New Beginnings

posted Sep 7, 2016, 10:38 AM by Robert Pohl   [ updated Sep 7, 2016, 10:42 AM ]

It's official!  I've finished my first month working for Monroe Public Schools as the Coordinator for Digital Learning & Development.  The first 30 days has seen huge amounts of progress; I'm happy to report that we've accomplished:
  • the launch of our new site "DigiLearn"
  • a year-long PD plan for several school sites that will explore the GAFE/Canvas
  • deploying Canvas LMS
  • the development of several online/blended courses for staff to prepare for the Google Certified Educator Level 1 & 2 exams in Canvas
  • a deployment plan for delivering Chromebooks to half of our certificated staff
  • development of several presentation proposals for the Seattle Google Summit, Oregon Google Summit, & CUE National Conference
  • coordinating the Learner2Learner PLC with the curriculum TOSAs 
  • setting up my cubicle
I'd hoped to reformat the Monroe Portal (intranet site for staff) but have found it to be a bigger challenge than I initially thought.  It's going to have to be a pet-project that is going to need a few more collaborators.  After school resumes, tomorrow, I'll be sending out notifications to begin that consultative work to define a new vision, a new format, and to determine the new platform.

The DigiLearn site is live.  It's an amalgamation of several sites I've kept over the years and borrows from all of my favorite resources gleaned over 15 years in the ed tech environment.  I'm most pleased with the GAFE pages for each of the Google Apps.  You'll find links for Drive, Docs, Sheets, & Slides as well as many of the other Google tools.  Speaking of Google tools, I think my favorite recently is Google Slides for creating posters.  I was given the task to create paper announcements that could be shared with teachers and placed in their mailboxes.  I read about this trick from Meredith Martin's Tech for Teachers blog post.  I love how easy the tool is...simply reset the page size to match the output, borrow a template from the gallery, and begin placing text and images.  I also found using Google's Image Search handy by selecting only those images that offered a transparent background.  

It's been a good beginning, I've stretched my brain and made a few friends.  I'm looking forward to a great start!

Reminiscing, Anticipation, & BYOD

posted Jul 23, 2016, 10:51 AM by Robert Pohl   [ updated Jul 23, 2016, 11:15 AM ]

The beginning of the 2016-17 school year is just around the corner.  Stores are beginning to stock-up on school supplies; Targets around the country are beginning to assemble the school supply lists for each of the schools in their communities.  As a student in the 80's the school year began by stocking up on supplies that would last throughout the coming year.  It is still a time of the year that I treasure; I look forward to sharpening new pencils, arranging markers in a rainbow order, and marveling at the reams of ruled paper that mark the start of a new school year.    I often wonder if today's students have the same sense of anticipation; do they see the newness of school clothes and supplies as a year to grow older, smarter, more ready for their future?

Interesting, while wandering through Target, I'm beginning to see a landscape change.  Where stacks of ruled paper took center stage (for 25 cents a ream) I'm seeing them replaced by technology tools--from calculators, to Chromebooks, to Tablets.  I have to wonder, is Technology becoming the ubiquitous and consumable resource--the new paper?  I'm beginning to think that it may be time for schools to adjust their supply lists and ask students to bring fewer pens/pencils and replace them with a device.  Supposing that a ruggedized Chromebook should last approximately 4 years of use and costs less than $250 shouldn't we encourage parents to make a one-time investment at the onset fifth grade and again in ninth grade?  Here's what the typical elementary school supply list and middle school supply list look like in 2016.  I've taken those lists and created a spreadsheet that outlines the costs (thank you Amazon) by grade.
Using the lists, I've discovered that parents are going to fork out nearly $500 for the supplies their children will need during the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade school years.  If the Chromebook is only $250, wouldn't it make better sense for parents to pay for it and schools supply the consumables of pen, paper, and pencils using their budgets?  What would you do if every student in your school brought a Chromebook to school?  How would that change how you teach?  How your students learn?  

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