Farewell Andrew – Now What?

Farewell Andrew – Now What?

We are sad to announce that Andrew has accepted a position with Plymouth-Canton Public Schools. He has been an excellent colleague and friend over the past six and a half years, in which he amassed a notable body of work. It has been a pleasure to learn from him and grow with him through our collaboration, and we wish him well in his endeavors.

You may be wondering what’s going to change for the Kent ISD Ed Tech team. The good news is that Andrew will remain as a contributor to this blog, though I am not sure he will be finding much time to post to it. Ron and I will be supporting many of Andrew’s continuing projects, and, as with everything we do, we will strive to optimize them for those we support. Please contact us to explore how we can coach, train, consult, or build around tech integration with you.

Craig Steenstra – craigsteenstra@kentisd.org – 616.447.5673

Ron Houtman – ronhoutman@kentisd.org – 616.365.2320

hackGVSU – Coming April 14

hackGVSU – Coming April 14


The eLearning and Emerging Technologies department invites you to the “hackGVSU” event at the main campus of Grand Valley State University.

This will be held on Saturday, April 14. The goal is to provide opportunities for students and teams to work together on programming projects. There are HTML, LTI, and REST API integration possibilities with Blackboard providing training on these during the event.

More information is available at: http://www.gvsu.edu/elearn/hackgvsuhackGVSU

Personalized Learning Conference: #PLCON18 Call for Proposals is Open!

Personalized Learning Conference: #PLCON18 Call for Proposals is Open!

Kent ISD is pleased to announce the hosting of the third Personalized Learning Conference on May 2, 2018 and is searching for presenters to share their experiences in this evolving educational practice. Personalized Learning is a model of learning that promotes flexibility within the learning environment to allow students’ needs to drive instructional strategies, assessments, use of time, and materials.

We are searching for presentation proposals that include the innovative and systemic use of blended learning and/or technology to drive or support elementary, middle and high school learning to ensure students are college and career ready. In particular, we seek case studies, action research, and stories of success related to innovative learning that facilitates one or more of the following:

  • Blended Learning Implementation
  • Individualized Instruction
  • Assessment & Feedback
  • Authentic Practice
  • Promoting Transfer and Universal Design for Learning
  • Active Learning
  • Mastery Learning
  • Data-Driven Decision Making
  • Project-Based Learning

Click here to submit your proposal for the Personalized Learning Conference

Proposal submission deadline is February 23, 2018 at 11:59 p.m.

Have a great idea? Get it funded through the Idea Slam!

Have a great idea? Get it funded through the Idea Slam!

The Idea Slam ’18, sponsored by the METS Group and REMC Association of Michigan, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 7 from 7:00 – 10:00pm.

The Idea Slam is a fast-paced “pitch fest” and networking event for educators. Selected projects will be presented and attendees will vote on their favorite ideas. The winning project will receive a minimum of $1,500 towards their innovative educational idea.

The rest of the evening is an informal meet-up with fun conversations and delicious offerings from the new Downtown Grand Rapids venue, the Knickerbocker, owned by New Holland Brewing Company.

What makes the Idea Slam possible and successful?
YOUR IDEAS! Submit a proposal by completing this registration form. If chosen as a finalist you will be assigned a pitch coach to help you prepare for the event.

Idea Slam Pitch Rubric

Please contact the METS group at metsgroupmi@gmail.com if you have any questions!

Pitch proposals are due February 9, 2018 at midnight.

MI Coding 2018-19 professional learning cohort registration is open!

The Michigan Math Science Centers Network and Code.org are bringing free professional learning and curriculum resources to educators to implement AP® Computer Science Principles and Computer Science Discoveries.mmscn-logo-wname-1

Applications are now being accepted for the 2018-19 professional learning cohort. Click here to view the application and visit http://micoding.weebly.com/professional-learning.html for more information on the program.

The professional learning for teachers is FREE and includes two components:

  • Summer, 2018:Teachers attend a 5-day in-person, conference-style workshop designed to introduce the CS concepts from the curriculum and core teaching practices. There are no registration costs for this event. Lodging, breakfast, lunch, and materials will be provided free of charge.
  • School Year, 2018-19:Teachers continue with 4 job-embedded workshops held in Michigan and online modules focused on supporting teachers in their first year of implementation.

There are two steps to the application:

  1. Teachers fill out and submit the application.
  2. Administrators receive an automatically generated email with a link to complete the application process.
Competency-Based Education Pilot Grant (Section 21j of the State School Aid Act)

Competency-Based Education Pilot Grant (Section 21j of the State School Aid Act)

Section 21j of the 2017 -2018 State School Aid Act provides $500,000 to fund grants for the design and implementation of competency-based education programs. Districts will compete for grant funding for the purpose of providing enhanced choice to pupils and parents for the completion of the requirements for kindergarten through a high school diploma, including the Michigan Merit Curriculum. The grant program is designed to be a three-year opportunity for districts to explore, develop , and implement the systems and processes necessary for a quality competency-based education program.

Applications for this grant must be submitted in the Michigan Electronic Grant System Plus (MEGS+) by February 2, 2018. The grant application questions are being provided now so that districts can begin the application process in an effort to allow for maximum time to plan and connect with stakeholders. Please keep in mind that budgets will be submitted MEGS+ and that narrative responses in will be limited to 1000 characters. There is also a section in MEGS+ where supporting documents may be loaded into MEGS+ for review.

Please review the following resources for application information:


*The content from this post was copied from the Michigan Department of Education’s site on competency-based education.

Build Your Own Interactives

Build Your Own Interactives

In many schools, especially at the elementary level, it is common for students to be using tech for core skill building. For example, they might be using Zearn to go through math practice at a level that is personalized based on pre-assessment results. This can be beneficial, but some research suggests that so-called drill and kill types of platforms might not be best and may even have negative effects on student learning. See this research page from Liz Kolb’s Triple E Framework site for more on that

I also believe that students can be doing much more than practice problems with the devices they are using. So, I have been exploring ways to design activities that involve application of learning and using tech to build or create based on the concepts being taught. This may sound a bit daunting, but here are two examples that are fairly simple to set up:

  1. Google Slides Place Value Interactive. You can add background elements, like a cartoon field, that won’t move by editing the Slide Master (how to edit Slide Master in Google Slides). When students load the link, they can make a copy, or teachers can assign it through Classroom as a copy for each student. Then they interact and build.
  2. Google Doc Array and Area Activity. This prompts students to build some simple layouts in Geogebra and then asks questions that farmers would actually have to ask when building a fence. Like in the previous activity, students need to apply their understanding. They also have links to reference in case they need it (e.g. perimeter and area).

These are not the most polished or amazing, but they incorporate some complex thinking and some personal interaction as well. Take a look, make copies for yourself, and modify as you see fit. Please share any ideas or questions with us so we can learn from you as well.