Archive for January, 2006

Podcast: Professional Learning Communites (PLC) in a 1:1 environment

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Sebastian Bozas was not available yesterday, but I did get a hold of the ITS (Instructional Technology Specialist), Gina Fletcher. Gina has been an integral part of the PLC’s on campus and has some great thoughts. I really think that this kind of dialogue is an absolute must for making progress towards instructional change. Enough of me writing - take a listen…

Click the play button to begin:
Download gina_dialogue.mp3

Looking for an aggregator?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Look no further - I’ve loved it from the start and they keep adding new features. It has been down once in the time that I have used it, but having my aggregator online has been so much better than trying to sync to multiple computers and keep track of my reading.

Interested? Check out Netvibes

I’m a PBS Geek, but…

Monday, January 30th, 2006

So I’m known for being a PBS/NPR geek, and I typically don’t like watching much TV beyond that scope. But…we (my wife and I) got hooked on LOST tonight. What a show…

Vocab Blog and other read/write web examples

Monday, January 30th, 2006

I wasn’t sure what I would find when I got an email titled ‘Teaching vocab with blogs’, but Byrd Vocabulary has an interesting concept. While my thoughts immediately went to flash cards, I was impressed that students were developing connections to the words they were working on. Blogging is all about linking and connections, so the use fits.

John Witter has JUST started blogging within his classroom environment in a High School history course. I love his beginning post where he is openly purposing his blog content to gather feedback from his students about his teaching and lessons. Another great example of using blogs for more then just ‘writing a journal entry’.

How about a Wiki? Vicki A. Davis (at Cool Cat Teacher Blog) has had her kiddos start up a Wiki on productivity. She talks about this here, and you can visit the student Wiki product here. The idea is to have the students develop guidelines about daily planning that will help them as they progress through the semester.

Moving on to Podcasting: Darren Wilson, an Instructional Technology Specialist in Irving, TX, has started putting podcasts from elementary students online. They podcast their daily video announcements (in audio form) and have started podcasting student writing examples (that the students read) as well.

Bob Sprankle really gets his students riled up as they produce podcasts and other content online. You have to admit that student engagement is entirely different when the students take stake in the content as opposed to ‘Your journal entry for today is…’.

To be honest, I am just putting together a collection of links that demonstrate how educators can use some of these tools in a classroom setting BEYOND simply writing a journal to put online. These are great tools for instigating the development of connections within a learning environment, after all. I’ll post some responses from our group that I share these with - it’s just a quick demo…

The importance of dialogue and a reflective practice within teaching

Friday, January 27th, 2006

In our LoTI session this morning, Sebastian Bozas (Middle School Principal of a One-to-One laptop school) noted more than once that we are falling short if we do not provide opportunities for techers to dialogue in a meaningful way about the content of their instruction. We briefly discussed how LoTI can provide a framework for this dialogue, develop a common language (so we do not argue in place of dialoguing) and move toward a more reflective practice of teaching on campus.

Mr. Bozas has truly pushed for this environment at de Zavala Middle School by creating half day periods for his teams of teachers to reflect on what they are doing in their rooms. Interestingly enough, the technology (despite its invaluable place in his school) is not the primary focus - instruction is.

I’ll be interviewing Mr. Bozas next Tuesday about what he sees happening with one-to-one instruction as he has developed this practice with his teachers. Stay tuned for the first podcast…

We’re just searching for where the left lane ends…

LoTI

Friday, January 27th, 2006

We’re doing LoTI (Levels of Technology Implementation) Training. A large group of our ITS crew (Instructional Technology Specialists) are going through a LoTI trainer certification, mainly in an effort to broaden our knowledge systematically, as well as develop a common language as a professional learning community.So what is LoTI all about? Technology integration, right? Wrong. Sort of. We can NOT say that the technology is not important. It absolutley is - it is critical. Often times, however, we put too much focus on the technology itself. This is the key strength of the LoTI framework. It focuses on Bloom’s taxonomy, which directs us back to the value of the lesson and places the emphasis on content (and engagement, in my opinion). David Warlick says in a blog post entitled Contemporary Literacy: Who & When:

It’s confusing that this discussion usually happens among technology educators within the context of technology considerations, but the skills are about information.

While I am taking Warlick’s quote a little bit out of context (as his post focuses on new literacy skills), I fully believe that the concept is then same - we need to shift our dialogue to focus on the content, the engagment, the lessons and the informational skills.Now - let’s consider this in the context of a one-to-one laptop implementation, shall we? While Irving has made huge strides forward, the biggest change that we see happening is not in the students, but in teacher instruction. The shift from the ‘old’ way to the new is drastic, with some that catch on quickly and others that are still struggling with how to ‘use’ the laptops. I fully believe that if we promote more systematic dialogue that (and PLEASE, we MUST not forget the power of the technology) focuses on the content, instruction, engagement and literacy skills that need to be happening in our classrooms, we’ll see a more fluid shift in teaching practice. LoTI provides a framework that is right on target with this discussion. Moving on…

I love it when you see someone processing new content/information! We have a few administrators that are attending our LoTI session today, one of whom rephrased what he saw as the value in the LoTI framework. Moersch has developed a Palm based application that allows an administrator to do a quick walk-through with the ability to quantify (more or less) the LoTI level of any given lesson. While the focus of the application is for administrative purposes (walk-through evaluation), this particular principal noted that it would be twice as powerful for teachers to have the evaluation tool on their own so that they can do continuous self evaluation of their own lessons. Yes, yes, yes! This comment followed Chris’ statement that all of their research blatently shows that the building principal controls the LoTI level on campus. In other words, the Principal’s expectations for their teachers are what the campus will produce. This principal ‘got it’ and saw the value in integrating technology within the LoTI framework. Right on target, in my opinion.

THAT is heading towards where the left lane ends.

Links to check out:

LoTI Levels

Dr. Chris Moersch

David Warlick on LoTI (a little)

Podcast by Wesley Fryer w/ Dr. Chris Moersch

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Digital Literacy Bookmarks

One-to-One: Gotta keep trying…

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Miguel Guhlin writes:

Technology infusion taking place now–including one-to-one initiatives–are so much the “illusion of progress.” Instead, a more radical approach needs to be taken to curriculum. Once curriculum is reformed, then technology will fit. This is an approach that flows from a fundamental frustration with teaching and learning in education today. As such, it is doomed to fail because no one wants to change because someone else thinks they’re doing something wrong.

So, where do we begin? This entry is probably more of a ramble than a composed thought, but do we not need to begin somewhere? I am in full agreement with both Jamie McKenzie (FNO.org) in his article titled Inspired Writing and Inquiry, as well as with Miguel on the need for a dramatic changed in the process that entangles our education system. Yet I also believe that it is only through tried attempts, both good and bad, that we will ever come to realize our goal of reforming curriculum.

Some of my core beliefs: 1) we must change systematically; 2) systematic change in any organization takes time - probably at least 5 years of effort towards change before systematic results are achieved; 3) we must take steps towards change every day, one person at a time.

A goal of system wide, educational reform in a short period of time is unrealistic. But, that does not mean we stop trying. After practice, failed attempts, and glimpses of success, we will begin to convince. And when that happens, reform will begin.

I am, by no means, disagreeing or challenging. We must be radical, and we must not give up hope.

For me, that is where the left lane ends…

It begins…

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

We’ve all been there…driving mindlessly down the highway…going toward our destination on some kind of human, brainwashed autopilot.

It’s when the left lane ends when things start to get exciting. The road narrows, we leave the familiar highway and explore new territory. The left lane ends, and we start to think!

It is time we stop going with the flow and start searching for new and exciting paths that lead us to think about what’s ahead. It is time we stop driving ourselves though life mindlessly and start searching endlessly for ways to engage students, embrace our changing world and make education what it is supposed to be.

You see, for me … that is where the Left Lane Ends.