Full Steam Ahead! A New Journey as "Director of Technology"

During the 2015-2016 school year, we will be utilizing Chromebooks in grades 3-12 and iPads in grades K-2.
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During the 2015-2016 school year, we will be utilizing Chromebooks in grades 3-12 and iPads in grades K-2.

Today is July 1st, 2015, and it is officially the first day of my new journey as "Director of Technology" for MSD of Steuben County! As I reflect and plan for this exciting new adventure, I keep coming back to a quote that a dear friend of mine introduced me to: "Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can!"

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Start Where You Are

So, where are we right now? I am very proud to say that our district is about to begin our very first year of "true 1:1" technology integration! During the 2015-2016 school year, we will be utilizing Chromebooks in grades 3-12 and iPads in grades K-2.

At our secondary levels, we will be focusing on "taking technology integration to the next level!" What does this mean? It means that now that we are familiar with the devices and how they function on a daily basis, it is time to think creatively about how we begin to accelerate beyond using technology at a basic "substitution" level. We need to begin our mission to "augment," or to add functional improvement to our lesson plans, to "modify" and redesign our ideas, and to "redefine" our teaching with the creation of new and previously thought inconceivable learning tasks. As Director of Technology, I am extremely excited to support our secondary teachers in this adventure, and to personally model the examples and expectations we are setting forth for our staff! Secondary teachers, get ready to move FULL STEAM AHEAD!

Our four elementary buildings will be focusing on their first year with Chromebooks in grades 3-5 and iPads in grades K-2. As we begin to get comfortable with our devices and Google Apps for Education, we will explore relevant and useful tools that allow our students to "make, create, publish, and do" fantastic things in our classrooms! I cannot wait for this school year to begin, and for our elementary teachers to finally feel the freedom of having a classroom no longer bound to 4 walls! Elementary teachers, get ready to move FULL STEAM AHEAD!

In grades K-12 we will also focus on Digital Citizenship, and what it looks like and means to be a "good" digital citizen. 2015-2016 IS GOING TO BE A FANTASTIC SCHOOL YEAR! Let's get ready to move FULL STEAM AHEAD!

Use What You Have

So, what do we have? Perhaps I should be asking, what "don't" we have? At MSD of Steuben County, we have the following:

  • Students who are eager and ready to "make, create, publish, and do" amazing things with Chromebooks and iPads!
  • Teachers who are dedicated to finding the very best ways to integrate technology into their teaching curriculum!
  • Administrators who work hard to support and model the effective use of technology for their teachers!
  • A small, but mighty tech team of men who work hard every day to maintain our infrastructure and devices for end-users!
  • A Director of Technology and Technology Integration Coordinator who are 100% dedicated to doing whatever it takes to empower teachers in their journey with technology integration! 

Let's use what we have and build upon that to push us FULL STEAM AHEAD into the 2015-2016 school year!

Do What You Can

So, what can we do? This school year, I am not "taking my district" FULL STEAM AHEAD on a technology journey. I am embarking "WITH THEM" on a technology journey FULL STEAM AHEAD! Together, we are going to do everything that we can reasonably do to make a positive impact on our students.

  • We can participate in "book studies" that help inspire us to use the things we are passionate about to enhance our teaching! Check out principal Amy Heavin's Summer Book Studies! We are reading "Teach Like a Pirate," by teacher and author Dave Burgess and "Ditch That Textbook," by teacher and author Matt Miller! When you get a free moment, you can check out Dave's TEDTalk here!
  • We can go to amazing workshops to see other educators modeling effective strategies and ideas that work in their classrooms! Check out our Summer of eLearning Conference on July 21st, 2015: IntegratED. Follow us on Twitter @IntegratEd15. Come to watch and support several of our very own MSD teachers as they present! 
  • We, as teachers and lead learners, can start learning how to search for inspiring content and ideas ourselves, rather than waiting for the ideas to be delivered, or "spoonfed" to us. On September 25th, 2015 we will have an amazing keynote speaker come in to share with us ways in which we can develop our own avenues for searching out awesome digital content and web tools with which our students can make, create, publish and do fantastic presentations! With these strategies, you can finally make Professional Development activites find their way to YOU!
  • We can support one another in collaborative conversations about things that are "working" in our classrooms and things that "aren't working" in our classrooms.

Finally, our teachers can have faith in the fact that they have a Director of Technology who believes in "using the right tool for the right teachable moment." Sometimes technology is the best tool for the task at hand, and sometimes it is NOT! If it is not the most efficient way of doing something, then don't do it that way :)

This summer, I have been participating in a book study focused on the book "Ditch That Textbook," by Matt Miller. Matt, who is a Spanish Teacher from Indiana, shares with us a very meaningful quote, "Let's outsource and automate what we can with technology to spend our time doing what's most important: living life!" One of my goals in my professional life is to be as efficient and as effective as possible in all daily tasks, so that I can spend time at home with my family, which includes my husbad, a wild 3 year-old named Howie, my newborn baby, Phoebe!

If nothing else, my biggest wish for the 2015-2016 school year, is to help my teachers learn to "outsource and automate what they can with technology to spend their time doing what's most important in life: LIVING LIFE!" Thank you so much, Matt Miller for sharing these words of wisdom with us! You are truly a teacher and an educator who "gets it!"

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We can make this coming school year whatever we want it to be. Thank you, MSD of Steuben County, for inviting me to transition into the role of "Director of Technology." Together, we will embark on a technology journey, FULL STEAM AHEAD!

cross-posted at cliffordtechnologycoach.blogspot.com

Kelly Clifford is Director of Technology for Metropolitan School District of Steuben County, Indiana. Read more at her blog cliffordtechnologycoach.blogspot.com



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