Each week the Instructional Technology Department visits campuses to talk with classroom teachers and administrators and to see the technology integration taking place. We are always amazed at the creative and forward thinking teachers we talk to. This week we visited Callison Elementary, Forest Creek Elementary, Spicewood Elementary and Westwood High School. We witnessed teachers implementing interactive white boards with their students, found teachers to follow on twitter, saw students engaged in online learning utilizing their digital textbooks, and sat in on a Skype interview with an expert in the field of accounting. We are looking forward to getting to more campuses next week.
Round Rock ISD is currently piloting the educational version of the popular Minecraft game at four campuses. Integrating this popular game for students into the educational setting is catching on world-wide making it hard to get a seat at the recent SXSWEDU conference. It seems to be natural fit to add educational activities into a game that students enjoy to play. We have witnessed firsthand the increased level of engagement of students who are learning while using the strategy of gamification. A few observations from staff working with the pilot are below:
- Students who are normally very quiet and reserved will go into great detail about what they are learning using Minecraft.
- Students who normally do not talk to each other will quickly begin collaborating with each other.
- Not only is the project student friendly, but it is also spreading among teachers as they become more familiar with how they can use Minecraft as a tool to teach and reinforce concepts.
The campuses involved in the pilot are Canyon Vista Middle School, Hernandez Middle School, Laurel Mountain Elementary, and Pond Springs Elementary. Click on the school name to learn more about their pilot. More information on MinecraftEdu can be found at http://minecraftedu.com/page/news.
Through the Next Generation Digital Classroom (NGDC) strategic design and implementation, Round Rock ISD intends to create “incubator classrooms” at each school designed to foster the integration of new teaching and learning with the help of mobile/tablet technology. This means one classroom at all 51 campuses will be a designated Next Generation Classroom. Eight district libraries will also be selected to be included in this pilot initiative. The next generation classroom will set standards for what the digital classroom can look like in the future and will redefine the way teaching and learning take place. The pilot is intended for one year in order to study the most effective instructional use and most technically sound options for going forward. Teacher applications will be made available starting April 8th and “trailblazer” candidates will be selected in mid May. More information can be found at http://ngdcrrisd.blogspot.com/
Round Rock ISD implements the Common Sense Media materials to teach students how to stay safe online. Along with the instructional materials available for schools, they also provide information and documents for parent to use when talking to their child about cyber-safety and proper online behavior. Check out the Family Media Agreements and the many other documents that you can use with your family. These documents can help start positive conversations about how to stay safe online. Please contact your campus Instructional Technology Specialist if you have any further questions or need additional assistance.
Round Rock ISD will be hosting its annual Celebration of Families on March 1 from 9:00 to 3:30 at McNeil High School. As part of the celebration, the instructional technology department will be hosting a Learners Playground for parents and students. The Learners Playground will provide hands on activities covering the following topics: Think Through Math, IStation, Atomic Learning, Google Apps for Education, and Common Sense Media for acceptable use and cybersafety. If you are planning to attend the Celebration of Families, please stop by the Learners Playground to learn more about these programs.
Campus Instructional Technology Specialists have been working with their campus principals to develop a professional development plan for integrating technology into the curriculum. As part of this plan, data from previous years Texas Teacher STaR (School Technology and Readiness) Chart is analyzed to identify areas for growth. Teachers will complete the Texas Teacher STaR Chart in the spring and the results will again be analyzed. The Texas Teacher STaR Chart has been developed around the four key areas of the Long-Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020: Teaching and Learning; Educator Preparation and Development; Leadership, Administration and Instructional Support; and Infrastructure for Technology. The Texas Teacher STaR Chart is designed to help teachers, campuses, and districts determine their progress toward meeting the goals of the Long-Range Plan for Technology, as well as meeting the goals of the district. For more information on the Texas Teacher STaR Chart visit http://starchart.epsilen.com/.
We have expanded the High School Laptop Initiative to include both 9th and 10th grade students at Round Rock High School and McNeil High School. These students have the opportunity to check out a laptop that they can use at school and at home. Along with the High School Laptop Initiative, Round Rock ISD also has a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program that lets students bring in their personal devices that can be joined to the Round Rock ISD wireless network. An advantage of this program is that students can use a device that they are familiar with and makes using it a more personal learning experience for them.
Providing students the opportunity to use and integrate technology is a major focus in Round Rock ISD. One of Round Rock ISD’s goals is to continue implementing the District’s plan for greater and more effective use of technology by students and staff in their direct work. The Graduate profile states that students will use technology as a tool by selecting appropriate tools and procedures to accomplish tasks and create products, use technology to access, analyze, organize, and process information, and to consistently apply technical reasoning skills.To achieve these goals, Round Rock ISD provides students with opportunities to use personal devices or district owned devices to enrich their personal learning experiences and to gain real world experiences.
Breakfast Bytes is a free Saturday morning program for middle and high school students, and their parents. University of Texas Computer Science professors and industry guests lead interactive computer science discussions and activities. You can participate by joining them on the designated Saturday mornings from 10:00 am to noon at the new Gates Dell Complex on the UT campus as they “serve up cutting-edge computer science.” Visit https://www.cs.utexas.edu/outreach/breakfast-bytes for more information.
– November 23, 2013 (Project Illuminate with Dr. Alison Norman)
– January 25, 2014
– March 22 , 2014
– April 26 , 2014
The Celebrate Texas Public Schools Video Contest, sponsored by the Texas School Public Relations Association, is open to all public schools in Texas. The videos must be produced by students (with staff support). For a chance to win $1000, schools may submit videos in the following categories as applicable:
– Elementary School (grades pre-K-5)
– Middle School (grades 6-8)
– High School (9-12)
– Spanish (any grade level)
– Education Foundation
RRISD campuses should submit videos to Mark Kania via Youtube link by December 18th. District winners will be selected by the RRISD Community Relations department and announced in January. RRISD must submit our district-level winners (one per category) to TPSRA by January 15th.
– Link to contest page for all of the rules/specifications. (please do not deviate from these)
– Link to winning videos from last year for some inspiration.