Through the Eyes of an iCoach: December Edition

12:02:00 PM

December brought us many gifts: collaboration with other districts, creativity with students, redefining our role, reflecting on our practice and much more. 


District 135 hosted and participated in our very first Twitter Chat on innovation. This was an incredibly BIG step for us and we so appreciate everyone who participated. We had 53 participants, 261 tweets, 40 re-tweets and representatives from all 10 buildings! See below for our Ed Chat winners, participants and take-aways!

#135Ed Chat Historical 1st Innovative Chat

Jr. High Teams

This month the ISTE standard we chose to focus
on during our teams was empowerment. So, it was only natural that our theme be, Choose Your Own Adventure. We really wanted our learners to have choice in their learning so that they could take ownership of it. So, we sent out a form prior to meeting with teams to get a feel for what they wanted to learn about and went from there. We planned three different break out sessions: one Apple based, one Google based and one Skill building based. To start, we shared this video with teachers:

Our thinking was that, people are more inclined to invest time, effort and energy into something when they are engaged. We then introduced teachers to Apple Teacher badges, where they can go through different tasks on their Mac to earn badges towards becoming an Apple Teacher; Google Forms and how to create choose your own adventure opportunities within their own classrooms; and Gamification. The last option has become one of our favorites. We designed a tutorial showing teachers how to gamify their classroom through goal setting, badging and authentic feedback. We also provided teachers with a few handy gaming resources that have some pre designed lessons that could be easily edited and implemented that day.

It was amazing to see the way teachers took to these different tools. Many teachers created resources and used them that same day. Others collaborated with teachers from different teams to make universal badges for their students. It was so exciting to be able to work with teachers on something that engaged them that they could instantly use in their classroom.

We are very proud of the work everyone in District 135 has done both with technology integration but also with student centered learning through formative assessments, goal setting and student led conferencing. We are continuing to curate resources for these team meetings and are so thrilled to see the take-aways in action. At the end of each team meeting, every teacher earned a Choose Your Own Adventure badge for their efforts in creating engaging lessons for their students. Stay tuned for our updated Gamificaiton Resources!

Winter Class Lessons

The month of December is always incredibly busy for educators. This month was exactly that! We were fortunate enough to get into many classrooms in all buildings throughout the district to co-teach a variety of lessons. It is always fun to see the holiday excitement in the students faces and feel that buzz in the air that exists during the weeks before winter break. So, we decided to use that energy and excitement to our advantage! Many teachers are already doing some amazing things with Pages and Numbers and we wanted to introduce some new tools too.

As teachers, we love a good theme--it is especially satisfying when a plan just fits together! We had some awesome winter writing Pages projects created this month. We had students dress up in their winter gear to take a picture. They then erased the background using Instant Alpha in Pages and imported themselves into a winter scene. They were then able to create a narrative to go along with their image to share with their classmates. Other classes used Pages to create a venn diagram where students compared different winter texts and vocabulary. Finally, many schools incorporated The Polar Express into their units of study. Seesaw, again, proved to be a great platform for sharing different interactive activities with students!

Our “Do You Want to Build A Snowman” Stop Motion project was easily differentiated and can be modified to be used in any subject area. We met with students K-2 and introduced the idea of Stop Motion first. Then, working in small groups, partners or sometimes centers, students drew, pasted or molded a snowman--making sure to take a picture after each new addition to their work. The results were awesome! Several teachers even challenged their students to create a stop motion video of themselves opening up a present on Christmas morning--although, I’m sure it will be a challenge for kids to wait that long to reveal their gift! You can see some of the published Stop Motion videos on display along with students work at Center School. The students made their videos, published them and then created a QR code for guests in the building to watch the art come alive. Students at Centennial School created three different versions of snowmen and posted their videos to Seesaw.

In addition to our Stop Motion project, we also worked in the upper elementary grades on incorporating Google Classroom into their daily routines. Several classes are using Google Classroom to annotate pieces of text and summarize reading passages. We’ve also used Seesaw at the primary levels to add text as well as audio to their illustrations. Check out this adorable recording studio for students to use when creating their videos.

Finally, as the weeks starting winding down we introduced students to virtual read alouds. We found a digital copy of the Gingerbread Man and asked student to take note of specific main ideas in the story using Number Frames. Some students were then asked to write a word problem based on the information they gathered while others shared their thinking out loud. Then, each student learned how to save a picture to their device that represented their main idea. We then manipulated the image they found or picture they took in Chatterpix to say the famous repeated phrase, “Run, Run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man!” Students had fun decorating their images and making them unique. We shared our finished products with parents in Seesaw and went on to use our new tools throughout the week!

We are so fortunate to be in a role that allows us to see into such a wide variety of classrooms. We get to work with so many amazing teachers and wonderful students. It was so fun to see the different spin each class put on the tools and projects we collaborated with them on. We are excited for the months to come. Stay tuned for our next project idea for the New Year--Growth Mindset Resolutions and Goal Setting! See you next year!

2.0 Field Trip to Berwyn

This month the 2.0 Apple group had an opportunity to go on a field trip to visit Berwyn South 100 to observe their technology integration, instructional practices & flexible learning spaces. They have been an Apple Distinguished Program since 2012. Prior to the visit, we prepared ourselves with questions, checked out their website and had our iPads ready to take lots of pictures so we could share our field trip opportunities with the rest of the district.

Berwyn 100 opened their doors 3 different dates to accommodate our large groups. At their district office, we were welcomed by their Instructional Director, Jordan Garrett, who shared their story. We were able to share our goals for the visit and had a small amount of time to ask questions.  Then we all hopped on a old fashion school bus to head to one of their schools.  Many great instructional practices were observed Kindergarten through Eighth grade. Teachers and administrators observed various lessons including many small group instruction lessons, student-driven centers and creative opportunities for students through the use of their iPads. Many examples of formative assessments were observed through “Show What You Know” boards, exit slips using QR codes, use of “Class Kick” for demonstration of mastery and more.  Our teachers realized we are heading in the right direction with our technology integration. A few new tips & apps were gathered to bring back to our classrooms here. If you were not able to attend, ask your 2.0 Apple Vanguard teammates and please join us on this field trip by watching this movie.

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