Episode 5: Talkin’ Tech

Mike Wielgus & Adam Geisen host their first “After The Bell Rings Podcast” in Episode 5 as they explore all things technology at Triad.  They discuss their roles as instructional technology coaches, devices that students and teachers use, and introduce two segments that they will highlight in each “techy” episode called “Take Home Tech” & “Techy Teacher Time”.



Instructional Technology Coaches (Full Time this school year)

  • Instructional Coaching movement in the district
    • Like coaching kids (which we both have done), we help the teachers develop skills that will make them more comfortable with the tech in their classrooms
    • We don’t run drills or anything, but we help show teachers all of the cool things you CAN do with the tech, then we show them how to do the things they really want to do.
  • Facilitate the technology portion of the district-wide professional development program including a technology-focused professional development website called #TRIADvances.
  • Design, develop and maintain all district websites.

Devices Seen at Triad

Triad is committed to giving students access to technology as 21st century learning is heavily reliant on technology.

Upgrades and improvements to infrastructure have consistently been made through the years and the district has worked hard to be at the forefront of educational technology.

Most classrooms have teacher stations connected to a projector or Promethean/Smart boards.

Student Devices

  • Pre-K – 2nd Grade – Asus Zenpads & iPads
  • 3rd Grade – 10th Grade – 1:1 with Chromebooks, 6th grade on up – devices go home…
  • 11th-12th Grade – Looking to go 1:1 with Chromebooks in the 18-19 school year.

We are very excited to announce the release of a new, district-wide mobile communications application.  The free mobile app is available for Apple and Android mobile devices and keeps the entire school community connected to the district’s information they need in one convenient location on users’ mobile devices.

The district’s official mobile app from School Messenger enables smartphone and tablet users to keep track of important district information and receive notifications from the district, schools, faculty, and staff, all in real-time via push notification messaging. The mobile app provides users with convenient access to information directly from our newly updated websites like school activities, school event calendars, 6-12 parent portals, lunch menus, district contact information, athletic schedules, and scores.

Download on your mobile device today by searching your App Store on your mobile device for “Triad Comm Unit SD” & select yes to receive push notifications with the latest news & updates from the District.


The District continues to contract with School Messenger for its parent notification system, which enables the District to send bulk emails, automated phone calls and text messages to parents and guardians. The District only uses text messaging in limited circumstances such as emergency situations, school closures/delays, and bus accidents/delays.

You can participate in this free service just by sending a text message of “Y” or “Yes” to our school’s short code number, 68453. You can also opt out of these messages at any time by simply replying to one of our messages with “Stop”. SchoolMessenger is compliant with the Student Privacy Pledge, so you can rest assured that your information is safe and will never be given or sold to anyone.


Our job takes us into classrooms from Pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade and we have an opportunity to see some amazing and innovating lessons in the classroom.  Each show that we host, we’d like to highlight a teacher or staff member that is leading the charge with engaging and innovative technology integration.  Today, we’d like to showcase, SARAH LAZARZ from Triad Middle School.  Mike first met Sarah in 2000 when she was hired to teach 8th grade Language Arts.  She currently teaches 7th grade reading and she recently approached us about “gamifying” part of her classroom.

The idea of gamification in education is a trending topic and will probably be the subject of an entire episode of ATBR but in essence it’s the act of applying game mechanics to the educational setting in order to foster learning.

Why games? The answer is simple. All we have to say is Madden Football or Candy Crush, and you know what we’re talking about. What if game night happened every day at school? The implications are clear from the get go, but turning theory in to practice requires some creativity. Thankfully, there are some clear guidelines to help get the ball rolling (pun intended).

Gamification usually includes elements or mechanics such as:
Narrative or storyline
Immediate feedback
Scaffolded learning with challenges that increase in difficulty
Progress indicators
Social connection
Player control

Sarah reached out to us with an amazing game idea.  She wanted to increase enthusiasm and engagement in her 7th grade reading class and chose to “gamify” that aspect of her class.  Her narrative includes a dystopian world where humanity lives underground in caves/sewer tunnels/catacombs/mines/subway tunnels/underground parking.  Stories are told of people who survived above ground, but these are legends…or are they?

Conflict: the machinery to manufacture food & fresh air are breaking down; people have to find a way to the surface and hope that it is inhabitable for a chance at survival. To do that, people have to read literature from The Time Above to find their way back to the surface and perhaps make contact with those who stayed Above, if they exist.


Bands of humans have been driven underground because of global climatic collapse. Rising oceans, pollution, extreme weather, crop failures, major livestock disease, acid rain, and drought forced people to take refuge in caves, mines, tunnels, subways, and catacombs. Those who made it Underground have survived with few supplies and have adapted what equipment they could to supply them with fresh air. Food and water are scarce. It, too, won’t last forever. Soon, the machinery will stop working. The fate of humankind relies on getting back to The World Above.

Memory of The Time Above has started to grow dim. Older people tell stories about those who stayed Above. These stories are passing into legend. But, you have discovered a written record from The Time Above. You are sure there must be survivors there. Information from these books is the key to getting to the surface and saving humanity.

As you look for books to read, you discover ways to communicate with the surface hidden in the boxes and on the shelves of books. Those Above must know your Band is Underground.

WE THINK THE GOAL IS SIMPLE…To read different book genres, reflect, and report back on the book.

Students are in BANDS based upon their class.  Each time they read a different genre book, they fill out an electronic form which sends information to Mrs. Lazarz.  Students earn food based upon pages read, and light based upon the Lexile Level of the book.  Lexile is the measure of how difficult a text is OR a student’s reading ability level.  As students read and submit evidence back to Mrs. Lazarz, they gain experience points and move closer to reaching the surface.  A leaderboard is housed on a web site where students can see how their participation measures up with their classmates and other classes.  The ultimate goal is to read at least 5 genres, read as many pages as possible, with a Lexile at or above 800.  Doing this will lead students to the surface.  Once at the surface, they must make contact with someone ABOVE.  Doing all of this, we lead them to a video of someone ABOVE with an important message…

OUR INVOLVEMENT…We have worked on getting the back end set up for Sarah…the behind the scenes workflows stuff because as students submit things to her, e-mails with little nuggets of information are automatically emailed back to the student to help them advance in the game.  We’re excited as she is launching her game this week.  We’ll be sure to get a progress report or possibly have her on a show in the future.

Great Work, Sarah!!!

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