Sunday, April 26, 2009

2009 Digies Awards

Apple Computers sponsored the annual student digital media contest and honored winners in a ceremony at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln last Saturday, April 25, 2009. Over 500 entries from students grades K-12 from all across the state of Nebraska were narrowed down to a field of finalists invited to attend the ceremony. O'Neill Public School was once again well represented by its students as 21 separate entries created by 27 different O'Neill students were recognized at the event. Each category recognized the finalists, awarding them medals, followed by the announcement of the overall category winner and a "Digies" trophy. O'Neill Public Schools brought home three trophies this year:
At the conclusion of the event, special recognition was given to the "Digital Divas" as being a great example of "Challenge Based Learning." Apple announced changes in the Digies competition for future years and featured the girls' project as an example of what students should start considering as the focus of their digital media projects. More can be learned about Challenge Based Learning at

All additional finalists from O'Neill Public Schools as well as most of the students' projects can be viewed at:

NETA 2009

O'Neill Public Schools was well-represented at the 2009 Nebraska Educational Technology Conference held on April 23-24, 2009 in Omaha, NE. "Exploring New Territories" was the conference theme, inspired by a new venue for this annual event- La Vista/Embassy Suites. Over 2,300 educators from across the state of Nebraska heard keynote speakers Hall Davidson from Discovery Education and Stephanie Hamilton from Apple talk about today's students how to engage them in the learning process to better prepare them for tomorrow. Several O'Neill Public School teachers and students contributed to the conference's vast body of knowledge by presenting sessions. Lara Morrow and Melissa Polinoski presented poster sessions- "The Mixed Up Files of Art and Technology" and "Nebraska's Counties" (assisted by 4th grade students Allison Becker, Jake Young, and Emily Morrow.) Katie Morrow led participants in two workshops (iWork and iCollaborate) as well as two break-out sessions (ACOT2 and "Rising to the Challenge"). Deb Barelmann co-presented in the second of the two break-outs and helped share the successes of O'Neill part in Apple's pilot project on Challenge Based Learning. Mike Peterson and Gary Hostert, along with 7th graders Jonathan Hunt and Nathan Gotschall, led a session highlighting the innovative "Eagle Eye Sports" program at OHS. Positive comments from across the state and beyond were shared on conference evaluations about O'Neill Public Schools' involvement in NETA 2009 and the educational technology knowledge that they shared.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

article to appear in NCSA Today publication

O’Neill Public Schools’ Journey into 24/7 Learning

At O’Neill Public Schools, technology is more than the next new gadget. Instead, it is about equitable access and leveling the playing field. It is about enhanced communication, collaboration, and other 21st century skills. It is about amplifying learning opportunities and engaging learners in self-directed work. And, it is opening opportunities to all students beyond what they traditionally see possible in school and beyond. Nearly every classroom, K-12, is equipped with a digital projector, SMART Board interactive whiteboard, and digital tools specific to the discipline (digital cameras, video cameras, graphing calculators, handhelds, probes, etc.) Accompanying the hardware is a vast array of software choices from which every student can explore their talents and preferred learning styles. Most importantly, each 7th-12th grade student has round-the-clock access to a MacBook laptop through O’Neill’s 24-7 Learning initiative, while the elementary frequently utilizes laptop carts to enhance student learning.

O’Neill’s technology integration success didn’t happen overnight. In this K-12 rural district of approximately 800 students, student engagement and student success has always been the focus. A strong administrative team with powerful future visioning supports the day-to-day learning efforts in the classroom. That vision created positions for a technology integration specialist at each building, as well as an IT person to keep the technology up and running. This has made a tremendous difference in infusing technology throughout the curriculum.

Another reason for technology success across the district can be attributed to the classroom leaders. Teachers are encouraged to participate in professional development in numerous areas; they have shown leadership in many organizations such as NATM, NATS, NETA, NAG, and NEA. Many staff members have invested resources in college courses to enhance their ability to effectively use technology in the classroom. Their growth is evident in the work they assign in the classroom. O’Neill’s teaching staff is on the cutting edge of 21st century teaching and learning.

Grant-writing efforts (both small and large) have been a driving force in acquiring equipment and programming funds for many educational efforts. Once funding is secured, the students “sell” the continuance of it with the projects they create while utilizing the technology in the learning process.

Thus, the most significant piece of the “success formula” is the students themselves. Students from O’Neill Public Schools have presented locally, regionally, and nationally with their exemplary work, much of which has been enhanced by the technology resources available to them. In an effort to showcase student successes, Superintendent Amy Shane arranges for a group of students to present a “Success Story” at every School Board meeting. More often than not, students are highlighting the power of technology in their projects, whether through an FCCLA keynote presentation, National History Day research project, original music production and performances, movie productions aired on television, published writing projects technology has enhanced their learning. That’s why when a 1:1 laptop initiative was first proposed for the district, it only made sense to board members. Expanding students’ use of technology to 24/7 with equal access for all, in a more organized, learning-focused school-wide effort was the next step for district success. High School Teachers received MacBook laptops during the summer of 2007 and training that fall. Juniors and seniors received their laptops and piloted the 24/7 Learning Initiative second semester of the 2007-08 school year, and all 400 7-12 graders received Macbooks in August of 2008.

Gains are already being seen by teachers, students, and the greater community. Home-school connections have increased as families benefit from the increased access to information and communication that the laptop provides. Students are more engaged in the learning process. Often learning projects have a real-life purpose that extends beyond the classroom walls, making their learning more meaningful, relevant, and applicable. Students’ work is more creative, more collaborative, more differentiated, and more self-directed than ever before. These 21st century skills, along with increased collaboration, communication, and problem-solving, are essential for our students’ futures. Providing students the opportunity to practice, investigate, and create with a vast array of digital tools throughout their K-12 education is going to put them ahead in their future educational and professional pursuits.

Eagle Eye Sports (Sports broadcasting live with video and student commentary) is one example of extending learning into the community. Many school activities are “UStreamed” and shared with viewers worldwide via the web. This year’s school improvement external team report was streamed live so that all teachers and community members would have the opportunity to listen to it. Students have also connected with the community by designing websites for local businesses as well as creating commercials and public service announcements to air on radio and television. O’Neill’s students have won numerous Robotics and Digital Media awards, continuing to set the bar higher each year.

Future continuance of technology at O’Neill Public Schools includes plans for a school-run local cable access channel, managed by the Digital Media classes, where projects can continuously be shared on a greater stage with the rest of the community, as well as video-on-demand access online. Incorporating more interdisciplinary learning experiences and curriculum models such as “Challenge Based Learning” are also in the district’s future goals.

For more information and examples of technology integration at O’Neill Public Schools, visit the high school website at or the 24-7 Learning site at:

Letter from Ashland_Greenwood Public Schools

April 9, 2009

Dear Katie:

I just want to thank you again for sharing your time, knowledge, and expertise with our Ashland-Greenwood team earlier this week. I cannot begin to express the importance of having our teachers experience the one-to-one environment prior to deployment next August. It is evident that you have a true passion for helping the students in O'Neill become successful learners in the twenty-first century.

During our brief stay in O'Neill, we were impressed with the many innovative activities, lessons, and units that are being implemented by your teachers. We were especially impressed with your ability to podcast. The podcasting tool is certainly a valuable component in the 24/7 learning environment. I was also impressed with your students. They were willing to share their experiences and thoughts on the one-to-one initiative.

Please share this thank you with all of your teachers and staff. Everyone was helpful, open, and honest. Overall, our trip was a huge success and has given us even more information to consider during our preparation for the one-to-one initiative here at Ashland-Greenwood. Thanks again for sharing your talents and knowledge with us.

Matt Flynn
Technology Integration Specialist
Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Student Essay

During the late 19th Century there was a dilemma that many common citizens faced, the fact that technology needed to stay up to speed with the people. However living in the 21st Century, that isn’t the case. Technology right now is moving at a faster rate than most have time to figure out and understand the programs that one device can contain. Traveling through my education years, from elementary school to high school technology has taken many levels.

Starting my learning in Kindergarten and moving through to my fourth grade year, I encountered my first stage of the technology advances dealing with floppy disks and CDs. Initially when I first started using the computer and understanding some of the programs that it contained, my visions of the technology world had widened. In school I did many educational projects on programs such as powerpoint and word processor; however, in order to show my instructors the projects I was required to save them on floppy disks. Floppies were an easy way to keep important things on because they were portable, inexpensive, and simple to use. As the technology wheel kept on turning floppies became less used and out of date. Later another use of saving information was introduced, keeping data on a CD. This allowed people to have more storage capacity than the floppies. As technology kept on taking more steps, I later come upon the next stage of the technology advancement.

The next stage of the technology advances that I seen growing up was during my fifth grade through sixth grade years with the introduction of the handheld Palms and the S.M.A.R.T Boards. To begin with having Mrs. Morrow, a technology equipped teacher, made learning more enjoyable than ever. She had expanded my knowledge in academics with the use of a handheld Palm. Using the Palms to write journals, accomplish DOL, and draw sketches of topics that I was being educated on; made learning an adventure. Next, She even broadened our horizons with the S.M.A.R.T Boards. Having a larger view of a computer screen in front of the classroom made it easier to understand the steps of the procedure that we needed to take on our lab computer, worksheets, group projects, and much more. The frontal projection of the S.M.A.R.T. Board transformed the classroom into a more dynamic learning environment.

The third stage of the technology advances that I come across as I developed into Jr. High was the usage of USB flash drives. The USB flash drives are very convenient to use and allow you to save GB of information on a smaller device. Data can be very quickly written to, or read from, this convenient portable device. USB Flash drives were a very unique way to keep information because many computers today don’t even have floppy drives, and while CDs can be used to exchange data, writing a CDrom can take time and not everyone always has a CD burner.

The fourth and final stage of the technology advances that I have encountered as I came into contact with high school was the use of the MacBooks. Taking a MacBook to every class and interacting with learning on a whole new outlook has made learning more enjoyable than ever. Using a series of programs to fully educate myself on new topics, I have had a different perspective on learning. With so many applications to use there is a wide variety of ways to make projects including imovie, powerpoint, keynote, pages, word, photoshop, and garageband are just a few of the ones that are offered. When unable to attend school because of illness, school activities, or any other reason, assignments are available on Angel, a school assignment webpage. The MacBooks have tremendously enhanced my typing ability by improving my speed and accuracy. I believe that this will help me in years to come in the business world because in many jobs you need to be skilled at typing. Now that I have been in this stage for about a year, Technology is still improving.

Living in the 21st century I have been through many improvements of technology. Technology is progressing at a very fast pace. Each time you start to thoroughly understand how to incorporate a piece of equipment, a new and more advanced device is introduced. Getting involved with technology at a young age will help you to more understand how to use the new developments because of the rapid tempo of the new technology. I will keep trying to stay up with the increase of technology devices because of the impact that they can have on your life. With the pace of improvements that technology has provided for us we won’t be having a dilemma any time soon like the common citizens encountered during the 19th Century.

by Bobbi Walters

Friday, April 10, 2009

O'Neill Public Schools hosts visitors and showcases technology efforts

For the past four school days, O'Neill has hosted visitors from three different schools hoping to learn more about technology in the educational process.

Teams from Fillmore Central and Ashland-Greenwood, along with a teacher from Elkhorn Public Schools, all soaked in the knowledge and experiences of many teachers, administration, and staff across the district.

Both Fillmore Central and Ashland-Greenwood are planning to implement 1:1 laptop initiatives in their districts, although they are each in different planning phases, and Elkhorn Public Schools have begun to implement SMART Board interactive whiteboards in their classrooms.

O'Neill staff and students represented our school and community well and were great ambassadors for the transformative power of technology in education. Of all the positive comments from the visitors, the most significant may be how impressed they were by O'Neill Public Schools' students. Students were extremely willing to share their firsthand experiences with their MacBooks and the many digital projects they have created since the inception of 24/7 Learning. Whether informally pulled aside in the lunchroom, the classroom, or directly interviewed by the guests, OHS students shined in their expertise, honestly, and excitement about laptops in their learning process.

Classroom Connectivity with Math and Science

For the past four years, Janice Vosler and Deb Barelmann, OHS Math teachers, have been involved with a grant/research study incorporating TI calculators and the TI Navigator in the algebra classroom. To help bring the research study to a conclusion, Dr. Doug Owens from the Ohio State University recently visited O'Neill High School to see the use of technology in action in math classes. Listen in to an interview session with the three above-mentioned educators about Classroom Connectivity in Math and Science.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Great photos from 8th graders

by Brady Wakefield

and all were captured on point-and-shoot or cell phone cameras!

Fillmore Central Visitors

Steve and Katie - I want to thank the both of you for
taking the time out of your day and rearranging your
schedule to meet with the Team from Fillmore Central on your
use of 1:1. We were able to come away with a good picture
of what needs to happen for us to have the same success as
your school. Your school and community are fortunate to
have such dedicated educators. Best of luck with the
remainder of the school year.

Steve Adkisson

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

OPS Digies Finalists 2009

2009 Digies Finalists have been announced. Out of over 400 entries, students from O’Neill had 20 projects named as finalists, represented by 27 different students, and sponsored by 10 different teachers.


And the O’Neill Public School Nominees are:

7-12 Digital Still Picture
Angela Moore - Angelea Moore
Reflection - Jacqueline Parks
Walking Home - Tyler Hipke

7-12 Digital Still Image
Fireleaf- Demi Devall
Froggy Fun- Jacqueline Parks
Mortal Instruments - Alex Atkins

7-12 Highlights
OHS Volleyball - Bergen Hesse
OHS Girls Basketball Highlights - Kelsey Mundhenke and Liz Watson

K-6 Highlights
Digital Divas Go Green- Emily Morrow, Julia Bauer, Claire Morrow, Amanda Brown, Allison Ludwig

7-12 Animation
The Wooden Man- Kaitlynn Kizzire

7-12 Informational and Curriculum Related Video
A Day in the Life- Angelea Moore
Tia Zia Commercial: Filming a Commercial- Abbie Swanson
Apathy Motivates Passion - Alex Hedlund, Molly Shane, Mark Vavra, Angel Rodriguez, Dillon Dick
Apathy Annihilators - Rachel Price, Allison Depko, Shianne Coventry, Jordon Mauch

K-6 Informational and Curriculum Related Video
Macs and Robotics- Chandra Spangler and Claire Morrow

Open 7-12
Hands- Emily Sallach

Open K-6
Emily in the Outdoors- Emily Morrow
My Ancestor Project- Corbin Dean

7-12 Community Promotion
Out of the Phoenix- Ashley Sandall

The 2009 Digies ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 25, at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, East Campus at 1:00 p.m.

Sexual Assault Awareness PSA

Angelea Moore, Molly Wetlauffer, and Kelsie Niederklein created this PSA for Bright Horizons in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Cable Nebraska will be airing this student-created PSA on cable during the next few weeks, so look for these stars on TV!