Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Digital Learning Day 2016

February 17, 2016 will mark the fifth anniversary of Digital Learning Day. According to the Digital Learning Day website, "Digital learning is any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience. It emphasizes high-quality instruction and provides access to challenging content, feedback through formative assessment, opportunities for learning anytime and anywhere, and individualized instruction to ensure all students reach their full potential to succeed in college and a career."

Some things you can do to participate in Digital Learning Day:

If you want to jump into the deep end, you can even plan and register an event that will highlight the goals and objectives of digital learning, and register your event here.

We'd love to hear from you! If you decide to participate in Digital Learning Day 2016, tell us about by sending an email to pisdhotspot@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Edcamp: An Innovative Model for Professional Learning

What is an edcamp?

An edcamp is an unconference that is educator-driven and educator-led. It's typically held on a Saturday, free of charge, and the schedule of sessions is made that day! That's because the attendees are the ones who decide on what educational topics they'd like to learn more about and what topics they'd like to facilitate a conversation about.

If you're new to the edcamp style of professional learning, start with this video.

For a more comprehensive description of edcamps, visit www.edcamp.org. Props to the Edcamp Foundation and the original Edcamp founders: Dan Callahan, Mary Beth Hertz, Kevin Jarrett, Ann Leaness, Christine Miles, Mike Ritzius, Hadley Ferguson, Kim Sivick, Kristen Swanson, Nicolae Borota, Rob Rowe.

Why should you attend?

Teachers, librarians, instructional specialists/coaches, administrators, speech language pathologists, counselors, no matter what your role is, anyone in education can benefit from attending an edcamp for many reasons, including:
  • it's free
  • it's a no-pressure opportunity to share ideas and learn from like-minded educators
  • you get to choose which sessions to attend/facilitate
  • you "vote with your feet" so when you've had your fill of one session, just go to another. It's laid-back.
  • there are no "presenters", just facilitators. So you don't have to prepare a presentation. If you sign up to facilitate, just be ready with some ideas and resources to facilitate a conversation on the topic.  
  • there are prize give-aways at the end!
Edcamps are about participant-driven learning. Not so much "sage on the stage" but rather the "guide on the side" model of learning.

Pinterest board of resources

Check out Leah's Edcamp Pinterest board for more visuals and reading material to convince anyone that it's a great opportunity for learning.

Twitter Chat!

Don't forget to join our #pisdedchat tonight, Jan. 19 at 8 pm CST. It's all about Edcamps!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Need a Website Unblocked for Educational Purposes?

Has this ever happened to you? You found the coolest educational website for your students, only to discover that it's blocked for them at school!? Ugh!

Did you know that you can request for a website to be unblocked using our Web Sense request form? We have revamped how the approval process works so now it's faster than ever! If you have found a website that you know your students need to be able to access in order to successfully complete an assignment/project, fill out the form (see the link below) and you will hear back within a day or two max.

Here's how! 

  1. Go to https://forms.pisd.edu/SiteRequest/Login.aspx and enter your PISD username and password to sign in. 
  2. Just fill in the information it asks for to the best of your knowledge. See the example screenshot below. 
  3. In the "reason for the status change" box, tell us how the website will be used for educational purposes. 
  4. Click Submit!
  5. The Instructional Technology Department will review your request as soon as possible. 
  6. You will receive an email letting you know whether it's been opened*. 
*We cannot guarantee that every website requested will be unblocked. But please know that it will undergo a thorough review process and, if it seems appropriate, we'll open it!

One more thing. In the example below, this particular website was opened just for the week of the project. It was closed again after the project was over. So be sure to include whether you would like the website to be unblocked indefinitely or if it's just for a few days and we will do our best to honor that request. 

Link on the Hotspot Site

For future reference, the link to Web Sense is on the PISD Tech Kit page on our Hotspot website.