Monday, December 19, 2011

To Blog or not to Blog...Is that the question?

Blogging.  Kind of a hot topic in the world of tech these days.  One that I was not really in tune with until recently.  Bu the question is still on the Blog or not to Blog?  Truthfully, there is only one answer.  Absolutely!

Now we could spend the next few minutes citing research as to the benefits of blogging, where to blog, how to blog, the audience, etc...(and by the way, all good future topics), but the question that teachers need to ask themselves about blogging, is why the heck are they not doing it in their classroom now?

Ask any good teacher about best practices, and inevitably the discussion will include to student self-reflection, connecting to the world and real life experiences, and freedom of expression.  Research needed here?  Blogging incorporates all of these and so much more.

To this Tech coach, trying to get teachers on board with blogging is way more difficult than it needs to be.  If a teacher would like their students to reflect on the aspects of a certain character in a story, or make predictions about what will happen next - have your students blog!  Should the objective be about making a connection to a character as it would apply to their classroom - write a blog!

Not into Language Arts, no worries.  Imagine a science class discussing the scientific method - steps in a process - write a blog.  Form a hypothesis based on data - blog.  Math?  Sure.  Explaining properties and how they work would be an awesome blog.  Wait!  How about a peer read the blog to see if the property is correctly explained - reflected on in another blog!  Really - a blog on a blog?!

One of the best things about teaching social studies was getting kids to somehow begin to form opinions about certain topics, based on some type of fact.  What better place for them to express their opinion than in a blog.  Pick the topics, pick a side, then blog. 

Regardless of the subject, students should be blogging.  Regardless of the age, students should be blogging. (Actually witenessed second graders blogging on last week).  Regardless of the time constraints, students should be blogging.  So why aren't more teachers using this electronic form of journaling?  Might be the boss?

My guess is that teachers are not blogging for one of a few reasons.  First, teachers may feel the need to read and grade all students entries.  Totally not necessary.  Peer editing is a great tool.  Second is equipment.  "It takes too long to log on", "We can never get into the computer lab", "My kids don't know how to type"  Want to guess how a tech coach would repsond to these claims?  Finally, 'We just don't have time"  Really?  Somehow time has to be made.

To Blog or not to Blog...ask the principal.  Seriously, unitl it becomes important from the top, the status quo will remain.  Unitl administrators see the great value in having blogs written by each and every student, it won't gain the weight that it deserves,.  Heck, I even have a gym teacher getting ready to blog with his PE classes!  Why?  Because he sees the worth in having kids take the 5-10 minutes to refelct on why team building is so important.

Stop, take a minute and think as to how you could get your students to blog on a regular basis.  Many websites allow for free blogging and sign up is quick and easy.,, EdModo, Moodle, and even a wiki could be used to blog.  Forget journaling....21st century students BLOG!  Not have enough time, you really don't have time not to get started.

So, to Blog or not to Blog...not even a question.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 the classroom?

Twitter.  Twitter?  Twitter!

The name sounds kind of funny, but the potential is amazing!  If you thought Facebook was all the rage, tapping into the potential that exist with Twitter makes Facebook seem archaic.  So let's take a look at how Twitter might actually be used in the classroom.

For this blog, I actually googled 'Twitter in the classroom'.  In 0.23 seconds, 18,700,000 hits appeared.  Funny how that works.  One article that I found interesting was written by Mark Sample on December 1, 2011.  Mark writes a blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education titled 'Prof Hacker - Tips about teaching, technology, and productivity'.  This particular blog outlined some of his uses for Twitter in his Science Fiction class at the college level.  For example giving a structured Twitter assignment to students while they are watching a video, or reading a particular passage or book.  This got me to thinking how Twitter might actually be used in the high school, maybe even middle school, and dare I say, the elementary classroom?!

Twitter in the classroom.  Granted, there have probably been volumes and volumes of articles, books, and even doctoral dissertations about the topic, but here is one lonely AIC throwing out his take on the application, perhaps even from a sixth grade teacher perspective.  Structured Twitter assignments.  I love it.  Imagine a classroom of middle schoolers engaged in a live Twitter discussion about a book they need to read for an English class.  The discussion is actually taking place over the Holiday break at 7 pm on Christmas night!  Talk about engaged!  I have actually seen the same type of phenomenon happen with my Moodle site.  Kids chatting in a forum about upcoming events they were excited about. 
Picture students in a fifth grade classroom responding in a literature circle about how they can relate to the struggles that a certain character in a book is dealing with.   A Twitter assignment in an AP government class that is a debate on the implementation of a particular policy about to be started.   A ninth grade science class following a scientist working on a certain experiment and then using those Tweets as a source for their research paper.  The possibilities are endless.  As any good educator knows, student engagement is what it's all about.  Get kids involved and the learning is increased dramatically.

I must admit, I have only just started to Tweet, but have found it to be an amazing source of information, collaboration, and at times amusement (Alec Baldwin).  The concept is easy - getting liked minded individuals to chat and share about what they have a passion for.  Simple.  Getting it to actually happen...another story.

Twitter in the classroom.  A novel concept, but not one that I am not sure will actually take off based on a few roadblocks.  One, would be the level playing field that all students may not have the latest IPhone or Droid with an app for Twitter.  However at some point a school device might be made available.  Second, is the filter,  I cannot even access my Twitter account at school for whatever reason, but that's enough fodder for another whole blog! Third, is perhaps the perception that somehow students will be constantly using it for inappropriate reasons during the school day.  In fact, a recent article (December 6, 2011) from eSchool News reports that 1 in 100 students age 10-17 have actually engaged in so called sexting.  A statistic that perhaps disputes the notion that kids are using social media devices for the wrong reasons.

Can these obstacles (and others I have not foreseen) be overcome?  Absolutely.  Will they be solved in a timely manner so students can participate and benefit from Twitter.  Probably not,  Seems like we run scared around here and fret about the idea of something horrific happening, instead of taking the opportunity to teach kids how to use the technology appropriately.  Was that a Blog in a blog?

Finally,. let me just give a shout out to Joe Mazza, principal at Knapp elementary. Joe is a twitter fiend! He Tweets and average - 5-8 times per day about all of the great things that are happening at his school. In addition, he Tweets feverishly about engaging parents using various forms of technology...everything from Twitter to live Home & School meetings. Joe got me into Twitter and I am not sure whether to thank him or not?!

Twitter.  Check it out.  I look forward to following you soon!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are You Smarter Than A First Grader?

     Sound like a game show? Maybe? A play on words? Perhaps? How I am feeling about now? A definite maybe.
     My AIC partner, Scott, and I have been charged with creating tech competencies for kids k-8, but we are starting with k-3 first. So the question is...what can a first grader do with technology? If they can't really read yet, how can they be expected to type? Seriously, what should a seven year old be able to do at the end of first grade with Word, saving, opening files, logging on, etc...
      ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) has some clear standards for students and teachers to obtain through the use of technology. The standards include such things as creativity, collaboration, research, problem solving,  digital citizenship, and tech operations. All great ways to look at integrating technology. Kind of our battle cry in the AIC office...'It's Not About the Technology'.
     I totally buy into the standards, but at what point do kids need to become adept at using programs such as Word, Excel, and other similar programs. It's supposed to be integrated, but for the little guys, how do you integrate without some basic instruction? Classroom teacher responsibility? Tech coaches?   Not really sure who it falls upon.  Lord knows that teachers have enough to do. To take the time to stop and do some log in instruction, formatting a page, how to save, etc...coupled with equipment that is a bit slow on the uptake, and a genuine concern arises. Wait, we haven't even mentioned the variable of those teachers that are comfortable with technology vs. those that are not.
     Think of your child being in the class whose teacher does not use technology or isn't tech savvy? Wouldn't you as a parent have the expectation that your child should have some type of tech education...even in first grade?
      Maybe it's in the expectation?  If we fear that they can't do it, or we are wasting time, or they will just sit there, then nothing will get done.  What if I just go into a first grade classroom, have them open up paint, and let them go to town?  What's the worst that could happen?  At least I have them on the computer!  More than I would guess some fist grade teachers are doing...but that's a whole other blog.
     So, that's the dilemma. What can the little guys do? What can't they do? Who has the responsibility to educate them in all areas of technology. Integration...absolutely. but unless I (we) can figure out some real specific goals for students to achieve, how do we know what to expect them to do??
    Did I say fifth special?

    Please leave a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back to the Stone Age...Really?

     As all good educators do, I subscribe to a newsletter to stay informed of trends, studies, and general education news.  eSchool News hits my e-mail in-box a few times a week.  When I get the chance to read through an article, I find that spending some time reflecting or discussing with my colleagues helps me to form an opinion on a particular topic.  Case in point, this weeks edition made me really stop and think about my role as a tech coach and the kids I interact with each day.

    The idea of back to the stone age comes from Pulitzer Prize nominee and New York Times bestseller Nicholas Carr's, book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brain .  It was the focus of an eSchool News article this week.  In a nutshell, Carr explains that throughout history, man has had to make shifts as to how we process information.  Think about early maps and how man had to shift his thinking of the world around him.  Today, we have an unfathomable amount of information available to us and our mind has begun to shift.  Carr quotes in the article that according to recent studies,  "For an average adult, time devoted to looking at screens per day averaged 8.5 hours, whereas time devoted to reading from pages per day averaged 20 minutes."  Our mind has begun to shift on absorbing and organizing information, and not taking the time to process and evaluate.  

     Although I do not find this hard to believe, I do find my self wanting to jump from e-mail to twitter to facebook to EdModo to e-mail,,,,and the cycle continues.    As a colleague says, 'It's not multi-tasking. it's uni-tasking in micro-seconds'. 

     Carr raises concern that with all the technology to engage students now available, combined with info overload, students are moving away from the ability to develop intuitive thinking and problem solving.  The brain is constantly processing information and not taking the time to fully process.  Amen to that!  Maybe that explains when I get up from my desk to go do something, I can't remember what it was I got up to do!

      In the past two weeks, I've witnessed many students when being introduced to some new technology,(EdModo, Animoto) have little if any patience in waiting for things to load, or actually take the extra 30 seconds to process what they are actually reading on the screen. NO effort at all to problem solve, just a simple raise your hand, and claim 'I don't know what to do', or 'Mine doesn't work'. 

    As an avid follower of this blog, as I know so many of you are, my battle cry now and for the last who knows how many years, was 'Figure It Out For Yourself' I wanted kids to stop and think for a moment as to how they could solve a problem on their own.  Is it quite possible that students today are unable to FIOFY due to the technology that has bombarded them?  Are we teaching kids not to be able to think for themselves?  Come to think of it, why do we require kids to memorize things when all they have to do is 'Google' what information they need from the palm of their hand. 

     A tech coach lamenting the use of technology?  Really?  Well kind of.  As we meet with teachers and begin to discuss and explore new ways to engage students and have them collaborate, the discussion always turns to, 'It's not about the Technology'.  What do you want the kids to do?  Goal?  Objective?  Once clearly defined, then we can match the technology.  The district spends gobs of money for technology.  (not all wisely, in my opinion),  New Ipads, minis, Smartboards, etc...won't make them smarter, or score higher on the PSSA.  It's the teachers who lead, direct, and focus their students on ways to problem solve, think, and be creative.

   Now I don't think that we will regress to Stone Age thinking, although that was probably a much simpler time.  Carr makes some good points.  We do need to use technology more as a tool, rather than a crutch. We need to focus more on getting kids to think about the problem more and not just how quickly my laptop loads or how to change my profile picture. 

  I sure hope that "Figure It Out For Yourself' is not etched in stone.

eSchool News Article - Technology might be returning us to Stone-Age thinking

Monday, October 31, 2011

Drawing a Blank

     Yep.  I've got it, and hopefully I don't have it too bad.  Blog Block.  Not really sure how I came down with it, but hopefully it won't last.  Is there a cure? For my teammates sake, i hope it's not contagious!

     It's not that I have nothing to say, or have not been busy, it's just, well,...uh mm, sometime I feel that if I don't have anything profound to write about, or that I have had some great epiphany, then it's not worth writing about.  So, let's recap the week and see what we can connect to technology.

     Got a twitter account!  Never really found an interest in it, but have been chatting with a lot of people and how it can be used in the classroom.  I actually am following a teacher at one of our middle schools who tweets assignments for his students.  A principal in the district is using it to communicate with parents about things that are happening in his school.  Its actually almost like an addiction with him.  I even follow James VanReimsdyk (JVR to all you Flyers fans)  I have made a few posts, and read what others are doing in the world of tech ed.  It's fun, and I enjoy seeing what others are thinking and doing, but I am not a Twitter fanatic yet.

   Snow. October.  Two words that should really not go together!  Unbelievable that we got up to six inches of slush this past Saturday.  While it looks great, it's too heavy to shovel.  Was nice spending time with Mitch outside making the area walkable.  Add all of the branches that came down with it, and Sunday morning was a blast!  I had been motivated to write this Blog on Sunday, but that darn block just wouldn't ease up.  Was a bit taken aback when I learned that my teammate was in an accident on early Sunday morning.  Thankfully, he is OK, and the car is not too bad.  Kind of puts a little bit of a different perspective on things.

    Watched some second graders use a site called Animoto.  Really cool.  Talk about raising the bar high, this second grade teacher expected her students to research something specific about a city.  write text, save and then upload a file to Animoto, put together a presentation with music, and then publish.  All with what I saw as little instruction other than a few handouts.  Granted there were three teachers in the computer lab, but the beauty of it was how she let the kids work to just figure it out!  They were great!  Yes, a few played the helpless card, but for the vast majority, they only needed a little guidance on how and where to place some files.  The learning that took place was incredible!  I was impressed with how much she expected from her students.  The ability of the teacher to let go of the 'control' factor and not have to do everything for the kids was exemplary.  Ahhh, if only others could let go...

    Speaking of expectations, we as Eagle Fans had a high level of expectation for our 'DREAM'  team this year.  After a dismal start, the Linc was electric last night as our boys put a whippin on those boys from Dallas!  Probably one of the mot entertaining parts was the Dallas fan I sat next too, who was booing Tony Romo all night!  Other than a week off, I'm not really sure what the difference was, but I'll take it!  Did Andy Reid use some type of technology to aid in his 2 for 2 red flag throws!  The game was  an unexpected treat from a good friend who called at the last minute.  Was a late night, but one that makes today well worth it. Thanks Dan!

  Finally, my daughter got a wedding dress. Not sure whether or not the father of the bride is supposed to see it, but from what I hear, she looks amazing in it!

Well, I feel a little bit better, but not sure the 'Blog Block is totally gone.  No research to post, quotes to share, or links to, well, link, but, I hope that you had a great week as well.  How do you cure 'Blog Block'?  Maybe a bologna and cheese on rye?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

High Hopes!

Next time your found, with your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned, so look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your gettin' low
'stead of lettin' go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

     Couldn't have said it better myself.  For those of you that know me, I am a bit of a Sinatra fan.  So in the past few weeks, this song seems to have fit into my life in so many ways! personally, Philly sports-wise, and of course professionally w/ technology integration.

     From a personal viewpoint, I have high hopes for many reasons.  One , with my daughters recent engagement, I have very high hopes that she has found her soul mate and that she have a life full of fun, happiness, and prosperity.  My guess is that this is the hope that all parents have for their kids.  With a son heading off to college next year, I have high hoped for his ability to live on his own, make the right decisions,and choose a career path that will be fun and not a job,  I also have extremely high hopes that I will be able to pay for it all!!!  (Is anyone counting how many times I type 'High Hopes'?)

     Maybe it's has to do with the air, an injection we are given at birth, or the proverbial, "It must be something in the water", but we as Philly Sports fans constantly have high hopes.  None more so than this past baseball season, and the current football schedule.  When hopes are dashed, why is it that we cry, curse, cringe and then collect ourselves to the tune of "We'll' get 'em next year!"  It has to be because we all have 'High Hopes'  It's a gene that we have.  Seems a bit ironic that with the swoon of the Phillies this year, it was s song that the late and great, Harry Kalas made famous!  Would Ryan Howard actually be able to move a rubber tree plant?   Let's Go Flyers!!!

     Of course, we come to technology.  What better way to start my day than with 'High Hopes'.  I truly do have high hopes every day.  I hope that one teacher will realize the potential that exists in each and everyone of their students that when given an opportunity to try something new in technology integration, the kids will rock! They are digital natives and can problem solve technology like it's second nature.   I saw a clip on the news this week where a nine month old, yes a nine month old had been exposed to an Ipad for a few weeks.  Next,the child was playing with a magazine and was videotaped trying to scroll the page and click on pictures!  A nine month old figured it out!!!  If you have a minute or two, check out this 2 year old w/ an Ipad on YouTube...amazing!
     Two year Old w/ Ipad

     I have hope that teachers will begin to let go and let the student becomes the teacher.  I have hope that we can give instructors the confidence that their kids do not need step by step instructions on how to complete a task using technology.  In the brief time spent in this job, I am constantly amazed at the accelerated learning curve that kids have, whether it's excel, movie maker, edmode,...the list goes on and on.  We as teachers have that gene that we want our students to be successful.  We want that bar of expectation to be raised so high.   However, for some reason, they have to learn it from us, or we need to be in control. If I as a teacher am not giving them step by step directions, they will never get it.  Really?  If they are able to figure it out for themselves do we fear becoming obsolete, or that we didn't do our job correctly? Would the learning objective become unmeasurable if we are not fully responsible for the students grasping the concept?.  For whatever the reason, I feel that I need to help teachers let go.  Seriously, what's the worst thing that could happen.  They are not going to break it!

    So keep your hopes high!  Sing the song next time you have a chance.  It's quite a catchy tune. 

    Please post your thoughts.  I'd love to hear what you have as 'High Hopes'

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It was a beautiful thing!

     Every once in a while, a plan comes together, including the technology piece, and it becomes a beautiful thing. Sorry, I am not talking about the new look of this year's Philadelphia Flyers, but a great activity that I participated in at North Penn Sr High School this week. As expected, a few glitches prior to implementation, but this was so refreshing to see the tech pieces fall into place and work flawlessly, and have students be engaged with a true 21st century activity...It was a beautiful thing.
     Here is the scenario....juniors at the high school that did not participate in taking the PSAT test, needed something to participate in while the rest of their classmates took the exam. As a result, I received an invite to participate in the planning of a tech integrated-cyberbullying activity. (My guess is that it was purely coincidental that my wife is the bullying expert in the district.)  The challenge was made to somehow have students be fully engaged in a video and then have the opportunity to respond immediately with their thoughts and feelings about this extremely important topic.
     Long story short, we created a google docs form to accompany a PowerPoint with embedded videos. Of course there were some last minute glitches with the links, but all was ready to go. It was a beautiful thing.  As the students logged on and answered some pre-video questions on cyberbullying, we watched in real time as over 80 students responded to why people are cyberbullied, how they perceive themselves, and others online, and what they can do to today to help stop negative online behavior. Once all students had finished watching the compelling and moving video, and completed the form, a quick PowerPoint was created and then broadcast live on NPTV to all those involved. Dr. Nicole Yetter hosted the event and eloquently discussed the results and some pertinent information that the students had shared in the google docs form. 
     It was quite powerful for the students to see their opinions being shared on TV, moments after it was placed into a form via the Internet.  Ownership?  Yes.  Validation?  Yes,   Life Changing?  Maybe.  One of the questions reported that nearly 1 in 4 have experienced some type of cyberbullying scenario.  As long as it had an impact on one student to either take a stand, feel better about themselves, or change his/her attitude about how they are perceived, then it was so worth it!
It was a beautiful thing.
     When we come together as educators and really stop to think what is best for kids and begin to let go of some of the control that we feel we MUST have, awesome things can happen.  21st century learning and activities aren't that difficult.  We, as educators, know what great instruction looks like.  We have all had the 'goose bump momemts' when things go flawlessly and our goal has been met, and then some.  The tools are all around us, and it is up to us to learn them, embrace them, and use them in an atmosphere that can keep students engaged and begging for more.  This activity was just that.  We gave the students an opportunity to express themselves in a medium that they are comfortable with and use on a daily basis. We met their needs and gained some excellent data.
    As an Academic Integration Coach, I feel it is my responsibility to make this happen with every teacher in the district.  Bring on the goose bumps...It's a beautiful thing.

Thanks for reading.  Let me know about your beautiful moments in education....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gotta do a better job of that...

     This week let's take a break from technology, but somehow I'm sure I will tie it in, and talk about the debacle that is your Philadelphia Eagles. How can what was in the preseason called a 'Dream Team', be on the verge of being 1-4.
     Agreed, I am not a football expert by any imagination, but I feel that I do have some common sense. plus I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. Let''s start at the top with Big Red, Andy Reid. Winningest coach in Eagles history - duly noted. But at what point in one's career, do you begin to lose it without realizing it? Where in the NFL playbook does it say that if you are the boss, arrogance is good call? How many times would you and I still have a job, if upon a review of our work, all we commented was, "I gotta do a better job of that". Really?
     Someone please remind me what Andy's strategy was to promote someone who has a no NFL experience in coaching defenses, to the top spot as a defensive coordinator. Fine, he may know what defenses to plan against an offensive line, but Juan Castillo seems to think that a blitzes are something you get at a fancy brunch! Plus you sign the top defensive back in the league, who can play man on man coverage, and make him play zone d, Really?
     Post game press conferences remind me of...well not really sure what they remind me of, but when listening to how Andy deals with the media is unbelievable. Granted the press can be a bit unforgiving, but these guys that cover the sport do know a thing or two about a thing or two? Do the fans have any say about their team? I would have to guess that the Lansdale Cannoneers 90 lb football team would not call some type of flea-flicker play from the three yard line! So when asked why would you call such a play, and is that a play that is practiced, Andy responds with,'If you came to practice, you would see'. Does that have the tone of arrogance or of someone who is losing it?
     Having taught for 25 years, I have had my share fair of observations. All quite good, if I may say so, but the point is, if my boss, or parent of a student, questioned me on why or how I did certain things and I constantly replied with, 'I gotta do a better job of that', for almost thirteen years, I know I wouldn't be typing this blog...I would be out of a job. And you thought teachers had job security!
     So, what's the tie in with technology? Not really sure, other than that I hope that I NEVER feel that I am the expert on something and become arrogant to think that I have all of the answers. I also hope that I realize what types of technology fit best with the desired outcome, and not go with what I deem as the right one, just because I am the tech guy.  Remember, it's not about the technology!!
     This concluded my rant on Big Red. Will this blog actually accomplish anything...hardly. Sure makes me feel better though, especially after a Game three win in St. Louis by the Phillies. Post a comment. Don't feed into the mentality of making me feel good by not saying anything.


Hope to hear from you!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Phase complete.  Sounds official.  Has perhaps many different tones, and as my wife so eloquently expressed this week, life's about phases.

Professionally and personally, my life seems to be in some type of transition from one phase to another. Professionally, I've entered an exciting phase with the new position of  AIC. (Academic Integration Coach).  A new job that I am really enjoying and feeling better about every day.  Most thanks go to Nicole's support and Scott's patience and guidance.  But I digress...I wonder about technology as well.  Are we able to enter the next phase of technology and meet the needs of our students to be engaged, challenged, and become problem solvers?  Personally, the next phase is one that I greet with excitement and pride.

My kid is a senior!  Makes me feel a bit elderly, but yet this phase in his life, and mine, is and has been quite rewarding.  Watching him grow into such a personable, pleasant, and respectful young man makes me swell with pride.  But the next phase, in his life and mine, is for him to prepare to go of to college and begin his own adventures into the world.  How will I handle that phase when the house becomes a bit quieter?  Was kind of surreal, yet satisfying to high-five each other when the first college app was sent in today.  Phase Complete?  On the flip side, we went to preview a house my daughter and future fiance are looking to purchase.  A great starter home and memories of my first home with her mom came flooding back.  This phase in her life is one of the most exciting and scariest!  Feeling all gown up is a phase that we all have gone through (or hope to go through) and from the parent perspective, we just hope and pray that they are prepared to handle all of the big and little things that life throws at them.  Phase Complete?

Professionally, the new job rocks!  Getting to spend the day working and, for lack of a better word, playing each day with all the toys that we are afforded, is awesome!  Making new friends, and working with seasoned veterans has made this next phase of my career one that I hope will remain until retirement!  Phase complete?

Is technology in a phase?  Are we entering a new segment in the use of technology in the classroom or is education as we know it entering a new phase? According to the International Association for On-Line Learning ( 'Fast Facts About On-Line Learning', many virtual school show annual growth rates between 20 and 45%. The report also details some information from The Sloan Consortium. The overall number of K-12 students taking on-line courses rose almost 47% from the school year 2005-06 to 2007-08 In addition, the US Department of Education in their study of Internet Use By Children in Nursery School and Kindergarten, founds that 67% of children in nursery school and 80% of those in Kindergarten were computer users in 2003!  Lord knows what that percentage would be now!  Phase Complete?  No way.  I am perplexed, amazed, dumbfounded, and to be truthful, ticked off to think that the percentage of classroom teachers that use computers and other technology in their classroom is not even close to what Kindergartners were doing 8 years ago!  Combine this with the staggering increase of on-line schools, we had better be ready for the next phase or will be left with no next phase to complete.

What is it that makes teachers hesitant to enter this next phase?  Time?  Fear of the unknown?  Lack of control of what students are doing?  (this last one gets my vote).

What type of phase are you in?  Professionally, or personally?  Are you greeting it with a smile or with trepidation?  Let me know...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"So...What is it you do?"

"Way to go!  That's Awesome"
"Oh, I'm so happy for you, it's a perfect job for you, You'll be great!"
And then inevitably...
"Oh,,,what is it you do?"

If I've heard it once, I've heard it so many times...a question that I actually began to ponder myself. 
What is it I am supposed to do?!

As an Academic Integration Coach, I see my new role as one that wears many hats.  In no particular order, I see myself as a troubleshooter, conduit, purveyor of knowledge, hand holder and innovator.  I wonder what those hats would actually look like?

The troubleshooter is one that comes with the territory.  For example, with the new printing set-up in the district, many teachers have questions about the selection of a printer, where did they print to, how to set default, etc...  Whether it's a printer, hard drive, software issue, or anywhere in between, I do see part of my task as a person who is able to interact with the staff in a positive answer, and help them with whatever issue they might have, whether it's my job or not.  Team players see the big picture and Coach Yetter is ready to lend a hand,

Conduit.  No, I do not have electricity running through my veins, but I do see myself as one who can direct the great positive energy of ideas from one spot to another.  Too many times, people want to re-invent the wheel.  Let your local AIC share with you many of the exceptional ideas and activities that other fabulous teachers have accomplished around the district.  Granted, the share sites are intended to do that, but the personal touch of one of the AIC's may help to make that'sharing' a bit more productive.

With what, as I sometimes see, little knowledge that I do have in the tech world, there are a few things that I feel comfortable sharing with others and actually enjoy doing.  Teaching a flex class to other teachers on a new and easily integrated tech activity seems to be the perfect description for my job.  We have started a weekly 'Tech Tip Of The Week' to help purvey a liitle bit of knowledge to the world.  The first issue was extremely well received and we look forward to disseminating more knowledge as we go.

One of the reasons that I enjoyed teaching sixth grade so much and not one of the primary grades was that I felt that many of the kids didn't really need to have their hand held...they were big boys and girls. My mantra was 'Figure It Out For Yourself'  My son actually has it as his favorite quote on his Facebook Profile.  I wanted kids to learn that if they just took the time to stop and think what they were trying to accomplish, they could do so much more for themselves. For some strange reason, teachers are no different.  Many digital immigrants(some have not even gotten off the boat) need to have their hand held to attempt, even the what we perceive as simple,  I would like to hang up a "Figure It Out For Yourself' sign, but it's way too early in the game.  Hopefully this part of the job will begin to wane as I help others to look for ways to take more accountability in their tech use and issues.

Innovate - in·no·vate [in-uh-veyt] verb, -vat·ed, -vat·ing. verb (used without object) 1. to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.  
Actually, innovate is one of the key words in the tech department mission statement -
     "Facilitating the innovative use of technology to ensure success for all stakeholders'
So, my job is actually to help make some changes in the way teachers approach their lessons by how they can incorporate technology.  That's the part I love.  Looking at a goal/objective, the method of delivery, and finding some type of technology that would be the perfect fit, and then letting kids go to try and figure it out!That's the fun, challenge and joy of the job!

So there you have it.  What I do. To paraphrase next time someone asks, "What do you do' can I just ask them to subscribe to my blog?
I'm sure that some of these job descriptions will change as time goes by, but for now I need to sign off and look for a hat rack for my office!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Thoughts From The Rookie!

   Wow!  What a ride!  After a truly amazing summer with the trip of a lifetime (more to follow), I find my self in a career change!  The new kid on the block...Academic Integration Coach - Glenn Yetter.  Still seems surreal.  Having found out officially two weeks ago, I'm still not sure it has hit me.
   My first impression of the job is actually quite frightening...I know so little!  I am constantly amazed at the level of knowledge of the technical world by my counterpart, Scott Swindells, and boss...wait, let me think...oh yeah...Kristen Kozloski.  (sorry couldn't help myself-inside joke)  Lord knows what made me think that I actually knew enough to be able to work in an effective manner.  THERE IS SO MUCH TO KNOW!  Not asking for a pity party, but am feeling a bit overwhelmed.

   On the bright side, Scott has been awesome!  Patient, friendly, and the perfect mentor.  I do feel truly fortunate that I share an office with him and hope he knows how thankful I am for his guidance and support.  Kristen and the girls upstairs have been just as supportive.  It's so refreshing to have a boss that actually lets you be to do your job.  I kook forward to many years working in this department!  Finally a special shout out to my wife, Nicole, who has been so supportive through this transition.  Thanks Dr. Yetter!

  Now there is work to be done.  I kind of jumped in the first few days and threw out some ideas on helping those new the SMARTBoard.  Poor folks.  They get this amazing piece of equipment and no idea on how to use it!  This, I might say, could be my saving grace and an asset to the team  That I still have a classroom teachers perspective on how things work and the time and effort that implementing new techy ideas takes.  This, my followers, is something that I hope that I never lose sight of in the months and years to follow.  It is with this perspective that I will use to drive my efforts in helping teachers connect, educate, evaluate and prepare their students for the future.

  This is a huge task, one that I do not take lightly, but I look forward to the challenges ahead.  Each day the light shines brighter and I feel more comfortable in my role.  Things happen for a reason and I know that this is where I should be.
  Thanks for reading the rambling thoughts of the rookie.