Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Professional Development at BVSD

Attendance is on the rise at Ed Tech professional development opportunities, and not just at our many in-district trainings. More and more teachers and administrators are attending regional, state, and national events, then bringing back what they learn to their schools. A growing number of teachers are increasing their presence outside the district by presenting at conferences and collaborating with nationally recognized educators. This cycle of learning and sharing through high-quality professional development is helping to create a culture of learning while integrating technology, which is in alignment with the mission and vision of BVSD.

The Ed Tech team provides many opportunities for staff to engage in professional development throughout the year. We have even been able to fund attendees to regional and national events. This school year, we are excited to offer many venues to collaborate with colleagues and experts both inside and outside of the district. Upcoming opportunities include:

Ongoing professional learning groups

  • Teacher librarians and technology contacts attend monthly
  • 21st Century Cohort members meet throughout the year and participate in an online community


  • BVSD Technology in Education (TIE) Learning Day - Nov 2, 2013
  • Chrome Learning Day - Oct 29, 2013
  • iPad Learning Day - 120 attendees in April 2013, another coming up April 2014


  • Core Software
    • Core Software Open House - Sept 25, 2013
    • Elementary Core Software Days - Oct 21, 2013
    • Secondary Core Software Days - Oct 28, 2013
    • Core Software PD Digital Storytelling - Nov 6, 2013
    • Core Software PD Flipped Classroom - Feb 26, 2014
    • Core Software PD Social Networking - Apr 23, 2014
  • Google Ninja refresher training - Feb 5, 2014

Full-length conferences

  • InnEdCo Conference (formerly TIE) - June 2014
    • In 2013 we were able to fund 40 attendees
  • Colorado Association of School Libraries (CASL) - Sep 28, 2013
    • We are funding 8 teacher librarians to attend
  • Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Rocky Mountain Summit - Aug 2014
    • In 2013 we had 121 attendees from BVSD, 9 of whom were also presenters--there were over 300 people from around the country at this event!

We encourage teachers and administrators to take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by BVSD and outside the district. Visit our PD Opportunities website for a current calendar of events, and read more details about what’s in store this year on our Ed Tech blog.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Core Software in BVSD: From Many to Most Impactful

What tools are your students using in the classroom? What types of devices are in your school? Students in Boulder Valley have access to iPads, laptops, Chromebooks, netbooks, PCs, Macs, and more, in addition to their personal devices. This shift in the variety of tools that students use in turn impacts educational software: it needs to be available on any device, anytime, anywhere. This requirement has driven a fundamental change in Core Software in BVSD.

For several decades, the number of Core Software titles grew until they were unsustainable. We began to experience incompatibility issues between older software titles and newer computer technology. At the same time, the nature of how we delivered instruction using technology also changed. The need to purge and reassess became imminent. We realized that we needed to refine our software titles and adoption process, similar to how teachers continually refine their lesson plans.

That need prompted an inquiry process that began in September 2011 by a group of community stakeholders called the Educational Technology Leadership Council (ETLC). This group helped guide the vision of the ideal learning environment in Boulder Valley. Building on that vision, an internal cohort of administrators, teachers, and specialists inventoried our software titles, which topped out at over 80, and planned a course of action to make necessary improvements.

The next steps included district-wide surveys, conversations with stakeholder groups such as teacher-librarians, curriculum directors, tech contacts, as well as all levels of IT. The results of these conversations led to weeding titles that were antiquated, for examples those purchased in 1985. New titles were measured against the ETLC vision for the ideal learning environment and balanced with financial needs and meeting anytime, anywhere access for students.

As a product of this work, Ed Tech has created a Core Software website that showcases a “Supported Core Software List”. For each educational software title, this list shows where it can be accessed, its instructional use, and related information.  Scrolling down the page, there are titles that have reached their “End-of-Life” and are no longer supported by the district. If your favorite title is on this list, you can find an upgraded alternative in the “Replaced by” section.

Schools seeking training on Core Software titles have many experts and training opportunities available to them. For example, each school’s Tech Contact and Teacher Librarian have been offered training on many key software pieces—these staff members are excellent resources. In addition to the expert in each building, Ed Tech is offering several Professional Development Opportunities starting with a Core Software Open House on Wednesday, September 25th. Check out the BVSD Ed Tech website for more resources about Core Software.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tech Contacts: A Valuable Resource

Tech Contacts are individuals chosen to be liaisons between their schools and the district IT Department. Through their their role as technology leaders and with their support for technology integration, Tech Contacts help adopt processes, solve problems, and design steps for the future of technology in BVSD. This group meets once a month (usually the last Tuesday of the month) for a total of six times during the year. The Tech Contact site has resources and meeting details.

In the past, this group has shaped software purchases, device choices, and technology vision and plans. More recently, this group worked closely with IT to devise a plan for password changes, asked for weekly tips and tricks from IT, and requested that a professional development calendar be distributed to staff once a month. They have looked at software choices, advocated for the addition of Macs, iPads, and Chromebooks, and recommended Wi-Fi upgrades to our schools. This group will have input regarding the upcoming Tech Refresh model. IT leadership values Tech Contacts as a pertinent stakeholder group and uses their recommendations to inform technology decisions, so your school’s representation is very important.

Attendance at Tech Contact meetings have fluctuated throughout the year. Some schools send a representative each month, while some schools are not as present. If you want to have a voice in district-wide technology decisions, to receive professional development, and to influence the future direction of technology in BVSD, you should have a representative on the Tech Contact committee. Members of this committee did receive salary credit last year if they attended all meeting sessions. Please visit with Kelly Sain or Andrew Moore if there is a teacher from your school who would like to be a Tech Contact. We’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

21st Century Teacher Librarians

As we continue to create innovative 21st Century educators and students in BVSD, we must also embark on a journey to create 21st Century libraries and learning centers. Recently, our teacher librarians and the Library Advisory Council developed a white paper and strategic plan to envision this evolving role of the teacher librarian. This plan drew upon resources from the Colorado Department of Education, the American Association of School Librarians, and teacher librarian expertise as part of the collaboration and revision process.

The strategic plan documents how the role of the teacher librarian is moving beyond the four walls of the library and into opportunities that include developing online collaboration and communities, teaching digital literacy and citizenship, as well as providing equitable access to information in a variety of formats and mediums.

Ultimately, the mission of the BVSD teacher librarian is to “provide equitable access for students and teachers to 21st century libraries staffed by 21st century librarians in order to create a culture of lifelong learners and a community of digital citizens” (BVSD Teacher Librarian Mission Statement, 2013).

As our teacher librarians continue to develop and grow, we invite you to explore the following resources to help you gain an understanding of the role they are pursuing. These websites will continue to evolve as our teacher librarians work towards becoming 21st century learners and leaders.

Our belief that “the school library functions as a vital instrument in the educational process, not as a separate entity isolated from the total school program, but involved in the teaching and learning process” empowers our teacher librarians to move beyond the four walls of their libraries to impact student learning and engagement and to collaborate with teachers and staff. (International Association of School Librarianship, 2003)

In order to see the growth and journey of our teacher librarians this year, we invite you to attend  our Teacher Librarian PLC Showcase at the end of the year as a way to see the various projects and collaborations they have participated in this year. Check out the commercial below!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

21st Century Cohort - Off to a Great Start

The 21st Century Cohort is off to a great start! It is our pleasure to introduce our 21st Century 1.0 cohort members, Please select a cohort member by clicking on a link to hear their vision and goals for the cohort.

This year, we were able to introduce this opportunity to middle and high school teachers; more than 70 applicants were interested in becoming leaders in educational technology. Out of this 70, 30 were selected through a blind application process.

Our journey began on December 11th when members participated in teaming activities and engaged in lively discussions about teaching digital learners (students). Our discussion started by reading the introduction to Teaching Digital Natives by Mark Prensky. (A great read, by the way!)

Then, teachers had time to investigate their digital toolkit options. For each option, teachers received hands-on opportunities to use the tools and engage in conversations about how these tools can increase student engagement in the classroom. The showcased tools included iPads, Live Scribes, Digital Cameras, Netbooks, Swivl, and Laptops.

We wrapped up the day by using tools like Vocaroo and Google Voice to make a digital recording of the teacher’s learning goals.  

Moving forward, this group will continue to collaborate for 3 years through a blended learning experience (i.e., both face-to-face and online). They will continue to discuss how to empower students to use technology to collaborate, research, problem solve, think critically and create new knowledge, all in a relevant, real-world learning environment.

Here are a few responses from the cohort members following our first PD day:

  • “The most valuable aspect of the training was being able to speak with other professionals and brainstorm ideas, get feedback, and share best practice strategies.”
  • “The training was excellent! I was excited to go and even more psyched when I left.”
  • “Talking with other teachers! Also, the article we read was a good foundation for our discussion and our work.”

We are excited about working together as we continue to develop the ideal learning environment in BVSD.