Thursday, December 31, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Besides the move we had a day and a half off because of snow. So in other words not a lot of coaching went this week. I spent some time on the phone with the wonderful people from e-instruction. I seem to spend a fair amount of time on the phone them for some reason. My Christmas wish is that someday I can just load a computer with the software from e-instruction and it works perfectly. That's all I want. Not a new car, not all the money in the world, just for the product to work like it is supposed to. That's not too much to ask.
This is going to be a very short post because we are under a deadline for our move to the new administrative building at Jackson Plaza & there is still a lot to pack!
Layne mentioned Wordle.net in an earlier post, but since I have been spending some time trouble-shooting our network issues with it, I thought I'd spotlight it. The picture above is our 6-8th grade Technology Standards and Benchmarks after it has been processed by Wordle. The more often a word is used in a text, the larger it appears. Think of how you can use this in a classroom. I know of one middle school teacher in our district who uses this for her current events in her social studies classes. Students type in the article and they analyze it for main idea, why certain words appear larger, etc.
Check out this slideshow on 43 ways to use Wordle in the classroom.
Now...not to be pessimistic, but our network is having some issues with this. It works fine for me. It works fine in the middle schools. It even works fine on ONE of the computers in an elementary lab...but not the other 26. It says something about our firewall not allowing JAR files, but if this was the case, I assume it wouldn't work for ANYONE. (Mamma always says not to assume anything though). So after trying every possible solution I can think of, I have dumped this into one of our tech's lap. But, give it a try...it is well-worth it!
Friday, December 4, 2009
You are always going to have people who question what you are doing and why. This job is no different. As more and more technology is rolled out, and being talked about, half are excited and half are really questioning why. What is the purpose of this technology? Who is going to make me use it? What's in it for me? I am not being negative, I'm just repeating the questions I always hear. I understand not all people are comfortable with technology, but I wish all would give it a chance before the negativity consumes them.
I received an email the other day from a 2nd grade teacher in our district who has come to really embrace the technology in her classroom. It has truly changed how she goes about her business. The email stated..."I created a class game using the CPS. My students love it! My students don’t even realize these are the same questions from worksheets we have recently done. You should see the smiles and hear the “yes” when their group gets the question right. They are so motivated to help each other and to solve the questions. This is truly awesome!! These are the moments the public, school district members, and other nah sayers should see!
The engagement and learning that is going on in her classroom is amazing. The kids truly do love the technology. I understand being uncomfortable with technology. As a teacher whose job it is to make sure kids are succeeding and growing, I believe it to be a small price to pay to add some amazing tools to your tool box. Eventually you will be as comfortable with the technology as you are with brushing your teeth.
This email really reassures that we are doing the right thing. It's a good feeling to get an email like that from time to time explaining the positive impact that our job and the technology has delivered.I hope that most go in to this venture with an open mind. I am willing to do everything in my power to make sure teachers know how to use the technology and that they are as comfortable as can be.
Ahhhh....Atomic Learning. Have you ever checked it out? I don't know why that didn't occur to me in the first place. I used it in the classroom with my middle school students all the time. It was such a great resource for any software question we had. It was a tool to help students easily teach themselves the specific skill they needed. (No need for a whole-group lesson on how to insert a video into PowerPoint--the students who didn't know how could simply go to Atomic Learning.)
Here's how it works:
1. Go to www.atomiclearning.com
2. If you are using a SCCSD networked computer, it should recognize you. Otherwise you will have to use your AEA credentials to log in.
3. When you click on the Home button you will see a menu of choices. You can choose to find an answer to a tech. question or a particular product.
4. Each product has a tutorial broken into 1-2 minute clips.
So, as I logged into Atomic Learning, I was skeptical as to whether they would actually have any video tutorials on InspireData. But, to my pleasant surprise, 35 mini-clips were available for the watching. And sure enough, my question was answered within two minutes.
I think being able to teach yourself to learn is such a valuable skill that we all want our students to do, but as adults sometimes escapes us. Maybe it is the time constraints or simply the work overload that causes us to place new software programs on the back burner or simply throw our hands up. But, that is the beauty of Atomic Learning--you don't have to sit through a 30 minute video just to get to the part that concerns your issue.
If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.
Monday, November 30, 2009
With my position change this year, I truly am beginning to understand things in a different way. I think it would be great for all teachers at some point in their career to be able to go around to other buildings and see how things are done and truly understand why they are done that way. I have also learned that I have more patience than I ever thought I did.
OK. So I will try to be better about the blog. I promise I will have an update by the end of the week.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
As we approach this Thanksgiving Holiday and break, I thought I'd take some time to share what I am thankful for in our district.
Before I took this position, I really didn't realize the hard work that occurs behind the scenes. I've been able to witness first-hand what all of our techs do to make our classrooms connected yet safe. I am so very thankful we have such talent.
I am thankful for our teachers, especially our risk-takers who think outside of the box and who are so very patient with the frustrations that come along with taking those risks.
I am thankful for our "Laynes" & "Neils" out there with such a great vision for this district. The focus on technology in curriculum is beyond anything I've seen before.
I am thankful for being in this coaching position and for the great working relationship I share with my "co-coaches."
I am thankful for our eager students who so intrinsically embrace what we (adults) consider new and innovative.
I am thankful.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I think one of the biggest challenges facing them is the lack of time. Surgeons don't spend all of their time in surgery; lawyers don't spend all of their time in front of the jury. There's a lot more to teaching than just teaching. It's about collaboration, research, and materials development. There's a lot to teaching today that wasn't part of the job a few years ago. We have to understand that and somehow restructure the day. What we need is for teachers to work eight hours a day: four hours in instructional supervision, four hours in professional planning. Just think what a classroom could be like if every teacher had four hours of planning every day! Just think about the learning that could take place. Isn't that the kind of classroom that our children deserve?
Now I know the answer isn't simple or even something we all can agree upon. But I truly believe that what we are intending to do as a district--the responders, document cameras, projectors, 1 to 1 laptops, technology coaches, etc--can make a dent in that precious lack of time. I totally understand that the prospect of this equipment is exhilarating for some yet intimidating for others. Of course, the student use of technology, information, and learning is our ultimate goal, but if we can demonstrate how this "equipment" can ultimately save a teacher time, I think we will have everyone on board.
This time factor brings up a story I was sharing with Layne earlier. One night, during my first year in my leave of absence as a first grade teacher, my ten year-old son said "Wow, this is the first movie you ever watched with us." (It wasn't, of course) When I protested, he replied, "It's the first movie when you didn't have work on your lap." And, he was right.
Oh...if only I had a set of responders...
The article below was published in 2003, but has gotten recent attention due to California’s digital textbook initiative:
It took almost two years for success stories to start flowing.
Excerpt from article: The laptops have spurred a host of projects that often cut across disciplines and allow students to go more deeply into subjects, in contrast to "mile-wide, inch-deep" instruction. Such projects, says Ship Bright, executive director of the Maine Lakes Conservancy Institute (MLCI), help answer the question: "How do we make these laptops more than a $2,000 pencil?"
What I take from this article is that it takes a huge, long-term commitment of more than a few people to make a project like this successful.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I recall last spring during my interview saying that I believe our district is at the tipping point when it comes to instructional technology, and the majority of my work this past week is the beginning of this "tipping."
If you recall from one of my previous posts that I had a "fire in my belly" about the new direction this district has committed to by requiring technology classes in the middle school, then you will see what a HUGE step this is. I'm a little jealous of the middle school technology teachers, because that was the position I left behind; but to be a direct part of this paradigm switch is the reward. So, my work this week consisted of reviewing our standards, benchmarks, and core indicators and updating them to reflect the 21st Century skills our students need, yet are currently lacking. Then...we had to take these core indicators to create our NCLB 8th grade technology assessment. With some awesome feedback and input from our very talented and knowledgeable middle school tech teachers, we have a nice draft to present in an upcoming meeting.
I was also able to land in a first grade classroom this week. My goal was to see how doable the CPS responders were with the little ones. I built a patterns activity/quiz using CPS for PowerPoint. For a lot of people, PowerPoint is a familiar application, and is kind of a natural starting place. It is a nice feature of CPS. I intentionally created this lesson with only two answers per question (A or B)...just to eliminate some of the confusion. I also set my lesson up to automatically send the answer, rather than having the student have to press"A" and then "send." (BTW...I am not a fan of the design of the new responders, the undo and send buttons can be confusing for some) But I eliminated this concern by bypassing that button.
The first graders did wonderful with this, and the reports that CPS generated provided nice feedback about each student's understanding of patterning. Working with these little ones was another reward for me, but perhaps the biggest reward of the week came when the teacher told me I had renewed her interest in using these devices.
This week was a big win...
Thursday, November 5, 2009
What is so neat about this is that because I have set iGoogle as my home page, my information appears everytime I open my browser...no matter where I am in the world--as long as I have a computer with the Internet, I have all my "stuff." (Yes, I did subscribe to The Sioux City Journal's feed) but I also have Alan November, David Warlick, and ISTE's feeds. So...tonight when I opened my browser, Layne's latest blog about his T&L Conference stared me in the face. I didn't have to go out to the WWW and check to see if anything new was posted to this blog. Time saved...and admittedly I probably wouldn't have searched it out on my own tonight.
Think of what we could do in the classroom with this. Students could filter and direct information on any topic to come straight to them...and from many different sources with different perspectives. Just think of how differently our own network news programs can present an issue; how would the same compare to a more worldly view? Subscribing to these RSS feeds can pull in that information to compare and contrast. And we all know that a lack of information is not an issue in this age. How to sort, organize, evaluate, and validate is, however. Rather than reading/regurgitating information a textbook, students are required to use higher order thinking skills. And it's free!
Another article that so magically appeared on my iGoogle home page was a neat analogy of Differentiated Instruction to how the National Weather Service presents its online info. Check it out:
I heard about several things, but nothing "breakthrough" that I had never seen before. The biggest "buzz" topics, in my opinion were:
- online learning, using moodle/blackboard with the classroom instruction. Cited.org
- 1:1 computing, giving every student netbooks or macbooks to use for school instead of textbooks.
- Google wave. Some people were saying that this is the next facebook. I was able to score myself an invite to wave, so I should be waving by the end of the day :)
- Finally, just using all the tools that are already there in a more effective and efficient way. The two Keynotes were exceptional, Frans Johannsen (book link) and Marc Antonio Torres [website]. Both spoke about being innovative and allowing students to be PRODUCERS of information instead of consumers of information.
Overall, I feel like we are in a very exciting place in Sioux City. The next 3- 4 years, implementing new technology, new buildings and differentiated instruction will prove to create huge learning opportunities for students and for adults!
Awesome Presentation Tool: http://prezi.com/
Amazing Timeline Creation Tool: http://timeglider.com/
Impressive FREE photo editor: http://aviary.com/
Another Free Image editor: http://splashup.com/
Another cool Presentation/tutorial tool: http://voicethread.com/
Easy YOUTUBE downloader:
This is the easiest Youtube converter ever! Now you can convert and embed Youtube videos by simply :1. Typing a word (Kick)Change this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE
To this... http://www.kickyoutube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE2.
Left clicking on a word (Go) Upper right corner.
Right clicking on a word (Download) and it will save that video to your desktop! Sweet!
I also still use Zamzar, because it emails me and I like email. :)
Google Gadget called Motion Chart: [link]
Make Word Clouds from any document or spreadsheet: http://wordle.net/
Animate in videos while you watch them : http://videoant.com/
http://ning.com/ This is an amazing networking tool and we just conducted an online meeting through the chat portion. Wasn't ideal, but it worked.
Google Voice and Google Wave - look these up, they are cool!!
Google Books is an amazing tool that is just going to get better: http://books.google.com/books
Okay, I better quit now. Gotta save some stuff for future posts!
Friday, October 30, 2009
I'm not advocating that teachers create a static page, because that is exactly why we had to change our website format. I suggested to some of our very beginning website creators that they just maintain the "main" page for a while before hyperlinking other pages. While long, scrolling pages are not desirable, using just one page for information is a good first step.
I'd say the most confusing and frustrating thing our teachers are facing with this website creation is the fact that although the web-editing software looks like a word processor, it is still an html creater...which sometimes takes on a life of its own. The best solution to this is to create an "invisible table"--a table with the border set at zero--that way you do have some control of how your page will appear.
Speaking of confusing and frustrating...CPS--student paced--responders--WHS...not even going to get into it now because it has been blogged about before, but we need to have some serious conversations about this. This CANNOT happen when we roll this out, or we will have people shut down & turn away.
This week was a very challenging week. So much going on and so little time. On Monday I went to Nodland and explained the new websites to their teachers. It was fun and challenging at the same time. Only one of me, but many teachers at different levels so it was hard to keep on track. Eventually I just threw the script and plan away and I ran around like a chicken with their head cut off. :) It will work out. It is a long process and we will get there, we need to be patient and work within the boundaries of what the website actually allows us to do.
The rest of the week was just training here and there, modeling the technology to teachers as I taught a class, plenty of troubleshooting, and putting out fires. We continue to have some issues with CPS even though we have installed the new CPS Pulse. Are the CPS responders working as seamlessly as we had envisioned, not even close. We are still having too many issues that shouldn't happen, and it's not user error.
I also continue to be bust going around to classrooms in our district recording teachers use of anchor activities. I do have to say we have some awesome things going on in our district. Keep up the hard work and more technology will be in your rooms before you know it.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Anyway, here is the article about using technology for information and learning:
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday and Wednesday we had Jeff from learning.com here. He showed us how learning.com works as well as we spent some time aligning our curriculum to their product.
As a district we are putting this program out first at Clark and Sunnyside. This is a great program because there are directed lessons in these units, as well as games and skill builders. It is easy to set up and easy to run and navigate through.
This week also had a bunch of the same stuff. Trouble shooting, going out and talking with teachers about technology, and also issues I have no control over :) This job continues to evolve. It gets more and more exciting all the time. I hope with all the budget concerns, they continue to see the value of this position and what we bring to the teachers in our buildings. We have definitely seen the shift in teaching styles with this technology integration. We are beginning to see the shift we have been looking for.
Tuesday and Wednesday was spent with Jeff from Learning.com reviewing their products (which we have purchased) and how we can map this into our language arts & media curriculum. Compared to our current Plato product, I prefer this much better. It is more user-friendly and has so many different components in a web-based format. I recall thinking on Tuesday, if I was still in the classroom, I'd totally create all my plans in their "My Curriculum" section. The ability to differentiate with this is there as well.
I worked on a "lesson plan" for next Monday's Professional Development involving teacher web pages. My goal was to create a PD session that modeled everything we are asking for in our own teachers: infuse our technology, strong content knowledge, rounded out with differentiated instruction & sound pedagogy.
Friday brought me back into the classroom & I must say I love the engagement with those first graders. We worked on Plato Focus in the lab. Amazing how tech-savvy those little babes are! Even more amazing was watching them interact with Emma Reedwell (the teacher on their monitors). They were counting syllables, words in sentences, and engaging in lessons that reinforce basic phonemic awareness. Good stuff.
Friday, October 16, 2009
We are now in an age in education which we are preparing learners for a future we can hardly imagine. It is not like that of our "factory" past. As educators, we need to adjust our very pedagogy. What worked 25, 10, or even 5 years ago is in the past. Warlick states we should not teach from our pasts, but for the future of our learners. We are now in an era where if a child cannot figure how to advance to the next level in a video game, the answers are only a mouse click away. Warlick even cites a personal example where he was in the middle of our country, looking at an unmarked pyramid & was wondering what it was...so he tweeted on Twitter. From across the globe, in Austrailia, an answer came back. The gal on the opposite side of the world saw his tweet, Googled the information, and tweeted him within a matter of minutes. Not only do we have this world of information at our fingertips, we can now harness it and direct it to come to us through things such as RSS feeds, iGoogle, Twitter, etc...
As we prepare the Sioux City Community School District with the 21st Century Classroom equipment, I think having David Warlick speak to our troops is vital to the success of this project. Equipment is just equipment. Just as overhead lighting is now ubiquitous, so must the "tech. stuff." This equipment is not the magic bullet...our wonderful educators are, and I am so very lucky to be able to work along side them in this endeavor.
I spent some good time this week trying to figure out the elementary web sites. How can we improve them?? How can we make this easier to use?? Our solution..... looking at different companies. We need something that is more user friendly. Teachers time is valuable and don't need to be wasting it updating a website that takes 5 steps to complete a process that should take 2 steps.
Also this week, we received our new CPS Pulse response system. So far I like them a lot and are very easy to use. I hope they are more durable than the previous type we had.
Unfortunately at times this week I ran myself in 2 directions at once and had to bail on a couple of appointments. Teresa I will make it up I promise!!!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Of course, that was enough to pique my curiosity. After trying several ideas with no results, I was in the middle of writing a help ticket to the Flip Product Support site, when I remembered that Flip allows videos to be posted on FaceBook & MySpace--which means a different file conversion. Ah Ha! That was my last hope...but I didn't close that help ticket yet. Sure enough, it worked. I happily exited the help request and shared my triumph with Layne. Now Layne, being the creative thinker he is, used our Interwrite Workspace to record a tutorial on this whole process. I experimented with my own tutorial and posted it on YouTube...Click Here to Watch.
A main focus of this week, however, was training teachers on the new SOCS Teacher Pages. This is a really a user-friendly template system which allowes teachers to create their own site within our Sioux City Community School's site. After my first meeting, I realized we really needed a couple graphic organizers & handouts. So I created those--which were a big help. For the most part I am very pleased with this program, with one minor objection. Once a teacher logs into Socs and clicks on My Teacher Pages, it automatically creates 27 templates that are ready to go. The problem occurs when a teacher decides to edit their profile--maybe changing their name or fixing a typo. Socs then creates a duplicate set of templates under the new change. With 54 templates available, a teacher must be very careful to choose the correct name, or the Teacher Page will not appear. And sometimes when CAREFULLY choosing the correct name, it doesn't appear. I need to contact SOCS about this, but for right now, I'm clearing them out & re-adding them as a new user. Moral of that story...carefully type in the correct user name & don't change it.
Finally, I am heading off to the ITEC conference this weekend. I am so excited about this & will post what I learn next week!
Friday, October 2, 2009
On Tuesday, I had a very busy day out and about. I went to a first grade room at Nodland and discussed technology with the teacher, I went to East middle and helped trouble shoot CPS responders with a couple teachers, I stopped by Whittier and sat down with the principal to discuss technology in her building and where she wants to go with it, I went to Irving and trained Mr. Koch in SOCS, and finally I spent some time at Roosevelt working through some issues with Mrs. Bigbee. We got her squared away and her technology is good to go. Sorry for the run on sentence, I was busy!!!!
On Wednesday I went to Unity and trained a teacher in PLATO. We set up classes, assigned assignments and set up for me to come back on Friday during lab time to help out and teach the kids PLATO. I also had some training of my own in PLATO Focus, I need to buckle down and learn that....
This Thursday was my first ever CADRE. I am part of Sunnyside/Nodland. I had a good time meeting new faces and trying to help them out in anyway I could. I feel awkward giving them advice until I learn more about how they do business. Great connections though.
Finally on Friday, I started out my day going to Whittier to talk their principal and a BLT member about a NING that I built for them. They decided they wanted a way to share information, thoughts, and ideas on a NING. So I built one and showed them how to use it. I look forward to seeing how it is being used. I also spent some time Friday playing with equipment and learning more about why things happen the way they happen. I finished Friday co-teaching PLATO at Unity in Ms. Flewelling's room.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Early in the week, I met with the middle school technology teachers and we worked all viewed a presentation on a free tech-assessment that can be given to our students. We also heard about a net-safety curriculum and an online technology skills curriculum from the same company. Pretty spendy stuff, but very good! The website is http://www.infosourcelearning.com/education if you are interested.
I also attended a meeting with J. Wibbels from the AEA and A. DenBeste, discussing how to really utilize the coaching model for bringing real-time help to teachers integrating technology in their classroom to support instructional practice. With a clear and consistent vision, we can make huge progress in this district. J and I also discussed the rollout of our initiative for online learning with a subscription to NROC. More to come on this topic! Later that day, an incredibly excellent meeting with teachers who have the complete 21st Century classroom package in their classrooms. This meetings are excellent because we get to work out issues, share celebrations and really refine the focus and goals of using technology in the classroom. This was just our 2nd meeting, but we are really getting good at using differentiated strategies, formative assessments and technology to make it all efficient and effective. The teachers all agreed that using the responders really changes how you can react to student learning quickly. Our next meeting isn't until October 20th and we'll get to introduce the Pulse responder, with full text answer capabilities!
The audio enhancement was another piece that was getting great praise!
I was able to address some issues out in classrooms on Wednesday and then I did a training with our Health Occupations teacher who received all of the 21st Century classroom tools through a grant. We both benefited from this!
The final touches on the week were mostly centered around planning for the full-scale rollout of 21st Century classroom tools in grades K-8. How it's going look, when it's going to start and what funding sources are going to be used for each piece. From software to hardware, up and down, the classroom of tomorrow is coming to Sioux City Schools in full force!! What an exciting time to be a student, teacher, parent in the Sioux City Schools!
Here's a few websites I'm curious about and wanting some teachers to try: edmodo.com - it's supposed to be a twitter-esque thing safe for education.
Also, Aviary.com, this has photo-editing potential!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday was the best day of the week. Jo Dee and I finally finished up moving all the elementary websites. Some of the websites took just a few minutes, while some took a few hours. It was a great relief to finish this project. It was like a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. On Thursday, I went out to Longfellow and talked to some teachers about downloading an E-book they needed for PD on Monday. Solved some basic issues and went about my day. Finally on Friday, Brad from Office Elements, Jo Dee, and I went around to our buildings and met with teachers answered questions, and did some demo's. It was a well needed trip with Brad and reassured with many people our commitment to making this initiative a success.
As you can tell, I was very happy with his week. I know next week will be the same. Right......
Friday, September 18, 2009
Every week I learn so much more about not only technology itself, but the importance of my job position. Helping teachers one on one, fixing issues, discussing how to use this technology we now have to create differentiated assignments, and now looking in to the future of our middle schools and helping to create a curriculum to teach technology skills our students now lack.
I don't have alot to say this week, but it has been a great week. Maybe it's the new job, but I now enjoy my Monday's....
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
It gets to be very frustrating when things begin to break down and you can't fix it. Ever called tech support and spent 2 hours on the phone and get no where.... Ever felt like you know more than the person you called for help??????? Yep. That sums up my week. This week was full of ups and downs.
I finally had the opportunity to get back in to the classroom, work with kids, and introduce topics all while using technology to do so. My first class Friday morning went very well. I was excited, the kids had a good time learning about stem and leaf plots and the technology worked wonderfully. Then...... the afternoon came. My rf receiver for my CPS response system quit working. Reboot.... Reset..... 4 times..... all the while my pen for my MOBI rolled off a kids desk and fell apart and broke... Well no more dual board today..... Put in a new rf receiver that worked OK after 45 minutes...... After that, I had a good time. I introduced some technology to some third and fourth graders and they seemed to love it. I know Murphy's Law won't creep up on me next time......
Friday, September 11, 2009
I took a statistics lesson that focused on data gathering/organizing, line plots, and bar graphs, and then infused our technology into appropriate places. I was able to use the CPS responders to check for background knowledge and to check for understanding. The data we gathered was # of letters in the students' first and last name. (We decided this as a group). As an anticipatory set, we discussed how we were named. The "Pick a Random Student" part of CPS was a wonderful tool in helping choose which students to tell their story.
The document camera proved useful while we compiled our data in cooperative groups. I used the Interwrite Workspace to create a class T-chart of what "Working Together" behavior looks and sounds like. (I had made the template earlier.)
When I instructed the fourth and fifth grade students to organize their data "any way they choose," a look of bewilderment appeared on their faces...until I showed them just one example I saved in Interwrite. What was really cool about this part of the activity, is that each group came up with a different way to compile and organize the data. We saw word-webs, tables, and a couple orignial graphic organizers. We were able to display these on the doc. camera so the entire class could see the different strategies for organizing the data. They then had to create a statement about what they noticed in their data. The Audio Enhancement microphone was a great way to allow the entire class to hear and stay attentive to each group as they presented their findings.
This led us into line plots and bar graphs, and how that is another way to organize the data. I like that CPS gives specific feedback to each question in the form or a bar graph, so that part was a very easy and natural part of this particular lesson.
We created a class line plot using the Mobi and an Interwite template I had previously created. It was really interesting to watch the hand-eye coordination with the Mobi, and students quickly found the "undo" button! Students then created either a line plot, a bar graph, or both on graph paper. It is my hope to return and be able to transfer their paper graphs into an Excel Spreadsheet...which would require a lab setting. And, now that they have complied this data, it opens the door for many future lessons--mean, median, mode, etc...
The biggest thing I noticed while teaching this lesson was that EVERYONE was engaged. No one was off task. Everyone worked together in their cooperative groups. And I absolutely loved the microphone. I didn't have to project my voice at all.
Friday, September 4, 2009
On a positive note, we were able to meet with several principals this week & the excitement for our initiatiave is evident. It's going to be difficult to wait an entire year to roll this out. We also got to touch base with the Tech. Coaching Staff from the AEA and set some of our goals. Neil sent us a version of the Technology Strategic Plan; although not finalized, it is impressive. It affirms my excitement for this district's direction.
We also now have our username and password for Brain Pop which is a site that creates animated content to be used in whole group, small group, or one-on-one lessons. It would be a perfect way to introduce & teach a lesson using our whiteboards, mobis, and responders. There is also a section of lesson plans and video tutorials. Good Stuff...
Tuesday was a great day. We had a meeting at AEA with Amanda Den Beste and Jon Wibbles. We met to discuss goals for tech in curriculum coaches so that we share the same goals when we are out in the classroom. we have decided to meet monthly to discuss what we are doing in the tech in curriculum field.
This week I also had the opportunity to talk with a few more principals about what I can do to help in their school. Great feedback, they are all on board so far. As the weeks go on, I will be int the classroom even more. Although this job is difficult at times, I really enjoy dealing with the issues that arise.
Friday, August 28, 2009
One of my main goals this week was to put some help files for CPS & Workspace on our webpage for our teachers who are piloting the 21st Century Classrooms. We have .pdf files and online video tutorials. Eventually I'd like to post videos of some of our brave teachers using the equipment.
Jamie and I were able to make several more connections/introductions & it seems the more we make, the busier we get. We had to troubleshoot quite a few different issues...so I am always learning new things. I can't even believe how much I've learned since a few weeks ago.
One highlight this week was my observation of Plato Focus at Bryant Elementary. I love how this program begins with explicit, direct instruction & then allows the students to reinforce their learning through the computer application. I am anxious to get this going with a couple new teachers, but I just need some brief training of how to enroll them as users. I plan to return to Bryant once the students are practicing independently on the computers.
Another highlight was a meeting I had with a teacher at Crescent Park Elementary. What enthusiasm! The idea of TSF came up. (TSF is a password protected folder system for students created by one of our own very ingenious MIS specialists. It is used primarily in our High Schools and Middle Schools.) Our elementary students really need to know how to manage files & this is a key component to this. Well...after talking to our TSF guy...he said it's a go! Woot! Woot!
And...I did read that article that I promised to last weekend. The main thing that I got out of it is that a turnaround in producing significant achievement gains requires dramatic changes in a short period of time (2 years) followed by a longer period of sustained improvement. The change needs to be "people focused." And one of the 9 elements is "Personalization of Instruction"--which is now where our school district is in hiring the instructional coaches and focusing our PD on differentiation. The personalization of instruction requires frequent formative assessment, immediate analysis/feedback, and instruction adapted quickly. Our initiative with the CPS/e-instruction responders is just the ticket for this. In short, I think we are on the right track.
I have really enjoyed this week because it has been a week where I could really get out and start putting some of my understanding of technology to work. Being able to train people in different pieces of technology and then actually see them use it and enjoy the technology is awesome.
This job really gets you out in to the buildings, the way it should be, being there helping out right then and there and not responding with a fix after the fact. The only way this 21st Century classroom initiative is going to be successful is if we go out personally help and make sure each person is comfortable with what they are doing. Once they are comfortable, then we will see the magic with differentiation and technology. We need to have everyone understand that just because you have the technology, that isn't what is going to make the difference. It's how you use the technology to increase student engagement, differentiate your instruction, and you use it to allow students to be producers of work.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
If you haven't noticed, This blog is replacing the former "Layne's Blog" on the Sioux City District Site. I hated to leave the SOCS page, but this gave us more leverage and the ability to train teachers on using blogspot for their classes.
I've dedicated my first few weeks of school to working with staff and students at West High School in getting a pilot project off the ground. The project has been a learning experience, not only for teachers and students, but for myself. 28 students in the freshman class were chosen to have mini-laptops for using in the classroom and OUTSIDE the classroom. The main thing I've learned is that we REALLY need to teach students computer skills to students. We spent alot of time with students in the first week just teaching some basic computer skills, like saving, opening, copying, pasting, and basic internet and searching skills. With a project like this, it seems to expose even more how much we need to be INTEGRATING the technology into all parts of a students learning and into our curriculum.
A cool site that was discovered out of this was something for the Biology students:
http://www.biologycorner.com/ It goes right along with the book and it has many great activities both online and offline for students. Check it out!
Also, our teachers are using Moodle, and hippocampus not to mention the blogs and wiki's they have created.
I'm brewing up another post about all the other new technologies we have implemented into the classrooms across the district!.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Several other K-12 classrooms in our district also have the system. I am excited to see how this one small piece of technology can make a difference. The research certainly supports the use of this.
I was able to touch base with my four 21st Century Classroom piloting teachers on the first day of school. We were able to get those responders out & put them to use on the first day. Jamie and I decided we definitely need to take some time Monday morning to put together a short manual on the CPS software/responders.
Speaking of software...uggh...had a few install issues--some took longer than others. Thanks to Ron we were able to bypass some of that "ugliness" and get the job done so it functions properly. My worry is that the next time our teachers log-on, we'll have an issue. Crossing my fingers on that.
A new question arose today... while at EMS we realized that the new software prefers laptops over the desktop computers. Does that mean new laptops for everyone next year??? Yikes!
This weekend I plan to read a very thick article on "The Turnaround Challenge--Why America's best opportunity to dramatically improve student achievement lies in our worst-performing schools." It was actually in my backpack to read last weekend, but it remained in their for the whole duration. I'll post what I learned next week. (Now I actually have to read it--public accountability).
This week I have been doing some quick re teaching from what we learned this summer, getting the teachers more comfortable with the new technology. It is great to see the excitement on a teachers face with this new technology. On wednesday, we did a short presentation at Roosevelt on the Red Cat Audio Enhancement that is being implemented in their classrooms this year. I also enjoyed spending a few minutes with Ron. He showed us a few short cuts and tricks of the trade. It made some installation of software a little quicker.
Friday, August 14, 2009
by Layne Henn
Here is a website with a wealth of resources for instructional technology. There is even a link to a podcast and to a blog where you can hear about and find even more ideas for your classroom students.
The Ohio Treasure Chest is put together by teachers and tech. support staff at North Canton City Schools in Canton, OH.
writing and critical thinking!
by Layne Henn
Here's an article posted last week on a blog I read regularly about starting blogs with students in your classroom. He has attached links on how to get started, and setting the purpose with your students. He's found that bloggers aren't just writers, they are critical thinkers and put their mind to reading what other bloggers have to say. The author also makes suggestions about having blog-read-alouds with your class.
wikis are another great way to get your students writing and responding critically to writing.
A blog is pretty easy to setup with the SOCS system we are currently using here in Sioux City. Free wiki's are available at pbwiki.com.
I received some good feedback from the last article about not going to "gadget crazy" in our classrooms.
It raised a couple questions for me. What is good? How do we interpret if what teachers/kids are doing in the classroom with technology is really making a difference.?
Below are a couple of good articles that help to ask some simple questions about how and why are we integrating tech.http://www.techlearning.com/blog/2008/03/evaluating_technology_use_in_t.phphttp://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt
Here's a excerpt from the Jeff Utecht article on the TechLearning Blog:
I remembered a Marc Prensky article in Edutopia in which he talks about the typical process of technology adoption:
Dabbling with technology
Doing Old things in Old Ways
Doing Old things in New Ways
Doing New things in New Ways
What if we turned these stages of technology adoption into questions that an evaluator could use during the evaluation process?
Is the technology being used “Just because it’s there”?
Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in Old ways?
Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in New ways?
Is the technology creating new and different learning experiences for the students?
This could be a simple list that any evaluator can use to decipher how the technology is being used in a particular lesson.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Excited, nervous, eager...describes how I felt Monday morning as I drove to the ESC to begin this new position. I don't know if I've ever been so excited for the first day of school since my first teaching position.
First thing on Monday, Jamie (the other coach) and I divided our school assignments. I have the Westside feeder elementary buildings along with Clark & Bryant. We brainstormed how to effectively meet our building's BLT goals and will touch base with each principal to discuss how to proceed with this. I'm really excited about that, but am waiting a bit because I know it is such a busy time of year. We rounded out the day with a presentation from learning.com & how their web-based program can help our district in differentiating activities. I especially liked how the teacher lessons can be used with our new e-instruction interactive whiteboards, Mobis, and student responders.
On Tuesday I uploaded some of our .pdf files for the language arts curriculum to our website. When we went to West Middle to adjust the projectors, I was able to test my links to see if they worked. (They didn't) While troubleshooting, I discovered that my permissions didn't allow me to install Java, which is just a small hiccup, but noteworthy. I was also involved in a conference call about the upgrades to Pinnacle--which is an awesome step for our district. (BTW...I'm a big Pinnacle fan--it totally made my life easier when I was in the classroom & helped the students to keep track of their progress as well as missing assignments.)
Wednesday morning was an IT/MIS meeting...which I am very glad to have been a part of. I am amazed at the knowledge of these "techies." Jamie and I spent the rest of the afternoon in some of the elementary buildings. Getting out into the field and troubleshooting was HUGE for me! We were able to address several technical issues which are sure to arise as we roll out this 21st Century Classroom initiative.
Thursday brought us to West High School for the Netbook pilot. Kudos to the teachers for all their investment into this project. Moodle is an awesome tool, but definitely takes some effort to learn. I worked during the afternoon to create a Jeopardy PPT game for the North Middle Staff to use with the responders. I didn't realize how difficult it is and how creative you must be to "state your answer in the form of a question." I guess I'll still be working on that Friday morning before I head off to the new teachers' meeting.