Ask the Schoology Ambassadors: What are You Looking Forward to in 2017?
It’s hard to believe we are already at the end of February—it feels like the year only just started! As we move further into 2017 we asked our Schoology Ambassadors to reflect on the successes and learning opportunities (not failures) that they experienced in 2016 and what they’re looking forward to in 2017.
Here are some highlights from what they shared:
Hope Elliott | @techie_teacher1
Instructional Technology Coach, Lowndes County School District, MS
One of our major successes has been Schoology in the lower elementary grades. In fact now some of our lower elementary teachers are quickly becoming Schoology Rock Stars!
To understand how Schoology can be useful, we had to spend a good bit of time with some of our grades K-3 teachers. We needed to know who had tried it, what worked, what didn’t and what did they want? The teachers in our district have impressed me.
How exactly do we use the platform? We are an Apple district so we are now wearing out “shift command 4” which basically can snag any image. This has been HUGE for helping teachers create tests. We now have opened up a brand new world. Flash card tests, those are a thing of the past—thank you true/false :).
Using the "Insert Content" feature, we drop images we have created, found, or already had right on in. This opened up a whole new world of testing for letters, numbers, graphic organizers, image rhyming, the list goes on. Before we knew it, we had groups of teachers working together to create tests and sharing with each other. I cannot wait to see where we go.
Cathie Gillner | @cgillni
Mobile Device Teacher, Fox Chapel Area School District, PA
Have you ever asked your students how they feel about the design of your course?
I recently attended a two-day training at the LUMA Institute in Pittsburgh, PA. LUMA trains people in creative problem solving techniques using empathy for the actual user of the product. During the training I realized I never took my students thoughts and needs into consideration for the creation of my course.
I walked my students in a ROSE | BUD | THORN exercise where they wrote on post-it notes:
- parts of my course design they liked (Roses—red post-it notes)
- parts of the course they saw promising (Buds—green post-it notes)
- and parts of the course they found confusing (Thorns—blue post-it notes)
We then spent time clustering their feedback, and this feedback allowed me to redesign my current course to meet my students needs.
Elizabeth Box | @bdubbox
Instructional Technology Coach, Okeechobee High School, FL
I have learned that not everyone is as gung-ho as I am! I've been isolated in my classroom for so long that it became easy for me to think that everyone wanted to see the same edtech transformations that I wanted to see.
Now that I'm in a coaching position it's been eye opening to see edtech through the eyes of teachers with very different philosophies from mine. A lot of work needs to be done to help teachers understand the transformative power of using edtech effectively. I am doing my best to model these concepts for as many teachers as possible and provide them with a sounding board when they are ready to try something new.
Jill Rice | @jill_riceits
Instructional Technology Specialist, LSR7 Schools, MO
The LSR7 School District did a soft rollout of Schoology this year, meaning it was an option for all 1200 staff members. Students in our district have Chromebooks 24/7, and many teachers were excited to hear more about how this new tool could engage their students and impact learning in their classrooms.
The ITS department offered several opportunities in the Summer and Fall for staff to come and hear more about this new tool, Schoology, (mispronounced by most in the beginning) :-). Teachers quickly discovered that Schoology could be a digital hub for their classroom. It has been so exciting to help teachers discover the plethora of ways that Schoology can engage students, provide valuable formative and summative assessment data tied to learning targets, personalize learning, encourage ongoing collaboration via discussions and assignment feedback, tie pictures and videos to curricular goals via media albums, and easily share the awesome resources they create by joining Schoology Groups … the list could go on.
I believe that much of the success our teachers are experiencing with Schoology is due to the choice to jump on board when they are ready. The Schoology boat is getting full as word spreads and more teachers make the jump every day.
Jeanie Smith | @dramagal614
Tech TOSA/IT Instructor. Palo Alto Unified School District, CA
At our middle school of 1,200 students we are moving to a 100% saturation model This year we went 1:1 Chromebooks with our 7th grade, which also freed up our other tech resources for 8th grade. 6th grade teams already have a cart of Chromebooks per team.
The idea is to enable teachers to make better/more integrated use of our two content platforms, Schoology and Google Suite. This also spawned a whole new push for more staff training, especially in Schoology—so, again, I am learning new aspects of using Schoology as I train other staff in using it.
I continue to be impressed with the flexibility and responsiveness of Schoology as a content delivery and collaboration platform. As I show teachers what they can do with it, light bulbs go off and discussions of how to update their curriculum are exciting and energizing.
Finally, we are also encouraging teachers to use Schoology's Gradebook and enjoy seeing that more and more. In 2017, I hope to be able to brag about the percentage of staff using Schoology for both content delivery and grading.
Director of Online Learning, Hebrew College, MA
“These two work together like peanut butter and tuna fish go together!”
Project Based Learning is an authentic method of students learning, not only content, but valuable skill sets, including the art of group work. As a science teacher, I would teach (or attempt to) what makes an effective group collaborate. Students maneuvered through the path of group work successfully for the most part (there were always individuals who wouldn’t get with the program).
When I jumped into higher ed 4 years ago, I made the assumption (and you know what assuming does) that graduate students training to become special education teachers would already have the group work skill set under their belts.
Yeah… call me “Donkey.”
This year, my goal as an educator is to focus on teaching the art of group work which takes place online and asynchronously. I know that communication is key. I plan to use Covey’s “Seek First to Understand then be Understood” text along with some reflective activities.
How do you teach the art of group work? What works for you?
Stephen Rao | @sterao8
Computer Teacher, Ramtown Elementary School, NJ
My education technology goal for 2017 is to share with my colleagues how they can use Game Theory to organize course materials in Schoology to increase classroom efficiency. Creating modules for units allows students to compete against one another as they battle to unlock a badge.
When students are working through these modules, teachers can better facilitate the classroom by reaching the students that need the most help. Students that are exceeding expectations can unlock hidden challenges within the modules by having teachers individually assign additional "Knowledge Challenges".
Another goal within my school is to successfully run a school information group on Schoology. The front office can post all important dates on the calendar. This will allow teachers to stay up to date as they view the upcoming events on the right hand side of Schoology when they log in.
The group will also allow teachers to share resources and pictures of their successes in school. Integrating STEM into their curriculum, for example, allows teachers to show off their awesome STEM design challenges in the media albums of the group.
About The "Ask the Ambassadors" Series
Schoology Ambassadors are passionate, engaged, and knowledgeable leaders who are the voice of our community. In the Ask the Schoology Ambassadors blog series, we pose a question to the group that appeals to their collective expertise.