Building the Right Classrooms

Over the last couple of years, folks here in St. Vrain have been having lots of conversations about how a standard classroom should be equipped in terms of technology.  Last fall, our district Technology Steering Committee made a formal recommendation (PDF, pages 6-8, Item 7.2) to the school board that a standard classroom in the St. Vrain Valley School District should contain the following technology:

An instructional computer

A data projector

Audio enhancement system (teacher microphone)

A multimedia system to tie the pieces together as simply as possible for the folks using the room.  (We selected, and have implemented in several classrooms, this system.)

That recommendation sat for a while – and we want to update it as we move forward with future plans.

We need your input.

Earlier today, we sent out a survey to St. Vrain instructional staff regarding their use of these particular tools as well as their feelings regarding their relative importance to teaching and learning.  We will be using the information that we glean from that survey to help us as we move forward in the implementation of our classroom standard. While that’s a private conversation, we’d love to hear from you here, too.  What are the essential pieces of technology that you need to have available to you to support teaching and learning?  Which ones are distractions?  What should the district focus on in terms of equipment needs?

(Access to the Internet is another question.  Or is it?)

Skyline STEM Lecture Series – Join Us!

Michelle and I are fortunate to be attending the first in a series of lectures hosted by Skyline High School in conjunction with their STEM program.  The best part is that anyone with an Internet connection can join in, too.  I hope you’ll take some time to join us for the first Skyline STEM Lecture, focusing on computer science.  The live blog of the event is embedded below.

STEM Lecture Series – Computer Science – September 10th, 2009

Can We Talk?


Here’s an obvious statement: Communication is important.  It’s also a useless statement unless we’ve spent some time thinking about what, why and how we communicate.

This morning, the Assessment and Curriculum folks for the St. Vrain Valley School District spent some time thinking about and creating blogs that they’ll use to communicate with the district and the larger world about resources, best practices, curriculum outlines, professional development opportunities and more.

One important question was discussed at length: Why a blog and not a web page? Here’s the answer: We not only want to tell you stuff, but we also want to hear what you think. We want people to see that communication is a two-way street. We want to make sure that you see us as partners in the work of educating students. Comments suggest conversation.

They’re working to build a series of blogs that we’ll be linking to and mentioning in future posts here. Once the Curriculum and Assessment blogs are published, you’ll want to pay attention to what they share. You’ll also want to make sure you use their blogs as a way to ask questions and give feedback to them.  That’s what makes communication work.

Field Notes: Inter(net)active Reading

So, you’ve acquired a set of computers to use in your library. Congrats! Now, how are you going to make them part of your library learning environment?

Linda Bryan at Lyons Elementary shared with us a series of interactive books published by Usborne that link traditional print media with web links and online activities.   In this edition of Field Notes, Linda demonstrates how she’s set up a center for students to use while browsing the books.

Direct Link to Video

St. Vrain Virtual Campus Login Instructions

The District is pleased to offer staff and students access to the St. Vrain Virtual Campus, our online classroom space for teaching and learning.

In the past, accounts for this service were offered on an as-needed basis, but as of Fall 2009, that process has changed.

All students and staff with District domain accounts now have access to the Virtual Campus using their District Domain (student computer lab) logins and passwords. You can learn more about logging in to the Campus by clicking here.

How are you using the Virtual Campus to extend opportunities beyond the classroom walls?

Change. Service. Vision. Teamwork.

It’s the start of a new school year, which means there’s a lot of bustle and activity in schools and in the District Technology Services offices.  On Monday, Executive Director of Instructional Technology Joe McBreen held a kickoff meeting with the DTS staff where he shared the vision that will form the core of our work this year.  His message is one that will resonate through all our efforts and is worth sharing with you here. So we are.  Give it a listen below.

We hope you’ll pick up on an important point in Joe’s message – it’s all about student achievement. Everything we’re about in terms of supporting technology use in the district will point back to the essential question: “How will this make a difference for our students?”

Help hold us accountable for meeting that goal.

Direct link to audio

Elementary Lab Managers Meeting

Elementary Lab Managers,

Welcome back! Bud and I hope you enjoyed your summer break and are excited about the start of a new school year.

This year’s first Elementary Lab Managers meeting for our St. Vrain folks is scheduled for Monday, September 14 from 1:00-3:00 in the Central Elementary School computer lab.  We’re interested in knowing what you’d like to learn during our time together and if there are questions you’ll bring to the meeting for discussion. Feel free to email Bud and/or me to let us know what you’d like to see included in the meeting agenda.

If you’re not a lab manager at one of our elementary schools, we’d still like to hear from you. Share your best ideas for working in a technology lab setting.

New Year, New Filter – Lots of Possibilities

We’re going to be talking here on the blog an awful lot this year about the filter here in the district.  In accordance with requests from staff as well as an understanding that the Internet continues to evolve as a powerful teaching and learning tool, there will be more access available for students and staff in St. Vrain.  That means it’s up to all of us to make sure we’re paying attention to what’s happening in our classrooms and labs with students and teachers and the Internet.  There’s a lot of good stuff just waiting to be part of your learning environment, but there are also things you’ll want to consider and think about before you begin. We’ll get there – but for right now, you might want to learn a little bit more about the changes and touch base with others about your experiences with the new filter.

Head on over to the Help Desk blog and ask your questions, share your insights, and see what other people think about the new filtering environment in St. Vrain.

An Invitation

Welcome to the Instructional Technology Blog for the St. Vrain Valley School District. This little corner of the St. Vrain Blogs community is a place where we’ll share resources and information about making technology a part of your teaching toolkit. It’s a place to find answers and ideas that relate to teaching and learning with technology. It’s a place where we’ll gather together much of the cool stuff that we see happening in the district and the larger world of teaching, learning, and technology and share it with you.

More importantly, it’s a place where we’ll collectively communicate and collaborate to make exciting things happen.  That means we’re expecting to hear your ideas and answers through comments, questions and guest postings.  You know things we don’t.  And vice versa.  Let’s share them.

Students, you’re welcome here, too.  From time to time, we’ll ask questions specifically for you.  Other times, we won’t mention you directly, but know that everything that we’re about, and everything we hope is happening in your classes, is centered on you.  We want to hear from your parents, as well.  All are invited here.

We’ll be updating this space often, so be sure to check back in to see what’s new. Better yet, use an RSS reader (like Google Reader) or subscribe using the email link to the right.

Welcome. We’re glad you’ve joined us here.  Let’s get to work.