As I approach my 3 year anniversary with the Oceanside Unified School District, I've been thinking about how my role has evolved. I am blessed to have so much flexibility in my job and to be given so many opportunities to be innovative and creative. From STEM Lab facilitator, to EdTech TOSA, to Instructional Technology coach, I have worn many hats over these past three years, and have grown so much as a teacher.
The three schools that I support - Stuart Mesa, Santa Margarita, and North Terrace - all have amazing STEM Labs from Creative Learning Systems. The STEM Lab at Stuart Mesa is where I began with OUSD, and it is a really special place to me. Students in the STEM Lab have the opportunity to try new things - things that they would never try on their own. They get to struggle and fail. They get to troubleshoot and "start over." They get to succeed and improve. They get to do so many things in the STEM Lab that they do not get to do in the regular classroom or even at home.
Funding a facilitator for the STEM Labs has been a challenge and this year there is very little help in the STEM Labs (as far as a full time position). One school has support from the library/media tech and a substitute teacher, one school is relying on the classroom teachers, and one school is starting to get the library/media tech on board. As the EdTech TOSA for all three schools (and the person with the most familiarity with the Labs) I've been creating a student-driven STEM Lab curriculum for students in grades 3-5. The curriculum consists of 5 activities happening simultaneously in the STEM Labs, and takes about 4 hours to complete each activity. Students work on one activity for 4 hours (one hour per day), then rotate to the next activity when they return to the Lab.
Over the next few Blog posts, I will describe the activities that each grade level is participating in during their STEM Lab week. I will also describe the STEM Lab schedule, journal, routines, organization, and classroom expectations that have been working for my three labs this school year. Are you planning on creating a STEM Lab, Makerspace, Design Lab, etc? Follow my Blog posts to gather some ideas and inspiration to help get you started!!
Have a question about this Blog post? Leave a comment!!
The more Project Lead the Way (PLTW) modules that I teach, the more materials that I feel the need to create as a way to support teachers and students during those modules. I have created resources like data charts, formative assessments, and hyperdocs that support student learning during the modules.
The Launch Logs are great, however students often need additional supports and scaffolding in order to complete the activities in PLTW. The resources that I have created provide that extra support, extra practice, or extra formative assessment that teachers are often looking for.
Most of the resources that I have created to support teachers and students in PLTW can be found on my Teachers Pay Teachers store, "Love-Fleck EdTech." I plan to continue creating and posting PLTW-aligned resources in my TPT store, so give my store a "Follow" in order to see the latest materials.
After many years of shopping the online store "Teachers Pay Teachers," I have finally decided to create my own TPT store, "Love-Fleck EdTech." I decided to open a TPT store for a couple of reasons:
My store will focus on resources in the following categories:
I would love support and "Follows" for my new TPT store! So, if you are browsing the amazing resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, please take a minute to check out the resources at Love-Fleck EdTech!
Now that the school year has begun, I'm starting to get quite a few emails regarding the use of class sets of devices (iPads and Chromebooks) in the classroom. How do I set up routines with the devices? Where do I start with the apps? How can my students use Chromebooks in class? What should I do about digital citizenship? There are tons of questions that teachers ask regarding technology, especially if this is the first time that they've used devices in the classroom.
Last year, I wrote a BLOG post called "Back to School Device Boot Camp" where I outlined some best practices for introducing students to devices in the classroom. Creating a "Device Boot Camp" for your students is a fun way to familiarize them with the device, while also "laying down the law" of what is expected of them with regards to technology. Here is an example of a device boot camp presentation that I've used with students in the past. Think about the specific rules (big and small) that you have and also the consequences for breaking those rules. Some of the rules I like to enforce with iPads are no selfies or videos (unless told to do so), consistent wallpaper/backgrounds, no app folders (I hate those), and only download certain apps.
As far as apps to start with ... I always go Google! As a Google district, all of our students have school Google accounts. Begin by having them log in to those accounts with their ID number and birth date (ddmmyyyy). Show them their Google Drive and have them create a folder for this school year. Create a Google Classroom for your students to join. Post a fun activity in the classroom for students to complete, and show them how to turn in an assignment.
Is Google a little too much for your K-2 students? Start with Seesaw!! Create a teacher account, add your students, them have them login with the QR code. Post a fun "getting to know you activity" and have students respond. Can't think of an activity? Don't worry, Seesaw has already created activities for you to use.
Don't be afraid to try things out with your devices! If something is not working for you or your students, then change it. Technology is a tool for learning, so make it work for you. Need ideas about how to do that? Sign up for EdTech support, and I would love to help you with your devices.
How do you introduce devices in your classroom? Leave a comment below, sharing your ideas.
When I first accepted a position in Oceanside, it was to facilitate a STEM Lab as an EdTech TOSA. It was the greatest job! I was able to inspire students to discover new things, facilitate meaningful learning experiences, and basically play with robots and K'Nex all day (Haha!). I've learned so much in these past three years and have really had the opportunity to refine my teaching practice. I've been able to discover and explore innovative teaching and practice integrating technology in the classroom for multiple grade levels.
My role as an EdTech TOSA in Oceanside has changed since beginning my position in Oceanside. I am no longer in the STEM Lab, but rather support teachers and students at three schools in Oceanside. I still get to support the work in the STEM Labs at these sites (my favorite thing), while also pushing in to classrooms to model tech-infused lessons and co-tech PLTW, our new engineering curriculum.
I think that I will eventually go back to the classroom, so that I can use all of my new-found ideas with a self-contained K-5 class. I'm also interested in exploring ways to infuse technology with all subjects areas - language arts, science, social studies, and math - and the best way to do that is as a classroom teacher.
For now, I'm loving my time working with classroom teachers and students to support their learning!
Follow my work on Twitter: @mrslovefleck
This is the week before teachers return to school for Oceanside Unified School District. Many of my colleagues have already begin working in their classrooms, creating bulletin boards, organizing classroom libraries, and so much more. I ended last school year on maternity leave, so I haven't been in the "school state of mind" since May 4th. I'm slowly starting to plan out my first few weeks back and create my "To Do" list of items that I need to accomplish.
I'm so grateful to return to my position of EdTech TOSA for the 3 base schools in OUSD. This year I will work on supporting all teachers with the implementation of PLTW in their classrooms. I will also continue to support Google in the classrooms and the use of the STEM Labs at each site. I'm looking forward to beginning the new school year and I am excited to support student and teacher learning with technology.
What is your favorite part about beginning a new school year? Leave a comment below!
I recently wrote a guest Blog post for SDCUE. You can read about it below!
The #GoOpen movement has been recently sweeping the education community, as well as the twitterverse! The #GoOpen campaign was conceived by the US Department of Education in 2015. School districts that participate in the #GoOpen movement have committed to providing open educational resources (OERs) and materials for teachers and students to use. The campaign encourages districts to use open licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. Learn more about the #GoOPen campaign and the participating districts at the newamerica.org website.
Besides the twitter hashtag #GoOpen, another great way to learn about OER is to attend a summit or conference that focuses on using open educational resources in the classroom. On April 13th, I had the privilege of attending the 2nd annual #GoOpen Summit in Oceanside, CA. The summit was a excellent opportunity to learn more about OERs and the various ways that local districts have been implementing these materials in to their curriculum.
To kick off the #GoOpen Summit a welcome keynote was given by event organizer, Erin English, Sara Trettin from the US Department of EdTech, and Kristina Ishmael, a Tech & Ed Policy Fellow from DC. The message from the welcome keynote was that OER is meant to disrupt how we view and use curriculum and learning materials to encourage equitable, personal learning experiences for all students. Some of the other benefits of #GoOpen is that it increases equity, keeps content relevant and timely, empowers teachers, supports collaboration, and enable reallocation of district funds.
Following the welcome keynote, participants at the #GoOpen Summit were able to attend various breakout sessions. I attended a session that was led by Carlsbad Unified superintendent, Dr. Ben Churchill, and assistant superintendent, Dr. Rob Nye. They shared the Carlsbad Unified journey into using OER, as well as the powerful message that implementing OER is much less about the materials, and much more about what we expect kids to be able to know and do. I also attended a very informative session by representatives from CK-12, a website that focuses on creating a personalized learning experience with customizable flexbooks. The best part about CK-12 is that it is completely free to use!
The closing keynote was given by Dr. Devin Vodicka, chief impact officer of alt school and former superintendent of Vista Unified. Dr. Vodicka focuses on creating a personalized learning experience for all students. He uses the analogy of traditional education being similar to riding a train, with a set destination and one way to get there. Personalized learning, however, is more like driving a car, with many route options and the ability to make turns based on the driver’s needs. His advice for jumping into the #GoOpen movement included: have a clear vision for learning; connect and collaborate; and start small to set the stage for big change.
The #GoOpen movement encourages teachers to create their own content, and seek out free, open-licensed educational materials, rather that relying on a textbook in the classroom. Teachers are the subject matter experts, and have already been seeking out these types of materials to be used in the classroom, whether they realize it or not (think - Google, Pinterest, Newsela, etc). The #GoOPen campaign supports districts in reallocating funds from purchasing textbooks and instead compensates teachers to find and create relevant and engaging content for students. The movement is an excellent strategy to support teachers as grade-level and content experts, rather than relying on outdated, expensive, and often irrelevant textbooks. Find out if your district is part of the #GoOpen movement today! Start searching for OER materials HERE.
As I've mentioned in previous Blog posts, I am an EdTech TOSA for three school sites. I try to stay at one site each day, to avoid losing time by traveling from school to school. As you can imagine, it can be a little bit hectic scheduling meetings and teacher support at three different schools. One of my favorite tools to keep me organized is Google Calendar. I love Google Calendar for the following 5 reasons:
I would love to hear about some of the ways you use Google Calendar in the comments below!
In my last BLOG post, I discussed some of the amazing opportunities that I have to support the K-8 teachers at my three school sites. Read all about that HERE. In this post, I am focusing on our new Science and Engineering curriculum, Project Lead the Way, and the way that I am supporting our teachers with implementing it. Our three schools purchased this curriculum with our DoDEA grant funds, which also pay for a full-time TOSA (that's me).
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a hands-on, inquiry-based science/engineering program that includes modules filled with tons of amazing activities and curriculum. Our K-5 teachers had the option to attend a 2 day PLTW training over the summer, while our Middle School science teachers were able to attend a week of training. I attended the summer training with the K-5 teachers, for the Launch PLTW curriculum.
Once the school year began, my role was to support teachers in implementing the PLTW Modules for their grade level. That support looks very different, depending on the teacher and grade level. Because this is our first year implementing PLTW, teachers are encouraged to go at their own pace with the modules. I provide support for teachers by co-teaching modules, meeting with grade levels during PLCs, and organizing meetings to unpack the modules and look at the activities, projects, and problem-based work together.
Now that this school year is beginning to come to a close, I'm starting to consider my PLTW plans for next school year. I would love to see all teachers at my three sites implementing PLTW with their students. I would also like to have more opportunities for teacher professional learning and PD focusing on science, engineering, and PLTW.
I have been an "Ed Tech TOSA" for the last two years, and it has been an incredible experience thus far. For those who are unfamiliar with the term TOSA, it stands for "Teacher On Special Assignment." So, basically I am a credentialed teacher, working for a school district; but, I do not have my own class full of students. The position is super flexible and really allows me to research and try new, innovative things, and encourage (and support) my fellow teachers to do the same.
The TOSA job description can vary greatly from district to district, and even from school to school. In my particular position, I work at three K-8 schools, all located on a military base. My position is funded through a grant from the Department of Defense, which is why I work at those specific schools. That same grant has been used at the three schools to purchase technology, STEM-related materials, and a brand new engineering curriculum. So, I get to provide support to teachers with implementing all of those resources in their classrooms.
I absolutely love this position because of the flexibility and opportunity for growth that it provides. I get to create my own schedule (to an extent), attend (and lead) amazing professional development opportunities, and collaborate with teachers in multiple grade levels and multiple school sites.
Although there are certain meetings and events that I must attend, I get to choose the school that I will be at each day and coordinate classroom visits as needed. Visiting a variety of classrooms and working with a range of teachers has been a valuable experience and has really fueled my love of teaching. Also, focusing on what the classroom teacher wants to learn or do in the classroom has pushed me to find creative solutions or tools to meet a variety of needs.
The professional development opportunities are another reason that I love being a TOSA. Not only do I get to attend amazing PDs, I also get to lead them. Prior to becoming a TOSA, I did not realize how much I would enjoy leading professional development for teachers. My biggest focus with leading PD, is to share something that will benefit teachers and improve their job in a positive way. Teachers have a lot on their plate (understatement) and adding "one more thing" to that plate is something that I never want to do. I'm always attempting to introduce a tool, technique, etc. that will support teachers in the work they are already doing.
A third reason that I am enjoying this position is the opportunity to collaborate with teachers in multiple grave levels and multiple school sites. When you are a classroom teacher, you spend the majority of your day in your own classroom with the same group of students, day in and day out. You do get to collaborate with your grade level team and attend staff meetings once or twice a month, but that is it! As a TOSA, I get to experience what is happening in so many classrooms and so many grade levels. It's awesome! I feel like these experiences have given me a better understanding of the learning progression from kindergarten through 8th grade. When I eventually move back in to a classroom teacher role, this will only help me deliver instruction to my class.
As an Ed Tech TOSA, I am gaining valuable experience and growing as an educator in ways that I never knew were possible. Yes, I will eventually go back into the classroom, but for now, I will be enjoying this role as a Teacher On Special Assignment.
All thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas are that of Heather Love-Fleck, and not the school district that employs her. She reserves the right to change her thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas at any time.