March 2014

March Edition at a GlanceLambLion

  1. Find out how members of Team BCPS are sharing their experiences, celebrating accomplishments, and advancing the EdTech industry in this month’s Inside BCPS.
  2. Getting to Know features the Department of Digital Learning’s Assistive Technology Team.
  3. This month’s Tips, Tricks, and Tools includes Follett eBooks, weeding libraries, Windows and Office tips, and the power of digital storytelling.
  4. Plus, a look at how technology is changing classrooms and libraries, professional learning resources for tech coaches, and an update on “Net Neutrality.”

Inside BCPS

Team BCPS Shares Best Practices at Upcoming Conferences:

Are you attending an EdTech conference this year?  If so, you may want to hear what your BCPS colleagues are sharing.  Below is a partial list of sessions that will be presented by BCPS members at Common Ground 2014 in Ocean City, Maryland and ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  If you have been selected to present at either conference and your information is not listed below, please email to be included in the next DDL Digest edition.

Common Ground (DRAFT; agenda not finalized.  Only concurrent sessions listed.):

  • Thursday, May 1:
    • Engineered for Learning – WeDo Robotics, 9—10 a.m., Kathy Benson
    • Leadership 3.0: Managing Change and Innovation for 21st Century Schools, 10:30—11:30 a.m., Stefani Pautz, Jeanne Imbriale
    • Financial Literacy through a Classroom Community, 10:30—11:30 a.m., Florence Falatko, Dana Novotny
    • Elementary Engineers: Bridges, Structures & Designs, 2:15—3:15 p.m., Amanda Snyder, Melissa Daniels
    • Voracious Vocabulary: Apps that Attack Words, 3:30—4:30 p.m., Joquetta Johnson
    • Ace the Standards of Mathematical Practice in Math, 3:30—4:30 p.m., Kathleen Cave
  • Friday, May 2
    • Going 1 to 1: Selecting the Digital Device, 9—10 a.m., Benjamin Wagner, Michael Fort
    • Lego Learning, 10:30—11:30 a.m., John Maple, Melissa Daniels
    • Personalized Learning Approaches to Professional Learning, 10:30—11:30 a.m., Jeanne Imbriale, Craig Reed, Sean McComb
    • Right Here, Right Now: PD on Demand, 2:30—3:30 p.m., Christine Roberts, Maggie Toolin
    • Co-Teaching/Differentiation for ELL/Special Education Classrooms, 2:30—3:30 p.m., David Stovenour, Nancy Yetter
    • Tips of the Trade from Teachers of the Year, 3:30—4:30 p.m., Darla Strouse, Sean McComb


  • Voracious Vocabulary: Apps that Attack Words (Poster) Sunday, June 29, 2—4 p.m., Joquetta Johnson: Discover web and mobile learning apps that can transform teaching and learning vocabulary into engaging, enjoyable, meaningful, and collaborative learning experiences.
  • Stop, Collaborate and Listen: Collaborative Writing using Google Drive (BYOD) Sunday, June 29, 8:30—9:30 a.m., Adam Carney, Robert Covert: Two of the cornerstones of the Common Core are writing and collaboration. Learn how to incorporate engaging collaborative writing assignments using Google’s software suite.

BCPS co-hosts first Baltimore EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit

“More than 200 Baltimore County Public Schools’ (BCPS) teachers and administrators attended the EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit at the Baltimore Four Seasons on Saturday, February 22. The summit brought together 30 leading entrepreneurial companies in the educational technology space with educators across the region.” Read More…

Excitement builds as S.T.A.T. takes the next step

“The EliteBook© – a combination laptop computer and tablet – will be distributed to all classroom teachers in BCPS by June 30, with children in Grades 1-3 at the Lighthouse Schools receiving their own device when school reopens in August 2014. Children won’t take the devices home at first, but that may happen eventually as S.T.A.T. expands to higher grades and more schools across BCPS.”  Read More…

Other Highlights:

Food for Thought

Although parents are the intended audience of this month’s Food for Thought article, the content is just as relevant and thought-provoking for educators.  What do you think about Internet safety policies that we have in place?

Parents, forget the online bogeyman: The Internet isn’t nearly as damaging to teenagers as Mom and Dad think

The Boston Globe · Danah Boyd · March 09, 2014:

“We are both afraid of and afraid for teenagers. We fear the trouble that they’ll get into and the people who will hurt them. This fear shapes our parenting, our educational structures, and our public policy. Old anxieties about public parks and malls have become modernized as the mere mention of teens’ engagement with technology prompts heart palpitations. Yet where does this fear get us? . . . Parents have every right to be afraid of horrifying outcomes, even those that are quite rare. I can’t blame them for wanting to do whatever it takes to protect their child from sexual victimization. But when we go to extremes to protect youth, we rarely consider the unintended consequences of isolating teens from all strangers.”  Read More…

Getting to Know: Assistive Technology

AssistiveTech The federal law (IDEA, 1997) provides the framework for Assistive technology devices and services.  Assistive technology is device and/or service that is determined by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team to be necessary to provide a student with educationally relevant and necessary access to a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in a least restrictive environment (LRE). Assistive technology services must be considered for any student receiving special education services.  The primary focus of the Department of Digital Learning’s Assistive Technology Services is to serve students having significant oral, written communication, and motor disabilities through classroom modifications and a range of technology assistance.  They also provide consultation, assessment, equipment, and training. Students must be eligible for an IEP or 504 plan to qualify for an assistive technology evaluation.
The Assistive Technology team is a group of women who enjoy being creative, with hobbies such as knitting, cooking, sewing and sharing book recommendations.  Pictured above, left to right:

  • Jenn Langenberg, Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Cathy Overtoom, Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Kama Dwyer, Acting Team Leader, Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Jan Kurtz, Occupational Therapist
  • Candy Richardson, Instructional Assistant
  • Heather Donatelli, Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Jeanne Noorisa, Special Educator
Favorite Books of the Trade:

  • Closing the Gap Solutions
  • The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools: Building or Improving Your District’s AT Team

Favorite Tools of the Trade:

  • Kurzweil 3000– This program provides support for students who are struggling with reading and writing.  It provides opportunity for text reading as well as a multitude of writing support features.
  • Boardmaker– This program has been used in Baltimore County schools for many years to create and print picture supported visual displays that support receptive and expressive communication needs and classroom organization.  New versions, such as Boardmaker Studio are interactive. Templates provided allow easy creation of activities that support curriculum.

Tips, Tricks, and Tools

Windows and Office Technology Tips

Looking to learn some quick and easy tricks to improve your day-to-day use of basic Windows and Office products?  Check out the Technology Tips posted on the Office of Organizational Development’s Support Staff page or the Self-Directed Professional Development resources on the Department of Digital Learning’s PD Wiki.

Follett eBooks

BCPS library media specialists have begun developing eBook collections for their school library collections. New eBooks will hit each school’s Follett Shelf in Destiny later this spring. Follett offers support resources for using these eBooks via Follett Shelf through Destiny. The portal features tutorials for using the current Follett Digital Reader, as well as an overview of the new Enlight reading environment which will soon be available to BCPS library patrons.

Weeding School Library Collections

Below are some timely readings and resources for school library media specialists about the essential, ongoing work of weeding their school library collections.

The Power of Digital Storytelling

What is Digital Storytelling?

Digital Storytelling is an engaging way for students to share their knowledge. Students digitally record audio along with their own illustrations or available photographs and images. This allows students to create an authentic product that they can share with their peers, and also serves as a performance-based assessment. Check out the examples below:

Tips for Getting Started with Digital Storytelling:

  • Carefully align the desired student product with the content standard you want to assess and design a rubric to guide the students.
  • There are many tools available, so carefully choose a tool that works for your students and for the content standard.
  • Provide opportunities for students to make choices. This personalization will increase engagement.

Tools for Digital Storytelling:

  • Pixie 3 combines illustration, text, and audio recording into a slideshow style presentation. It is a strong choice for digital storytelling in the elementary grades.
  • Windows Photo Story also combines text, audio, and images into a video format. If computer time is limited, students can create their illustrations by hand and take photos of their work to import into Photo Story.
  • Windows Live Movie Maker provides advanced editing, audio layering, and special effects to help students tell their stories.  Video content, from a science experiment for example, can be included as well as still images. This could be the way to go for secondary students looking to create high quality products.
  • VoiceThread gives students the ability to collaborate in the storytelling or provide feedback to their peers.  Images, videos, documents, and presentations can all be combined in a VoiceThread.
  • Have iPads? If you have iPads available in your building, there are many great free apps to support digital storytelling, including My Story, iMovie, Toontastic, and Book Creator.

Additional Resources and Examples:

In the Media

10 changes a school library must consider in the digital era

eSchool News · Meris Stansbury · March 3, 2014:

“School libraries have come a long way from card catalogs, thanks to surges in education technology. But besides re-categorizing, how can libraries support an increasingly digital education? According to experts, there are roughly 10 changes library administration should make to keep up with schools’ digital transition.”  Read More…

How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom

 · Carl Hooker · March 5, 2014:

“Between societal changes and technological breakthroughs, it’s become abundantly clear that the human brain is transforming the way it processes and learns information. While there are many discussions about whether or not this is good or bad for us as a society, it’s definitely a change. As educators, it’s our job to make sure that students (and adults) are learning. Part of that process isn’t only about making an engaging activity or lesson, but also realizing how the modern brain learns.”  Read More…

Other Highlights:

Folks to Follow

Twitter pinterest_logo_red blogbutton
Organizations on Twitter:

Technology Integration Pinterest Boards:

Library-centric Learning:

Upcoming Events:

  • Library of Congress Summer InstitutesLibrary Media Specialists and teachers are encouraged to apply for this five-day program for K-12 educators. Library of Congress education specialists facilitate sessions in which they model strategies for using primary sources to engage students, build critical-thinking skills, and construct knowledge. Participants then consider, discuss, and develop applications for their students, classrooms, and school libraries. The application deadline is March 24th.
  • April is School Library Month!  It is the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) celebration of school librarians and their programs. School librarians are encouraged to create activities to help their school and local community celebrate the essential role that strong school library programs play in a student’s educational career.  The 2014 theme is Lives change @ your library® and Jeff Kinney, New York Times bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, has been named the national spokesperson.

(check the Online Registration System for registration information and availability)

  • March 24: Application deadline for Library of Congress Summer Institutes
  • April 1—May 30: Online Teaching in Maryland, online with a mandatory face-to-face orientation to the course management system on April 1 from 4:30—6:30 p.m. @ Pulaski Park II Lab, 307
  • April 2: PAR Training: Protocol for Accommodations in Reading, 3—5 p.m. @ Kenwood Administrative Offices Lab
  • April 8:
    • Kurzweil 3000 Level 2, 3—5 p.m. @ Kenwood Administrative Offices Lab
    • Elementary Liaison Meeting, 4:30—6:30 p.m. @ Online
  • April 9: Secondary Liaison Meeting, 1—3 p.m. @ online


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