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Google Apps, Here We Come June 16, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Administration/Leadership, Resources & Information, Technology Integration.
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Plans are underway now for the Paris School District to become a Google Apps school and I couldn’t be more excited.

I know that we’ll have lots of growing pains and there will be some issues that we haven’t thought about, but I believe that any bumps in the road will be completely overshadowed by the awesome suite of collaboration tools that Google Apps has to offer.

Before I go any farther, I would like to take a moment to say how much I appreciate working for our Superintendent, Jim Loyd.  Obviously, he makes all of the final decisions on changes like this and without his support and progressive thinking, our technology integration efforts would still be in the dark ages.  Because of his leadership, we are well on our way to becoming a model school in the area of technology integration.

Back to Google Apps…

What does Google Apps for Education offer?  I copied this from their Frequently Asked Questions section:

Google is currently offering schools a hosted solution for their email, calendar, and chat through Google Apps Education Edition, our integrated communication and collaboration solution. Our offer includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Sites, and Google Docs and Google Video, all using your own school’s domain.

Google Apps Education Edition includes:

  • Gmail: Email storage and search tools that help your students find information fast and instant messaging from right inside their accounts.
  • Google Calendar: Students can organize their schedules and share events and calendars with others.
  • Google Talk: Students can call or send instant messages to their contacts for free anytime, anywhere in the world.
  • Google Docs: Share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Collaborate in real-time with your team or with your whole school. You can publish final documents to the entire world, too.
  • Google Sites: Work together to keep related documents, web content and other information in one place, on one site.
  • Google Video for education: A video hosting and sharing solution that enables schools and other organizations to use video as an effective medium for internal communication and collaboration.

How much does it cost?  That’s the best part.  It’s free!  Why? See this response from their FAQ section:

Google Apps for Education is free. We plan to keep the core offering of Google Apps Education Edition free. This includes user accounts for incoming students in the future. As you may know, Google was founded by a research project at Stanford University, and this is just one way we can give back to the educational community.

If I haven’t sold you yet, check out the Top 10 Reasons to Use Google Apps.

I am working for the day when everyone in our district (students, faculty, and staff):

  • are connected with shared calendars, messaging, and e-mail.
  • access documents, presentations, and spreadsheets at anytime from any device
  • and, collaborate in real-time

Thanks to Google Apps, that day will be here sooner than later.

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Switching Gears June 16, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Uncategorized.
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Recently, most of my posts have been of the blast-from-the-past variety.  I typically go back several months to review the technology resources that I collected during a specific week and highlight those of particular interest.

I feel compelled now to redirect some of my posts toward things that are currently happening in our school and our plans for the future.

So, what’s cooking in the Paris School District?

We’re making the leap to Google Apps this school year…more on that in a later post.

I am attending a “Podcasting for Your PC” workshop tomorrow.

I will be accompanying a team of elementary teachers and our elementary principal at the NECC Conference in D.C. at the end of this month.  I hope to have time to make several blog posts while we’re in D.C.  If not, I certainly will after the conference.

We are allocating a significant portion of our stimulus money toward the acquisition of additional technology for our teachers and students.

I am in the early phases of developing a partnership with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in which we will work collaboratively to improve the ability of educators, both our current staff and their prospective teachers, to integrate handheld technology.

Preparing for the upcoming release of the competitive EETT technology grant will take up an increasing amount of my time.  We have successfully secured $225,000 over the past two years in EETT funds.  This money, and the subsequent professional development, has led to a tremendous change in our elementary school and has allowed us to lay an outstanding foundation for our future technology integration efforts.

That’s a quick look at just a few of the things that we have going on this summer.  It’s enough to keep me jumping but I still get that question that drives administrators crazy…”What do you do up there all summer without any kids or teachers?”

Handheld Resources for Productivity & Student Engagement June 3, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in handheld, Technology Integration.
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During the 2008-09 school year, we purchased a Palm TX for every teacher at Paris Elementary School.

These devices were primarily used to facilitate the process of Diebels testing.  Incorporating the Palm during the Diebels process helped our teachers be much more productive and saved valuable instruction time.

One of our goals is to continue to increase the ability of our faculty to use technology, including handheld devices, to become more productive.  By automating routine tasks, we hope to enable our teachers to spend more time planning rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning activities for our students.

Another goal of our handheld movement is to put as much technology as possible in the hands of students (Palm, iPod, iPod Touch, even cell phones) to not only make lessons more engaging, but to make our curriculum materials available anywhere, anytime.

It is our view that students should be able to access podcasts, lecture materials, videos, and files that will support their learning whenever they need those materials.

This will require an investment in the devices, supposing that we do not allow students to use the devices that they already own, and a considerable amount of professional development.

For this blast-from-the-past post (Oct. 5-11, 2008), I’ve identified several resources that should help us move forward with this initiative.