The Genius Bar Goes to School: aka/ RJK iHelp Cafe

rjkihelpCreating Student and Teacher Technology Leaders

The Basics

In our school we thrive to create a school culture that will foster good citizenship, respect, and responsibility.  We actively try to engage students in their learning and promote lifelong learners.  Our goal is to create an environment to share, help and learn from each other.  By using the model from the Apple “Genius Bar®” we can leverage teachers’ and students’ interest in technology to create a support system for our 1:1 iPad Initiative at RJK Middle School.  With training and a commitment to service, we can create a school culture of collaborative support and high expectations for technology integration.

This document is written and intended as a live document to show our process of implementing a teacher and student-led Genius Bar-style program at RJK Middle School, Monticello, NY.

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What is a “Genius Bar” and why is a good model to follow?

The Genius bar is a place in an Apple Store where customers can go with a problem, ask questions, and get help. This is a great model of informal, friendly support. Having a help desk in our school gestures that we don’t know everything and getting help with technology is part of our day. We have created a hub in the lobby of our school building to make it accessible to all.

Many “tech support” issues are simply both students and staff who need a reminder about how things work or need a question answered. Providing a service like a Genius Bar will aid in helping each other and building a school culture around service support. At the same time empowering students and teachers to show what they know.

Finally, having a Genius Bar creates leadership opportunities.  Students will learn technical and people skills that are valuable and empowering through providing a service to their school community.

Who should be Geniuses?

Our next step is to establish procedures for who should be Geniuses. This is not just for gifted and techies but for a wide variety of students and teachers open and willing to give time. Stay tune for more to come.


Tech is shifting faster than teacher training can keep up!

Tech is ever-changing so how do we focus and plan.  This article offers some great strategies for teachers to consider when integrating tech.  It uses the SAMR, TPACK and simple tech tools as guidelines.

Three Tips for Managing a Classroom with Devices

Most interesting to me was the restructuring of the classroom. I hope school districts begin to look at that as a possibility. Take a look at the video.

Indiana Jen

This is reblogged from my post at Daily Genius.

When adopting technology in the classroom, one of the key concerns for educators is classroom management. Often, they believe that with devices come three options:

  1. Ban devices outright (Good luck!)
  2. Lock them down
  3. Open your classroom up to the Wild Wild West!

However, I have found that many traditional methods of classroom management readily translate to a technologically rich curriculum – with some modification.


Most of us teach in “traditionally” structured classrooms – the teacher is in front and the students sit in rows looking at the teacher. However, this is a poor setup when students are using devices. With screens faced away, it’s easy for students to give into temptation and get off task. After all, the teacher can’t see what they are doing.

Moving away from a teacher-centered learning space and building on a student-centered…

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2013 Best Websites for Rediscovering Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning is certainly changing at a rapid pace.  No longer is the teacher the only place to get information.  Students today have instant access to multiple resources at the tip of their fingers (literally).  Here is a great website that put together a list of the best free web-based sites and tips for integrating them into the common core with students.

Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2013

Hour of Code in Elementary

Angry Birds

Angry Birds

When people think about computer science, they imagine people with pocket protectors and thick glasses who code all night. -Marissa Mayer
The week of December 9th was the ‘Hour of Code’ week. Students from all over the world are encouraged to learn computer code through online tutorials. Many influential people like President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates,, and Chris Bosh support the challenge in an effort to create interest in computer science for students in the U.S. Computer programming jobs are growing in our future and as of now there is only 2.4% of students graduating with a computer science degree. Computer science develops students computing skills, critical thinking and strategic planning. It is not just about using a computer it is about creating technology. It is absolutely a 21st century skill.

A few fourth and fifth grade classes at Monticello Central School are partnering with for the Hour of Code. Our task was to complete game-like exercises, which borrow graphics from Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies, student use a visual interface to drag-and-drop commands that move a character from one point to another. They’re guided by accompanying videos from Chris Bosh, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg that explain concepts like repeat loops and if-then statements. Our students were immediately engaged. Their conversations were analytical and full of strategy as well as a willingness to help each other. Even though some reached the level of frustration they didn’t want to stop. What surprised me most was when students wanted to do over the same puzzles to use less lines of code.

Why code? I say, Why not code. If learning a new language is best to learn when young why not learn a computer program language.

The goal of is that by 2020, computer science will be recognized and offered as part of the math and science curriculum in every school.