BHS Teachers
Are You Ready For a "Flipping" Awesome
2014-2015 School Year?

In just a few days, we will be kicking off the 2014-15 school year and personally, I couldn't be more excited!  In an effort to provide authentic and personalized professional development, we will be utilizing various delivery methods, as well as a wide array of technology tools and resources this year.  Our goal is to create a teacher-centered, always-on, and social approach to teacher improvement. One that builds on each teacher's natural strengths and interests, and connects each teacher with dynamic resources that will ultimately enhance our existing professional learning communities.

The idea here isn’t simply that you can improve by connecting through social networks–many of you are already are doing that. Rather, the goal is to decentralize the teacher training effort by allowing you the freedom, as well as supporting your self-directed efforts through an array of resources. The success of this effort will be directly impacted by each and every teacher's willingness to actively participate and share their learning experiences, best practices, and suggestions for continued growth and improvement.  

I do want to stress that none of this precludes national level conferences, on-site professional development, and the like. These more central and formal solutions will continue to be powerful professional development tools for the BHS faculty. In fact, our flipped professional development plan will serve as the means to share the kinds of conferences and on-site professional development that will be most relevant and authentic to your own individual professional development plans.

So keeping in sync with our new and improved "flipped" professional development plan, I am delivering a portion of our planned professional development via Tackk. [Tackk is a great online tool that you may want to try in your own classroom this year. At the bottom of this Tackk, I have provided more information on how you can use Tackk in your own classroom.  But first things first!

A few important dates

Tuesday, July 29, Senior Class Day, 8AM-3PM, Blue Gym

Wednesday, July 30, Teacher Institute / Staff Development, 8AM-4PM, Cafeteria

Thursday, July 31, Staff Development / Workday, 8AM-4PM, Locations TBA
Junior Class Day 8AM-Noon, Blue Gym / Sophomore Class Day, 1PM-4PM, Blue Gym

Friday, August 1, Staff Development / Workday, 8AM-4PM, Locations TBA
Freshman Round-Up, Last Name A-J, 8:30AM-10:30AM, Cafeteria
Last Name K-Z, 12:30PM-2:30PM, Cafeteria

Monday, August 4, Staff Development / Workday, 8AM-4PM, Locations TBA

Tuesday, August 5, First Student Day, 8:30AM - 3:30PM

Wednesday, August 6, EdmodoCon Viewing Party, 9AM-4PM, Multi-Purpose Room

81 Dash - A Private Back channel
for real-time collaboration

If you don't already know, backchannel communication is a secondary conversation that takes place at the same time as a conference session, lecture, or instructor-led learning activity. Digital technologies allow background discussions—which have always been a component of classes, conferences, and presentations—to be brought out of the shadows and incorporated as a formal part of learning activities. Whether it is used for professional development or in the classroom, the backchannel presents an opportunity to add a powerful dimension to the learning experience.

We will be using 81Dash as our private back channel during our teacher institute and professional development meetings. Here is a quick overview of the communication platform.

First assignment :)

In order to use 81Dash you will need to create an account.  You can either create a registered account (e-mail required) or sign-in to our dashroom/backchannel as a guest (no e-mail required). If you think you might want to use this platform with your students, then I recommend that you create a registered account.  

I have provided a quick tutorial, if needed, to get your account set up and logged into our faculty dashroom.  Once you get to our dashroom, feel free to explore and post a comment in the dash chat area. (Share some great resources you found this summer or a new tech tool you learned how to use, feel free to brag about your achievements - this platform is designed to specifically celebrate your strengths and expertise.) NOTE: You will be a "student" in the the faculty dashroom.  Create your own dashroom to discover the teacher management tools.  If you still have questions, post it in the dash chat, teachers with the same question will benefit from the posts!  

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more,  do
more and become more, you are a leader." ~John Quincy Adams

Announcing Edmodocon 2014!
a free professional development opportunity

EdmodoCon 2014 is Wednesday, August 6th from 9AM - 8PM (CST). Last year, over 27,000 educators from around the world registered to hear about creative ways to use Edmodo. EdmodoCon 2014 promises to be bigger and better!  This is the second day of school - a day that you will be extremely busy, I know! In an effort to alleviate the stress involved in accessing the webinar, we will be hosting a viewing party in the multi-purpose room from 9AM-4PM.  You can stop by whenever you get a chance for instant PD!  In order to receive PD credit, you will still need to register for the event by going to And of course, if you prefer to view in your own room, you are more than welcome to choose that option.  Can't make it at all?  That's okay too. We will be using our backchannel during the event, which will provide you the opportunity to still engage in the learning experience!

eDmodocon 2014 - event details

One reason to attend edmodocon 2014

While many of you are active on our social media platforms, others are not.  And that is completely fine.  In an effort to provide equitable access to the same great resources we share on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other sites - I will be posting in our Buckhorn PD Faculty Group. If you don't have an account, please sign up for Edmodo. Once you have joined and logged in, you can use the group code [vrxfjd] to join the Buckhorn PD Faculty Group (see picture below). Teachers with existing accounts can use the provided group code [vrxfjd] to join as you would any other group.  (P.S. I have only used Edmodo as a participant in PD settings, so I will be learning as we go. I will definitely be seeking out our Edmodo experts for advice and best practices!)

joining a group in edmodo

Seven free edmodo apps to try

By richard byrne - free technology for teachers - July 17, 2014

eduCanon is a free service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons.
ClassCharts is an excellent tool for creating online seating charts, behavior charts, and behavior reports.
Subtext is an app that you can use to create online book discussions tied directly to the text of a book.
CodeMonkey is a simple app designed to help students learn some basic coding principles.
CK-12 Science and Math Edmodo apps make it easy to find quality practice problems for your students.
eduClipper is a bookmarking and digital portfolio tool for teachers and students.

For the full article, visit Richard Byrne's Blog Free Technology for Teachers.  Mrs. Paige Craig shared this awesome resource with us last year.  Mr. Richard Byrne provides information about free resources for teachers, DAILY!  You can subscribe and receive daily updates about the new tools and resources via email and you can also follow him on Twitter @rmbyrne.

On site expert

We are very honored and privileged to have Mrs. Paige Craig as our Technology Integration Mentor at Buckhorn High School.  She will be a valuable resource to you as you are exploring new technologies to integrate into your curriculum. NOTE: It will be imperative to check with her to make sure our infrastructure will support your applications and that our filters will allow student accounts to access and use all components of the resource BEFORE the day of your planned activity.  For many valid educational applications that may be blocked, access can be requested (and is granted in most cases), but this procedure takes time to coordinate with Computer Services' personnel.  Please make sure you can validate the educational experience (and that no other alternative platform is readily available to achieve the learning outcome) before you make your request.  She will do everything she can to assist you, but please understand that last minute requests are difficult to fulfill.  

It Takes a village

Effective technology integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions — as accessible as all other classroom tools. The focus in each lesson or unit is the curriculum outcome, not the technology (ISTE-Standards•S, 2000).

In my opinion, Chris Lehmann, ISTE's 2013 Outstanding Leader of the Year, defines effective technology integration the best.  Chris says, "technology should be like oxygen, ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.” In other words, effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals, and not vice versa.

We must remind ourselves that technology is just a tool, nothing more. If you think about it, effective technology integration isn't really about the technology, it is about people and the way we choose to use it. Ultimately, it is the user who directs the potential learning outcomes from using the tool. We have the ability to give the power of technology to our students to tell their own stories. So when you plan your next lesson, will your students be using technology for a mindless application or will your students be using their minds to apply technology?  

Which brings us to this question: "How do I seamlessly integrate technology into my curriculum?"  Well, in my opinion, it really does take a village to teach a child, and it is going to take a village for us to be successful in our efforts to effectively integrate technology.  This is one of the reasons we will attempt to incorporate the backchannel dashboard for collaboration within our own faculty. However, it shouldn't stop there. I encourage you to reach out to other teachers, in other schools, in other districts, in other states, in other countries - use the network to network!  Whether it is formal or informal, 5 minutes or 5 hours, face-to-face or online, visual or written, professional development should happen each and every day.  

In addition to collaborating with peers and experts, teachers should be active learners. By this I mean, if you are going to have your students create an infographic, then you need to create one first.  You do not have to be an expert by any means, but you do need to experience the learning process.  It will also give you an opportunity to evaluate the resource and determine if it will positively contribute to the desired learning outcome. A bonus is that your students will appreciate that you are learning along side them, which can result in motivating them to learn more so they can teach the teacher! You might be surprised how much you can actually learn from your students.

Finally, you will need to accept that meaningful work does not come in a nice, neat package.  Furthermore, there isn't an exact time frame for true project based learning. Flexibility is key here, and you must be willing to take intellectual risks.  I know it is scary to venture into the unknown, but isn't this what we expect our students to do? Technology is continually evolving, so it is important to set aside time to explore, learn new methods, try new tools, and above all, share!  If technology fails, don't fret, the curriculum focus will remain intact and the learning outcome can still be achieved. Hand-drawn mind maps, storyboards, or creative writing activities can be just as effective as the technology application you planned to use.  Our collaboration efforts will help you problem-solve and enable you to think fast on your feet when unexpected challenges arise, so please try to share all the golden treasures you have found to be effective!

Just remember to take baby steps. Change will not happen overnight. Innovation takes time to progress. Be patient and let the ideas inspire you.  

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
~Albert Einstein

As Promised:  TACKK

A Tackk is super easy to create and share, and best of all it's FREE. The homepage allows you to drag and drop pictures, edit text, and play with colors, fonts, and backgrounds without even creating an account. (Registration is required if you want your Tackk up longer than a week.) The Tackkboard allows you to browse Tackks on a variety of topics, and you can even like and share your favorites.

How You Can Use TacKK IN The Classroom

  • First day of school:  Students can create an individual page to introduce themselves to others in the class.  They can access and edit from a smartphone and they wouldn't have to create an account (accessible for seven days)  
  • Teachers can create a student/parent newsletter - welcome back to school, highlighting student achievement, class activities (insert video/pictures here!), just about anything you can think of!
  • Teachers can create mini-lessons for students. Or even better, STUDENTS can create mini-lessons to present and share!
  • Create a biography page for a famous person, place, or thing.
  • Create a timeline for an historical event.
  • Students can create a 'how-to' document.
  • Create an invitation for any school event (study session, dance, graduation, etc.)
  • Economic/Business students can create a quick webpage to sell an idea or product. This could also be combined with a presentation.
  • Groups could use it to research an idea by sharing a page.
  • A reading text could be combined with audio and pictures to make it more understandable (scaffolding).
  • Foreign Language students can combine videos with pictures and words to make a pronunciation exercise.
  • Students can create a visual dictionary of new words.
  • Teachers/students can create an online self-access library using links to videos, audio recordings, readings, and more.

You can visit this Tackk for more ideas from real teachers, in real classrooms:

Go to and create one now!

Need more help? Just let me know and I will be glad to make a tutorial video!

Get credit for your PD

Wait, what???  Yep, you just experienced a whole bunch of professional development (and during your days of freedom)! I want to make sure you get credit for the amount of time and effort you just put forth.  I have created a Google Form for you to answer a few questions that will validate your participation (blue button below). Go ahead and add the hours in STI-PD and we will use your answers from the form to approve your entry. While you are logged into STI-PD be sure to register for any conferences, workshops, self-taught experiences, planning sessions, or informal collaborations you participated in this summer. *Many conferences and formal workshops have an STI-PD number already assigned so please search for those before entering them as an added item that will require admin approval. Additionally, for any self-taught or informal experiences, please share an artifact (certificate, video, presentation, class activity, meetings notes, etc.) on our Dashboard or in the BHS Faculty Edmodo group. I look forward to learning from your summer experiences!!

How to Submit a new training history item for approval:

BHS pD IS self-directed, always-on, and social

Suzanne Sullins, Professional Development Team, Chair |

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