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Big Deal Book, February 16, 2015

VSTE partners with Big Deal Media to bring you the best in online resources, grant and competition opportunities and more. In this edition, you can Cite Social Media, See a Sea of Change, Develop Media Literacy & More.


Here are just a few highlights from this edition. Click the link below to find lots more:
PBS KIDS has announced its annual PBS KIDS Writers Contest designed to promote the advancement of children's literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. Open to children in kindergarten through grade 3, the contest encourages creative thinking and storytelling, while building literacy skills through the creation and illustration of original stories. To enter, children can submit stories to their local stations, and local winners will then be entered into the national contest.
The 2015 Academy Awards are just around the corner (February 22), and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS), in cooperation with Young Minds Inspired, has produced a series of Teacher's Guides that explore the art and science of motion pictures. The free Teacher's Guides address Animation, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costumes and Makeup, Documentaries, Film Editing, Media Literacy, Screenwriting, Sound and Music, and Visual Effects.
On February 24, 2015, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. (EST), the GetEdFunding community on will host a free webinar, "Writing a Winning Grant Application," sponsored by CDW*G. In this webinar, participants will learn what is involved in writing grant applications, who should be writing applications, where to find out about available grant opportunities and more. The presenter, a school library media specialist, will share her journey from beginning grant writer to chairperson of her school's grant committee.
If you're not reading the Big Deal Book, you don't know what you're missing!
February 16, 2015 Edition (Opens in a new tab)

2014 VSTE Award Winners

Each year, VSTE recognizes exemplary educators through several different awards.  We are proud to announce this year’s recipients who will be recognized at the Annual Educational Technology Conference.

nemerovThe 2014 VSTE Teacher of the Year is Daniel Nemerow, a math and special education teacher at Patriot High School (Prince William County Schools).) In his 11 years of teaching, Daniel has proven to be an exemplary model for the seamless implementation of emerging technologies in the classroom. His singular focus is always on creating the best possible 21st century learning environment for his students. He regularly inspires his fellow educators to reach beyond their comfort level to implement technology in their classrooms. Congratulations, Daniel!

copenhaverThe 2014 VSTE Leader of the Year is Janet Copenhaver, Director of Technology at Henry County Public Schools. Janet has worked tirelessly to both network and upgrade networking in all facilities of our school division. Her leadership in implementing a 1:1 mobile device initiative for students in grade 3-8 has earned Henry County the privilege of hosting a plethora of visits from districts around the country seeking to emulate the successful integration of technology into daily learning that exists in Henry County Public Schools. A large part of each day is occupied by classroom visits as she works with students and staff to maximize the way they use technology for learning and student achievement. Congratulations, Janet!

coffmanThe 2014 VSTE Innovative Educator of the Year is Dr. Teresa Coffman, Professor of Education, University of Mary Washington. Dr. Coffman is working to pilot Google Glass in the College of Education at the University of Mary Washingon. The use of wearable technologies is relatively new and she is at the vanguard of its immersion into education and society at large. Dr. Coffman is also responsible for piloting “Teacher Spot” an online Community of Practice for teachers in their degree program at the University. It also serves as a Learning Community for practicing teachers following graduation. She is viewed as an expert on instructional technology and the use of inquiry learning, both within the University and the larger global educational community. Congratulations, Teresa!

2013 VSTE Award Winners

Each year, VSTE recognizes exemplary educators through several different awards.  We are proud to announce this year’s recipients who will be recognized at the Annual Educational Technology Conference.

phillipsThe 2013 VSTE Teacher of the Year is Wendy Phillips, a literacy specialist at Belview Elementary School (Montgomery County Schools) who also serves as an adjunct professor in literacy education at Radford University. Wendy has been the recipient of many grants, most recently securing the iRead grant from the Community Foundation of the New River Valley which awarded her iPads and iPods to integrate into her teaching and build on her strong understanding of technology and how this mobile technology could be leveraged to enhance learning in and out of the classroom. Check out her iRead with iPads blog at! Congratulations, Wendy!

pierceThe 2013 VSTE Leader of the Year is Richard Pierce, Associate Professor at Shenandoah University. Dr. Pierce is an active member of VSTE, ISTE, Association for the Advancement for Computing in Education, Society for Applied Learning Technology, Texas Educational Computer Association, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, and EDUCAUSE. Richard’s practice of online content, open resources, online assessments and pedagogy has been adopted as a model by the Frederick County Schools for their gifted and talented program. Be sure to check more on those efforts at his presentation at the VSTE conference in December!  His technology planning and design model has been adopted by the larger Shenandoah University campus for all multi-site, distance education programs including Pharmacy, Nursing, Physician’s Assistant, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. Congratulations, Richard!

berryThe 2013 VSTE Innovative Educator of the Year is William Berry, an ITRT at Moody Middle School (Henrico County). William’s passion is excellent instruction and makes it his mission to improve instruction for his teachers ad learning for his students by introduction innovative uses of blogs, Twitter, and RSS feeds. He has established a culture of innovative thinking and teaching at his school and throughout the division. William’s newest project is a blog of multimedia-rich resources containing high-level questions, lesson starters, and chunks of content in digestible pieces. Check out this great resource here, Congratulations, William!

2012 VSTE Award Winners

Each year, VSTE recognizes exemplary educators through several different awards.  We are proud to announce this year’s recipients who will be recognized at the Annual Educational Technology Conference.

norene skilesThe 2012 VSTE Teacher of the Year is Norene Skiles, the library media specialist at Windsor Oaks Elementary School in Virginia Beach. Norene is in her 26th of teaching, 23 of those years at Windsor Oaks. Along with being a VSTE member, she is also a STAR Discovery Educator and a member of the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL). “Every class that comes to the library receives a personal lesson taught by Mrs. Skiles and every lesson includes technology integration. From laptop computers to online databases to iPads to iTouches, our students are exposed to the newest technology and online resources through Mrs. Skiles’ lessons and demonstrations.” Congratulations, Norene!

The 2012 VSTE Leader of the Year is Mark Nichols, Special Education Supervisor for Assistive Technology and Individual Education Programs for Loudoun County Public Schools. Mark NicholsMark is an active member of VSTE, the Northern Virginia Assistive Technology Alliance, and Capitol Region Society for Technology in Education (CRSTE). Mark is a leader who makes it a priority to keep abreast of the current trends in all aspects of technology. He understands and navigates the operations of a large school district in order to provide administrators and instructional staff members with contemporary technology skills, advice, and philosophy. Most importantly, through his daily interactions Mark works tirelessly to genuinely improve the quality of education by modeling best practices. Congratulations, Mark!

Monica KisselThe 2012 Innovative Educator of the Year is Monica Kissel, Assistant Principal of Steuart Weller Elementary School in Loudoun County. Monica is a leader in innovation.  She works tirelessly to find new ways to bring excitement and motivation in her school.  Among her projects, Kissel worked with Microsoft to incorporate the Xbox into the special education setting and was featured on Microsoft’s Innovative Educator Blog; she presented a Microsoft Webinar; and was featured in USA Today. Kissel was selected by George Mason University to present at the Educational Leadership Program for future administrators, and was an integral part in the Business Partnership with National Geographic, connecting students to scientists from around the world.  Last but not least, Kissel is a founding member of TEDx Ashburn, an event that brought together leading visionaries and community members, all looking for ways to improve education. Kissel’s influence spans beyond her school walls.  Her expertise is sought out at the district level and she is asked to train peers, consult, and present at conferences about the different ways she uses technology, works with colleagues and brings staff on board new projects.  Her efforts received visibility and press coverage, and her projects are now adopted at the international level. Congratulations, Monica!

2011 VSTE Award Winners

Each year, VSTE recognizes exemplary educators through several different awards.  We are proud to announce this year’s recipients who will be recognized at the Annual Educational Technology Conference.

Congratulations to the VSTE Teacher of the Year, Kristina Peck, a third- year mathematics teacher from Riverbend High School in Spotsylvania County Schools. According to her principal, Dr. Troy Wright, she makes mathematical instruction relevant and engaging to her students and is a leader in the school and the division in the use of technology in education. Ms. Peck incorporates a variety of online resources to improve communication with parents and student-support groups.  Further, she requires her students to construct their own online resources to help process, review, and document their learning. She is active in the profession working with new teachers as well as presenting at local, regional and state conferences.

Congratulations to the VSTE Leader of the Year, Tom Woodward, Assistant Director of Instructional Technology, for Henrico County Public Schools.  Mr. Woodward is described by his colleagues as an inspirational leader with a clear vision of 21st century teaching and learning.  He has been instrumental in putting his vision into practice in Henrico County by working towards ways to clarify, document and assess 21st century skills in the classroom through the development of the Teaching Innovation Progression Chart and providing recognition and support to teachers for their work in creating high quality 21st century lessons through the Henrico21 effort (  Dr. Wendy Krickovic, Education Specialist from Henrico County, shared that these initiatives were “successful because of Tom’s vision to build the capacity of individuals across the district to understand and model the use of effective technology use in the 21st century.”  Mr. Woodward is an active contributor to the profession through writing ( and presenting at local, regional, state, and national conferences.

Congratulations to Dr. Matt Dunleavy, Assistant Professor of Educational Technology,  at Radford Universitywhose groundbreaking work in augmented reality has led to an intellectual property disclosure, a patent submission, and a private commercial spin-off as well as numerous awards and recognitions.  Additionally, he has created a YouTube channel where graduate students taking classes created and uploaded technology tutorial videos for the larger education community, which have been viewed over 390,000 times from nine different countries (, served as Principal Investigator for a National Science Foundation and a Virginia Department of Education grant, developed 18 K-12 iPod touch and iPad apps, which have been downloaded over 110,000 times from seven different countries, and received 2nd and 3rd place awards for both 2009 and 2010 Virginia Mobile Learning Apps Development Challenges.

Congratulations to Making It Happen award winner, Janene Gorham, Director of the Center for Teacher Leadership, Virginia Beach City Public Schools. She has been a dedicated champion of technology in education from her classroom days, through her work as a technology and professional development leader in one of Virginia’s largest school divisions, and through her tireless efforts as a member, Board Director and Chair of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) Board of Directors.  She has been nationally recognized as a National School Board Association’s “20 to Watch” recipient.  She continues to facilitate enhanced professional development models and promote technology in education for teachers all over the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Congratulations to VSTE Hero, Tim Stahmer, Instructional Technology Specialist for Fairfax County Schools.  Mr. Stahmer has been actively involved in VSTE for more than a decade, volunteering his time and effort on projects such as Virginia’s Community of Learning and the VSTELive! webinar series.  He is a renowned presenter whose sessions at the conference are usually standing room only.  A former teacher, Mr. Stahmer now works closely with teachers, administrators, and technology trainers to help them better integrate technology in their classrooms.  A well-known blogger, Tim’s observations on education and technology are regularly read by educational leaders, and he has been included on several lists of “best educational blogs.”

Big Deal Book, February 2, 2015

VSTE partners with Big Deal Media to provide access to quality resources of interest to K-12 educators. From grants to competitions to curriculum resources, this newsletter has something for everyone.

In this edition, you can Spark Creativity, Dance to Math, Read with Astronauts and More. 
Here are just a few highlights from this edition. Click the link below to find lots more:
Free videos from Americans for the Arts are intended to help you get into the conversation about encouraging creativity and ensuring arts education in your community. These videos convey the stories behind the importance of arts education, as told by children whose lives have been positively impacted by the arts. 
Mystery Skype is an educational game that was invented by teachers and is played by two classrooms on Skype. The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by having students ask each other questions.
Students know that 1 + 1 = 2, but do they know that Dot + Line = 6? With Dig-It!'s free Maya Numbers game, students can take their math skills to the next level while learning the ancient Maya's remarkable number system.
If you're not reading the Big Deal Book of Technology Newsletter, you don't know what you're missing!
February 2, 2015 Edition (Opens in a new tab)

VA General Assembly Update

The 2015 Virginia legislative session begins Wednesday, January 14. VSTE is working with the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (VAASCD) to become better advocates for education at the state level.

IMPORTANT UPDATE January 28, 2015

As you know the General Assembly is in session. There seems to be renewed interest in keeping the A-F rating system for schools, even though we expected it to be repealed this year. In order to move forward towards a better accountability system, we really need A-F to be repealed.  There are two versions of bills circulating right now. Both acknowledge that we are working to redesign the accreditation system; one includes a specific repeal of A-F and one does not.

These bills are still in Committee right now; if your legislator is on one of the education committees, now is a very important time to drive this message home. If your legislator is not on one of the committees, it’s still worth it to make a call or send an email, and we will ask you to do so again later when the bill comes before the full House and Senate. When you make your call, reference House Bill 1672 or Senate Bill 727.

Important Points To Make In Your Call:
- the Innovation Committee and the Board of Education agree that the accreditation system should be revised to include additional levels.
- these groups are working now to determine what these levels should be; VASCD, our partner, supports a “ladder-like” system that will not only show the rating of a school, but also trends (progress measures), areas of strength and areas for improvement.
- assigning a single letter grade as a school’s accreditation rating defeats these moves toward a better system before they have even had time to be developed.

There is momentum across Virginia to develop alternative assessments that provide a variety of ways for students to demonstrate what they know and can do. House Bill 1675 provides an option (this would be decided and approved at the division level) for students to earn verified credits under certain circumstances with less than 140 clock hours of instruction or by demonstrating mastery of SOL content and skills using an alternative assessment. This bill grew out of a recommendation of the Innovation Committee, and this morning even a legislator who is a member of that committee expressed concern about letting local divisions substitute alternate assessments for SOLs.  VASCD supports this proposal, which did pass out of Committee this morning after a nail-biter of a debate!  Please ask your House member to support this bill, understanding that the state will have guidelines to ensure the quality of the alternate assessments. Basically, our position is that once students can demonstrate the skills and are solid on the content of a course, they should not be prevented from moving on to more challenging, interesting, or relevant material while they mark time and wait for the test date to arrive. Again, under this legislation this would be a local option, not a requirement.

You can find information about how to contact your legislator on the Advocacy page.