Blog

Rock Brook School

Maggie Forsyth-Deeds is the Coordinator of Speech and Language Services at the Rock Brook School in Skillman, New Jersey.  She has over 20 years experience working with students that have special needs and is dually certified as a Speech Language Pathologist and Teacher of the Handicapped.

Rock Brook School is a private, not for profit school for Communication Impaired and Multiply Disabled children from ages 5 to 21. Some medical diagnoses of children who have been helped by their program have included: Language Learning Disorders; Autistic Spectrum Disorders; Hearing Impairment; Seizure Disorders; Pervasive Developmental Delay and other disabilities secondary to various syndromes.

“I prefer an eclectic approach to instruction as it allows me to incorporate individualized programming for the unique needs of my very heterogeneous group of learners”.

Maggie works in what she describes as a very ‘tech savvy environment’. Each classroom is fitted with two personal computers, two iPads, a SMART Board; Lightspeed Technologies Redcat Audio Classroom amplification system and personal FM systems. There is also a dedicated Technology room with additional iPads, new laptop computers, as well as a touch screen personal computer.

“Although we have access to lots of great technology, the ‘challenge’ within a school like Rock Brook is finding the most optimum way for students to access the technology, engage with it and use it meaningfully. The overarching goal is to ultimately generalize the skills to other environments.”

Due to the nature of her job, Maggie is constantly on the lookout for current trends in technology and came across Biteslide during a research session online.  After a quick use of the demo version she says she was instantly sold with the service meeting the needs of her students as well as meeting the flexibility and lesson management requirements she has as a teacher.

“I found the interface to be colorful, engaging and capable of fostering my students in using the program independently over time. As a teacher, I found the dashboard to be exactly what I needed to manage my various classes, students and different levels of projects. It is a great tool for teachers as it’s flexibility allows it to be worked into almost any aspect of lesson planning, curriculums and/or classroom activities ”

Maggie found that Biteslide’s research tools removed the ‘daunting’ and sometimes ‘overwhelming’ nature of research, allowing her students to get instant gratification when compiling their images and videos through the web to put their work together.

“Biteslide provides the students with the tools to complete research without it really feeling like ‘research’. I quickly decided that Biteslide would serve my students best in creating and presenting their end of the year projects”

With its endless creative possibilities and user-friendly interface, her students are able to express themselves through the Biteslide platform with ease which is having a positive impact in the classroom.

“Its dynamic display fosters engagement in my students, helping to keep their interest and thereby increasing overall participation”

In the future Maggie can see an implemtentation of Biteslide into the newly created High School Program as way for students to create social stories and daily schedules related to the “Activities of Daily Living” that drive the High School programming.

And this is what Maggie’s class is saying about Biteslide…

“Biteslide is a fun project because you can choose any topic you like.”
Ian

“Biteslide is awesome. I like the Google images and video clips”
Dominick

“I liked making the Biteslides and using my own pictures from home.”
Kyle

“I made my Biteslide by picking pictures, backgrounds and text.”
Kris

Here’s a few examples of Maggie’s students’ Biteslide school project work:

If you like think that Biteslide could help you and your students, please sign up for your 30-day free trial now.


Digital Citizenship

At Biteslide we’ve made it our mission to help students develop the skills necessary to to face future challenges, and one topic that’s close to our hearts is digital citizenship.

To help you get to grips with digital citizenship, I would like to explain the key elements and tell you how Biteslide can be used to put digital citizenship into practice in your school.

Firstly, what is digital citizenship?

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) defines digital citizenship as “a framework for using technology responsibly and appropriately at all times in schools.” (http://www.iste.org/docs/excerpts/DIGCI2-excerpt.pdf)

They identify nine key elements in their framework: digital access, digital commerce,  digital communication, digital literacy, digital ettiquette, digital law, digital rights and responsibilities, digital health & digital security.

In all but one of these elements (digital commerce), Biteslide can be used to help teach digital citizenship to your students and I’d like to show you how.

1. Digital access

For most students, technology is an ever-present part of their lives.  This is primarily through websites, social media, games, apps, and instant messaging tools.

In an educational environment, schools have to ensure students understand their responsibilities when it comes to using technology, whilst at the same time finding an adequate balance to ensure students are able to embrace the opportunities that it brings to their lives.

Biteslide helps schools with digital access

Biteslide can be used by every teacher or student around the world via a laptop or PC at school and at home.

Biteslide is a ‘walled garden’ which means that teachers can safely control the content students have access to and how they can share their work.

2. Digital communication

Social media, video, instant messaging apps, email and text messages are just a few ways that students can express themselves and communicate together.

This means it’s vitally important that students get to grips with what is appropriate to share via these channels and what is not.  They need to be aware of how they create a ‘digital footprint’ over time and that’s why they should think twice before publishing anything to the web.

Biteslide helps students to understand digital communication

Students can work on projects collaboratively by developing slidebooks together.  They can peer review work through the use of commenting tools and also interact with their teachers.

Biteslide is a safe place to learn the rules of the web and to understand that once you post something to the web – it stays there.  Of course on Biteslide, teachers are able to add, edit, and remove anything as needed.

3. Digital Literacy

Using different technology can be quite intimidating for some and a breeze for others.

This means that teachers can find it difficult to teach students digital literacy at a similar pace to each other.

A good way for schools to overcome this is to use common software and devices that every student is likely to have access to at school as well as at home.

Blended learning

The concept of blended learning has also been very effective in increasing digital literacy.

Lessons are typically a mix of traditional ‘chalk and talk’ teaching methods alongside the use of digital tools or services  that enhance student engagement and output.

This gives students the perfect opportunity to use technology in a collaborative manner and to successfully achieve their tasks.

Which information is relevant?

With so many resources available on the web, identifying a reliable source of information can be a tricky task.

One of the most critical aspects of digital literacy for students focuses on teaching them how to assess the legitimacy of web resources.

Giving students suggested websites to further their project learning is a simple and effective way to guide them to trusted places on the web where they can expand their knowledge of a specific topic.

Biteslide promotes digital literacy

Biteslide is used by thousands of teachers around the world to adopt a blended learning approach to teaching in their classrooms.

With smart research, creation, and presentation tools, students develop a broad set of 21st century skills that will support them for the rest of their lives.

4. Digital etiquette

Students should to be aware that different mediums require different ways of communicating and use language in different ways.

They should understand that their actions can have consequences, and may lead to serious repercussions for other individuals and that they have a responsibility to stand up for others who are being bullied online by reporting it to an adult.

Biteslide promotes good etiquette

Students learn about how using the internet creates a ‘digital footprint’ in a safe and secure environment where if they do make a mistake it will not be visible to those outside the walled garden.

They also learn how to work with one and another on projects, encouraging good communication skills and build confidence to talk to different groups of people.  Teachers are able to monitor their students online behaviour within the walled garden and correct any inappropriate action and educate the student as to why it wasn’t appropriate.

5. Digital law

For students, understanding the laws around content usage are particularly important.

With many resources on the web for inspiration and guidance, students must understand the fine line between citing content as a source versus plagiarising someone else’s work entirely.

This leads into the understanding of copyright law which protect content owners and the mis-use of their text, image and video content online which students should be aware of when doing online research and project work.

Biteslide introduces students to digital laws

Using Biteslide for project work means that students must abide by copyright laws when using images from Google or videos in YouTube that we provide access to in the platform.  Biteslide is also an excellent place to learn to properly cite content that has been gathered from the web.

If teachers are worried about copyright infringement for projects, they can upload project assets directly to a class project folder and restrict access to resources outside the Biteslide platform.

6. Digital rights and responsibilities

All digital citizens are entitled to share basic rights such as privacy, freedom of speech and so forth.

With these rights also come responsibilities and in some cases, severe consequences for exerting them in the wrong way.

For students this can require a lot of education to ensure they understand their responsibilities, including when to report instances that threaten their rights to friendly and safe communications.

Biteslide helps students understand their digital rights and responsibilities

All Biteslide project work is carried out within a private area shared by the class.  Students can always communicate safely and transparently with one another.  In this safe area students can learn their rights and responsibilities without the fear of making mistakes in public.

7. Digital health

Whilst technology brings amazing opportunities to discover ways to enhance their lives, it comes with many physical risks (e.g. eye health, repetitive strain injury) and psychological dangers (e.g.internet addiction, cyber bullying) if not controlled.

Students should be made aware of how to balance technology use with every day offline social and physical activities to ensure they don’t over-expose themselves to the digital world throughout the day.

Biteslide gives students control with respect to digital health

Teachers set the project work in Biteslide, which means individual projects can be time-boxed to ensure students maintain a healthy level of digital usage.   Students are also able to collaborate to split the workload or support one another.  Teachers can control access to a project and restrict access to it if so desired.

8. Digital security

Students should be aware of the importance of keeping their data and passwords private and safe, never sharing information that doesn’t belong to them and ensuring they log out of any accounts they sign into.

And for schools, it’s vital that schools are able to adequately protect the private information of both their teachers and students, and ensure that students browsing the web are able to do so in a safe way.

Biteslide can help students learn about digital security

Biteslide takes security very seriously, our website is a “walled garden” meaning that data and project work is stored privately and securely, and teachers always have full visibility over student online behaviour in our platform via a management dashboard.

Teachers and students have individual accounts on Biteslide and that means that students have the responsibility of looking after their login details.  This is much like any other e-commerce or social media website on the web and teachers young learners how they need to manage their security.

If you’re ready to start teaching your students about digital citizenship please sign up now for a 30-day free trial of Biteslide.

 


Students using Biteslide for collaboration

Jerry Guttman has been teaching Business Education for over 30 years at Manheim Township High School in Central Pennsylvania. She teaches Accounting and Entrepreneurship courses in a computer lab with 28 PCs to grade 10, 11 and 12 students.

Despite being a fairly affluent community, as times have changed, so have the demographics of her students.

“As we become more diverse as a school, so too do our teachers strategies. Instruction to diversified learners has become a challenge”.

Jerry’s main project for her Entrepreneurship course involves writing a business plan for a startup company of her students’ choosing. Students typically work in teams of two or three to research various sections of the business plan on the Internet. The students would collate their findings into a word document and at the end of the course present their finished plan back to the class.

“In an effort to make this project more educational for diversified learners, I went looking on the Internet for something new and different that would encourage students to use their creativity to apply what they learned from their business plan research.”

Jerry discovered Biteslide whilst adding apps to her Google Chrome homepage and after experimenting with slidebooks, knew that she had found the alternative to writing a business plan that would be valuable to all types of learners.

“Using Biteslide’s collaborative features, my students have been able to continue working in teams to research the different sections of the business plans. Instead of just writing about it in the traditional way, they have been able to create visually interesting pages about each of the sections which they can present back and share with the rest of the class. This provided more meaning and made learning more fun for my students.”

Students presenting with Biteslide - Manheim Township High School

Biteslide’s project management features made it easy to track the progress of her students’ work throughout the duration on the school project.

“I found it really helpful to be able to provide comments and feedback for improvements to their projects, directly alongside their work.”

The change in the way her students undertake project research has not only enabled Jerry to better integrate students with diverse learning backgrounds into school project work, but also provided a way for her students to create work that they are proud to show off to each other.

Students working with Biteslide - Manheim Township High School

“With visual business plans, I am now able to print them off and hang them on my class room bulletin board to share my students’ project work.”

Having successfully integrated Biteslide as a learning tool for her students, Jerry plans to use it for a number of other projects including:

  • Classroom introductions to help students get to know each other in a visual and fun way;
  • Visual Learning using pictures to demonstrate the understanding of various Accountancy topics;
  • And as a Vocabulary Aid, building a collaborative class slidebook of vocabulary for various terms relevant to the course.

And this is what Jerry’s class is saying about Biteslide…

“I love how easy it is to use, and will definitely tell my friends about it.”
Amber

“Biteslide is a creative and easy to way to make a visual, more interesting report, versus a boring a written report.”
Aubrey

“Biteslide was fun and easy to use.”
Sara

“Easier to present and easy to navigate.”
Brett

“I like using Biteslide more than writing an essay because it gives you more options. You can use it anywhere and it allows people to edit the project. I think that’s really a good feature.” Sokhema

Here’s a few examples of Jerry’s students’ Biteslide school project work: