Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Day = Success!

And we're off..... officially, this time! Not piloting, not test-driving, not training... real, live, 24-7 Learning!

And the first day couldn't have been better. Enthusiasm and excitement abounded, tech-support was at a moderate level, and unexpected glitches were nonexistent.

Here is a little poll from the kids to see what we might expect in the upcoming weeks and months at OHS:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Letter to the staff of a 1:1 school...

A letter to her staff at Pensecola Catholic High School in Penescola, Florida, also embarking on the beginnings of a 1:1 initiative.
My friend and colleague shares these thoughts, which also seem perfectly appropriate for us at O'Neill Public Schools. Have a great first day of school, everyone!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Leopard for your Classroom

It's back to school time and you may be feeling the "rustiness" of your technology skills, in teaching anyway. Or maybe you are one of those lucky enough to start off the new school year with a brand new Mac. Either way, this pdf reference is perfect for brushing up on the ways to use Mac OS X - Leopard in your classroom. Created by Matt Fuller and accompanied with a podcast of related information, this is a great resource (for free!) that I highly recommend you download and learn some new tips from. Enjoy!

You can get it from here:

Free Podcasting Booklet from Tony Vincent

Want an amazing resource all about podcasting for FREE? Download Tony Vincent's pdf "Podcasting Booklet" from his website Learning in Hand. This 34-page document will guide you through the process of podcasting from listening to podcasts all the way to producing your own. Most of the recommended software is just as free as the booklet itself, and GarageBand can easily replace Audacity during the production steps on your Macs. Even if you are a seasoned podcaster, this booklet offers tips and information that will make it worth your time to download. And did I mention that it is free?

Update of OPS 24/7 Learning

OPS 24/7 Learning Initiative Update
July 2008
Katie Morrow

Access to the world’s most up-to-date information, communication with experts in every possible field, collaboration with people across the globe, and creativity tools to make multimedia magic... all this at every student’s fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

O’Neill Public Jr./Sr. High School is ready to embark on this transformative stage in education. Often referred to as 1:1 computing, each student will be issued a laptop, complete with a multitude of educational software, that they will be able to use for learning all school year long.

OPS’s 24/7 Learning Initiative originated during the 07-08 school year, although researched in years prior, and was piloted by juniors and seniors starting last January. OHS faculty have used laptops for approximately a year and have had many opportunities for training on their use in the classroom.

The true experts in utilizing the latest software and hardware, however, will most likely be the students. Today’s learners come to school with different background skills and expectations for their learning environment. Some even say that these “digital natives” have brains that are “wired differently” than students in generations before them. We at O’Neill Public Schools strive to ENGAGE these students in the learning process, not turn them off to learning by banning the modes of communication, collaboration, and creativity which are most natural to our youth. The laptop is one powerful learning tool to reach our students in meaningful ways.

More importantly than just connecting with our students, the laptop opens up doors not possible without the technology. Videoconferencing through iChat, web design tools to publish on the Internet, podcast lectures downloaded from iTunesU for free from leading universities, digital music composition, photo editing, and video production... all this and more can be done with the MacBook laptop.

And all students have access to this, regardless of background, ability, or aptitude. Technology truly helps “level the playing field.” O’Neill Public School 7th-12th grade students can take their learning to whatever levels and in whichever directions they deem important for their future.

And our students’ futures are crucial for our future as well. Students graduating from high school in the next ten years will have numerous career opportunities, some of which do not even exist today. Our job is to prepare students for their futures, not their past, and to make the line between school and real-life more invisible. 21st century learning encompasses more than just the traditional content areas of schools of the past. The workforce is looking for employees who are innovative, collaborative, and self-directed, “The future belongs to young people who know where the knowledge is, how to get it, how to think about it, and how to turn it into better work, better products, better lives.” (Rexford Brown)

21st century learning still hinges on the backbone of core content area subjects, but also embeds connectivity and collaboration, creation by students (not just passive learning), and problem solving within the learning process. The 24/7 Learning Initiative is a strong first step towards these this ideal learning environment for students at O’Neill Public Schools.

Students will check out their MacBooks for the 2008-2009 school year after attending a two hour “Boot Camp” session accompanied by at least one parent. These sessions will be held from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on either Tuesday, August 12 or Thursday, August 14, and will cover the basics of MacBook operation, care and handling of the laptop, copyright and plagiarism, “Angel” online learning management system, and Internet safety. Students will each pay a $25.00 rental fee which will be partially refunded in the spring if they have no claims or damages.

Teachers are still the experts of their instructional areas and laptop may not be in use every hour of every school day, but students will have the opportunity to use the technology for note taking, research, collaboration, independent extensions, and projects to demonstrate their learning, to name a few. Already during the pilot semester, students used their MacBooks for creating iMovie political ads to learn about political campaigns, Math review lessons for the SMART Board taught entirely by the student, iPhoto nonfiction Science books published for the Elementary Library, Holocaust projects, graphing and statistic projects, Public Service Announcements in Spanish, Commercial movies for local businesses, podcasts about O’Neill and fictitious interviews with famous scientists, movies on Westward Expansion, student portfolios to showcase their learning progress, and websites over literary novels, just to name a few. Many more examples of superior student work can be viewed by visiting our Sharing Gallery at

A common list of Frequently Asked Questions covering issues such as safety/security, student infractions, etc. can also be found at the OPS 24/7 Learning website at Be sure to look for many additions to the website in the upcoming months.

A large debt of gratitude is owed to the O’Neill Public Schools Board of Education, the administration, and teachers and technology staff who have given countless extra hours into planning and implementing this initiative. O’Neill Public School is excited and proud to lead the way towards a transformative learning environment focused on the future of our best and brightest minds: our students.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Back to School Bootcamp

Attention everyone in grades 7-12! The laptop distribution nights are scheduled for next week. These two “Boot Camp” sessions will be the kick-off for O’Neill Public Schools’ 24/7 Learning Initiative, where every 7th-12th grade student will have a MacBook laptop available to enhance their learning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every student needs to attend one training session with at least one parent or guardian in order to check out their MacBook for the school year.

The two choices for 24/7 Learning “Boot Camp” are:
Tuesday, August 12th, from 5:00- 7:00 p.m. for students in grades 10-12
Thursday, August 14th from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. for students in grades 7-9
Doors will open at 4:30 both nights.

If your scheduled night does not work, feel free to attend the other night.... the information will be the same.

Likewise, if you have two students scheduled for two different nights, you need only attend one BootCamp session... choose the night that works best for you.

At BootCamp you will attend sessions on the use of the MacBook for learning
and your student will take their MacBook home with them, provided that:
You attended all the sessions,
filled out the required paperwork, and
paid a $25.00 rental fee (with a potential partial refund at the end of the school year).

We will have one additional BootCamp training night after school starts if these two dates do not work for you. If you do not attend any BootCamp sessions, your student will only be able to use their assigned MacBook while at school under teacher supervision.

We hope that everyone will be able to join us as we embark on this new exciting adventure in a way of learning that will help our children in all their future endeavors.