Friday, May 27, 2016

SDW Technology Profile Results Available for Spring 2016 Survey

 A few weeks back we completed our Spring 2016 round of the SDW Technology Profile survey.  

This tool has been utilized within our district since mid-2012 and provides a snapshot of the growth and changes we have made related to our beliefs about and uses of technology within the classroom.

The Spring data is our most important data collection point as it provides a picture of our growth in our technology adoption and beliefs for the year.

Results are live now. We encourage you to explore the data and to compare to previous reports to understand the change that has taken place within our system.

You will find the Technology Profile Spring 2016 results for all buildings and for the district here.

Using the Data from the Technology Profile

The most important part of completing this survey is actually using the data that is collected.

This data can tell us an important story about our thoughts, beliefs, and uses of technology.   If we can use this data to help us understand what our strengths and struggles are with technology, we can make a wide variety of decisions. When selecting which technology to utilize to support an instructional practice, we can use this data to determine where a building's strengths and preferences are related to technology.

Why is that important?  

Well, if we determine that using a multimedia tool to support an instructional practice, we can look to our Technology Profile results to see what our building's beliefs and uses are around the Use of Media.  

Wondering about your staff's willingness to try something new or take a risk?  Hearing from some staff that they  feel the network isn't working as regularly as they would prefer, but you are not really sure? Maybe you are wondering if your staff is using the digital tools to collect student assessment data to make instructional planning decisions, but you don't have the data. Perhaps you are considering how to shift to a blended model of instruction, but you are wondering if your staff has a working understanding of Blackboard (the tool you would use to deliver instruction in this model).

All of this information (and more) is available within the SDW Technology Profile. Even better, you can track your progress in relation to this question and you can determine what lasting impact your professional development had on shifting staff beliefs and practices for staff.

As you can see, this information can definitely be useful for a wide variety of stakeholders.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tips for Avoiding Digital Distraction

Looking for a way to share this list with your students?

 Here it is:

Technology has had a profound impact on the way we learn. It impacts how we access information, communicate, and complete work. With the many advantages of having technology as part of our everyday lives, along with it comes the chance to multitask. Multitasking, while seeming to make us more productive, has been proven to be less effective. It is important to find a balance with technology, especially in the classroom. The following tips will aid users in balancing the digital distractions they face as they use technology.


It’s easy to get distracted when your device reminds you of everything else you could be doing. Try the following strategies to minimize tech distractions.

  • Clear your digital workspace
    • Organize apps into folders to help clear the clutter
  • Open only applications needed for the task-at-hand
    • Close out of all non-essential apps by swiping them away, make it more difficult to switch between tasks
  • Set a goal/make a list/set a timer
    • Determine a plan of attack for the task-at-hand, make a list of action steps, set a time frame in which those tasks can be completed, use a timer (already built into most devices) to sharpen your focus
  • Take a tech break
    • Once you reach your goal in the action plan/reached a set time period, take a short break to check in with the “world” (using the apps that distract you most often) -- then refocus your energy and get back to the task
  • Turn off notifications
    • Use the features on your iPad to turn off notifications that may pop up or distract you, including the sound
  • Be aware of your distractedness
    • Use an app to see how often you are checking your technology. Has it become an addiction?


Sometimes minimizing distraction is just not enough. Take these additional steps when you struggle to focus on the work that must be done.

  • Hide apps within folders
    • Put all social networking or games apps that prove to be most distracting in a folder furthest from your home screen
  • Know your ideal learning environment (sound, seating, surroundings)
    • Does having music help or distract you? What about white noise? Busy surroundings?
    • What type of seating and table space work best for the task-at-hand?
    • What triggers may distract you? What surrounding do you find that you are most productive in?
    • Swipe up from the bottom of your iPad to access settings for Do Not Disturb. This will silence all calls, alerts, and notifications based on the settings you have set. Change the preferences in your settings apps.
    • Restrictions can temporarily remove or disable features on the iPad, block specific websites, etc (making it annoying for you to multitask)
    • Guided access limits you to a single app to maintain focus
    • Make sure you remember the passcode for either of these options!


Still off task? It’s time for more drastic measures!

  • Delete distracting apps (specifically social networking and games)
    • If just staring at the app on your home screen causes you to focus on the messages you are missing, it’s time to consider removing the app from your device.  Tap and hold on the app icons until they “jiggle” and click the “x” to delete the app from your device.
  • Eliminate additional technology/devices
    • That phone sitting next to your laptop sitting next to your iPad might be one device too many. Put the device(s) that are not the primary one away (out of sight, out of mind).  And turn off the ringer and vibration, too!
  • Use apps to temporarily limit or block access
  • Ask somebody else to restrict you or set guided access
    • Find yourself cheating the restrictions you have set on yourself? It’s time to find a friend, parent, or teacher who will set a secret passcode on your restrictions. Make sure you trust this person and that they remember the passcode they set.
  • Go offline for a period of time
    • Download needed content to the app in use, use Google Apps offline, and turn off your wifi temporarily to remove your connection

Self-regulate your technology use and distractions now so that when it really counts (college or the workplace), you have found a system that works best for you. Work to find the balance now and ensure your success!

Friday, May 20, 2016

SAMR: A Growth Mindset and Language for Technology Adoption

You have probably heard more about the SAMR Model this year than in previous years. That is intentional and it is an important step for educators across our system to develop a working understanding of SAMR.

My daughters play softball. League rules indicate that teams do not keep score. They do not post innings or publicly display a clock. All of these are for clear and understandable reasons.  

And guess what most players and parents watching ask themselves and others (and sometimes the umpire) throughout the game.  Yep, you got it!  What's the score? What inning are we in?  How much time before the game ends?

It is natural for us to want a clear sense of where we are in the bigger picture of almost anything. Ambiguity is disheartening, confusing, and saps our inherent motivation to improve.

 For something as big and versatile and individualized as using technology to support, enhance, or transform teaching and learning, it is REALLY hard to give us a bigger picture of how well we are doing in adopting and using those tools. The SAMR Model aims to help us understand where an individual use of any technology or tool might fall in regard to what we did without the tool in place, or by using the tool differently than we did before.

Marisa Nathan, Michelle Murray, Paula Congdon, and Bob Blessington
celebrate earning their SAMR Calibration mini-credential after
completing a SAMR Calibration walk at Hadfield Elementary School.
If utilized properly, SAMR gives us the foundation for talking about how technology supports, enhances, or transforms what students and teachers do in the classroom. And that is exactly why you have heard more about it this year in our system.  SAMR is becoming our common language and our common understanding, regardless of what we use or how we use it. That is powerful!

If you have not yet dabbled in SAMR, there are some great ways to get started.

In just under 4 minutes, you can jump start your understanding with The SAMR Model Explained by Students.  This cursory overview will help you to get a working understanding of SAMR in just a few minutes.

The Instructional Tech Coordinator team has also developed a SAMR Self-Paced TDP course for all staff to engage in learning and conversations around SAMR. Look for upcoming announcements about TDP enrollment opportunities.  This course would be good taken individually, great with teaching partners, or an excellent collegial study at your building.