Margaret Kostal, Keyboarding and Technology Teacher
Monelison Middle School
Madison Heights, Va 24572
Hi! I teach Keyboarding and Computer Applications at Monelison Middle School in Madison Heights, Va. I attended the Ed Tech Academy this summer, and realized that many school divisions are way ahead of us in terms of technology! I am going to pursue NETS*T certification this year, as well as getting a morning news show up and running with our students. After seeing Visual Communicator demonstrated, I was able to convince our principal to let us get a site license, so we are very excited about this new development. We are also in the process of scheduling an E-Mission with NASA for selected 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, also as a result of Ed Tech demonstrations.
I have two children, who were my motivation for getting involved with technology. One is a junior at Virginia Tech, and one is a senior in high school. My husband, who is a technology wizard, is the Mill Shop Manager for Taylor Brothers in Lynchburg, Va. He uses a combined CAD/CAM application with a router to fashion custom mill work.
Posted at Sep 27/2006 09:14PM:
Rich Ingram: Hi Margaret - I really appreciate your willingness to critique and compliment the work of others.
Posted at Sep 27/2006 10:17PM:
Margaret Kostal: For my summer professional development, I attended a Smartboard training, downloaded the notebook software on my computer, and created an order of operations lesson for the math teacher next door to me. The students loved it! You have to realize that we only have two Smartboards in our building, so the students are getting something new. I also succeeded in getting our school to purchase 2 copies of Visual Communicator Studio to begin live morning broadcasts by our students. I tried JITT with my summer school reading/lang. arts students--they wrote to me when they had questions or problems with the novel we were reading--they liked the idea very much! We are also scheduling an E-mission for this school year with about 40 gifted students--we wanted to start small and see how it would work. I have done my self-assessment and have begun submitting artifacts and reflections for I A & B of the NETS*T standards. I am very excited about using what I learned from all of the fantastic people that attended the academy! I really like this method of keeping in touch! PS--I hope to have a Visual Communicator presentation ready for our Staff Development Day in November--all Amherst County teachers who attend the Content Academy have to present! Wish me luck!
Posted at Sep 27/2006 11:43PM:
cindy bridges: Margaret - Way to go. You are really bringing what we learned at the content academy back to your buiding. What initiative and hard work!
Posted at Sep 28/2006 01:37PM:
Goldy Purcell:Hi Margaret. We met at JMU this summer. Sounds like you have taken the ball (technology) and are running with it now for Amherst County. You go girl. Good luck to all the Academy teachers when you present. You will be great!
Posted at Sep 28/2006 03:50PM:
Amy Hartwell: Hi Margaret! I know you are having a great time getting your E Mission all together. I look forward to reading about how things go!
Posted at Oct 02/2006 11:46AM:
Rich Ingram: Hi Margaret,
I'm enjoying watching your progress on the web via your posts. Thanks.
In terms of specific questions re: grade, see the rubric (link below). Obtaining an Exceeds for the NETS*T progress component requires demonstrating of mastery of four or more rubrics during the course. It looks like you are well on your way to that.
As to your project, I LOVE the idea of using Visual Communicator. Once this is up and running, I would really like to get a few of your vids as samples on our site. I would also like to get a three-minute or so video from you describing the project; this can be done with Visual Communicator as well. Let me know how your project progresses.
Posted at Oct 19/2006 09:43PM:
kostalmm: Hi Rich--I know you haven't heard from me for a while, but all is frustrating in new technology. I finally have Visual Communicator installed on one machine, and we are working on a brand new computer that shuts down every time we try to open it. I really didn't realize how complicated it would be to have the right sound cards, connections, etc. but hopefully I can send you something in the next week.
Posted at Oct 28/2006 10:35AM:
Well, we finally have a video using Visual Communicator. It's a little rough, and I will need to edit it and retape the students, but I have a basic template for our morning newscasts. It took me a little while to figure out the timing--you ignore the teleprompter and watch the timer to insert the action trays. Pretty simple, once my seventeen year old daughter looked at it and told me what was wrong within four minutes!! The students are loving it--we have rehearsed for 4 afternoons and they are really getting a kick out of being on camera. We should be up live within a week or so--the techs just have to get us connected now to the Channel 1 system.
Posted at Oct 28/2006 10:52AM:
Margaret Kostal: For my October professional development, I have attended a 2 hour digital storytelling workshop and a 2 hour workshop using Excel to create review content in the classroom. We have also had another Smartboard training at our school. For the rest of this month, I have been working with Visual Communicator and getting live news up and running at our school. We start training our kids for their e-mission this week--classes are 30 minutes per day, three days per week until we are ready to book our mission. Another teacher at our school is getting ready to start with legos, so we are really trying to incorporate ideas from the Content Academy!
Posted at Nov 08/2006 12:55PM:
Marie Pearson: Hi Margaret, Congratulations on getting your Visual Communicator up and running! Do you have upper grade students working on this or is it open for all of the students? It looks like the Amherst County teachers who attended the Academy are really integrating some of the programs we learned about while we were there. The e-mission and legos will be real exciting for the students. Good for you!! Looking forward to hearing about how these activities go.
Posted at Nov 12/2006 05:18PM:
Margaret Kostal:Well, our first newscast is done (not Live yet) but enough to present for our Staff Development day. Visual Communicator was a real hit, because it is a cost effective way of presenting a newscast that looks very professional. Now I have to figure out how to send it to this website. For my November professional development activities to date, I attended the Teacher Training Institute in Roanoke for Friday night and Saturday, and did podcasts with our very own experts, Meg and Ferri! They did a great job. It was the best training institute I have attended, with student response systems (clickers), podcasting, blogging, Google Earth, etc. E-missions is at T-minus two weeks, and the teams are really getting into it. I am also working with a group of students doing the National Geographic Geography Bee, and we are using Google Earth for that--very cool. In response to your question, Marie, I have SCA students working on the newscasts, but our principal controls the script. I'm working on it to make it a little more exciting. We'll see...
Posted at Nov 14/2006 09:28AM:
Rich Ingram: Margaret - Here's the FTP client that we use at JMU (PC). Let me know if you need help configuring it. Good luck!
Posted at Nov 14/2006 08:42PM:
Margaret Kostal:Rich--If you could give me any instructions on how to use the above, I would really appreciate it. I think I select binary--can I drag & drop?
Posted at Nov 15/2006 01:20PM:
cbridges: I think it is spiffy that you have taken Visual Communicator back to your school! That is next on my agenda to ask my administrator. (Well - after new monitors for my classroom!) What student response system training did you attend? Was it Qwizdom? That's what I use and I love it. Great idea using Google Earth to train for the Geography Bee! Keep up all the hard work!
Posted at Nov 15/2006 11:32PM:
Marie Pearson: Congratulations on getting your first newscast done! I'm sure it will be a hit on your Staff Development day. I went to the TTI in Roanoke last fall and learned a lot, but it sounds like I missed a good one this fall. Will you be going to the ETL Conference in Roanoke the end of November? Good luck getting E-missions "off the ground."
Posted at Nov 30/2006 07:02PM:
Margaret Kostal: I think that I was able to upload our latest video to you today, Rich. It took quite a while--almost 45 minutes, but the message said "Transfer complete." Hope this is the case. I sent you two other videos and a template that I use for our newscasts. For ongoing fall professional development, I have created and I maintain a total school database to track student progress on nine weeks assessments and SOL tests. Every student in our building is included, and all test scores for all four core subjects are entered. Also in the database are demographics--race, free and reduced lunch,gifted, special ed, etc. When all scores are in for the nine weeks, I analyze the data and chart it so that the faculty can see where weak points are and whether or not we are closing the achievement gap. This is quite time consuming, but hopefully helpful to teachers and students. I keep all of the info on a flash drive, so confidentiality is maintained, and the charts only show groups--black, white, Asian, male female, etc. We are scheduled for our e-mission on January 16, from 9-11. The kids are working hard to learn how to do all the calculations. I will have to e-mail Steve Purcell to let him know about this--he might be excited that we are using what he taught us. Cindy--the response system we saw was Interwrite. I see that our stellar Pod Person is busy creating more games--maybe he can market one of them--you go, Ryan!!
Posted at Dec 01/2006 02:07PM:
Helen Partlow: Sounds like it's all finally come together, Margaret. Visual Communicator offers such possibilities for student creativity. It's so rewarding to watch them absorb new technology and take it to another whole level...students continue to amaze me; I love it!
Posted at Dec 05/2006 01:11PM:
cbridges:Hey Margaret! We are using webcams to assist teachers in teaching content. The head of our Math, Science, Technology department wants to use them so experienced teachers can model good lessons for the classes of new teachers. It is not being well received. I am very excited about your project - it sounds like you have put in a lot of hard work in the past few months to make it happen. Way to go! Let me know how your e-mission works out. Also impressive is your database tracking system for student achievement. I am sure that it is quite useful for teachers and students. We use Test for Higher Standards system for that - a subscription service. I couldn't imagine developing one from scratch! Cool beans!!!!
Posted at Dec 11/2006 10:04AM:
Margaret kostal: For my project, I got a site license for Visual Communicator, learned how to use the software, taughtstudents how to use the software, and then helped them produce a live newscast at Monelison for the first time.
Posted at Feb 05/2007 09:29PM:
Michelle Childress: Hi Margaret! Thanks for the kind comments on my page. I'm working hard to finish my NETS-T standards and get everything reviewed in the next few weeks. I'm enjoying reading about your use of Visual Communicator. It sounds like you could teach all of us a few things. :)