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eBeam Edge for Class: Teacher Erik Wittmer

Erikw1
Erik Wittmer Headshot Reviewer: Erik Wittmer 

Position: 5th grade teacher 

District/School:  South Western School District, PA

Number of Students in District/School: 4,000

Product: eBeam Edge by Luidia

 

Goals:  Erikw2

My main objective, first and foremost, is to increase and maintain student engagement.  Keeping my kids  focused is a monumental challenge, especially in an age of cell phones, email and other interactive technology. A lot of teachers feel tied to the laptop, but in many cases, the “stand and lecture” method just isn’t very efficient for encouraging students to actively think about lesson material. I needed a technology tool that could make my job easier and, more importantly, learning more effective and fun. 

Response:

Everyone in the classroom loves the Luidia eBeam Edge, especially my students who use the technology to “become the teacher.” The kids use the interactive stylus themselves to participate in interactive lessons projected onto the board. They have become so comfortable handling the eBeam system that they are able to explore new uses for the system and even troubleshoot when issues arise, turning classroom technology into a learning experience in and of itself. 

I’m able to annotate my presentations, pull in media files from Discovery Streaming online and incorporate content from the eBeam image gallery to be shared later. I also save my lessons as WMV files, and post them to the class Moodle for absent students to view at a later date. Parents are also thankful for eBeam’s ability to foster learning, even outside of the classroom environment—at home.

Whenever I show my eBeam to the other teachers they are impressed with the technology, and want one for their own classroom. I had an eBeam Inscribe that I passed on to one of the kindergarten teachers, who now uses it to connect with my classroom.  My 5th graders show them via eBeam how to write basic letter formations and learn the alphabet. Working with the younger students not only helps foster collaboration within the school, but gives my students an added sense of responsibility and self-esteem.

Learning Curve:

Setting up the eBeam Edge is incredibly easy. All I had to do was install the software and I was ready to go.  Another huge advantage is its portability. I did a presentation to some grad students recently and just threw my eBeam in my backpack and took it with me.  Even on the go, I was able to present more effectively, and engage with my audience without being tethered to my laptop. 

How We Use It:

One of the ways I try to make learning fun, while accomplishing necessary administrative responsibilities, is by creatively combining tasks using eBeam. For example, my students use the eBeam Edge interactive tool palette to sign their names in the color that represents the meal they want for lunch each morning, which also doubles as my way of taking morning attendance.

By using Skype and eBeam, one of my students who had surgery, and had to be out of classroom for three weeks, was able to keep up with the curriculum and not skip a beat in her coursework. 

The eBeam connection to the Amazon Kindle is particularly exciting to me. eReaders are great for students with learning differences, such as dyslexia. The ability to highlight text and have it pronounced and defined helps the learning process of many students.

Reviewer’s Notes:

I can’t emphasize enough how easy my eBeam Edge is to use.  I’ve become so reliant on it. Another thing I must mention is the customer service behind the product. The Ludia team is extremely responsive to any questions, or needs I have.  I think that’s a significant advantage that comes from working with an innovative and nimble company.

What’s Ahead?:

I’m currently working on additional grants to get more eBeam Edges into my school.  Word has been spreading, and I’ve been speaking with various teachers and administrators about how easy it is to set up, as well as how portable and powerful eBeam is in the classroom. Not only are students empowered to actively engage with lessons by interacting on the board, and students, who are absent, can obtain the interactive lessons they missed. The price is great, which allows us to make the most with what we have.

Tablet PCs Dynamic Change: Ken Collura Tech Director

Hp1
Ken Collura Reviewer: Ken Collura

Position: Director of Technology

District: Diocese of Columbus, Columbus, Ohio

Number of Students in District/School: 42 elementary schools; 11 high schools; 17,000 students

 

 

Products: Hp2

Primary Hardware:
 
HP Compaq Tablet PCs

Primary Software:            
DyKnow Vision
DyKnow Monitor
Agilix BrainHoney
Camtasia Relay

Goals:

Our goal was to incorporate technology into our learning environment that facilitates interactivity in the classroom, and enables students to learn in the way that best suits them. To accomplish this, we needed a technology partner like HP to work with us through every step of the process.

Response:

The integration of HP Tablet PCs into our classrooms received a fantastic response from students and teachers alike. In fact, the tablet PCs were so popular that we expanded the program a few years later, so that more students could participate.

Students say that tablet PCs help them make better use of their time. With the HP Tablet PCs, students receive course materials from the teacher, submit homework assignments and get them back over the school’s wireless network—all in real-time. As a result, students can use their time more productively – doing work during breaks, over lunch, or before afterschool activities start. They don’t have to wait until they’re in a computer lab, or at home. Students can study and learn practically anytime, anywhere.

Teachers say that HP Tablet PCs have changed the classroom dynamic in a positive way. Classes with tablet PCs are no longer taught primarily with lectures. Instead, they’re more like interactive laboratories. The “Guided Notes” feature allows teachers to provide a detailed outline, rather than all their notes for the class. This way students need to listen in class to fill in the gaps. It not only delivers the subject matter, but also teaches students how to listen and take notes more effectively.

Learning Curve:

HP Tablet PCs are easy to use – students and teachers took to them quickly. I’ve seen virtually every tablet out there, and think the HP Tablet PCs have a great form factor; a quality screen, user-friendly stylus, and they’re durable to take day-to-day use by the students.

How We Use It:

Tablet computing allows us to tailor instruction to the individual needs of our students, across the curriculum. Teachers are able to hone in on the learning style that gets the best results from each student. For example, one student was failing English until he decided to read a short story into the Audio Notes Recorder on his tablet PC. Then he listened to the story. His comprehension—and ultimately his English grade—improved dramatically. That student is what we call an audio learner. The tablet PC is key to his success in the classroom. Similarly, students with physical disabilities might not have the motor skills to type well. Tablet PCs allow them to dictate their essays into the computer, and use voice recognition software to turn the sound file into a document for the teacher.

What’s Ahead?:

We’ve had a phenomenal response to the tablet PC program at the two high schools where the program is underway, and hope to expand it to additional schools and students in the future.

Prepare, Assess, & Succeed: Teacher Patrick Heath

Studyisland1
Patrick Heath Picture1 Reviewer: Patrick Heath

Position: Fourth Grade Teacher

District/School: Liberty County School System, GA/Frank Long Elementary

Number of Students in School: 610 students

Products: Study Island, SMART Board, eInstruction CPS Student Response Systems

Goals:

 Students, today, need interactivity. Using Study Island, along with an interactive whiteboard and classroom response systems helps students master grade-level content, and prepares them for our state assessments—in a fun, engaging way.

Response:

We initially started using Study Island in our after school program to provide supplemental instruction for at-risk students. The teachers and students loved it, so we launched it school-wide.

Reviewer’s Notes:

Our school consistently performs well on the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, and Study Studyisland2 Island supports that progress. With Study Island, students don’t feel like they’re working on schoolwork because it’s fun. It’s more like a video game approach to learning. They love the games and rewards. I like Study Island because I can put students on the computer and know they’re working on standards-based items and building the skills they need to succeed.

Learning Curve:

It’s easy to use. Students are able to work with the web-based educational program independently, and with ease, both in school and at home.

How We Use It:

Computer Lab:

Students in grades 1-5 use Study Island in the computer lab. It gives us a great way to supplement and personalize instruction to prepare students for our state test. It matches our state standards and fits in really well with our classroom instruction. Students take what they learn and immediately apply it in the classroom

Classroom Instruction:

We also use Study Island for whole-class and small group instruction inside the classroom. For example, during whole-class instruction in math, I project problems onto a SMART Board and read the problems aloud. Students individually answer each problem using eInstruction CPS IR response systems. Together, we review the answers, talk about which choice is correct, and then select the answer the class decides upon. That way, students receive immediate feedback, and an explanation in Study Island. This approach allows me to instantly see how students are answering questions, and if they’re on target. Students like seeing the data about how many students select each choice. I also use an eInstruction Mobi interactive wireless pad to teach and interact with Study Island from anywhere in the room.

 Centers

I also have learning centers, where students spend about 15 to 20 minutes at each center, before rotating to the next one. In the center for small group work, I use the SMART Board and CPS IR clickers to deliver targeted instruction to students. In the second center comprised of eight Gateway computers, students work independently on Study Island to gain additional standards-based instruction and practice, and address their individual goals. In the third center, students do independent seatwork—paper-and-pencil tasks, to reinforce learning. The center-based approach enhances instruction across the curriculum, and builds students’ independence and confidence.

What’s Ahead?:

I am currently demonstrating my classroom technique across my county at different professional training workshops to help other teachers see how easy it is to differentiate across the curriculum.
Studyisland3

ELMO Quick Modeling: Teacher Jessie Roberts K/Special Ed

Elmo2
IMG_2557 Reviewer: Jessie Roberts

Position: Teacher, Kindergarten/Special Education Inclusion

District/School: Cobb County School District/ Mt. Bethel Elementary, Ga.

Number of Students in District/School: 106,000; 1,000

Product: ELMO TT-02


Goals:

I use the ELMO in conjunction with my projector and interactive white board on a daily basis to make instruction more accessible to my students. Much like an overhead projector the ELMO projects images so that the whole class can see. However. unlike overhead projectors the ELMO requires no special materials or special planning to use. It has the capability to display a myriad of different materials instantly. I keep mine hooked up all day and use it multiple times during instruction periods especially when specific modeling is needed.

Response:

The parents, teachers, and students love it! I received my ELMO through a grant from our parent funded school foundation. The parents and administration at our school were so excited about the instructional potential of this product that every teacher at our school received an ELMO for their classroom. The ELMO is very user friendly and students enjoy seeing their own work (and their hands) under the document camera. I can’t imagine teaching without it!

Learning Curve:

Once the software is installed and the ELMO is properly hooked up to the user’s computer the ELMO is extremely easy to use. Use only requires turning on the power button and opening the software. No extra training or support needed after installation.

How We Use It:

I use the ELMO for a variety of purposes throughout the day. I most commonly use my ELMO to quickly display a worksheet and go over directions with my students before sending them to work independently.

When working in conjunction with my SMARTBoard I can display a worksheet and write directly using the tools on the interactive white board. The students love seeing their work under the camera, and the ELMO provides a perfect way to edit work as a class. The ELMO can turn any size picture book into a “big book” that can be seen by the whole class. We can highlight key words, zoom in on picture details, or make words larger for choral reading.

The ELMO is especially useful during math lessons to display manipulatives like counters, Cuisenaire rods, rulers, or coins to model important math concepts. The possibilities are practically limitless. Some other uses include displaying science experiments, modeling step-by-step art projects, or displaying board/card/dice games for whole class play.

Reviewer’s Notes:

Originally at our school ELMOs were shared amongst 4-5 teachers. Sharing ELMO document cameras is not ideal. The best thing about the ELMO is that it can be used to quickly model day-to-day assignments without any preplanning. While the ELMO would still be useful to model special projects it really wouldn’t be used to it’s full potential when shared amongst several classrooms. Also while the ELMO can be hooked up to a display monitor, I prefer to use the ELMO with a projector.

What’s Ahead?:

While currently there is no district plan to purchase more document cameras many teachers in the district are seeking grants through the school foundation or outside sources to obtain ELMOs for their own classroom.

IEP & Behavior Plans: Mary Cardiff Assoc. Director Special Ed

Review360 Computer 3 
Mary Cardiff Reviewer:
Mary Cardiff, Ed.D.

Position: Associate Director of Special Education

District/School: Round Rock Independent School District, TX

Number of Students in District/School:  44,494

Product: Review360


Goals:

We wanted a way to use data to make informed decisions about what was working
for students who experience behavior difficulties. We also wanted to give teachers additional tools to use for behavior and classroom management and way to track the effectiveness of the tools. The ultimate goal was to increase students' academic progress by helping them eliminate behaviors that might be impeding progress.

Response:

Initially, teachers had a mixed reaction. Some viewed it as "just another thing we have to do."  However, once word began to spread about how it positively impacted student behavior and student achievement, more and more teachers and campus administrators asked for the training and for access to the program. The company is very responsive to our needs, questions, etc., and there are even help videos built into the program to help when teachers get stuck on how to do something.

Reviewer’s Notes:

The company has been extremely responsive. They met with a focus group prior to implementation in order to customize the product to match our needs and preferences.  Additionally, they maintain close contact with us to insure we are not encountering problems, or if we are, to problem solve with us to improve the product.

Learning Curve:

The program is fairly intuitive, so about a 3 hour/ one-time training was the starting
point. We developed a plan to roll the training out to campuses, beginning with 2-3 general education staff members and 2-4 special education staff members at each campus.

We also worked with the company to use a TOT model and we now have about 20 staff members who can provide training on an as needs basis to staff. This group has provided training to large groups as well as individuals. They are able to work with the campus staff schedules, so instead of a 1/2 day training which necessitates hiring a substitute teacher to cover the class, they might provide it in three after school sessions, or teachers might ask them to come during their planning period.

How We Use It:

We use the SST plan for general education students who are experiencing behavior difficulties. The strategies become the Tier II interventions for that student and the
program tracks the effectiveness of the interventions as well as student progress toward meeting their behavior objectives.

We use the LIPP plan for our Low Incidence population to track their progress on IEP goals and objectives. Not all teachers are on board yet, but more and more are moving to this plan as a way to collect and report data.

The BTP is used for our special education students who have Behavior Intervention Plans. It tracks progress on more frequent intervals throughout the day and provides wonderful charts and graphs which can be used as talking points in IEP meetings.

We have just begun using the IHT plan this year to track progress on In-Home Training sessions. This portion of the program keeps track of minutes due, minutes provided, and student progress. One of the great features of these plans is that the daily tracking sheets can be e-mailed to the parent, so communication is enhanced greatly.

What’s Ahead?:

We are looking to begin using the general education modules as a part of our staff development opportunities available to all staff.

Better Accreditation Process: Thomas Van Soelen Associate Supt.

Eb2
Thomas van soelen3 Reviewer: Thomas Van Soelen

Position: Associate Superintendent 

District/School: City Schools of Decatur, Decatur, GA

Number of Students in District/School: 3,062

Product: eBOARD Solutions and First Class

Blog: Thomas Van Soelen Almost Paperless Accreditation

Goals:

We were hoping for an efficient accreditation process. Every five years I dread all the manila files, labels, and colored crates. There had to be a better way. Secondly, I wasn't looking forward to the traditional committee structure (7 standards = 7 committees) with endless meetings, and report draft, after draft, after draft.

How We Use It:

We were almost 100% paperless for this accreditation visit, both for the necessary report the accreditation team requires AND all the artifacts and evidence they examine while they are in the district.

We wrote our entire Standards Assessment Report using wikis through First Class. Small groups of building and central office educators were virtually teamed for six weeks to complete the work. At the end, we gathered for a face-to-face meeting, and used a text protocol to read and discuss the entire document. That dealt with my committee-phobia--now for all the crates and paper.... We became the first school district to use the Evaluation module in eBOARD as a storehouse for attaching documents and linking to necessary evidence. If only our accreditation team visitors hadn't asked us to print out some of the artifacts...

Response:

Regarding the paperless artifact collection--central office and other buildings were thrilled with a paperless process. Gone are the three-inch binders stuffed full of paper! The wikis were a big hit: fewer meetings, because we now had clearer products. Building and central office leaders now have an experience to draw on.

Reviewer’s Notes:

Just finishing an AdvancED review without paper files, or crates was inspirational. It became a running byline, “A copy of that is online, right?” Saving printing costs is certainly important, but the efficiency of employees, that represent the largest expenditure of any school district, is far more important. In shifting existing staff to open a new school next year, we used the original Superintendent’s Staff Meeting item as the storehouse of the most recent Excel worksheets detailing these decisions. We are not checking email for the most recent communication–we know where to go and what to do.

Learning Curve:

The wikis were perfect. We find that building level and district collaboration sometimes does not produce equitable participation. The wikis flattened any perceived hierarchies, and educators that sometimes don't verbally contribute as much were able to have their contributions truly considered. The software would allow me to "dial back" to any previous version of the wiki in case I noted that important content had been deleted and needed to re-emerge.

What's Ahead?:

The Evaluation module in eBOARD worked so well that we’ve now moved our principal and superintendent evaluation onto that platform, too.

As a system charter, all parents on the governance teams must contribute their thinking to principal evaluation. The superintendent then considers all the feedback. eBOARD offered a simple solution toward that end, complete with an Action Planning template to use as the principal examined his/her self-assessment and parent-provided data.

Tech Creators: Pat Yongpradit Computer Science Teacher

  Title Start
Pat Yongpradit HeadshotReviewer: Pat Yongpradit

Position: Computer Science Teacher

District/School: Montgomery County Public Schools, Springbrook High School, MD

Number of Students in District/School: ~140,000 , ~1,700

Products: Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, XNA Game Studio, Windows Phone Developer Tools, Windows Phone 7 phones

Goals:

Windows-phone-7-front I want to develop students into creators of the technology they use, not merely users. Students with various programming backgrounds learned and applied computer science concepts to create video games and applications that address social causes. Some students have even put their programs on the Windows Phone 7. XNA Game Studio, packaged with the Windows Phone Developer tools, is a framework written in the C# programming language and edited in the Microsoft Visual Studio environment. These software tools allow students to create games and applications for Windows Phone 7 hardware.

Response:

Everyone loves it!  Parents are grateful to see their kids engaged wholeheartedly in school projects. Administrators love the real-world emphasis, and board members have invited us to speak about the projects at conferences. Students really see that their work can have an impact outside of school. In two years we have doubled the number of introductory and Advanced Placement Computer Science courses.

Learning Curve:

We already teach Java in Introductory and Advanced Placement Computer Science at Springbrook, so transitioning to a similar programming language like C# was easy.  We used a lot of the curriculum Microsoft provides and kids found the video tutorials very helpful.  The school and district administration has been very supportive and our school’s technology support specialist has been flexible in installing the software on the network.

How We Use It:

We create games and applications for the Microsoft Imagine Cup, a worldwide student technology competition centered around creating technology to address the UN Millennium Development Goals. One group of students made a maternal health game in which a young man must come to the aid of mothers in his village by bringing them medicine, food, and transporting them to the hospital.  Videos of games created by the students can be found here.

Reviewer’s Notes:

Video game creation develops computer programming technique, communication and collaboration among different roles, and allows students to create a real product that they can be excited to show their peers. 

What’s Ahead?:

More curricula need to be written to address higher-level computer science topics, to allow students to continue advanced computer science studies while creating fun games. A local step is to spread the message around my immediate district and provide professional development for teachers who are interested.  There is already a cohort of teachers around the nation who are working with XNA Game Studio.

Instructions

myON reader: Librarian Carl Harvey; AASL President-Elect

Myonreader CapstoneDigital_CarlHarvey Reviewer:  Carl Harvey

Position: Librarian

District/School: North Elementary School, Noblesville, Indiana

Number of Students in School: 475

Product: myON reader from Capstone Digital


Goals:

First, we wanted to provide students with access to more eBooks. Second, we wanted a way to motivate them to read. Third, myON reader allows students to find materials at their grade level, which is great for school—and then to read anything they want, which is great for home. 

Response:

The response has been very positive. I have teachers using it a lot in their classrooms. We have students who are taking initiative to use it at home as well as coming to the library during recess to read myON books. I've had parents comment about their children logging on from home.

Reviewer’s Notes:

myON reader is fairly new (coming out in January 2011), so we are just beginning to see the impact it can have on our school. Students and teachers are very excited about it, and I think it will have the potential to be a part of our reading program.

Learning Curve:

We found it very easy to use. Each teacher received training after school for about an hour, and then during their Professional Learning Communities for an additional 45 minutes. We reviewed how to use it, how it could be customize for their classes—then them loose. I did an introduction with each class in the library to ensure everyone was ready to go. Capstone Digital got our names imported and set-up, so it has been a very easy thing to implement.

 How We Use It:

 We use it during guided reading time in our school. It is an activity that students can usually complete during that time. We want that time to be used to focus on reading their own books at their own levels, so myOn reader is a perfect connection for that. Beyond that, we encourage students to read on their own, so they use it at home, and during recess at school.

There are a lot of data reports and tracking options within myON reader. My teachers are just now beginning to explore all those options, but I think they could have impact on instruction in our school.

What’s Ahead?:

We're focusing in on how we could use myON reader to support summer reading. We'll be kicking it off with a myON day in the library, giving students and teachers some additional training and ideas for using myON reader. Next we'll encourage students to read, read, read. To encourage that, we’ll have a contest, where the class that reads the most minutes will get a prize. We'll also do a Family Literacy Night, and give myON reader a demo to everyone in attendance; with stations attendees can rotate through. 

More about the reviewer:

Carl A. Harvey is the school librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana. Carl is active in the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), serving currently as President-Elect. He has written three books -- The Library Media Specialist in the Writing Process (co-authored with Marge Cox and Susan Page) (2007), No School Library Left Behind: Leadership, School Improvement, and the Media Specialist (2008), and The 21st Century Elementary Library Media Program (2010) published by Linworth Publishing. Harvey’s awards include: Outstanding Media Specialist (2007), and the Peggy L. Pfeiffer Service Award (2007) from AIME. 

Qtopia &1:1: Bob Richardson Instructional Tech Coordinator

  Qtopia computer BobRichardson2 Reviewer: Bob Richardson

Position: Instructional Technology Coordinator & Teacher

District/School: Orange County Public Schools, Central Florida Leadership Academy

Products: Qtopia, Qwizdom (Q4s & Q7s)

Goals:

The ultimate goal is to move to a 1:1 computing platform. We tested, and then added netbooks to the classrooms.  Every class has a student set of 25. As we moved forward, a secondary goal became moving to as close to paperless as possible, without degrading our student learning objectives. Qtopia, along with Qwizdom are key elements.

Response:

Qtopia has been viewed by the school's shareholders as exceptionally beneficial toward meeting our objectives to improve student learning, as well as improving efficiency through the use of technology.  

Reviewer’s Notes: Working with Qwizdom in general, whether it's getting help with their student response systems, teacher tools, or online programs, has been a rewarding experience for our school.

Learning Curve:

Students picked up the general use of the programs and systems, quickly, usually within the first session. Teachers learned a great deal through students’ experiences. Qtopia, and Qwizdom technology support has been immediate.

How We Use It:

Qtopia is used in our math modules, and we are anxiously waiting for the other subjects to be added. We already use Qwizdom throughout the entire school.

What’s Ahead?:

In our next school year, we want to expand our 1:1 program, so that, the students would be issued their netbooks at the start of the year, for use at school and home, rather than just use in classrooms.  We should be able to make that happen.

Realallusion Crazy Talk: Teacher Josh Stumpenhorst

Crazytalk
Stump Reviewer: Josh Stumpenhorst

Position: 6th Grade Language Arts and Social Science Teacher

District/School: Naperville Community School District 203, IL, Lincoln Junior High

Number of Students in School: 750

Product: Crazy Talk6 from Realallusion

  

Goals: I use Crazy Talk6 animation software to help bring drawings/pictures to live for enhancing student interest and creating exciting presentations.

Response:

The students love working with this program, as it is a unique, interactive way to help demonstrate their understanding of a subject or topic. Teachers and administrators are impressed with what the students can do with the software.

Learning Curve:

The software has  basic and pro versions. My students work with the basic version and they were able to figure out the program with minimal amount of direct instruction from me. After the first time, they were able to work the program independently, and with ease. The pro version does have some advanced puppeteering options, but the basic product works fine. I created the Tutorial (embedded at the end of this review) for my students, and to help new users learn the program.

How We Use It:

In my Language Arts class I have students create small movies of their novel characters having conversations. They have to write scripts, and take on the role of the characters. In my Social Science class I have students “bring the dead alive” when they write short biographies and speeches as a historical person. Here is a Sample created by one of my students.

What s Ahead?:

I am planning on expanding the use of this software within our school.

 Watch the Tutorial by Teacher Reviewer Josh Stumpenhorst:

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Best in Tech Today are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.