November 2014

November Edition at a GlanceNovember

  • Food for Thought: Paper vs. Laptop?
  • Get to Know Valerie Schaffer
  • EasyBib, SAMR, Keyboard shortcuts, and Create-a-Graph are all featured in this month’s Tips, Tricks, and Tools
  • Seven fantastic articles to read from In the Media

Inside BCPS

BCPS leadership in advancing technology wins national Digital Innovation in Learning Awardnt14-dla-2014-winner

Led by Superintendent Dallas Dance, the BCPS initiative to incorporate digital technology into everything from classroom learning to community communications has earned a national Digital Innovation in Learning Award (DILA). This is the first year for the DILA awards, which celebrate teachers, administrators, and ed-tech organizations who demonstrate exemplary practices in using technology to support learning. EdSurge received more than 1,500 nominations from the U.S. and 31 other nations, including 550 video submissions. Read More

Superintendent Dance to discuss S.T.A.T. at Republic of Korea technology symposium 

Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance will discuss the school system’s digital learning initiative before an international audience next week in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea, as part of the Global Symposium on ICT in Education 2014. Read More

Other Highlights:

  • How a 1-to-1 Rollout is Transforming Baltimore County Schools. Watch Video
  • Reflection from a first grade student at Church Lane Elementary School. Watch Video
  • Catonsville High cyber team members prepare for the future. Read More
  • Knovation Honors Top School Districts Using Digital Learning Resources. Read More
  • Career, technology skills for BCPS students to get boost at Wednesday event. Read More

Food for Thought: Paper vs. Laptop

Do students learn better if they take notes by hand rather than type them on a laptop?

That is the conclusion of a research paper published by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer in April 2014 (original source: subscription required). Recently their research has grabbed the attention of more mainstream publications. One of those publications is Cindi May’s article in the Scientific American. Justin Reich, on the other hand, suggests that technology is not being used in the most effective way – that students are merely substituting a technology tool for the pen and paper. Students need to learn how to use technology to augment, modify, and redefine their learning (SAMR). The last article is a simple explanation for the SAMR model for using technology in learning.

A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes With a Laptop

Scientific American · Cindi May · June 3, 2014:

“Half of the students were instructed to take notes with a laptop, and the other half were instructed to write the notes out by hand.  As in other studies, students who used laptops took more notes.  In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.”  Read More…

Paper vs. Laptop: The Best of Both Worlds

Education Week · Justin Reich · October 9, 2014:

“As leaders of today, when new technologies appear we have to model unparalleled practices for our students.  It is our job and our responsibility to prepare students for the future, not the past; a task which requires us to be open minded in our approach.  We have a choice to make when confronted with new tools and changing times:  Do we use innovations to redefine our world or do we try to use them as replacement tools to take the place of what we have always done.”  Read More…

SAMR Model

Technology is Learning:

“The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model offers a method of seeing how computer technology might impact teaching and learning.  It also shows a progression that adopters of educational technology often follow as they progress through teaching and learning with technology.”  Read More…



Getting to Know: Valerie Schaffer

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


  • Villa Julie College – Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education (2005)
  • Johns Hopkins University – Master’s Degree in Education with a Focus in Instructional Technology (2011)
  • Johns Hopkins University – Master’s Certificate in Administration & Supervision (2012)
  • Scotts Branch Elementary – Third grade & Technology Integration

Family: Husband Rick, son Liam, and two dogs, Molly and Regan.

  • Hobbies and Interests: Running, baking, singing, reading
  • Unusual Fact: Valerie’s maiden name is Grape.
  • Favorite tool:Pinterest has become one of my go-to tech tools. It is a place where I can find ideas to inspire me at work or for home projects.”
  • Favorite Book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein


Tips, Tricks, and Tools

EasyBib School Edition

All BCPS middle and high schools have been provided with a subscription to EasyBib School Edition, an intuitive citation and research management tool allowing users to format citations, make bibliographies, take notes and create outlines on a web-based platform. Students can create an EasyBib School Edition account using the school Coupon Code provided by their library media specialist; the LMS can also provide instruction to students and professional development for teachers on using this great research tool.  Resources to support using EasyBib School Edition with students are available on our ODL Resource wiki.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Not many people know that you can use your keyboard for more than typing.  Learn the simple keyboard shortcuts shown below to increase your productivity.  Keyboard short cuts can also help you make those difficult math characters like a division sign ÷ (Alt + 246) or plus or minus ± (Alt + 241).  Check out the full list

Keyboard Command Action
Windows Key Windows + L Lock your computer
Windows Key Windows + Enter Enter narrator mode, computer reads to you
Windows Key Windows + left arrow Snap window to the left side of your screen
Windows Key Windows + right arrow Snap window to the right side of your screen
Windows Key Windows + just start typing Do a search of your computer and the web
Ctrl + C Copy text
Ctrl + V Paste text
Ctrl + P Print
Ctrl + S Save
Ctrl + Z Undo
Ctrl + F Find (text on a page or in a folder)

How do you use technology?SAMR Flow Chart

Check out this great flow chart from ICTEvangelist to analyze your use of technology in the classroom.  Use it to plan and reflect on your practice.

Create A Graph

CreateAGraphDo you have your students creating graphs for a project?  Help make the work a bit easier with the site Create A Graph Users can easily create bar, line, area, pie, or xy graphs with any data set.  For more information visit the ODL Resource Wiki at

In the Media

10 things I’d like to see in every classroom · Dr. Justin Tarte · October 13, 2014

“So, we often say we want to see increased student engagement in our classrooms. We say we want to see kids owning the learning process. We say we want to see students cognitively engaged and not just simply compliant… I’m fortunate in my position to have the opportunity to visit classrooms at all levels in my district K-12, and with all these visits I’ve come up with a more tangible list of 10 things I’d like to see in every classroom:” Read more…

People Who Love Expanding Their Minds Do These 13 Things — Do You? · Sarah Winfrey · October 13, 2014

“There are those out there who refuse to let their brain get into a rut. The intellectually stimulated, the cranially curious, the people who love expanding their minds… Are you one of them? If so, you just may engage in one or more of these 13 pursuits on a daily basis.” Read more…

10 Team-Building Games That Promote Critical Thinking · Teachthought staff · September 26, 2013

“One of education’s primary goals is to groom the next generation of little humans to succeed in the “real world.”

“Yes, there are mounds of curricula they must master in a wide breadth of subjects, but education does not begin and end with a textbook or test. Other skills must be honed, too, not the least of which is how to get along with their peers and work well with others. This is not something that can be cultivated through rote memorization or with strategically placed posters.”

“Students must be engaged and cooperation must be practiced, and often. The following team-building games can promote cooperation and communication, help establish a positive classroom environment and — most importantly — provide a fun, much-needed reprieve from routine.” Read more…

What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship · Vicki Davis · October 24, 2014

“The greatest software invented for human safety is the human brain. It’s time that we start using those brains. We must mix head knowledge with action. In my classroom, I use two essential approaches in the digital citizenship curriculum that I teach: proactive knowledge and experiential knowledge.” Read more…

School Libraries Matter: The Changing Role of the School Librarian

Featuring the voices of administrators and peeks inside of state-of-the-art programs, this five-minute film is a rich explanation of the librarian’s evolving role, what school libraries do, and what they look like. The film was produced by Capstone and debuted at the 2014 SLJ Leadership Summit.

Four Ways to Advocate for School Libraries

During a Connected Educator Month edWeb webinar about making the case for school libraries, Michelle Luhtala outlined four areas of expertise where librarians can demonstrate to school administrators that they directly contribute to student learning.

Popular Blog ‘Teen Librarian Toolbox’ Joins SLJ

A professional development hub for teen librarians, TLT features book reviews, coverage of exemplary teen programming, technology, and social and developmental issues related to teenagers. “Middle Grade Mondays,” “Tech Talk,” “Teen Services 101,” and “Things We Didn’t Learn in Library School” are among the regular features on TLT.

Folks to Follow

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Lighthouse Schools:

Office of Digital Learning (Part 2):

Upcoming Events:

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

  • November 11: Introduction to Mimio Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Glenmar Elementary School
  • November 12: Databases for Digital Learning in Grades K-5, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Rodgers Forge Elementary School
  • November 12 – December 12 (Wednesdays): Using Pixie and Wixie in the Learning Process, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. @ Gunpowder Elementary School
  • November 13: Basic PowerPoint for Teachers Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Arbutus Middle School
  • November 18:
    • Liaison Hangout, 3 – 5:30 p.m. @online
    • Introduction to Wixie Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @ Gundpowder Elementary School
  • November 19: Feedback and Assessment Tools Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Dundalk High School
  • November 20: Introduction to Wixie Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Scotts Branch Elementary School
  • November 21: S.T.A.T. Teacher Professional Development, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. @Loyola Graduate Center
  • November 25: Audio Tools in Instruction Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Franklin Middle School
  • December 2:
    • Professional Development for High School Library Media Specialists, 8:30 – 11:00 a.m. @ e-classroom, Pulaski Park
    • Professional Development for Middle School Library Media Specialists, 12:00 – 2:30 p.m. @ e-classroom Pulaski Park
    • Edmodo Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Dundalk High School
  • December 3:
    • Professional Development for Elementary School Library Media Specialists, 8:30 – 11:00 a.m., 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. @ e-classroom, Pulaski Park
    • Introduction to Social Media Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Stoneleigh Elementary School
  • December 4:
    • Professional Development for Elementary School Library Media Specialists, 8:30 – 11:00 a.m., 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. @ e-classroom, Pulaski Park
    • Edmodo Workshop, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m. @Windsor Mill Middle School

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