All posts by GCPS

Leadership Lean-In August 2017

Our schools are like our photo galleries on our phone . . . there are a million different snapshots that all tell a specific story, but when you look at the entire gallery, the snapshots together create a tapestry that tells a lot about who were are.  There are so many different ways we can look at our school – an achievement data dashboard, a faculty roster, a student engagement report, a community partner list – and the list goes on.  None of these tell the whole story by itself, but together, they paint a picture of what each school is.

One snapshot that can and should be a part of that gallery is where our school, our classrooms, and our lessons are in student and teacher use of technology – our “eCLASS snapshot.”  And one photo template that can help school leaders to take that snapshot is the eCLASS inverted pyramid of transformation.

eCLASS Vision Triangle

The pyramid reminds you of the tools that are available in your arsenal to capture the moment – knowing where you are now – and to then move the school, the classrooms, the teachers, the lessons “to the right” for eCLASS transformation.  The Matrix of eCLASS Implementation outlines the six indicators that we as school leaders need to leverage in order to increase our effective use of technology for instruction.  Have you identified where you are as a school on each indicator, and then looked to the right to determine your next steps?

The eCLASS Transformed Classroom document gives concrete examples of how teachers should use technology (and our eCLASS C&I Tool) with their students to move from one level of transformation to the next.  The new Teacher Profile instrument gives a quick way for teachers to self-assess their level on the Transformed document.  Have your teachers reviewed the levels to get a picture of what their classroom looks like now, and to set goals for what they can do this year to further engage students with technology?

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) is a great resource for each teacher to see video examples of instructional practices with technology at each level of transformation.  Have your teachers watched the videos of lessons at that “next level” of transformation to help them with their “journey to the right?”

What does your school’s snapshot include this year?  Use these resources to capture that picture. . . and then help teachers continue to improve their own practices, as supported by school level goals and action.  That snapshot then becomes a part of the tapestry to achieve your school’s goals, including the ultimate vision of eCLASS – engaging our students and increasing their learning.

Getting Started with Technology in Your Classroom

Written by: Laura Girard & Stacy McKibben

As we begin the school year, you are probably thinking about ways to make the use of technology in the classroom smoothly, easily, and stress-free. You already know the importance of teaching students the rules and routines in the first few weeks of school. Why not incorporate the rules, routines, and procedures associated with technology use into the other classroom routines you are teaching?

Here you will find tips on how to organize yourself and prepare your students to be independent with technology throughout the day. We start our tips on Day 1, but your Day 1 doesn’t have to be the first day of school! However, we do encourage you to start these routines as soon as possible. Making sure your students have a solid understanding of the procedures is essential to transforming your classroom throughout the school year.

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Helpful Tips for Teachers:

  • Place login information for students on a laminated index card and keep it near the computers on a ring for students to easily find and use as needed.
  • Print directions for assignments that students should complete and place them in a designated spot (near the laptops or in another chosen spot) so students can always easily find their assignment without disturbing the class. A frame or page protector on the wall or table is great for this!
  • Establish a plan for storing, charging, and connecting to the Ethernet.
  • Designate an area for laptops, power cords, headphones, etc., and teach your students where they are and how to put things away.
  • Consider designating a student job for organizing and assisting with technology.
  • Establish and post procedures as you see fit for your class. Review procedures often!
  • Model, model, model!!! If you expect your students to do something, especially with technology, you must model it yourself so they can see what it should look like.


Being able to repeatedly engage content can positively affect student achievement.  There is now a tool that assists with this: H5P.  Teachers across the county have been exploring this free tool, which can be used to create and share various interactive activities, such as remediation and enrichment opportunities.  These activities can then be embedded onto their eCLASS course pages.

Explore the popular features below to see examples of ways teachers are using H5P.*

 H5P elevates teaching to the next level by enabling teachers to create media-rich content that previously would have been inaccessible without coding knowledge.  The program is user-friendly, easily accessible, and worth it to use with your students.  Wendy McDonald, a Local School Technology Coordinator (LSTC) at Jordan Middle School, agrees wholeheartedly: “At first, it is a little cumbersome to use. When you figure it out, you unlock a magical program!”  

 Which H5P features will you begin exploring with your students?    

 * “Examples & Downloads.” N. p., 2017. Web. 1 Aug. 2017.

Flipping My Classroom in Social Studies

This article was written by Erika Livingston, a 5th Grade Teacher from Anderson Livsey Elementary School.

Sometimes as a teacher, I get stuck in a routine.  Looking for reading passages and searching for the next best thing to present to my class can be really overwhelming at times. I think that every teacher goes through this at some point in time during the school year.  If I’m feeling this way, I can only imagine how my students are feeling!


I decided to do something about it for the third nine weeks.  I decided to flip my classroom and let the students take control of their own learning.

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My Local School Technology Coordinator (LSTC), Lorna Baldwin, had a significant impact on making this transition possible.  I started by letting my students create their own questions about World War I.  They created a Google slide presentation with their questions, and they had to use different resources to research and find answers to their questions.

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The next step was actually engaging in conversations with them and having them make connections to their research.  In addition, I created a checklist in eCLASS where the students participated in collaborative learning by reading and analyzing non-fiction texts, viewing media on Safari Montage,  creating their own documents using Google, and taking assessments via eCLASS.  We have even used webquests to conduct our research as well.  On a daily basis, I found myself as a facilitator of the content and not just an instructor.

My LSTC  was there for me every step of the way.  Sometimes we would co-teach, and sometimes she would help my class in the computer lab.  As a result, the students took ownership and really enjoyed working in collaborative groups.

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In reflecting on my experience so far, I realize that flipping my instruction will be the norm for my classroom going forward.  It was important for me to have the support of my LSTC in order to understand the process and to walk me through step by step.  Once the foundation of classroom procedures and routines have been established, the students will know exactly what to do.  My students are excited to grab a device and start working right away.  I have students in the hallway working, spread out in the classroom, and even helping each other. In a Padlet I created for my students to rate their experiences so far, my students gave me their approval for the strategy–we will continue pushing forward using our flipping techniques.  It has been a great, eye-opening experience for my students and me!

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