Spotlight on Strategies

Wow your students with engaging instructional strategies.

  • Download this SOS Spreadsheet
  • Save it on your laptop desktop for easy and continued access
  • Open it every time you are planning a new lesson
  • Pick a strategy that fits your content and learning objectives and click the link (Login to Discovery Education)
  • Watch the video to learn how to effectively use the strategy
  • Go live with it in your classroom!

Want to learn more about using Discovery Education?  Check back on this post!

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”

—Japanese proverb

The message: Studying is an important part of gaining an education, but reviewing and internalizing facts and data will only get a student so far. What they really crave are those moments where they truly connect with their teacher and learn a lesson that no textbook or website could ever provide. These are the priceless lessons of real life, from someone who has had those experiences and made the mistakes, and grown as a human being because of them. That’s you, and those experiences are like gold to any student. Make them happen as much as you possibly can.

MASD Email

Student Email Accounts:

Did you know that every student in the Milton Area School District has an email address?

Students in grades 6-12 have email accounts with a working inbox that is accessible and usable.  Students K-5 have an email for logging in to Office 365, however, their emails do not have a working inbox that is accessible.  Simply put, students 6-12 can send and receive emails and students K-5 currently cannot send and receive emails.

Student emails follow this layout: first letter of their first name, the first seven letters of their last name, the last two numbers of their student ID, then @miltonsd.org

Example-  If a student’s name is Jane Johnston and her student ID number is 54321, then her email would be jjohnsto21@miltonsd.org

If you encounter a student with multiple last names, one way to find their correct email is through Sapphire.  Log in and click on the Learning Management System.  Click on Homeroom/ Daily Attendance, you will see a list of your students.  Click on the student’s name.  At the top of the student’s Quick Lookup box choose the link Contacts.  The student’s email will be listed below their home address.

Students 6-12 can access their email by logging in to Office 365.  Students should click on the Outlook app to view their inbox.

Distribution Lists:

Do you want to send an email to a whole graduating class?

To do this, open your Outlook, start a new email, and click To.  This will open the Global Address List.  Type “Class of” and you will find each graduating class listed.  Select the class(es) and click the To -> button, then click OK.

Do you want to send an email to a specific group of students?

For grades 6-12 you can do this by creating your own email distribution list!  In Outlook, at the bottom left of your screen, click the icon with two people.

Click Home, New Contact Group, name your group (Ex. Student Leadership), then click Add MembersFrom Address Book.  Type the student’s name, then click Members ->.  Repeat the process of searching their name and clicking Members -> for each student you want to add.  Once you are done entering each student you will click OK.  Then click Save and Close.

When you want to send an email to your created distribution list, you will start a new email and in the area beside To, start typing the name of your group.  It should show up right away!

If you have any questions concerning this process, please reach out to a coach!

If  everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Tech Tools

In the PowerPoint below, you’ll find a collection of technology tools contributed by MASD teachers.  We hope you find some valuable resources to use in your classrooms this year.  To check out these tools, click on the image below:

Milton Area School District - Technology Tool Reference Library

Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers is transformational. – George Couros

Discovery Education

All K-12 students and all MASD teachers have Discovery Education accounts that sign on through our Office 365 system.  Here are seven DE need to knows:

#1 MASD subscribes to Discovery Education:   DE’s standards-based digital content for K-12 accelerates student achievement by capturing the minds and imaginations of students with the fascination of Discovery, tapping into students’ natural curiosity and desire to learn.

#2 Single Sign On (SSO) through our MASD Office 365 accounts is used to login to Discovery Education.  When using the Discovery Education icon on our website staff and student resource pages AND the Discovery Education icon on the student iPads, all users are prompted through logging in with their school district Office 365 account.  Try it with the icon below!

Discovery Education icon

#3 Teachers can easily create classes from our school rosters in Discovery Education to assign content to their students.  Click to visit the Classroom Manager page in DE for short videos to learn how.  The school rosters in DE are updated daily to include new students.

#4 DE makes it easy to learn about ways to integrate engaging digital learning content in your classroom.  Are you new to using Discovery Education?  Click to visit the Getting Started Step-by-Step Guides page in DE.  And, check out the interactive learning courses where you can earn a certificate for completion.  Click to visit the Interactive Learning Page.

#5 Spice things up in your classroom with DE’s Spotlight on Strategies.  Creative, research-based instructional strategies for integrating digital media in meaningful, effective, and practical ways are broken down by categories and teaching and learning objectives.  Click to visit the Spotlight on Strategies Page on DE.

#6 Take your students to the most amazing places without leaving your classroom.  DE’s virtual field trips are fun, educational, and free.  Click to visit the Virtual Field Trips Page on DE.

#7 Are you looking for ways to integrate STEM in your classroom content?  Click to check out the STEM Page on DE for ideas and inspiration to help your students develop powerful critical thinking skills and exploration practices.

Are you using Discovery Education in your classroom?  Please write a comment to share ideas.

I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face. – Johnny Depp

iPads Best Practices

The following document provides the initial set of “best practices” for students receiving school iPads as their assigned device.  Please use this as a teaching tool in your classroom.  Click the image to download the document.

A little more Device Advice – Selfie Backgrounds!

Something else you might want to have your student do with their iPads that will help them be able to quickly identify whose iPad is whose would be to have them take a ‘selfie’ and Use as Wallpaper.  Here’s how:

  1. Student takes their selfie – or have it be a team activity, and have a friend take a picture for them!
  2. Access the photo by tapping on the mini photo displayed of the picture just taken down in the corner.
  3. From the screen displayed, tap on the upload arrow displayed – Image result for upload arrow
  4. From the bottom of the screen displayed, tap on “Use as Wallpaper” (you may have to scroll right to see this option), then tap set – this may give you two options – to set as either your lock screen and/or your home screen.  The students can do both, or just one – it’s up to them and you!  Hope this helps!

If you have trouble implementing this bit of device advice, please ask a coach for help! 🙂

Good teachers can’t be replaced by tech. What tech does is allow teachers to spend more time focusing on their learners & building those relationships. –Alice Keeler

Laptops Best Practices

The following document provides the initial set of “best practices” for students receiving school laptops as their assigned device.  Please use this as a teaching tool in your classroom.  Click the image to download the document.

And, below is the accompanying Device Advice Podcast to share with your students. (3 minutes)

Device Advice Podcast #1 – Student Assigned Laptops Best Practices  (Podcast will open in a new window.  Check your volume controls and click the musical notes to start the podcast.)

Spirit of Curiosity . . . “The only difference between ‘I’m Techie’ and ‘I’m not Techie’ is the willingness to click on stuff and see what happens.” ~Alice Keeler

Creative Learning Spaces

A 1:1 teacher-centric environment with desks consistently in rows facing forward will have limited impact, so consider redesigning your learning space to create environments that foster students’ personal growth in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and leadership skills.

When thinking about the possibilities of how you can create successful modern learning spaces for your students, please consider these simple tips to get you started:

#1 Ask for Student Input:  Have conversations with your students and consider their input about how and where they like to learn and why to show you value their thoughts and feedback. This empowers the students to take ownership over their environment and builds community and culture in the classroom.

#2 Consider Student Experiences, Not Furniture:  Ask these following questions before you plan a space design or furniture upgrade. 1. What are the desired student experiences and learning outcomes? 2. How will you measure success?

#3 Create Zones:  One of the first things to do is make removing the front of the classroom a priority. Instead, be sure to designate areas for whole group special gatherings for mini-lessons, wrap-ups, class meetings, etc., as well as work spaces for independent, partner, and group learning. Click HERE  for a great resource to experiment with the layout of your classroom without any heavy lifting! 

#4 Ditch Traditional Teacher Spaces and Declutter:  Maximize your space by having a kidney bean shaped table double duty as your desk (with shelves for office supplies) and direct station for working with students.  Or perhaps you could use a rolling teacher cart (consisting of a laptop, iPad, headphones, books, general classroom supplies, etc.) to help promote technical efficiency, spatial minimalization, and classroom mobility.

#5 Use Invigorating Colors and Natural Sunlight:  Incorporating a good balance of bright and light colors and maximizing natural light can influence how students feel when sitting in a learning space which in turn affects how they learn. 

#6 Use Common “Space” Vocabulary Among Classroom Stakeholders:

  • Flexible: The space can be reshaped.
  • Agile: The space can be reshaped quickly.
  • Accessible:  The resources within the space can conveniently be accessed by all learners.
  • Intentional: The space is designed to support the student learning experiences.
  • Adaptive: The space adapts to changes in the expectations of the student learning experience.
  • Technological: The space supports a variety of technologies.
  • Interconnected: The physical and digital spaces for learning are connected.

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”  – John Dewey

Digital Citizenship

An important topic that is intrinsic to our technology integration is how we can teach our students to become digital citizens, what their duties and responsibilities will be as digital citizens, and how their roles are evolving in our knowledge society. Our goal is to attempt to provide students with ample experiences that expose them to social interactions, to help them develop empathy and care for others, and in general, to make them more aware of their roles as active contributors to society.

Here’s some advice on how we can make this happen:

Tip #1 – Make digital citizenship a core piece of your curriculum – not an ‘add-on’ – We cannot put digital citizenship off to the side.  It is our responsibility to lead by example.  One of the first things we should do as educators once our students have the devices in their hands is to educate them about digital citizenship and leaving a good digital footprint.

Tip #2 – Know what resources are available to you – and share them! – Resources like Common Sense Media’s curriculum, PBS Kids Webonauts Academy, and BrainPop’s collection of videos are a great place to start.  There are tons of resources out there.  Need help finding the perfect one?  Ask a coach!  🙂

Tip #3 – Teach students how to create and produce content for a global audience – Through our digital initiative, we can teach students how to become digital storytellers using video, audio, social media, blogging and other online tools.  Fantastic collaboration opportunities await our students as well.  Through this process, we can also teach students to comment on others’ work and develop etiquette for online posts and feedback.

Tip #4 – Model good digital citizenship when communicating with students, parents — and fellow educators – We need to practice what we preach!  As teachers, we need to leverage our use of electronic devices – not fight it!

Tip #5 – Demonstrate consistently how social media can be used for good – Social media can be a place where we can showcase our students’ thinking, take risks and share, and to become reflective about their learning.  As teachers, we should welcome social media posts that include the work we do in our classrooms.  Comments and discussions on these posts would open dialog and create great learning experiences in future classes. To have your classroom experiences showcased on social media, place a short write up and your pictures HERE!

Digital Citizenship Graphic

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela

Technology Integration

#1 Create a student-centered environment.  Stand back and release control. There are a variety of student-centered pedagogies to explore such as inquiry, project and/or problem-based learning, design thinking, and culturally responsive teaching. The end goal is to give students ownership into their learning. Use creative discovery time when introducing a new tool. Instead of giving step-by-step instructions, let students discover and interact with one another. Imagine a class of students starting on Class Notebook, Discovery Education, Edgenuity, PathBlazer, or Nearpod for the first time. Do you really need to be the expert, or can your students play that role?

#2 Listen and learn from your students. We don’t do this enough. Build relationships and a positive learning culture in your classroom to ensure happy learners and success. When integrating technology, talk and ask questions, and listen and adjust. How are your students communicating and sharing ideas with their friends and family? Replicate that in some fashion in the classroom for them to communicate their learning and collaborate with their peers.

#3 Fall in love with the right tools.  Be selective about the learning tools you use and learn how other teachers are using that tool – then adjust and replicate. Find your favorite tools that empower you and your students.  Here’s a collection to peruse (brought to you by your friends!):  MASD Tech Tools Resource Library

#4 Embrace instructional design. No technology in isolation will move student achievement or increase test scores. It comes down to the teacher and how they design the lesson to use that technology as a tool toward learning. When designing any learning activity, start with our district’s guiding resources . . . pacing guides and syllabi that lay out the curriculum with the standards.  Layer in the ISTE Standards for Students (ebook) and the MASD Technology Skills Continuum – Elementary or MASD Technology Skills Continuum – Secondary.

#5 Showcase and share. Use technology to share student learning and your own lesson design beyond your own classroom in PLCs, meetings and more. Don’t worry about being perfect. Students need to see that you will revise constantly – and that they should too.  Use the MASD News Media Share folder icon on the Staff Resources page!

#6 Reflect and revise.  The most powerful learning comes from reflection by the student AND the teacher, via dialogue, writing, or audio/video. Reflect on the learning activities you provided and the technology you integrated to determine if it enhanced or hindered the learning experience.  It won’t always be a success, but the value comes in recognizing and adjusting. This goes back to listening to your students. Ask questions, check for evidence of learning and add your own insight to reiteration of your learning activity.  Practice makes perfect!

“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire.” —Oprah

Source:  Microsoft Education Blog

Data Diving

For three weeks this summer, teachers, coaches and administration came together at all three education levels at MASD to discuss something pivotal to our students’ success – data!  For a total of nine days, diving into data was on everyone’s mind who participated.

MASD teachers diving into data

Those diving into data used our district’s Sapphire Suite to analyze CDTs, Keystones and PSSA data.  Then, they used this data collected to analyze how to best serve our upcoming 2018-2019 students.  Teachers answered the following questions based on their findings:

  • In what area(s) were students successful?
  • In what area(s) were students unsuccessful? 
  • How do the student results compare to their CDT Data? Classroom Assessment data (if applicable)? 
  • Where do we have needs?  Instructional strategies, revamp teacher assessments, standardized benchmarks, rigorous materials, etc. 
  • Is the data collected from CDT’s providing you accurate information about student readiness? 

For a closer look at the data and analysis of it, visit the following SharePoint sites (only accessible to MASD employees):

Want to learn more about the power of Sapphire, and how it can help you analyze your students’ data?  Just ask a coach!  We are excited about data, and eager to analyze it with you!  To get started (especially our new hires to MASD!), click on the How To below:

How To - Sapphire to Analyze Data
Click picture to view  How To