Saturday, September 26, 2009

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

I was almost giving up hope that I would actually get to go to my desk this week and answer some of the email that has been piling up in my inbox. However, I was redirected on an all day meeting Friday and I was able to spend some time meeting with Mrs. Weltz and Mr. Lang.
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 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: - it's supposed to be a twitter-esque thing safe for education.
Also,, this has photo-editing potential!

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's All About the Memory...

Several of our issues this week were solved by a simple memory upgrade. At one of our schools, our board would not stay callibrated. In fact, at one point, I'd move my pen down the board & the cursor would move to the left. It was like watching a mirror image. I thought to myself, "Self, I would not have the patience to deal with this in my classroom on a daily basis." (Kudos to our very patient Mrs. V!) The software really wasn't the issue, & after brainstorming with L & L, we concluded it was the memory. Memory was installed; I checked it out today, and all is well.

Speaking of memory...a good tip with our CPS responder software is to remember NOT to delete your database. Everything you've ever done will be gone. (Sorry we couldn't recover it Mr. W!) :)

I worked on Skyping this week. We have two middle school and one elementary room that I am using Skype to communicate. The two middle school classes are social studies classes and are looking to contact classes in other countries. I got the audio to work perfectly, but tried to use our document cameras as the webcam. I know it is possible, but am just about ready to go out and buy a webcam--the doc cams aren't the greatest for Skyping anyway.

Heard a great story about responders this week. One of our teachers (Mr. W) was watching the results as the students took a quiz using the responders. He noticed one student who really didn't put much effort in--he was just pushing the same button for all his answers. Typically the teacher wouldn't have known this until later that evening or the next day when he checked the quizzes. But the responders allowed him to immediately redirect that student. He also noticed that as they finished the quiz, one student did not pass. Before that child ever left the room, he was able to show him his results and schedule a time later that day for reteaching. That student was awe-struck. That teacher said instead of always trying to "catch up" he was able to be proactive and make an immediate difference. He compared it to coaching on the field & how he is able to give immediate feedback and direction on the spot and have the player make the proper adjustment. What these responders are doing is allowing the teachers to teach, coach, & guide rather than checking & grading.
The one thing I've made my goal and tried to follow emphatically is when a teacher is needing assistance to get out to that classroom immediately, or at least as soon as possible. I just know that as a teacher who wants to try new things to enrich my teaching & student learning, if I had a technical issue, the waiting, waiting, waiting is the what would frustrate me the most. So I make it a priority to at the very least get some help if I cannot solve the issue. I want to make a difference for those teachers. I want them to feel supported.

Week 7 Sept. 21st-Sept. 25th

This week was truly a better week. On Monday I was out at Leed's and spoke with a teacher about using video in her classroom. I also was at Joy for PD on ITPDP. Some teachers discussed using technology in their plan. On Tuesday we had our monthly AEA coaches meeting. We had a great discussion and continue to outline our mission. Tuesday after school, we had our monthly Diff and Tech meeting. We discussed the highs and lows of our project as well as saw demonstrations with the equipment.

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......