Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Virtual Vikings -- tech learning made convenient!

One of my hats at school is .2 (one class period) as a Blended Learning Specialist. I work with teachers to do purposeful integration of technology into our classroom. As I try to encourage my colleagues beyond simple substitution with our 1:1 iPads, I’ve found that we’re all sort of stuck in the swamp of so much to do, and not enough time to implement everything.

Virtual Vikings Newsletter
Virtual Vikings Newsletter
I had to really sit down and consider what will work best for my teachers. They don’t need more PD or expansion of Tech Tuesday lunches. I post resources and ideas on Google Classroom, initiate discussions, and try to be present in classrooms as much as possible. We attend local conferences, such as Edcamp619 and the San Diego CUE Tech Fair. However, they didn’t need more of any of that.

It took me the better part of a year analyzing this challenge, talking with colleagues and mentors, and observing how our teachers go about learning.

When I visited Google Boulder for the Innovator Academy in June 2016 and the Googleplex in Mountain View in August 2016, I noticed they had newsletters in all the restroom stalls. This made for some very interesting and technical reading. (Sorry, didn’t take any pictures. Google’s rules!) And, it reminded me of freshman year of college when our RAs would post the weekly newsletter in the bathrooms--it was impossible to ignore.
"Love the new addition"
Text from my friend!

A lightbulb went off, and Virtual Vikings was born.

I used Google Slides to create the monthly newsletter template (see template & example here), then added in new content for each month. When I see cool tech tips, ideas, or lesson spotlights, I add them to a list on Google Keep. My featured sections include: Tech Tip, Classroom Highlight, Spotlight, Monthly Challenge, Viking Tech Crew, and Upcoming Events.

The hardest part is getting classroom spotlights, since I can’t be in every classroom every day. I’ve recruited my Viking Tech Crew (tech club) students to share what they’re learning, and take pictures of lessons and activities they’d like to share.

I’m thankful my dear friend Deb, guardian of the color printer, happily prints me 12 copies each month.

In each staff bathroom plus the copy room, I used 3M Command Strips to hang up plastic sheet protectors on the wall or back of the stall door. Each month, I do a Tour De Bathroom and slip a new newsletter into the sheet protector.

I’ve intentionally chosen not to also email out a copy. I want to preserve the magic and excitement of the physical newsletter. In the future, I’m not opposed to posting a digital archive of past newsletters.

Missing...where did my Virtual Vikings go?
Missing newsletter!
Since starting this in March 2017, I have received extremely positive feedback on the Virtual Vikings newsletter! Each time a new one goes up, friends text me, email me, or stop me in the halls to share what they learned. They like that it’s short, colorful, visual, and convenient.

In fact, a few people love Virtual Vikings SO much that newsletters occasionally disappear from the sheet protectors!


I can’t wait to post our next Virtual Vikings newsletter when we go back to school in July!

7 comments:

  1. This post put a smile on my face!!! Love how you're sharing the joy of tech with your school, Mari. I'm seriously considering an #EduSteal. All I can say is . . . you're meeting teachers where they are. :)

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this Mari! What a great idea - your newsletters are short, visually appealing and I love the fact that you decided not to send them out digitally as well. I'm stealing this idea and already designing a newsletter for September. Next up: I'd love to know more about your Viking Tech crew...have you written about that yet?

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  3. Viking Tech Crew post is long overdue, and coming soon!

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  4. Mari - this is a brilliant idea! I'm stealing this for our staff this school year :) Thanks for sharing!

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  5. This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

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  6. This is such a fabulous idea, I'm going to have to try this in September. Thanks so much for sharing the template!

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