Thursday, February 16, 2017

HSDL and Student Tech Teams

Today we have 3 student tech team leaders sharing their stories. First, from East Noble School Corporation, we have Technology Integration Specialist Ann Ventura. They have 1:1 devices throughout their school district (K-4 iPads, 5-12 Laptops). Email:

Think student tech teams are only useful at the secondary level? Think again. At East Noble School Corporation, student tech teams were established this year at Avilla Elementary School and Rome City Elementary School and so far things are thriving.

Getting Started: Over the summer, I realized the need for having tech teams in my buildings and couldn’t wait to get started. Once the school year began, students were selected and the teams began meeting, but I quickly realized that the students didn’t entirely understand the possibilities and purpose of a student tech team. We slowed down and began researching other student tech teams to get a better idea of what we wanted our own teams to look like. Finally a light bulb went off when I took my tech teams to the HSDL Student Google Summit in November. My students grasped what it meant to be a tech team and we created our vision. Now it was time for branding. The Avilla Tech Team became the Avilla TechSperts and the Rome City Tech Team became the Rome City TechBusters. Logos were created, flyers were made, and websites began being built.

Now: Each week the tech teams meet face-to-face for about 30 minutes. This is our time to discuss individual tasks, plan for upcoming classroom visits, and make sure we’re all on the same page. Here are some of the major projects we’ve worked on so far this year:

  • Creating Help Guides and Videos - Whenever a teacher comes to us saying “My students don’t know how to…” we create a help guide or video. For example we created How to Connect your iPad to Home Wi-Fi and How to Submit an Assignment on Seesaw.
  • Helping Newly Enrolled Students - New students can be overwhelmed at a 1:1 device school. To help, we pair up a tech team member with a new student to teach them how to use their computer or iPad, as well as teach them how to use major ENSC programs such as Seesaw, Canvas, RazKids, and Everyday Math. 
  • Helping K-1 Students Utilize Devices - Our younger students need the most one-on-one help with their iPads. The tech teams go into their classrooms to show the younger students how to organize their iPads, how to change settings, how to quickly log into accounts, how to delete old pictures, etc. 
  • Teaching Tech Lessons - When I go into classrooms to teach a lesson incorporating a new tech tool, I started bringing some of my tech team members along for more helping hands in the classroom. Soon I hope the students can have a chance at being the main presenter instead of me. 
  • Creating Digital Citizenship Reminders - If we realize the student body needs a digital citizenship reminder, we make posters and videos to help. Here is an example of Bus Tech Etiquette
  • Cleaning Devices - Devices can get quite gross, especially during flu season. The tech teams go into classrooms to clean devices and to remind students how to properly care for their devices, explaining things like you can use spray on a laptop but not on an iPad. 
  • Presenting at Family Nights - This year the tech teams presented at one family night, explaining to parents the different platforms and programs we use at ENSC. 
  • Organizing MakerSpace Rooms - Weekly the tech teams stop in the MakerSpace rooms and add all new donations to bins and tidy up any messy areas. 
  • Supporting the Student Newscast - Also new this year, our buildings began a student newscast. My student tech teams help behind the scenes shooting footage and editing film. 
What’s Next: The possibilities are endless! Our main focus will always be to help with any ideas or projects that are brought to us by other teachers and students in our schools. One idea I’m pondering is having my student tech teams participate in a community service project. I like the idea of having my tech teams go to a local nursing home to help the senior citizens with technology. (If my students were older than 13, I would have them teach social media so that the senior citizens could stay in better contact with their friends and family.)

If you are interested in starting an elementary student tech team, feel free to reach out. I’d love to share ideas and resources.

Chantell Manahan is a language teacher turned Director of Technology at MSD of Steuben County and adviser to the High Tech Hornets from Angola High School.

As MSD of Steuben County’s 1:1 Chromebook initiative reached Angola High School, I quickly embraced it in my classroom. I had previously taught in a G Suite district, so I was ahead of the learning curve with the tools and had experienced the power of 1:1 to transform teaching and learning. My students were more engaged than ever; they were creating digital content, sharing with authentic audiences, and harnessing the power of social media. Students who came to me fairly tech savvy were seeing new implementations, and students who had never considered themselves “techie” were learning that they really had some skills. My colleagues were noticing, and they wanted help integrating technology into their own classrooms. They were so enthusiastic, in fact, that they asked me to help with ideas, implementation, and troubleshooting when I really had a class of my own to teach. My students often saw me giving a quick tutorial or bit of advice as class began or ended. It wasn’t long before my students were jumping to the aid of those teachers, too! They had used those tools with me, and they were eager to share their knowledge.

The original High Tech Hornets
Enter the High Tech Hornets! About two weeks before the Hoosier Student Digital Leaders conference in the spring of 2015, I was asked to bring a team of students down to the conference and see what it was all about. I was hesitant at first. Sure, I was tech savvy, but I wasn’t really in any position of coaching or leadership at that time. However, I was passionate about edtech, and I knew I had inspired some students to share that passion. I asked my own students if they’d consider attending (all 170+ of them!), and I asked a few other teachers for recommendations. I ended up with 12 volunteers to give up a Saturday, load onto a school bus at 5:00 am, and make the trip down to the conference.

Leading Google sessions at the New Teacher Academy
My sleepy students stumbled off that bus, and they were immediately energized! They hung on every word keynote speaker Kevin Honeycutt had to share, they split up to attend every session available, and they left full of excitement and enthusiasm. On the bus ride home, the High Tech Hornets were named and a plan was formed! They would be a team focused on all of that troubleshooting, tool vetting and training, and technology integration they were already helping me do to help teachers at Angola High School.

Members have come and gone since its inception, but the High Tech Hornets HSDL Team has never suffered from lack of enthusiasm. They have led digital citizenship efforts at Angola High School, hosting parent discussions during conferences and celebrating with activities during the homeroom period each day during Indiana’s digital citizenship week (check out their digital citizenship website). They have also made tutorials on various tools, the SAMR model, and Chromebook care. They have presented at several summer of eLearning conferences, at the ICE conference, and to the high school staff and our district’s school board. Their favorite presentation for teachers is “Tech Ideas to Take Your Class from Meh to AMAZING (see one version of it here), but they also have presentations on digital citizenship and what teachers need to know about tech integration. This year, they helped train teachers new to our district on some common Google tools in a station rotation segment. Their latest initiative is helping roll out new tools and facilitate exploration in the AHS Makerspace.
Last minute prep at the hotel, the night before the ICE Conference

This year’s team president, Jordan, shares that she was interested in being a part of the tech team from the beginning.
Gunner at last year's HSDL student summit
“I’ve had a couple of amazing teachers who showed me that technology went beyond substitution. When we use the tools, like social media, that are a natural part of our lives to learn and to share our learning, we realize that we are really always learning. Learning doesn’t just happen in school. And it shouldn’t stop there. If all of my teachers had the skills and mindsets to allow us to explore, create, communicate, and share--and a lot of that has to do with technology--, we would accomplish more in less time. I want to be a part of making that happen, of making learning real. Oh, and we have a lot of fun with High Tech Hornets too!”

Vice-president Gunner Carter agrees, adding
“High Tech Hornets has given me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have had without the tech team. My teachers see me as more of a leader since they know I’m tech savvy and willing to help. And I have gotten to see and meet some amazing public speakers, which is my other passion. I’ve learned so much just from observing Dave Burgess, George Couros, Kevin Honeycutt, Matt Miller, and Alan November. Hopefully I can find some way to combine my passion for public speaking with edtech the way they have. I got my first taste of that at last year’s student summit, where I was lucky enough to give an Ignite speech that won me a trip to do it again at the Google Summit. Those were incredible experiences I’ll always remember.”

The passion Jordan, Gunner, and the rest of the High Tech Hornets have and the ownership they’ve taken of our our 1:1 initiative inspires me each day. Even though I have moved out of the classroom and into the Tech Director role, I still make time each week to see these students. They keep a connection for me to the daily teaching and learning happening across our district, and they are a constant reminder of why we do what we do. Our mission is simple. Inspire and empower students to take action, to be positive change agents in keeping learning student focused, authentic, and improving!

Closing out today's post is Susan Parker from Martinsville High School. She is the Technology Integration Specialist, teaches a Computer Tech Support class, and manages the Help Desk and Artie Intel repair space. 

Student tech teams are an important part of the digital learning culture in many school districts. Martinsville High School had planned to implement a student tech team two years before our 1:1 initiative. The result of that planning? Artie Intel.

Artie Intel is our student tech team. They are all HP certified, and we work on the Chromebooks in house. Many Chromebooks are repaired and returned to students within twenty minutes if parts are on hand. However, when asked how our HSDL tech team and technology have helped empower digital learning in our school, we came up with several thoughts.

We have created tutorials for both students and staff as well as providing classroom visits, and being role models during class time. It has been very empowering for our students to realize that they are the technology leaders in our school and district.

Examples of Artie Intel created student tutorials:
Google Cast

Student leadership is an awesome thing, but has the introduction of Chromebooks changed the scenery of a routine day at Martinsville High School? Artie Intel discussed this topic at our last meeting in early January. Nik states that he’s noticed that a lot of teachers are starting to use e-books or some sort of textbook online rather than paper books. They also use more google classroom than before, and they also use a lot of different apps on the Chromebook from the web store.

Zack mentioned that teachers do not have to have a giant setup to "stream" going over real papers. He also said it is much easier to get in touch with teachers via email, and take notes in classes through highlighting instead of combing through textbooks. You can search for specific areas.

Our foreign language department was less than enthused about implementing Chromebooks in our classrooms. However, our Artie Intel students have seen a change in their teachers’ perspectives. "In Spanish class, we have been using Newsela and have been able to read articles about the topic in order to get a more deeper understanding. The website has a feature that allows you to read the articles in different levels of Spanish, so it expands our Spanish vocabulary. Also, Quizlet has decreased homework time IMMENSELY in Spanish class,” said Korinne. Laura also responded with her view: “Madame has been using Kahoot, and Quizlet Live for class time. Statistics has been using surveys on our Chromebooks to collect class data. We've been using our Chromebooks as our books.”

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes we need to be patient, and let staff experiment with some of the technology available for them. Teachers seem to be more willing to let students take the lead and show them some of the technology they use on a daily basis. If teachers believe that these changes will make their lives easier, they are more willing to accept student suggestions or leadership. We really are a team, and things always flow better when we work together.