(I have had flashes of what is following bounce around in my mind for a while.  It wasn’t until I was tweeting with @gcouros “The Principal of Change” that some order in thinking was achieved…)

As I walk down the hallways of our schools, I can’t help but feel excited and anticipatory of seeing our teachers and then our students coming back walking these same halls.

Then my steps falter just a bit as my mind wanders to what we so very much need to accomplish for the success of our students.  We cannot keep doing what we are doing and expect better results.  There is so much more we need to be doing and we are not.   I have so many ideas rolling around my brain that sometimes I can’t seem to put them into any semblance of order.  All of them are important on any given day, and none should be put aside.

How?  How are we going to do this?  Our students are hungry for new ways to learn, and yet we still plunk textbooks down on their desks, tell them to put away their cell phones, and wow – don’t bring your netbook to class!  We are fighting viewpoints regarding social media and internet that are very negative – hard not to be negative when one is bombarded with news stories, and experiences of others that are very scary if they were to happen to someone we know.   I don’t want to say parents and teachers are afraid of it, some just don’t know the possibilities of what harnessing these tools contain for our students – if our students are taught how to use these tools in an effective, responsible manner!

Sometimes I think we all forget that we have customers that we are serving.  Not just our students, or parents, but whole communities of customers.  And, like in any ‘store’, we need to make sure the customers are satisfied.  But what if they are satisfied with the status quo?  What if they don’t know about all that we have to offer?

Communication – let them know what is going on, what ideas are being considered, gather more information – don’t keep them in the dark!

At our school registration, I was at a table that contained all sorts of information regarding cybersafety, how to talk to your kids about social media, and keeping computers safe from virus issues, etc.  This is the first year we had done anything like that and I had many parents express concern over their child’s use of computers, primarily internet games and social media.  Many spoke about kids uploading photos that would some day come back to haunt them, bullying on the internet, and some mentioned plagiarism.  I would respond about the programs that we were integrating into the classroom for this upcoming school year, and a few became alarmed and worried until I showed them the information that we were going to be teaching their children. The relief on their faces was very evident.

As the day progressed, my mind started churning with what I was seeing from parents – their reactions, concerns and then relief upon being educated.  I realized that many, who hadn’t grown up in the age of computers and internet – although 77% of our families have computers and internet access, didn’t know what was out there, and because of that – they were frightened, and worried about their children.   The fact that the school would be teaching their kids about being safe was a great relief to them.

But to me, that isn’t enough.  I realized that not only do we need to educate the students, but we also need to educate the parents too.  Parents need to follow through with students when they are home, and keep up the teaching of responsible use.  But, how are they to do that if they are not educated in what is out there on the world wide web?  I cannot help but feel very intense about this – communication, educating, and showing parents, guardians, and community members what we are doing is so very important.  Having them all on board supporting the direction we are taking is important.  Having them be involved in achieving our goals for their children is imperative.

What would happen if our district offered our parents the same type of classes that we are making available to our students?  Wouldn’t it be cool to have bi-monthly 2 hour classes for parents/guardians and community members to attend to teach them about the internet, Web 2.0 tools, and social media?  The positive aspects of each and how the business world is utilizing these tools – most of which are free -?

We are very lucky to have the school community we do have here in our district.  The support from parents and community members is amazing, and if we need help in any way, many show up with smiles on their faces. Well, we need help.  We need our students to be ready for their future, not ours.  In order to do this, I believe we must educate the whole community as to the direction we NEED to be headed.  They all need to be on board or we will be sitting here with our chins on our fists being ‘ok’ with the status quo and then wonder why our children aren’t more globally aware.

Most of which are under the headings of “Why” and “How”.

I still have a tremendous amount of information bouncing around in my head, but now there is one plan formulated.  :-)  We are on our way – we will be successful in addressing what we need to do in order for our students to be successful..

We just need to meet with the parents/guardians and get them on board and excited for what is about to be coming their childrens way.  Indeed, it does take a village…

I just finished up a weekend of learning at an EDU unconference.  There were over 70 presenters.  All related in some way, shape, or form to educational technology and reform.

There were 59 countries (yes, countries) represented.

This was all in the internet.

ON.    THE.     INTERNET.

More to follow…. I have to wrap my mind around all that I have learned.  I do have one conclusion – we at BK had better get a move on… we are falling behind.


Deck Chairs

Posted: 07/12/2010 in Sharing

Lucy -  “Life, Charlie Brown, is like a deck chair.”

Charlie – “Like a what?”

Lucy – “Have you ever been on a cruise ship?  Passengers open up those canvas deck chairs so they can sit in the sun. Some people place their chairs facing the rear of the ship so they can see where they have been.  Other people place their chairs facing the front of the ship so they can see where they are going.

On the cruise ship of life, Charlie Brown, what way is your deck chair facing?”

Charlie – “I’ve never been able to get one unfolded.”

__________________________

This school year, our staff will be moving their chairs to the front of the ship.  Some will stay in the back, some will slowly creep up from the middle, but many will run up to the front of the ship, set their chairs down and see what the future will bring!   We are making many changes, upgrading our network, getting some mobile carts for the elementary and the junior/senior high school, going wireless throughout the district, going Google, virtualizing servers and clients (anywhere/anytime access) and …

- dare I say it? –

… opening up the filter for all teachers, and giving them active roles in deciding what is blocked and what isn’t.   This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, but now have a good reason to convince the admins (which isn’t going to be too difficult as we have new ones this year) that we need to do this with the Web 2.0 & Digital Citizenship professional development that is happening .

I also want to create a student technology league (aka Justice League of America ala’ Stan Lee – yes, I am a geek), and have them learn about Web 2.0, be leaders for small tech support issues, and role models for the elementary students – maybe even geek buddies, similar to the reading buddies program we have now.  My mind is spinning, and I just thought of that as I am typing… pretty good idea, need to see where those thoughts take me.

Whew!

This is all in preparation/anticipation, laying the foundation to achieving a 1 to 1 environment for students and teachers.

So, I am both excited and scared to death.

After I take a few deep breaths, I realize that I can be excited, and I don’t have to be scared.  I have found a wonderful PLN via Twitter that is amazing.  John Carver & Shannon Miller from Van Meter, Cari Teske from BCLUW, and Shawn Holloway from Manson North West Webster to name a few (and I stress a few as there are so many more that I could mention).  This connection is so valuable to me that I intend to make sure our staff is very well aware of the advantages of creating and participating in Twitter.  I honestly don’t feel that I would be where I am in the grand scheme of things without my PLN and I feel that our staff would also find it to be very valuable.

So, as I post this, create my PD Wiki, sample blogs, set up the Google Apps area, get the vituralization situated, new network infrastructure…. I realize that I need to grab a blanket and a pillow because I am going to be in this forward facing deck chair for a long time.

 

12 Angry Teachers

Posted: 06/22/2010 in Think This

This is creative… kudos to the teachers in the videos!  I have emailed the creator, but haven’t received a response as to the reason behind these… I am glad he/she shared them with all of us!

Part 1

Part 2

There is no “I” in Team…

Posted: 06/19/2010 in Uncategorized

Thanks to @elemenous (Twitter)
WV_Did_You_Know.wmv http://bit.ly/brsBXB 5 minutes ago via twitterfeed

These numbers are astounding and totally true. Can relate to the percentages of new teachers leaving the field compared to our district. Wow… very good and interesting – but what are we going to do about it? I say we, not because I have a mouse in my pocket, but we as in all of the bloggers, PLC’s, Twitter’s, etc who write about this stuff every day? How can we collectively form a movement to fix that which is broke?

It is obvious that our educational system -design and implementation – needs to be upgraded. Do we need more government or less? It seems to me that we have a lot of very creative people, all of whom have parts of the answer. If we can all get to reading the same book, without government’s political agenda’s, we can get what needs to be done, well… done.

Social Media in Schools ?!?!

Posted: 06/17/2010 in Sharing

Educators are integrating Facebook, Ning, and other sites into K-12 life despite concerns about privacy and behavior

—Illustration by Roy Wieman

Article Tools

At New Milford High School in New Jersey, the school’s official Facebook page keeps its 1,100 fans updated on sports events and academic achievements. Students who traveled to Europe this spring for a tour of Holocaust sites blogged daily about their experiences, and received comments from all over the world. Other students have used the video voice service Skype to talk to their peers in states like Iowa for school projects.

For Principal Eric C. Sheninger, the micro-blogging tool Twitter has become his mainstay for professional development as well as school promotion. Through Twitter contacts, he formed a partnership with a company that donated technology equipment and training to the school, and he linked up with CBS News, which brought national exposure to the high school’s programs.

“I used to be the administrator that blocked every social-media site, and now I’m the biggest champion,” Sheninger says. “I’m just someone who is passionate about engaging students and growing professionally, and I’m using these free tools to do it.”

This would be pretty cool – but a heavy course in digital citizenship would be required for all!  Also – the understanding as to how these networks communicate information.  Mock emergency situations, marketing of a business (financial literacy),  communicating to other countries (culture – social studies) – project based learning…

Read More…

Education Week’s Digital Directions: Social Networking Goes to School

Sorry, I know the title is a little cheeky, but I just couldn’t resist.  Just watched Apollo 13.  ‘nuf explanation?

Today was a good day.  We (BK’s Business Teacher and Teacher Librarian) attended the AEA’s ‘Shift Control” Session – day 1.

This morning we were introduced to National Teacher of the Year who is from Iowa and teaches in Johnson – Sarah Brown Wessling. A very innovative, tech savvy teacher! She presented to us some of the tools she uses in her classroom and gave all of us some very good ideas to work on for ours.

Below is the video from CNN (on YouTube) with President Obama recognizing her with this honor.  Pretty cool!

In the afternoon we attended “Tech Bootcamp” conducted by Castle‘s Nick Sauer facilitating and Dr. Scott McLeod on the sidelines.  It was very difficult for me to contain my excitement when I looked around the room.   You see, I have an inner geek that is just struggling to get out, but not everyone understands.   I compare it to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but in a good way.  Not a good vs. evil, but rather like the light in someone’s eyes when they get it, and the glassy eyed look when they don’t understand my passion for technology.

Anyway, getting back to the room.  While looking around, I saw a diverse group of people as far as age, and tech abilities.  However, each and everyone was totally attuned to Nick and Scott as they introduced all of us to the nuances of how to blog, subscribe to information on our Google Readers, and other techie things including Apple’s iPad.  Scott McLeod has a nifty little pen/highlighter stylus type utensil that works with the iPad that I am hoping to look at closer tomorrow or on Friday.

All of this keeps churning in my head.. how can we excite our teachers back at BK to use these tools?  How can we as a group show them what all of this can be used for and how it will impact instruction and student learning ending up in student success?  How can we get past the ‘this takes so much time’ statements?   It does take time, but once it is done, it will be easier.

Everyone wears so many hats, but in my mind that shouldn’t be an excuse to not do it.  I don’t think that BK can wait or take things too slow.  The National Teacher of the Year, Sarah Brown Wessling’s students are incredible examples of what we as instructors can do to inspire our students!

2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition | NMC.

K-12 Technology Challenges The Journal


Beyond the six technologies identified as significant for the next five years, the report also looked at the challenges facing education institutions and the trends that have emerged in the years since the Horizon Project was launched in 2002.

This year’s report cited five challenges that the authors identified as “critical.” They include:

  1. Inadequate digital media literacy training for teachers;
  2. Out of date learning materials and teaching practices;
  3. Lack of agreement on how education should evolve, despite widespread agreement that change is needed;
  4. A failure of education institutions to adapt to informal education, online education, and home-based learning; and
  5. Lack of support for or acknowledgment of forms of learning that usually occur outside the classroom.

On this last point, the report said: “Beyond the classroom walls, students can take advantage of online resources, explore ideas and practice skills using games and other programs they may have on systems at home, and interact with their extensive–and constantly available–social networks. Within the classroom, learning that incorporates real life experiences like these is not occurring enough and is too often undervalued when it does take place. This challenge is an important one in K-12 schools, because it results in a lack of engagement in learning on the part of students who are seeking some connection between their world, their own lives, and their experience in school.”

OOOO goody! Another Gadget!

Posted: 06/12/2010 in Sharing

What is this?  I stumbled upon this while cruising around Linkedin.

Manifesto

Kno is a digital textbook – and we use the term loosely – that is about to change the way knowledge is transmitted and the way students learn. We started Kno from a tabula rasa – a blank slate – to create a new slate.

First we did our homework about the way students do their homework. We studied the way they study. And we probed them about the best way to re-imagine the analog studying and reading experience in the digital world.

And the result… well, from the moment you take Kno in your hands, you know you’re looking at something totally different. Its two generous panels open like written material has opened for hundreds of years. The experience is reassuringly book-like.

Indeed, because we respect and honor the textbook, Kno is built so the content of 99 percent of all textbooks – including the most complex charts and graphs – fit flawlessly. No material spills beyond the screen, so there’s no awkward scrolling or manipulation required.  Click HERE to read more.

Kno Movie from Kno, Inc. on Vimeo.

Need to think about this a bit. With new Web 2.0 tools, greater leanings toward integration of technology into the classroom, more acceptance of the process of using technology to advance learning, we are basically forced to review our outdated AUP’s.

Some components of the internet that were scary (because we truly didn’t understand them), are evolving into accepted tools utilized in a global economy and community.

Instead of restrictions, we should be talking about responsibility. Character Counts should not only have a physical presence, but a digital one as well….

More on this later.