Friday, April 17, 2015

Day 137 - BEF Grant Brings More "Stability" To Learning In Mrs. Olshaw's Classroom

Mrs. Olshaw's classroom at Memorial School was recently awarded a grant from the Burlington Education Foundation to purchase Stability Balls for the classroom as a replacement for traditional chairs.

The grant proposal which was created by Mrs. Olshaw and her students had the following goal:

Our goal is to supply each child in the classroom with a stability ball. The use of Stability Balls in the classroom is not a new phenomenon, they are a proven to be a successful tool for decreasing out-of-seat behavior while increasing achievement, engagement, and focus in the classroom. Stability balls also provide a health benefit as well. As posture improves from working the core muscles, calories are burned with the constant movement by the body's natural kinesthetic energy .

The students in Mrs. Olshaw's classroom have noticed a difference already and feel that they are more productive in their new "seats." 

Check out a few more pictures of some of the students below. For more on stability balls in the classroom, check out this link from LiveStrong.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 136 - Guest Artist Arnie Casavant Gives Painting Demonstration - Ms. Chang - BHS Art Dept.

The Drawing and Painting students were treated to a great lecture by guest artist Arnie Casavant today. He created a quick landscape painting using complimentary colors for the students. During his demonstration Arnie highlighted key topics and how to start a landscape painting. The students were thrilled and excited to start their paintings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 135 - A Visit To The JFK Library - Patrick Murphy - Fox Hill Library Media Specialist

On Wednesday, April 1st, I was fortunate enough to attend the Sources of Inspiration conference at the JFK Library in Boston. I got to meet authors and illustrators Robert Burleigh, Bryan Collier, and Elizabeth Partridge, and hear them speak about their art and their books. They also autographed a few books for Fox Hill! The conference was put on by both the JFK Library and the National Park Service, so I also had a great time chatting with the park rangers from the John F. Kennedy National Historical Site. Both are wonderful places to visit if you are looking for something exciting to do! Below are some links and a few photographs from the day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 134 - The Annual New York City Art Field Trip - Ms. Djordjevic - BHS Art Dept.

This year Mr. Mistler and I escorted 49 fantastic art students on a trip to MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art) and the galleries in Soho, NYC. It is one very long day of travel starting at 6:30am and ending at nearly 11pm, but every year it is worth it to watch our students see art that they have studied and looked at on computer screens and actually have a chance to experience the works live and in-person. New York is host to some of the most incredible art museums in the world and that is what prompted the BHS art department to start this annual field trip nearly a decade ago. The exhibits at MoMA are always impressive and this year we were able to see a lot of pop art (Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Rauschenberg), abstract expressionists including Pollock and Kandinsky, works of Van Gogh and Picasso, and many other amazing artists. 

Here are a few images of the trip taken by my students (and a few of my own) that I pulled from Instagram! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 133 - Leading with Learning & Student Voice at #NE1to1 - Jen Scheffer - BPS Instructional Technology Specialist

This post first appeared on the BHS Help Desk Blog

Friday, April 10th was Burlington Public Schools annual New England 1:1 Summit and the second annual New England Student Showcase sponsored by the BPS EdTech Team. Once again, the focus of this professional development event was exactly where it should be: on student learning.
This year’s event was held at three different locations in the district; Burlington High School, Marshall Simonds Middle School, and Francis Wyman Elementary School. Offering three different locations allowed attendees to personalize their learning experience based on the specific type of 1:1 environment they wished to see. The event began with a Q and A keynote panel followed by classroom tours and the Student Showcase. This year’s showcase, like last year’s Summit, featured students representing other 1:1 or BYOD districts in Massachusetts. Students (and their teachers) from Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, Reading, Hamilton-Wenham, and Bishop Feehan came to Burlington to share their digital creations and articulated how using technology impacts their learning. The showcase was by far the most exciting part of the Summit. It allowed visitors to truly understand the impact 1:1 environments have on student learning. I had the pleasure of speaking with a young lady from the Shrewsbury Innovation Team and learned how she used Explain Everything to create a cell analogy project for one of her science classes. This was just one of the many types of personalized learning experiences shared by the students who attended.
Students from Campbell High School in Litchfield, NH attended the NE 1:! Summit
Students from Campbell High School in Litchfield, NH attended the NE 1:1 Summit
The Lower Library of Burlington High School, the location of the Showcase, was bustling with conversations between students, teachers, administrators, technology directors, and school board members. It was an incredibly meaningful learning experience for everyone involved. Students who showcased their digital creations underscored to attendees what can happen when they are given choices to demonstrate their learning. It was refreshing to see a group of students in attendance from Campbell High School in Litchfield, NH (ironically where I began myteaching career!) along with a team of teachers and administrators. Campbell is considering a technology rollout and wants to ensure that their students play a role in the decision-making process. Very smart of Campbell indeed! Involving students in your technology initiative is a consistent message sent by the entire BPS Edtech team not just during our Summit but at every event we host throughout the year. The BPS Edtech team believes students should play a role in the 1:1 planning process and actively support technology initiatives as the needs of the school community evolve. This happens in Burlington through our student run Help Desk programs. Students play a significant support role regarding technology integration in Burlington and their contributions are appreciated by our entire community. They are go-to people throughout the day for any student or teacher needing assistance with technology. We have a culture where students are given authentic leadership opportunitiesand this was evident at the BHS Summit.
Cat Hoyt, BHS senior and member of the Help Desk, served on the keynote panel and shared from a student perspective what it’s like to be a technology leader at BHS. Throughout the Q & A session, several questions were directed specifically to Cat. This proves many districts are interested in understanding how technology is impacting a student’s education. Cat offered her candid thoughts about 1:1 teaching and learning and as always, showcased her leadership and professionalism. One attendee actually said to me, “she could run this whole thing herself.” I couldn’t agree more. My hope is that student involvement in professional development events for educators becomes the norm rather than the exception. Our job as educators and administrators is to meet the needs of our learners. Listening to what works for them in terms of technology in the classroom is essential if we are to provide them with the best, most relevant education possible.
The BPS Edtech Team hopes the Student Showcase continues to grow. It’s an authentic way for educators to learn about the impact technology has on student learning, but it serves an even greater purpose. Events like the Student Showcase are real world networking, leadership, collaboration, and public speaking experiences for the students who participate. These are necessary skills for any career path and presenting at the NESS is an impressive resume builder. I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the teachers and students of Shrewsbury, Hamilton-Wenham, Bishop Feehan, Hopkinton, and Reading for taking time out of their schedules to join us in Burlington. Your contributions made the event a huge success and we hope you will return next year!
The video below recognizes student involvement in this year’s Summit and attempts to capture the excitement and atmosphere of the day. You can also check out Tweets from the day by reading the #NE1to1 Storify or you can read this great reflection about the Summit written by attendee Andrew T. Garcia.
Thanks again to all who joined us in Burlington for the 2015 New England 1:1 Summit and for your support of 21st century teaching and learning. We’ll see you in 2016!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 132 - Translate, Thesaurus & Hello Sign: 3 Simple Docs Add-Ons - Nick Whitney - BHS Sophomore

Below is my first screencast on Google Add-Ons. Add-ons are free, easy to use tools offered in Google Drive which extend the capabilities of Docs and Sheet. In the screencast, I demonstrate three different Add-Ons that I feel are very beneficial including Translate, Thesaurus, and Hello Sign. My favorite thing about Add-Ons is that users do not need extra software installed, nor do they have to switch between multiple windows or tabs because every Add-On appears directly on the Google Document.
Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 1.54.06 PMThis was my favorite Add-On because I found it simple and easy to use. With this product a user is able to translate a word, sentence, paragraph, or an entire essay into a variety of different languages in seconds. Translate works with five different languages including English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. This Add-On also allows you to set the languages you use the most as your default translations which will save you even more time! Translate is an especially helpful Add-On for people just starting to learn a new language.
Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 1.53.55 PM
This was another useful Add-On that allows the user to find synonyms as well as antonyms for any word. As with Translate this Add-On was simple and easy to use. I found this Add-On very useful when writing papers for different classes and needed to use more advanced vocabulary.
Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 2.14.51 PM
Hello Sign
Hello Sign is an Add-On that will allow a user to draw an electronic signature and then drag and drop the signature into the document. The add-on supports individual or group signatures. A limited number of free signatures is offered before a user is prompted to upgrade, but it’s still a great add-on for quickly signing documents
Check Out My Screencast Shown Below!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 131 - A Better Way to Cite Images - Ben Schersten - Francis Wyman IT Specialist

As my students know, I’m big on permissions. If my students want to use an image in a project, they need to pay attention to Creative Commons licensing. Finding an image that is okay to use isn’t hard (you can search through Creative Commons or change the search tools in Google), but citing it properly is a hassle – especially for my younger elementary students.
Enter Photos For Class (
Photos For Class searches Flickr and does three great things:
  • Keeps the images G-rated using Flicker’s and their filters
  • Only grabs images licensed for school use under Creative Commons
    and, this is the best part
  • The citation is automatically added to the image
Also, it’s super easy! Enter your search term, find the image you want, click download, and you get an image with an embedded citation – like these:
And since the citation is part of the image, no matter where students move the image the citation goes with it. Using properly licensed photos is important, but keeping track of citations can be a headache. Photos For Class is a great solution.