Thursday, December 10, 2015

Breaking Down the Four Walls of the Classroom: How Future Ready Digital Tools are Changing Student Learning Experiences! Part Two

Last week, we shared how the elementary teachers are doing this--now, it’s time to explore ways that secondary students are experiencing this engaging learning!

Middle School: Ingrid Parker

Ingrid Parker’s middle school band students are immersed in a balanced world of music and technology. Angevine Wildcat band members can access classroom standards, essential questions, assignments and assessments from Ms. Parker’s classroom website.

Students in Bobcat Concert Band (8th grade) and Lynx Concert Band (7th grade) contribute every week to a class blog allowing them to collaborate on their growth. Students receive guidance on their at-home practice while creating a digital and face to face community of learners. Check out more Student Products from these engaged middle schoolers.

Ms. Parker has been using technology with students not only to collaborate but also to measure student success. By collecting quantitative data through Google forms that students use to self-assess their competency level, positive growth was evident. Student learning was impacted across all seven skill areas being assessed, for example in the area of “accompaniment and bass line composition” the growth reported was 50.6%.  

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11th Grade:  Revolutionizing Writing Instruction with Digital Tools

DSC_8947.JPGSarah Zerwin feels that writing instruction and opportunities have expanded for students through the power of tools found within Google Apps for Education. The English department at Fairview High School has developed a 9-12 standards-based e-portfolio for students using a Google Site template which provides an avenue for students to publish their work throughout their four years of high school as well as reflect on how their writing has improved during that time. There is even a place for students to post epic fails and how these failures empowered them to learn! Sarah also uses forms to collect meaningful data on student learning that assists her and students with reflection on learning. This example is where students declare the score they hope to achieve on a piece of writing and the work they are going to do to achieve this score.

Students in her writing class also use a Google Doc to collect the feedback they're getting from her and each other through writing workshops. In the video linked below, a student reflects on how this helps them as a writer:

These documents contain their personal reflections for how they will utilize the feedback they’ve received on writing. By focusing on feedback instead of grades, Sarah is able to enhance writing instruction and opportunity--the various digital tools help her to manage that. Because of the immediate feedback and organic nature of drafting in Google Docs, students are able to understand and reflect in ways they have not been able to before.

In The Hands of Students

We share these stories to demonstrate a few of the amazing teachers in BVSD who are leveraging digital tools with students to allow for a deeper, more authentic learning experiences than would have not been possible without this access.

Our students see technology not as a subject to learn but as a foundation. It underlies everything that they do. Therefore “Technology has an important place in our vision, because it has an important place in our future. But it does not dominate the vision; rather it supports it” (Marc Prensky, From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom)

Coming soon is a blog from our CIO, Andrew Moore, regarding how technology is playing a pivotal role in teacher evaluations, students learning standards, the BVSD Success Effect and implementation of the strategic plan!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Breaking Down the Four Walls of the Classroom: How Future Ready Digital Tools are Changing Student Learning Experiences! Part One

Our students have access to learning in ways the students of generations past have not--the world is at their fingertips and learning can happen anytime and anywhere. Students are now required to demonstrate mastery in technology standards embedded in all content areas and grade levels. . How digital tools are used in the classroom is also a part of teacher evaluation standards within the BVSD Educator Effectiveness rubric. A breakdown of these standards can be found within the grade level and curriculum essential documents on the BVSD Curriculum website.

Through the BVSD Success Effect, there is an expectation that our students are receiving equitable and meaningful learning experiences in the classroom that meet state, national and global standards of learning. The power of technology for enhancing these experiences, as well as providing parent and community partnerships beyond the four walls of the classroom, is a necessity for our students. We’ve shared in our blog before how students are publishing their work; now, we’d like to share the meaningful learning experiences that come with these publishing opportunities for students.

This blog will be in two parts:
Part One: Learning in the Elementary Classroom
Part Two: Learning in the Secondary Classroom (coming soon! December 2016)

Kindergarten: Giving a Voice to Students Through Blogging!

Loran Lattes, teacher librarian at Whittier Elementary, was recently inspired by a session on blogging for kindergartners that she attended at the Google for Education Summit in October. When she got back to her school, she partnered with kindergarten teacher Megan Proctor to pilot the program, and now it has become a regular part of Megan’s classroom.

Kindergartners in Megan’s class use a tool called EasyBlogger to take pictures and videos, then add their own reflections through voice recording. It’s a fun and effective way to get kids to share their stories as they develop in their writing and reading skills. Parents enjoy the classroom connections by seeing their own child’s creations. As connected to the Success Effect with Family and Community partnerships, these blogs share their learning allowing student to make connections with their parent “community”.

Megan is utilizing kindergarten blogging as a way of empowering student voices in her class to be able to describe the people places and events around them, as well as providing an engaging way for sharing their learning.

Megan reports that this format makes students excited to share their learning. Many ELL (English Language Learner) students and shy students have blossomed to be more engaged and confident in their learning through this format. Also, parents have reached out to express their support and give a big thumbs-up for how their students are excited to share their learning!

4th Grade: Talk to an Astronaut! Researching with Real Results

Beth Ellis, 4th grade teacher at  Bear Creek Elementary School, regularly seeks out real-world connections for her students as they learn. This year, her class had the unique opportunity to participate in a live video conference, along with other students from across the country, with Dr. Kjell Lindgren, an astronaut currently living and working on the International Space Station.

This video hangout integrated with the 4th graders’ space unit and a language arts unit on interviewing skills, adding a unique collaboration not possible without technology and a teacher who values the power of making connections.

To prepare for the interview with Dr. Lindgren, students used their research skills to learn about the lives and work of astronauts. Students learned there are some questions anyone can find the answer to, such as, “What do you eat in space?” whereas more complex, higher-order questions can only be answered by an expert in the field. They spent weeks researching, writing and critiquing their questions before they submitted questions to the moderator. An example of a question they created was, “In your training to be a doctor or astronaut, did you have any problems that you had to overcome that made you want to give up and quit? If so, how did you overcome them?” This question, and others like it, were meaningful to both the learning of the students and the experience shared by the astronaut.

Part of students’ work during the science unit was to research space topics and then create a presentation where they shared information, images, and ideas regarding their topic. These students found the value in sharing their learning with the world, much like the astronaut they met online. 

Students were motivated by this project. Knowing they were going to interact with an astronaut miles and miles up in space proved to be much more powerful than interviewing a teacher-selected guest speaker, as they had done in the past. The learning that resulted from this project will help them in their future research projects and their understanding of the access they have to our digitally connected world!

Look for Part Two of this blog coming soon! Secondary Classroom Focus!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Rocky Mountain Summit featuring Google Apps for Education: Learning Together!

DSC00307.JPGOnly a few short weeks ago, the Google Apps for Education Colorado Summit and over 500 educators came to Monarch High School. It was an incredible weekend of learning, fun and leading by the EdTechTeam, educators from around the state and beyond! For our BVSD educators, this summit provided direct support for developing talent, a key priority of the BVSD Success Effect.

The weekend included keynote speakers James Sanders, Mark Garrison & Kasey Bell as well as a series of workshop sessions geared towards meaningful instructional practice when using Google and other internet tools with students, by students and for students.

Many BVSD educators presented, including Jeff Sanders, who shared how his students have a genius hour, or 20% time, during class each week to work on passion projects. At the end of the year, students created presentations that shared how these projects impacted their learning.  Some of the projects included
  • DSC00347.JPGCreating a 3X3 Basketball Tournament to raise money for Boulder Homeless Youth
  • Self-Publishing a Novel, now sold on Amazon!
  • Becoming a Certified Yoga Instructor and conducted Yoga Classes for students
  • Creating a Blog reviewing movies, books and more that the entire school community could use to get ideas for reading

His session, among the many others, helped educators think differently about what students could do in their classes to increase meaningful learning!

Educators left the conference feeling empowered by their learning and looking forward to going back to their classrooms and buildings to utilize their new expertise to empower and engage students at a new level. Even more exciting, many attendees were first-timers!

During the conference, participants shared their enthusiasm and learning through Twitter, utilizing the hashtag #gafesummit to connect.

Screenshot 2015-10-27 at 9.52.55 AM.pngUsing a script called TwitterBot, one attendee collected all tweets from the summit as a way to capture the experience of the learning through this archive of tweets!

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By connecting online, the learning continues well beyond the conference. Check out how first-time tweeter, BVSD teacher librarian JoLynn Scott, connected with fellow BVSD librarians at this summit! They later decided to make plans to share their learning to their schools and staffs.

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The learning from this summit is captured not only through twitter, but in all of the presentation materials available online, too! Check these out and join us for more professional development throughout the year on the BVSD Ed Tech website.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Join Us at the Google Summit!

Are you ready to get your Google on? 

For the third year in a row, BVSD is hosting the Colorado Summit Featuring Google for Education. This year’s summit will be October 10 & 11 at Monarch High School.

This high intensity, two-day event focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education (and other Google Tools) to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education.
The program features Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers, practicing administrators, solution providers, Google engineers, and representatives from the Google education teams.

Last year more than 300 participants attended sessions on digital tools and strategies for increasing student engagement. Here is some of the feedback we received:


“I have been to this conference for three years and it has changed the way I teach!”
“The 2014 (conference) was a wonderful experience and greatly enhanced my use of technology in my classroom.”
“This was the best professional development I've had since becoming a teacher. I walked away from here with numerous new ways to engage students and enhance my instruction. I look forward to attending again.”

This year promises to be even more exciting, with over 80 sessions to choose from, many led by BVSD educators. There’s something for everyone, from the beginner to the geeky and everyone in between. You’ll learn something you can take back to your classroom right away.

We hope you can join us for this weekend of fun and learning with colleagues from BVSD and the entire state. Registration is still open! If you are a BVSD employee, please contact Elene Medicraft ( for a special BVSD only registration code.

We’ll see you there!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Digital Workflow

Are your students engaged in creative, collaborative, engaging online work? If you answered yes, then digital workflow has crossed your mind. Digital workflow is a term that encompasses the tools and processes we use to keep our classrooms running smoothly.

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When implementing technology tools, teachers should choose strategies and apps to support learning goals and personalized instruction while establishing a digital workflow that creates classrooms where students have increased access, communication, and the ability to submit work in an efficient manner. When determining what your digital classroom workflow should look like, consider the following:

How will students:
How will teachers:
Access assignments and digital content provided by the teacher?
Curate and organize digital materials?
Publish work or submit work to teacher?
Communicate with students and parents?
Collaborate with classmates on assignments?
Post assignments?
Participate in online conversations?
Return assessed work to students?
Store digital content they have created?
Create and deliver formative and summative assessments?
Edit and manage content produced for class assignments?
Reinforce principles of digital citizenship?

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BVSD teachers have access to many tools that simplify the digital workflow process including Google Drive, Google Classroom and Schoology.

With Google Drive, students and teachers can access all of their digital content from anywhere and on any device. When paired with the Google Apps suite (Docs, Slides, and Sheets), the user can collaborate with anyone at anytime.

Google Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive, and Gmail so teachers can create and collect assignments paperlessly. Within Classroom, teachers can create an assignment, use it in multiple classes, and choose how students complete the assignment (for example, whether each student receives an individual copy or all students work in the same copy of the assignment). The teacher can track who has completed the assignment and who hasn't, and provide feedback to individual students. Additionally, teachers can post announcements, calendars, and start discussion threads with their students.

Schoology is a new Learning Management System available this year to all BVSD teachers. It can be a powerful addition to your digital workflow. Teachers can create courses where they can post assignments, hold discussion threads, embed videos and docs. Students can submit work and participate in discussions within pages of Schoology courses. We often hear the question, “Which should I use, Google Classroom or Schoology?”, and our answer is—both! Start out with Google Classroom to organize your digital workflow and when you are ready to take your classroom to the next level by flipping and blending instruction, it’s time to add in Schoology. You won’t be disappointed!

Check out these additional resources to get started:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ed Tech Software 2015-16

A new school year is a great time to become acquainted (or reacquainted) with your resources. The Ed Tech team is here to help you integrate technology into your classroom in meaningful, transformative ways. By providing quality software and professional development, we help create an environment where successful, curious, lifelong learners can flourish.

Our goal is to select software titles that can be used across the curriculum and on any device, so that students have anytime/anywhere access to learning. Read about our software journey and selection process.

Below we’ve listed some software for you to explore. For the entire list of Ed Tech software and information about how to access it, please visit our Ed Tech Software page.

Wixie is an online software combining a paint program designed to inspire creativity with standards-based curriculum activities. Students can draw, create, record their own voices, make movies and websites—a great publishing tool! It's available for grades K-5 and can be accessed at Login with your Google account. For more information and tips, check out Wixie in BVSD resources.

Student and teacher accounts are updated by IT every school year. The upload always occurs the week after Labor Day. This year (2015) all students will be assigned to their new grade level and teacher on approximately September 8th. In the meantime, student with current accounts can still access and edit their past projects.

After September 8th new accounts can still be added for teachers and students by completing the WIXIE: Adding a New User Form and submitting an IT service request.

Typing Pal is cloud-based typing software for students in grades 2-8. Students tackle a wide range of personalized exercises, animations, and games as they practice keyboarding skills.

Student accounts are organized by school and graduation year. There is no need to create your own class or move student accounts around, since the Ed Tech team and IT move students to the appropriate groups at the beginning of each school year. Use the BVSD Typing Pal site to find out how to access your school’s unique URL for Typing Pal.

Voicethread is an online presentation tool that allows the user to collaboratively create interactive, multimedia presentations and then share these presentations with others. They can embed video, images, and other types of files, then provide narrative and commentary about these resources. Check out this example!

Voicethread is available to students in grades 6-12 and staff at any grade level. Access this tool from your Google Account by clicking the 3x3 grid in the upper right hand corner, as shown below.
For more information about Voicethread, visit their support site.

NoodleTools is an online annotation, citation, and research tool that allows students to collect source information, collaborate on organizing and planning research projects, and publish their works cited pages. Access Noodle Tools and helpful information!

New users create their own accounts by clicking on the login link to NoodleTools, as shown below.

BrainPop is a group of educational websites that display animated, curriculum-based content.

As of 8/26/15, BrainPOP has signed the BVSD Data Privacy Addendum. Access to the service will be restored as soon as the renewed purchase order can be processed.


Schools seeking training on Ed Tech software 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 offers Professional Development Opportunities throughout the year. Check out the BVSD Ed Tech website for more information about Ed Tech software and other resources.