Monday, May 18, 2015

Maker Space Comes to SEMS

Recently, Southeast Middle School and University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG)  have joined forces to create a "Maker Space" that will allow our kids innovate, imagine and learn as they create things that help reinforce the curriculum.  UNCG has awarded the WSFCS district a grant and SEMS and Kernersville are the lucky recipients!   As we venture into this endeavor, members of our Southeast Middle School staff visited the maker space at UNCG so we could start the process of creating our own makerspace at Southeast.  

The next step is to determine what our maker-space will look like and what types of equipment will we purchase to be part of the space.  UNCG will give us several thousand dollars and provide us with resources to help us select items.  

Lisa Turner and John Downs met in small groups on Friday May 15th to debrief from the makerspace visit and the following are some of the points of discussion.  We met with the following teachers:

Jennifer Martin, 8th Grade Science
Mathew Halverstadt, 8th Grade Social Studies
Patricia Phillips, 6th Grade Language Arts
Jennifer Gustin, Physical Education and Health
Denise Stephenson, Foreign Language - Spanish
Cynthia Hatch, Career and Technical Education
Karie Frauenhoffer, 7th Grade Language Arts
Molly Carter, 8th grade Language Arts

Location of Maker Space:

  • 502?  Place John Downs could help facilitate students in "pullout" groups
  • Media Center? items could be on check out--we could use exisiting carts and check out components
    • Side room in the media center be equipped with shelves and that space be used?
  • Gustin mentioned the possibility of using the Study skills room as a location for a maker-space?  Especially since there is no set curriculum and students could have some leeway.
  • Hatch would be a good person to pilot possibly?

Items for the Maker Space:



  • Tubs would be important for keeping stuff organized
  • Little Bits--Currently there is an educator discount of 15%.  Everyone spoke positively about them,  and felt they would be a good item to purchase
    • We are hoping to hear that UNCG might get an additional grant to allow us to receive a number of these little bit kits kits
  • Most thought the 3 D printer might need more investigation before we consider purchasing it.  Concerns were about the cost of a decent one, and the cost to replace supplies.  Also a concern is how applicable it will be for curriculum. 
    • If a 3-d printer were purchased, Lisa volunteered to "house it" in the media center in a secure location  
  • Headphones;
    • personal ear buds on student supply list?
  • More Plastic stands like the media center has now on top of shelves to display QR codes or book talk interactive  displays
  • IPADS:  Will UNCG be supplying any ? Or do we need to spend our pot of money for the makerspace on these?  Most agreed that ipads would definitely be something we would want to purchase.
    • many apps for ipad for Science and Social Studies
  • Otter box for the ipads
  • Scratch software:  We have access to install this already with WSFCS approved and free software
  • Focus on items that are not as "consumable" in favor of more permanant things.  Possibly find donors to provide consumable items?
  • Carts?  Lisa feels like we probably have enough in house carts that we can use.
  • leggos:  can we get some donated?

What type of student groups will participate in the maker space?

  •  What about AG kids?  They never seem to be rewarded for doing their work?  Would it be good to let groups of AG students create things in the maker space?

    • Possibly use the maker-space as team incentive occasionally ?
    • What about using the maker-space as a  behavior incentive for students with behavior or academic issues? 


Those interested in the UNCG coursework:

  • Karie Frauenhoffer in interested in the summer camp and coursework
    • Possibly interested?  Molly Carter and Patricia Phillips
  • interested in possibly seeing the camp in action:  Downs/Hatch/Martin/Turner
    • We thought space in the small setting could be an issue at UNCG

Overall Questions/concerns:

  • Is the investment in these projects worth it?
  • Could we have access to a grad assistant to come out at times? 
  • Would it be worth the time to do something like the word box when it is just to learn vocabulary?


Sage Washington:

Marion, Kimberly L
Program Manager, Magnet Schools & STEM Programs
W-S Chamber of Commerce STEM Committee Chair
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

Michael C. Renne
Instructional Technology Consultant
School of Education
University of North Carolina - Greensboro

Friday, May 1, 2015

Technology taking a step backwards

I digress from my regular technology meeting minute notes in this blog to highlight an important change happening in Winston-Salem Schools.

At Thursday's (4/30) Technology Facilitator's meeting, Kevin Sherrill, our assistant superintendent for technology announced that he would be talking to principals on Tuesday, May 5th about the future of the technology facilitator position. Kevin was not able to relay the message to us yet, but it was clear that the program started in elementary schools this year was going to move into the much larger Middle and High Schools for next year.  

In elementary schools a classified position was created that was supposed to serve as a half time testing coordinator and half time technology facilitator.  From the comments made by elementary folks at the meeting, that position is clearly not working as it was intended.

The Problem:  Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

A problem was identified in the school district a couple of years ago.  With all the state mandated testing and the new common core testing, curriculum coordinators were spending upwards of 80% of their time doing testing and not providing adequate curriculum support to teachers.  The proposed solution was to create a full-time classified (employee who is paid hourly and not certified) to do half time testing and half time technology support. This was a great idea for the curriculum coordinators who are definitely needed to provide instructional support to teachers, but a bad idea for technology support.

Why is a new position going to make a mess for technology?

The short answer is:  "how can we say a position will be 50% testing and 50% technology support if the problem was that curriculum coordinators were spending 80% of their time doing testing?"  The numbers don't add up!  If testing was said to be taking 80% of the curriculum job, that will only leave ~20% of the time for technology support, not 50/50 as advertised.

And the reports from elementary schools this year back-up this assertion.  Reports are that the new position people are spending most of their time doing testing and little time providing technology support. We heard several people at our meeting speak up and attest to this situation at the elementary schools. 

The problem will likely be even more pronounced at the larger Middle And High schools for next year if the plan continues as is. Prior to this new situation, many Middle and High Schools had already identified technology support as a basic need for teachers and students.  These are schools with well over a 1000 students and often thousands of devices--computers, laptops, tablets, I-pads and other technology equipment.  The need is for an on-site technical and instructional technology support person to maintain that equipment but also provide instructional support to assist teachers and students in using the technology tools.  

What many of those large Middle and High schools did was use money that was allocated through special funds from the district called Theme Money and the schools used that money to support the full time technology position that was clearly needed.  It's the Theme Money that is being taken away (robbed from Peter) to pay for this new classified testing/technology position (to pay Paul)

What will be some of the  Effects of this change?

An example is Southeast Middle School where I am a full-time certified technology facilitator with a Master's Degree in instructional technology.  I could take the ( half time but in reality almost full-time) testing job.  But, I would no longer be able to provide the daily, on-site and timely help to over 75 teachers and over 1200 students as I do now.  

The following are some example from just today:  A students' laptop in a class stopped working and I was able to assist them in getting it back online and working;  several students got locked out of their accounts and I unlocked them and they are able to get back to work right away;  a teacher wanted help with a new technology tool and I spent time helping them learn the new tool during their planning;  a classroom TV would not connect with the electronic device in the classroom (students were all waiting for it to display on the screen)  I assisted them and get the class back on track, A student can't print to a network printer and comes for help...the list goes on and on.  These are the types of daily problems that won't get addressed without an on-site person dedicated to the technology. 

Another effect is a loss of experience and expertise.  I have been a full-time technology facilitator now for 14 years.  I know the equipment, I know the tech tools, I know the teachers and students and the needs they have.  With that in mind, another option for me would be to go back and teach science in a regular classroom. In that scenario, I will spend my time learning a new curriculum and all that goes along with the responsibility of a classroom teacher.  The school looses that experience and expertise of many years of accumulated knowledge to an hourly employee who is less likely to have that invested interest in the profession and  less likely to go the extra mile.

Why has this happened?

The main reason is the trickle down effect of the continued lack of financial support from the state of North Carolina.  Year after year, budget cuts have cut into the daily operations of the schools.  It's getting down to bare bones now, and something has to give. In this case, the testing was chosen over technology support as the priority.  Is this what we really want for our students?

Back to my regularly scheduled meeting minute notes:

Tech Meeting April 30, 2015

Kevin Sherrill:

  • Next meeting, June 4th?
  • Stipend plan--Same as discussed before--only Tech Facilitators who do not have freed up time will get the stipend
  • Status of Middle and High School Tech Facilitators--Principals will be told on Tuesday --you can talk to your principals afterwards
  • Not everyone got a survey
  • Testing a full-time job?

AMTR & Joan Proffitt

  • NCID:  submit a ticket if you need an NCID id
  • Old vs new AMTR
  • Difference are notable:
    • Ticket is needed for activation of NCID
    • question 101—Pentium 4 and above—when Pentium is a “letter” instead of a “number”, it is  considered higher than IV
    • question 102 – last year Pentium 4 and below --Old think centers are 4 –102
    • question 109—now its Netbooks,  ipads, etc.
    • Audio-visuals are gone
    • Software is gone
    • Full solution questions are gone!
    • Make sure principals sign off on AMTR before they leave for summer!

Breakout sessions:  Adam


Let’s chat:

  • See presentation, but teachers will have to hit cntrl-alt-del:  and change password before trying to access their WSFCS google account.
  • Making a person make a copy of a document
  • Drawing in general is a tool that google offers that we have not really had access to

Sharepoint resources:

  • Available for students in the fall of 2015
  • Available for staff soon, just TF’s and pilot schools for now
  • still building support for it now
  • Heather Harmon: containing it now until training rolls out.  

Learning Management systems:

  • Haiku:
    • Forest Park has been piloting it
    • Has the ability to synch with power school
    • Teachers can create content, lessons,. etc.
    • Haiku syncs with google

Chris Corbin presentation:


  • Slow log-ins
    • machine related, policy related, network related?
    • re-image works and then problem starts in a couple of weeks again
    • They are piloting it  to test whether it is in the image.
    • They have moved machines around in containers to see if policy related
    • They have lots of control groups out there testing it
    • There are some policies out there since 2006 that might need to be removed or updated.
    • They have opened up some policies for students
    • He's not even considering Windows XP machines since they are just known to e slow --so he is discarding from the equation
    • it is a hodgepodge of machines that are doing this
    • Chris is determined to pinpoint the problem
    • 11-e laptops are  particularly a problem

endpoint protection:  
  • can be controlled though system center
  • It starts scanning if it misses the scheduled scan
  • Justin is working on stopping that
  • system center is not fully implemented

NCEDCLOUD Iam service:

  • its an authentication service for cloud based services
  • May 11th will start the process of claiming their accounts
  • WIll change on July 6th
  • for Homebase, true north logic or power school
  • All power School users will have to go to:
  • or
  • Teachers and students will have to "claim their accounts"
    • We will not start with students until the start of next year
    • 340 is district number you have to put in
  • May 11th starts the advertising campaign

System Center: New enterprise management system

  • retiring AICP
  • provides new ability to re-image machines
  • can be done over night
  • even rename and join to the domain
  • phased approach to rolling this out
  • Chris will want to know the number of windows XP machines you have
  • The new agent is being pushed out to machines
  • Summer--software deployment center setup
  • Machines not connected, don’t bother connecting them, don’t worry about the ones you don’t use

Storage Options:  

  • Nothing done with H drives this year.
  • looking for ways to map local drives to google drives or microsoft
  • They WILL  purge student home folders over the summer as usual during late July (when summer school ends)
  • Will be makes 2014-2015 folders (yearbook and K drive)  read only

IPAD/Airwatch updates

  • One fix proposed was doing a full reset to ipad and reconnecting to air watch
  • Jennifer talked to airwatch yesterday and Chris is calling them and coming onsite on Tuesday to decide what to do
  • on-premise airwatch solution?  
    • They would have a server on the data center vs a cloud based server
    • Will require resetting them and reconnecting to an on-premise device--they will send man power to reconnect
    • Before the end of the year, you will get a email from Chris asking ipads be put in a central location and can go out with the air watch guys

Other updates:  

  • System wide profile sweep on May 11th
  • e-rate filing has passed and going through approval
    • switches will be replaced at every school
    • all access points to 1 GB ports
    • all closets going back to 10 GB
    • Spagetti mess in the wiring closets will get cleaned up
    • all work will start over the summer and have a year to implement
    • v-lan will be segmented affecting printers --which will have to be reset in many cases
      • printers assigned through direct IP will have to be redone in those cases where the v-lan changed
    • Use google chrome for NCtest app
    • Way to deploy the chrome test app? AB tutor?
    • you will need to Install the NC on windows XP machines 
    • chrome web store and type NCtest

  • Kids listening to music via youtube (breaking RUA if going around filter)
  • Yahoo is still blocked--waiting on lightspeed for a code update to be able to implement safe search in yahoo and then they will open it back it up.

Carla Miller:

  • strategic tech guy:  Grady retired
    • Lynn Willimas a new technition
      • based out of Raleigh
      • out at schools generally on weds/thurs/fridaysWIll be doing some preventive maintenance things
      • A lot of tickets low toner
      • There is a difference between the low toner  message and it actually being out--(starting to print light)
      • toner thresholds:  will not ship until less than 12% left

  • problem--prices/part numbers sometimes change between ordering time and purchasing--Carla has to approve all those
  • Network copiers, new survey coming from Carla
  • Might need to start scanning timesheets to central office
  • As of Monday, technician staff will be back to full staff
  • Eff (zones7&8)?) and zack
  • Office 365 issue seen, setting up apps grayed out when teachers login
    • if you see it, shoot Justin an email
    • office 365 issues:  Internet explorer 9 vs 11 may fix it
  • onsite repair:  no problems reported
  • subs don’t know they have accounts, but will to a better job 
  • sub intent forms--domino based--have to login to MMC, so you might be getting questions from subs
  • dsa.msc (run command for bringing up MC hammer tool)
  • Justin has seen the double click vs single click issue
  • Stopping phone being read to computers? no sure there is a solution
  • Don’t stack the laptops--11e laptops!
    • some issue with Magnetism (screen goes light or dies)

Trac vs inventory

  • if you put in a ticket, he will wipe out and then let them login and compare the column with computer information to inventory
  • generic account for training videos access? 
  • let Jim know if you would like training videos
  • School net:  Final grades
    • skewed, assign assessments to all sections or specific sections vs specific users

August 11-12 --Collaborative learning conference Walkertown:

  • registration deadline:  curriculum coordinators, tech facilitators, teachers
Determining source of large print jobs?
  • Justin will have contacted
  • would need printer name and date/time range
  • strategic bill is a month behind so you sometimes don’t see the bills for a month and are not aware of a big problem