digitalteach

teaching with the tools of a digital world


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What is that? QR Codes in the Library…

I have been working on this project for a few months now. There have been a few technical and logistical challenges to overcome but it is finally ready for the Grand Opening. Working with my school librarian we have been able to add student-written reviews to in house library books and make them accessible to students on the web and (probably more importantly) on their cellphones. We have done this using QR codes.

A couple of months back our library adopted a new cataloging system from Follett Software Company; Destiny Library Management. The most exciting thing I heard about the new cataloging system was the ability for students to write their own reviews of books in the library. I instantly saw this as a great opportunity to make the library a more collaborative and connected space.

After one quick discussion my librarian was completely on board and excited for this new challenge and opportunity. It took a little experimentation and prodding to get the first students to write reviews but we are off and running with a handful of reviews written which are linked to QR codes that have been pasted to the inside covers of the books.

This goes “live” to the rest of the district this week but I have been talking with other staff members to brainstorm some ideas to promote this among the students.

  • Chocolate – The librarian will be offering a small treat to students who write a review for a book. Can’t go wrong there…

  • Advertisement – We’ve already hung a poster about QR codes in the library but we’ll be making additional efforts to let students know what is happening and get them involved.
  • Integration – I’ve got multiple english and reading teachers who are making plans to integrate book reviews into their curriculum and more specifically integrate their classes with the library on new and different ways.
  • Education – All of my students know what QR codes are and how they work, but that is about it in the school population. Part of this process will be sharing this tool with other students and teachers.

Hopefully this is the beginning of a new implementation of new technology in the larger school community. If you have more ideas of how we could expand or improve this please leave a comment!

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A Teacher Tech Program that Works!

I’ve previously discussed my districts Digital Educators program (Digital Educator Leadership Training – DELT) here. I wanted to discuss some more about how it works in our district, some of its most redeeming qualities and some opportunities it has opened up.

Basically how DELT works is each year teachers are allowed to apply to join a DELT cohort by completing an application or letter of interest which details how they currently use technology in their classroom and how they would like to use it in the future with the addition of particular tools. Teachers are selected by a committee which includes the school principals, district tech rep and a few other administrators. I was selected to be part of the third (and final) cohort. This brought the total number of DELT members in our district to 20 (about 25% of our district on a whole).

Selected DELT members were given a fairly significant sum of grant money ($5,000+) to  use as they wish for tech for their classroom. Along with additional

money to attend an edtech conference of their choice (however, cohorts usually attend one conference together, this year cohort two is attending ISTE). Teachers make a three year commitment to DELT along with a commitment to share and instruct each other and other district staff and faculty on the technologies they implement in their classes. As part of the grant reporting process, teachers also conduct research on student learning gains and how they are influenced by the use of technology.

What I like best about this model:

  1. Teacher’s choose – teachers select technology tools they want. To me this greatly increases the likelihood that the tools will be implemented on a regular basis. Tech support may hate it but when the teachers learn it their worries/suffering decrease dramatically.
  2. Teacher’s become the experts – with teachers selecting their own tools they can easily become the only one in their building or district that has that tool. This requires them to become experts with that tool and the pedagogy behind it. They don’t usually want to wait for someone to come teach them how to use it and jump in to figure it out. They chose it so they learn it.
  3. Teacher’s share it – teachers share their expertise. We have regular staff collaboration days where DELT members offer mini-workshops on their chosen tool, software, resources, etc. Again, the teachers own the knowledge and share it. I have recently started a district technology sharing blog (goingdigitalhscsd@blogger.com) to better facilitate this. We have also begun hosting other districts interested in our successes with implementing this program.

This final point has led to some new opportunities for me. Since I was accepted to attend the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) in Sydney coming up in April I have been looking for opportunities to share the experiences and expertise I have and will gain. Through DELT, GTA, hosting other districts and my involvement with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) I will be providing two and a half days of training and professional development for ten teachers at the Big Piney schools in a neighboring school district this summer. This is a great opportunity to expand my opportunities to grow professionally and share what I am so interested in and passionate about.

I am looking forward to the great learning and growing opportunities ahead!