This blog post includes a transcription of the live panel "See How 3 Schools Are Planning to Improve Student Engagement In 2022 With Rise Vision and Airtame Webinar" which took place on December 8, 2021.
- What does student engagement mean to you and your school district?
- How are you using technology to improve student engagement in your school?
- Who’s involved in keeping students engaged at your school?
- What improvements have you seen in your schools since implementing these initiatives?
- What is the key takeaway you’d like our attendees to leave here with?
- Q&A time
Shea Darlison (00:00)
Thank you so much for joining our webinar, See How Three Schools Are Planning to Improve Student Engagement in 2022. My name is Shea Darlison. I'm the Head of Marketing at Rise Vision. And joining me today is Daniel Climans from Rise Vision, John Farley from Airtame, and Nikki Fabrizio from Airtame. So John will introduce himself and Airtame in a minute here, and Daniel and Nikki will be answering questions in the chat and sharing your questions with John and me as they come in. For some quick background on Rise Vision, we are the number one digital signage software solution for schools.
We've been in business since 1992, helping thousands of schools improve communication with students, staff, parents, and their communities. And once again, I just like to thank you all for joining us today. This will be a great event, and I'm now going to pass it over to John to introduce himself and Airtame.
John Farley (00:59)
Yes, thank you, Shea. My name is John Farley. I am a Customer Success Manager with Airtame. Airtame, for those who are unfamiliar, we provide easy screen sharing, wireless screen sharing for your classrooms and conference rooms, as well as engaging digital signage for those spaces as well as for public spaces. And very excited to be co-presenting here with Rise Vision yet again. Towards the end, we'll talk a little bit more about how you can get in touch with us for more information about what we do.
Shea Darlison (01:36)
All right. Thanks so much, John. So I just wanted to quickly cover our agenda today. We're going to start with some housekeeping items. Then our panelists will introduce themselves. We'll jump into the panel discussion, and at the end we'll leave about five to ten minutes for Q&A and then wrap up. So you might have noticed the title of this webinar has changed from Four Schools to Three Schools. Unfortunately, one of our panelists had to drop out at the last minute, but we were able to get both Jason Murray and Scott Boyer to join us from Cornwall-Lebanon, so I think we'll still have a lively discussion.
Okay, so here's our amazing panelists. We have some great K-12 leaders here today who are involved in school technology. We're going to kick off by giving each of them some time to provide background on themselves, their district, and their role. And then we'll get into the main panel discussion part of our webinar. I'm going to pass it off to Jason Murray to start us off. Over to you, Jason.
Jason Murray (03:04)
All right. Thanks, Shea. This is Jason Murray from Cornwall-Lebanon School District in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, right outside of Hershey. We're a public K-12 school district, and we have roughly about 5,000 students. Nice little community that actually surrounds the city of Lebanon, so we're a unique district that doesn't necessarily have a home city that we can associate with. But we have multiple communities, and we find very interesting ways to communicate and display different types of information to them. So again, I'm the District Technology Coordinator with Cornwall-Lebanon School District. I'll turn it over to Scott, who is our Systems Coordinator.
Scott Boyer (03:51)
I'm Scott Boyer, the Systems Coordinator for Cornwall-Lebanon. As Jason said, we have a very unique district, a lot of different communities that come together here, and we have a really good sense of family in our district, both with attendees, retirees, current active employees who all come from the same communities. So it's nice to be here today. I'll pass it off to Robert.
Robert Gulick (04:20)
Hi, I'm Dr. Bob with Washington Local Schools. We are actually located within the City of Toledo in Ohio, but we are not part of Toledo Public Schools. We are our own 7,000-student district carved out of one corner of the City of Toledo, which is a different type of uniqueness. As Director of Technology, basically, if it plugs in, it's my fault. It was my fault yesterday that I did not keep AWS up and working. So we're all working on improving that situation. Good to be here, and it'll be fun to talk about some of the new things we can do.
Monica Myers (05:15)
All right, Dr. Myers here from Jackson Local School, Stark County, Ohio. And like Dr. Bob, we're almost as good as he has with 6,000 students. Suburban school district made up of six buildings and very interested in being on this panel and seeing what everyone has to say today. And well over 20 years in this district, so I've been around a long time. Started out as a Business Computer Teacher, so technology is at the core of what I get to do.
What does student engagement mean to you and your school district?
Shea Darlison (05:48)
Okay, thank you so much all of you for introducing yourselves. So we'll start with our first question. And student engagement can be a broad topic, so I'm curious if you could tell us a little bit about what it means to you and your school district. And, Scott, if we could start with you, that'd be great.
Scott Boyer (06:08)
Yeah, so our student engagement in our district... Our mascot is the Falcons. So a lot of things that run around our district have to do with nests and wings and different things bird-related. So one of our big student engagements that we use is the Wings of Praise, which is a way to recognize students that don't necessarily stand out in the crowd. They might be good academically, they might be good athletically, but they just do good things generally. And those kids that get overlooked at times, we try to push them out to the forefront that they do get that recognition that they deserve, and Rise Vision has greatly helped us do that.
Jason Murray (06:53)
Yeah, the Wings of Praise... The way that it came about, like Scott mentioned... You always hear about the students that do great things. They're just amazing students. They either excel in academics or they excel in athletics. Or then you also hear about the students that tend to need a little bit more help and assistance and have troubled homes. But you never hear about those middle students, like Scott said, the good students that... They're good academically, they're okay with sports, but they don't excel. You don't see their names, and they don't get a lot of recognition.
And that's what the Wings of Praise recognizes them for. So basically what we do is anytime a teacher or another student sees a student doing something good. This could be picking up a pencil that's on the floor or helping someone put their books into their book bag, any type of really nice act, or they did really well on a quiz, or did something nice. They get what's called a Wings of Praise. Then they have to take that little slip of paper over to a principal.
The principal signs off on it, and they get put into a little box. And basically they draw one of these out and they get either a gift certificate or they get recognized on our morning announcements. Or we have a mural. If you go onto the Rise Vision website, you'll see a little article. There's one that has... Basically there's a mural of wings painted on one of our hallways, and the students will stand against that. And we'll take their picture and it's a Wings of Praise, and it's recognized.
We put it on the Rise Vision so other students can see what their fellow students are doing, and it creates this whole culture of just being able to do nice things to one another and being recognized for the little things. The other things that we're doing for student engagement is we realize we have a lot of sports. We have theater, we have clubs. So now we're actually looking at doing after-school activities with our students. And this could be anything from Lego building to gaming, board games.
We have indoor tennis, we have pickleball, we have table tennis. We have an actual coloring group. These are clubs that are after school that just allows the students to get together with a common interest and just hang out. And it's all promoting really good things that students enjoy doing. So before where students didn't have this opportunity to do something like this, they're now given this type of opportunity. And we advertise all of these activities and clubs using our Rise Vision television panels that we've set up and projectors.
We use a lot of social media that we push out over the Rise Vision players. So we try to bring the whole student body, no matter what they're interested in. And we'll have students come to us with ideas. We even have a paper airplane club that meets weekly, and they do different types of activities. So it's just groups of kids getting together, doing really good things, and we do a lot of community service as well. But this is just positive notes that we're trying to create, a positive community within our students.
Robert Gulick (10:45)
Obviously, districts are always pushed about state tests and assessment evaluation scores and all that, and what we've been really focusing on is trying to go beyond getting the right answer in terms of getting the students to understand that they need to produce things. They need to actually make something new out of what they're learning. It doesn't matter if it's kindergarten, doesn't matter if it's 12th grader, they need to actually take what they're learning and do something with it.
And then part of that is... Okay, if they just do it and only share it with the teacher, you get that little bit of feedback. Okay, that's nice. But even more exciting is when the students can engage with each other and share and then collaborate. Not necessarily do group projects, but just be able to do independent things, but then share. And then as a group evaluate and work on, "Hey, how can we make this better? How can we combine this with what they're doing over in that other school?"
And so this feedback circle of being able to... Students produce something, students share something, students collaborate on improving it. It's one of our big goals for how we get engagement of students because it's about those middle students. Well, those middle students have a lot of great ideas. They're just not the cheerleader in front, but they've got some great stuff that they can share and giving them an opportunity and encouragement and a way to safely do that is one of our big goals. So it's been neat to see how that's been happening, even with everything over the last 24 months.
Monica Myers (12:33)
Sure. So I think like many, we might be seeing some lack of engagement or detachment from COVID in bringing our children back into our school environment, the physical environment. And so that's something that we're struggling a little bit with. But we are addressing, prior to COVID, in building that student engagement so that no one falls through that proverbial crack... Is through a district-wide book study on resilience and helping children be active and helping children build their resiliency. And we have an advisory program at our high school for grades 9–12.
Pre-COVID we had it pre-12, but with the structure, as Dr. Bob said, with the academics being such a big focus... Where does it live? So we've driven that high school focus toward enroll, enlist for employ. But we do a lot of focusing around engagement. How are you engaged in athletics? We have a school for the arts. We have a global Academy. We have a large portion of College Credit Plus students. So we're constantly striving to find, "What's that next niche?" So that we know every child's involved in something meaningful for their academic future and their extracurricular interest.
So my entire dissertation was pretty much on resilience, and we are doing resiliency in schools, making it happen for students and educators. Well, this book focuses on student resiliency, staff resiliency, and then what you can do within the physical space of your building to provide resiliency... Building that is something that can be taught, so we're actively doing this K–12. Every teacher in this district has this book. We've received some funding from the Ohio Department of Health to purchase it and do this book study.
And we're a Schoology LMS, so we've created our own course for teachers to access as independent study or group study. So it is a really big focus for us to engage and set high expectations, make sure students are involved, teaching life skills, social behaviors, all of those things that go around being resilient. And through that study, you can't help but have student engagement. Everything is focused on the child.
Robert Gulick (15:34)
Okay. Obviously, COVID changed our world. It rocked everything. The one nice thing is we are a Chromebook, one-to-one. We were one-to-one 4–12 with some Windows computers in the classrooms. Once we started getting COVID, we had Chromebooks in the classrooms for K3, which we weren't sending them home. Well, we needed obviously up our numbers on that, get it going because we did some hybrid stuff where half the kids were in, half the kids were out. So the concept of being able to share video back and forth was really important.
And now this year that we've been fully back, the practice has still continued in terms of using things like Google Classroom. And so there's a great deal of online activities, and then circling back to our concept of students producing things... A kindergartener, they can make a Google slide. They can do something like that. And so where the Airtame comes in is we've got it hooked up to the classroom projector or the classroom TV. And so when the teacher can be saying, "Okay, I'm showing you mine. Now let me toss it over to you, Johnny. Go ahead. You connect and you lead the show."
And so being able to use that technology to share without having to run around the classroom, without having to go up and touch the same surfaces, really became a great beneficial to how we were trying to do things. And so just using the online resources, even when we were face to face, it just gives them another way of sharing, another way of working on things and working on them whenever we need to be, because we've had a couple of days this year where we did not have enough staff to open school, so we had to call an emergency day.
Guess what? Instructions still continued because they could still do the same things using their technology. It's just sharing it a slightly different way. And the kids, they're adaptable. They don't care. It's all the same to them. Teachers and the staff, a little tougher for us to adapt sometimes. It's more along the lines of we're trying to help the staff get to where the students are, because the students are already in the social media sharing, and they already figured out how to do sharing within Google Docs.
Talk to each other. If a teacher says "No, no one's allowed to use Google Chat right now." Okay, they open up a Google Doc and they share, so the kids know how to engage with technology. We just need to help them focus to be productive with it.
How are you using technology to improve student engagement in your school?
Shea Darlison (18:20)
Yes, kids are definitely innovative with technology. I love the focus on creation and channeling that energy. In our last webinar, three of the attendees run morning shows or newscasts with their students and get them involved in producing the newscast for their school and sharing it on the displays throughout their school, which is an interesting one. So, Dr. Myers, I'll pass it over to you now. If you could share a little bit about how you're using technology, that'd be great.
Monica Myers (18:51)
We are very fortunate to be a technology-rich school district. And like Dr. Bob, we are one-to-one Chromebooks. K-12 leave them in the classroom because of their age. Grades 3–12 take them home. And we started our one-to-one initiative pre-COVID, and we did it a phase-in. So we have students and teachers in grades five, seven, and nine receive their Chromebooks first, and teach a professional development. And so what we did, we purchased Schoology, and we have a district technology advocate team made up of classroom teachers, administrators, certainly our IT Department, gifted services, Intervention Specialist.
And so we created 10 courses within Schoology that all of our teachers took, and that was part of their... We coined it Polaris. We're Jackson Polar Bears, so we named Polaris, instead of Schoology. All of the teachers participated in those ten courses, anywhere from how to do Screencastify to PBL to blended learning environment, Windows 10 because we all got new laptops as well when the students got their Chromebooks. And we were in the process of those teachers having a minimum of three professional pull-out days, so five, seven, and nine got those.
Then the next year, those fifth graders took those Chromebooks to sixth grade. So then the next set of teachers, and right in the middle of COVID, our elementary teachers, our K1–3, had not received their professional development. So those teachers were completely thrown into the fire of how to learn Schoology and put lessons online, and they did a fabulous job with it. But, I mean, that was such a hard thing. But we have come out on the better end of that, and our teachers are now very tech-savvy.
We meet with Schoology on a regular basis. And they're like, "We're learning from you on how you navigated that." And during COVID, our students could come in person. We never closed. You could come in person. You could be a hybrid learner. You could come in two days a week because we wanted to accommodate our families. If mum and dad can be home one day, but not the next day. So there weren't childcare issues, and this was K–12. Or you could be completely online at home. You can participate 100 percent online through Schoology, or we can withdraw you out of Schoology.
And we used a program titled Acellus for complete online, and I was the support person for about 60 of our middle school students and families that chose to do that. But outside of that, Chromebooks were Google school. Our teachers are very good at using Jamboards and Padlets and sharing with all forms of Google Docs and presentations and that collaborations.
Jason Murray (22:11)
So being the Tech Director, technology is all-encompassing. I mean, Dr. Bob mentioned it as well. What we try to do, just like the others, is we put the emphasis on student engagement, and then you tell me what you want to do, and then we'll find tools to make it work. So we keep technology as quiet as we can because we want them to focus on the engagement rather than the technology. So we are a one-to-one school as well. We have WinBooks for all of our students, and the students come to us with different ideas.
I mentioned previously about morning announcements. We have a very nice TV studio at our high school, a very nice TV studio at our middle school, and our elementarys have mini TV studios. They all produce morning announcements. They've learned how to stream. So they have all really neat activities that they do. Each school has its own mini culture, and they basically have come together to do either different mini commercials or just announcements to get everyone to engage more. Matter of fact, one of our schools, the demographics, they tend to need a little bit more attention and help.
And they've really come together with the morning announcement studio that they put together. Students take turns. They have very elaborate commercials and announcements that they put together that get the entire student body involved. We also have a couple of graphic design labs where they'll bring and design logos for the different clubs and groups that I had mentioned before. So it's students producing products, and that's what our high school and our middle school really focus on is showing them what's available to them after school.
So we have a media lab where they get to learn about newspapers and magazines and online broadcasts and things like that. So students are coming together and collaborating, and this can be taken as a class or also joined as a club. Our high school has built into its schedule what we call an activity period. So once a week they have this activity period where they shorten each period by five, six minutes, and it creates its own period that day. And then the clubs can get together.
The students can engage. And we use different types of technology to make that happen even when they don't meet. We're a Microsoft school as well. So we use Teams. Our students are very good at creating a team, turning on a webinar — very similar to this — communicating back and forth, sharing documents. We use Schoology. Some clubs prefer using the Schoology groups — very easy to join along with the parents. The parents can get involved.
As long as you give them that code to join either the course or the group, they become active with the students as well. So it brings in the whole community atmosphere. So what we try to do is leverage different types of technology depending on what the group wants to do. So we want to get as many students as active as possible in whatever interest they have. So they come to us with an interest and they bring a group of five or six, and then we sit down with them.
We talk to them and we see what type of technology fits the bill to do what they want to do most efficiently and that they feel comfortable using. So some of them, like I mentioned... Office 365 is really big in our district. Schoology. We use one-to-one Windows, a lot of share platforms, things of that nature. The other thing that we're really looking at right now is we have interactive projectors and we're putting TV panels up right now. And the project that Scott and I have been chatting about is how are we going to do or put maybe possible Rise Visions on those panels and projectors and be able to broadcast throughout the whole district or schools if we need to. So really super excited about that project.
Scott Boyer (26:40)
Yeah, one of our biggest things that we've done over the past couple of years is we've really focused a lot on our communal areas, like our libraries, media centers, things like that. We put a lot of technology into those with different study areas, different large group construction areas. We have incorporated into our LGI a whole streaming set up so that we can live stream any class that's going on in there, as well as our board meetings and different things like that to keep our whole community in the know as well as our students.
Like Dr. Murray said, our studios are top notch. We have a group from our high school that goes to an SDN conference every year and has won several awards from it. They do a great job and have awesome morning announcements they put together, and they have also come together and done a lot of live streaming over the past year and a half due to the pandemic and parents not being able to attend and things like that. Our students are the ones that came together and pushed those games out to parents, grandparents, and things like that.
One of the biggest things that we heard from it, one of the best outcomes, we had a student that was playing in a tennis tournament at our school. Our students were able to live stream it, and her grandparents could watch her the whole way from Germany. So it was a really cool feedback that we got from that student engagement that those kids being able to broadcast that for somebody else in a different country to see. But I think our communal areas are the biggest things that we've been really focusing on, especially like Dr. Murray said.
Again, with the classrooms and the TVs moving forward and looking forward 5–10 years and see what technology is going to look like then to see those panels going up and a different change in the classroom from what it's been for the past several years. So it's nice to see that new engagement where you have the elementary students up at the board and you can get 5–10 kids up front and all touching the screen at the same time and working with interactive things in the front. It's really cool to see.
Jason Murray (28:48)
Like Scott said, we try to make the technology as simple as possible for everyone to use at the same time. He mentioned a lot about the streaming and the video. We have the one-button studio that we put together where students literally put a thumb drive into a USB slot that we have available. It turns on the lights, turns on the camera. They go over in front of a green screen and they push a one button. And all of a sudden it starts videoing and they do their presentation, do an acting or reading of poetry or whatever they need for the assignment or whatever they're producing.
Hit the one button again and they walk out, pull the USB, it shuts everything down, and the MP4 video is on that thumb drive for them. So just trying to make the technology as user-friendly as possible to get the most students engaged. Like Scott said, he's been working a lot with our streaming students and, I mean, they've streamed everything from plays to poetry readings to athletics to meetings to everything. And it's the students that are running it. There's one advisor, but there could be three different streaming teams at three different locations.
So it's fun to watch the kids. They get really excited about it, and they're here all the time. I mean, we're telling students you've got to go home and get some sleep just because, "Oh, I can make it a little bit better." So they have a lot of fun. Scott set up a lot of the studios that we've set that we have for our streaming, and the kids just love it.
Who’s involved in keeping students engaged at your school?
Shea Darlison (30:15)
Very cool. I love the story about the streaming to Germany. Yeah, that's great to hear. It's awesome when technology is used like that. All right. And so for our next question, so I'm definitely curious... Who's involved in keeping students engaged at your schools? And do you have any tips for the audience about how to get people involved? And, Dr. Myers, we'll start with yourself.
Monica Myers (31:02)
Certainly our staff, our teachers, support staff... And teachers need that professional development to continue to work on building their practices and navigating this new world that we find ourselves in. As far as where students are at, I'd love to say post-COVID. I'm not sure that we're there yet, but they're struggling, and they've got that burnout, as I'm sure some of your staff have... experiencing those same things, but it really comes down to part of that.
And we have a student advisory, so like Dr. Murray was talking about, it's not a club activity period, but we have student advisory every Friday for 30 minutes. We shave a few minutes off of every period, and it builds that schedule automatically for us. And so we've really been focused on, in addition to classroom teachers, in addition to coaches, club advisors. We have over 50 clubs in our high school that students can hopefully find something that they are involved in. And if we don't have it, they can make a proposal and come to the principal.
And we've had Animal Club get off the ground. We've had requests for Equestrian Club, so they are a part of deciding what that engagement looks like. But in addition, we added that second layer of the student advisory. Every high school student 9–12 has an advisor, not tied to grades, not tied to academics. And our focus is enrolling, enlisting, and employment with an eye on social-emotional learning and making those connections and making sure that kids are safe every day that they come to school, and they have an advocate. There's always enough for them.
Jason Murray (33:15)
We've put a real emphasis on this, especially when COVID hit. We were really concerned about our students wellbeing, and we just wanted to make sure that we were able to reach out and touch every single student. Teachers are very involved with the students lives. Basically, if a student wasn't coming to school or wasn't being engaged as much, teachers were actually calling each one of their students that were having any type of issues to have a personal one-on-one conversation. Our principals are always involved, but we put an emphasis on this, and we actually, at our faculty meetings, we bring everybody together.
So it's not just teachers and principals. It's bringing in all of our teacher aides, instructor aides, everyone that's basically involved. This included custodians, cafeteria workers, office staff. And what we try to do is everyone has to engage with students, and this is something that we take a lot of pride in. The high school has even divvied up a list of students to everyone, every working member of the high school, and that's to watch out for them, check in on them every once in a while.
It doesn't necessarily have to be like a parent, but just making sure that they're doing okay. So when we're trying to make sure that students are getting engaged, we're bringing an entire staff. And this includes even our directors. We're getting involved with this as well, where we're checking in and watching students and making sure that they're doing well from a variety of standpoints, whether it's in athletics or clubs or activities that we're doing. But each staff member is in charge of several students. Just to watch out, make sure they're doing okay and check-in.
We also have different programs where students are watching students. So we have a program called Big Star, Little Star. And it's where our high school students are actually pairing up with some of our elementary students. Just showing them the ropes, giving them a good mentor to watch and mimic. So we have staff doing it. We have students watching students, and we have a lot of other committees together to watch some of our students that are showing some troubling signs, and we watch them a lot closer as well.
But yeah, overall what we've been trying to do is build this community where we're Falcons and we're Falcon community, Falcon family altogether, and that's just going off of our mascot.
Scott Boyer (36:26)
Dr. Morris said about a lot of burnout in the districts over the past year and a half here. One thing that we do in technology... Most of our work is on the back end behind the scenes where people don't necessarily see us out front, and we try to do the same thing with our staff too. We do a lot of things for our staff to try to keep them as motivated in as engaging the students as we want to be. And so we do some things.
Right now we're incorporating 12 days of Techmas. We're pushing out little videos and little challenges for them, things to do that they can have fun leading up into the holidays. We're talking about some things coming in the future to incorporate and tie into the Olympics and different things like that where we can keep our staff engaged so that they can keep the students engaged. So we try to stay more on the back end if we can, but we like to get out there with the staff and the students as well.
The way our school's district set up, we have a help desk at both the high school and middle school. So we're right on the forefront with the students and can do the same thing. The check ins with the students are coming in. We have a lot of our frequent visitors who are either breaking machines all the time or need fixes all the time and that stuff. And so we get to check in with them quite regularly. But we do get out in the hallways and make them with the students as well, so.
Robert Gulick (38:01)
Obviously, initially, the big emphasis was on the teacher engagement with the student using the technology because of the hybrid situation. But we also quickly discovered that we also needed to address the support staff, the classroom aides, and all those other people that are involved in the day-to-day classroom situation, but weren't necessarily the teacher in front. So we've been expanding our training and issuing of devices and also license to those folks, so they can get in and work with the students because the same concept in terms of the student getting excited about what they're working on in the morning to share.
And there you go. There's another person, another adult that they can engage with. And so that's been one of our big pushes of this school year was to say, "if there's anybody who has a direct student potential, then we need to have that person ready and able to engage and be part of the situation and part of the support network for the kids." So expanding the concept of who is here to support students really is expanding in a very interesting way. And we're looking forward to seeing how much more this can be in terms of students realizing that everybody in the school is there to support them, not just their teacher and not just the secretary. It starts with the bus driver. So that whole concept that the whole team is there. So that's where we're looking at.
What improvements have you seen in your schools since implementing these initiatives?
Shea Darlison (39:34)
I love that. Yeah. Sounds like it's an all-hands-on-deck situation. So we'll move on to the next question. So I'm definitely curious, what improvements have you seen in your school since implementing these initiatives? And, Jason, we'll start with yourself.
Jason Murray (39:52)
Thank you, Shea. So improvements... We have a committee that watches our Wings of Praise, and they have all statistics that have shown how our district has changed since the Wings of Praise... Detentions are down, after-school suspensions are down. But what I like to focus on is the really cool things that the students are doing. They picked up on this. So we have an after-school program. It's like an after-school study hall where if you don't have a certain amount of assignments completed, if you've fallen behind in a class, you have to stay after school, go to that particular math study hall or English study hall, or something like that until you get your assignments picked up.
Well, the students picked up on this, and they said we want to get those numbers down. So our National Honor Society... One of the students basically organized a large group of National Honors Society students that we have to start tutoring other students. So instead of students being forced to go to these after-school study halls, students are pairing up and they're doing mini-tutoring sessions. Now, some tutoring sessions are in person in our library, and other tutoring sessions are happening over Teams or Zoom.
And we're seeing the numbers for our study halls actually go down because students have been helping each other out. We also have seen students have organized what they call themselves the Falcon Crazies. It's where a large group of our student body gets together and dedicates one night for each athletic or extracurricular activity. And they all get together and they'll wear the same color. Our colors are blue, gray, and white. So they'll all wear white or they'll all wear blue. And they'll go to a basketball game or a football game, but they also go to other extracurricular activities.
So perfect example, we have an activity. It's poetry read out loud, and it's where our drama and our theater club students will do readings, and it's typically held in our large group instruction room. While the Falcon Crazies got hold of this, and the large group instruction room was too small. We had to move it to a much larger auditorium. So our poetry read out loud was moved to the auditorium for one of their readings because the student body wanted to be there to support those students that were reading their poems out loud.
So our students have picked up on this. We've seen increases in our Big Star, Little Star program because more students want to get involved and help others out. So we're seeing the community start to wrap and come together and help each other out in different clubs and organizations that have brought together and come together on that. There are statistics that we can share with numbers, things have dropped or raised, and things like that. But I like to see what the students are doing and how they're responding to these neat little clubs that have formed, and activities that they're doing on their own without any adult pushing them in that direction is exciting for me to see.
Scott Boyer (43:12)
Yeah, just a couple of things to add. So our middle school... One of the biggest things in our middle school that I've seen... They started a new class that's a club. The kids have free reign over it. They come in and they basically choose their assignment. They choose what they want to do or create or design. We had some kids that were doing architecture. We had others that wanted to build their own gaming system or build their own game. So some coding, some architecture, some were doing clean Earth environment.
We had kids all over the board with this, and it was just a free reign open class. It was really cool to see the different engagement there. And they actually presented out in the middle of the... We have a huge lobby in our middle school that everybody comes through, ready at the beginning of the day and the end of the day. And they actually presented a lot of that stuff in the lobby so all the other kids could see it. And I can speak through experience too with some of the changes... Our elementary schools...
I have a daughter that's in fourth grade this year, and her class is actually working with some other classes in fourth grade, and they're tutoring some of the younger kids. Some that don't necessarily need it, but others that do. And they go into kindergarten classrooms, first grade classrooms, and do some math work with numbers or letter sounds or just basic stuff that they're working on. And it's really cool to see that different engagement between two different classes, even though they're in the same building and they see each other almost on a daily basis, to work with each other on a different level doing this is a really cool thing to see.
Robert Gulick (44:53)
Well, we obviously had that unfortunate incident up in Detroit this last week, and we're about an hour south of there. So that was a very big concern. It still could be a concern. But one of the great things that we saw out of this was that even before that event, our students are comfortable, not all of them, but they're comfortable with the engagement and the communication and talking with people. And even through the technology waves, we're finding the students are more open to talk about when they are having concerns, and when they're hearing things that other kids are saying.
And so that engagement concept also goes multiple ways in terms of them feeling comfortable and safe and secure to say, "Hey, something's up." Or, "I'm having this event in my life." And it has nothing to do with school, but we all know that things at home always affect life at school. And so when they're comfortable with being able to share themselves in terms of what they are producing, what they are doing in good times, we're finding they're also a little more comfortable with sharing when there's a concern.
So going from that metric... Now if we want to also look at the other... The technology pure side of the metric, I look at things in terms of how many Google Docs are being made and how many people are engaged, and we're seeing that side of life increase as well. So from both the social-emotional side in terms of you have a safe place to be to talk to share. And, "Hey, you actually are doing a whole lot more and generating and working together." So we're seeing it from everyone.
Now, not everyone. We still have a good percent of kids that are not quite as comfortable as they will need to be hopefully in the future. But it's a goal, and it's something we're working towards. And the more examples they see, hopefully the better they feel about it, so.
Shea Darlison (46:54)
Thanks for sharing. I'm curious — do you track that in any way? You said a small percent... I was just curious if there's a metric around that you're watching.
Robert Gulick (47:03)
Not a solid metric but, obviously, through our filtering and monitoring systems, we do track trends in terms of things that are going on and keywords that are being used and different levels of communication that are going on. And then, obviously, each building with their counselors, they're tracking their metrics in terms of engagement. And so it's just been good to see that people are feeling more comfortable about being able to talk. And we'll get alerts from kids at two o'clock in the morning, "Hey, something's going on. I'm hearing this from one of my friends." And so they feel comfortable to actually reach out that way.
So again, the kids, the students, they live in this world of technology. It's just where they were born. And so that's where they're used to communicating. So it's just a matter of them letting them know that, "Hey, we're listening. We're here. We can help."
Monica Myers (48:18)
As a result of COVID and different initiatives that we had going on in district three. And because of it, we've added members that teach a voice to our tech advocacy team, teachers that are highly involved in the use of technology, and they're teacher leaders within their department or within their building. And so from that, they're developing and pushing back out best practices for their colleagues. And from that team offering more student voice and choice. And so we have a maker space at all four of our elementary buildings and our middle school and a newly developed robotics club at our high school, a new gaming club, and we're looking at esports.
So again, to get every student involved in some way, and I'll talk a little bit about school safety. So our district experienced three suicides in a cluster of 13. And in spring of 2018, we were designated by the CDC as a cluster in contagion geographical area. One of our suicides was death by gun on school park. And so since then, the technology that we have used for our safety protocols... Every building has a building safety team in place. We have a district safety team that I am a member of because a lot of that is... What technology are we using to keep kids safe?
So we are part of the Sandy Hook tip line, and we use Securly to monitor student internet searches and their emails. We have purchased face recognition cameras. We never ever want to go through that again. But that also helps us keep a very close watch on that social-emotional, where are kids at... What are they thinking? And that comes through loud and clear in the tip line that our safety director and I monitor 24/7.
What is the key takeaway you’d like our attendees to leave here with?
Shea Darlison (50:21)
Thanks for sharing. That's heartbreaking, but I'm glad to hear that things have improved, and it sounds like you've got a great system in place for managing that going forward. Okay, so we're almost out of time. So just for closing thought, I'm definitely curious if there's one key takeaway that you would like our attendees to leave here with. What would be the most important thing from your perspective? And, Dr. Myers, we can start with you.
Monica Myers (51:07)
That's a tough one. Key takeaway. We've talked about so many wonderful things and initiatives at every level here. I think it's just listen to your community, listen to the needs, prioritize your resources so that you're spending your time and your money, and I mean human resources, where your children need it the most. And that can be technology, because technology can be a game changer. When I think of our Special Ed Director, she's always talking to me about, "You need to have me in the room. You have to talk about adaptive technology." And they sit at the table for the tech advocate team. But really spending your money wisely and your time wisely, and constantly, consistently being an advocate for the children that are at your school.
Robert Gulick (52:08)
Well, the toughest things to do we find is having a clear target. What are you trying to accomplish? We've got a lot of people that love to come to us and say, "Hey, look at this great new product. We have this great new thing." It's like, "Yay, what problem are you solving?" So circling back and saying, "Okay, what do we want to accomplish? What do we want to do?" Because there are so many amazing products out there and so many amazing projects and ways to do things, but making that match between where you're at and where you want to be... You got to know where you want to be before you can figure out how you're going to get there.
So taking the time to plan and then devote the resources. And then sometimes the hardest resource is time, and people just really don't want to give you the time. It's like, "It's got to be done now." It's like, "Wait." So that's one of the things we like to really reinforce, especially in our department. One of the things we're going to have to do, actually, is after we are done with the COVID era is reevaluate all these wonderful things we've added to our list of resources and say, "You know what? One third of them we're not even using." So that's why... What do we want to accomplish? How do we really want to get this done? That's one of the things we'd like to hopefully try to refocus on.
Jason Murray (53:48)
I'm going to reiterate what Dr. Myers and Dr. Bob said, "Listen to your community, listen to your students." And this can be as simple as getting a group of students together. And when you have a student advocate group, grab from all facets. Grab some kids that are really good academically. Grab some students that are good athletically, some that are in different extracurricular activities. Some of your students are in that middle group. Some students that you see in the office for the wrong reason frequently, grab them, put them together in a room, ask them what trends they're seeing, what they'd like to see, where they'd like to see the school go.
We do the same thing with parents. We get a group together, we talk to them. We see... What are your thoughts? What's your vision? What's going on? Just listening to your students and your community, your faculty, your staff, listen. And then once you listen, recognize what they're asking for, and then focus and prioritize that. So you can't do everything that everybody wants. Like Dr. Bob said, "Pick one or two items." If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, and it does take time. So you want to focus your resources.
And like Dr. Meyer said, "This is human capital as well." You have a limited amount of time that you have with your staff. Use them wisely. There's a lot of hidden talents out there. What we've tried to do is catalog all those hidden talents. That's where all of our clubs are coming together. We have certain people that are really interested in this area. Well, did we know that this very quiet faculty member over here is also interested in that? And that's how they became an advisor for a club.
Just understanding your staff, where their talents are, and then pairing them up with the students to benefit the student, and then recognizing students for all the good that they're doing.
Scott Boyer (56:04)
So this is a really hard group to follow if you have to go last. The biggest thing, like everybody said, and everybody touched on it. You need to listen, whether it be to the community, to the staff, to the administration, to the students. We're all here for the same reason. We're trying to get the students engaged and the students to learn the way that they do best. So whether that be through technology or through pencil and paper or through a video or reading a book, it's all about listening to the students and the staff and the community to find out how we can best do that for them.
Shea Darlison (56:43)
For sure. Thanks for sharing. Okay. Thank you all for this amazing panel. I really appreciate it. So we only have a few minutes left, so we'll quickly open it up for Q&A, maybe for the next three minutes, and then we'll wrap up. So one of the questions we got was about using Rise Vision in every classroom and the cost involved with that.
So we've recently launched a new product called The Unlimited License that gives you unlimited display licenses to use in your school and makes it much more affordable to put signage in every classroom. So this is something that Jason and Scott have actually got set up with recently, and I think you're up to almost 30 or more displays right now, so it really brings that cost down for you.
Jason Murray (57:37)
It's definitely worth it, and that's what we have right now. But we have a plan that's going to catapult that into when January starts. So we're prepping in the background right now, so that's going to rise a little bit.
Shea Darlison (57:51)
Awesome. Thanks for sharing. Okay, so I think this is a question for you, Jason and Scott, from the audience. Do you allow teachers to access Rise Vision and create their own displays?
Scott Boyer (58:23)
We have a few teachers that do engage in Rise Vision. We have a few guidance counselors, a few principals, and a few administrators, as well as us. We do a little bit of teaching on it. I've sat down with some secretaries and guidance counselors, different members of the staff, to help them understand the concept of it and how they can best use it. But we do have some teachers that are doing it, yes.
Jason Murray (58:49)
Yeah, the one thing that's important about that, though, is we like to come across with a united front and a united Voice, so we speak as one. So we have the same message. And what I mean by that is we don't send mixed messages where... Which one is right? Is this right? Or is this right? So we do select the teachers. We do select the guidance counselors and the principals who do have access to that, so that we can come across as one united front. And then that just helps with engagement of community members. So we're not sending mixed messages or offending anyone. So yes, we do have a variety of people who have access to it, and we just send one united voice.
Shea Darlison (59:34)
Okay, thanks for sharing. So thank you all for joining this webinar and for the awesome questions. Sorry that we were a little bit pressed for time towards the end here. There was just lots of good discussions to be had. I'm going to just open it up to John from Airtame, just to share a little bit about next steps.
John Farley (01:00:04)
Yeah, certainly. And obviously, thanks to all of our panelists... Really put the spotlight on what all this technology is for, which is supporting the students and supporting the community.
And yes. So for next steps, obviously, you can reach out to us at Airtame.com. Use the contact sales button to get in touch with somebody there, and we can discuss how Airtame and Rise Vision can help you achieve these goals in your school, both for digital signage and for wireless screen sharing in the classroom, and talk about how those things worked together to support your district's goals.
Shea Darlison (01:00:46)
Thanks so much, John. All right. Thank you, everybody for joining us today, and I look forward to seeing you at our next webinar. Hope you have a great rest of your day. See you. Bye.