Reposted from Round Rock ISD Press Release 12/8/14
Three classes at Live Oak Elementary School had the opportunity Monday to code with volunteers from Adecco, an Austin-based technical recruiting firm. The special event was part of The Hour of Code, an initiative to introduce students to coding through one-hour lessons this week. The Hour of Code is also part of Computer Science Education… (Read More)
Reposted from Round Rock ISD Press Release 11/7/14
More than a dozen girls at Deerpark Middle School are learning 21st century skills through an all-girl coding club, which meets twice each month. Shannon Sieber, Deerpark instructional technology specialist, started the Code Like a Girl club with special education department chair Zenovia Decuir, who was a web programmer before teaching. “When you say math,… (Read More)
Reposted from Round Rock ISD Press Release 10/13/14
October 13 2014 – With the helps of Google and State Rep. Larry Gonzales., Hernandez Middle School students learned the ins-and-outs of being smart on the web last Thursday at the Good to Know Roadshow.
The Good to Know Roadshow made a stop at Hernandez on October 9 to teach students five tips to stay protected on the Internet during an interactive and engaging 45 minute presentation.
“Middle school students are increasingly connecting more with each other and technology is starting to play a larger role in their education,” Google spokesperson Jamie Hill said. “It’s a great time where they can start developing best practices early on so they’re set up for a lot of success.”
Gonzales, who collaborates with Google while working on public school technology curriculum in the state legislature, recommended Hernandez when the company was looking for a middle school in Round Rock ISD to bring the assembly.
“It’s most important for middle school kids because they’re just beginning to learn how to use these social media tools,” Gonzales said. “They’re starting to get their phones, they’re starting to learn how to share information and it’s critically important that they recognize how wonderful the internet is, but how they must also be very safe and very smart about what they post on social media.”
The five tips are as follows:
Think before you share: People base opinions off of what is posted from social media accounts. Job or leadership opportunities could be influenced by what is shared or who individuals share with. Private messages can also be shared and go viral.
Protect your stuff: Strong passwords help safeguard information online. Stay away from bad passwords like “12345” or “Password.” Instead, have a password that is at least eight characters with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. Each new account should have a new password.
Know and use your settings: Teenagers don’t always want to share the same content with their friends and parents. To solve this problem, students should get to know social media settings so their privacy is protected.
Avoid scams: Don’t respond to suspicious posts, emails or requests for passwords. If it sounds too good to be true, like a free vacation or electronic device, it is most likely a scam.
Be positive: Being kind on the internet can lead to making the web a better place. Individuals have the opportunity to make someone’s day with encouraging comments and its up to everyone to make the online community a great place.
Sixth through eighth grade students can access the Internet 24 hours a day and while educators can protect the school from physical concerns, Hernandez Middle School Principal Mario Acosta said it’s nearly impossible to monitor and protect students from the cyber environment.
“One of our roles as educators is to provide safe learning environments for students, and the internet is a learning space for our students,” Acosta said. “We are very grateful and excited to work with a company like Google and Rep. Gonzales for helping organize this valuable tool for our students.”
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. Currently, this means one classroom at all 51 campuses will be a designated Next Generation Classroom. Fifteen district libraries have been 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. We will investigate the educational impact of a variety of digital classroom designs, across a multitude of diverse environments in order to determine the best investments to be made for maximum effect. Click here to learn more about the Next Generation Classrooms.
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.
As we close another school year, we reflect on the many examples of lessons and activities which we have proudly had the privilege to post on this blog. They are representative of the commitment by educators throughout the district to meet the needs and learning styles of today’s 21st Century learners.
Until the new school year starts, please enjoy the previous postings on this district blog and be sure to check out the other postings by the individual campuses by clicking on the elementary school name on the right or the secondary school name on the left.
Round Rock ISD will host its annual Robotics Showcase on May 20 from 5:00 to 6:30 at Cactus Ranch Elementary. There will be several schools from across the district displaying and demonstrating what they have accomplished in their robotics programs throughout the year. The highlight of the showcase is usually the Sumo Bot competitions. These matches are student led and are exciting for the the participants involved. Below are some samples from Ridgeview Middle School.
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.
An essential component of helping students become critical thinkers and problem solvers is helping them become more informed decision makers and educated consumers of the vast amount of information and media that they have available to them in today’s digital world. One tool used to achieve this is the “SMELL” test. This is an acronym developed by John McManus, author of Market-Driven Journalism: Let the Citizen Beware?.
S = Source (Who is providing the information?)
M = Motivation (Why are they telling me this?)
E = Evidence (What evidence is provided for generalizations?)
L = Logic (Do the facts logically compel the conclusions?)
L = Left out (What’s missing that might change our interpretation of the information?)
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/