The ORVSD Training Team is happy to be a part of the Oregon School Boards Association Annual Conference this weekend. We’re in beautiful, downtown Portland.
The Oregon Virtual School District is an Oregon Department of Education program. It provides free resources for online teaching and learning that promote the use of technology in Oregon classrooms. We offer Oregon public school educators the opportunity to find and share online resources, learn and use cutting edge online tools, and discuss how to put them to use in the classroom. (We’re not a virtual school district, despite the name. We’re a team of Oregon educators who support Oregon districts in their hybrid or virtual classrooms.)
We offer the following tools and content to all Oregon public school districts:
- Moodle Learning Management System hosting
- Florida Virtual Schools digital content
- National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) content
- CK-12 Flexbooks
- WordPress content management hosting
- Google Apps for Education administration
The tools are just part of the offering. We have a team of experienced, dynamic trainers who provide training and support in every corner of our state.
We look forward to supporting your district in the transition to digital curriculum and classrooms. We welcome you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your professional development needs.
Two weeks ago, while working on my computer at school, I received the haunting “blue screen of death”. While this might send many people into a frenzy of stress, while contemplating what might be potentially lost from their machine, I was worried about not having a computer to project the visual elements for my classes onto the screen for the day, week, or until my computer could be fixed or replaced. The reason that I wasn’t panicking over the imminent demise of my computer is because I have all of my teaching materials stored in my Google Drive. Google Drive stores your documents in a cloud. All of the documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and drawings that you create or upload into your Google Drive are stored online in the cloud. Therefore, I wasn’t stressing about losing my documents, because they are safely stored.
Before Google Drive, I had been a victim to lost documents because of computer crashes or thumb drives or external hard drives that failed to be infallible. We all know that we need to back up our documents that are saved to our computer’s hard drive, but in the rush of our everyday lives, we forget to or don’t back up our work. With Google Drive, you don’t have to worry about backing up your documents because they are stored in the cloud.
In addition to the safe storing features of Google Drive, the organization of documents is user friendly. All of the folders that you create are found on the left side and when you click on a folder, its contents populates so you can see what you have placed in it. You can also change your view of how your drive presents your documents in your Google Drive. I prefer the list view, but some prefer the grid view so they can see thumbnails of the documents. You can also sort your documents by title, date of last modification, date of last edit by you, date last opened by you or by quota used. Also, you can “Star” your documents to easily find your most important or most used items. If you need to locate a document, but you can’t remember what folder you saved it in or its exact title, you can type in words that you think are in the title or used in the document in the search bar at the top of your drive and it will search all of your documents.
Another bonus feature of Google Drive is the ability to upload or download your documents. Sometimes I receive items from others as a word document and I just upload them into my Google Drive and have it set to convert to a Google Docs format. You can even upload folders from your computer into your Google Drive. If you need to download your documents, you have a variety of options: Microsoft Word; Open Document Format; Rich Text Format; Portable Document Format; and others. You can download your presentations into PowerPoint and your spreadsheets as Excel Sheets.
While the organization of your documents is pretty straight forward, the fact that all of your documents are saved in the cloud is comforting. You can also download your Google Drive to your computer’s desktop to work on items when you are not connected to the internet. For more information about setting up your Google Drive to your desktop, click on this link.
All in all, not only does Google Drive help me organize my documents, but it also lets me feel comfortable about safely storing my documents in the cloud. I can access all of my documents saved in my drive from any computer connected to the internet. This allows me to work on the same document from home or school and not have to save it to an external hard drive to get it from one place to another, or email myself the document as an attachment and then have to resave it over and over again from one computer to another. Finally, it allows me to work on the same document without worrying about having to have compatible computers. At school we have Dell computers and at home, I have a MacBook. Never has using two different brands of computers been an issue.
I received a brand new computer at school the other day and it was quick to set it up to my liking because I did not have to load all of my documents off of an external hard drive to my new computer’s hard drive. All of my documents were found after logging into my Google Drive. I hope you see the benefits that Google Drive has to offer! Don’t forget, ORVSD provides trainings on Google Apps and can help you with incorporating Google into your school and classroom. And, don’t forget- Klamath Basin Ed Tech Day will be held January 24 at Mazama High School in Klamath Falls. Hope to see you there!
Visioning for the future of education and technology is hard. We talk about getting ahead and then go back to our daily routine involving a lot of reactive approaches to technology. Then we wonder why it doesn’t feel like we’re making forward progress in teaching and learning. Our discussion on October 15 was about innovation in devices. Of course, the conversation always bleeds into how we shift teaching and learning and what needs we have in relation to hardware and apps. Here’s a quick summary.
As we modernize buildings and plan for future structures conversations ensue about equipping classrooms with the things teachers will need today and tomorrow.
Mobile Devices Apps and devices that reflect an image from a tablet are what everyone seems to be looking for. We are attempting to recommend multi-use devices like tablets through district 1:1 initiatives like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and bonds to supplement current technology. The tail shouldn’t be wagging the dog, though. Discussions about devices need to be lead by curriculum departments. Once instructional initiatives are determined, the right technology can be chosen.
|Thanks to sometoast for the photo.|
Furniture to Enhance Use of Devices Arms for holding tablets and stands that encourage them to be used as mobile document cameras are on the market. As a cognitive consumer, the prices are a bit difficult to swallow. I believe in research and development, but it’s difficult to justify such ridiculous markup. We expect prices to come down with a larger variety of stands up and coming. Keep an eye out for innovative solutions. It might be great to kick ideas around in our high school engineering classrooms. I bet they could build us something brilliant.
Mobile Device Management These solutions are advancing quickly. Prices and functionality run the gamut. If your networking and sys admin folks like to lock things down, these solutions can do that. Apps and different content filters have challenged thinking around the best ways to deliver quality content and waste the least amount of instructional time. The answer seems to be to open as many resources as possible and teach educators about how networks operate. Many of us don’t have context for these shared online spaces so we can’t teach kids about bandwidth and server space. Education is the key.
Peripherals Projectors, amplification systems, and other enhancing hardware may be a thing of the past when school becomes a student-centered place where kids come to collaborate with peers and get extra help. For now, these types of hardware should be used to scaffold learning as we shift teaching from stand-and-deliver to inquiry-based.
Digital Content Our curriculum departments, parent communities, and administrators are all thinking about the future of textbooks. Open resources are being used more broadly. Our group hopes the conversations around curating and aggregating resources to be used by students leads to students collaboratively creating their own resources. Assessment isn’t in the final product, but in the process for learning new content through production. As we adopt new devices, the future of content needs to be noted. Again, the tail shouldn’t wag the curricular dog. Teaching and learning as a new process needs to be recognized.
from Blogger http://www.northwestedtech.org/2013/10/fancy-gadgets-cool-and-useful-or-just.html
October 21-25, 2013 is Digital Citizenship Week. However, the skills involved in digital citizenship are embedded in 21st century life; these skills and knowledge cannot be learned in a one-time or once-a-year event. Digital citizenship is part of the process of learning to live, learn, and work in the global community, so these skills need to be embedded into students’ everyday lives, both at home and at school.
Edutopia and Common Sense Media are two leaders in providing resources for teachers and schools to facilitate engaging and relevant lessons and projects that incorporate important concepts such as copyright, internet safety, cyberbullying, digital footprints, communication, collaboration, and media literacy.
Common Sense Media’s resources include comprehensive, age-appropriate curricula for pre-K through 12th grades, while Edutopia’s collection includes videos, lesson plans, and projects from which teachers can pick and choose to find the ones that best fit into their classroom activities. Both sites also have materials for parents, families, and community members as well.
Be sure to join in the celebration of Digital Citizenship Week, and check out the various resources on both of these sites to find the perfect fit for your student’s needs!
Talk to just about any educator these days, no matter what part of the country or world they’re teaching in, and they’re all asking pretty much the same questions: how do I communicate more easily with parents? How do I keep absent students caught up in class? How do I teach my students to take more responsibility for their education? And how do I just make my job just a little bit easier? One of the most common answers you’ll hear to these questions is “create a class website!”
Yes, having a web-presence allows you to deal with all of the above questions, and more. But then another question arises: how do I create a website? Should I just create a blog or wiki? What service or platform should I use? Help!!!
Never fear, Google Sites is here! If your district has adopted Google Apps for Education, or even if you’re just using your own personal Google account, you have access to a very powerful and integrated platform for creating your website.
So with all of the other products out there, many of them free, why use Google Sites? A few reasons immediately come to mind:
- Integration with Google Apps, including Drive, docs and calendars – and YouTube, too!
- Student-created sites
- Huge community of users to reach out to for support
Let’s take a look at each of the above, starting with integration. Having a site that integrates with your full Google suite means that you can connect your site to any document in your Google Drive, and that you can include a class calendar as well. Not to mention the ability to embed YouTube videos in a click or two. And since any changes you make to any of your documents are automatically reflected in the site, it creates less work overall.
Next up. templates and themes. These are closely related, so I’ll address them together. When you create your site, you choose a template for it. You can start with a blank one, which allows for complete control over the customization. Or you can choose from pre-made templates, many of which come loaded with useful features for the classroom. Google Sites has dozens of templates in the gallery that have been designed by teachers, and they are yours to use as you choose. Once your template is selected, you can choose your theme. Themes allow you to tweak the design of your site to your heart’s content, adding and adjusting your own color, font and other formatting choices to really dial in a specific look and feel.
Been thinking about having your students create their own websites or blogs? Maybe you’d like to have them create a site to serve as their own electronic portfolio? If your students are already using Google Drive to create and share documents, this one is a natural progression. With a little bit of knowledge, your students can create their own web presence that will not only allow them to publish work from any class, but that can be shared with parents, the school and community – and has the potential to help them when it comes time to apply for colleges and careers. How cool is that?
And finally, there’s the vast community that’s out there already using Google Apps who are willing to share their knowledge. A quick search will bring up literally millions of hits (which presents a great topic for another blog…how to search more efficiently!), so if there’s anything you need help with, just Google it! Of course, the ORVSD training site and team of talented trainers is here to help, too. Let us know if there’s anything we can help you with, and hope to see you at the Google Apps Summit next week!
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the volume of apps and educational media you encounter daily? Check out Graphite.org, a free website created by Common Sense Media that provides reviews and ratings of apps, games, websites, and digital curricula. Created and curated by a team of professional educators, Graphite.org also blends the field notes contributed by teacher-users to provide practical insights to using each digital resource in a classroom. Site visitors can search by type (apps, games, websites), content area (language arts, math, science, and more), grade level, and price (free, free to try, paid). Additionally, it’s connected to the Common Sense Media website, that has a multitude of free resources for digital literacy as well as book and movie reviews. Give Graphite.org a try! It is sure to become one of your most-visited sites!
Have you ever spilled coffee, tea, or something sticky on your desk calendar? Or are you an over planner like I am? Or even, have you ever had an unexpected event occur like an emergency drill that completely messes up your plan for the day? So, how do I constantly move the lessons that I never get to during the day on my calendar or maintain a readable calendar? Actually, I don’t have a paper calendar. With Google Calendars I don’t need a paper calendar at all (unless I want one for decoration).
Google Calendar offers many benefits. I love the drag and drop feature for items I’ve placed on the calendar. Run out of time for an activity? Drag it to the next day. Have something that you do every other day? Set it to repeat on those days. I can even set reminders to alert me for deadlines and appointments. Can your paper calendar do all of these things?
My favorite aspect of Google Calendar is that I can share it publicly. I publish my calendar on my classroom webpage so students, parents/guardians or anyone can see what we are doing in my class. I can even add descriptions to the agenda items if need be and even add attachments. It’s like a dream.
My PLC and I collaborate on course calendars. The calendar I have linked above is actually a shared calendar between my colleague and me. With our new proficiency curriculum, we are teaching the same curriculum at the same pace. If we don’t get to something today, she or I can move it to the next day. Both of us have access to edit, delete or add events. This saves both of us trips to each other’s classrooms, many copies of paper, and pencils. Really- who wants a calendar that looks like an eraser has eaten multiple holes in it or that looks like a bottle of white out has been spilled on it?
Oh, can your paper calendar magically morph into day view, weekly view, monthly view, or agenda view? I didn’t think so. Google Calendar has many viewing settings so you can tailor it to what suits your fancy. I prefer monthly view because that is how I plan. If I were to teach at the elementary level, I would probably use day view so I can see what activities and lessons are planned at specific times.
It is easy to add other calendars to yours and switch back and forth between calendars or even view multiple calendars at a time. As I said, this is like a dream, but I assure you, it is reality! To see all of the benefits that Google Calendar has to offer for you, check out our trainings and resources. We want to help make your life as a teacher easier! Hope to see you in October at our Google Summit at Westview High School in Beaverton.
The Google Summit is a **free** event taking place on Oregon’s Statewide Inservice Day. This year, the Google Summit will be at Thurston Elementary in Springfield, Oregon from 8:00am-4:30pm on October 14. This is a call for both presenters and participants. Please sign up with the following form: http://goo.gl/dwZ8o
Visit http://googlesummit.org for relevant information. Sessions are meant to be informational and include hands-on practice or question time for participants.
“We must reimagine middle school science and math not as a way to prepare students for high school, but as a place where students are inventors, scientists, and mathematicians today.”Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, Classroom Tinkers & Inventors
Are you interested in promoting STE(A)M learning, student engagement, and creativity in your class and school? If you missed Google’s 2013 Maker Camp this summer, you can still check out the videos and projects and resources at makercamp.com
Spiders, snakes, and heights might be something you fear, but technology should never be included in your list of nightmarish items. This is where ORVSD (Oregon Virtual School District) comes into play. We are a group of educators providing free technology training for teachers. With a focus on the Google Apps in Education platform, Moodle, WordPress, and Drupal, we can help you integrate meaningful technology into your classroom. There is a great emphasis on technology integration in the CCSS; therefore, teachers are needing to increase their knowledge and use of technology in the classroom. These platforms meet the CCSS expectations and provide many beneficial features.
As an English teacher, one of my favorite features of the Google Apps is Google Docs. Google Docs embraces collaboration. In Google Docs I can create curriculum, share it with my PLC, post viewable documents online for my students to access and even grade and leave comments in documents to help my students with their writing (YouTube Tutorial). My colleagues and I have recreated our curriculum maps using Google Spreadsheets because each of us have editing rights to the doc because of the sharing features in Google. Every time something is edited in the shared doc, we all automatically receive an updated version of the document. Gone are the days of emailing attached word documents to multiple people, receiving multiple edited versions of the document and trying to copy and paste all of the revisions into the original document. Now we can all work in the same doc at the same time! Most importantly, goodbye worrying about unexpected computer crashes and shut offs that result in lost documents. Google makes it easy for you to collaborate.
Another of my favorite features in Google Docs is the ability to leave comments. My students peer edit their essays using Google Docs by sharing their document with their peer editor. They are able leave constructive criticism and recommendations by highlighting and commenting on the text. This not only helps communication in the classroom, but saves a tremendous amount of paper. Also, students can access their document from any computer that is connected to the Internet. I used to hear the, ‘I forgot my thumb drive and it has my essay on it” or “I can’t find my document” excuse consistently. Not anymore thanks to Google.
There are many benefits to Google Apps in Education and I have barely begun to break the surface of them. I invite you to check out the great features that Google can offer to you and your students. Have no fear, you too can easily become a master of Google Apps through attending ORVSD trainings like the Google Summit in October at Westview High School, ORVSD webinars and other ORVSD sponsored trainings like Klamath Basin Ed Tech Day. Check out our website and see what have to offer to help you in the integration of technology into your classroom. I promise- we won’t bite!