April 2016

April Edition at a GlanceApril16

  • Counting down to edcamp BCPS!
  • Food for Thought on Originality, Innovation, and Teamwork
  • Brush up on some familiar technology through our Tips, Tricks, and Tools
  • Celebrate School Library Month and join our BCPL partners for BC Reads

Inside BCPS

BCPSedcamp_03Join fellow members of Team BCPS for a day of professional development; edcamp style.

Edcamp is an unconference; where professional development sessions are developed by the participants the day of the event.  Everyone is welcome to propose and lead a session where conversation and collaboration are paramount.  Topics can be anything related to education; from technology integration to behavior management to instructional strategies.  There is no limit to the possible learning that will occur.

Edcamp BCPS is hosted by the Office of Digital Learning and will be held on Saturday, April 16 from 8:30-1:00 at Cockeysville Middle School.  Edcamp is completely free of charge and open to all Team BCPS faculty and staff.  Participation is limited and is offered on a first come first served basis.

Interested participants may register for the offering by logging into BCPS One at https://bcpsone.bcps.org, selecting the Professional Learning tile, and then selecting the Registration System tile.  The offering is titled “EdCamp BCPS,” and can be found in the Workshops catalog.  Registration instructions are available from the login screen.

If you aren’t sure how an edcamp works, you can learn more about it on the official edcamp BCPS wiki page here: http://tinyurl.com/edcampbcps

BC Reads County-wide Reading Event

For the first time, BCPL will host a county-wide reading event: BC Reads. The mission of BC Reads is to promote community-wide discussion through reading and the arts. In April 2016, people of all ages can join fellow Baltimore County residents in reading, discussing and experiencing books and community in a different way. The theme of BC Reads 2016 is Rise Up! The titles chosen all include stories of learning and growing, of rising up through adversity, of connecting with one another. The titles chosen for 2016 are:

  • BCReadsAdult Fiction:The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
  • Adult Nonfiction: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Teens (Gr 9-12): All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  • Children’s Chapter Book (Gr 4-8): One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Children’s Picture Book (Gr K-3): In My Momma’s Kitchenby Jerdine Nolen

Throughout April, BC Reads will bring our county together with events, including author visits and book discussions, which will encourage conversation and a deeper connection to one another in our communities. Several of our authors will also offer programs at Baltimore County Public Schools.

BC Reads Author Events at BCPS:

  • April 12 – Rita Williams-Garcia, author of One Crazy Summer, visiting Pine Grove Middle School Library
  • April 15 – Jerdine Nolan, author of In My Momma’s Kitchen, visiting Martin Boulevard Elementary School Library
  • April 19- Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, authors of All American Boys, visiting Randallstown High School Library

What’s Tweeting?

Check out what’s been happening with @BCPSODL, #bcpsstat, and #bcpslms in our April Storify!  You don’t need to have a Twitter account to view these tweets.  If you do use Twitter, make sure you tag your tweets and you might be featured next month!

Food for Thought: Originality, Innovation, and Teamwork

Benjamin Wagner, Resource Teacher, Office of Digital Learning

I’m not actually a believer in Karma, but the other day I heard an interview with an author on National Public Radio. He was discussing his research on business’s use of teams. He was surprised at how poor teamwork is. His comments had implications for teaching and I put his book on my mental list of things I wanted to share in the ODL Digest.

So of course I forgot the name of the book and spent considerable time searching NPR for the interview without success.  The next day when I checked one of my bookmarked websites, lo and behold I found an article referencing part of the interview. The article by Elissa Nadworny, reveals some surprising thoughts about brainstorming (we might be doing it wrong) and procrastination that challenge conventional wisdom. The book is Originals by Adam Grant.

What Kind of Group Work Encourages the Most Original Thinking?

Mind/Shift · Elissa Nadworny · March 14, 2016

“Grant writes about the importance of getting kids to take risks, to embrace their own curiosity and to be confident in where their minds wander. So how can adults create spaces and cultures of originality to breed these new ideas?”

What this article didn’t include from the NPR interview was Grant’s comments about teamwork in business. I wonder, is their inability to utilize teams effectively, the reason P21 skills of collaboration and communication are so important to the Common Core?

In the 80’s and 90’s I read most of the books by Tom Peters on business practices. His In Search of Excellence is a fascinating look at some of the most successful companies in the world at that time. Examining the most successful teams at one of the companies, Peters came to the conclusion that those teams were successful not because they had the best engineers, but because they all had the same person with excellent relationship skills. Apparently business needs schools to teach collaboration and communication because a top down approach to teamwork will not work. His article written in 1988 is still true today.

Team at the Top Proves to be a Misnomer

tompeters! · Tom Peters · 1988

“Authors Robert Lefton and V. R. Buzzotta, long-time counselors to top management, systematically examined 26 top-level teams, ranging in size from six to 20 people (usually a CEO or president and vice presidents); 20 of the firms are in the Fortune 500 club. In a nutshell, the authors found little teamwork, virtually no “synergy” from these collections of wise heads and a lot of wasted time and childish behavior.”

I find the last sentence in the quote above amusing; how many times have we as teachers thought the same about our students when we try to have them collaborate?

Finally, to avoid being too cerebral this month, my final article has some ideas for creating a successful Genius Hour. Some schools are using Genius Hour to encourage originality, innovation, and passion in their students.

The 4 Essentials of a Successful Genius Hour

eSchool News · Jill Badalamenti · January 26, 2016

“As educators, we can help our students find and explore their passions. Once they discover what they’re truly passionate about, the learning and engagement will never stop. The best way for students to explore their passions is through Genius Hour.”

Tips, Tricks, and Tools

Where Are My Sounds?

Using the built in microphone and the Sound Recorder app, users are SoundRecorderable to record themselves.  Teachers might record themselves giving directions or the Friday spelling test.  Students may record themselves practicing their fluency or delivering a public service announcements.  These sounds can be shared in BCPS One on a discussion board, a turn-in, or a test and quiz.  To make the sounds easier to find and share, teachers can create a shortcut on their desktop.  Directions can be found here.

BrainPOP Español and BrainPOP Français  

BrainPopBCPS teachers and students have access to BrainPOP in both Spanish and French.  To access BrainPOP Español and BrainPOP Français, log into BCPS One and choose Digital Content.  Select BrainPOP.  Look for Moby in the upper left corner and click the drop-down arrow.  You can select your choice from there.

 There’s A Tool for That!

Have you checked out the Instructional Activities page on the ODL Resource Wiki?  This page will help you find a tool to facilitate different instructional activities.  For example, are you or your students making a timeline? There is a tool for that!Instructional Activities

Classflow Webinar

Who: Anyone who has attended a ClassFlow training and is diligently trying to use ClassFlow in their classroom.


  • Session 1 is primarily for high school and middle school teachers, but anyone is welcome to attend.
  • Session 2 is primarily for elementary school teachers, but anyone is welcome to join.
  • These sessions will be a time for teachers to clarify questions they have about ClassFlow after having already received training.
  • Baltimore County’s dedicated Promethean Education Consultant, Allison Albergo, will host these sessions.

When:  April 28, May 12, May 26

  • Session 1: 3:30pm to 4:30 pm
  • Session 2: 4:30pm to 5:30pm

Where: Follow the link below to join the Blackboard Collaborate session.


In the Media

SC Study Shows Link Between School Librarians and Higher Test Scores

School Library Journal · Karen Gavigan and Keith Curry Lance · March 14, 2016

“’We have known in the past how important our role is, but this groundbreaking study proves that and validates what we already know: The school librarian and the library program help make schools stronger,’ says Diana Carr, president of SCASL at the time of the study.”  Read more…

Search Strategy Instruction: Shifting from Baby Bird Syndrome to Curious Cat Critical Thinking

Knowledge Quest · Lisa Cheby · March/April 2016

“A colleague once described her frustration with students’ lack of initiative and curiosity as what we came to call ‘baby bird syndrome’: the desire of students, after years of teaching-to-the-test mentality, to wait to be fed answers rather than risk engaging in individual thinking…  Is it possible to teach curiosity, to make curious kittens out of baby birds?”  Read more…

Technology in the Perfect School

SEEN (SouthEast Education Network) · Dr. Billie J. McConnell · January 24, 2016:

“We must start with the ‘perfect school.’ Until we come to an agreement on what students should learn and how they will best learn, we can’t choose the technology that allows us to meet our goals.” Read more. . .

Technology as a Tool to Support Instruction

Education World · Lynne Schrum · March 21, 2016:

“This week, in an Education World ‘edu-torial,’ Lynne Schrum presents her personal perspective on the ways in which technology can enhance learning — and calls on educators to take a leadership role in determining the ways in which technology is used to support educational goals.”  Read more. . .

Upcoming Events:

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

  • April is School Library Month! The 2016 theme is School Libraries Transform Learning.


  • April 5: 
    • Device 101 Workshop, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. @Edmonson Heights Elementary Library
    • Multipdisciplinary Mapping Applications Workshop, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @Halstead Academy Library
  • April 6: 
    • Dive Into the Deep End of SAMR: Planning Learning Activities Above the Line Workshop, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. @Eastern Technical High School, Room 111
    • Databases for Digital Learning in Grades 6 – 12, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @Loch Raven High School Library
  • April 7: Leveraging Technology in a Learner Centered Classroom Workshop, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. @Edmonson Heights Elementary Library
  • April 12:
    • Evidence-Based Practice Showcase, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. @Pine Grove Middle School Library, for Library Media Specialists who attended the EBP Workshop on January 14th
    • Communicating with Students and Parents in BCPSOne Workshop, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @ Eastern Technical High School, Room 111
    • Elementary Liaison Meeting, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @online
    • Introduction to Social Media Workshop, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. @online
  • April 13:
    • Secondary Liaison Meeting, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. @online
    • Office Mix Workshop, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @Fort Garrison Elementary Library
  • April 14:
    • Screenshots and Screencasts Workshop, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @Greenwood Board Room A
    • Device Apps Workshop, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. @Rosedale Center Room C22
  • April 16: edcamp BCPS, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. @Cockeysville Middle School
  • April 19: Curating Digital Resources Workshop, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @Riderwood Elementary Room 28
  • April 21: OneNote Workshop, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @Greenwood Baord Room A
  • April 22: Earth Day
  • April 28 – 29: Common Ground Maryland Conference
  • May 2: Tweet Like a Ninja in 6 Easy Steps (Education Edition), 8:00 p.m. @Webinar with Gwyneth Jones (The Daring Librarian) on TL Virtual Cafe
  • May 3: Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Learning Workshop, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @Dumbarton Middle School Library
  • May 4:  ClassFlow: Customizations and Assessments Workshop, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. @Riderwood Elementary Room 28

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