Tiger TV and Hour of Code

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One of my favorite parts of the day at school is Tiger TV.  Tiger TV is my school’s morning news program.  The twist about our morning news program is that it is completely and totally run by our 5th graders!  It is an absolutely amazing production and the teacher that is in charge of heading the program up does an amazing job!

All of our fifth-graders rotate through working every job on our morning news program.  We have two anchors, two teleprompter operators, 2 camera operators, a board operator, a weather student, and two managers.  One of the managers is the floor manager and the other manager runs the computer.  

The two anchors deliver the news.  One of the teleprompter operators runs the mirroring teleprompter that we use for the anchors.  This teleprompter is displayed in mirror font and the operators job is to keep the words on the screen for the anchors to read.  The anchors read a screen directly in front of them – displayed on a mirror so the words are the correct way for them to read (rather than reversed).  The other teleprompter’s job is to put the weather forecast up and run the teleprompter for camera 2 (we don’t mirror this one due to the way our set is configured).  The camera talent is responsible for cueing the anchors and the talent using camera 2 (usually weather, pledgers, tech tip, etc) and responsible for greeting and placing the talent and guests when they come on Tiger TV.  The board operator controls the broadcast out the school. The weather student is responsible for getting the weather to broadcast and then they also are either assigned a scientific fact to discuss or they are allowed to pick their own fact to present.  The floor manager is responsible for directing the entire crew and the computer operator times all of the stories and puts the graphics up for our set (our entire production is green screened).  Both of our manager positions are on the crew for 2 crews – one in which they serve all of the other positions and then because of their leadership they are selected to be a manager for the next crew.  

When a new crew comes on, about every 21 days, they are trained by the crew leaving.  The new crew spends two days learning how to do all of the jobs on the set.  When the jobs are rotated on the current crew the students train each other on their next job (sounds confusing to write, hopefully it makes sense).  Our wonderful leader that manages the entire production writes the scripts and is the supervisor in the room each morning.

Our morning news program started as announcements over the intercom.  Then we got a camera and started with students standing in front of a podium delivering news and now we have an amazing morning production that grows each year!  We use Boinx Software to run our program and send it out to the school.  We had a pretty sharp learning curve with Boinx, but our Tiger TV coordinator has done an amazing job learning all that this software can do.

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It is amazing what Tiger TV accomplishes in a LIVE broadcast, every morning!  I am always in awe of what the kids can do.  It is completely kid run and the kids love it!  It is a requirement in our fifth-grade standards and our fifth-graders cannot wait for their turn on Tiger TV.  If you are interested in checking out more of our daily news show click here.

We used Tiger TV to kick-off our Hour of Code this week.  I do a weekly segment on Tiger TV, entitled Tech Tip.  Sometimes I include students in the tip and sometime I am just giving information.  It is a really nice way for me to talk about technology to the entire school.  We use this platform for a lot of digital citizenship discussions!  This week I had a panel of students that had already participated in the Hour of Code on Tiger TV discussing what they did and what they thought.  Take a look…

Our students, K-5, all participated in the Hour of Code this week, sponsored by Code.org.  The students have had a GREAT time learning to code!  Here is a short video we made with the students that participated on Monday.



Caught Off Guard!!!

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I attended the Georgia Educational Technology Conference (GaETC) and I have to say I have been caught off guard!  I consider myself pretty knowledgeable regarding technology in the classroom and how it is used!  I was on the cutting edge of using technology in the classroom, I brought BYOD to my school two years ago, I trained and rolled out iPads for all my teachers, etc.  I really thought I had a handle on educational technology.

A few weeks ago I even showed this video at a faculty meeting that caused quite a ruckus in our faculty because of the premises in the video!

When I showed this video at the staff meeting our teachers were all in a buzz, convinced that educational reforms weren’t going to hit home and we didn’t need to gear our instruction toward individual children, but rather still “teach to the masses”.  We had a great discussion over the future of education and what our classrooms would look like in the future.  The ADHD discussions from the video were intense and very thoughtful, as teachers definitely had strong feelings about the implications of medicating (that is for another post).  We talked about the “Date of Manufacture” line in the video and why we group our students by age, rather than interest.  I don’t believe in everything in the video but I certainly think the video gave excellent food for thought.  We even decided that we are going to watch more video like this at our staff meetings because the video stimulated conversation and the more we discuss issues as a staff the more we will become aligned in what we believe.  The more aligned we are in our beliefs, the stronger we are as a staff.

AND THEN, I came to this conference and was completely blown away.  When I showed that video to the teacher’s I thought individualized education was YEARS away, but coming here I realize that individualized education is ALREADY HERE!  I know I keep writing in caps, but I am truly shocked at what I have discovered at this conference.

I have been to this conference for many years and nearly did not come this year because I thought it would be more of the same – discussions about BYOD and how to use iPads in the classroom.  While there is some of that, I have sensed a real shift in education – the shift to online and blended learning.  I didn’t realize how close this was to reality until coming to this conference.

I live in Georgia and according to the Keeping Pace report we are really ahead in our approach to online education.  It is law in GA to provide students with an online alternative if the class that they want to take is not offered in their school.  This service is provided through the Georgia Virtual School.  The school has to provide the class and the time during the day to take that class!  I was shocked!  I didn’t know this was the case.  As a private school, my school will need to keep pace with the offerings of the public school.  This is a game changer for us.  Luckily, my school is already researching these options now.

Also, new to me was the concept of MOOCs.  MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.  MOOC’s can be offered by anyone and they are usually sponsored by colleges and universities and they are FREE!  I was amazed at the number of MOOC’s available and ANYONE can join and participate in them.  I am going to participate in this MOOC by Kennesaw State University this winter and it is FREE, I will receive PLU and I could also potentially receive graduate course credit.  I am sure there will be a small fee for the graduate course credit portion, but can you imagine how MOOC’s will change education?

Even in elementary school I can see big implications for online and blended learning.  I think this type of learning will first impact elementary school with our students that need enrichment and remediation.  I can see a Orton Gillingham certified teacher being made available to more students that need reading help through and online provider.  Our babies that need explicit reading instruction, taught by a highly trained teacher, would be more available through online resources.  I can also see a teacher online for our babies that need enrichment.  Our students that need more of a challenge could gather together with other like-minded students and be enriched by a robotics teacher or a higher level math teacher.  I think then after these needs are filled we will see the online and blended learning trickle down to the average classroom.

I think this opens up amazing opportunities for our students.  I also do not worry that this is going to replace me in the classroom, but I do know that my job may look different in the future.  We know the single most important difference in learning is a highly skilled teacher – so I think as educators we are all safe, but I think our role and what it looks like may drastically change over the new few years!

iPad Carts, Year 2

Last year we introduced iPad carts into our offered technology for the classroom.  We had a mass push to give all of our teachers iPads, allow our students to bring their own technology to school, and put iPads in the hands of our students.  We choose iPads very specifically.  We thought about many different technologies, however, at the time the iPad was head and shoulders above the rest.  The main reason we chose iPads, especially in the lower school, was because of the iTunes store.  We felt it was extremely important that the apps we use and the devices we put in front of the students have an extra level of security on them.  The security I am referring to is the fact that the apps have been rated and approved by Apple before being put in the iTunes store.  For android devices, anyone can post an app to the store – we wanted the assurance that if a student went to the app store and downloaded an educational game, that the game would really be educational and not something we didn’t want our students to see.  As students move into middle and high school I could see an argument for android devices – especially in programming classes.  For our school the iPad was the best choice – although if our students bring their own device, they may bring whatever device they have.

We started last year with three iPad carts.  I used the Apple Configurator to setup the devices, along with the Volume Purchasing Plan for apps.  I have had many frustrating moments with the Apple Configurator and I managed to erase student work many times last year with the configurator.  I know their are other ways to monitor and deploy iPad carts, but right now this seems to be the best option for us.  The configurators latest version, appears to be much more user friendly and I have reimaged and deployed four iPad carts this year with ease.  I am hoping that Apple has decided to put a little more effort into the configurator and the software will continue to improve.

A few notes about the configurator – DO NOT unplug a device while it is updating with the configurator – even if it appears to be in a loop – this will erase the device (I know from experience!).  The configurator also automatically loads the last setting for the device you are updating when you plug in the device again.  Be sure that after you have updated your device, BEFORE you unplug the configurator that you put the settings where you want them to be next time you plug in the device.  For example, if you are loading an image that restores a previous iPad, make sure that you change the setting to “Don’t restore Backup” and apply those settings, before you unplug the cart.  This way, next time you plug that cart in the configurator won’t erase everything the students have put on the iPads.  I only know this because I have had to explain to little second-graders that I erased their Puppet Pals creations.  Nothing can make a person feel worse than explaining to a 7 year-old that you made a mistake and cost them their work :-(.

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This year we added a 4th iPad cart and I haven’t had any of the trouble with the configurator I did last year.  During last year I stopped updating the iPads because I was worried I was going to erase more work! Over the summer the I restored all the iPads to a “backed up” image, to erase them and begin fresh.  I added Tony Vincents backgrounds to our iPads, so that as soon as the students open the iPad, they know the iPad slot number and the cart.  I used sketch, to add the iPad cart letter (our carts are labeled A-D) so the first iPad on the cart A, has 1A as the background.  Inside the cart, I also number each iPad slot with sharpie and each cord that connects the iPad to the cart.  This helps the students put the iPad back in the correct slot.


One of the best posts I read on the Apple Configurator is, Oh Apple Configurator, I will Not Be Defeated!  If you have used the Apple Configurator you understand that the title of that post is extremely fitting!  In my next post I will post examples of all of the FABULOUS work our students have created with the iPads.