Friday, August 28, 2009

Week of 8-24-09

I actually have to look at my Outlook calendar to remember everything from this week. It has been so busy.

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 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.

Week 3 Aug. 24th-28th

This week was filled with all sorts of different tasks. Meetings with principals, PLATO training, CPS Responder training, trouble shooting technology, figuring out why "O" drives didn't work, visiting classrooms to check progress and comfort level with the new technology and also researching ideas and best practices for our new technology.
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

New learning for everyone

This is my first post to our blog in a new place.
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: 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!.