Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Learning because of, or in spite of it all..

I had been looking forward to this course over a month before it began. Web 2.0 and new technology is one of my interests and something I am extremely familiar with, enough so to have done workshops for teachers on how to use them in their classrooms.

Once the course began, however, I was a little disappointed. Much of what was presented and asked of us was not new to me. Wikis, blogs and podcasting have been around for several years, and I've mastered these tools and fairly well versed on how to integrate them into the classroom. I was expecting some discussion on the potential use of social media tools such as Twitter and how to integrate mobile devices such as cell phones/smart phones/PDAs into classroom instruction.  To me, this is where the future of technology is headed, especially with the cuts that schools are facing coupled with the increased use of these devices/technology in the workplace.

That being said, I do feel that I have learned some things from this class, but more from my classmates and not much from the course content.

Where I see myself and the use of technology two years from now
My goal is to become a instructional technology director for a regular school district. I want to be leading the way with teachers in the use of technology in their daily instructional practices.  I plan on working on my supervisory certification as I complete this degree.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Talking Technology-podcast

This was an interesting experience. Because I work in a detention facility, interviewing students was out of the question, so I interviewed my own children. My kids are on a computer at some point every evening, often for several hours each evening. In spite of that, Nicole and Stuart really didn't talk much about what they do while on the computer. In particular, my son has used Youtube to help him learn guitar riffs from some of his favorite bands as well as how to make certain dishes, such as tamago (japanese sweet omlet served at sushi bars).
Melissa threw me for a loop when she started talking about her experiences in 7th grade class. She hadn't mentioned it when I did a pre-interview just before we started recording. I was her 7th grade technology teacher.
As you listen to the podcast, you will notice that the audio levels change a bit. This was due to issues with the microphone and mixing board I used. I tried fixing this in post-production, but time constraints made it difficult.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

21st Century Skills, More than just buzz words

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

With the current economic situation, there has been an increased focus on preparing students for an ever-changing job market. One organization has been at the forefront of this movement is the The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Since it's inception in 2002, The Partnership has worked to develop and define what skills students would need in the changing marketplace and economy.As an educator in Tucson, the home of the Partnership, I am well aware of their ongoing work and the evolution of their framework.

The phrase 21st Century skills is one of the key things that is talked about in school reform, but some tend to think of this as just teaching students to use technology. A review of the Partnership's Framework for 21st Century Learning reveals that technology skills is just a part of the framework and not even the focus of 21st Century learning. In fact, their new framework design places an emphasis on the core subjects.Though they note on the site that "Partnership views all the components as fully interconnected in the process of 21st century teaching and learning " the design shows how the core subjects act as a foundation to the rest of the framework.The core subjects have always been a part of the framework, but more by implication than actual emphasis
As educator that has worked with computers or technology in a school setting for over 20 years, I really like how they have emphasized information, media and technology skills as being integral across the content areas and not just a discrete skill set to be taught in a technology class. Even today with all of the talk of technology integration into content area teaching, too much of the skills in these areas are expected to be taught by a technology teacher/aide. I feel that for true integration to happen, the classroom teacher should be teaching technology and info literacy skills AS they integrate technology.The Partnership has brought old ideas like cooperative learning back into the fold, emphasizing the importance of teamwork. The ability to work with people of various backgrounds is critical to survive in just about any job.

One of the best parts of what the Partnership is trying to do is to get away from the over-emphasis on standardized, high-stakes testing.  Their paragraph on 21st Assessments says it all, I think:
Authentic 21st century assessments are the essential foundation of a 21st century education. Assessments must measure all five results that matter — core subjects; 21st century content; learning skills; ICT literacy; and life skills. To be effective, sustainable and affordable, assessments must use modern technologies to increase efficiency and timeliness. Standardized tests alone can measure only a few of the important skills and knowledge students should learn. A balance of assessments, including high-quality standardized testing along with effective classroom assessments, offers students a powerful way to master the content and skills central to success.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blogging in the Classroom Idea

I've seen and heard of blogs being used in a variety of ways in the classroom. I decided one way that I would use a blog for would be for an 8th grade Current Events assignment for their Government class. As a technology teacher, I would coordinate some of my assignments/projects with the content area teachers. The Government teacher required his students to do a current events assignment where the students would have to clip two or three newspaper articles, write summaries and write definitions of a couple of key or new words from the articles. When I was teaching the students how to do PowerPoint, I would have them create a Current Events PowerPoint, with the same basic requirements, except the articles came from online sources (they had to link to the article in the PPT). The Government teacher would give extra credit to any student that would give their PowerPoint Current Events reports in class.

I feel that a blog would be a great way to take the whole current events assignment to the next level. A blog not only allows the student to post the article or links to the article, but it also gives them a great venue to express their thoughts or opinions on the news. The opportunity to get feedback from classmates and others also adds a new dimension to the assignment.
When students know that their work is going to be online, they tend to focus more on their grammar and spelling.

Monday, November 09, 2009

School use of Web 2.0 tools

Great story about students using Web 2.0 tools and 21st Century Skills in the classroom:

Students discovering online collaboration

By Kristen Alloway/The Star-Ledger

November 07, 2009, 11:07PM
First-grader Thomas Tsangaropoulos stands before a laptop during his Spanish class at Lake Parsippany School, smiles broadly into its tiny webcam and waves.

"Hola," he says to the image of a young girl appearing on the computer and on a large screen in the front of the Parsippany classroom. "Me llamo Thomas."

Across town, first-grader Mariah Colon peers into a laptop at Troy Hills School and waves.

"Hola. Buenos días," she says.

Remember when technology in schools meant computer labs and internet connections? New Jersey teachers and students are slowly but increasingly using the tools of Web 2.0 — the so-called second generation of the web that includes creative, collaborative, shared content.

Students are writing on wiki pages, blogging about their classroom activities, recording audio files for band practice, videoconferencing with people around the globe and chatting online about literature.

read the rest of the article here....
There is not enough of this going on in our schools and too many decision-makers out there that actually try and prevent access and such use of technology. (or is Arizona the only state that has anti-technology legislators)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Welcome back!

After a long absence, I've resurrected this blog, primarily for a class towards my MA in Ed Tech. Over the years, I've created several blogs for different projects and classes, only to let them collect dust after awhile due to time and other considerations. (I also have a politics-themed blog that I posted to frequently, but found others were much better at saying what I was saying, so I have let that lapse the last 12 months or so)

When it comes to sharing my thoughts or following the writings and musings of others, I pretty much have turned to Twitter:

BTW: I deleted a couple of old posts, but decided to leave a few older ones that contain some content/links that may be of interest to others.


Monday, February 19, 2007


As many of you may already know, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has an initiative to set up 1-to-1 laptop programs at several pilot schools across the state( Horne's speech. News Article) There are several states that have already created 1-to-1 computer programs on much larger scales. For example, Maine was the first to do so statewide, putting a laptop into the hands of every 7th grader five years ago. link.

Many see the move to laptops as just another fad that looks cool but doesn't yield results. Recent reports about studies of some 1-to-1 programs out of Texas, however, back the effectiveness of 1-to-1 programs. In the February 2007 edition of the T.H.E. Journal an article looks at what the studies are showing. the article, 1-to-1 Computing :: A Measure of Success by Charlene O'Hanlon, notes that the programs have resulted in :better student motivation, increased teacher effectiveness, and developing student 21st Cetury Skills.

With such encouraging results. hopefully the legislature will agree to fund this program with an eye to expanding it even further next year.

Arizona Ed Tech Wiki

Educational Technology wiki supporting ed tech in Arizona is live: The wiki is available to the public for viewing, but is currently only editable by the Technology Integration Specialists (of which I am one). My goal with this wiki is to provide information about educcational technology news, lesson ideas, discussion and support, focusing on Arizona.

Drop in and check it out.