Digital Citizenship Comic Poster Campaign

DigitalCitizenshipWeek

As with all districts, Digital Citizenship is a large part of the technology curriculum, but shouldn’t this just be a part of everyday curriculum?  In today’s classroom, we see technology that connects us used by teachers and students every day.  So shouldn’t good Digital Citizenship practices be more then just a mandatory unit at the beginning of the year?  Here in Manor, we are trying something different.  Instead of just having one Digital Citizenship campaign at the beginning of the year, we are going to run at least 3 campaigns in the 2013-2014 school year to keep the conversation going.

Our first campaign in September was distributed directly to teachers in our district. We borrowed from the best public resources about digital citizenship on the web and created a course on the Manor ISD iTunes U page.  We believed this was a good introduction to Digital Citizenship to our students in Manor.  The course was split into 5 days with each day focusing on a new important topic.  This was a district wide initiative but the course delivery was a campus decision. Many campuses chose to present this material or use other material through the campus computer labs.  This is what we usually see most campuses and districts do.

Our second and most recent campaign was a 5 day Digital Citizenship Comic Poster & Podcast series.  Very much like Common Sense Media’s campaign in October, Manor ISD chose to have it’s DC week in November.  iTeach wanted to make the campaign more relevant to our students because they are our target audience.  This campaign, the brain child of Lacy Bartlett, took on a new way to deliver proper DC practices to our students.  The adventures of Digital Citizenship Man & DC Girl were born.  In their fight against the Cybervillian and proper use of technology, DC girl and DC man were introduced to Manor.

DC Girl  DC Girl  Cybervillian  Cybervillain  DC Man  DC Man

Aligning the comic with popular Marvel and DC comic series, we tried making this a fun new way to get the information out to our students. (You can find the comic poster series on our Manor ISD iTunes U page) Using Hero Machine, Comic Life and Garageband, the campaign came together rather quickly.  The goal was not only to make it fun but have students be the ones to ask the questions about copyright and proper use of technology.  This time the campaign was district wide with the posters and visible to all students at the campus.

Our next campaign will have a student produced comic book poster series where the they get to design the characters and write the story.  We feel this will make the content even more relevant to our students. Let us know what you think?

 

Hope for Alejandro

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Ah, the power of social media… especially when used for good :)

Last week, the world fell in love with #SFBatKid and the collective efforts of a city that went to great lengths to make a young leukemia fighter’s wish come true.  Many of us watched the live stream or followed his adventures via Twitter and our faith in humanity was restored although I prefer the term strengthened.  I say this because I know that similar demonstrations of good will occur daily, it’s just we might not hear about them as readily.

I’m proud to say that here at Manor ISD we have a similar student-led effort at Pioneer Crossing Elementary that is attempting to raise money to help a friend who is also battling leukemia in kindergarten.  PCE’s Student Council is selling “Hope for Alejandro” bracelets and have been hard at work creating signs and spreading the message on mediums such as Twitter.  Two weeks ago, I was asked to help put together a video with the students and it has been an absolute moving experience to watch these students put so much time and energy in helping a fellow student. They all helped to capture footage from iPhones, iPads, and emails, and learned how tedious the editing process might be and still kept at it. We started off with iMovie and then moved over to Animoto because it seemed to better fit their needs, even if it meant starting over, demonstrating a daunting amount of grit and tenacity.

 Thankfully enough their efforts have paid off!  What was once a school-based campaign transformed overnight as Manor HS students joined in after discovering this endeavor via Twitter. Manor High School sold 100 bracelets in one day and 200 more are now on the way. To date, nearly $1000 has been raised and last night, Pioneer Crossing’s student council took their campaign to the Manor ISD school board. We hope to see other schools and local partners within Manor join the cause and support these young leaders as they work to make a difference for a young student in our very own community.

Click on the link below to watch their final product:

“Hope For Alejandro”

To get your school to join the cause or obtain “Hope for Alejandro” bracelets please contact Ms. Britt or Mrs. Janosky PCE Student Council Coordinators.

The “MacGuyver” Mindset

I love telling folks I work for Manor ISD. They gaze at you like you just started to glow and say, ” The place where Obama came?” I smile, and say,”Yes, He came to Manor New Tech High School.” As a teacher, you walk into New Tech and feel just as Charlie did when he toured Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Every passion, belief, and hope I have for our broken education system is laid to rest when you tour that campus. They are just doing such amazing things! If you have never seen it. Go. Now.

BUT we also have 12 other schools in our district. These other schools are NOT 1-1. Some of our campuses dongle into a tv screen to project because they have no projector. Some of our campuses have 16 iPads available for checkout, but they are iPad 1′s with no camera and therefore cutting student creation opportunity in half. We do have 3 other 1-1 campuses, but some are actually 60%. You can see the look of despair on teacher’s faces when you explain all the things they could do with technology in their classrooms because they focus on what they don’t have, or the management issues that might arise, or find that the technology is glitchy when they do use it. George Couros recently came and spoke at Manor High School and said, “When we say we won’t use the technology available because it won’t work for us, we communicate to our students that they don’t have to use that math when it just won’t work for them.” Implementing Tech into low tech areas becomes a matter of practicing the perseverance we preach to our students.

Technology setups are so different for whatever reason at each campus, and teachers often focus on the “have nots” mindset. But then there are some that engage with what I can only describe as “MacGuyvering” tech usage in their classrooms. These teachers prove their growth mindset because they see the need and that our students deserve the opportunity to collaborate and be digitally creative.

Let’s take Blake Manor Elementary for example. When I was assigned Blake Manor, I quickly assumed that I would not spend much time at that campus because they have a few classrooms with even a projector. Many share one with a grade level. Yes, there are iPads in the library but they are 1′s with no camera. When you want to see student create, no camera presents some pretty tall hurdles to jump over. Yet, this is the campus I am constantly running to. This is the campus where Ms. Simpson is begging me to come spend an extra 20 minutes of computer lab time getting their kids logged into their district Google account.

Now, if you have never seen a 2nd grader send their first email, I can assure you it is the same as watching a little one taking their first steps. I got email responses like this…

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One girl inquired if you could do this at home. Before I knew it, this 2nd grader was showing her mom how she could email me from home and figured out the conventions of email naming so she could thank her teacher as well. 2nd grade, ya’ll, in a school where many teachers can only rely on their transparancy projector. This came out of a no iPad classroom.

Down the hall is a 5 iPad classroom. Ms. Boatright’s class was hoping to better practice strong beginnings through digital storyboarding in their fiction writing and happened to be writing spooky stories during the Halloween season. We decided that the structures in the imovie trailer app were perfect for having students storyboard their writing. The next time I popped in at Blake Manor, every Instructional Tech Specialist’s dream came true.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 12.39.50 PM Ms. Boatright didn’t just use tech for tech’s sake. She saw dramatic improvement in the writing structure these 4th graders were producing. There is so much happening to innovate the learning environment from our lowest tech campus. Here are the things that set Blake Manor apart…

1. They get what they get and don’t throw a fit. They have a can do mindset and are unaware of what their don’t have.

2. They create the time to make innovation happen. Many campuses see technology as an add on to the sheer impossible amount of tasks a teacher has on their to do list. They don’t halt instruction or pacing calendars. They ask for 15-20 minutes of an open pocket in the computer lab.

3. They make student creation happen in whatever “MacGuyver” fashion they must-duck tap, paper clips, bubble gum, and all. I’ll tell you they are one of the happiest campuses for doing so!

One thing we know about technology for sure is that it will most often get glitchy right when you need it to work. But that is it’s nature. Technology forces you to problem solve, collaborate, and ask for help. Your students need to engage with you in the troubleshooting process when the tech goes south. Adopting that MacGuyver mindset with grow your students more than your strongest delivered directly instructed lesson ever could.

#ManorISD Tweets!

What’s trending? Manor ISD is!

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Amazing learning opportunities and experiences are occurring within our classrooms and we finally all get to see and share! It has been exciting to witness so many teachers and classrooms connect within our district and beyond! In order to better capture each week, we will be compiling a weekly Storify to illustrate the week’s happenings. We hope you’ll check it out. Two weeks ago there were only 67 #ManorISD tweets to choose from for our Storify compilation and this past week we had 160+ tweets that were tagged #ManorISD! WOW! Thanks for sharing, everyone! Let’s continue to tell our story for all stakeholders utilizing the district hashtag and by joining us Tuesday, November 19th at 8PM for our next chat. For this month’s Twitter chat we will be talking all things Google! See y’all then!

 

Meet Steph!

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Hey all, it has been an absolute pleasure working with y’all these past few months. Thanks for the warm welcome and for the support I’ve received from everyone at Manor ISD. Now that I have my feet (sort of) planted, I figured it was about time I did a bit more sharing. After all, if we want our students to reflect and share then I better get on it, right?  So expect to see me snapping shots and posting write-ups on all the innovative learning that is occurring in your classrooms! And eventually (fingers crossed) getting students to do their own sharing! I can’t wait. Still before I jump right in, here’s a bit about me and what I’m all about:

I’ve had experience teaching multiple content areas from kindergarten to early college mostly in bilingual classroom or as a Spanish teacher.  I believe in hands-on, inquiry based learning while using tech to amplify instructional practices..but I feel I should also say, it’s not always about the tech! For me, innovative teaching and learning means rethinking current practices overall and learning spaces as well!  On the side (because I love what I do),  I  serve on the SXSWedu advisory board, consult with schools as a Google Certified Teacher, and help to organize both EdTech & EdCamp Austin. I work on each of these with the greater of goal of pushing the Austin community from pockets of innovation to an entire community of innovators that connect with one another.

Well, there you have it! I look forward to learning from and getting to know each of you as the year rolls along.

Meet Lacy

Me

Welcome to the iTeach Manor Blog! We have had quite a few changes in our department over the last 6 months with lots of new faces. As a matter of fact, we are experiencing an interesting season in the Technology Department of Manor ISD. In order to get started at making this blog a meaningful and inspiring resource for you, we thought we would start with each of our team members writing a bio post first. It is important that for as mobile as we are throughout the district, you understand the context we are coming from. We have huge plans, hopes, and dreams for the students of Manor and rely on our connectedness to the classroom, its teachers, and its students to make those dreams reality. That said, on our team of 4 there are 3 brand new faces from outside the district. I am the one from out of state. Let me rewind and explain how in the world I ended up in my dream job.

So almost a year to the month ago while we lived our happy little life in Fresno, CA, my husband received a job offer in Austin. We knew change was a comin’ and leaped through the door that opened. In my time at a special little elementary school in Manor’s sister city of Selma, CA, I was incredibly blessed to be in a small town with big leaders. My admin and district leadership were visionaries most do not have the fortune to work with. I was WELL trained as a teacher-leader and flourished in many years of struggle. I started in an overflow classroom, moved with my bubble, and finally got settled in the most perfect situation a teacher can imagine. I finally had the collaborative buy in and freedom to try many things in my District-technology in the classroom being one of them. I was fortunate to work in a district where the doors were always open and I was able to be involved at the top level to support the classroom level. Somehow I found a niche in technology.

Technology was my survival skill for the most rag tag kids to the ones at risk of being bored in their brilliance. It was through simple technology usage on a campus with no wifi and no devices other than a teacher Dell desktop, 4 broken thin clients, and a thin client computer lab bound by district directed programs that I was able to help create a culture of increased teacher collaboration and high levels of student tech usage at very young ages. My final year in Selma was magical. My kids could effortless explain appropriate usage to district personal, demo new technology, and even act as MY IT Support. It was this very special class that made me send my husband off to Texas and join him 7 months laters once the school year was over. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but how those students transformed in that time was worth every minute of it.

At this point the plate spinning act of running a classroom that was challenging and innovate while getting my feet wet with District responsiblities and extracurriculars had me labeling myself with what educators know as “burnout.” When you are trained, they tell you to pace yourself, they tell you to set boundaries, but then you have 32 little faces that deserve every opportunity you were born with. This gratifying season of burnout in a job done well also had me realizing that I could multiply my efforts by becoming a teacher trainer. I had no idea what that looked like. I knew I was pretty comfortable presenting to colleagues, fairly energizing, and passionate about creating an environment that truly prepares kids for Century 21. I also new I happened to be moving to a technology hub in Austin. I started asking “What if?”

What if I didn’t teach? What if I could do anything? What if I could teach teachers how to use technology? What if I could see more kids succeed as much as Room 6 did? Then I thought…Well, insert any insecurity here. After 30 applications knowing that seeing “California” on my credential kicked me out of many piles, this strange thing happened when my husband asks if I had heard of an app called Meetup. He tells me to search “Edtech” and I found an EdTech Austin Meetup happening the next week. Angela Matthews, Manor’s Chief Technology Officer, was on the discussion panel as was another teacher who is now on our team, Stephanie Cerda. I was so impressed with the heart of the technology usage in Manor as a way to bring equity to east of the 35 that I email her the next day (something I would never normally do) and the rest is history.

So in this introductory novella, let me share what drives my involvement in educational technology. First and at my core, I believe in equity. That each and every child deserves the experience of doing something that makes them passionate and benefits this world. I was born into educational privilege and want to see the kids from rural, migrant, language learning, under-serviced, and forgotten communities to have the same opportunity that others are often born into. Secondly, I believe in efficiency. I cannot load the dishwasher without thinking there must be a way to do this faster, better, and with less stress so I can spend that time with my family. You are in the trenches, overworked, under-appreciated, tired, and weary. Technology provides the opportunity to save precious time, energy, and resources so that you have the juice to innovate with your students and still be a human being with the capacity to engage in your family and community on more than just the weekend and during the summer. I hope you will begin following me @whatifclass as I strategize with teachers, coaches, students, and administrators to make Manor classrooms as an exemplar of innovation and 21st century learning.