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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daily Spotlight on Education 08/31/2008

  • The lesson of missed opportunity resounds in this discussion of Xerox Parc and the Alto. They invented the PC and gave it away for free.

    tags: education, clicksmart, change

  • In Australia, they are taking an initiative to get more math and science graduates into primary teaching -- those who do so will have a 50% refund on their loan payments.

    This in response to a study in July from the National Numeracy Review that "concluded that systematic teaching of numeracy in the early years of schooling, in maths lessons and across the wider curriculum, was essential if these trends were to be reversed."

    I find this interesting and hope that it will encourage people who love math and science AND STUDENTS will accept. Just a geek doesn't mean you love students or want to teach them.

    tags: education, edu_news

  • Sue H, a secondary teacher, highly recommends this as the research tool she uses in her classroom. If we're going to embed MLA into our wikis, we may test this out. Anyone else used it?

    tags: education, wiki, reference, edu_newapp

  • When Will people start listening to teachers? We don't know everything but we often have insights into children's lives.

    WHEN? WHEN? Heartbroken for sensless tradgedy.

    tags: education, depression

  • I agree with Jeff Utecht that Kim Cofino is on to something with the collaboration cycle of "building indpendence through partnership" in terms of mentoring and helping teachers with their pd and technology integration.

    tags: education, professionaldevelopment

  • Linked in has added a pretty cool little discussion tool to their groups. We welcome the edubloggers on Linked in to join the edubloggers group over there. This is from the discussion board.

    tags: education, networking, edublog, edubloggerworld

  • Great blog from newcomer Tony Searl from New South Wales (NSW? -- I THINK -- Tony, let me know if I've stated that wrong.)

    I like how he's chronicled his journey and thrown himself into his journey. I love this exceprt from his July Entry on the "about" page:

    "One month into my web2.0 expedition, I can see a whole new educational world opening. Work no longer seems like work as I find ideas and stories that inspire me and real people who know and share. Web2.0 is a place to reflect, retract, repeat and research. Still no real idea what I’m doing yet, but it is a safe place for learning. Makes you focus on what’s important. My brain still hurts, just differently. Paradox? web2.0 order vs a chaotic mind. Just lost focus, again."

    I think we'll all be hearing more from Tony. How did he get started, he says "I decided I'd make web2.0 a personal PD project."

    Tony, that is how so many of us, myself included joined in the revolution.

    tags: education, learning, web2

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lauren O'Grady Says to Drop the Buzzwords! (A point worth listening to!)

Was visiting Tony Searl's blog and a post of his pulled into some great writing from down under educator and conference presenter Lauren O'Grady (laurenogrady on twitter). 

In a recent post about the overuse of elearning and eteaching as buzzwords, Lauren says:

"We need to stop creating buzzwords such as elearning and eteaching as they are no longer relevant in our schools.  Computers and technology have been around long enough.  We need to move beyond this speciality paradigm and move into powerful learning and teaching.  I see a real danger in the titles such as elearning integrator and epotential.  Whilst we still continue to view ourselves as a speciality with specific skills we will never have integration into our classrooms where it is needed to benefit students.  I was one of these people butting my head against the wall two years ago trying to understand why people did not integrate technology,  I had to change my tact and look at it from a student perspective.  I ran student roundtables and asked them what they would like in regards to powerful learning ( I never mentioned eteaching or elearning) and our students wrote about how they learn best.  They wrote about the use of images, multimedia, web and how they can get answers but do not know how to distill or make sense of this information overload.  There was also a huge push for content creation instead of passive dictation and exercises.  These students never mentioned that they wanted more elearning in their classrooms and the teachers couldn’t help but rub it in when it wasn’t mentioned."

My response to Laurent:

"To me, elearning denotes distance learning.  I've had people tell me that they love my application of "e-learning" and I say - "What?  I'm right there!" --

I don't like the buzzwords either -- of course, I'm guilty of making up new works (teacherpreneur comes to mind) but when the buzzwords hide what we're trying to do.

I think elearning is comfortable b/c it has been around a while and people feel less threatened -- it is like 'OK, lets do elearning and webquests' - they've heard it a while and are OK with that!

The tough thing with some words like wiki and blog is that we need them to talk about a thing - about what we are doing -- and I use them so much that they are not a buzzword to me.  To me, something becomes a buzzword when the "powers at be" start rubber stamping grant requests and proposals that include the "word."  And that is what has happened with elearning at least over here!

I think it is so important to get at what we are actually doing!  I LOVE what you say about not letting buzzwords shift the focus of meeting the needs of EVERY student.

The focus is on teaching -- not blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc.  It is teaching.  It is the students - every single one of them.  And creating an environment that focuses on their learning styles, gives opportunities for assessment that allows a fair range of assessment options to that students can communicate in the way they do best.  And projects that add meaning and give deep learning opportunities.

These are the things that make great learning -- who cares if the e is on there or not.  I doubt anyone watching my class would call it "elearning" hopefully, just learning!"

What a powerful thing she did to have student roundtables (here in the US, we've had focus groups.)  Let me ask you a question that I'd really like to know the answer to -- how many of your school improvement teams have had student roundtables where they were allowed to freely talk about how they learn?

Friday, August 29, 2008

How to Make Wiki References

Wikispaces has released the ref tag, so now wikis, in addition to hyperlinking, may include references.  We're still working through our class standards, and I"ve got a page on our school wiki that I will update for the students.  We would love some feedback from the experts out there because some of these items are our best interpretation of wiki-fying MLA.   We integrated this into some of our current projects today.  Note: These projects are still not quite done.


Reference and Citation Steps:

  1. Go to Son of Citation Machine to Generate the MLA Citation
  2. Return to your wiki page.
  3. Insert your blinker just after the quotation or paraphrase that needs a citation.
  4. Type a bracket and ref and ending bracket (see below)

  5. Paste the reference into the wiki.  
  6. Type the page number and a period after it if it is a book.
  7. Close the reference tag by typing a bracket forward slash (/) ref and an ending bracket (see the image above.)
  8. If it is a website, turn the hyperlink into a "true" hyperlink as shown in the graphic by copying the hyperlink, clicking the link button, and pasting the hyperlink into the external link box.
  9. If this is the first reference on this page, go to the bottom of the page and type the word "References."  DO NOT PUT A LINE UNDERNEATH IT!
  10. Click "Save"
  11. A  new reference must only be listed in full length THE FIRST time it is used.  From then on use the author's last name and the page number, or in the case of an online article, the Article Name (which MUST be hyperlinked.)

 Now, the graphic will look like this:

So, this is our first stab.  Please leave your feedback and thoughts.  I'll modify this blog post in the future if we see that these need correction.  Thank you for your help!

Announcing Flat Classroom Conference

Some of you may wonder why this is the same time as Chris Lehman's amazing work at Educon 2.1 in Philadelphia -- the first reason is that we have a stellar speaker who has tentatively planned to come to Qatar and this is the only time he could do it, and secondly, we hope to network the two at some point if it works out.  Additionally, this conference will be very international, pulling heavily from participants in past projects, and I don't know that the audience will have a lot of overlap.  Educon is great, and this conference will have a different format from what he is doing.


August 29, 2008 - Doha, Qatar - Flat Classroom Project co-founders Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis in conjunction with Qatar Academy and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) announce the first Flat Classroom Leadership Workshop and Student Summit to be held January 24-26, 2009 at Qatar Academy in Doha.
Visit our website for more details: http://flatclassroomconference.com/

This event is targeted to teachers and students of past, current and future 'flat classroom' collaborations as well as Information Technology teachers and Directors and school administrators who are responsible for pedagogical development with ICT in their schools.

Two strands: 'Leadership Workshop' and 'Student Summit' will meet separately and in combined sessions to discuss best practice and promote global collaborative leadership as part of a global flat classroom.
Participants will be given the opportunity to develop leadership skills in using information technology, particularly Web 2.0 tools, to connect, communicate and collaborate.

The conference will take place in the city of Doha, State of Qatar, with sessions hosted by Qatar Academy. The conference objectives include:

  1. To provide an opportunity for participants and supporters of the Flat Classroom Project and it's sister, the High School Horizon Project to have an educational and cultural exchange via an organized gathering.
  2. To promote connection and understanding between geographically dispersed ethnically and culturally diverse groups of students in meaningful, global cooperative authentic learning experiences.
  3. To focus on enhancing digital citizenship and fostering best practice methods for online learning in ways that can be shared synchronously and asynchronously with other schools around the world.
  4. To provide further opportunity for pedagogical development using emerging ICT and creation tools in differing modes.
  5. To promote leadership skills for 21st century learning amongst participants of all ages with an increasing leadership role for students in education practice.
  6. To provide an opportunity for participants to explore and experience what it means to learn in a 'flat classroom' with extensive involvement from students and teachers
  7. To advance our approach to the next stage in the establishment of educationally viable and valued global classroom(s) and all this means for relationship building and the development of independent and cultural learning for teachers and students.

The conference format will be plenary sessions with keynotes and 'flat classroom' opportunities as well as summit and leadership strands with round table discussions, hands-on workshops, and panel discussions.

Confirmed presenters and workshop leaders include:
  • Don Knezek (CEO, ISTE) and Lynn Nolan (Senior Strategic Initiatives Officer, ISTE)
  • Vicki Davis (IT Director Westwood Schools, Camilla, Georgia, USA), Flat Classroom Project Co-founder
  • Julie Lindsay (Head of Information Technology and E-Learning, Qatar Academy, Doha), Flat Classroom Project Co-founder
  • Dr John Turner - Flat Classroom teacher and leader, PLC, Melbourne Australia

Student Summit details
Students internationally and locally will come together in Qatar with the purpose of learning more about how to connect, communicate, collaborate and create using Web 2.0 tools. They will be encouraged to foster interactions and to use the power of the 'flat world' to take action and make a difference to the world through enhanced cultural understanding. It is expected the skills and friendships developed at the summit will be taken back to their own schools and countries and further interactions and actions planned for the future.

A number of scholarships for students and accompanying teachers are available.
Our aim is to encourage participants from around the world to attend and wish to support this by providing funds to cover registration and accommodation. Students and teachers who have been past or current participants in the Flat Classroom Project will be given priority however we strongly encourage all interested applicants.

We invite teachers to apply on behalf of their students. Up to 4 students will be considered for sponsorship from each school.
Applications must be submitted by October 12, 2008.
Successful applicants will be notified by October 19, 2008

More information about student and teacher scholarship opportunities is available form Julie Lindsay, Head of Information Technology and E-Learning at Qatar Academy, Email: lindsay.julie@gmail.com

Registration Details:
Conference Dates
January 24-26 (Saturday 1pm start, Monday 4:30pm finish)
It is recommended that international participants arrive on the Friday.

Conference Registration
Full registration: QR800 (approx $200 US - currency conversion)
Student Registration: QR400 (approx $100 US currency conversion )
Deadline for registration: October 26, 2008
Scholarships for students available but applications must be submitted by October 12, 2008.

Hotel details
The conference hotel is the Gloria Hotel in Doha. For information see http://gloriahotel-doha.com
Rooms have been reserved for January 23, 24, 25 and 26 as needed by conference participants.
Room rates: Single QR450 (about $125), Double QR 550 (about $152) per night
Hotel reservations (to get this corporate rate) are to be made through Qatar Academy. Registrants are requested to complete the online form to register and reserve a place at the conference and to reserve a hotel room.

More information, if needed, about accommodation and registration is available from Ann Rogers, Public Relations Officer at Qatar Academy. Email arogers@qf.org.qa
Payment details to be confirmed in October.

For more information on this event, visit the website at http://flatclassroomconference.com/

Sites that Caught My Eye Today 08/29/2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sites that Caught My Eye Today 08/28/2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Plan to be a Part of Rich Wilson's Vendee Globe on November 9th

As I was cleaning out my inbox, I came across an email from Lorraine Leo in Jackson Elementary School in Newton, Mass, USA, this is what she says:

I was reading your profile in Classroom 2.0.  I am also a technology teacher but at the K-6 level.  I'm always curious to hear what other technology people are doing.  I wanted to share with you a program that my students and I were involved with since 2001 when we followed the voyage of skipper/teacher Rich Wilson as he sailed to break world records.  It was a really exciting experience to have a teacher at sea to connect us with the science, history, math, technology and fitness.  Rich is sailling again in 2008. He will be the only US sailor in the Vendee Globe and will compete with the top sailors in the world.  He will once again invite students to follow along on his race with his website.  I enjoyed it so much over the years that I share the site with as many people as I can.  The more followers, the more fun exciting it gets for the students cheering him on.  If you know of anyone who might be interested in sharing in on this adventure, I'd appreciate it if you would share the link. Rich did a webcast a few weeks ago with Steve Hargadon in Classroom 2.0 if you'd like to hear more about the program.
Thanks for your time.

I dug around on Classroom 2.0 and found  a recent blog post from Lorraine where she talks a little more about this incredibly cool opportunity:

 "...This year, Skipper Rich Wilson, a former math teacher in the Boston area, will be sharing the race with students and teachers around the world by blogging, sending video clips, podcasts, and photos of the race as he sails. A team of experts will be on land to answer student's questions..."

Here is the interview with Steve Hargadon from Classroom 2.0.

Find more videos like this on Classroom 2.0

Here is Ewan McIntosh talking about Vendee Globe 2008

This sounds like an exciting thing for the students to do as well as to learn from this teacher at sea in many subject areas.  This is a GREAT way for elementary teachers (and older) to flatten their classroom and engage in discussions about so many topics!
I love this because it shows that through the Internet, we can all be a teacher anywhere we go.  You can retire and do something exciting, create a website and still teach kids all over the world!  
This is also great because Lorraine is using her network through Classroom 2.0 and many of us are finding out about this project through her efforts.  I think the best projects are spread at the grassroots level.  So, take the torch from Lorraine and share about this.

Sites that Caught My Eye Today 08/27/2008

  • Interesting tidbit in their press release this week:

    "Flat World has announced 17 new author
    titles under contract. Flat World's in-classroom beta test gets underway this
    week, with 20 participating colleges and universities nationwide."

    Open Textbooks may be closer -- this model is a more hybridized version. If we had a "wiki to print" tool or technology, then we could literally have grassroots teachers writing and creating textbooks together. This is interesting to follow

    tags: education, opensource, textbook, edu_trends

  • I just thought this was funny - trapster lets you find where the speed traps, cameras, etc. are. Jott now has a link service to trapster to let you tell it where there are traps using your voice (that's handsfree for those of you who will use a ticket). Just think it is interesting to see the proliferation of tools.

    As for Jott charging - I forked over the $3.95 a month - I just can't live without Jott, and they've added new functionality to boot.

    tags: education, Jott

  • Intel's inspire website for teachers. You can submit a video or story about what inspires you. I want to go through this and take a look at some of the videos. How are you using this website?

    tags: education, edu_newapp

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Five Things That Fred Astaire and Great Teachers Have In Common

He glides, he floats, he makes it look so easy.  Fred Astaire just makes me relax and be happy when I watch this beautiful scene.  But, Fred Astaire and great teachers have some things in common.

1 - They Make It Look Easy
Did it really take that long to get ready for this scene?  It looks effortless and easy!
Does it really take that long to plan for that lesson?  It looks like they are just "winging it" and going with the flow?

Yes.  It takes a long time.  Lots of knowhow, experience and practice.

2 - Deep Knowledge of Their Subject
It is easy to see that Fred Astaire knew how to dance.  He knew it inside and out.  Great teachers do too.

3 - Enjoyment of the Dance
Fred Astaire loved dance like a great teacher loves teaching.  It is in their blood, life, and bones.  To stop dancing (or teaching) would mean that life was over.  It is what we're born to do.

4 - A few tricks
Of course, there were four separate rooms for this scene and some camera trickery as well.  Likewise, good teachers know shortcuts and tricks to make things work.  They know how to silence a student goofing off with a raised eyebrow or can warm up the sad child with a gleaming eye.

5 - Desire to Innovate
Fred Astaire had such a long and illustrious career because he never stopped innovating.  He never stopped dancing.  He tried new things.  He pushed the envelope.  Likewise, great teachers like Louise Maine and Ernie Easter, reinvent themselves.  They push, they do more.  They never settle.  I want to be like them.

So, today as you dance around your classroom, do a little two step.  Dance a little lighter.  You are the Fred Astaire of your classroom.  Dance (and teach) like you mean it!

You've got the most noble calling on earth -- live like it!

Sites that Caught My Eye Today 08/26/2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Throw Down the Gauntlet: Break the Chains of Bad Practice, Build Our Future

This is a copy of the post I shared at the Supercool Blog This weekend.  Because it was a live event, I waited a few days to post it here.

Throw Down the Gauntlet:  Break the Chains of Bad Practice, Build Our Future

I always enjoy reading the articles that talk about what kind of students that we need to create for our future, and I feel strongly that this is where I head in my own classroom.  However, as I talk to many friends in education, they feel that they are educating industrial age workers, largely because the system is itself a product of the industrial age.

This week, Education Week says in its article, The Case for Entrepreneurship Education

"As leaders, how can we develop a systemic initiative to keep young
people in school, learning academic and work skills effectively,
motivated to be productive and engaged in their communities and the
larger economy, and developing success-oriented attitudes of
initiative, intelligent risk-taking, collaboration, and opportunity
recognition? Entrepreneurship education is one answer to this question,
and an important tool to help every child explore and develop his or
her academic, leadership, and life skills, as well as potential."
Unfortunately I cannot read the rest of the article (hidden behind a subscription wall), however, I've been turning over some very thoughts related to this subject lately and would like to use this opportunity to share them.

Before I share my "gauntlets" - here are a few thoughts:

1 - Excellence & Excuses

Excellence is assumed.  Everything we do should be aiming for excellence.  Every school and teacher has its excuses.  Good teachers don't make excuses, they overcome them.  We all have our trials, but a commitment to excellence and drive to succeed no matter what is a prime ingredient in excellent teaching and excellent classrooms.  Teaching is toxic, but the best teachers turn it into a joy.

Excellence doesn't settle but finds a way to achieve anyway.  Excellence, quite simply, overcomes excuses. 

2 - Empowerment & Accountability

I don't believe that technology is correlated with high achievement, any more than rubbing Einstein's head would have made someone smarter.   However, a common denominator of successful schools is that they have technology and are EMPOWERING.  They give their teachers flexibility but they also hold them accountable.

I had a long talk with a fellow teacher in a large local public school system.  She has two planning periods.  One period is "team planning" with four other teachers about how they work through individual issues with the 140 kids that they "share."  She says she really needs this time.  The other planning period is "team planning" with the math department.  They all have to stay together so that they can keep the standards together.  She can't move ahead.  She's not allowed to enrich or add anything.  And every Friday, an "official test" graded by the "officials" comes down to her to assess how she's doing her job.  She's fine, her kids ace it.  Another teacher across the hall doesn't do well at all.  (And of course, the students will be punished!)  She usually finishes her weekly tasks by Wednesday but isn't able to fill up the extra time with enriching activities.

And yet, she says that she could do so much MORE.  And that is what standards do, they often pull up the lower performers but they can suppress the higher performers if poorly implemented.

Instead of hiring and requiring people to be great teachers and empowering and expecting them to do their job, we are trying to make mediocre teachers better and keep the great ones from upsetting the applecart and "going to fast" and making the others look bad.

Tell the teachers what the students need to know by when and let them get there in a way customized to the students in the classroom.  No two classrooms are alike.  No two students are alike.  Welcome and encourage enrichment.

And when a teacher is a poor teacher, it should be dealt with.  Every staff has their "duds" - the teachers that everyone knows don't teach.  And yet, these teachers are allowed to stay in the classroom for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes they are a coach, sometimes they are related to the "right person."  Accountability should be applied equally and not meeting the standards of excellence should have consequences for not only students, but teachers.

3- Room to Breathe

So many teachers have no time alone in their own rooms.  My friend with the two planning periods, has other classes meeting in her room.  If she finishes planning early, she cannot go back to her room.  So, she can come in before school (and she does) and stay well into the night to get things in order.  Good teachers need some time to think, organize, get their rooms in order, and get things done. 

When is she going to get things done?  I just don't understand it.  This is a challenge for me as well as my room is usually bursting at the seams! 

4- Hope and the ability to "fix" what is broken

Where there is no vision the people perish, says a proverb.  So many feel like hamsters on a wheel.  Do the same thing every year, don't change, don't improve, be here.  I think that many teachers are as disillusioned.  Recently, a local school system here spent a small fortune to bring in a motivational speaker for teacher preplanning.  The teachers were brought in, shown a fashion show about how to dress, and then berated for several hours for being unprofessional.   The teachers were upset and the debacle ended up in the local newspaper.  Motivational is when someone actually listens to your problem AND DOES SOMETHING TO HELP!

Most teachers are idealists.  We teach because we believe in what we're doing.  Believing that we are shaping the very future of our country and world, we want to do our best by these children of the future.  So, when we see something broken, WE WANT TO FIX IT RIGHT THEN.

The nature of teachers is to fix the boo boo, wipe the tear, listen to the teenager's gripe.  When we come up against hopeless situations that are irreparably broken and some consultants or business people in a room who have no clue about education try to think of another idea to "fix" the problem that they do not understand nor know how to fix, we get frustrated.  We can lose hope.

If someone would ask and involve teachers. 

Now, there is a fine line.  There are many teachers who see only the classroom, the micro view, and cannot see the macro view.  And yet, there are many teachers who do see the macro view and could help and advise situations.  Teachers cannot do it alone, but efforts to reform education sans the classroom teacher WILL fail.

Problem solving should go on the front burner and empowering people to FIX problems instead of just complain about them should be on the first order.  (Good principals do this already.)

5 - Let them create

In a society that needs creativity, innovation, and common sense more than ever -- why are our school places of routine, standards, and senseless bureaucracy.  I know teachers that spend an hour of time filling out forms for every hour of class time.  When do they plan?  What are most of the forms?  A nothing piece of paper that no one reads!  I'm sorry, but the volume of paperwork in most American public schools is asinine.

Let bureaucrats come in and fill out the paperwork and let the teachers teach.  Empower teachers to create projects and engage students.  This is where the teacherpreneurship really comes in.  Let teachers connect, give them the tools that they choose. 

Let teachers TEACH!

Let them do things to allow for creativity and innovation in the classroom.  But remember, such creativity starts with the teacher.  If the teacher is using their own strengths and is engaged, the students will follow suit.  What is an exciting tool for me to use, may be not so exciting for another teacher. (I'm terrible at podcasting in the classroom -- since I'm not a very auditory learner, it is hard and frustrating for me.  If my husband had to blog he would roll over and die!)

6 - Respect Individuality

Teachers and their students are individuals.  We are as different inside our heads as we are on the outside.  To require a standard lesson plan that is one size fits all is just not the right thing to do.  Differentiated instruction and learning styles teach us that this is not true.  So, we need to be able to customize the classroom.

Get over the buzzwords and do something

It is so wearisome to hear all of the buzzwords.  I came from the business world and often business people think that they have education all "solved."  I can tell you that I didn't understand ANYTHING about the classroom until I entered one.  I didn't understand teenagers, puberty, kids, or even parents until I had a few years under my belt and there are still a lot of things I don't understand. 

But I do know this.

If we improve every individual classroom in America, American education will improve.  Adding bureaucracy and diplomacy on top of the struggling teacher will only continue to drive the hope, innovation, and individuality out of our schools that we so desperately need.

It is obvious that we can produce athletes, a well rounded person is important.  But now we need more.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results.  Right now, I don't see anything really changing except in the pockets where administrators have inspired vision and teacherpreneurship in their teachers.

So, I throw down the gauntlet. 

  • Stop reducing headcount and start reducing paperwork

    • Require bureaucrats to spend time in the classroom and let THEM record their observations.  The teacher writing down what they are doing ISN'T an observation. 

    • Use webcams or podcasts to stream out of the classroom what is happening -- observe and let the teachers teach.  There is no excuse for having teachers WRITE down how they are accommodating a student when you could literally record with a webcam everything that happens with that student in class.  The teacher's view is just that - the teacher's view. 

  • Common Sense Curriculum and Professional Development Activities

    • Let curriculum directors and teachers decide what gets through the filter. Give them rights to unblock the tools that they need to teach.
    • Move towards a model of embedded professional development.  Binge professional development that happens in one day rarely creates sustainable, system wide change.  Move toward embedded programs like the 23 things that involve teachers in their own pd and requires them to research, reflect, and use the tools.

    • Put technology that teachers use on the top priority list.  If they cannot print, fix it.  If their computer doesn't work, get them a new one.  Does the vice principal really need a new computer every year?  
    • Realize that not every teacher doesn't want or need to use technology all the time.  
    • Stop paying for gurus to "travel" on site and link them in virtually.
      Find and empower local "gurus" that you have right on your campus.
    • Consider letting students create teacher PD as part of their technology education program.
    • Provide technology integrators to work with teachers and projects in the classroom on an ongoing basis.  Mentoring through a project the first time is often what many teachers need.

  • Common Sense Leadership

    • Be careful about all edicts.  Respect the individuality of teachers, but expect them to teach and do a good job.  When they don't do a good job, remove them. 

    • Boards of Education need to hire administrators and empower them to hire and fire. 

    • Too much political turmoil is BAD for education if it keeps teachers from teaching and administrators from doing the right thing.

  • Digital Citizenship In Schools

    • Put in a little preventative education by putting digital citizenship components at every grade level. 

    • Educate students on the proper use of their tools and on what it means to be a professional student.  
    • Put in digital citizenship behavior codes in addition (or as part of) honor codes.  Students should respect the privacy of other students and should not have the right to film or transmit the image of another without their permission.  Students who do so, should be disciplined.  The enemy is the behavior, not the tool.  It is time to teach people how to behave and to teach students that online behavior has offline consequences.
    • Understand that cell phones are part of the Internet and part of digital citizenship.

  • Reject Ethnocentrism

    • Move away from ethnocentric viewpoints.  Yes, this article has been driven at American education, but not because it is the only education, it is the only educational system with which I have any authority to speak.  I've done a lot of work with schools of all types here in the US and this is what I've seen here.  I've seen my students have their world view blown wide open when they see how incredibly competent students are in other countries.  When they realize that competent people live all over the world, their viewpoint changes.  An entitlement mentality is a ticket to the poorhouse for any nation.  Understanding that working hard and doing one's best is essential for success in today's society.

  • Look at the Whole Mind

    • Put art and drama back into schools.  We have a whole brain -- we are creative and logical, we are artistic and textual -- we need all aspects of life to be included.  Sometimes if a student can have ONE class that they LOVE, it helps them tolerate the things they don't love.  People aren't going to go into fields that they are poor at and hate, but things they are good at.  So, we need choices!  Let them paint AND do math.  Let them act, run, dance, and read!  They are a whole person, it is time to treat them that way.  I think kids are quitting school because there is nothing there they even enjoy.
    • Integrate digital storytelling at every grade level in all subjects. 

And I'd like to ask you, if you were able to be brutally honest, what would your gauntlet be?  What gauntlet would you throw down to improve education?

Photo license purchased from istockphoto, you do not have permission to copy or reprint this photo.

Sites that Caught My Eye Today 08/25/2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do something to keep computers out of landfills: Promote Freecycle

Just spent the last bit of time writing some local newspapers urging people to keep computers out of landfills and join freecycle.  (http://www.freecycle.org/)

This service comes highly recommended from people around the world and is a grassroots effort of people sharing the electronic devices that they need to recycle and posting them in the group local to their area.

Here is the letter I sent, will you share yours if you send it.  If we make it easy for others to copy and paste, maybe we'll get more support for this.

Copy of my Letter to the Camilla Enterprise

"If you don't want to do an article on this -- could you include this as a letter to the editor.  You can contact me at **********.

Hi, this is Vicki Davis, I'm a teacher at Westwood Schools in Camilla

I just wanted to point out that there is a group online called "freecycle" - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pelhamcamillafreecycle/ - and that we have a group for Mitchell County.

So many people are throwing away their old computer and electronic equipment into our landfill and do not realize that it will poison our very future.  DO NOT THROW monitors, electronics, or computers into a landfill - ever!  Heavy metals and all sorts of things are in this equipment and it doesn't break down.

The Camilla Chamber had an incredible opportunity last year for computer recycling and I hope they will do it this year.

As much as I love technology, I love this land and our people so much more and it pains me to know what we are doing to our future water supply with such toxic materials being dumped into our landfill.  I ask all of our city and county officials to pass policies promoting the effective, free disposal of electronic equipment for the citizens of Mitchell county.

If you want to receive old electronic equipment that is usable, log onto the Freecycle network.  - http://www.freecycle.org/  This is a grassroots effort of people who use technology and are concerned with how electronics are being thrown in the trash!

Vicki A. Davis
Blog: http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com'
What will you do?  Have you signed up for Freecycle?

Sites that Caught My Eye Today 08/24/2008

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