The Year End Report 2012

Every year at Allendale Columbia School, the department heads and administrators write up “Year End Reports.” These reports are summaries of the school year and plans for the year to come. I have decided to use it as my next blog post. Feedback and questions are always appreciated!

We all need a sunset to fade into. The end!

Curricular Technology Year End Report written by Tony Tepedino, Director of Curricular Technology

Highlights from this year included creating a bi-weekly program, called Tech Tuesday, for AC faculty to share how they are using technology in their classrooms. I presented, with Beth Guzzetta, at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in Indianapolis, IN. We hosted two sessions, “iPads Apps in the Science Classroom” and “Hi-Tech, Low Cost Science Classroom.” I co-presented with Brian Meehan at Barcamp RIT about iPad 1:1 deployments. We also rolled out Google Apps for education accounts for all middle and upper school students with Gmail. The Middle School started a 1:1 iPad program this year. It proved to have a tremendous impact on the learning environment in the middle school. We hosted visits from Canandaigua Academy and Elmwood Franklin to check out our iPad program in action. We have an opportunity to be a resource for schools considering 1:1 iPad deployments. We have tremendous practical knowledge to share from a variety of perspectives –  pedagogical, operational and management of devices. I also consulted with Red Jacket CSD BOCES about iPad implementation.

I coordinated with Rochester Institute of Technology to use a new web based platform called BookBag. We are helping RIT trial this tool in a K-12 school in hopes of securing a grant. It hasn’t been used outside of RIT until now. Diana Gleeson’s Bioethics class is currently using BookBag. I continued to oversee the Alsina Language Lab. Michael Murphy, from Sanako Labs, donated language teaching software and will continue to update AC with the latest versions.

I have continued to work with teachers to integrate social media, PLN’s (Personal Learning Networks), and LMS (Learning Management Systems) into their curriculum.  The new Digital Art Lab created the perfect environment for Amy Bonner to develop an online course in graphic design, for upper school students, during the Spring semester. The class content was delivered using a LMS called Edmodo. Amy offered a blended learning environment with both her middle and upper school art classes. This approach combines web based technology to deliver content, evaluate student work, quiz and assess, collect assignments and communicate with students. She  continues to use blogging and social media to communicate and share information about her classroom. Julie Thompson, has used Twitter for professional growth and as a review tool for her AP Biology class. She also blogs regularly about her classroom environment and as a reflective tool for her teaching.

We are in year two of using FA Web for online grade reporting. There continues to be issues with FA Web (browser compatibility). Resolution of issues takes a long time, sometimes months. I have been consulting with Blackbaud on the look and feel of their future releases of FA Web. I take part in discovery sessions online during regularly scheduled meetings. They seem to appreciate the input from someone who has been a classroom teacher and currently trains teachers on how to use their products.

I have continued to maintain a good relationship with Tequipment, our SMARTBoard installer and support specialists.  It took 6 months to complete the installation of the new portable board in our music department, due to backorder of parts. I taught the Nursery and Pre-K students two mini lessons on  the SMARTBoard in Kindergarten. We demoed a SMART Table in nursery/PreK for 30 days. The software is hard to use and the hardware wasn’t dependable.

Conferences and Visits
Attended NEIT, (NYSAIS Education & Information Technology) conference at Mohonk.
Attended NYSCATE (NYS Association for Computers and Technology in Education) conference in Rochester, NY
Attended T4 – Think Tank for Teachers & Technology at Elmwood Franklin in Buffalo and hosted a session on copyright images.
Attended ISTE Webinar an Independent Schools Special Interest Group for Online Learning.
Attended ISTE Remote Summer Workshops.
Attended the Reading Digital Symposium at RIT.
Attended Tedx Rochester
Attended Tedx Flour City, June 9, 2012
Visited Manlius Pebble Hill School in Syracuse, NY to learn about Blackbaud and technology integration.
Attended Cambridge Institute Webinar for An Overview of the Modern Chinese Education System.

Plans for Next Year
I am currently working with Cathy Beaton at RIT, and Beth Guzzetta on a grant for technology use in education. This grant, if awarded, would provide the following items to participating schools.; lab kits with all necessary materials and tools, iPads, and original YouTube instructional videos created by AC students.

Plans include developing a  web based curriculum for faculty to continue training when they have time. I will expand Tech Tuesday to include workshops for hands-on training. I am sending out a survey to assess faculty requests for specific workshops. We are planning to install two new SMARTBoards next year. I would like to see web-based delivery of report cards to parents via NetClassroom. We continue to evaluate and assess the hardware, software, mobility, and usage of the current Alsina Lab. Beth Guzzetta and I have submitted proposals to present at NSTA in San Antonio, TX. I would also like to attend the NAIS National Conference in Philadelphia and  serve on an visiting accreditation team. I would like to take a select group of teachers to attend the NYSCATE conference next school year.

This year I was given the opportunity with colleague Leah Danielsto plan and coordinate full school Spring Professional Day. Based on the reviews and suggestions from the professional day, I am confident that we could host another successful event.

  • Ratings from 1 (horrible) – 5 (amazing), Average Ratings, Morning – 4, Afternoon – 4.12, Overall – 4.26

Professional Affiliations
ISTE – International Society
NYSCATE – New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education
NSTA – National Science Teachers Assocation

AP Literature Students Experience The Virtual World of Umuofia

Special thanks to Dr. Bissonette for co-writing, proofing and letting me experience his class. I also want to thank Dr. Alan Webb for his permission to publish this post. Dr. Webb recently published a book for teachers about the Literary Worlds project, Teaching Literature in Virtual Worlds

Not being a pusher of technology and its potential uses in the classroom is one of the hardest parts of my job. So, when a teacher approaches me and tells me of and upcoming project involving technology, I am immediately interested. I start asking questions like: How can I help? Can I come watch? Can I participate? Where did you get this idea?

Enter Allendale Columbia School English teacher, Dr. Vincent Bissonette. When he told me about his plan to immerse his AP Literature students in the Village of Umuofia, a multi-room virtual world based on Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart,” I was immediately interested in seeing how this was going to work. Achebe’s novel, published in 1959, is set in 19th century Nigeria, and it deals with tensions within the native community both before and after the arrival of Christian missionaries. The Village of Umuofia, developed by Dr. Allen Webb at Western Michigan University, uses multimedia (photographs and music clips) to help readers get a better sense of the African village. Anyone can visit as a guest and actually see the cloths and homes, the dances and music that are described in the novel. But the really exciting thing about this virtual world is how it provides a space for students to inhabit this setting as a particular characters. While reading the book, students were assigned a characters. Students needed to understand their characters within the context of the cultural matrix of the novel so that they could play them within the virtual world, reacting to events as they unfolded. As one student said, “It allowed me to place myself within the world of Umuofia.”

Here is a screen shot of what students saw as they navigated the Virutal World of Umuofia.

Vince, for his part, acted as the “Town Crier,” announcing happenings which the students then responded to. There is no winner. The point is simply to interact. Because the characters represent such a diversity of perspective (European and African, Christian and non-Christian, man and woman, young and old, outsider and insider) there are plenty of underlying tensions and overt hostilities. In a follow-up response, several students wrote about how the activity helped them to understand how individual voices can be drowned in a crowd. One wrote, “I felt that this representation of conflict showed how when many conversations can be going on at once, people can feel unheard, and misconceptions occur easily.” Many students resorted to shouting, using ALL CAPS TO GET THEIR POINT ACROSS, though this did little to keep the peace.

I know how they felt because I also read the book and participated. Being in character required identifying emotionally with that character, even though I didn’t agree with or like my character. Thus I could both judge and empathize with my character. In other words, I and the students came away with a better understanding of the texture of the culture and the rapid changes brought by the introduction of Christianity. The entire class was engaged and excited about interacting in this virtual book. My favorite quotation was, “Can we do this for every book?”

AC Bloggers


I just wanted to take a moment to recognize my fellow Allendale Columbia School bloggers. These are the teachers who are reflecting, writing, and sharing what is happening in their classroom with the world. It takes a brave soul to put yourself out there into that big crazy world called the web. It takes an even braver soul to share your work, practice, classroom, lessons, and reflections. I look around at what is happening in my fellow teachers classrooms and wish that each one of them had a blog.

Señora Brown (@lindseybbrown)
She presented at this weeks Tech Tuesday about her use of the blog as a classroom tool. I really enjoyed hearing about her use of the blog to (unintentionally) teach. She assigns a project for Spanish pronouns, which she explains better than I could…

Students in sexto learned hand motions to remind them of the meanings of Spanish…

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Awesome post from Allendale Columbia Biology Teacher, Dr. Julie Thompson. Her post highlights the use of presentation tool Prezi and how she has used it with her students.

If you are searching for presentation software that goes beyond the basics, Prezi may be just what you are looking for.  I am so drawn to both its visual appeal and its organizational features.  It is less linear than PowerPoint or Keynote, and my first attempt at using Prezi reminded me of concept mapping.  I felt forced (in a good way) to consider how my ideas were related, rather than marching through my thoughts in a typical straightforward progression.

Prezi was created by an architect, who found a zoomable interface useful for his work since it enabled him to look at both “the big picture overview of a floorplan and then zoom into the details of individual rooms.”  Now, this zoom feature is available to us all. It is possible to visualize the overall organization of your presentation and then to zoom into more detailed points.  It is simply…

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Guest Blog, with Dr. Julie C. Thompson, Biology Teacher at Allendale Columbia School

One of my goals every year is to attempt to get teachers more connected with the outside world and create a PLN (Personal Learning Network). I really like this Will Richardson, @willrich45, video and how he describes the importance of a PLN.

Creating a PLN, in my opinion, is the ultimate way to personalize professional growth. I am including a link to a blog post by Allendale Columbia School Biology Teacher, Dr. Julie C. Thompson. Julie details the “Upgrades” to her teaching and how she came to realize the importance of connecting to the world outside of her classroom. I am very impressed with her willingness to look beyond what she has always done and begin to “Upgrade” her classroom environment. Kudos to Dr. Thompson!

Click here to visit Dr. Thompson’s Blog