Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How EdTech is Like Recruiting for Football

The other day, I posted this Tweet:

In my mind, this 136 character blurb was clearly an epiphany! But maybe not - I got one Twitter “favorite” so perhaps I need to expand on what I mean, share the layers to this idea (and it still may just be a tweet, a regular tweet).

In a meeting with non-ed tech folks, I was trying to explain the nuances of the reality of integrating technology. And it hit me! Integrating technology was like asking every member of your school to join a sports team, like football. Now, if you think about your own reaction to playing football and then think of some of your co-workers and what their reactions may be, it becomes clear. Some teachers would be, “Whoo-hoo! I LOVE football and know all the rules and, WOW! This is just awesome!” While other teachers will have recoiled at the thought, while thinking, “I hate football and don’t even understand the game!” Or, “What!?! What do they want me to do now? I am too old for this!”

Well folks, this is just like integrating technology. Like joining a football team, using or having technology enter your classroom has a distinct and individualized emotional response. Ignoring this response or diminishing its power is a sure way to fail. Recognizing and hearing what is often unspoken (but still communicated) is perhaps one of the most important elements to creating an environment in which teachers feel safe enough to take risks!

How can you do this? One way involves directly identifying and discussing this emotional aspect in a faculty meeting, gathering or conference. I talk about the very differing responses and then clearly point out that this is completely normal - the nodding heads and reluctant chuckles work towards establishing camaraderie...exactly as we do for our students!

Additionally, tech professional development for teachers needs to be both broad AND deep. Broad to have enough choices that each teacher can relate to something or see it happening in their classes. Deep enough to meet the individual learning style of each teacher -- sounds impossible, BUT, offering individualized support goes a long way. Not all may use the individualized offer of professional development, but all benefit from knowing that that type of support exists.

To return to the football analogy, please take a moment to consider ALL of the parts of a successful football team: Coach (Director of Tech), assistant coaches (Technology Coordinators), and players (some teachers). However, where do the non-football playing teachers fit in? How can they be part of the team? It is not just those who can jump in and be players on the field. Who keeps the field in top shape? Draws the yard lines (is this even a thing?)? Organizes the schedule? Basically where I am going with this is that when teachers are asked to join a football team, they often think that they need to be an actual player of football to be successful. Once they realize that there are many differing roles, ie: differing approaches to integrating technology, their emotional response can dial down from the “fight or flight” response and into a place of openness, curiosity and creativity.

Kali BairdPreK-8 Technology and Science Lead

Monday, November 3, 2014

Upgrading to iOS 8 - A How To Lesson

After thoroughly testing Apple's new iOS, the technology department is ready to go ahead with a school wide upgrade process. We want all San Domenico iPad users to implement this update by Wednesday, November 11, 2014.

Please note: We would like users to implement this upgrade on their home network to prevent overloading our school network and so that you will have your device ready to go at school the next day. Also, there is one very significant issue related to your Notability App that we will address at the end of these instructions.

Please follow these instructions:

1.  This upgrade requires a large amount of space on your device. Make sure you have at least 5 GB of available storage on your iPad (preferably more). Here is a Business Insider article that explains why you need all this storage space on your iPad in order to perform this update. In the article you will also find a brief explanation of How to Free Up Space on your device in preparation for this process.

To check your available space open your Settings App. Tap General > About. Halfway down the screen is the Available storage. The amount available is listed on the right. If you do not have 5 GB of available storage you will need to clear space.
2.  Make sure your iPad documents and data are backed up. Check the digital tools presentation for instructions on how to set up iCloud, Google Drive, and Box back ups for your data.

3.  Make sure your iPad is fully charged and plugged in before you begin the update. For good measure we recommend you close all open Apps.

4.  To begin the upgrade open your Settings App. Tap General > Software Update > Download and Install

Note: This is a very large file download. Be patient in this process as it may take a long time before you see progress on your screen. Also, your iPad may have already downloaded the installer in which case you will see a button that only says Install. The entire process may take 45 minutes to an hour or more depending on your home network. 

If you do not have enough space to perform the upgrade the Download and Install button will be grayed out and you will not be able to activate the process until you clear enough space on your iPad.

5.  Once the iOS update is complete your iPad will restart. One of the first windows you will see provides you with an opportunity to Upgrade to iCloud Drive. Because of a compatibility problem with the Notability App at this time you should NOT choose this option. 

Tap Not Now instead. Your iPad will ask you a second time "Are you sure you don't want to upgrade to iCloud Drive." Tap Continue.


6.  Once you are successful upgrading your iPad to iOS 8 please open your Notability App and check your documents. Open a few of them to make sure your files are correct. After successfully opening your Notability files you may enable iCloud Drive. This new feature allows for sharing your documents across different devices.

7.  To enable iCloud Drive open your Settings App. Tap iCloud. You may turn on iCloud Drive there and configure some of your Apps to iCloud Drive including Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Safari, Notes, and Find My iPad.

To enable iCloud Drive in Notability open the App and tap the Settings gear in the lower left corner of the main window. Tap iCloud and slide over the switch to turn on iCloud Drive. Once again please be patient. Depending on how many documents you are connecting through iCloud Drive, the process may take some time to sync.

You also have the option of turning on Google Drive and Box back ups for Notability. You may use this feature to back up a variety of file types including .PDF and .RTF formats. We recommend you choose the Note option which allows you to open the file on different devices in the native Notability format.

Please note that the San Domenico technology department is happy to assist you with this process. Contact us through the tech support ticket system or stop by the office. We're happy to answer questions.

Brad Lakritz
Director of Technology

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

iOS 8 Comes to San Domenico

Each year Apple introduces new technologies designed to improve software and hardware functionality, better integrate computer systems, and expand our ability to communicate in the digital world.

Often new computer operating systems (or iOS for mobile devices) create problems for users with older hardware devices. In addition we sometimes experience incompatibilities with Apps which are yet to be updated and optimized for these operating systems.

The San Domenico technology department works very hard to assist in the transition to new operating systems. We help users avoid the system conflicts and loss of data that might occur in the process of updating their devices.

This is why we delayed the introduction of iOS 8 on the iPad. We appreciate the patience of our hundreds of staff, students, and families as they wait for our planned migration to the new iOS this year.

There are four major benefits of waiting to upgrade in these situations:

1. Software developers have time to catch up and update their Apps to be compatible with the new operating system.

2. Apple has time to improve and release their own OS and iOS updates in response to problems they identify.

3. This extra time also provides the San Domenico technology team time to analyze how the new OS impacts the important Apps we rely on in our daily work.

4. Our team can develop strategies and provide instructions on the update process for our users.

Next week we will give the go ahead for students and staff to update their San Domenico iPads. We'll provide some instructions specifically related to the new iCloud Drive and how it can impact different Apps we use.

Contact us via the tech support system if you have any questions before you update your iPad or if you experience problems afterward.

Of course, as always, please remember to perform your backups before moving ahead.

Brad Lakritz
Director of Technology

Monday, October 27, 2014

World Language Corner

As teachers and speakers of world languages, we occasionally hear parents say, “My child doesn’t need to learn a second language. I prefer that s/he focus on the ‘real’ subjects like math and English.” Likewise, students sometimes ask, “Why do I have to learn another language? Everyone in the world speaks English!” 

Below, we share a few of the reasons why other language learning is beneficial, useful, enriching, and (we would say) even life saving. These excerpts come from the Middlebury College Interactive Languages program:

FIVE (totally objective) REASONS everyone should know at least two languages:

1)     Students who study a world language for just one year score an average of 38 points higher on the SATs. (Even cooler: Students who took four years of a world language showed scores that were more than a hundred points higher on average.)
2)    The National Institutes of Health discovered that people who speak more than one language are much better at multitasking, which means walking on your hands while chewing gum should be a breeze.)
3)    According to an MITstudy, people who know two or more languages earn an average of $128,000 more in their lifetimes.
4)    2012. The year that researchers at the University of Cambridge discovered that people who know two languages are nicer. According to the research, bilingual folks are better able to tolerate differences and find solutions to conflict.
5)    835 eleven-year olds were tested on their cognitive ability in Scotland in 1947. Between 2008 and 2010, those same people were retested in their seventies. Of the 835 case studies, 260 knew at least two languages. THOSE 260 PEOPLE TESTED SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER IN COGNITIVE FUNCTION THAN THEIR SOLELY ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEERS.

People who know two or more languages can order dinner in another country without accidentally getting broiled squid. They can make friends with people from different cultures and countries. They can also ask for directions to the restroom and actually end up in the restroom. In our opinion, everyone should learn another language!

FIVE WAYS that being bilingual makes you smarter:

1)     In a Florida study, kids who knew two languages SCORED AN AVERAGE OF 23 TO 34 POINTS HIGHER on both math and language arts standardized tests than kids who only spoke one language.
2)    54% of PRESCHOOL AGE BILINGUAL CHILDREN ARE ABLE TO EASILY DISTINGUISH THE MEANINGS OF WORDS. Most children aren’t able to do this until elementary school.
3)    BABIES RAISED IN BILINGUAL HOMES demonstrated SUPERIOR COGNITIVE ABILITY – specifically the ability to seek new stimuli more quickly, as early as seven months old. (According to the National Academy of Sciences, that’s an early indicator of a high IQ.)
4)    People who know more than one language are able to PAY ATTENTION for 20% LONGER on average than their one-language-speaking friends.
5)    Bilingual people have .05 cubic millimeters more of gray matter in the parietal regions of their brains than those who speak only one language.

FIVE REASONS knowing a world language makes you more creative:

1)     People who know more than one language are better able to utilize a distinct area of the brain called Broca’s area. As infinite connections between words and language are made in the brain, these thinkers are able to better think creatively and abstractly.
2)    1, 596, 234 is the number of people who tuned in to the TedTalk by linguist Patricia Kuhl as she explained how bilingualism helped babies as young as six months old make use of sophisticated creative reasoning.
3)    A group of 60 bilingual students were studied alongside 60 of their one-language-speaking peers. The researchers found a noticeable difference in the level of detail and richness in descriptions by the bilingual student – proof that they thin more colorfully.
4)    DID YOU KNOW THAT IN JAPANESE, THERE ARE TWO WORDS FOR THE COLOR BLUE? One refers to lighter shades of blue and the other to darker one. Because different language vary so much in vocabulary, people who speak two languages are able to perceive things like color differently.
5)    45.4 MONTHS. Bilingual children showed a statistically significant increase in mathematical creativity (that’s code for thinking outside of the box) as early as 45.4 months. That’s less than four years old.

People who know two or more languages make our world more colorful. They can tell you about early Renaissance art and also pronounce the names of the artists correctly. They can speak with a flourish and cadence that sounds like a classic song.  In our opinion, people who speak more than one language are some of the most creative people in the world. 

PLEASE SHARE how knowing another language has changed or influenced your life. JUST e-mail your child’s language teacher – we would love to hear!

STAY TUNED for future posts.

Deborah Fugate
Middle School Spanish Teacher

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fourth Grade Has Respect

San Domenico fourth graders have been talking about respect this year and were inspired to write a song about it!
Mr. Hopper has "Respect." 

As part of our Second Step program, Mrs. Yazzolino and students discussed the importance of having respect for the earth, nature, our bodies, each other and most importantly, ourselves.

Students then wrote their own lyrics and we put them together for a "Respect Rap". With the help of Mr. Hopper's production skills we recorded a song called "A Great Word", which turned out to be a huge success.

Check it out and feel free to sing along:


Ryan Hopper
4th Grade Teacher
Lower School Technology Facilitator