Category Archives: District

Our iPad Learning Community

iPads-header-1As mentioned in my previous post, teachers that were accepted into our iPad cadre group had to agree to become part of a learning community where they would share successes, challenges, and lessons learned. The format we chose to set up for them was a blog. All teachers have full access to the blog to post and/or comment as they choose. We chose this format because we felt that the tagging and categorizing ability a blog  provides would make it easy for teachers and other visitors to find the topics in which they were interested. Please take a few moments to see what our teachers have done thus far and even leave a comment. Thanks for taking the time…it means a great deal!


An iPad Journey Begins

2013-01-13 17.08.53One of the items our department was charged with this year was replacing some of our oldest elementary technology devices. We were specifically focused on grades K-2. Historically we have been a Mac district. When we began looking at new equipment, we naturally looked at the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. However, we felt that this was an awful lot of computer to put in front of a group of 5-8 year olds. With that in mind, we began considering iPads. They were cheaper, more mobile, and lent themselves better to their motor skill abilities.

Our challenge was to not purchase carts of 30 iPads and shove them in buildings. iPads were designed to be an individual, personal device.  Virtually anybody you speak to or anything you read says that putting them on a cart in a shared environment really hinders you from using them to their full potential. Being aware of this, our department decided to follow a similar model from our local Intermediate Unit and use an elementary center-based approach.

In addition to a center-based approach, we wanted to be sure these devices ended up in the hands of teachers that were enthusiastic and willing to put themselves out there to use them in such a way that fostered the idea of content creation and creativity. So to be sure we were pulling in teachers that were interested in using the iPads in the classroom, we decided to create an application process. All K-2 teachers were invited to apply for an iPad for their use and seven iPads for classroom use with students. There were two simple questions that asked for some basic insight regarding how they saw themselves using the iPads in the classroom and how that would impact their classroom/students. We would then review the applications and determine the top 30 to pull into this project.

The 30 selected teachers were notified of their enrollment into our iPad cadre and were provided their iPad and a day of introductory professional development. This day included an overview of the iPad itself, and introduction to navigation, and some sample lessons using various apps that would help them get started in the classroom. Ongoing professional development would take place throughout the school year as time allotted.

They also had to agree to be part of a learning community where they would share successes and lessons learned. Teachers had about a month or so to get comfortable with the iPads themselves before we delivered the student iPads.

All K-2 teachers outside of the iPad cadre group were provided a basic introduction to the iPads in order to open up the opportunity for them to use them in their classroom when they were not in use by the cadre teacher. Our hope was to establish opportunities for all teachers and students for those that were interested and create a sharing, collaborative environment to further the spread of technology integration.

I plan to follow with updates as we make our way through this process. I hope to share successes, challenges, and progress throughout this year and beyond.

No Texting While Driving Campaign

photo-4According to a report published by the NHTSA, of the 26 percent of drivers involved in a crash over the last five years, 3.5 percent attribute distraction as the reason for their crash. When converted into numbers, it totals up to 6 – 8 million drivers.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states, “In the United States, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over. The risk is highest at ages 16-17. In fact, the fatal crash rate per mile driven is nearly twice as high for 16-17 year-olds as it is for 18-19 year-olds.” As per the report published by for the year 2010, 11 percent of drivers under the age of 20 were involved in a fatal crash led by distracted driving.

As an educator and parent in 2013, I believe it is at least partly our responsibility to make an effort to educate and inform students of the dangers of distracted driving, including texting while driving. Our school parking lots are filled with cars of students and teachers alike that need a reminder about texting while driving as they leave our parking lots. With that in mind, I was thrilled when I saw the No Texting While Driving Campaign link posted on twitter. (I wish I could remember who tweeted it…) provides TWO FREE SIGNS (signs or label packs) for your school. Simply email Daniel Male at to order your free products with free shipping. You can even get free customized signs!


Our district’s graphic artist, Rhonda Fourhman, submitted artwork for signs to be created using our logo.

All the information you need to order is at No Texting While Driving Campaign.

We’re realistic that these signs will not stop all students from texting while driving, but every reminder counts. It sounds cliche, but if we can get one student to think twice about texting while driving then all the effort was certainly worthwhile.

Moving Forward with QR Codes

Short URL:

I am happy to report that our QR project continues to progress and morph as we learn and share more. If you haven’t been following our story, you’ll want to check out the previous posts QR Codes…The Beginning and QR Codes…The Next Step. Our students currently  have limited access to mobile devices, so we needed to find a way for them to use our current technology to scan the QR codes in school.

Our solution was to find a desktop application to read QR codes and a MacBook running 10.6 (Snow Leopard). The application we use is called QRreader and can be downloaded here. This application can be installed on the Mac, Windows, or Linux platform. You do need to install Adobe Air in order of this to work, so since we’re a Mac district I needed a computer with Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Our MacBooks have a built-in camera, so if you’re using a Windows computer you’ll need a web cam also. Here is a look at our station…

Students are now able to scan the QR codes and listen to the book reviews their peers have created before deciding if they want to check out the book and read it. It has been a long but enjoyable ride. I am glad to continue working with dedicated administrators, teachers, staff, and students. The next step is building the density of books in our library with codes to scan and promoting the awesome work being done in our building. And I have a plan for that too…

QR Codes…the next step

In my previous post, QR Codes…the beginning, I outlined how we began using QR codes in one of our elementary schools. The posters  were up for scanning and we seemed to have worked out some of the bugs. We were now ready to begin using QR codes to link to student-created content.

It has been a vision of mine since my time as a middle school language arts teacher to have students create book reviews that other students could access to determine if they might be interested in reading it. Using this premise, I approached one of our elementary school librarians (Mrs. Bingaman) that I knew was interested in using technology and would be willing to dedicate some time to this endeavor. She was totally on board and eager to begin working with the students. We decided to elicit the help of the gifted education teacher (Mrs. Manley) as well. A graphic organizer was developed for students, which provided students a guideline to follow for their book reviews. Students then wrote and recorded their reviews using GarageBand.

Once we had student content ready to go, we used our district WordPress server to create a blog to host the reviews. Our blog site is called Red Mill’s Digital Dolphins. From this point, we just needed to create a QR code for the URL of each of the book reviews. When you code URL’s, the shorter the URL, the cleaner QR code you get. With that in mind, we decided to use Google’s URL shortening site named has its advantages because when you sign in with your Google account it will keep a history of the URL’s you’ve shortened, as well as some statistics. These statistics include number of clicks, browsers, platform, and country for the day, week, month, and all time.

Our final step was to place the QR codes in a place where people could access them. We received permission from our District Library Instructional Advisor to place the QR codes on the actual book the student reviewed. Now there is a book review attached to each library book that has a code on it. Students can now listen to a book review of the book before checking it out or listen to the review at home on a mobile device.

Thoughts/feedback/questions are welcome.

Book Talk Graphic Organizer

QR Codes…the beginning

Our school district is experiencing many economic challenges like so many other districts across the country. The technology department has taken an especially hard hit over the last two years. As an instructional technology specialist, I feel as though it’s part of my job to find ways to overcome this shortage and continue to innovate using free resources, tools, and technologies. So as this school year started, I set a goal to use an emerging technology with students. As I continued to observe the emergence QR codes , I decided to go in that direction. It was important to me that I use them in a meaningful way instead of just another “trick”, so this is the first post in a series that will chronicle our use of QR codes…

I began by doing some research on QR codes and observing how they were being used. After getting comfortable with the idea of using them in what I thought was an effective manner, I wanted to start by posting some codes in the lobby area of the school where parents picked up their children. These posters would include a code that linked them to the home page of school and the events calendar. My thought was that parents could scan the code to see what events were occurring at the school while waiting for their children. However, I didn’t just want to post codes without at least some explanation of what they were in case parents were not familiar with them. Without any explanation at all, they would most likely go unnoticed and unused. I lack even the most basic graphic design ability, so I sought the expertise of our district’s graphic artist to produce a small poster that included the QR code, a brief explanation of what it was, how to use it, and possible apps to use. Here is what she came up with:











Feedback and/or questions welcome!

Electronic Scavenger Hunt

As a continuation of my effort to share what teachers are doing in schools, the following post was written by a middle school technology integrator in my school district. Trish Klinger works with teachers and students at Lemoyne Middle School in an effort to use technology to implement and enhance the curriculum. Please provide any feedback for the teacher  or students. Thanks for reading!

Electronic Scavenger Hunts at LMS!

Students in the 6th and 8th grades at Lemoyne Middle School were treated to a special learning unit on GPS, or Global Positioning System in April.  Mr. Stan Bielawa’s 6th grade Social Studies classes and Mrs. Julie Walizer’s 8th grade Science classes were able to learn how GPS works and use GPS receivers in class.  Mrs. Trish Klinger, the IIA at LMS, was able to borrow a set of GPS receivers from PAECT for 2 weeks.

During the unit, the students learned all about how the satellites in the system send a signal to the receiver which translates that into your location.  They also learned about the sport of Geocaching which is like an electronic scavenger hunt!  The containers contained questions and puzzles relating to the unit.  The students were able to go outside and hide a ‘cache’ and then hand off the receiver to a classmate to find it.  Everyone had a great time learning how all this technology works.


Show me the cache!