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Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Project Reimagine: B-A’s Media Center Featured on Local News

January27

If you’ve been following my blog throughout this school year, you’ve probably seen some of the info and pics I’ve been sharing about Project Reimagine, the transformation of our traditional MS/HS school library into a modern-day media center.

Besides permitting students to use their mobile devices, the highlight of this space is the café, which became fully functional on December 9. Staffed by an instructional aide and the combination of regular and special education students, middle and high school students can now visit the media center during study halls to complete assignments, work on projects and………enjoy hot drinks and breakfast items in the morning as well as a variety of snacks, pastries and drinks in the afternoon.

While some students talk, hang out and sip their cup of Joe, many of them do something one might not expect in this hip environment—learn! How to interact and communicate with their peers; How to operate kitchen equipment; How to enter info into a POS system; How to provide friendly customer service… And so many real-life skills that no book, device or app (in isolation) could ever provide!

In fact, B-A’s unique hub of learning that provides all of our student with various opportunities was recently featured on a local news broadcast.

The transcript of the news broadcast can be read below, but check out the super cool video segment here!

A huge shout out to WTAJ News multimedia journalist Jackie Padilla for producing such a fabulous story about our media center and our students. Your piece is a perfect depiction of why we developed such a concept in our district! ♥

Bellwood, Blair County, Pa.

At Bellwood Antis High School, traditional study hall is a thing of the past.

Now students are encouraged to sign up for an elective where they are in charge.

At the beginning of the school year the high school opened a new media center.

A cafe is next door to a tech help desk–both are run by students.

Jamie Forshey, the Director of Instructional Technology and Media, kick-started the idea.

“I just wanted to sort of create an atmosphere where students could feel comfortable and learn,” Forshey said.

Both workshops officially got up and running in December.

Kermit Foor, a junior, said it creates a comfortable environment for students to work together.

Foor is just one of 11 students students and faculty can go to for any technical difficulties.

He said it’s a good feeling knowing staff believe students are up to the task.

“I think this school is very unique because I think this is one of the things in the district that no one else has done yet,” Foor said.

Typically there’s a student working either station at all times, along with a teacher.

It’s also a learning hub for Special Education students.

Brandon Bickle is a senior in the Special Education Department and said these programs help better prepare students for the future.

Among other tasks, students can take orders and credit their peers accounts; much like they would at a retail job.

“When you’re working in the cafe you don’t learn from a book,” Bickle said.

Carol Beard, the Special Education Director, said “This is an opportunity for him to get skills that when he goes out and is looking for a job, he already has some experience to bring to the table.”

“It may not look like a whole lot of learning is taking place here but actually, there is a lot of learning,” Forshey said.

According to the district, the project cost about $11,000.

Forshey said all the funding came from the Bellwood School District Foundation and local donations.

Stay tuned for additional updates regarding the progress of our café…

In the meantime, learn more about Project Reimagine by checking out the following posts:

» Project Reimagine: A New Learning Hub for B-A Students

» Project Reimagine Gains Popularity at BAHS

» Project Reimagine: Another Phase Complete

#BAproud ♥

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Tech-ing It Up at the BAHS Activities Fair… Again!

December29

For the the third consecutive year, the Aevidum Club in our high school sponsored an Activities Fair the day before our holiday break began. By donating $1, a roll of paper towels or a bottle of hand sanitizer, students gained admission to the gym which was filled with activities provided by various clubs and organizations—a foul shot competition, corn hole, face painting and more!

Of course, my favorite booths were those that were set up and hosted by my Tech Club kids: The Do Ink green screen photo booth, an X-box station where students could hang out and play various games, and for the first time ever— A live stream of our event that was broadcast on YouTube via our Tricaster. Visit the archive here to check out our students in action.

Here’s an example of one of the super cool Christmas backgrounds students could select at the photo booth.

As always, here’s a shout out to Kermit for organizing the Tech Club booths. Your detailed planning and set up created some really neat stations for your peers! And kudos to you for the perseverance you demonstrated in making the live video feed happen—one that will definitely be the precursor for streaming additional events in the future!

Another thank you goes out to Bailey, Blake, Alex, Tina, Ali D. and Shayla for helping with our booths.

Check out some additional scenes from the second annual Activities Fair below…

And the best part about the day’s event? All donations collected will be given to local charities—the St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen and the Central PA Humane Society.

Kudos to the admin, teachers and students for making a difference in our community!

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Project Reimagine: Another Phase Complete

December9

cafe-openIf you’ve been following my blog throughout this school year, you’ve probably seen some of the info and pics I’ve been sharing about Project Reimagine, the transformation of our traditional MS/HS school library into a modern-day media center.

Besides permitting students to use their mobile devices, the highlight of this space is the café. Although my Tech Club used the area to sell snacks, flavored waters and Gatorade to raise funds for the purchase of some equipment, this brand-new section of the media center has not been fully functional. That is, until now…

After several months of brainstorming, creative scheduling and many great minds working together, we have finally been able to make this part of the overall vision a reality. Staffed by an instructional aide and the combination of regular and special education students, we officially opened our café today!

Students can now visit the media center during study halls to complete assignments, work on projects and………enjoy hot drinks and breakfast items in the morning as well as a variety of snacks, pastries and drinks in the afternoon.

It may sound crazy to some, but I haven’t seen or heard this much excitement over a cup of hot chocolate in like, well…never! It was so awesome to hear students walk into the space all day and make statements such as “I love this place!” or “I can’t wait to come back here again.” When have I ever witnessed this kind of commentary about being in a school library? Like I said earlier—um…never!

While some students were talking, hanging out and sipping their cup of Joe, many of them were doing something one might not expect in this hip environment—learning! How to interact and communicate with their peers; How to operate kitchen equipment; How to enter info into a POS system; How to provide friendly customer service… And so many real-life skills that no book, device or app (in isolation) could ever provide!

It’s early in the game, but I would have to say: Mission accomplished! Check. It. Out!

img_9600

A shout out to Mr. Trexler for decorating our chalkboard. It’s pretty awesome!

Stay tuned for additional updates regarding the progress of our café…

In the meantime, learn more about Project Reimagine here and here.

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Project Reimagine Gains Popularity at BAHS

September25

cafe signA few weeks ago I shared a post about the brand-new media center in my district, one that was recently featured in the Daily Herald, a local newspaper. Since then, Project Reimagine—as I have named it—has continued to gain popularity, not only with our students, but with administrators in other districts who have begun to visit our innovative space. Other local media outlets have stopped by to check things out as well.

In fact, Project Reimagine was highlighted in an article that appeared in the Altoona Mirror last week so once again, I thought it was worth sharing…

B-A creates media center in library
By Walt Frank

Bellwood-Antis High School students have a new place to do their assignments and have a snack at the same time.

A section of the high school library has been transformed into a media center. It’s where school board members held their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

The media center was the brainchild of Director of Instructional and Media Technology Jamie Forshey.

Front L-R Alanna Vaglica, Brandie Ray, Benjamin Eamigh and Alex Foose. Rear L-R Jenna Bartlett and Alivia Jacobs. All 10th graders. (Photo courtesy of J.D. Clavich)

Front L-R Alanna Vaglica, Brandie Ray, Benjamin Eamigh and Alex Foose. Rear L-R Jenna Bartlett and Alivia Jacobs. All 10th graders. (Photo courtesy of J.D. Cavich)

“Transforming our traditional library into a more modern space that has the look and feel of a Barnes & Noble/Panera has been a vision of mine for a number of years. Because students can now complete assignments, collaborate with peers on projects, study and even grab a snack in a more hip, relaxed environment, one in which they have access to their mobile devices, I feel we are building what is becoming a very popular learning hub in our school,” Forshey said.

“The purpose of the media center is to provide the students with a location where they can come together to research, collaborate, read, have breakfast and/or snacks, download or upload assignments and learn entrepreneurial skills by working in the cafe,” said Superintendent Thomas McInroy. The media center includes industrial-themed furniture, flooring, shelving and lighting in a brightly painted space. An office area has been converted into a cafe that is sells snacks and drinks but will eventually offer lattes, coffees, soft pretzels and pastries, Forshey said.

The media center/cafe is expected to benefit Bellwood-Antis students.
“It is our hope that students will be able to research information in a meaningful way and apply the information to solve problems, explore their world and to better understand humanity. We also hope that the media center will bring the student body closer together, increasing school spirit and reducing bullying,” McInroy said.

“The addition of the media center combined with our iPad initiative will change the face of teaching and learning in the middle/high school. In time, we plan to add a makerspace to this area so students can explore, invent, create and problem solve with all kinds of materials and other forms of technology,” Forshey said.

Forshey said a lot of material was donated for the project. For example, a new countertop was donated by Cabinetree while other a refrigerator and Keurig machines were provided by anonymous donors. Several local businesses worked with the district to provide the best deals possible for furniture, supplies and other equipment necessary to get the vision off the ground, Forshey said.

The majority of the first phase of this project was funded by the Bellwood-Antis School District Foundation and Dan Himes Construction.
“Dan and Crystal Himes worked endless hours with me during the summer months to renovate the space before the start of the new school year. Without all of these groups and individuals as well as the support of our school board, administration and custodial staff, this project could have never come to fruition like it has,” Forshey said.

Forshey said her family helped out with the project by making a $1,000 donation.

Walt Frank can be reached at frank@altoonamirror.com.

A high five to Walt for wrting a super cool article about our project!

Stay tuned for more updates as well as student reaction to their new learning hub…

In the meantime, check out a visual timeline of the project to see how the space came to life here.

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Tech-ing It Up at the BAHS Activities Fair

December31

For the second time in two years, the Aevidum Club in our high school sponsored an Activities Fair the day before our holiday break. By donating $1 or a roll of paper towels, students gained admission to the gym which was filled with activities provided by various clubs and organizations—a foul shot competition, corn hole, face painting, writing Christmas cards for U.S. troops, duct taping the principals to the wall and more!

Of course, my favorite booths were those that were imagined, deve loped and then implemented by a few of my Tech Club kids—the Do Ink green screen photo booth, a Sphero maze and an X-box station where students could hang out and play Madden 15.

Check out an example of one of the Christmas backgrounds students could select at the photo booth.

image

A super high five to Kermit for envisioning the first two activities and then making them happen! Your detailed planning and set up created a few way cool stations for your peers!

Check out some additional scenes from the second annual Activities Fair below…

20151230-200907.jpg

And the best part about the day’s event? All donations collected will be given to local charities—the St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen and the Central PA Humane Society.

Kudos to the admin, teachers and students for making a difference in our community!

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The Monster Trash: A Recycling Video Sensation!

September25

Slide9Last spring my Tech Club students wrote and produced a video about the importance of recycling in our school and submitted it to a contest sponsored by the Intermunicipal Relations Committee of Blair County. Not only did their work earn top honors in the local competition, but the winning video was automatically entered into the State Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania FilmFest Contest for a chance to win statewide recognition as well as a cash prize.

Well, the votes have been tallied and you guessed it: We recently received word that “The Monster Trash” won first place at the 7th annual competition which was held this past July in Washington, PA.

How cool is that? Even better, the video will be used in future public outreach and educational programs around the state.

When asked about the victories, Aubree Reiter stated, “I am very proud that the Tech Club won the video competition because I think our video really explained the point of the recycling contest.”

Fellow techie Kermit Foor added, “I think that out of all of the videos we have made, this one was the best one yet. We worked for many hours during and after school to make this video. Without the help of our teachers and friends, it would not have been possible.”

A shout out to my Tech Club crew—especially Aubree, Kermit, Alex, Blake, Corey and Quintin—for your dedication to this project. It’s proof that hard work really does get noticed and rewarded! I am beyond proud of your efforts, and you should be too!

Be sure to check out “The Monster Trash” below.

So, is that video just awesome or what? My most favorite parts are those in which these trashy students used stop animation to create various scenes! And yes—doing so was their idea!

As I’ve previously mentioned—I love, love the skills my girls and boys continue to learn and/or hone as they create these kinds of projects! Can you say rigor, relevant and real-world? Does it really get much better than that? I don’t think so!

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Trashy Tech Club Kids Win Recycling Video Competition

April28

photo (11)A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about “The Monster Trash”, a video my BAMS Tech Club students produced and then entered into the Intermunicipal Relations Committee’s Recycling Video Competition. Well, the results have been tabulated and the winner is… Yep, you got it! Those trashy kids of mine managed to win yet another contest—Boom!

My students and I learned of this super exciting news during an Awards Ceremony at an Earth Day event held on Saturday, April 26 at the Logan Valley Mall. Not only did the students earn a very cool plaque and an ice cream party, but their winning video will be entered into the State Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania Film Fest Contest for a chance to win a cash prize. In addition, the submission will be used in future public outreach and education programs. Is that just way cool or what?

If you missed my previous post, please take a few minutes to check out the “Monster Trash”, a humorous spin on how recycling works in our school. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did! Besides being quite creative, it’s really pretty funny!

Here’s what Aubree had to say about our victory: “I am very proud that the Tech Club won the video competition because I think our video really explained the point of the recycling contest.”

Kermit added, “I think that out of all of the videos we made, this one was the best one yet. We worked for many hours during and after school to make this video.”

I have to agree with Kermit! This video was the bomb diggity! Not only was it an absolute blast to make, but I was very impressed with the stop animation scenes my students created. Could I be any prouder of them and their terrific efforts? Nope, because they never cease to amaze me! ♥

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Shout It Out with Flocabulary!

April26

photo (2)One shout out deserves another, right? Well, I think so anyway. So, here’s the situation…

For the last few months a few of my very amazing Tech Club students—namely seventh graders Aubree and Quintin—have been submitting entries to the Flocabulary Week in Rap contest to try to win a shout out on their weekly current events video—one we share each Friday on our morning announcements program.

And so… I’m guessing you probably know what comes next… Yep, you’re right! Quintin’s wildly imaginative essay and drawing about an original character won this week’s challenge to earn our middle school a super cool public acknowledgement that just rocks… Seriously!

Check it out below—courtesy of a screencast created by Kermit, our go-to man of many talents.

Take a look at Quintin’s winning submission located on the Flocabulary blog. This is what the folks at Flocabulary had to say about: “We were very impressed with Quintin’s creative entry, and it stood out to us as the clear winner this week.” Is that way cool or what?

Classroom Connection:

For those of you who may not be familiar with Flocabulary, let me just say that you do not want to miss this fabulously engaging edtech resource. The site contains a library of hip hop songs, videos and exercises that can be utilized to engage and inspire students to learn a variety of concepts spanning the K-12 curriculum. Academic content areas include reading, writing, literature, vocabulary, grammar, science, math and social studies. Additionally, each Friday the folks at Flocabulary produce The Week in Rap, an awesome recap of the most noteworthy national and international current events stories that occurred throughout the previous week.

But wait! There’s more! Flocabulary activities can assist teachers with mastering Common Core objectives in ELA and math. And their engaging material for social studies and science supports interdisciplinary literacy practice.

Even if you’re not a fan of rap, this is the exception! Simply put: Flocabulary is a must-have resource for every teacher’s tech-box. Be sure to dial up this site sooner than later!

Quintin and Aubree: I’m very proud of you and your accomplishments! Keep up the great work! ♥

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Meet the Monster Trash!

April15

Slide9So in the words of my most favorite middle school Geeky Girl, Simply Aubree:

Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to this screen—even though you’re probably already looking at it! The BAMS Tech Club recently entered a recycling video contest, and we wanted all of you to see the finished product. So, without further ado, please enjoy our video entitled “The Monster Trash”, written and produced by Aubree, Kermit, Alex, Blake, Corey and Quintin with a little help from our friends, Ms. Forshey and Mr. Trexler.

So, is that video just awesome or what? My most favorite parts are those in which these trashy students used stop animation to create various scenes! And yes—doing so was their idea!

I love, love the skills my Geek Squad continues to learn and/or hone as they create these kinds of projects! Can you say rigor, relevant and real-world? Does it really get much better than that? I don’t think so!

Stay tuned for the results of the contest which will be revealed on April 26, Earth Day…

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What’s Cool in Your School?

March15

BeFunky_central pa live.jpgIf you asked the question “What’s Cool in Your School?” at the Bellwood-Antis Middle School, you’d definitely get this answer: The Tech Club. And that’s why my Geek Squad was featured on the TV-10 Central PA Live show earlier this week.

Check out the interview with two of my edtech rock stars—Kermit and Aubree—as they talk tech and share videos demonstrating how BAMS students learn multimedia journalism in a fun and creative way!

A huge shout out to Central PA Live host Dawn Pellas for inviting us to the show. It was a most excellent experience! ♥

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