September 2014

September Edition at a GlanceSeptember

  • Inside BCPS: ISPs, AARP, and ALS
  • Helping Students Question is this month’s Food for Thought
  • Get to Know one of our newest resource teachers, Amanda Cochran
  • Free PowToons accounts, a new section for Newsela, and a few other quick tools are covered in Tips, Tricks, and Tools
  • Read about the physiological aspects of learning In the Media

Inside BCPS

Parents invited to learn more about low-cost Internet services from Comcast

To support greater access for all students to the Internet, the Baltimore County Public Schools Parent University joins with Comcast to offer informational workshops about Internet Essentials, a program aimed at providing low-cost Internet service to eligible families. Families who apply to Internet Essentials before September 20, 2014, may qualify for up to 6 months of complimentary Internet service. Space at the presentations is limited and reservations are required. (Details about how to register by phone or online are listed after each date.)  Read More…   Watch the Video

Upcoming Twitter Chats

Join Chase Elementary Principal, Doug Elmendorf, on September 17 at 7:30 as he moderates a Twitter chat on student-centered learning. Use the hashtag #MAESPMDCHAT to ask questions and share your insights.  Read More… Windsor Mill Middle School assistant principal, Frank Dunlap, is moderating a Twitter chat on Tuesday, September 9, from 4 – 5 p.m. on the topic of Using Technology in the Classroom.  Read the questions ahead of time and follow along using #WMMSCHAT.

Other Highlights:

  • Ten Lighthouse Schools roll out devices to students in grades one to three. Watch the Video
  • Eight Baltimore County high schools rank among the nation’s top. Read More…
  • AARP Movies for Grownups to Showcase the Film CYBER-SENIORS at Randallstown High School. Read More…
  • Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Read More…  Watch the Video
  • Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance named to the federal Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans by President Barack Obama. Read More…

Food for Thought: Helping our Students to Question

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.

Do we want our students to be sponges, sitting quietly absorbing everything we say, or do we want them to question and think critically about what they see, read, and hear? Some of the best test scores are made by students in China where memorization and rote is paramount, and questioning is minimal. This month’s Food for Thought features a quote from World Class Learners by Yong Zhao, an online article about questioning from, and a source of information about questioning from Jamie McKenzie.

World Class Learners

Yong Zhao · 2012:  “China has not been happy with its education, despite all the praises from the outside. China has been working toward transforming its education for decades now because of its desire to produce a creative and entrepreneurial workforce… While the Americans have been lamenting on its education, the Chinese have been working hard at emulating it. What has been condemned in the U.S. education system seems to be precisely what the Chinese wish to have.”

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the debate on education in the U.S.

5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners

If we want our students to be active participants in their learning, they need to question. Questioning is a skill that can be encouraged and can be taught. · Warren Berger · August 18, 2014:  “Working within an answers-based education system, and in a culture where questioning may be seen as a sign of weakness, teachers must go out of their way to create conditions conducive to inquiry.”

The Question is the Answer

Finally, for anyone interested in learning more about questioning, Jamie McKenzie at has a slew of resources, including this article: · Jamie McKenzie · October 1997:  “Smart questions are essential technology for those who venture on to the Information Highway. … Without strong questioning skills, you are just a passenger on someone else’s tour bus. You may be on the highway, but someone else is doing the driving.”


Getting to Know: Amanda Cochran

S.T.A.T. Resource Teacher, Office of Digital Learning


  • BA, Secondary Education, Oral Communication Education, Marshall University
  • MS, Instructional Technology, School Library Media Concentration, Towson University
  • MS, Human Resource Development, Educational Leadership Concentration, Towson University
  • Library Media Specialist, Orems Elementary and Deep Creek Middle
  • Theater, Speech, AVID, Criminal Justice teacher, Dundalk High School

Family: Fiancé Joe and cat, Maggie

Hobbies and/or Interests: Marshall University Football- “GO HERD!”, reading, shopping

  • Unusual Fact: Amanda has performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade twice. Once in middle school choir and once as a flagline member for the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band.
  • Currently Reading: Where She Went (If I Stay Book 2) by Gayle Forman
  • Favorite Tech Tool: “Google Tools. The collaboration in Google Docs allows me to work with other professionals without meeting face-to-face.  I love creating interactive surveys in Google Forms to check for understanding or to gather information. And Google Drive keeps all of my files organized and allows me to work from any location with internet access. No need to email files to myself or carry around 5 flash drives.”

Tips, Tricks, and Tools

Projecting Problems?

extendedscreenHave you tried to project from your HP Revolve and found it “strange?”  You may be in “extend mode.”  Extend mode allows you to work on two different things on two different screens.  This means you could project something for students and be working on something different on your device.  To get out of extend mode, simply swipe from the right to reveal your charms.  Choose devices and select “duplicate mode.”  This will duplicate what is on your device screen.  By default when you are projecting a PowerPoint your device puts you into extend mode.  You can change this default (if extend mode is something you will not use) by following the steps below:

  1. Open a Powerpoint
  2. Click File
  3. Choose Options
  4. Click on Advanced
  5. Under Display uncheck “automatically extend display when presenting on a laptop or tablet.”  This will stop your Revolve from entering extend mode when running PowerPoint.

How much time is left Mrs. Smith?Google Timer

This is the easiest and most simple timer tool available.  No need to remember a special site or spend time finagling with an old fashioned egg timer.  Just go to Google and enter “set timer for “x” minutes” and there you go.  You can make it full screen (for projection) and even get an alarm to sound when time is up.

Free PowToon Accounts

PowToon is giving away 50,000 free teacher accounts!  With a teacher account you can add up to 60 students!  Hurry over to to get yours.  Once you have your FREE account visit the ODL Resource Wiki Toolbox Index to learn how to implement PowToon in your classroom.  The ODL Resource Wiki is found at

Scared of Using YouTube?


Image from

No more need to worry with ViewPure. allows you to enter the URL of a YouTube Video and it takes away all the “suggested posts,” comments, related videos, etc.  All you will show students is the actually video you intended.  So no need to worry about irrelevant content making it onto your screen.

Newsela adds Sports Section

The Newsela Sports Section will feature news that reveals something about society, science and self. Follow @newsela on Twitter to stay informed about future announcements.

In the Media

How Does the Brain Learn Best? Smart Studying Strategies

MindShift · Ingfei Chen · August 25, 2014:

“In his new book, How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens, author Benedict Carey informs us that ‘most of our instincts about learning are misplaced, incomplete, or flat wrong’ and ‘rooted more in superstition than in science.’ Read More…

Successful Students Sleep More · April 2012:

“The amount of sleep that a college student gets is one of the strongest predictors of academic success. Sleep plays a key role in helping students fix and consolidate memories, plus prevent decay of memories.  Without sleep, people work harder and but don’t do as well.” Read More…

The Case for Letting High School Students Sleep In

Vox · Libby Nelson · August 31, 2014:

“Adolescents should get 8.5 to 9.5 hours each night like other kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recently recommended later high school start times. But here is what’s different about teenagers’ sleep cycle changes: they shift about two hours later than when they were younger.” Read More…

5 Reasons Why We Need Physical Activity in Schools

Life of an Educator · Dr. Justin Tarte · September 1, 2014:

“As schools and districts attempt to continue improving student learning opportunities, there’s a frightening trend emerging that might not have the intended consequences.  In an effort to provide students more time with math and reading and other core area subjects, schools are cutting back on physical education courses, and recess opportunities are shrinking for students at the elementary levels.” Read More…

Folks to Follow

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BCPS Offices:

Upcoming Events:

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

  • September 9:
    • New Liaison Meeting for Elementary and Secondary Liaisons and Alternates, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @ Joppa View Elementary
  • September 10:
    • Liaison Hangout, 3 – 5:30 p.m. @online
  • September 11:
    • S.T.A.T. Teacher Professional Development, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. @Loyola Graduate Center
  • September 16:
    • New Liaison Meeting for Elementary and Secondary Liaisons and Alternates, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @ Joppa View Elementary
  • September 17 – November 24:
    • Online Teaching in Maryland, online with a mandatory face-to-face orientation to the course management system on September 17 from 4:30—7:30 p.m. @ Pulaski Park II Lab, 307
  • September 18 – October 23 (Thursdays, no class on September 25):
    • Microsoft Office 2013 Overview, 4:15 – 7:15 p.m. @Golden Ring Middle Library
  • September 23:
    • Destiny Asset Manager Face-to-Face Support Meeting, 9 – 11 a.m., 1 – 3 p.m., 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @ Pulaski Park II e-classroom
  • September 30 – October 28 (Tuesdays):
    • Microsoft Office 2013 Overview, 4:15 – 7:15 p.m. @Glenmar Elementary Library
  • September 24:
    • S.T.A.T. Teacher Professional Development, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. @Loyola Graduate Center
    • Destiny Asset Manager Face-to-Face Support Meeting, 9 – 11 a.m., 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
  • September 29 – November 7:
    • Tool and Strategies for Learning and teaching with the Read/Write Web @online
  • October 1:
    • Liaison Hangout, 3 – 5:30 p.m. @online
  • October 2:
    • S.T.A.T. Teacher Professional Development, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. @Loyola Graduate Center
  • October 2 – 30 (Thursdays):
    • ActivInspire and the Interactive Whiteboard – Level 1, 4:15 – 7:15 p.m. @Oakleigh Elementary
  • October 7:
    • Elementary Liaison Meeting, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., @online
  • October 8:
    • Secondary Liaison Meeting, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m., @online
  • October 16:
    • S.T.A.T. Teacher Professional Development, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. @Loyola Graduate Center

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