Sunday, October 25, 2009

Moving Forward : 1:1 with Netbooks

Moving Forward : 1:1 with Netbooks

Tenacity and flexibility have been important character traits for us during the roll out of our 1:1 program. Last year in a discussion on 1:1 implementation at EduBloggerCon, just before NECC, someone asked how you know you are ready to move forward. It was an interesting question because those of us who were going 1:1 were in varying places with our infrastructure, teacher tech skills and funding. Though our answer may not have been satisfying the consensus was that it had to do with building a vision and a willingness to be risk takers. We all agreed that there comes a point when you need to move forward and be willing to deal with the messiness that is inherent in change.

We were scheduled to start our 1:1 program on August 26.the first day of school this year. We spent time in the summer working to prepare, discussing a move toward a textbook free environment, and curricular planning. But alas, on August 21 all of our brand new, imaged netbooks were stolen. It has been a rocky road but on Tuesday October 13 all of the 6th, 7th and 8th grade students got their netbooks. It was a happy day! But in all reality the delay has been positive on many levels. Even though we still are in the midst of learning a we go, during those initial 7 weeks we were able to put in place some important protocols and do some introductory work with the students.

As we all know there is head knowledge and then there is application of that knowledge in a real classroom. What looked, well almost easy, last spring required many adjustments when students and teachers walked in the door this fall. For the teachers, even though they had visited other schools and were committed to the vision, the importance of changing teaching /learning became very real. They did not want these netbooks to become expensive paper and pencils. Lessons plans needed to be revisited with a more realistic perspective of what ubiquitous connectivity would mean. Blogs were set-up for these new classes and instruction and discussion of how and why we blog moved forward. Student scribing was explored and begun and the teachers had time to work with Dyknow which we are using for lesson delivery and classroom management. In many ways this buffer time has allowed the teachers to build their confidence and competency in administering a 1:1 program which has helped the deployment go very smoothly. Walking through the rooms the day after we distributed the netbooks students and teachers were moving forward almost seamlessly.

There will still be bumps in the road and lots of “just in time” learning but I am more convinced than ever that there comes a point at which you have to be willing to take the risk even when you do not have all the answers. We already see student engagement increasing in our Junior High and we are looking forward to rolling out a 1:1 program for grades K to 5 over the next 2 to 3 years.

St Elisabeth School serves students from Preschool through 8th grade and is located California. We have a multicultural student body and 69% of the students live at or below the poverty level.. Over the last 18 years, as a teacher and then as principal, I have always been committed to the integration of technology across the curriculum and over the last three years I developed a program of global collaboration for our school.. As an administrator I have made it a priority to build a common vision, helping the staff become risk takers and to invest in the future. Together with the staff we have also done the same for our parent community helping them to embrace the needs of their students in a connected world. As a community we have developed a common vision for the future, which includes a commitment to digital equity and ubiquitous connectivity for our students

Originally written for 1:1 Sig Newsletter)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Going 1:1 Rethinking Learning and Curriculum Resources

As the year winds down the work speeds least at my school. One of the projects we are undertaking is the transitioning to 1:1 with netbooks for our 6th, 7th and 8th grades in the Fall of 2009. It is both an exciting and daunting task. Our school has worked for three years to build a vision for the importance of technology integration, connectedness, global awareness and the skills the students will need for their futures. We are a tuition based school and with 63% of the students living at or below the poverty level and therefore it is not easy for the parents or school to make this a reality but we believe it is a critical component in assuring the students an excellent and relevant education.

In brief we are committed to the idea that students:

Must understand how to function professionally in a digitally connected learning environment and workspace
Must be able to communicate clearly in the global arena
Must be able to find and use information not just memorize a textbook
Must be creative, collaborative, problem solver who use critical thinking to come up with innovative solutions

Among the many tasks this project demands of us over the summer months one is spending time refining our understanding of the paradigm shift in pedagogy that 1:1 requires, and building a set of curriculum resources which take advantage of this change. (We certainly do not want to use new technology simply as an expensive pencil or worksheet). . With the news of California moving toward online textbooks the discussion on the web have increased about textbooks , their relative worth and what the ideal scenario might be for such an online resource..In a live discussion on Friday with a number of people on this topic there were a few principals that resonated with me. In part, what I want for our students is access to primary sources, to multimedia, resources, interactivity, real time discoveries, connectedness with other learners and with experts ( locally and globally), and an opportunity to contribute. I realize that this is a tall order but in my opinion it is also supports authentic learning that will produce life long learners,

Building our set of resources is one of the fun parts of this project and so I freely admit, it is what I work on when everything else is overwhelming. It has lead me down some interesting paths and into a few very promising discoveries. Two of which I want to share with you. The first is Flexbooks which from CK-12. Their mission statement says it all.....
“CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide. Using an open-content, web-based collaborative model termed the “FlexBook,” CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality educational content that will serve both as core text as well as provide an adaptive environment for learning.”

The second resource is entirely different but very interesting because it harness the power of being connectedness. It is the Open Source Teaching Project. This site provides a platform for connections between business professionals and students from Middle School through College. It provides for dynamic interactions, real world connections and the assignments posted so far are al about critical thinking and application of knowledge.

Both sites are worth exploring , both have tremendous potential and both need our involvement to help them grow into the rich and flexible resources our teachers and students need. Exploring what it means to go 1:1 pushes us to consider more fully exactly what it means to be a learner in a connected world and it challenges us as educators to envision, locate and develop the best possible resources for our students.

Barbara Barreda
Cross posted to Leadertalk

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Things worth another look

Things I have read or come across recently which I do not want to loose track of and which are worth another look.

From Digital Voice Awards- an application I had not hear of called MonkeyJam
And the award winning projects

Google Docs Blog Educational Spreadsheets gadgets- word search, flash cards and Word Study

Soon to be released DVD of Presentation Zen - Promising for Fall in-services

Just came across Jalbum another online photo album ( found on Susan Seedro's blog)

And finally 4 blog posts

2 from Scot Mcleod
Top 10 TED talks for educators and top 10 podcasts- So who needs summer books for Professional development ...okay, ok I read to but now I have some listening for those drives ...

An interesting discussion ( so read the comments too) on Jeffs blog about a third grade project, Presentation Zen, and whats behind tech integration

And finally Susan's post that is a transparent discussion of a transformation from static teacher blog pages to a more personalied and interactive presence on the Web.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pondering the Implications of Presentation Zen in Our School

A four day weekend at this point in the school year has become a real chance to gain some rest and perspective, If you have been here before you can see I even had time to change up the site a little. By the way the picture above is from the California Poppy fields in Antelope Valley.

I have finally gotten around to reading Presentation Zen and I am sorry I had not gotten here sooner! It is not just a good book with good ideas, at least for me, it is life changing. I got about half way through the book before I decided to go back and read it again so I could take notes.

Two things that the book has me pondering right now....

A whole new approach to parent meetings- especially budget meetings. What if instead of graphs and figures I used pictures. Pictures that will create an emotional connection for the parents. So while I am talking about needing funds for the arts, or clubs or???? I play a group of pictures showing their students engaged in these activities. Why didn't I think of that! The boring facts and figures can go in a handout for the end of the meeting!

The other thing is a very different question about creativity and process. In the book he talks about stepping away from the computer and sending time planning in an analog fashion. That I know works for me. Even though I feel guilty about it there are times when a notebook and a pen really works for me. The question all of this raised for me has to do with our students. We are going 1;1 next year in grades 6, 7, and 8. Do these students have the same needs to help them be creative? If so how do we build that in? I know in some 1:1 classrooms , especially those with tablets, you see no paper. What about for students using netbooks, what do they need. A yellow pad and portfolio, a portable at their space white board....

What do you think?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sound Bytes from CUE 2009

(Cross posted to LeaderTalk)

Last week I attended the Computer Using Educators ( CUE) Conference in Palm Springs California and so I thought I would post a few of the ideas that caught my attention. It is always good to meet with other educators and discuss the needs of today’s students, best practices and unfolding developments, especially in the area of technology integration.

One of the things I noticed at this year’s conference was a subtle shift in the conversation. Most of the sessions I attended which spoke about technology tools did so from the perspective of the pedagogy and learning application instead of being “how to” sessions focused on learning the tool itself. This is a very important shift because it underscores the concept that the technology needs to be transparent and that the Web 2.0 revolution in education is not about the tool it is about learning. As one presenter stated “technology is the way to achieve the learning goal where the kids live.” This year there was also more discussion of data and research. eg. Robert Marzano presented data on the integration of technology and student test scores, and Hal Davidson spoke about a study from BYU on the use of video/media in Math instruction. While there is still need for more researched based data to support the anecdotal evidence on technology integration and best practice it was nice to see this data included in the presentations.

While there were many take always from the conference there are three that I want to focus on here. First is the book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen , Curtis W. Johnson and , Michael B. Horn . Perhaps you have already heard about or read this book but I encountered it for the first time at the CUE conference and I believe it is an essential read for all administrators. We know change is needed, we know change is coming but this book pushes the envelope and can be the catalyst for some deep thinking and conversation. It also reminds us that the change that is coming will be anything but business as usual.. I have not finished the book yet but I hope there will be future posts and conversations here about its message. One thing is certain the revolution is not about how much technology we can put into our classrooms but it is about how we meet the needs of our students. in addition to this book you may want to take a look at the authors blog of the same name, Disrupting Class, here.

Next, if you have not already done so, take time to review the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE). current draft of the National Technology Standards for Administrators. While I was at CUE I attended a discussion of the draft for these standards and if they are to be effective it is important that we all take time to read them , reflect on our role as technology leaders and offer our ideas and insights to clarify that role.. If you do not have the opportunity to attend a live session to discuss the draft of the standards there is an online survey which you can fill out to share your ideas and reflections ( or you can offer to organize a discussion in your district).

Finally I would like to share a tool that is new to me and which makes the top ten in my list of technology tools for administrators. It has a very easy learning curve and it has made my work easier. Do you have to transfer files between computers? Do you ever use email files or a flash drive to transfer files from home to work, or from you laptop to your desktop Do you email files to a colleague or work collaboratively on documents? If so, take the time to look at Dropbox . It is free, and it automatically syncs all types of files, from spreadsheets and documents to photos or pdf files between computers. It is a very simple download and now all of my documents are on each of my computers and also stored on the internet. Yesterday a colleague wanted a copy of a lengthy document and with one click of a mouse I shared my folder with him through dropbox. I know I sound like a commercial but I can’t resit a free tool that actually makes me more efficient because both time and money are rare commodities in my world.

*PS For those Kindle folks like me there is a Kindle edition available of Disrupting Class

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

8th graders make the cut with High school students- PLEASE VOTE

Okay this is shameless self promotion, but I am a very proud principal! Our 8th grade students entered the Character Counts Video Contest and they have made the finals! Not only did two of the videos make the final cut but because of their age they made the cut in the High School category!

Now we need your the link and please vote

Our videos that made the cut are "The Caring Project" and "Fairness" from St. Elisabeth School

The assignment was to do a short video , no longer than 2 minutes, promoting one or more of the Six Pillars of Character. This was only the second video story our students have made so I want to acknowledge David Jakes skyped into our class earlier this year to teach them how to do Photo Stories! Thanks David, we could not have done it without you!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Which way? Planning for the future....

As I have been writing on twitter we are in the the final stage of preparing for our accreditation visit which will take place in early February. Our self-study book goes to print tomorrow and as I am doing a final edit it occurred to me that it would be interesting to share the four critical areas we have identified as five year goals. In this post I will list the goals and give details for the first one and then over the next week I will post the details for the others.

I would love to hear your thoughts or have you share your own five year plan? What do you hope you school will embrace over the next several years?

Critical Areas of Growth

1. Ubiquitous access to technology ( 1:1 computer initiative for K to 8)

  • to ensure digital equity
  • to provide a vehicle for developing information fluency, digital citizenship, global connections and support creativity and innovation encouraging critical thinking, knowledge application, and effective communication and content creation
  • to build student capacity for creativity and innovation- To support critical thinking, the ability to apply academic knowledge to real life situations, creative problem solving, and the ability to create content and unique applications

2. Developing an awareness, understanding and connection with the natural world and our stewardship of God's creation

3. Formalize academic support for challenge and intensive students with Implementation of archdiocesan STEP and MAP program and on site academic counseling.

4. On going support for enrollment, financial planning and marketing:

  • Restructure the Consultative School Council
  • Implementation and development of strategies from Deanery Pastor/Principal meetings
For critical area # 1 , Ubiquitous access to technology I think it is interesting to note that even thought the idea is near and dear to my heart the request to move in this direction for K to 8 originated directly from the faculty and they choose this as the first priority. The following is directly from our Action plan explaining our rationale and timeline.

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Digital equity*: Based on our school community profile ( with 63% of our students on free or reduced price lunch) we have wish to ensure all of our students will have access to the information, knowledge, skills and tools that will secure a level playing field for them in the future and afford them access to economic opportunities. We are seeking equal opportunities for all of our students regardless of socio-economic status.

Current educational research and the identified skills and knowledge essential for the 21st century, includes the reality that these students will need to be well equipped to be independent learners who can access and evaluate new information and can use this information in creative and innovative ways to make new meaning and solve problems. Analysis of school community profile, student work, test scores and discussions revealed the importance of providing, access, and guided practice to ensure all students can effectively find, validate and apply information in a digitally connected world.

· What Is Digital Equity?
"In simple terms, digital equity means all students have adequate access to information and communications technologies for learning and for preparing for the future-regardless of socioeconomic status, physical disability, language, race, gender, or any other characteristics that have been linked with unequal treatment. Knowing how to use computers, software, and the Internet is simply not enough anymore. To be prepared for today's digital society, all students must have the skills to find, understand, and use information, and, perhaps more importantly, to evaluate that information. In short, they must become people who are able to continually discern, adapt, and learn."

Alignment with SLE's and Mission/Philosophy
Ubiquitous access to technology flows directly from the Philosophy and Mission and is connected to all SLE's and will also further enable global connectedness, global awareness and practical application of moral and ethical use of technology

Timeline and Actions





Spring 2009

Form 1:1 Committee to:
-Provide Parent /Community education
-Provide input and suggestions on equipment options
-Research insurance options

( Work of the committee will carry on through both stages of implementation)

Administrative team ,

Technology Coordinator

1:1 Committee


Identifying potential committee memebrs

Status reports posted on the web site/

Spring 2009

Research infrastructure needs and equipment choices

Technology Coordinator Principal

Vice Principal

May require upgrade of DSL line

Report to 1:1 committee and to faculty and staff

On going-

Hands on professional development for staff

Principal Tech coordinator, Tech Club student trainers and teachers

Webinars, online conference, Professional learning Network, onsite training, Professional conferences

Faculty minutes, observation Professional development list


Initial implementation at Junior High level
- Includes training and support for teachers with monitoring software, classroom management and pedagogy

Principal, Tech coordinator, Tech Club student trainers

Secure monitoring software

Provide finance options for parents

Insurance for student laptops

Reporting to the community

Open house

Calendar of training


Intermediate Academy /Primary Academy
Support for basic literacy and
productivity skills for staff and students

Principal, Tech coordinator, Tech Club student trainers

Webinars, online conference, Professional learning Network, onsite training, Professional conferences

Faculty minutes, observation Professional development list


Monitor and observe
Provides time for Junior High to gain proficiency, for us to measure effectiveness and for the other teachers and parents to observe 1:1 in action.

School community



Reports on web site

2011- 2013

Phase two implementation Grades 5 and below

Follows outline above

Photo by ken mccown