Monthly Archives: January 2016
Wake up, shower, get dressed, coffee, and give the dog a treat.
Just got off the phone with math department chair asking me to check up on a teacher whose students say there’s trouble connecting with the online resources for a textbook, now I’m driving to work. Today I’m listening to How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg on my Scribd app. Sometimes I catch up on Voxer chats if I’m not listening to a book. Scribd is slightly less expensive than audible books (it used to be unlimited for $9/month subscription and now it’s $9/audiobook). I love it, so long as I can find a good book. If you’re looking for a good book to check out I suggest both Make It Stick and Switch. My commute is not too long, but the parents dropping off students can slow things down quite a bit with our one way in/out route.
I’m kicking myself because I’m pretty sure I mentioned to a teacher that I would meet them during first period prep to follow up on a question. For the life of me I can’t remember. Normally my calendaring skills are better than this. While walking around I drop in on a teacher that had asked for help during first period the day before but I happened to be off campus for that day. When I got there, the teacher had already figured out how to update the links for his online material so that this semester’s students would have access. Gave a high five and good job and went on my way to check in on the peer tech tutors.
The peer tech tutor (PTT) program is new this year and we are figuring it out as we go. In general the site instructional technology coach is in charge of these students, but it is more like an office TA than an actual course. Still the students are guided in learning about hardware, software, communication skills, and digital citizenship such that they can go out and help other students and teachers on request. Currently I oversee 27 of these students throughout the day, about triple what I had last semester. When meeting up with these students I inform them of their portfolio due at the end of the semester, most focusing on the 4 areas I mentioned earlier with a fifth dimension of their own personal choosing. We also chat about their first official assignment: learning about Google sites. This is actually meant to prepare them for a classroom activity support helping others students build portfolios with Google sites next Wednesday. After checking in with the PTTs I run over to check in with the teacher whose students were struggling with connecting to the online resources. I gave a couple of tips and mentioned how I would redirect the students as needed. So far – two periods down and two problems solved.
As we are changing from second period to third, I’m reading email from a teacher asking for help with getting a student and parent to gain access to the district app by getting some code. I didn’t know how to get the code for the student because I don’t login as a student. I share this with the PTTs when they walk in and one jumped in with confidence showing exactly how it’s done. Teachable moment. I mention to the PTT that this is a chance for her to show skill in two focus areas: software and communication. She drafts the email with screenshots and replies to the teacher’s request for help. Three periods, three major problems solved.
Screencasts are a great way to show others steps and procedures for setting up things on a computer or website. One thing we have to be careful with is student or teacher information included in the video that may need to be private. A fellow instructional technology coach made a video, but I couldn’t share it because it had IDs and teacher info all over. A quick search online and 5 minutes later, I learned how to use blurring boxes with Camtasia to turn the video into something shareable with others. Over the next hour or so I check in with PTTs, finishing the video editing, and close one other problem with a counselor working with Google calendar.
I’ll be the first to admit that when a teacher asks for support/help/planning/guidance with something to do with instruction and/or technology I have to learn a little bit extra myself about half the time. A teacher wants to use Google sites for student portfolios. I know of this thing called SiteMaestro that could help, but never actually bothered to look into it. So I did. It’s amazing. You should go check it out yourself. The punchline is that it pushes out a copy of template site to a roster of students from a spreadsheet, then you can use that master spreadsheet to manage all the sites as needed.
I check in with the teacher on what she wants for the template for the students and inform her that I will have students in the classroom to guide and support the students in building their portfolios. When I check my watch I gasp and excuse myself so that I can make it across town for a 1:00 meeting at a middle school in preparation for our upcoming edcamp.
Eating in the car as I drive. Catching up on Voxer.
I join a group of other leads who are putting together the edcamp hosted by our district. We have most of the big details already worked out but this meetup is to try and figure out on site where things should go, what paths attendees will walk, and where do we need signs and people for the actual event. Everything went really well and we are all pumped for edcampPerris. If you are reading this, and you’re in reasonable distance to Perris, CA, and you’re free on Feb 6th, you have no reason not to be there.
At this point, I could return to my school site, sit in student pick-up traffic, say goodbye for the weekend, then turn around and go home, or…… I could go bug the assistant of director of technology from my district. Shane is just one of many awesome people that I get to call a coworker. I love that he embraces my crazy ideas, often making them more reality than fantasy. He couldn’t keep track of my ideas so we created a shared spreadsheet for them. He titled it “Jed’s Hair-brained Schemes.”
It’s fitting. One such scheme is we are currently piloting a self hosted blogging setup using the wordpress.org platform and our own servers. It works, but it needs improvement. This idea came from teachers wanting to get their students to write more and continue that writing throughout high school. There are challenges and security issues with expecting, requiring, or even suggesting that students create a blog for a class from a third-party site, on third-party servers, with third-party policies. After talking through this and 3-4 other schemes that needed attention from the sheet, my wife sent me a text (and I replied).
Time to go home.
My day jumps around a lot. One BIG thing that I do most days but didn’t do this day is meetup with 1-2 teachers that I work with every week in a coaching fellowship. It’s one of my favorite things to be able to work closely with teachers, focus on student learning, and do some really cool stuff. I hope to share more of that in future posts. I’m glad to get back on this horse, writing. I’m also glad to be a part of this awesome group called the #MTBoS. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go take a peak and let’s talk about it after.