Eavesdropping on Norris Tech Team

The other day, I wrote a post about a meeting of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project — a sort of eavesdropping into the topics of the gathering. A few days later, I was in a meeting of our Norris Elementary School Technology Team and took some notes. Here are some of the topics we talked about. The Tech Team is comprised of our principal, our district’s technology coordinator, and teachers of various levels and disciplines in our building.

  • We spent a chunk of time talking about Facebook and pondering our school’s presence there. One of our team members created a Norris School FB site in the summer and he maintains it, but the principal wonders about the line between “official school news” and someone posting items to the Norris School FB wall, seemingly as official news (but not). I imagine a lot of schools are struggling with this. While I am not FB fan, I do see the value is connecting with the community that does use FB. We didn’t resolve much here, except to research if a post to the wall can be held in moderation before going public.
  • The last few meetings, we’ve aired some difficulties and frustrations we are having with staff members using and taking care of equipment that we do have available. Computer carts don’t get signed out; individual computer get taken off the carts; wires and cables disappear; digital cameras are scattered about. So, we are moving towards a Google Calendar system so that the sign-out process for the three computer carts (two PC and one Mac) will be all online. Ideally, this will allow everyone to know where the carts should be and when they are available. We’ll see how it works when the concept gets rolled out in a week or so. Our tech coordinator is working to provide a Google account to all staff members in the building, and then constructing shared calendars.
  • The flow of Promethean and other interactive boards into classroom is continuing but the training has not yet followed. What this means is that some teachers with boards don’t know how to use them, even in basic terms, and some have not yet even opened up the software on their new Macs (and some have not even used the Macs at all). A training session is taking place next month, led by a teacher here at our school and another teacher at another school in our district. I think we’ll be needing much more than that — I think a Mentor System is the way to go. We’re not there yet.
  • A series of workshops around using our new set of iTouch mobile devices, and the Thinkfinity site (which paid for the devices), is coming up in late March. Teachers will learn how to use the devices for at least some podcasting and publishing in the science area, as a focus. The grant also provides a stipend for participants, and they get to take use the iTouch during the time periods. We’re hoping this gets folks interested and engaged. But, we worry about use and care of the devices (see previous points).
  • The principal noted his commitment to sending our entire Tech Team to an upcoming technology conference in nearby Holyoke (with keynote speaker, Alan November). He supports the idea of going together as a group, then reflecting afterward on how we can use ideas we gathered here at our school. (This is the conference that I am sending in a proposal to for a workshop on Technology Across the Content Areas.)
  • Our tech team misses our Ning site, which we used a lot last year to connect but then abandoned because of Ning’s cost shift. I may look around for an alternative or try to get our principal to pony up the $20 for the basic Ning setup. It really made a big difference in our communication as a team.
  • Our principal left us with a little “fun homework,” as he called it. We are to come up with one interesting idea of technology that might inspire us, our school, to make a step forward. He suggested it be something neat, or fun, or engaging. I have more ideas than I can think of, but one that came up the other day is how some school districts create “virtual snow days” for students to connect with the school even when the school day is called off for weather. This appeals to me because of the lack of consistency these past few weeks, although I wonder about hurdles of implementing ways for students to work (and teachers to monitor) from home during snow days. (See article about this at The Answer Sheet.)

Peace (in the sharing),

  1. Good review of the meeting topics. You also helped to clarify some of the fuzzy things, like the “homework” piece. Speaking of that, I connect with your thinking on the virtual school and even wrote a post about it on our last snow day. You can find it over at After Some Reflection.

  2. I love your idea of a mentor system for learning and using the technology. There is so much that goes into learning a new technology and then applying that knowledge to make it a useful learning experience!

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