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JCPS Backpack of Skills


The Vision

As soon as upon a time, a high school senior at a small Kentucky faculty district walked throughout a stage to simply accept a diploma, turned his tassel, and smiled for the digital camera–joyful to have served his high school sentence with passing grades. Comparable occasions led Dr. Carmen Coleman — then Danville’s district superintendent — to ponder the worth of the highschool diploma and the actual world readiness every scholar should carry off the stage with them. Dr. Coleman began her work as a serious change agent in the Okay-12 area by main district employees and educators in the creation of the Danville Diploma.

What’s the Danville Diploma? It is a collection of expertise which might be useful to the scholar and their success, an inventory that turned the inspiration for change in Danville, Kentucky and now in Jefferson County Public Faculties (JCPS) in Louisville. Dr. Coleman introduced her experience to JCPS working alongside JCPS Superintendent, Dr. Marty Pollio,  and district leaders, faculty employees, group, and enterprise leaders to determine the talents which might be most important to scholar success beyond commencement. To that finish, she met with every group and prompted each participant to think about a toddler who’s special in his/her life. Once that youngster was in thoughts for each individual, they have been prompted to determine an important life expertise they need that baby to have when she graduates. Dr. Coleman challenged every group with the query: “If that child comes to school with a backpack that would continue to be carried long after graduation, what do you want us to be sure we put inside?”

Utilizing the results of that query, the listing of Success Skills turned clear: empathy, communication, work ethic, essential considering, collaboration, and perseverance. These Success Skills developed into the five key areas the place college students would digitally gather and mirror on examples of their work, or artifacts. Educators would offer experiences to help the talent areas and students would make the case that they have been prepared for the subsequent step by selecting work samples to make use of as a protection for every talent throughout major transition points — on the end of the 5th, eighth, and 12th grades. To ensure each single JCPS scholar had the power to collect and preserve their work over time, Dr. Coleman and Dr. Pollio realized the Backpack of Success Skills (recognized in our district as The Backpack) had to be digital. This made the Backpack equitable and accessible for all college students.

The Improvement

Next, some key change agents got here on the scene: Dr. Kermit Belcher, CIO, and Heather Warrell, Government Administrator of Digital Innovation, both new arrivals to Jefferson County. Dr. Belcher and Mrs. Warrell have been charged with making the Backpack of Success Skills potential in a technical capacity as well as connecting key school-level groups with coaching and help on the initiative. While on the lookout for a digital system to deal with the backpack, one query turned pivotal, “Do we use a pre-built platform, or do we build our own?”

The choice was made to construct The JCPS Digital Backpack of Success Skills as an extension of the Google Drive platform. This determination was closely influenced by scholar feedback via surveys and discussions that overwhelmingly favored the concept Backpack must be deeply built-in with the Google tools they already use to supply their work. When the choice was made to build, one firm — a trusted Google EDU associate with deep expertise creating custom options on Google’s APIs — stood out above another, Amplified IT.

Our teams began rapidly working via improvement, which meant day by day discussions, to ensure that  Backpack might deploy earlier than the primary day of faculty, which was August 15, 2018. Improvement started in July and Backpack was efficiently deployed to all college students the night time of August 14th. We cheered and encouraged one another by means of the finalization of a late night time deployment. We have been excited concerning the launch of something that may develop into an evolving, respiration, dwelling, lovely thing in our district. 5 main releases and lots of new options later, the development and refinement of The JCPS Digital Backpack of Success Skills continues at the moment based mostly on the suggestions of our college students, academics, and management.

Backpack is built on a backbone of folders maintained by the app in Google Drive, but we encourage utilizing the straightforward and intuitive Backpack consumer interface. The Backpack consumer interface (UI) provides the power for college kids to tag work as artifacts in any or all of the 5 talent areas, mirror on tagged work, create a Showcase — a easy webpage that includes chosen artifacts, reflections, and a Google Slides presentation for use within the Backpack defense — and request Showcase feedback from academics. Academics have the power inside the Backpack UI to see artifact counts for each scholar on their roster, tag scholar work as an artifact, and have interaction in offering Showcase suggestions to the scholar. Backpack is obtainable within the Chrome “waffle,” as well as, in a bookmark quick hyperlink and a shortened URL. Each technique of arrival lands the consumer at the Backpack Homepage. The Backpack Homepage gives navigation to Artifacts, Showcases, a metrics dashboard (distinctive to JCPS and built by our improvement staff), and the Google translate choice.   You’ll be able to see a full walk-through of the current Backpack UI here.

The Implementation

With virtually 101,000 students and roughly 6,500 academics, how did we scale training, messaging, and continuous communication? An skilled at scaling initiatives, Heather Warrell shaped our Digital Innovation workforce to mirror our district construction of 5 zones.  Each zone consists of roughly 25-30 faculties, 2 district-level educational know-how leaders have been assigned to every zone to offer help. Every faculty identified an in-house Backpack management group consisting of their Library Media Specialist, Faculty Know-how Coordinator, and another chosen employees member (sometimes an Educational Coach or Useful resource Instructor). Our zone leaders communicate instantly with the varsity degree teams to offer direct help and share the consistent message with each of our 166 faculties.

Digital Innovation Leaders hosted Backpack Camps, complete with tents and smores, for our newly created faculty degree Backpack teams because the initial kickoff earlier than the start of faculty. Shortly thereafter, faculty visits and Google Classroom trainings for every zone have been scheduled to help digital collaboration and communication. This strategy continues at this time. It really works!

Faculty Backpack groups and faculty leadership work collectively at each faculty to strategize the varsity plan for aiding students with high quality work production and “artifacting.” Faculty groups reach out to the district degree Digital Innovation workforce for help and steerage when wanted. Faculties have created Scholar Backpack Teams the place students work in their own faculties proofreading artifacts, listening to other college students follow their Backpack defenses, and aiding with technical wants.

Our Digital Innovation leaders also started to develop digital help by creating the JCPS Digital Learning Channel on YouTube ( We started posting movies on Backpack and shortly the channel grew to include both stay exhibits and on-demand movies masking a plethora of topics. This cornerstone of the implementation and help strategy for digital learning in our district gives viewers the “power of pause,” good for busy educators and leaders.

The Help

The JCPS Digital Studying Channel is a key help technique for technical help which reaches far and large. It was essential to ensure our centralized technical help teams and faculty degree Backpack teams have been outfitted with a information base of situations. A information base covers how you can help the client (academics and college students) in resolving the difficulty or question.  We created the Digital Backpack FAQ web page accessible to our complete district, which is a Google Doc with an index–a quick information to fixing or helping resolve recognized questions as quick as potential. We see viewing tendencies peak after any new release–proving the significance of a one-stop store for a fast reply.

We labored to know and differentiate between a bug and a break within the ever-evolving platform. We additionally discovered shortly the distinction between issues our Digital Innovation Leaders might handle with coaching and issues that have to be raised to Amplified IT. Operating System (OS) platforms turned another technical help point because the district has a mixture of Windows, Chromebooks, and iPads–How did Backpack behave on every OS, what challenges have been being reported and how have been we going to deal with these? We labored and searched for answers, posting quick fixes or recommendations on our Digital Learning Channel and FAQ.

One potential barrier we have been capable of easily remove was rostering. How we have been going to roster the students to the instructor within the Backpack platform with out the instructor having to manually create the roster (assume Google Classroom)? Amplified IT prompt we introduce Little SIS Sync Agent to JCPS. We worked collectively to arrange the structure as half of the release of Backpack and provisioned Google Lecture rooms (with reside rosters) by way of Little SIS Sync. Amplified IT’s sensible developers built within the potential to import and sync Google Classroom rosters to the Digital Backpack. Genius. Right now we have now over 70,000 Google Lecture rooms provisioned in our district with about 40,000 recurrently accessed Google Lecture rooms by educators and students. Implementing the Little SIS Sync Agent not only removes the rostering barrier it also helps the trouble of digital collaboration.

There are different wealthy educational experiences worthy of capturing Backpack artifacts outdoors of the numerous progressive, project-based studying models and actions designed by classroom academics and curriculum groups at JCPS. These different experiences are supported by way of a number of key district-wide know-how initiatives: digital citizenship, STLP (Scholar Know-how Management Program), Women Who Code, Minecraft, Hour of Code, Aggressive Robotics, Virtual Reality and more. Our Digital Innovation staff tracks evidence of this digital transformation, as well as, supporting Google Classroom, G Suite for Schooling and Backpack adoption. These initiatives goal to increase scholar use of know-how by encouraging them to create, curate, and innovate.

Another great help for digital collaboration and entry to Backpack has been the Digital Promise & Verizon Innovation Learning Faculties rollout. Five of our middle faculties acquired an iPad for every scholar, creating a 1:1 setting. The initiative represents a multi-million greenback investment by Verizon in JCPS to bolster technology-infused curricula for underserved students. As part of the initiative, the faculties also acquired funding to help help a full-time educational coach and professional improvement for all academics and employees, as well as ongoing venture planning and implementation help.

Graphic courtesy of Jefferson County Public Faculties

Finally, our groups continue to collaborate on technical help and gadget help all through the district. Here’s how:

  • Infrastructure and community groups are involved to make sure strong network connectivity in our faculties.

  • Our Service Desk offers technical troubleshooting and distant assistance.

  • Digital Innovation Leaders provide training to colleges and teams.

  • Instructional Know-how groups work to manage units and provide ease of entry.

The Experience

The metrics of change on the back of these know-how initiatives are astonishing. All within this faculty yr:

  • Over 40,000 lively Google Lecture rooms have been created at JCPS  (up from 800 the previous yr)

  • Over 40,000 managed Chromebooks (up from 13,000 the earlier yr)

  • 399 Google Educator Degree 1 Licensed employees

  • Over 800,000 artifacts in scholar Backpacks

  • Over 7 million information shared on our Google area within 6 months

The growth of digital collaboration and begin of a digital transformation at JCPS is obvious. We’re eradicating tech obstacles one scholar, one classroom, one faculty at a time.

As we speak at JCPS, students in grades 5, eight, and 12 are defending their Backpacks. Mother and father, educators, district employees,  and group members get a chance to take a seat on a protection panel and I’ve had the acute pleasure of sitting on protection panels at each grade degree. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve been proud–all inside 5 minutes of hearing concerning the scholar from the scholar. The work they share is all about them as a learner. Some college students share statistics from MAP Testing or GPAs during their defense, others give attention to sharing passion tasks.

W.B. Yeats stated greatest what is occurring at JCPS, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”  The Digital Backpack of Success Skills lights fires, shares scholar passion, and creates lasting tradition inside our learning group–absolutely getting ready our students for the actual world.

Study more about Backpack for Google Drive

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  • Stefanie Mills
    Know-how Specialist/G Suite Admin,
    Jefferson County Public Faculties

  • Concerning the Writer:

    Formerly a campus know-how coordinator, Stefanie Mills is the silent big behind the management of JCPS G Suite area, affected person guru of Little SIS Sync implementation at the scale of 40,000 courses, and delicate wrangler of many stakeholders throughout departments in help of the Digital Backpack.

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