Back to School 2014-15

Back to School Edition at a GlanceBackToSchool

  • Learn from other BCPS educators as they share their Reflections on Summer Learning Experiences
  • Find out what was going on in BCPS this summer While You Were Out
  • Read about the Library Curriculum Updates
  • Check out Tips, Tricks, and Tools for a few resources that are great to have on hand as the new year begins
  • Fall CPD courses are posted in the catalog!  Look at the Upcoming Events section for dates.

Reflections on Summer Learning Experiences

Many teachers took advantage of the summer break to expand their own professional learning.  In addition to the professional development opportunities offered within BCPS, some educators attended regional or national conferences.  Here’s a short look at a long summer of learning.

Hot Summer for ODL Professional Development

The outside temperatures may not have shown it, but the Office of Digital Learning summer professional development days were HOT!  With a focus on using technology for instruction, there were continuing professional development (CPD) classes on integrating Web 2.0 tools, tools and strategies for using the read/write web, and using whiteboard technologies for Promethean (ActivInspire) and Mimio.  The new course titled Microsoft Office Overview 2013 was very popular. This course introduced teachers to the new digital device, Windows 8.1, and the 2013 version of the Office applications: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  Microsoft Outlook 2013 was also included in the class.

Digital Learning’s two hour workshops were also well-attended. Working with Organizational Development and Assistive Technology, twenty-four different workshops were held over fifty times this summer. Sessions on Evernote, Kidblog, Edmodo, and Google Tools ran several times, and for the first time some of the workshops were held as two-hour webinars.  Workshops and courses are always announced in the Weekly Bulletin. Teachers can register for all courses and workshops through the Online Registration System.

Reflections from ISTE 2014

  • “The ISTE Ignite sessions were a great way to learn about numerous best practices and technology-related projects in a succinct manner.  We plan to do something very similar school-wide this year.”  – Douglas C. Elmendorf, Ed.D, Principal, Chase Elementary School  [Ignite sessions are 20 slides in 5 minutes to share a story or idea.]
  • “One new tool that I saw and can’t wait to use and share with my staff is Plickers. Plickers is a student response strategy that does not require students to use an electronic device. Each student receives a paper bar code to hold up for the teacher to scan with a device!  I also liked exploring with Wandoo Planet. It is like Netflix for books! Students rate their interest on a book and new books are suggested on how they rate. Great resource for a library teacher.” – Jessica Whorton, S.T.A.T. Teacher, Church Lane Elementary School
  • “I attended a session on Tammy’s Top 20 Technology Tips.  You can access her tips  at – Rachel Pfister, S.T.A.T. Teacher, Fort Garrison Elementary School
  • “One new tool that I saw and can’t wait to use is Kaizena because it is seriously the biggest time-saver for an ELA teacher or a teacher who grades a lot of papers. It allows you to integrate with GoogleDocs or have students upload papers and leave voice comments. I experimented a bit with it on a few old student papers and I graded them in about 1/4 the time it took to grade by hand.” – Adam Carney, English Teacher, New Town High School
  • “One of the ISTE highlights for school library media specialists was the ISTE Librarians Network Forum session on Marketing Your Library, where a variety of innovative strategies for reaching school library stakeholders were shared by uber-librarians from the TL News Night crew.  This session inspired our own Jeff Flynn, library media specialist at Franklin Middle School, to design a breakout session on Marketing Your Library for BCPS librarians on Professional Study Day.  I encourage librarians who missed the ISTE session or Jeff’s breakout session to check out the linked presentations!” – Kelly Ray, Library Resource Teacher, Office of Digital Learning
  • “The biggest thing I got out of this summer’s ISTE conference was a reaffirmation of the belief that technology and the digital transition aren’t enemies of the librarian. We have opportunities to use computer programs, apps, social media, and digital devices as tools that enhance learning.” –  Jeff Flynn, Library Media Specialist, Franklin Middle School
  • “I learned about various websites I can use in the classroom, such as using a math website to make interactive games for students (like Tiny Tap). I look forward to using it in the classroom.” – Irene Check, Chase Elementary
  • “My focus at ISTE this year was to look at different models for professional development, coaching, and support.  Some of the ideas I picked up include offering regular ‘open office’ times, using OER (open educational resources) like Sophia, iTunesU, and the Teaching Channel, offering digital endorsement badges for accumulated PD time like those offered by Washoe County School District, hosting TED talks or Ignite sessions with teachers from groups of schools, providing access to short weekly webinars (like ‘Wet Your Whistle Wednesdays‘), assisting teachers in developing personalized professional development plans, and leveraging online media hosting sites like YouTube or SchoolTube for video on-demand training resources.” – Jennifer Weaver, Resource Teacher, Office of Digital Learning

Other Professional Learning

  • “At the AMLE Conference in Ft. Lauderdale I learned about the power of shadowing students.  If you are new to the STAT role or new to leadership, shadowing a student will serve as an eye-opening needs assessment concerning ELL, equity, and Professional Development, climate, and rigor.  Here are some links to great articles about shadowing students: ELL ‘Shadowing’ Shows Promise, Stepping into a Student’s Shoes, Shadowing Students.” – Jodi Grosser, S.T.A.T. Teacher, Golden Ring Middle School
  • “I learned a lot about the SAMR method this summer. It provides a framework for self-assessing technology use in the classroom. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. The goal is for teachers to assess their current level of technology integration and then set goals to move to the next level. This 120 second video is a great resource for defining the SAMR method:” – Shannon Johnson, S.T.A.T. Teacher, Arbutus Middle School

While You Were Out…

In case you missed it, here are some things that happened in BCPS over the summer.

  • The Department of Innovative Learning and Office of Digital Learning is excited to welcome four new staff members who joined us this summer.  Joining Jennifer Weaver and Benjamin Wagner as resource teachers are Amanda Cochran, Justin Hennaut, and Valerie Schaffer.  Joining Kelly Ray as a library media resource teacher is Chimere Charles.  In the next few editions of this news blog, we will spotlight each one of them in our “Getting to Know” section.
  • Our own Joquetta Johnson, library media specialist at Randallstown High School, presented sessions at ISTE 2014 on Voracious Vocabulary: Apps that Attack Words, and was spotlighted in a feature story (“Joquetta Johnson: She’s an ed tech evangelist”) in ISTE’s inaugural edition of their new magazine Entrsekt.  We are so proud to have Joquetta representing the Team BCPS library media community on the international stage!
  • 12 BCPS School Libraries held summer hours for student access. Students visited schools to check out books, participate in the BCPL Summer Reading Club, and interact with special reading-related activities. Read more
  • Teachers, staff, and administrators from the ten Lighthouse Schools participated in two professional development conferences this summer to prepare for the school system’s initiative to personalize learning through digital technology. Take a look at the BCPS News Briefs for the first conference and the second conference.
  • Three Chesapeake High School students designed a winning app. Read more
  • Western Tech student creates math app titled Operation 99. Operation 99 is simple math app for student use to improve basic algebra skills. Read more

Library Curriculum Updates

The Office of Digital Learning hosted three curriculum writing workshops this summer:  K-5 Library Media Curriculum, K-12 Research Process Guide, and Infusing the Research Strand of the CCSS-ELA through Online Research Models and Slam Dunks.  BCPS Library Media Specialists and Towson University School Library Media Cohort interns collaborated and infused their knowledge for the benefit of all BCPS students.

  • Updated K-5 Library Media Curriculum
    Library media specialists revised and refined our existing K-5 Elementary Library Media Curriculum to include alignments to the Common Core State Standards and improve formative and summative assessments used throughout.  Many new units were created further infusing digital content and technology while increasing rigor. Highlights: Improved Digital Citizenship lesson plans in all grade levels, author studies in every grade level, literary award focuses in various grade levels, more short, focused research through Slam Dunks, infused technology, anchor charts, as well as the inclusion of grade-level unit summaries and long range planners for easier navigation and planning with the K-5 curriculum.
  • New K-12 Research Guides (coming soon)
    Library media specialists created Web-based Research Guides for grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, as well as support pages for Research in the Content Areas. These guides directly support the implementation of a K-12 research process aligned with the research strand of the CCSS and skills indicators from the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner. Highlights: Guides are structured according to an inquiry-based research process that will serve students at each level of development, including easy-to-follow steps with differentiated teacher and student resources in a variety of media formats.
  • Updated and NEW Online Research Models and Slam Dunks
    Library media specialists worked with C & I office curriculum writers to co-create Online Research Models for extended, in-depth research and Slam Dunk models for brief, focused research to support content learning.
    Highlights: Over 60 New ORMs and Slam Dunks, including Digital Citizenship Slam Dunks for Middle and High School. See the models labeled NEW on the ORM Index pages for Elementary, Middle, and High school students.

Tips, Tricks, and Tools

Getting Help with the New Digital Device

The HP Revolve 810 digital device, recently distributed to teachers, comes with several new features that are unfamiliar to many people. Whether it’s the Windows 8.1 tile apps and swipes or the track pad gestures, teachers have to learn how to use it. The Office of Digital Learning has links to a number of resources on our intranet home page. These include short informative videos and a list of frequently asked questions. Find out what the orange light on the track pad means!

ODL Intranet

Are you a new or returning liaison looking for meeting resources, software information, and more?  The former Office of Instructional Technology intranet page is now the Office of Digital Learning intranet page.  Update your bookmarks to reflect the new website address:

Digital Learning Resource Wiki

Have you visited the Office of Digital Learning Resource Wiki lately? We have been busy over the summer adding a variety of new resources to help you integrate digital tools and content into your classrooms.  Here are some highlights:


  • WikiIcons2Looking for new tools to use in your classroom? Make sure you visit our toolbox index page to view a list of web-based tools for student and teacher use. Each tool has a resource page that includes an overview, tutorial, and ideas for classroom use. The resource pages for student tools include a grade level range as well. The toolbox index also includes a list of digital content available for teacher and student use including BrainPop, NBC Learn, and World Book just to name a few.





Do you use a great digital tools not included on our toolbox index page? Check out the approval flowchart to see if the tool is approved for student use. If it is approved, send us an email. We would love to share new tools with teachers!

Upcoming Events:

Check the Online Registration System for registration information and availability.  Be sure to follow @bcpsodl on Twitter for updates on open spots and additional offerings.  Lastly, please check out our Self-Directed PD page for resources from all of our workshops.

Integrating Web 2.0 Technology into the K-12 Classroom (3 MSDE Credits)

  • Wednesdays, September 3 through December 17 from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. @ the Pulaski Park Lab, Suite 307

Microsoft Office 2013 Overview (1 MSDE Credit)

  • Thursdays, September 18 through October 23 from 4:15 – 7:15 p.m. @ Golden Ring Middle School
  • Tuesdays, September 30 through October 28 from 4:15 – 7:15 p.m. @ Glenmar Elementary School

Tools and Strategies for Learning and Teaching with the Read/Write Web (2 MSDE Credits)

  • Mondays, September 29 through November 7 online

Technology Innovation (3 MSDE Credits)

  • Tuesdays, September 2 through November 25 from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. @ the Pulaski Park Lab, Suite 307 (this is a hybrid course delivered in face to face meetings and online sessions)

Online Teaching in Maryland (3 MSDE Credits)

  • September 17 through November 24 online with a mandatory face to face orientation on Wednesday, September 17  from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. @ the Pulaski Park 307 eClassroom and mandatory synchronous online sessions on October 8 and November 12  from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

One thought on “Back to School 2014-15

  1. Pingback: A Great Place! | Patapsco Weekly Staff Update

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