Notes from SXSWedu 2012 Concurrent Session
Region XIII and Rockdale ISD
Dr. Howell Wright, Superintendent of Rockdale, made an appearance by pre-recorded video.
In 2009 Rockdale focused on new learning goals and worked to get buy-in from leadership and parents. Used a visioning document by TASA.
We need teachers who don't give students answers, but give them questions.
"We don't talk about reforming our district; we talk about transformation."
Project based learning is good instruction. Working across disciplines is natural and not contrived.
Learnings: Teachers will always be necessary. There needs to be change in teaching and learning.
Rockdale has had significant increases in grades, attendance, and behavior.
We want to educate our students for their future, not our past.
Change is inevitable, growth is optional.
Rebecca King, Director of Teaching and Learning
9th Grade Academy students are all using Project Share for eportfolios. Courses and groups are used to communicate with students, classmates, and teachers. They are also using it in science to communicate with students in Irving ISD and CyFair ISD.
Symbaloo Edu - a tool they found last year and have come to love it. It is the home page for all of their students. It has graphical links to all of the resources they need. Link for Rockdale is http://tigernation.symbaloo.com/. Symbaloo allows you to create free accounts but for a fee you can have a branded site like Rockdale does. Each of their teachers and students can customize what they see here. They are also able to put custom links to Symbaloo inside of Project Share. (Note for Region XIII ESC - they can provide Symbaloo training,)
Google Apps for Education - new to Rockdale. Allows for collaboration through docs, calendars, and sites.
AUP - Over the summer this was rewritten. Made more concise and to the point. Focuses on digital citizenship. Focus on Respect & Protect yourself, others, and intellectual property. Thinking of moving more toward a Responsible or Required Use Policy. AUP is on their website.
Gena Helton - Coordinator of Freshman Academy - Project Based Learning
Video from Buck Institute to give an overview on PBL:
School can be more interesting and effective by focusing on work that matters. Most adults live in a world where they actively solve problems. PBL puts students on a path that deepens their knowledge and builds life skills they will need.
Every project starts with a Driving Question. Curriculum, TEKS, incorporated into an open question.
Ex: What is justice? Why don't I fall off my skateboard? How can we use the language of poetry to better understand the world around us?
Teacher scaffolds the information needed. Decides on what will be assessed at the end and how it will be assessed. Multiple formative assessments - Ex: exit tickets, I have/who has - performed throughout the project.
Critical friend technique lets students discuss what they know and what they want to learn.
To get students started: pose questions, open possibilities, spark interest, set student roles.
Students then brainstorm what they know and what they need to know. Periodically throughout project they refer back to this document and add questions as necessary.
Students work in groups. Two or three seems to be the best number. Each group decides the direction of their project. They create a problem statement and create a contract which tells who is going to do what. Contract is pretty formal. Students set goals, assignments, and deadlines. If they go through the formal process of removing a student from the group, the students has to do the project alone.
Technology is seamlessly integrated because it is needed. There is direct instruction throughout mixed with group work time. Teacher asks as facilitator/learner and does individual , group instruction on a need to know basis.
Teachers do not have desks in their classrooms. There is one room that is a shared teachers' office. They can use that place to collaborate together.
Projects culminate in products that are presented. Present to appropriate audience. Ex: present to business leaders if your problem had to do with business. Can be play, poetry slam, formal presentation, etc.
Grading is done by a rubric. Students also assess each other and teacher takes that into consideration. Rubrics apply to the project process and final presentation.
Teaches digital citizenship, problem solving, higher level thinking, meets needs of all types of learners. Creates higher attendance and more successful learners which leads to improved test scores.
Lewis Wynn - Director of Technology (NOTE: Kudos to this panel for including this piece!)
BYOD goal was simple: turn on a device and automatically connect to the network. Alerady had a district-wide wireless system in place. Overall it was OK but had some shortcomings.
With PBL and BYOD, everything changes! Firewall. Capacity. Subnetting. Coverage.
Security - 2 things you must know at all times are "who is on your network" and "what are they doing"
Bandwidth Management - Airwave 7 from Aruba Networks - 75% rule is now the 250% rule - every kid has at least one device, some have two. They are currently at 25 MB connection and they are looking at going to 50.
Network changes - DHCP, Sub netting, Firewall rules
Make sure you have management tools and your helpdesk is ready to handle complaints. If you do it right, it is easier to handle the problems that will come along. Make sure it's the user's device that is having the problem, NOT your wireless.
Be nice to your technical people! They know you need it to work well and work hard to keep it there.