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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Are you smarter than a sixth grader?

If you've been watching my tweets and especially if you're using my Diigo outliner about Google Apps for Education (GAFE), you know that I've been shepherding a GAFE pilot at Traders Point Christian Academy (TPCA). In anticipation of a 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative in grades 7-8 next school year, I asked Lisa Mais, our 6th-grade English and language arts teacher, to use GAFE during the past semester. Needless to say, I have been thrilled with the results so let me explain why!

Personally, sixth grade is very special to me because I attribute much of my subsequent academic success to MY sixth-grade learning experience and the amazing teacher (Mr. Nitta) who I was so fortunate (including the FOUR times he paddled me during the school year :-P) to have. Hence, I wanted our sixth graders to have a transforming learning experience as well!

I shared some of their work samples with my daughter who just finished her freshman year in college and who also attended TPCA until the eighth grade. She saw the Google Slides presentations and claimed that she also learned how to make PowerPoint presentations in school. What she failed to realize is that she did not possess the same degree of information literacy in the sixth grade, but she may not even currently have the same degree of information literacy as a high school graduate who did not have the opportunity to use the bibliographic citation tools like EasyBib which were so easy to provide to the students with the administrative console of Google Apps. Of course, Ms. Mais deserves even more credit for asking me to make EasyBib available to her students and for teaching them how to use it to judge the reliability of their sources and to cite them correctly.

Furthermore, the students learned the valuable lesson of collaboration because it was so easy for them to work on their presentations together. I'm sure there's so much more that Ms. Mais can say about the advantages of using Google Apps so I will encourage her to share that. I'm sure that among what she shares will be her gratitude to no longer have to deal with flash drives due to the unlimited space provided to her students by Google Drive!

Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Eagle (Tech Corps) Has Launched

Motivated by the enthusiasm of Traders Point Christian Academy sixth graders for our Google Apps for Education pilot project under the mentorship of 6th-grade teacher Lisa Mais, I recruited some of her students to attend the Hoosier Student Digital Leaders inaugural conference (#HSDLead). As a result, they have launched our Eagle Tech Corps (ETC) to support our upcoming 1-to-1 deployment of Chromebooks in grades 7 and 8.

So what can we expect from them? I have some ideas, but I expect them to exceed my expectations! In the meantime, we will be planning how we can help their classmates and even their teachers as we deploy Google Apps for Education and the Chromebooks during the upcoming school year.

Read the #HSDLead story! We are part of it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

We heard you!

During the winter, I shared with you the vision for using technology for learning at TPCA! It's time for another update so I am excited to tell you that our WiFi infrastructure will be substantially upgraded during the summer in time for the new school year. Thanks to the federal e-Rate program, we will receive a substantial subsidy for our Internet-related services which will enable this substantial upgrade. The new system will improve WiFi coverage in the modular for our upcoming Chromebook "1-to-1" program in grades 7-8 to enable our students to learn "21st-century skills" for communication and collaboration via Google Apps for Education. This will be a state-of-the-art system that will also improve coverage in our newly renovated J. K. Stevens Commons as well as the Bostick Athletic Center gymnasium.

Stand by to hear more about other upgrades to our technology infrastructure including our Internet access and our phone system. We want you to know that we heard your feedback about our technology infrastructure and that we are responding by taking action!

Friday, January 30, 2015

TPCA is on its way!

TPCA Instructional Technology Update: Winter 2014-2015

Last fall, I posted about our intention to deploy Google Apps for Education for pilot use. I am pleased to report that we have launched one pilot project in 8th-grade English and language arts enabled by a Windows-based “Chrome browser” laptop cart supplemented by “bring your own device” for students who have voluntarily chosen that option. A subsequent post will explain that project in greater detail.

In the meantime, let me share about what other progress has been made and where we are going to build on that progress. We intend to implement a curriculum in digital literacy with a Biblical worldview:

Standardization on Windows 7 Enterprise has been deployed on various hardware:
  • Laptop cart (primarily serving 5th and 6th grade)
  • Desktop computers in Media Center
  • "Chrome browser" laptop cart primarily serving 8th grade
The following planning efforts are underway for next school year:
  • Application for e-Rate federal subsidy to upgrade Internet access and WiFi infrastructure
  • Selection of Chromebook model for 1-to-1 rollout in junior high
  • Evaluation of Microsoft online products, e.g. Office 365 and OneNote
To insure the effective application of these tools for learning, planning for professional development is underway. The administrative team is currently being oriented to becoming "Connected Educator" role models for the rest of the staff. During the summer, teaching staff (especially junior high) will take advantage of Indiana Department of Education Summer of eLearning professional development opportunities in addition to peer coaching.

Current efforts to prepare for the future are underway:


is searching for a media teacher to develop and deliver a digital citizenship curriculum.

Middle school

is blogging at The Reading Eagles with other blogs and another Google Apps for Education pilot project to come.

Junior high

has launched its Google Apps for Education pilot project with the "Chrome browser" laptop cart. A search for "Connected Educators" is currently underway.

High school

students "bring your own device" for online courses. A search for "Connected Educators" is currently underway.

Watch for further progress reports because


 is on the move!

Friday, September 19, 2014

A glimpse into TPCA’s future!

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending the day in two Wayne Township schools, an Indiana public school district which really “gets” the integration of technology into learning. In the last two years, Wayne's “Blueprint for Digital Learning” has led to the adoption of Google Apps for Education and deployment of 7000 Chromebooks into several grades across its district. It has also led to “bring your own device” at Ben Davis High School.
More importantly, I learned:
Accordingly, there is much we can learn from Wayne’s experience which will be invaluable as we launch our own initiative in the foreseeable future! Recently, we purchased several Chromebooks which we are teaching our “vanguard” teachers to use as we intend to deploy Google Apps for Education for pilot use soon. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 12, 2014

A blast from the past…a peek into our future!

laptop cart arggh
As some of you already know, I have gone back to “work” (I’m having too much fun to call it work) as Director of Technology Integration and Support at Traders Point Christian Academy (TPCA) which my daughter attended until we left for Florida four years ago. It’s been a long time since I have felt so needed and appreciated in my long educational career. I also continue to appreciate the staff of TPCA who I had already seen serving in a ministry to my family rather than merely doing a job. For this reason, there is so much I want to do for them to return that favor!
In the time since I left Indiana, TPCA unfortunately has made little progress in the integration of technology to teaching and learning. There were some earlier attempts which apparently failed for reasons I wasn’t around to assess. In order to stabilize the situation, new school leadership had already decided to invest in a laptop cart to replace aging desktop computers which have reached the end of their useful life. Without any technology leadership in place, there really wasn’t any alternative. At the same time, the small high school time adopted a one-to-one “bring your own device” (BYOD) program to (at least) support online learning to complement its own offerings.
This is where MY learning begins because some high school students were unable to BYOD so we “borrowed” a few (our spares) laptops from the cart to lend to them and the story unfolds from there. To support standardized testing, an insufficient quantity of the ailing desktops is available so we have had to use the cart to complement those desktops which is preventing us from deploying the laptop cart. This isn’t entirely a surprise because part of the justification of the laptops is standardized testing.
In the meantime, we are learning that there is a need to “repackage” the laptop cart into smaller lots to serve the needs of either enrichment or remediation of smaller groups of students. Accordingly, we are redeploying the laptops with an (experimental) smaller cart to assess that demand as well as to (occasionally) meet the needs of standardized testing. That experiment will likely result in the deployment of all of our laptops in smaller quantities.
That experiment has also given me further insight into the “state of the art” in the integration of technology into learning. In search of better designed laptop carts than the unwieldy one we already own, I put a query on the #edchat Twitter hashtag and received NO responses. Rather than being dismayed by this apparent failure of the vaunted power of social media in teaching and learning, I realized that it is more likely that the progressive tech community on Twitter just isn’t using laptop carts anymore!
This reinforces my sense of urgency to move us up the educational  technology value chain, but I am acutely aware of the critical need to upgrade our technical and human infrastructure in order to do so. Stay tuned as we continue this quest!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I think it's time to start blogging again!

Google+ is the reason because it is now so integrated with Blogger! Will this post display on my Google+ profile?