connect to a hearing aid!

Because of these features built in to Apple devices, there is no need to purchase additional expensive software to enhance usability for students with vision, hearing or print disabilities. Just a few tweaks in the settings, and you've got an assistive device in your hands.

Though I was familiar with many of these features, having an expert demonstrate how to get the best use from them, how to access them, and how to customize them was really helpful. I highly recommend that you spend some time exploring Apple's accessibility features to help give your students the best learning experience possible.

The Summit is coming! The Summit is coming! (3/31/16)

Yes, folks, you heard right: it's time for the Southern Oregon Educational Technology Summit!

Now in its sixth year (what? where did the time go?), this event promises to be a day you won't want to miss. If you are a teacher in Jackson or Klamath County, Three Rivers SD, SOESD staff or SOU staff (or student), registration is a mere $30; $60 for all others. This not only includes a day of workshops and hands-on learning opportunities, but lunch as well. The sessions cover a wide variety of topics, from Google Drive and Classroom to 3-D printing to mobile devices, webtools and much, much more! Check out the full event description and register here: SOETS 2016

This year's keynote speaker isn't actually "a" speaker - it's a team of teachers from Fullerton, California who bring digital learning to their students in a fun and fresh way through gamification.

And in case this isn't enough to draw you in, there are PRIZES! Yep, at the end of the day, all attendees will have the chance to win door prizes! Yay!

Don't delay - mark April 15th in your calendar, get your registration in, and I'll see you there!

Phoenix-Talent Schools has a new EdTech TOSA! (2/18/16)

I was recently hired as a half-time Educational Technology Specialist for our district. After many years of working as a building and district technology lead, teaching computer classes at the middle school, and being very deeply involved in educational technology, this is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me. I am really looking forward to working with teachers to lend support in whatever way I can.

My job is to provide support to teachers in accessing and utilizing digital tools connected to curriculum, as well as lend support for assistive technology throughout the district. If there are specific needs that fall under this umbrella, such as helping access digital resources that accompany texts, or other educational technology areas, I would be glad to help. I can meet with PLC's, departments, or other small groups, as well as individuals.

I am primarily available in the afternoon, but may be able to arrange a time before school, or during late-start on Mondays. Note that I may have to work around some projects that I have in progress, but I will do my best to schedule time to work with you

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions, or to schedule some time with you and your group.Use the "TOSA Scheduler" - just click the tab above and follow the link to book your time!