Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#PDChallenge Milestone


This month, on May 18th to be exact, our #PDChallenge hit a milestone! Our 1000th challenge submission was completed and entered by a teacher at Ray Childers Elementary School. We took this opportunity to surprise Ms. Caron Weidner and her students, in true "Publisher's Clearing House Fashion"! With balloons, flowers, a nice VR Viewmaster, and a huge 1000th PDChallenge Badge we paraded into her room and showered Ms. Weidner with prizes. Needless to say, she was shocked.  We had not advertised that we would be honoring the 1000th submission with such glory.  So why did we do it?

The #PDChallenge, from it's humble beginnings started out as a simple idea that my teammate and I organized and put out in the BCPS Universe.  Though it was slow to take hold, the #PDChallenge took on a life of it's own, and shortly after the new year we had nearly 500 challenge submissions. Not only did this mean that by the end of January we had delivered nearly 500 badges, it also meant that teachers had explored new and different options for using digital resources with their students nearly 500 times! Who knew that offering optional Professional Development would be such a hit??? Now that we are closing out a school year and finalizing our first year of #PDChallenge Submissions we have reached 1038 submissions, issued 1038 badges, and impacted more than one third of the classrooms in Burke County. We are working on a #PDChallenge 2.0 to roll out in the fall. Recognizing teacher leaders, teacher who take initiative to learn new things and grow in new ways, and offering relevant PD that can be completed at a convenient time is what the #PDChallenge is all about.  

To learn more about the BCPS #PDChallenge see my previous blog post #PDChallenge: An Overview or visit our #PDChallenge Website. If you are using a Badging or Micro-credentialing System in your schools, we would love to hear from you to see how you are impacting teachers and students!

Kristin Edwards

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Understanding Copyright and Fair Use

Did you know that when you write or record original thoughts or images in a fixed format your work is protected under the US Copyright Act?  That's right, the work does not have to be published to be considered protected by copyright.  It is important to understand and respect the rights that one has to his or her own original works, and simply attributing a work does not always qualify as copyright permission.  

So...What does this mean for teachers and students?  How can I ensure that I give credit where credit is due, and receive credit for my own original works?

First, let's take a look at Fair Use.

Fair Use allows anyone to use copyrighted works or portions of copyrighted works for commentary, parody, news reporting, scholarly research or educational purposes. 

Here are a few instances in education that would be considered "FAIR USE":
  • using a copyrighted motion picture for instructional purposes (no admission can be charged)
  • single classroom use of copyrighted material for instructional purposes
  • use of music in the background of an instructional classroom presentation as long as the presentation is not published on the web 
  • transforming copyrighted material into a pedagogical tool
  • use of illustrative example excerpts from a book; not the entire work
When considering fair use the US Government Copyright Law evaluates these four factors when considering Fair Use:
  1. Purpose & Character of the Use
    • Does the use provide business benefit or financial gain?
  2.  Nature of the copyrighted work
    • Purely factual works are more likely to be considered fair use than creative works.
  3. Amount & Substantiality
    • How much of the work will be used?
  4. Effect on the market
    • Will use cause economic loss to the copyright holder?
If you buy a copyrighted work such as a book, movie, or music you can lend, resale, or dispose of the copyrighted work, however, you cannot reproduce or perform the work. Copyrighted works that are found and accessible on a public domain such as a Google Search are not considered fair use and proper permissions must be attained before using the material.

Rule of thumb:  When in doubt, ask permission!!

Creative Commons licensing is the next thing we will consider.

Creative Commons works alongside the given copyright of a work to allow for easy sharing and use of copyrighted material.  Check out this video, provided by CC, to gain a better understanding of what Creative Commons is and can offer.  I can share this video even though I am not the creator because the CC License says that I can share and adapt this work as long as I give proper attribution.  

Using a Creative Commons license on your original works is easy as well.  Visit the Creative Commons Choose a License site, fill in your information and choose how you would like others to use your material.  The site provides an embed code for websites and an image of the license terms to add to your work.

 CC License This CC license means you can share and adapt under the following terms; you give appropriate attribution, indicate if changes were made, use is non-commercial, and share alike (the user shares what he or she makes from this work). 

Google Image Search allows you to search for CC licenses.  When searching simply click images, search tools, usage rights to choose the type of license you are looking for.  If you choose an image that is not filtered by license it is best to ask permission before using.  

Other usage rights include:
  • Labeled for reuse with modification
  • Labeled for reuse
  • Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification
  • Labeled for noncommercial reuse
Flickr Creative Commons is another resource to use when searching for images by CC licenses.

Cat by Moyan_Brenn (2011) https://www.flickr.com/photos/28145073@N08/6672148315/
Photos for Class, created by the creators of Storyboard That, is a great resource for teachers and is safe for students. The Photos for Class site works with Flickr and the CC license.  When an image is downloaded, proper citation and attribution is downloaded as well.  This is great for teaching students about copyright and ownership!

This fluffy kitty with proper attribution is an example of what you can find on Photos for Class when you keyword search "cat".  Isn't it cute!

If you are thinking that this is all too much and you will never remember it all, here is a quick infographic that I created using a combo of Canva and Google Drawings to help me process all of this important information, and here is a link to a short video created by the Copyright Clearance Center that is helpful, too!  

Remember, when in doubt ask permission!  

CC Video License - No changes were made 

Kristin Edwards

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Engaging? Critical Thinking? Problem Solving? Persevering? Collaborating? 

#BreakoutEDU has quickly become a hit in our district, and it employs each of the skills listed above.  

I was first introduced to #BreakoutEDU via Twitter while exploring different up and coming educational resources. Our ITF team began discussing this as something we may want to try, and Donna Wells, one of my AWESOME teammates explained how #BreakoutEDU had a Facebook Group, and she had been silently following them and exploring for a while.  Donna was given the go ahead to purchase a kit and do some hands on exploration of her own.  Classrooms and students across Burke County have been "Breaking Out" ever since!! 

With #BreakoutEDU students have 45 minutes to work collaboratively solving clues and puzzles in order to break codes and open a locked box.  There is nothing amazing inside the boxes, just a few signs that say "WE BROKE OUT", "WE SOLVED IT", "WE ARE PROBLEM SOLVERS". The amazing thing is the level of thinking that takes place in order to reach the common goal.  

Through #BreakoutEDU I have watched students struggle and work through frustration, but at the same time I have watched them not know how to think critically, apply prior knowledge, and I have watched them give up when at first they did not succeed. After each #BreakoutEDU experience I ask myself if we are truly teaching kids to be thinkers and doers or are we programing them to be robots with a set answer and a scripted way to accomplish something?  

If we truly want our students to pursue knowledge we not only have to teach them content, but more importantly we have to teach them how to learn, teach them how to question, and teach them how to embrace failure as a means for learning and moving forward.   #BreakoutEDU is not "the end all be all" definition of persistence and the pursuit of knowledge, but it is definitely an engaging way to start. 

Now, the set up, I am not going to lie, is quite cumbersome the first time, but to see the struggle during the activity is worth it!! I am looking forward to working with a team of teachers to create their very own #BreakoutEDU game.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

#PDChallenge: An Overview

Just a little over a year ago, while looking through all of our findings from the NCTIES15 conference, my ITF teammates and I came across a real gem; a link to a presentation called "What's your APPtitude?". The presentation highlighted a Professional Development that was offered to two different schools.  It was from here that the idea of the #PDChallenge began to emerge!  

So, what exactly is the #PDChallenge?  

The #PDChallenge is district wide badging style of Professional Development that is self-paced and self-directed. This PD resource allows educators ranging from Kindergarten to Administration the opportunity to explore various digital resources within the environment they choose. Check out our BCPS #PDChallenge Website to gain a greater insight into the BCPS #PDChallenge.

Our #PDChallenge is currently set up into two different "challenges".  Teachers are encouraged, but not required to participate in either the iPad Challenges or the MacBook/Website Challenges .  After completion of their first Challenge, teachers submit feedback through a Google Form and provide a sample of their work in a "Brag Box".  The ITF at their school will then issue the teacher three things:

The I'm Participating in the BCPS #PDChallenge Poster.
The iPad or MacBook Template for Badges.

And the the very first Badge to place on their template!! 

The "I'm Participating Poster" and Badge Template are generally placed outside of a teacher's door. This lets everyone know that they are participating, they are learning, and they are growing as an educator!  For each submission after, teachers receive badges to place on their templates.  Each completed challenge is worth .1 CEU.  A teacher may choose to complete only one challenge this school year, or they may choose to complete them all.  It is completely up to the teacher!  

Completed Template

If teachers are expected to personalize learning for students, shouldn't a teacher's professional learning be personalized as well?  Personalizing PD allows for the opportunity to explore areas of interest at a convenient time, at a comfortable pace, and allows the opportunity to model being a life long learner for students. Participation from teachers in the #PDChallenge within our district has grown over the course of this school year.  We have administrators, administrative assistance and counselors participating, proving that it is not just beneficial for teachers!  The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive, but just like with anything it is important to be reflective of feedback and suggestions.  Many teachers have given feedback asking if certain things can be a part of the Challenge.  This pushed us to begin thinking about a #PDChallenge 2.0 that will be rolled out in the Fall of 2016 with the start of the new school year.  #PDChallenge 2.0 will add a few beginning level challenges, but will mainly focus on depth of knowledge and content rich digital integration.  

Why consider the #PDChallenge or a similar style Professional Development?

This style of PD is an effective way to recognize teacher leaders, build teacher capacity, utilize available resources, and evaluate authentic feedback from teachers.  The challenge has helped our district provide a resource bank for each of our challenges where teachers can visit to find ideas to take back and use in their classes.  

The #PDChallenge has allowed me, as an ITF, the opportunity to get into more classrooms. It has teachers asking questions and eager for assistance in their classes! 

One of the most beneficial considerations for this style of PD is the teacher interaction with the tech begins at the personal level.  Our department has a saying when it comes to digital integration; personal use leads to professional use, professional use leads to classroom use, and classroom use is what impacts the most important part, the student.  

I am excited to see the impact of the #PDChallenge and to see where 2.0 takes us!   Check out our #PDChallenge on Twitter to see what is happening in our classrooms. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Importance of Team

Throughout my 11 year teaching career I have had the privilege of being a part of some amazing teams of teachers.  Without doubt, I can say that I was able to grow into a successful teacher because of the team minded individuals that I worked with, and I use the term individuals carefully.  Now as an Instructional Technology Facilitator I am a part of an excellent team as well.

So what is a "team" and what is the importance of this so called "team" in education?

In any team sport individuals bring their talents and expertise to the table, each having something valuable to add.  Without the particular expertise of the individual, the group as a whole could not collectively function to achieve the goal.  In other words, a football team could not function with a team full of quarterbacks, and a basketball team could not function with a team full of point guards.  Each person on the team adds something valuable and brings a unique skill set to the field or court.  It is up to the individual to sharpen their skills and utilize them in the way that best supports and builds up the team.

This is the same in education.  Each person in a grade level, each grade level in a school, each school in a district, and each department of that district act as a smaller part of a larger team.  Each individual holds a different skill set and expertise to bring to the table.  Building a team minded atmosphere in a school builds capacity among teachers.  Where one may fall short, another member of the team is there to build them up or support them.  Teammates should never be in competition with one another, instead they are working together to achieve the same goal. In education, that main goal is bringing each individual student to the brightest possible future and to reach their fullest potential.

As an ITF, I too, am a part of this team.  I hold a different skill set, but still rely on the expertise of classroom teachers, other coaches and administrators.  It is important to recognize and celebrate the differences and individual talents, and at the same time bring individuals and their talents together.   When it comes to the effective integration and utilization of digital resources in the classroom it is important to share what has worked and what has not.  Growing together with the ever changing resources is pivotal to the success of our students.

Think of something you are amazing at.....now think how amazing that would be when teamed with the amazing talents of those around you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Personal, Professional, Classroom, Student

I have adopted the philosophy and shared vision of my Digital Teaching and Learning Team that the things we learn personally impact our professional lives.  As educators, our professional lives impact our classrooms and our classroom environment and culture, most importantly, impacts our students.

This philosophy is being shared and carried out through the learning that is taking place with our #PDChallenge, a professional development resource designed for teachers to explore digital resources at their own pace.

While working with teachers to implement the "Challenges" into their classrooms I am often asked of teachers if they have used the challenge in the "right" way.  My response is always that the #PDChallenge is designed for them to gain the most learning through using the resources personally.  I then share our vision of Personal > Professional > Classroom > Student.

In order for digital learning to be implemented seamlessly we first have to make its use personal.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Twitter?

Twitter has been around for a while now and has become increasingly popular among educators.  So, Why Twitter?  For myself, I see Twitter as an opportunity. . .

An opportunity to Share Your Story:
Twitter gives teachers and others in education the opportunity to share the story of their classrooms, and the major accomplishments their students achieve each day.  It gives them a chance to show the world their dedication to improving the communities in which they serve.  I have the privilege of serving three schools in my district, and Twitter gives me the opportunity to share with others inside and out of our district, the creative learning that is taking place in the classrooms.  There are so many negative stories in the media about teachers and public schools, but spending five minutes on Twitter will give you a new perspective.  Through Twitter you see educators that are not only dedicated to student learning, but to their own professional learning as well.  In our district we recently rolled out a Professional Development called the PDChallenge.  Through Twitter we have been able to follow the "Challenges" teachers are completing and encourage them.  Take the Twitter Challenge for the opportunity to share your story!

An opportunity for Personal Learning and Growth:

Twitter is not just about showing off what is happening in your classroom, it is also about learning from the stories and resources that other people share.  You immediately grow your PLN by joining Twitter.  Need an idea or resources?  Just Tweet out and allow your followers to respond and share. Your Twitter Feed is tailored to fit your needs and interests because you choose who you want to follow.  Kasey Bell (@ShakeUpLearning) and Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler) are just two people I follow who offer great classroom resources and ideas.  Take the opportunity to learn with others through Twitter!

An opportunity to Follow Educational Leaders:
There are numerous Educational Leaders who utilize Twitter to share their stories and initiate educational change.  You can tap into their motivation, ideas and leadership by following them.   George Couros (@gcouros), Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd), and TeachThought (@teachthought) are a few Ed Leaders I follow, but there are many more!  Use Twitter for the opportunity to follow Ed Leaders or share how you are a leader yourself!

An opportunity for making Global Connections:
Twitter offers the opportunity to learn with other educators and classrooms around the Globe. This past year I had the opportunity to participate in The Global Read Aloud with one of the classes I work with.  Twitter allowed us to follow an ongoing conversation and discussion about the book we were reading with classrooms across the globe. With Twitter you are no longer confined to a conference venue for learning, and you do not have to miss out on something amazing just because it is not located near you.  Simply make the connections and follow the conversation!

An opportunity for #TwitterChats:
Twitter Chats are another opportunity afforded to Twitter users.  A Twitter Chat is a global conversation that happens at a scheduled time to discuss a pre-determined topic.  A specified hashtag is used to allow Tweets to be filtered.  For instance, every Tuesday at 7:00 pm EST, there is a chat for all educators that uses #edchat as the hashtag.  There are numerous Educational Twitter Chats that happen every day.  Click here to find a schedule of educational chats happening.  Many chats meet at the same times each week or every other week.  It is a place you can go to discuss topics relevant to your curriculum or interest areas.  You can simply follow the feed or throw out your own ideas by Tweeting using the hashtag assigned to that conversation.  Take advantage of the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with other educators.