April 2014

April Edition at a Glance

  1. ShowersFind out how your school can celebrate School Library Month.
  2. Explore two new web sites designed to help you discover technology tools that can be used for teaching and learning.
  3. Get to know the DDL instructional technology and library resource teachers.
  4. View the results of the national Speak Up! survey.
  5. This month’s Folks to Follow is a super Twitter edition!


Inside BCPS

BCPS Spotlights School Library Month in April

The essential role of school libraries in the educational lives of BCPS students and staff will be spotlighted on the BCPS homepage throughout the month of April, featuring “snapshots” of some dynamic elementary, middle, and high school libraries and their programs.  Share what’s happening in your school library this month by tagging your tweets with @BCPSDDL and #SLM14.   Read More

Other Highlights:

Food for Thought

Periodically, we will feature an article that asks you to think about a topic more closely. Please feel free to share your insights in the comment section at the bottom of this newsletter.

How are eBooks Redefining Reading?

On April 2nd School Library Journal launched the first in a series of Redefine Reading newsletters designed to explore how eBooks are redefining reading in K–12 schools:  “In response to growing demand for digital content, educators are discovering ways to open a whole new chapter on the reading experience, providing greater access to books on electronic devices, and making reading interactive and social to support independent reading programs…”

BCPS school libraries have already begun building vibrant eBook collections accessible through each school’s Destiny online library catalog via a special platform called FollettShelf; these eBooks can be read on any device with an Internet browser using Follett’s Enlight eReader.  BCPS also provides students with 24/7 access to eBooks through several of our Digital Content subscriptions: TumbleBooks, TumbleBook Cloud, TumbleBook Cloud Jr., and the Gale Virtual Reference Library. For more information about eBooks available to students and teachers in your school, contact your school library media specialist!

Getting to Know: DDL Instructional Technology & Library Resource Teachers

Photo Apr 08, 12 43 18 PM

Kelly Ray


  • BS, English & Secondary Education, Towson University
  • Teacher, Grades 6-8 English Language Arts & Reading, Stemmers Run Middle School
  • MS, Instructional Technology/School Library Media, Towson University (BCPS School Library Media Cohort III)
  • Library Media Specialist & Technology Liaison, General John Stricker Middle School
  • Adjunct Faculty, Towson University (Instructional Technology Master’s Degree program/BCPS School Library Media Cohorts)

Family: Two handsome sons, Christopher (23) and Brandon (22)

Hobbies: Traveling, skiing, sewing, cable news junkie

Interests: College lacrosse, Pittsburgh Steelers, inquiry-based learning, adolescent/young adult literacy and literature, transliteracy

Unusual Fact: “Before I began my career in education, I was a corporate travel agent”

Recently Read: Managing Transitions by William Bridges
Spring Break Reading: Inferno by Dan Brown and Empowering Leadership by AASL

Favorite Tech Tool: “I frequently use PbWorks. It’s a really user-friendly tool for creating a wiki, a Web site that can also serve as a collaborative workspace learning community. Recently I’ve been using it to provide access to professional learning resources for library media specialists and teachers. I’ve also recommended it to our school library media specialists as a tool for creating a dynamic, participatory Virtual School Library.”

Ben Wagner


  •  BA Elementary Education, University of Maryland
  • Master’s Equivalency with more than 60 credits in elementary education, integration of technology, and school administration
  • Teacher, Grades 3-5, Sussex Elementary School and Mars Estates Elementary School
  • Team leader, Maryland Technology Academy

Family: Wife, Catherine; two daughters, Tiha (38) and Amanda (36)

Hobbies: Reading, traveling to and from Delaware, pursuing oenology on a limited budget, enjoying simple pleasures, buying and selling homes

Interests: Food, exercise (fortunate because of my first interest), quiet disagreement with peoples’ views and opinion on a wide range of topics

Unusual Facts:

  • “I once ran a telecommunications bulletin board for Maryland teachers and students called KIDTALK”
  • “I once crawled under Sussex elementary to run telephone wire from the library to my classroom to use my first high speed modem (1200 baud)”

Recently Read: World Class Learners by Yong Zhao; Teacher as Architect by Smith, Chavez, and Seaman

Currently Reading: Managing Transitions by William Bridges

Favorite Tech Tool: “Generally, [my favorite tool is] the best one to do the job at any given moment. However, one of my favorites is Photo Story 3, which is vastly underused by teachers and students for presentations. It makes it simple to create documentary style videos.”

Jennifer Weaver


  • BA, Art History, Studio Art, Art Education, Western Maryland College
  • MS, Technology for Educators, Johns Hopkins University
  • Art and Technology Teacher, Grades 6-8, Sudbrook Magnet Middle School
  • Technology Teacher, Tech Liaison, and Department Chair, Grades 6-8, Windsor Mill Middle School

Family: Husband, Rob; daughter Alexandra (3); two cats, Patty and Emma

Hobbies: Genealogy, drawing and painting, scrapbooking, miscellaneous crafts, up-cycling old computer parts, gardening, playing games

Interests: Maps, history, art, collecting stuff, and almost anything remotely geeky

Unusual Fact: “I find and collect four-leaf clovers.  My current collection has over 100 pressed and preserved clovers (some five-leaf ones, too!)”

Recently Read: The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name by Toby Lester

Currently Reading: Ye Gods! by Tom Holt

Favorite Tech Tool: “Evernote is a wonderful organization and note taking tool that I use almost every day.  In addition to capturing meeting notes, I use it to collect and organize information from my email, from the Internet, and from my iPad’s camera!  Evernote is not only helpful for my work, it’s an invaluable tool for my genealogy research.”

Tips, Tricks, and Tools

Common Core Explorer:

Common Sense Media has released Common Core Explorer, a new search tool that helps educators find evaluated digital learning resources that are aligned to Common Core State Standards. See this eClassroom News article for an overview.  Many of these resources are listed as “Free,” and some of our current BCPS digital content subscriptions and other BCPS-approved tools are included.

New DDL Resource Wiki (Coming Soon):

Visit the new DDL Resource Wiki for a toolbox index listing BCPS-approved digital resources and free Web 2.0 tools, an approval flowchart illustrating the BCPS process for evaluation and approval of digital tools, and resources for integrating technology into instructional strategies, plus a whole lot more.  The wiki is currently under construction and slated to be complete by the end of April, but it is already open to the public so feel free to take a peek!  (And because it’s public, there’s no need to request access.)

In the Media

National Release of Speak Up 2013 K-12 students

Project Tomorrow · April 8, 2014:

“On April 8, 2014 Project Tomorrow released the report “The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations” at a Congressional Briefing held in Washington, DC and for the first time, online in a special live stream of the event. Julie Evans, Project Tomorrow CEO, discussed selected student national findings from the Speak Up 2013 report and moderated a panel discussion with students [three from Baltimore County Public Schools; Kara C. from Sollers Point HS, Jason G. and Julia B. from Chatsworth ES] who shared their insights and experiences with digital learning.”  Read More

Embrace the Power of Learning Communities

eSchool News ·  · March 12, 2014:

“The reality is that classrooms, despite the ever-present energy of the students within them, can sometimes be lonely places for teachers. It doesn’t have to be that way. We have so many opportunities at our fingertips to engage with other educators and enrich our learning experiences. For me, active participation in learning communities, the most meaningful of which enrich both our professional and personal lives, is essential for several key reasons.”  Read More

Here’s Why Great Principals Matter

eSchool News ·  · April 3, 2014:

“Strong leadership is essential to any school’s success, and school principals play a vital role in ensuring teachers and students are successful in the classroom.  With strong and flexible leadership, teachers say they feel they have freedom to explore new teaching techniques and approaches.”  Read More…

Folks to Follow

TwitterSuper Twitter Edition!
BCPS Lighthouse Schools and Principals:

Local (Maryland) Educators:


Disclaimer: Inclusion of these “folks to follow” is not a unilateral endorsement of a site, its content, or its authors. It just means they might generally be of interest to members of the Department of Digital Learning.

Upcoming Events:

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

  • April 22: Tech Liaison Hangout, 3—5:30 p.m. @online
  • April 24:
    • Online HSA Training (MS and HS liaisons), 1—3 p.m. @online
    • Teacher Device Distribution and Support Procedure Meeting for Liaisons, 4:00 p.m. @online
  • April 29: Basic Internet for Teachers, 4:30—6:30 p.m. @Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet Lab
  • May 1-2: Common Ground 2014 Conference @Ocean City, MD
  • May 1: Boardmaker V.6 Level 1, 3—5 p.m. @Kenwood Administrative Offices Lab
  • May 6: Evernote- Organizing Your Digital World, 4:30—6:30 p.m. @Pulaski Park II Lab
  • May 7: Blackboard Collaborate Essentials, 4—6 p.m. @online
  • May 8: Databases for Digital Learning in Grades K-5, 4:30—6:30 p.m. @Pulaski Park II Lab
  • May 13:
    • Clicker 6, 3—5 p.m. @Kenwood Administrative Offices Lab
    • Google Map Tools- Critical Thinking, 4:30—6:30 p.m. @Pulaski Park II Lab
  • May 14: Edmodo- Creating a Collaborative Online Classroom Environment, 4:30—6:30 p.m. @Pulaski Park II Lab
  • May 15: Databases for Digital Learning in Grades 6-12, 4:30—6:30 p.m. @Pulaski Park II Lab

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