Monday, March 26, 2018

Effective Media Specialists and Programs in Minnetonka

Last year our media program in Minnetonka was formally reviewed by our School Board. It was the first time a comprehensive review of the media program had been done. Our media department is based on best practices and standards from AASL, ISTE, CSTA, and ITEM. Here is the slideshow from the Board presentation. Our media department co-chairs are Kelli Whiteside and Erin Carcamo.

Future Ready Librarians- source
In Minnetonka, we have one media specialist at each of six elementary schools, one who splits time at both of our middle schools, and one at our high school. Media Specialists at our elementary schools directly instruct students in grades 1-5 each week for about 25 minutes. Our media specialists wear many hats, from teaching to managing the print and electronic resources, providing staff development, being the first stop for technology troubleshooting, to being a building leader. Here is the job description for our media specialists

As part of our work last year, we talked about the role of a media specialist and what makes for an effective media specialist in regards to collaboration, instruction, leadership and support. We agreed upon the following:

Collaboration - Collaborating with educators and students to design and teach engaging learning experiences that meet individual needs. Fostering partnerships within the school, District, and broader community.

What should media specialist collaboration look like in Minnetonka?

  • Participates actively in a cross district PLC
  • Promotes sharing of ideas and programs between media specialists
  • Connects with grade levels and departments when they meet as PLCs and as teams to create a cohesive/coordinated instructional plan.
  • Advocates for community connections such as partnerships with public libraries to create opportunities for lifelong learning
  • Develops a quality library collection - print and digital resources, immersion and English programs, connected to classroom curriculum, quality literature
  • Orients towards customer service - supports building efforts in important areas such as testing, assemblies, parent events, etc.
  • Asks for feedback - conducts time studies, surveys, etc. to identify strengths and define goals
Instruction - Providing students and staff with instruction and resources that reflect current information needs and anticipate changes in technology and education.
  • Digital Citizenship/Internet Safety - Uses Common Sense Media and other instructional resources to teach key concepts
  • Media Literacy/Literature Appreciation - Providing access to materials in all formats, including up-to-date, high-quality, varied literature to develop and strengthen a love of reading.
  • Technology Operations/Concepts - Instructing students and assisting educators in using, evaluating, and producing information and ideas through active use of broad range of appropriate tools, resources, and information technologies.
  • Research/Information Fluency - Instructing students and assisting educators in the knowledge, integration and ethical use of quality research tools, both print and digital as well as develop strategies to evaluate information found online
What should media specialist instruction look like in Minnetonka?
  • Initiates opportunities to push into classrooms to teach and co-teach
  • Maximizes the media specialist role as teacher - create opportunities to provide direct student instruction
  • Covers digital citizenship, literature appreciation, research/inform. fluency and technology skills/concepts
  • Leads school and works with district to promote good digital citizenship and educate parents, students and staff (includes Common Sense Media)
  • Offers opportunities for students beyond classroom instruction (news broadcasts, book clubs, computer science clubs, collaborative work time with classmates)
  • Develops and implements elementary, middle and secondary digital citizenship instruction
  • Maximizes the use of District digital tools for instructional purpose (Develops and uses Schoology digital content, integrates iPads, especially 1:1, integrates Google Drive as a teacher and student production/creation tool, seeks to use other online tools to engage students)
Leadership - Providing leadership in the total education program
  • Advocacy - Advocating for strong school library programs as essential to meeting local, state and national education goals
  • Initiative - Positively approach school and District initiatives and innovations and seek ways to support them
What should media specialist leadership look like in Minnetonka?
  • Regularly checks in with building principal(s) to find ways to support building goals and efforts, remembering that principals supervise all teachers.
  • Takes initiative and serves as a catalyst for new ideas and effective collaboration (Take initiative!)
  • Communicates with parents using effective avenues and have a visible presence whenever possible (PTA/PTO groups, newsletters, curriculum night)
  • Connects with District initiatives (For example - coding/computer science, makerspaces, innovation teams, idea hunts)
  • Pays attention to and learn about future trends = personalized learning, makerspaces, genrefication, online learning
  • “Yes and” versus “No but”
  • Maintains a professional social media presence as both producer and consumer (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Leads technology initiatives and participates on building and District committees (Technology Committees, Digital Health and Wellness, Innovation, etc.)
  • Organizes and leads buildings as they prepare for site visits
  • Offers timely professional development and presents to teachers and staff during the school year, at August trainings, and at professional conferences
  • Operates flexibly and responds positively to unexpected challenges
  • Effectively uses the media budget to purchase materials that support District goals and curriculum

What should media specialist support look like in Minnetonka?
  • Manages the physical curriculum including student and teacher materials
  • Serves as the liaison between the building and district Technology Department to ensure technology is working smoothly
  • Manages the physical library space - keeping it organized and ready for all patrons
  • Works with the District office to help order, distribute, and track student and teacher curriculum materials, resources, and technology
Learn more about the media program in Minnetonka:

Monday, March 19, 2018

Just A Few Spots Left in the Minnetonka Spring Site Visit April 5, 2018

For the past 15 years, thousands of educators have visited Minnetonka Public Schools, including the National School Boards Association which hosted its second visit to Minnetonka in 2014. Come see learning in action, witness proven programs and gather innovative ideas which you can take back to your school! Our next visit is Thursday, April 5, 2018, and there are a few spots left. Register Today! Earlier this school year we hosted 75 visitors from five states across the country on October 27, 2017.

Historically, our tours focused on how Minnetonka uses technology as an accelerator of learning. Back in 2003, visitors came to see SMARTBoards and soundfields and a learning management system implemented in K-12. In 2011 visitors came to see iPads used in learning in a 1:1 environment. With the advent of our Teaching and Learning Instructional Framework the 2016 tour focus shifted from technology to the eight dimensions of the Framework and how they are embedded in our programming, our instructional platform, and our culture.

You can choose to start your visit at an elementary school, middle school or our high school. After your tours at a school, you will transition to our District Service Center for lunch and breakout sessions of your choice. Choose from a wide variety of sessions led by Minnetonka staff to learn how things work behind the scenes. Sessions include innovation, the Teaching and Learning Instructional Framework, online learning, coding, Design for Learning, assessment, the curriculum review process, gifted and talented programming, student support services, personalized learning, 1:1 iPads and more. More details on possible sessions from which to choose can be found here. Discover best practices for implementing meaningful instruction that will accelerate learning, have time to ask questions and head back to your own school full of ideas! Availability is limited in order to keep sessions small. Lunch is provided. Register Today!

Learn more about Minnetonka Schools and Technology Integration:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Stop Motion Races to Visually Demonstrate High School Physics Concepts

Sometimes technology offers an easy and better way to visualize concepts than traditional teaching methods. For example, recently in high school physics, ninth grade students were learning about velocity and acceleration. Understanding the differences between these terms is something that I can remember struggling with back when I was in high school, and back then I only remember copying down definitions for each term from a textbook. Recently students in Joe Cossette’s ninth grade Intro to Physical Science class at Minnetonka High School were learning this content and used their iPads to help visualize the meaning of these concepts.

To begin, students were given the velocity of one object and the acceleration of another object. They then had to use the Excel app on their iPad to calculate where and how far each of these objects would travel in a tenth of a second, creating a data table of this information. Students then used Excel to make a scatter plot showing the displacement of each object. Once they had their data, students set up their iPads on top of some textbooks as as tripod over a sheet of grid paper. The two objects were placed on the paper and then students set the objects on top of this.

They used the Stop Motion app to photograph the stationary objects, changing the frames per second on the app for 10 fps.  After the initial photograph, students moved each object the specified distance traveled in a 10th of a second using the values from their Excel data sets, took a second picture, and repeated this process 30 times. In other words, 10 pictures were taken per second to produce a 3 second video. The app then puts these all into a short video.

This video, along with the data set, was posted in a class discussion board on Schoology so classmates could view it and compare to their own. Since everyone was given different initial variables, students were able to compare and visually see the differences between acceleration and velocity in each group’s video. When I asked Joe about the task, he explained:

This task required students to perform a large variety of skills. It was fun to have a projected that involved rearranging kinematic equations, creating custom excel formulas for a table of data, inserting a motion graph, and producing a stop motion video. In many ways, this activity was a “reverse lab” experience for the students. Typically, the goal of physics is to collect data about a moving object and quantify its motion with a constant velocity or acceleration. This task provided the velocity and acceleration and required students to create the motion. Some students that have made stop motion videos on their own were excited to use the techniques from physics to help make their final products look more realistic. With the rise in computer animation, the idea of using physics to create movies that emulate the motion of the natural world is not only engaging, it is a strategy used by professionals in the work force.

I’ve seen other uses of stop motion in classrooms around Minnetonka, including students using construction paper cut outs to visualize/animate a movie about with rotation of the planets in the solar system as well as explain the reasons for the seasons. I sure wish these technology tools had been available when I was in science class, both as a teacher and as a student!
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Monday, March 5, 2018

KRTS Elementary Student Daily News Show: Kids Run The Station

Each weekday at two of our elementary schools as well as our high school, students provide morning announcements for their classmates through a televised morning new show. These new shows are written, anchored, directed and each produced by student teams. There is a mini TV studio in each of these three schools’ media centers where this all takes place. Recordings of these shows are then posted online for any students who missed it as well as parents to watch. 

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to appear on one of these new shows at scenic Heights Elementary School. The new show is called KRTS, and acronym that stands for Kids Run the Station. I was a guest for February’s I Love to Read Month, highlighting two of my favorite books: Tuesday by David Wiesner and Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. Media Specialist Melinda Barry has been running this student new show overseeing the student new show for 17 years. 

Every fifth grader at the school gets the opportunity to be a part of this morning show on a rotating schedule. There are multiple jobs from which they can choose including anchor, camera operator, director and more (see the full list further below). Daily features are a few noteworthy, age appropriate news items selected by students, the weather, sports, highlights of items in lost and found, and a Chinese Word of the Day (the school offers an optional Chinese language immersion program). The script is read off a teleprompter that is simply a Google Doc which Melinda has shared with the writers to edit beforehand. 

These news shows offer students the opportunity for real world learning as well as practice using collaboration and communication skills, each dimensions on the Minnetonka Framework for Teaching and Learning. Students enjoy this very much. Starting in kindergarten, they each look forward to running the show themselves some day as a fifth grader. One former Scenic Heights fifth grader is currently working in journalism. Writing and presenting stories for an authentic audience is a lifelong skill that's invaluable in almost any field.

KRTS Jobs:
Sound: Uses the sound board to turn the microphones up and down therefore controlling what the building hears during the broadcast.
Floor Director: Scrolls the teleprompter so the cast knows what to say.
Camera 1 & 2: Controls the cameras so the viewers see what they are supposed to see.
Tech Director: Uses the switcher to control what the building sees from either camera.

Head Anchor: Writes and presents a story that will appeal to kids kindergarten through 5th grade. Good topics include interesting animal facts, ways we can be "green", new developments in science, big events like elections….    Avoid stories about movies that aren't rated G or stories that would be scary to younger kids. Submit your story in the teleprompter and bring a hard copy.
Co Anchor: Writes and presents a school or local story that will appeal to kindergarten-5th grade students. Good topics include things that are happening at Scenic Heights or in Minnetonka schools, local events including theater productions, celebrations,....  Submit your story in the teleprompter and bring a hard copy.
Sports: Writes and presents a story that will appeal to kids kindergarten through 5th grade.Good topics include sports events at Scenic Heights, Minnetonka Schools sports events, Minnesota Pro team sporting events or major sporting events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics….  Submit your story in the teleprompter and bring a hard copy.
Weather: Writes and presents a story that will appeal to kids kindergarten through 5th grade. The story should include the temperature high and low, and a brief forecast (cloudy, sunny, snowy…).  Also include a brief weather fun fact.  Submit your story in the teleprompter and bring a hard copy.
Lost and Found: When you arrive at school in the morning, select four items from the Scenic Heights Lost and Found to bring to the studio and present on the show.  No preparation at home needed.  
Chinese Word of the Week: Welcome the first grader who will tell us the Chinese word of the week. No preparation at home needed.
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