Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Technology is not the sugar on our cereal…

In today’s faculty meeting, we watched a short video from YouTube called 3 Steps. If you haven’t seen it I think it is worth taking a look.( The tags mention NECC 2007 and David Warlick so evidently this has been around for a while but I had not seen it) I used it as a lead in to today’s meeting. It address three steps we need to take to prepare the students in the 21st century:

1. Making our classrooms creative spaces Photo by gongus
2. Teaching students to be competitive ( with themselves), to cooperate and collaborate
3. Connecting them with their global peers.

( It is on Teacher tube also in case you can not access You tube)

It was a good review of what we are trying to do and why plus it brought home the idea of changing how our classrooms look and function. The next stop was to consider the role technology plays in education. I told the teachers, “It is not the sugar on our cereal” . Technology is the means to access information learn and connect with others. As professional educators if our job is about information and teaching students how to access and use information then our job is about technology. I believe there is no way around this basic truth. It is not about cool projects it is about teaching and learning because teaching and learning are about information.

So with all of this out in the open today we embarked on something new. Armed only with our standards and a laptop I shared a iGoogle tab with the teachers on which I had preloaded some basic resources and I challenged them to go textbook free. They picked one subject, Science or social Studies and worked together to plan all of Marches lesson only with the resources they had at hand.

The standards helped us to look at the big picture and with the help of their peers everybody was successful. They explored video resource, Google gadgets, you tube, teacher tube etc. The next step is for the teachers in 6th 7th and 8th grade to build an iGoogle tab for their subject area for the students to use !

Today I think we made a big step forward….and kudos to the whole staff who didn’t even flinch! Today technology became a viable source of teaching and learning in a new way for all grade levels , Pre-k to 8!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Doodle4Google- Explore your creative side

Over the weekend I stumbled on this contest and I am posting it here because I think it sounds like fun. Check it out for yourself. It is open to students from K to 12.

Design a Google Doodle and have your artwork viewed by millions on the Google homepage (plus win a
college scholarship, computers for your school and other cool stuff).
Check out
for official rules and ask your teacher for
details on how to enter.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thiwalls, A Colorado conversation, and MeBeam

Learning 2.0 A Colorado Conversation, a one day conference took place today at Arapahoe High School. I listened in to a few of the sessions through ustream and Clarence and I did podcasts for the opening session and participated in a live round table in the afternoon. One of the things that stood out was the fact that this conference was truly about conversation. In the words of the conference organizers… “Education is conversation. Conversation creates change. The future of education does not exist in the isolated world of theory and abstract conference sessions. Instead, it exists in conversations. It exists in creating a robust learning network that is ever-expanding and just-in-time. Learning 2.0 is not the beginning of this conversation. It is merely a stopping point, a time to talk about the visible difference that we all seek.” (You can access a great deal of the material from their wiki so use it to continue the conversation.)

For the afternoon round table we used and interesting little application called mebeam. It was very simple to use and while it worked pretty well for our round table discussion it is probably best suited to conversation where everyone has a headset. It certainly started me thinking about the classroom possibilities for collaborations like our Thinwalls classroom. It would allow groups of students to work together real time with face to face style communication. IM and skype our great but there is also something to be said for seeing each other while you talk. With mebeam you can have several people together in one room. I think this is a tool worth exploring!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I know the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time...But sometimes I forget

Where have I been? This is the season when my administrative role focuses on a broad range of issues that take me away from my day to day work with curriculum. It has also cut into my time for professional reading and when you are not reading it seems that it is much harder to write because you are not engaged with new content and ideas. ( I know that is pretty obvious…but it seems important to articulate this simple truth and to own it)

In the last several days I have begun reading and I also have been engaged in some reflective work as we begin to prepare for next years accreditation. So over the next several days I am going to blog a variety of things that are beginning to percolate to the surface.

Over the last year I have been exposed to a lot of cutting edge ideas. I have been challenged on many levels to provide leadership, support, professional development, and direction to the faculty to ensure that we are pursuing best practice across the curriculum. I have had the opportunity to hear some truly dynamic and motivational speakers including Paula Rutherford and Robert Marzano. I have talked about assessment with Scot Mcleod and I have picked the brains of many who are brighter than I am. Each interaction has left me excited and with a vision for what we can do and where we can go in ensuring that we provide an excellent education. But the real task is to translate the ideas and the head knowledge into practice.

A key to learning, a key to professional development, is to find a way to break the work down into “bite size” tasks. As an instructional leader who gets very excited about the possibilities the most challenging thing I need to do it is promote and encourage change and growth without overwhelming the faculty. Compassion and fear of overburdening already busy teachers however can paralyze our growth and so today I hit on an idea that I think will work. Daily 5 minute tasks that keep us moving forward seem relatively painless and which over the course of several days will yield real accomplishments.

With the second semester just beginning it is time to review our curricular standards to take stalk of student mastery and of what standards we have covered. We need to complete curriculum maps for second semester but that always sounds like a daunting task to teachers who only have two prep periods per week. Math is our focus subject this year so one page a day I am distributing standards work sheets to mark mastery level of the benchmarks taught. By next week we will be looking at a completed standards worksheet and be ready to plan for the rest of the year.