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March 2012 Power User Workshop Recap

Spring Power User Workshop Highlights
“Well worth the time during my spring break”… “Well paced–gave information that is pertinent and helpful”…“Bringing in a TLC trainer brought a new perspective to the way I will use the ActivBoard”… “Dave K. was insanely awesome!”…“Dave was knowledgeable, entertaining, and helpful”…“Very useful tools and ideas–powerful because it was quick and easy”…“ Dave K. provided tools and ideas that could be applied to my classroom tomorrow”… “Best ActivExpression session I’ve seen so far”…“I hope there are more workshops because I wanted to attend all classes”…

These were just a few of the rave reviews received from our Spring Power User Workshop held on March 12th at Moanalua High School! Thank you to the many teachers who joined us over spring break for a fun-filled day of learning and collaboration. We were fortunate to have Promethean Teaching and Learning Consultant, Dave Kootman, share his knowledge, expertise, and humor with everyone, and many thanks to the Moanalua High School teacher presenters for taking the lead in various sessions. Check out video highlights and flipcharts from the sessions below:

Session 1:
The Good Stuff, Dave Kootman- flipchart, video highlights
Basic Orientation for Teachers, Craig Crisler- flipchart
Action Browser in Action!, Cheryl Estabillo- flipchart, handout
Troubleshooting for Tech Coordinators, Micah Gawin- flipchart

Session 2:
Speaking Without Speaking, Dave Kootman- flipchart, video highlights
Instant Feedback with ActivExpressions, Soon Young Kim and Sean Takahashi- flipchart, handout
Building Resources for Flipcharts, Judy Tateyama, flipchart

Session 3:
Outside the Box Thinking with your LRS, Dave Kootman- flipchart, video highlightsActivExpression Top 10 Tips video


Hawaii Charter School Conference Reflections

We were honored to be a part of the 10th Annual Hawaii Charter School Conference “Delivering on the Promise” this past month.  What resonated the most…hearing personal stories directly from the leaders within the charter school network, both locally and nationally; and to be amongst the audience as they continued their dialogue discussing the successes and challenges of this movement…Inspiring!  Here are just a few of the amazing individuals and their stories to share.

  • Daniel Caluya, Principal of Waters of Life (Na Wai Ola).  Principal Caluya’s school was awarded Most Improved Charter School for 2011 and this leader turned around a low-performing school to one that has met AYP.  Putting service above self, Mr. Caluya’s recipe for success includes mandatory Saturday school, 5:45am “clock-in” as the first person on campus, and an empathetic heart for the students he serves including the substantial homeless population at his school- something he can relate to since he was in and out of several foster homes starting at the age of 2 and homeless, on the streets, at the age of 16.  And this is just one “chapter” of this hero’s life story.
  • Greg Hauptner, CEO/CFO/Founder of G Star School of the Arts for Motion Picture and Broadcasting.  A West Palm Beach charter school doubles as a motion picture studio (largest movie studio in Florida–yes, even larger than Universal Studios) with graduation rates of 99%.  Talk about thinking outside the box, this entrepreneur has mastered the limelight when it comes to college-and-career readiness (97% of its graduates are college bound), which builds mastery and sustainability in the film industry and boosts the state and local economy.  Hawaii G Star School coming soon?!
  • Nohea Kealoha, Federal Programs Manager of the Charter School Administrative Office (CSAO).  Our very own local leader co-presented at the session, Common Core: Nationally and Locally.  Participants learned about some of the key opportunities available for all charter schools when it comes to Common Core resources.  Mrs. Kealoha was instrumental in initiating Hawaii’s first Common Core Black Belt Institute cohort.  The participants in this graduate-level practicum include local charter school directors, curriculum coordinators, coaches, and teachers, representing about one third of all Hawaii charter schools.  She also presented the rationale and the intended outcomes of the Black Belt Institute to include building mastery and capacity amongst our own experts on the national standards yet also providing a forum for collaboration and communication at the local, state, and national level,  Think of it as the hybrid Professional Learning Community (PLC) model.

Making Thinking Visible


The concept of “making thinking visible” is not new.  In fact, it is a core component of schooling and learning – students externalize their thoughts through speaking, writing, drawing, or some other method.  An ASCD Educational Leadership article titled “Making Thinking Visible” is dense with good information and strategies.  The article describes a Project Zero initiative called “Visible Thinking”, explaining the six key principles of Visible Thinking, strategies to promote it, and effects on learning.

A couple of the key principles:

  • Learning is a consequence of thinking.  Or, in other words, thinking through concepts results in learning.  And, thinking through concepts is best done collaboratively.
  • Good thinking is not only a skill but a disposition.  Open-mindedness, curiosity, and creativity need to be encouraged.

Strategies to promote making thinking visible:

  • Thinking routines offer structure to support thinking.  A couple of examples:
    • “Think-Puzzle-Explore” prompts students to share what they think about a topic, identify questions they puzzle about, and target ideas to explore.  While this strategy is similar to the KWL strategy, by using the term “think” instead of “know” a shift occurs from absolutes to possibilities and openness.  This gets back to the principle that good thinking is not just a skill but a disposition.
    • “See-Think-Wonder” routine sparks creativity and inquiry by prompting students to make observations about an object, image or event by answering these three questions:  1) what do you see?  2) what do you think about that?  3) what does it make you wonder?
  • Consistent teacher prompts – after a student states an idea or opinion, ask the student “What makes you say that?”  Soon, students will naturally justify their ideas without prompting.

Effects of Making Thinking Visible:

  • Classroom activities become more learning oriented than work oriented.
  • All students feel they have a voice and participation is enhanced (in quantity and quality).
  • Long Lake Elementary school in Michigan has been implementing Visible Thinking ideas since 2004 and student scores have significantly increased on state and district tests in reading, writing, and social studies.

Using Interactive Whiteboards to support making thinking visible:

  • An IWB can serve as a shared collaboration space, a notational system that makes collective thinking visible.  With collective thinking visible, memory is freed up for more complex tasks.
  • The tools and functions of the IWB support varied forms of expression – text (typed or handwritten), images (drawn or camera), audio, and video – and supports the layering of expression over time.  In a classroom this promotes time for reflection.
  • An IWB offers teachers a way to save all thinking documented on the board.  In this way, it captures learning over time and supports teacher in more accurately assessing students’ understanding.

I always come back to this key question – “Are you asking students to think or to remember?”


Becoming a Black Belt on the Common Core State Standards

The Common Core Institute’s Black Belt Certification Hawaii cohort has kicked off to an exciting and productive start!  The learning process has begun for principals, curriculum coordinators, and teachers from a handful of charter schools who will apply the new knowledge, skills, and tools to support this major change initiative in their schools.   Kevin Baird, Chairman of the Common Core Institute, is facilitating the blended learning course.  For more information about this unique model of professional development, read my earlier blog post

Through the course of two days, full of lecture, discussion, application activities, and reflection, these are my big take-aways:

  • The implementation of Common Core State Standards is a significant change initiative.  As such, leaders need to use an organizational change approach to ensure success.  Key to this approach is addressing:  1) belief and emotion, 2) priorities, 3) scaffolds to make change simple and manageable.  Leaders need to address the emotional element of change before tackling the operational element of change.  For some people, the level of change will be greater. 
  • The vision of Common Core State Standards is college and career readiness
  • Begin by focusing on the College and Career Readiness anchor standards and the mathematical practice standards.  These practices pertain to shifts in instruction.  Think of these practices as opening the door for teachers to be creative in unit and lesson planning.  Start by encouraging teachers to:  1) increase the level of rigor through complex texts (higher lexile levels), non-fiction, and text-dependent questioning, 2) engage students in the practice of using evidence to persuade, and 3) integrate multi-modal, diverse sources of information (video, audio, simulations, etc.). 
  • Supporting teachers in this change initiative is essential to success.  The support will need to be in the form of training (don’t assume teachers have the skills), tools (simple resources and scaffolds), and time (time to understand and digest the standards, time to develop new lessons, time to talk and collaborate with peers – within and across grade levels).  The “reality” hit when we were challenged to adapt an existing lesson to address the gap between a HCPS III benchmark and the Common Core Standard and integrate the “big concepts” like text complexity, non-fiction, etc.   For many in the room, it was hard… but fun.  Experiencing this process will help the Black Belts effectively support their teachers/peers at their schools. 
  • It is not possible to teach a standard.  Rather, you teach the skills embedded within the standard.  We deconstructed a standard, following the process of identifying the learning targets and corresponding skills (knowledge, reasoning, performance, product), and matching to assessment methods. 

It was evident when we did our summary/wrap up that we all had learned a lot!  And, the process is just beginning!   Stay tuned for more reflections on our Black Belt certification journey.  I’ll leave you with a statement Kevin repeated throughout our training – “Get rid of perfect.”   It’s such a powerful and empowering statement, freeing people to try, learn, and grow.


Supporting the home-school connection on Molokai at this week’s innovative ‘Ohana Night

Time and time again, we observe evidence of technology creating bridges, fostering equity in the classroom, and supporting collaborative learning, and providing enriching learning opportunities – regardless of how old, how skilled, or how knowledgeable the learners are.  This is the power of technology for learning.  On Monday, December 15th at Kualapu’u Elementary Public Conversion Charter School on the island of Molokai parents, children, teachers, and administrators learned side-by-side, discovering how a curricular resource like BrainPOP can foster meaningful dialogue and skill-building. 

Kualapu’u Elementary Public Conversion Charter School seeks to encourage bridging school with the home and supports the family as the child’s first teacher.  As such, the school often provides Parent Learning Opportunities (PLO).  This PLO, however, was unique in that it focused on technology – how a web-based curricular resource offers hands-on, engaging, and relevant learning opportunities for both parent and other family caregivers (yes, even tutu and aunties joined us) and child.  It’s All About Kids was proud to partner with the school to design, develop, and implement the PLO.

The goals of the evening were to:

  • Bridge school with the home and support the family as the child’s first educator;
  • Model and promote collaboration and sharing among parents/caregivers, students, and the school community so that the school can learn from the “home” and vice versa;
  • Build digital literacy awareness and skills to increase access and use of high-quality online resources, not to mention re-defining “screen time”;
  • Showcase how the computer with appropriate, educationally-sound resources can be a powerful tool for parent-child interaction and “family time”;
  • Have fun and learn!

The evening was a success…

  • All attendees shared positive feedback and requested more events like this parent engagement event.
  • Principal Trinidad showed her commitment to the vision by offering parents/caregivers access to school computers to use BrainPOP, if needed.
  • According to Principal Trinidad, “… since the workshop a parent told me that they used BrainPOP for their 8th grade child to understand linear equations.  Also, grade one teachers are immediately using and looking for topics to supplement math instruction.  The use of videos helps children understand concepts in simple form.”
  • The best quote of the evening?  A second grade students turned, smiled, and said, “This is fun!”
  • A dad shared, “Our kids can’t stop talking about BrainPOP!  What a great alternative to television and video games!  Excellent!”

Mahalo to the Kualapu’u School community for its good work and commitment.

Using Current Events in the Classroom

International Education Week 2011 (November 18th) helped us focus on global education.  So does the current dialogue around 21st century learning.  The idea is that by broadening students’ perspective, learning will become more relevant and interesting.  Secretary Duncan stated during International Education Week, “We must work together to give all of our students an outstanding education, which includes learning about our global partners-their cultures, histories, languages, values, and viewpoints. We must focus on integrating international perspectives into our classrooms. It is through education and exchange that we become better collaborators, competitors and compassionate neighbors in this global society.”

So the question for teachers is – how are you focusing on global education in your classroom and could you be doing it better (more consistently or in a more engaging manner)?  Some teachers leverage the real deal – newspaper articles (excellent integration of non-fiction text) – and many use printed publications for children (Time for Kids, National Geographic, etc.) and some even use web-based news sites to integrate multi-modal resources.  Another option – perhaps a bit more “21st century”- is Channel 1 News Interactive.  The subscription-based Channel 1 News Interactive channels daily news broadcasts into classrooms along with corresponding interactive activities and lessons.  Often times the news broadcasts are hosted by student reporters and feature youth perspectives.  Seamlessly integrated with Promethean’s ActivExpressions, students can respond to questions about the content, stimulating thinking and assessing understanding.

The videos, animations, and interactive lessons appeal to today’s 21st century learner and build teachers’ technology fluency skills.  Each daily resource is multi-disciplinary, including math, language arts, social studies, and science activities.  The powerful resource offers teachers an easy way to…

  • Integrate dynamic content in the classroom
  • Ground learning in real-world events
  • Increase global awareness
  • Enhance student engagement
  • Effectively use technology

To learn more about Channel 1 News Interactive, click here or call us at 487-5437.

A must read

The Wall Street Journal opinion piece “The Steve Jobs Model for Education Reform” by Rupert Murdoch is a must read.  Click here and read it now.  Here is one quote (just one – so, you go and read it), “If we can engage a child’s imagination, there’s no limit to what he or she can learn.”

Come play in our digital playground!

At the Principals & Educational Technology Conference next week Wednesday, October 19th be sure to come play with us at the Digital Playground!  The interactive space will be dedicated to play.  We’ll have Promethean interactive whiteboards, ActivExpressions (learner response system), laptops, and access to a variety of web-based curricula and resources.  Stop by to explore, learn a new strategy or simply talk story.  We’ll be there to play with you!

Tech Evolution

A few moments and events recently have made me pause and reflect on the way technology is changing our lives.  As we embrace new technologies and they so seamlessly become integrated in our daily routines, we often (at least I do) neglect to pause and think about the change or transformation.  This Big Think blog post “Ray Kurzweil:  The Six Epochs of Technology Evolution” made me not only pause and think but also write this blog.  Kurzweil emphasizes the idea that it will be harder to distinguish human and machine.  He says, “The bottom line is we are one human-machine civilization. This technology has already expanded who we are and is going to go into high gear when we get to the steep part of the exponential [curve].”  It reminds me of a “question of wonder” asked by a teacher in a simulated activity – “Are machines living?”  Ah, the future will be so interesting, won’t it?  Almost mind-blowing…  Check out the post and guaranteed you’ll be lured into watching some other videos of Kurzweil.

Free Promethean ActivInspire Webinars

We are pleased to share the release of some exciting Promethean ActivInspire webinars designed to meet the needs of teachers at all levels.  Register to attend any or all of the webinars to refine your ActivInspire skills.  All times are Eastern Standard Time but a recording of the webinar will be sent regardless of actual attendance in the live session.  October offerings are listed below.  To review the full list of sessions, click here.

Wednesday, October 5

8am, Resources Galore, take a Planet tour – Promethean Planet is a great one-stop-shop of resources for educators with over 30,000 ready-made resources. Explore the resources and all the amenities of Promethean Planet from support to professional development. This session is great for new users and experienced users looking to expand their teacher toolboxes.  Click here to register.

11am, Shape Up: 21 ways to use the shape tool – ActivInspire’s shape tool offers a variety of ways to enhance instruction and save time when it comes to flipchart creation. This session will take a closer look at the shape tool by examining 21 ways in which the shape tool can be used in the ActivClassroom. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to get “in shape” with ActivInspire!  Click here to register.

1pm, BrainPop & Channel One News InterActiv – If your school has a subscription to BrainPOP, this session will feature ways in which BrainPOP  can enhance instruction using the ActivBoard and Learning Response Devices.


  • Discover the power of BrainPOP & Channel One News InterActiv
  • Utilize the tools in ActivInspire to make interactive lessons that incorporate BrainPop movies
  • Find out how to save time and effort with the readymade resources from Channel One
  • Use the ActiVotes or ActivExpressions along with BrainPOP and Channel One News InterActiv

Click here to register.

4pm, Educate & Elevate – Did you know that you can save time and effort by using assessment in your classroom? In this session, discover the power of formative assessment and learn how to differentiate instruction using learning response devices.


  • Define formative and summative assessment
  • Identify the benefits of assessment
  • Describe best practices of formative assessment
  • Explore good examples of formative assessment using LRS devices

Click here to register.

Wednesday, October 12 

10am, Swing into Action!  Want to make your flipcharts more action packed? This session will explore the action browser and how actions add interactivity and excitement to your flipcharts. Participants will look at some of the most common actions and their educational/curricular applications.


  • Identify and explore the action browser
  • Discover ways to use common actions in your lessons
  • Explore the drag and drop actions

Click here to register.

12pm, Browsers 101 – Have you been using ActivInspire, but find yourself lost? This session will provide you a clear overview of each of the browsers and how to navigate through the program.


  • Identify and explore the browsers in ActivInspire
  • Discover how to effectively use the features of each browser

Click here to register.

3pm, The power of Multimedia – Kids watch on average 3 hours of TV, 2 hours of online content, and 1 hour of video games every day!  Tapping into multiple learning styles via multimedia helps bring learning alive! Explore what brain research tells us about multimedia instruction, and learn how to reach your 21st century learners through the proper use of images, sound, and video.


  • Define multimedia learning and discuss the research
  • Discover how to effectively integrate multimedia in the K-‐12 classroom
  • Recognize how to engage students in the learning process with multimedia

Click here to register.

5pm, Wake Up Your Readers – Tired of the same old, same old? This session will feature tips and tricks to make reading lessons come alive using the ActivBoard.


  • Outline best practices in reading
  • Discuss the research behind using interactive whiteboards in literacy education
  • Discover new ways of using ActivInspire in your reading class
  • Explore online reading resources to use on your ActivBoard

Click here to register.

Monday, October 31

8am, Introduction to ActivInspire – This session is for the teacher that has never used ActivInspire or is transitioning from ActivStudio to ActivInspire for the first time. Participants will learn the main features of ActivInspire including the basic skills to create simple flipcharts.


  • Review the features of the ActivBoard – pens, calibration
  • Become familiar with the ActivInspire interface: Browsers, Menu, Toolbar
  • Learn the basic tools
  • Work with objects and using the object toolbar
  • Add and formatting text
  • Explore Promethean Planet

Click here to register.

10 am, Basic Skills – This session goes beyond the main features of ActivInspire and is for teachers who are familiar with the layout of ActivInspire and the basic tools. Participants will learn about the desktop tools, resource browser and the settings.


  • Review the features of the ActivBoard – dual pens, calibration
  • Use the desktop tools to capture video, images, etc.
  • Explore the resource browser and customize your resources
  • Find & import resources packs from Promethean Planet
  • Identify and utilize the notes browser
  • Import pdf files
  • Explore settings and profiles
  • Modify toolbar by adding/deleting tools

Click here to register.

12pm, Beyond the Basics – This session is for the teacher who is ready to learn more than the basics. Participants will explore the browsers and how to incorporate more interactivity and media into flipcharts.


  • Explore the advanced tools (hammer/wrench functions)
  • Use the on screen recorder
  • Use the object browser- layer objects and use magic ink.
  • Introduce the features of the property browser
  • Assign actions and use the drag and drop action feature
  • Import media and use Zamzar
  • Explore resources on the internet and create web links

Click here to register.

2pm, Advanced Skills – This session is designed for the advanced user. Participants will learn what makes an interactive flipchart and how to incorporate advanced flipchart objects such as containers, restrictors, and actions.


  • Explore the features of the property browser in depth
  • Incorporate advanced skills including containers, restrictors and actions
  • Explore grids and page properties
  • Use gradation with backgrounds and shapes

Click here to register.