I had originally planned to focus this newsletter on our building goal of differentiating student learning through the use of technology.  Before I get to that, I want to spend some time talking about differentiating adult learning.  Some of the comments made after the speed tables (January 16) and EdTech Chef activities indicated that you like having dedicated time to talk, collaborate, and plan.  There are conversations we all want to have with our colleagues, but there never seems to be the time to sit down and ask questions, share ideas, and get feedback from the experts who teach next door or down the hall from us.  Since we can not create more time in the day, Mel and I are planning an opportunity for the March 26 PD day that will give us a chance to have some of these conversations.  We are planning an extension of the speed tables format with what we are calling EdCamp OTMS.  If you have not heard anything about the EdCamp movement, or attended an EdCamp in the past, I will share a short video that summarizes the purpose and structure of an EdCamp.  EdCamps can be a powerful addition to your personal learning network, and are often referred to as an unconference–meaning there are no presentations, slides, keynotes, or set agendas at the event.  Rather than a script or presentation slides, sessions are conversation-based and focus on the needs of those in attendance.  To help give you a better idea of how this works, I will outline the process Mel and I are planning to take as we organize the event.

  1. We will send out a Google form the week of March 9 asking you to give us topics for conversations you would like to have with your colleagues.  These can focus on content, assessment, differentiation, technology, classroom management, professional practice, personal learning networks, or anything that impacts your classroom or professional growth.  The scope of the conversations can range from specific strategies, tools, and procedures to broad topics.  We will also ask on the form if you are interested in facilitating a conversation during the event.  Facilitators will be responsible for keeping the conversation on topic and asking questions to keep the conversation flowing.  Facilitators WILL NOT be responsible for doing most of the talking, presenting from the front of the room, creating presentation slides or making training materials (remember this is an unconference).
  2. Mel and I will tally your conversation topics, pick eight of the most popular, and communicate with those who indicated interest to facilitate specific topics.  We will then create a schedule for our first EdCamp OTMS.  Ideally, we would like to have two thirty-minute sessions with four different conversations taking place in each session.
  3. We will send out the session schedule the week of the event.
  4. During the event, you will participate in the conversation of your choice for the first session, then participate in the conversation of your choice during the second session.  We will create a shared document for each conversation (linked to the schedule) where anyone in the conversation can take notes or share resources.  If you decide at any time you would like to participate in a different conversation, you are encouraged to get up and walk to another room and join their conversation.  This is called the “law of two feet” within the EdCamp movement and is a necessary element that encourages participants to find a conversation that is relevant to their needs.

If you are still unsure of what an EdCamp, unconference, or conversation-based PD entails,  I will share more resources in the coming weeks to help you prepare to participate in our first EdCamp OTMS.  Mel and I will also talk about this during our faculty meeting on Wednesday.

Technology Celebrations
The seventh grade math team is collaborating to create Socrative quizzes for bellwork.  They have created a shared document that organizes the Socrative quiz numbers by math standards.  When someone creates a quiz, they add the Socrative quiz number to the document and other team members are able to import that quiz into their own Socrative account.

Many teachers in the building are giving students the opportunity to practice the online science tools for the upcoming MAP assessment.

The technology department is making the final technical arrangements for the online MAP test.  OTMS students began enrolling their Chromebooks for the MAP test on Friday and will finish on Monday.  Each device has to be individually enrolled, and we are fortunate that this can be accomplished within the computer literacy classes.  We will be conducting a simulated load test on March 13 where every student will login to the testing system at the same time to ensure that our network will function appropriately during the actual test.

Eighth Grade ELA is exploring how to create her own practice assessments in Edcite.  We will be exploring how to create different types of test questions (Drag and Drop, Multiple Choice, Essay, etc.) in Edcite on Monday at 2:30 in room 203.  Anyone else who wants to explore Edcite is welcome to join us.