CSRA Regional Education Service Agency

4683 Augusta Highway SE
Dearing, Georgia 30808
Fax 706-556-8891

April 2017

Professional Learning Courses
Upcoming courses at CSRA RESA

  • May 3 - A Day with the PSC

  • May 4 - Math Instructional Strategies with ETA Hand2Mind Grades K-2
  • May 4 - Math Instructional Strategies with ETA Hand2Mind Grades 3-5
  • May 8 - Teaching Children in Poverty: Harnessing the Power of Changing Brains with Dr. John Almarode Grades K - 5
  • May 9 - Teaching Children in Poverty: Harnessing the Power of Changing Brains with Dr. John Almarode Grades 6 - 12

To register for courses, please click here.

the Teacher's Voice

Embracing Technology

with Mrs. Valerie Roberson
Teacher and
Instructional Coach

Jefferson County High School

ago, as a new teacher, I grew increasingly frustrated with trying to incorporate technology into my classroom; I had tried allowing my 9th grade ELA students to word process their documents or post their responses to blogs, but fifteen years ago these simple goals were Sisyphean tasks. Much like Sisyphus, I would get my technology rock rolling steadily uphill, spending days logging my students in, getting pages formatted, accessing impenetrable, unpredictable websites only to have this proverbial rock come smashing down, pushing me into Hades and dooming my carefully written lesson plans for a few days. Unfortunately, many teachers have had similar experiences when trying to use technology 20 to 30 years ago. Back then, both hardware and software struggled to keep pace with teacher ambition; fortunately, everything has changed. Today’s smartphones, tablets, and Chromebooks provide the hardware to create and access highly engaging content for your students; while GOOGLE classroom, GOOGLE docs, Youtube, Storify and other web-based apps or software tools provide robust, reliable methods of increasing student engagement and cognition.

Currently, I am surrounded by a balmy ocean of technology. All of my students have smartphones; my classroom has a cart of 30 Chromebooks, and my school has reliable wi-fi throughout the building. In essence, I no longer have struggles with hardware, which leaves me with time to figure out how to best use some widely available tools within the GOOGLE platform. One of my most successful strategies is to use GOOGLE classroom and GOOGLE documents for differentiation in my ELA courses. GOOGLE classroom makes it easy to assign different texts or tasks to students based on their identified needs.

Oftentimes, it is difficult to teach students to close read and generate substantive annotations due to the intimidating paper requirements, but with GOOGLE docs, students can easily generate high-level analytical annotations. Additionally, with GOOGLE docs you can embed guided questions within a text and allow the students to answer the questions on their personal copy of the document. In order to promote collaboration and discussion, students can share their documents with group members and use the “comments” function within GOOGLE docs to elaborate on answers or discuss whether the answers are correct. If you have students that get sleepy when they read, this strategy eliminates that issue because it asks the students to engage with the text, instead of reading passively. In addition, struggling students can easily write papers collaboratively or peer edit using the sharing and comments functions of GOOGLE docs.

Another engaging strategy for any content area is visual text reformulations. Recently, my AP Language and Composition students were reading Napoleon’s Buttons: 17 Molecules that Changed History. Their task for “Chapter 7: Isoprene” was to make a commercial that shared what they learned about isoprene and incorporated the rhetorical appeals. As the students complete this task they either email their commercial, as an attachment, or upload their commercial to Youtube. Not only were students engaged, their cognition was enhanced, because they were required to produce and publish a product. I often use brief Youtube clips to preview a lesson or help with context, but I am always blown away by the power of student generated work.

Over the years, my students have done commercials for other units of study, and I have discovered that the old commercials become a way to help current students think more deeply and more creatively about rhetorical techniques and the persuasive power of modern media. To put it plainly, each class tries to “outdo” the previous class. They want their commercial to be viewed by future classes. They want to produce and publish exemplary work. Basically, allowing students to create visual texts empowers them to own their learning and engages them in real world tasks. I know this commercial task might sound highly frustrating from a management perspective, but basically they use their phones to film, and free editing apps to edit and publish the final versions and upload them to Youtube. Of course, the students are in charge of figuring out how to make everything work. They create their own storyboards, they scout their own locations, and cast their classmates and family members for key roles.

, I have embraced another social media platform as a learning tool: Storify. Storify is a social media platform that allows users to generate their own narrative by giving them the tools to embed other websites, videos, and pictures within one document. I like to use both teacher-generated narratives and student-generated narratives. When I generate a Storify as a teacher, I use it to preview,
review, or to help students synthesize information from multiple sources. When I have my students generate a Storify, my expectation is that they will synthesize information from multiple sources to respond to an academic inquiry or prompt. The final step for a student-generated Storify is publication: they upload their work to the Storify website where it is immediately published.

In summation, technology is no longer a painful chore; with careful planning and a willingness to embrace change, technology can transform teaching and learning into the lively, joyful experience that we all envisioned on that very first day of school.

Valerie Roberson is a teacher and instructional coach at Jefferson County High School. She can be reached at robersonv@jefferson.k12.ga.us .

to the
Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition
winners for 2016-2017!

Thank you to all the students who participated and to all the teachers who encouraged and supported their efforts. Thank you to all the school districts for submitting entries.

Math Updates

GCTM Summer Academy

This summer, GCTM is planning presentations that will highlight the effective teaching strategies for the mathematics classroom, include engaging, higher order thinking tasks for each grade-band, and focus on meeting the needs of ALL students.

The cost for this 2-day workshop is $120 for non-members and $90 for GCTM members. They will be hosting academies at four different locations throughout the state. The dates and locations are:

  • June 13 - 14th - Albany High School in Dougherty County
  • June 20 - 21st - Statesboro High School in Bulloch County
  • June 27 - 28th - Allatoona High School in Cobb County
  • July 11- 12th - Morgan County High School in Morgan County

To register, Click here.

E-mail questions to academies@gctm.org

YOU interested
in building a more
student - centered
classroom or helping others in your building?

If so, you might be interested in the options listed below! Learn how to engage students and maximize student learning using a variety of applications and tools. Google's Certification for Educators Level 1 and 2 training provides authentic examples of their applications in the classroom. Or, you may consider applying for the Trainer status which includes Levels 1 and 2 in the steps. For more information about Certified Innovator status, please click the link below.


Microsoft has a recognition program for proficiency or mastery of their applications as well. Click the links below for more information.


Registration Open

Click here for dates and class information.

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Spotlight on Literacy Lessons
Check out all the lesson plans on the
Literacy Library page at
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