Thursday, May 29, 2014

Technology in K-1

What can K-1 students do with technology? That's a question we get often. The answer is, A LOT! 

Students at Independence Elementary showed us that they love learning using Chromebooks and Dell laptops- or whatever devices they can get their hands on! 

Do they just play games? No way! These students created Google presentations using information they found on Encyclopedia Britannica. Check out the video below to see how the projects went and what the students learned! 

If you would like help implementing technology projects with your students next year, please contact your Technology and Learning Coaches by filling out this form.  We love co-planning and co-teaching and want to help you be successful with your students using technology!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

MaKey MaKey Inspires Creativity at Walnut Hills Elementary

"Nothing is Impossible" is the message that students from Walnut Hills conveyed when asked what they learned after completing MaKey MaKey projects under the guidance of their technology teacher, Dustin Vick. 

What is a MaKey MaKey?  A MaKey MaKey is an invention kit. Using MaKey MaKey, students can turn everyday objects into something that can control a computer. For instance, one student created Play-Doh keys for typing out a document.  Another created a homemade video game controller using cardboard and tin foil. Playing musical notes by touching bananas is also a popular project shown in demonstration videos by the inventors of MaKey MaKey. 

Check out the video below to see how it all worked at Walnut Hills.  Maybe next year you'll want to use MaKey MaKeys at your school to inspire creativity within your students! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Embedding Quizlet into Schoology

Embedding Quizlet into Schoology

Quizlet offers you the ability to create simple tools to study content and vocabulary. You can easily create vocabulary sets that can then be embedded into your Schoology courses so that your students can review and study the vocabulary that they need to be successful. You can even sign in using your Google account!

Creating your Quizlet Sets: Once you log in to your account, you can start creating your Quizlet sets. Click on "Create a set" to get started.  You will need a title and description, and then you will need to decide how your want to set your visibility and if you want someone else to be able to edit the set.  Choose the language that you want for your terms and definitions and enter all of the terms that you want in the set.

Embedding your sets into your Schoology Course
Once your set is complete, you can grab the embed code to put it into Schoology.  Go up to "More Tools" in the top right corner of your Quizlet set and click on "Embed."  You can then copy the code for the Flashcards.  Once the code is copied, you can go to your Schoology course to embed that code.

In the Materials section of your Schoology course, go to "Add Materials" and select "Add Page/Text Block." Switch to HTML and paste in the code that you copied from Quizlet. If you select "Display Inline within Folder" then the Quizlet set will display directly in your Schoology folder without students having to click on it.  Once the Quizlet set is embedded, students will have the ability to change their study mode in the bottom right corner of the screen.  They can view the Quizlet set as different studying games, flashcards and tests.

As some of our classes are wrapping up the year with finals and tests, Quizlet could be great option for practicing vocabulary and terms.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cherry Creek's Hour of Code
Warning: Students will become critical thinkers, problems solvers, and gain confidence through…. coding! 

Last December, Jon Pierce from the Office of Instructional Technology challenged Cherry Creek teachers to participate in The Hour of Code, an introduction to computer programming sponsored by It was designed to show that anyone can learn to code. By the end of Computer Science Education Week, 11,780 Cherry Creek students ranging from K-12 had tried their hand in coding!

Initially founded by by Ali and Hadi Partovi, is a non-profit organization working to expand computer science participation by making it available in more schools, especially in urban and rural neighborhoods. 

The goal for next year is to double the number of students in Cherry Creek Schools who participate in The Hour of Code. Why? Because students become more well-rounded through coding. There are high-paying jobs out there for people who can code, and not enough qualified candidates to fill the positions. Check out our video below and for more information. We hope to see you and your students coding with us next year during The Hour of Code!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Chromebooks and Schoology: The 2013-14 CCSD School Year by the Numbers

Cross posted from Jay's blog here.  Enjoy!

The school year is winding down so naturally it's time to look back and measure our team's impact as a group.  Our CIO asked us to compile some Schoology/Chromebook numbers and statistics to be shared with our school board.  Before we began number crunching we knew the numbers were going to be impressive.  We didn't think the numbers would as impressive as compiled below.  Let me elaborate.

Rewind to the beginning of this school year.  A purchase was approved by our school board for Chromebooks for all of our schools.  This wasn't a few Chromebooks per class or a cart for every building.  This was 18,000+ Chromebooks for the students of Cherry Creek School District.  The total number worked out to a 2:1 student to Chromebook ratio in our middle and high schools and a 4:1 ratio across the district in grades two through five in our elementary schools.  (For perspective, the only "complaint" we've received in regards to the Chromebooks is that buildings want more of them and that's a decent place to be.)

The Chromebooks gave us the access, now we needed a place to learn, interact, store materials, and share online.  Prior to the Chromebooks being purchased there was another significant investment made for a district-wide learning management system.  That LMS was Schoology.

The pre-Chromebook global Schoology statistics for our district (from August 2013 through November 2013) looked like this:

700,000+ visits
5,800,000+ page views
Seven minutes and 47 seconds was the average time per visit
65,500+ comments posted
Almost 77,000 submissions
47,500+ files uploaded to Schoology

The Chromebooks arrived in buildings in November 2013 and were fully enrolled and ready to use by early December 2013.  It was time to get to work and that's what happened across the district.  The post-Chromebook Schoology stats (from December 2013 through March 2014) looked like this:

1,039,000+ visits
Almost 9,000,000 page views
Average time per Schoology visit: eight minutes and 41 seconds
147,000+ comments posted
200,000+ submissions
66,500 files uploaded to Schoology

Let's take a moment to compare the pre and post-Chromebook numbers.  After the Chromebooks arrived in schools and were updated/enrolled on our domain there were:

Over 333,000 more vists to Schoology
3.1 million+ more page views in Schoology
81,000+ more comments left in Schoology.
125,000+ more assignment submitted by students.
19,000 more files uploaded to Schoology.
Also, the average Schoology visit increased by almost one minute.  Multiply that by 1,000,000+ visits and that's a lot of time.

Overall, our CCSD teachers and students visited/will visit Schoology 2,000,000+ times this school year.  Multiply that by the average time per visit and that's 275,000+ hours spent on our LMS.  That's a little thing I like to call return on investment. 

All of this activity was not a direct result of the Chromebooks, but it can be said with confidence that most of it was.  Many schools had some access already, but the Chromebooks allowed more widespread and equitable access across our entire district.  Our network administrators also have done an absolutely FABULOUS job with making sure our buildings had the infrastructure to handle all of this new traffic.  More about the powerful and essential work they do here.

So there you have it, impressive numbers that reflect a new chapter of teaching and learning in Cherry Creek Schools.  The great news is that we're just getting started.  More Chromebooks (right around 4,000) are on the way to provide grades 1-5 a 2.5:1 student to Chromebook ratio in our elementary schools.  Our board and those involved have made a huge investment in CCSD's future.  We have seen it pay off already and we're all definitely looking forward to where things progress from here.

(And just for reference, here's the Google presentation we shared with our CIO complete with fancy graphs and cool captions.  Feel free to check it out below or for a little closer look at the presentation click on this link.)

Cynthia Liggins and her Techsperts Shine at Sunrise Elementary

How do building techs manage to keep our schools running?  Many are charged with fixing computers, printers, projectors, and document cameras, MAP testing students, getting computers imaged and ready for use, and keeping carts organized and working. The list goes on and on. 

So how does Cynthia Liggins manage to accomplish everything she's assigned to do plus assist with the robotics club, tackle the yearbook, and deliver daily video announcements, all with a sunny attitude?  

She enlists her Techsperts to help! Techsperts are a group of students at Sunrise Elementary in grades 3-5 who help out with technology, take pictures for the yearbook, and deliver the daily video announcements. They learn the skills to do this from their building tech, Cynthia Liggins. Check out the video below to learn more about how students can help make the technology at a school run smoother, and learn a lot about technology, pride and leadership in the process...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

STEM at Red Hawk Ridge Elementary School

Ryan Remien, the STEM teacher at Red Hawk Ridge Elementary School, explains how students at the elementary level thrive on learning- especially with his STEM curriculum. In observing and talking to Ryan, I was able to see first hand what it can look like to have kids so engaged in learning, they don't want to go to recess! Students from K-5 are able to use science, technology, engineering, and math skills in authentic ways to learn about the world around them. 

Tuesday Tech Tip: Using Symbaloo to Collect & Share Resources

Symbaloo is a free personal startpage that allows you to easily navigate the web and compile your favorite sites all in to one visual interface. It allows you to save and share your bookmarks in the cloud and access them from anywhere with any device.

Start by setting up your free account at Symbaloo. Once you're logged in (after verifying your account by clicking on the link in the email they send...), you'll see the generic homepage with tiles. Each tab across the top is a "webmix" that can be modified and customized to fit your needs. 

This is a great place to house any links that need to be shared with students, colleagues, or even parents. The tiles can be edited or modified at any time  Once a webmix has been shared, you can stop sharing at any time, or make the sharing private only to specific people. The webmix cannot be edited by anyone other than the creator/sharer. 

Some schools in CCSD have started using a Symbaloo page as their homepage on their Chromebooks with links for students to anything they might need. Also, Symbaloo can easily be embedded into a page on Schoology/COLE 3.0 as another way to share links with students or parents. 

There are lots of options to choose from when thinking about customizing your webmixes, including uploading images for tiles, organizing and color coding tiles, changing the wallpaper/titles/descriptions, and more!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: End of Year Stuff for COLE 3.0/Schoology

As we wind down the school year, it's a good idea to be sure that any course materials you want to keep have been saved into your Personal Resources in Schoology. Because we are syncing with PowerSchool, it's easiest to save to Resources before the end of June.

Once a course term ends in Schoology, the course goes into "Archived" status in Schoology. While you will still be able to access your "archived" courses (and copy content from there), the best bet is to have all course information and materials saved in the Personal Resources area for later use.

In any course, a teacher can use the "Options" pull-down to get to the "Save Course to Resources" option.  If a teacher wishes to save the course content to a group for sharing with others, s/he can just select the Group as the destination.  After choosing a destination, a folder will be created in that location with all of the course content inside.

As we continue into the next school year, you may want to consider building content in the Resources area instead of  a course as it simplifies this issue and makes copying to other courses or sharing with others much easier.  Plus, if you want to work on materials over the summer, you can build inside of Resources and then copy to your courses when they are available for the fall.

For those leaving the district, you can always create a free "Instructor" account with using  a personal email address and then "connect" with that account.  If you create a "Collection" in your Personal Resources area, you can then share that collection with your personal account. See Schoology's help area for more information on collections.