Thursday, July 24, 2014

Day 4 Blog Entry

I spent my time this morning, while folks were editing, researching and learning new organizational tools.  I spent the majority of my time exploring Evernote and although I am not done, I do see that it could be a very useful tool to organize everything (notes, ideas, websites, links, photos etc) all in one place.  Like many people, I find that at any one time I have meeting notes in multiple notebooks, I have sticky notes on my desk and computer, I have a to-do list on my fridge at home, I have photos of things I like in my phone, and I constantly taking mental notes of tasks and ideas that are promptly lost in the back of my head.  If I continue with this method I just might lose my mind.  I am hoping that Evernote might be a solution...more to come

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day 3 Reflection

There were a lot of things today that were really relevant to my school and really got the wheels turning.  The flipped classroom article I thought was very relevant to not just technology PD, but to all PD in general.  So often we do what I "Fly- By PD".  Teachers get together, they learn a different way of doing things, they are very excited, they go back to their classroom and a week later that new and different way they learned is the last thing on their mind.  What this flipped PD system provides is a system of support for the teacher to change their practice.  And what this system really exposes is the need in every building for peer coaches who can provide that ongoing support. 

I was thankful that we spent the last part of our day analyzing the aesthetics of district websites and not my school's website... which is not good.  The analysis of the websites and the time we spent on effective presentations was yet another reminder of the many hats we must wear today as educators. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thoughts on Doug Bundy's presentation

I took away several things from Doug's presentation today.  I guess I would start with the most simple first, and that was the added functionality of google search.  Although many of the tools were not new to me, things like reading level, usage rights and custom searches were things that I had not used before and would be of great use to my teachers.  Using google earth to teach math and to conduct literacy trips was also something new and are great ideas for my teachers.

His presentation inspired me to explore several other google apps during the break, and I am currently playing around with google keep as a way to bookmark information, create lists and in general organize all the interesting ideas and information I come across online.  The second thing I am going to begin exploring is google classroom.  While still in beta format, it seems like it will  allow teachers to seamlessly organize their classrooms and do things like collect and track assignments and manage google docs.
Google Keep

Google Classroom

Monday, July 21, 2014

Reaction to Mitra's presentation

The shift that he suggests in this video is similar to the other videos we watched today and that is shifting the locus of control in the classroom from the teacher to the student.  This shift is facilitated through the use of technology in the classroom.   Students, are curious and inquisitive, and technology can provide the opportunity for that natural curiosity to have free reign.  Whereas in the past, the teacher was an arbiter of that knowledge, he/she organized, sifted and presented that information and was the locus of control.  The teacher’s role can and should shift from a gatekeeper of knowledge to more of a mentor and coach with the student controlling pacing, direction, interest etc.   

I have several teachers that have been shifting to more of an open, inquiry based classroom these last two years,  I have witnessed several of their challenges and triumphs in integrating technology in their classrooms in a similar way as Mitra suggests.  After watching his presentation one might come away with the idea that if we simply expose students to technology and get out of the way all our problems will be solved.  My experience is that for a decentralized classroom to work there needs to be a tremendous amount of front loading, teaching and training that must be done before students can be given free reign. There needs to be routines, structures and behavior management systems established around technology, just like in every other aspect of the classroom   And my teachers and I were surprised at how much time needed to be spent in the classroom developing systems and standards around appropriate use of technology.  When is technology a tool and when is it a crutch?  When should it be used to solve a problem and when should be off and away?    What my teachers and I found was that when given technology our students wanted to solve every problem and every task with  technology and this was often not always the most efficient or effective means.  Twain's famous quote is that "To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail," and when it came to our students, everything looked like a solution that an app could solve.  Without systems in place students were spending all their time searching for an app instead of working on the problem.  Likewise, time needs to be spent in teaching students what meaningful collaboration looks and sounds like.  Also of importance, and often very difficult for some of our younger students, was evaluation of sources on the internet.  

It is true that technology is an essential component necessary for students to be truly prepared for college and a career; however, of equal importance is teaching students the skills that go along with appropriate use of technology.  


"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

-Abraham Lincoln: Annual Message to Congress, December 1st, 1862

" A teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be."  

-Aurthur C Clarke

This is a test, only a test