Creating Creators — Creativity is One of our Values — Is it one of yours?

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A team of Goochland educators attended a talk this morning, “Emerging Educational Technology” by Richard Culatta, Director of the Office of Educational Technology for the US Department of Education.

He made sense and challenged us.  Earlier this year he gave a similar talk “Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStrett.”   Please listen to him.

Our technology team here in Goochland accepts the gauntlet he has thrown down about personalized learning.  While we acknowledge the challenges facing us, we get excited imagining the future.

Bring Your Own Device and 1:1 Pilot in Updated Tech Plan

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At its latest board workshop on 23 April 2013, the School Board accepted revisions to the Division’s six-year technology plan. The Division has been using the plan since 2010 to direct major initiatives and to plan budgeting towards infrastructure improvements, such as wireless networking at the schools. This revision has added two new pilots announced at the workshop, as presented by technology team members Tom DeWeerd, John Hendron, Peter Martin, Sean Campbell, Jennifer Bocrie, and Bea Cantor. The first pilot will be a “Bring Your Own Device” scenario where select high school students will be allowed to bring mobile computing devices such as cell phones, e- readers, or tablets to school. Similar BYOD programs are being explored locally and around the country. The technology team’s recommendation was to start with high school seniors as the team monitored network usage during the trial. The team will be working with GHS principal Mike Newman to work out the details before the expected September start of the trial. As part of the pilot, a BYOD committee will be formed which will include teachers and participating students. The second pilot is a 1:1 computing initiative, where students would receive a tablet device from the school to use both in the classroom and to take home. This pilot would replace traditional paper textbooks with digital versions, including media that includes apps and videos. The Division decided to try this pilot at Goochland Elementary School, which currently has the fastest connection to the Internet of all three elementary schools. GES also accommodates the technology department’s repair depot, where Martin and Campbell report each day. “Our teachers are ecstatic about this opportunity, and really cannot wait!” mentioned GES principal Tina McCay about the 1:1 pilot. The pilot could provide up to three grade levels with computing devices. It will be financed through textbook funding. GES media specialist Tiffany Ray will be enlisted to assist with the pilot in both technical and instructional capacities.

Hendron told the board that these initiatives help position a technology plan as a vehicle that provides students rich learning experiences. “That’s always the primary goal,” he said.

Want a High Tech Job or STEM Career? Think Manufacturing!

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STEM is more than a buzz word; it is a new way of thinking about learning and careers.  There are many new ideas for careers in the field of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and many new courses and programs.  Bio-Inspired Robotics, Geo Science Modeling, Electro Optics, Submarine Design . . . these ideas have a “sexy” appeal,

Beyond the college and university programs, there are growing STEM opportunities in high tech careers for our non-college bound students as well.  In Goochland, we believe in college and career ready pathways.  We encourage students to try and explore new options; a list of our Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses tells some of this story.

Our CTE Director, Bruce Watson, and I recently met with the Virginia Manufacturers Association to talk about our new CTE offerings and our goals for STEM in Goochland Schools. We are excited about the future and the opportunities to partner with this association to increase awareness and to provide opportunities for students in manufacturing.

One remaining concern is the perception both students and their parents have about manufacturing.  We want to address this!  Today, manufacturing is a high tech operation with little to do with the old concepts of an assembly line and a monotonous job of the past.

This clip from the Today Show helps explain the message about today’s manufacturing. As we grow programs for Goochland High School, we hope to find a way to explain and to encourage students and parents to discover the many opportunities in manufacturing.

Keeping My Kids Out of My Basement

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That is a goal for education… yes, I want my kids to finish school and move out and find success as only they can define it.  I don’t want them in my basement!

This was one of the messages from Dr. Yong Zhao’s presentation last week at the Region I Superintendent’s study group.  Dr. Yong Zhao is an internationally known scholar, author, and speaker. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education.

Although the goal of education to “keep my kids out of my basement” was said with humor, we all understood his message.  Sometimes it is hard to define what we want out of our educational system.  When we say we want our students to be successful, what does that mean?  Dr. Zhao convinced me that promoting creative entrepreneurship can be a positive outcome, and may well happen, if we pay more attention to the child than the content.  Mastering tests is all well and good.  We want mastery.  At the same time we need to build relationships, foster engaging and inquisitive study and promote growth.  As I continue to think about what I want for Goochland school students (and  for my own grandchildren) out of an education system, I am thinking about these three pillars: growth, relationships and engagement.  We have been talking about this in our leadership team meetings since July.  Dr. Yong Zhao reinforced this idea or ‘movement’ to go beyond test scores as a measure of our schools’ success.

I have asked a number of our GMS & GHS teachers to tell me what engagement looks like from their point of view.   For me, this is not engagement devoid of content but rather engagement encouraged by the relationship the teacher has built with each child and engagement created with the purpose of fostering growth in student thinking, content knowledge and self-awareness. In the next few weeks, I will share in this blog what our secondary teachers have told me.

 

Tech Team Road Show

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Every year our technology team visits each faculty to talk about the changes and updates in Technology. This year Aesop for substitute calling was discussed, the changes made over the summer were outlined, the new Schoolnet software for online testing was previewed, YouTube changes were shown, the new AUP was highlighted, new blogging software, as well as, Edmodo and Twitter options were offered.  Finally, staff development was provided for WordPress and PowerSchool. 

Substitute Teachers in the Clouds

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A new substitute calling system will be implemented next Monday, August 20, 2012, as the school year begins.  It is called Aesop by Frontline Technologies. It allows teachers to call in or post the need for a substitute on a web-page.  Likewise, substitutes receive calls or check a web-page to view and accept substitute assignments.  In addition to sub calling, this system will track all of the GCPS employee attendance.

Here is how it works…

 

GHS named as Microsoft IT Academy

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GHS has been approved and officially registered as a Microsoft IT Academy as part of the Governor’s IT initiative. Ms. Carol Washburn and the business department at GHS will work collaboratively to take advantage of over 200 multimedia courses, lesson pans, student projects and test bank items that will promote students’ understanding of the exciting and rapidly growing field of Internet Technology.