EdTech@Mapleton Blog

Photo of a starry sky at night surrounded by trees by Nathan Anderson
  • No SMART Board? No Problem!

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 1/10/2019

    Interactive whiteboards have been around since the early 1990s, but they exploded onto the education scene in the early 00s. Their versatility and interactivity gave teachers a whole menu of new ways to engage their students. However, some studies have shown that they can slow the pace of learning, particularly in low-achieving classrooms where one student is called up to the board at a time.  

    In Mapleton, some schools are equipped with interactive whiteboards. We are unlikely to add any more interactive whiteboards in Mapleton because in many ways, technology has moved on, and we can now have the same or better functionality without the interactive whiteboard itself.  

    Here are some ways to use your traditional whiteboard like a smart board using Apple TV, teacher and student iPads, and Chromebooks with Office 365.  

    girl with tablet by Igor Starkov

    Displaying Student Work - Apple TV and Office Lens

    Apple Classroom is a great way to display student work while using a class set of iPads. Simply switch the view from your teacher tablet to the tablet whose work you want to display.  

    If students are working from paper, you can use your teacher iPad as a document camera. With Apple TV mirroring on, use the Camera function to show great work students are doing all around the room. You can photograph work you want to discuss, and then use the Edit button on the bottom of the photo to annotate the student’s work using a variety of pen tools, just like an interactive whiteboard.  

    If you need to convert your students’ work to a PowerPoint, Word document, or PDF, you can scan it instantly with Office Lens and convert it to a workable document at the push of a button. 

    Collaborative Problem Solving – Apple Classroom and Office 365

    Studies have shown that inviting one student up to the board at a time to show their work or explain their thinking decreases engagement and slows the pace of the class. With Apple Classroom, students can work on their own iPads all at the same time. This makes it easy to switch your projector to the view of any student’s iPad at the push of a button.  

    The same functionality exists for Office 365. Students working on Chromebooks can work on shared documents or presentations that can be projected from your computer. You can also see who is doing what in a shared document in real time, both from your own computer, and from each student computer. 

    Annotating Documents – Office Lens

    One major benefit of using an interactive whiteboard is the ability to annotate text without having to write or type it all down yourself, and without having to mess with markers. These days, you can do both with your iPad or laptop. And, you can project pages from physical books in the same way.  

    Simply use Office Lens to photograph the page you want to use, and Apple TV to project it to the board. Office Lens has a variety of pen, marker, and highlighter tools to annotate the document. When you’re done, you can save the annotated or clean document for future use. You can also convert scanned documents to PowerPoint, Word, or PDF files at the push of a button.  

    Are you using documents that are already digital? You can open them in Office Lens from OneDrive, or you can use the snipping tool in Windows on your laptop to isolate specific sections or images and then annotate them.  

    Virtual Field Trips and Skype

    Virtual field trips and webinars work really well in Mapleton. Connect to the field trip or webinar with your teacher computer and project the image onto your projector. Since your projector and computer connect wirelessly, you can move your computer anywhere in the room without disrupting the image. This way, the presenter can hear questions from individual students or see the whole class from your computer’s web cam. You can also choose to connect from your iPad and project using Apple TV. 

    If you can't find a virtual field trip on your current topic of study, Skype has a robust community of educators all over the world. Bring global learning to your classroom by connecting to experts, collaborating with students in other countries, participating in international service projects, and more!

    Video Recordings for Substitute Teachers 

    It’s hard to be out of the classroom, but with Mapleton technology, you can be there without actually being there. While you are making sub plans, video record yourself giving complicated directions or explaining concepts and have them cued up on an iPad for the sub. Students as young as second grade can be the technology expert and help the sub figure out how to project the lesson using Apple TV. Never again will you have to wonder if the sub will understand the concept well enough to explain it to students.  

    What else?  

    How do you use iPads or computers in conjunction with your projector to enhance student learning? Add your ideas in a comment below or post in our Office 365 Training Team. Do you need help implementing any of the ideas in this article? Email the Help Desk and your friendly building tech or I will be happy to come show you how. 

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  • Beat the Slump: How to Keep Kids Engaged in December

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 12/3/2018

    It's no secret that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break seem like some of the longest of the year. Night falls earlier each day, the weather is turning cold, and students and teachers alike are focused on the excitement and stresses of the upcoming holiday season. And yet, we have three weeks of school that we can't afford to waste on holiday crafts and word searches, nor is that the best thing for the kids we serve. For students who might lead lives of uncertainty outside of school, it is important to stick to predictable routines until the last hour of the day on December 20th. Annie Spratt boy touching a tree trunk

    However, there are things we can do to make the time pass more smoothly both for our kids, and for ourselves. The best part is that these things are already considered best practices for education. As long as we recommit ourselves to including brain breaks, discussion strategies, and engaging instruction throughout the day, these best practices will help us and our students stay focused throughout December. 

    Brain Breaks - When our kids' minds are filled with the excitement of the upcoming holidays and the stress that changes in routine can bring, attention spans will be shorter. Break up lessons with brain breaks! Here are some resources for implementing brain breaks in your classroom, or expanding your repetoire: 

    • GoNoodle is probably the most well-known resource for brain breaks, and for good reason. Browse by category or channel to find exactly the right short video to fit your needs, from mindfulness and meditation, to playful songs, and even indoor recess. 
    • Cosmic Kids Yoga - This youtube channel has tons of free resources for kids from age 3-8. Their offerings range from short 1-minute videos demonstrating individual poses in a kid-friendly way, to 20 minute yoga adventures. The Zen Den and Peace Out series offer mindfulness and meditation videos as well.  
    • YouTube Playlist: Brain Breaks for Middle School - Older kids need brain breaks too! According to this article on Edutopia, secondary students need a 3-5 minute break for every 20-30 minutes of concentrated learning. This playlist has tons of videos with ideas for fun brain breaks that appeal to middle and high school students. 

    Cooperative Learning - Kids want to talk, so why not let them work together? Strategies for cooperative learning have been shown to develop students' critical thinking skills and engagement in lessons. It is also considered a best practice for ELLs, and students who are in need of language development. 

    • Kagan strategies are a good place to start. These structures, developed by Dr. Spencer Kagan in the late 20th century, are some of the easiest and most flexible ways to introduce cooperative learning into a classroom. This youtube playlist introduces some of the best strategies for getting your students to begin having academic conversations during class. 
    • Active Learning Strategies from Just ASK include printable graphic organizers and activities for grouping kids in a lot of different ways for a lot of discussion-based activities. 

    Focus on Engagement - It's a good idea not to try to change too much of what you do in the last weeks before break. Again, keeping routines the same is important for giving kids a sense of security in the weeks leading up to a long break. However, ensuring that your lessons are engaging will help kids stay focused on the right things. Edutopia has a number of articles on how to foster student engagement using proven strategies such as: 

    • Technology Integration
    • Project-Based Learning
    • Focus on Social-Emotional Learning

    Do you have your favorite strategies for getting through December? Please share in the comments below! 

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  • Why Not Share Passwords?

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 11/26/2018

    Are you logging on for others, including students, using your Mapleton username and password? Are you sharing your login details with others? You could be putting your private information and your students at risk! 

    padlock on green fence by Jason Blackeye

    The Technology Department issues each user their own username and password for a good reason: it keeps staff and students safe. Sharing your login details or logging in for others on your account can put you in a risky position. It can expose children to inappropriate websites, and it can make our entire network less secure. Worst of all, you could be modeling dangerous behavior for students.  

    You are responsible for everything that happens on a device that is logged in under your Mapleton email and password. Mapleton accounts are monitored, and any questionable search terms or browsing history can be traced back to whomever was logged on to that device when it occurred. Furthermore, browsers save more sensitive information than ever before. Do you have credit card information or passwords saved in your browser? That information can be accessed by anyone logged on to your account.  

    Different accounts have different access permissions. Student accounts may have restrictions on things such as social media because developmentally they are not mature enough to make sound decisions for how to use those websites appropriately and safely. If anything were to happen as a result of you allowing a student to use your login details, you would be responsible for any harm caused to that student.  

    Children learn from the people around them, and that includes best practices for Internet safety. By allowing them to log on with your personal account details, you are modeling a cavalier attitude for network security that your students will copy. If you want them to safeguard their personal details online, you must demonstrate care for how you secure your own.  

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  • Virtual Visit with Author Jacqueline Woodson

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 11/8/2018

    FirstBook, in cooperation with Every Child a Reader and The Children's Book Council, is hosting author Jacqueline Woodson for a free virtual visit on December 4th! RSVP today to bring this experience to your students. All you will need is your laptop and your projector. 

    There will be two webinars available, depending on the age of your students. For students in grades K-4, the first session will be held from 9am-10am MST. For students in grades 5-10, the second session will be held from 11am-12pm MST. 

    Jacqueline Woodson is the award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming and Each Kindness. She will be discussing her new books, The Day You Begin and Harbor Me

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