Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Common Sense Media Signature School

We take very seriously the idea of being a Common Sense Media Supporter School. When San Domenico went 1:1 with iPads everyone agreed it would be important to embrace the technology and all that comes with it including games, distractions, and potential dangers. We knew that teaching our Dominican values would help our students recognize the complexity of this technologically advanced learning environment and to respond with integrity to any challenge they face.

But it doesn't come easy. Digital citizenship lessons built by our own teachers over the past four years are the backbone of this program. We are very proud of our middle school teacher Wynn Richards who is a certified Common Sense Educator. Wynn is the architect for many of our digital citizenship lessons.

But this hasn't happened in a vacuum. Many of our lessons were created from resources provided by Common Sense Media. In fact, this year we began using the Common Sense Media Digital Literacy and Citizenship Student Workbooks with our middle school students. Being 1:1 with iPads makes it very easy to have these resources right there in front of our students. These and many other resources are available free on their website as electronic books or .pdf documents for educators, students, and parents.

And we don't stop there. Each year we provide opportunities for parents to learn along with us about how we use iPads in learning and how we provide the best possible tools for students to thrive in these conditions. It's not enough to just say "the best filter is the one between your ears."

This year we launched into the Common Sense Media Bay Area Supporter School program which brings even more resources to the school community as a whole and helped reinvigorate our curriculum and teacher preparation. One of the tools they provide is the widget located here in this blog entry. The widget provides dynamic links to current stories relevant to parents from the Making Sense blog:



Here is a snippet from a recent blog entry:

     "YouTube personalities become popular because they speak directly to their fans, with no network oversight, no whitewashing of their language, and no fancy production. They say what they want. They're real. But given that these folks are making big bucks off their YouTube channels - and making a huge impression on kids -- it's important that parents get clued in to who they are."
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We look forward to partnering with our families to educate all our students to become good digital citizens. We appreciate having Common Sense Media tools at our disposal for this important aspect of our work. We hope you will take advantage of them as well.

Brad Lakritz - Director of Technology

Students Teaching Students!

Question: What happens when we see that the updated iCal app is no longer a great tool to record homework?

Answer: Informally survey the students to discover their preferred apps. The top two contenders were myHomework and The Homework app.

Solution: This problem provided a great opportunity for 12 students from grades 6, 7, and 8 to step into a leadership role to teach other students. The group of twelve was randomly paired up to visit each 6th grade Advisory to share the two apps. In watching the “junior teachers” in action, they were awesome! Each pair shared their app of preference by projecting the app and then showing the various functions. They also talked about what they liked about it and then answered questions.

Students teaching students at San Domenico
Our 6th grader rocked it! “Since it is my first year in middle school, going up and speaking in front of a class helped me build confidence not just for speaking, but it also helped give me confidence that I can have for the rest of my 6th grade year. This experience will help me feel more comfortable speaking to a large audience in the future.”

Our 7th grader had a great time! “It was a fun way to be in the teachers shoes for a little bit and sharing something with younger kids.”

Our 8th grader had a blast! “It was really fun teaching the sixth graders about the homework apps, they all listened and asked really good questions. The messed around with us too and made some really funny jokes.”

And from the teachers: "They were all so helpful and informative that my advisees immediately downloaded one of the apps to try out.  Well done!”

And one more, “I love it when students get to be in a role of leadership to show off their skills.”

Students teaching students is quite an empowering moment of leadership!

Kali Baird - Director of High School Advising
PreK-8 Science and Technology Lead

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

iTeach 2014 - June 15-17, 2014

San Domenico's Dominican values of Study and Reflection are integral to our annual technology conference iTeach.

Ryan Hopper and Melissa Yazzolino - iTeach 2014
Each year we offer as many as 75 workshops, panel discussions, and keynote addresses. These sessions are specifically designed to provide professional development for teachers integrating iPads and other technology in their schools. Over 80% of iTeach sessions are taught by San Domenico teachers.

Lower School Technology Facilitator Ryan Hopper presented several sessions during the three day conference. "Thanks for putting on the event" he said, "I'm exhausted but grew as a presenter, speaker, facilitator and general tech enthusiast!"

Kali Baird - Teaching iPad Basics
Our iTeach 2014 Sunday iPad basics workshop was the largest ever with 40 participants. PreK-8th Technology and Science Lead Kali Baird took her participants through a series of exercises designed to help them feel comfortable using iPads. The more comfortable they are with technology the more likely teachers will use technology with their students.

Jason Clarke - Teaching iPad Basics
Another highlight of the conference this year was the student panel. Students from all school levels at San Domenico shared their experiences learning with technology. Students described how they made art, managed their files and homework with cloud resources, how they used the iPad for note taking, and generally described ways the iPad helps them throughout the learning process.

Our teacher panel centered on the SAMR Model. Led by Baird in conversation SD teachers explored how they use technology to redefine their educational processes and goals. Developed by Ruben R. Puentedura, the SAMR model looks at how different uses of technology in learning can substitute for traditional teaching tools and methods; augment the lessons with improvements; modify tasks students are expected to do; and eventually to redefine the tasks and learning processes.

San Domenico School Director of Religious Studies Mirza Kahn produced a short video to provide you with some additional insight to the power of iTeach. Please let us know if you are interested in attending iTeach 2015. We'd love to see you there!

Brad Lakritz
Director of Technology




Friday, April 11, 2014

Augmented Reality Arrives in SD Primary School

Recently I attended the Computer Using Educators (CUE) conference in Palm Springs with three of my SD colleagues. Among the new educational technologies I learned about at CUE, I was most impressed with apps that integrated augmented reality.

Augmented reality associates objects or images with a video or other media using image and object recognition technology. Objects come to life when a digital device (such as an iPad) recognizes them through one of these Apps. Some of the apps I saw included Aurasma, Elements 4D, Anatomy 4D, and colAR Mix. 

I decided to use this technology in my teaching because I thought it would be a very effective way to engage both the young learners in my class and other teachersFor my first experiment I used Aurasma. 

The goal of this project was to review turning fractions into decimals. 

I provided each student with a different fraction. Students created videos explaining how they solved the problem. They uploaded their videos to the Aurasma cloud system.
Students then made an “aura” of their equation. The aura can be either an image or a three dimensional object. In this case I had my students make a small drawing of their equation.

Students used the Aurasma App to associate their video to their aura. Their aura became the trigger that launched their video in which they explain their thought process of solving their equation. 



Each “aura” and video is unique to the students’ iPad so that they are only watched with the student's permission.  Students were able to show off their work to adults visiting on Grandparents and Special Friends DayThe fourth-graders were beaming when showing their videos and it was amazing to see them take such pride in their math work!  

I definitely plan to use this app again for a geometry scavenger hunt. I can't wait to see how my next experiment goes. It's also great to hear that many other teachers plan to start using Aurasma as well so that we are able to collaborate and come up with new ways to incorporate this technology.


Ryan Hopper
Math Teacher
Primary School Technology Facilitator 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Using Book Creator For 8th Grade Spanish Cultural Reports

For several reasons, time with my 8th graders in the fourth quarter is scarce. I always wonder how I will fit it all in! Projects tend to be time consuming. Sometimes I am forced to omit a valuable project. In this case I used a time-saving App called Book Creator so that students didn't have to miss out on a chance to demonstrate their progress in pronunciation and to learn about Puerto Rico's rainforest.

With Earth Day approaching I also felt it was the perfect opportunity for cross-curricular learning.

Book Creator made this project quick, easy, and fun. Creating an e-Book allows students to express themselves creatively and quickly in the actual design of the book. They can make choices about what to write and narrate in Spanish. I like the fact that Book Creator allows them the opportunity to record their own voice speaking Spanish. Using only their iPad, they accomplished this in two class periods.

Assessment is an important aspect of project based learning. My eighth graders strive all year to speak with an authentic Spanish accent and pronounce unfamiliar words correctly. This app made assessment easy. By listening to one or two short passages, I am able to pinpoint problem sounds and make recommendations for each student.

Submitting work can be a challenge when doing digital projects. I developed a simple digital work flow where my students share their e-Book with me in Google Drive. I download the book and open it in iBooks to listen and assess. iBooks allows me to file and organize student projects by class sections.

Although reading and writing in Spanish about the rain forest were desired outcomes for this project, my main objective was to assess their pronunciation and reading abilities. Book Creator was a perfect choice to achieve this goal.

Deborah Fugate
Middle School
Spanish Teacher