Monday, December 31, 2012
The last day of 2012 and besides my two computer technicians and me, there are few people working in the district. We love days like this, though. We get so much done! Justin and Jorge have finished reconfiguring all the middle school laptops so that they will log into the network faster, and they have have swapped out the batteries in the UPS that keeps the middle school network up in the event of a power outage. In addition, they've worked hard to resolve and close trouble tickets.
Me? I've spent every spare minute the past couple of weeks preparing for our EdTech day for teachers that is scheduled for January 21. The plan is to work collaboratively in PLCs and online in the morning and then to work collaboratively across building lines in the afternoon with facilitators and other teachers who want to implement similar technology integration in their classrooms. The focus is ultimately completely student based. "What will students do with technology to further their learning of the curriculum? is the guiding question. On the other hand, teachers will have the time to explore the available technologies to choose what will work the best in their classrooms. The hope is that the guided practice and modeling will give teachers the confidence to take the necessary steps to student independence. This is the second EdTech Day for the school year and the third full day in the past calendar year, so teachers are refining, expanding, and adding to student technology use for learning in the classroom.
It's been a great year EdTech-wise in the Storm Lake Community School District. We've added lots of equipment, but more importantly, we've expanded what students do with the technology, and that afterall, is what's really important.
Here's to 2013. What awaits us for learning in the new year?!
Friday, December 14, 2012
Here are some examples of what our students are doing right now:
- Mrs. Warkentin's and Mrs. Jacobsons's third graders are creating Google Presentations about different Native American tribes. They are comparing and contrasting "types of clothing, hunting methods, food they ate, and...how the location of the tribes...affected their way of living." This has been a cooperative learning activity as the students have all worked in pairs.
- Mr. Baker's fourth graders are studying immigration. Their project is to do "family history interviews," tying their knowledge of immigration to their own families' experiences.
- Mrs. Huntress' third grade students continue to blog. Recently, they have been blogging about Native American tribes, both current ones and those from the past, allowing comparing and contrasting. From this study, the students have written about the needs of Native American communities today, and they have collaborated with a classroom in Okoboji to get input on their writing from students from outside the district. They even Skyped with a Lakota reservation school.
- Kindergarten classrooms continue their collaboration with schools outside the country, including Canada and Japan, among others. They've created classroom presentations to share. They've recorded introductions about themselves to share. And, they've Skyped with students in other classes. What a great way for our little ones to think about culture!
- Mrs. Tucker's seventh graders are writing their own music compositions.
- Mrs. Cole's students are creating book trailers that are available on the SLCSD YouTube channel. You will also see video projects from other district classes on our YouTube channel.
- Mrs. Hixon's seventh grade science students are "researching environmental problems...such as habitat loss, endangered animals, and global warming." They are taking the next step, though, and they are using technology to "create awareness of the problem and/or to provide a solution to the problem." They are creating and publishing "websites, PowerPoints, and Prezis...to make the public aware of what they can do to help."
- Mrs. Green's high school English Language Learners are creating "web-based portfolios" that can be used not only for assessment but also "as a tool for future job or college applications." The students are using Google Apps as the place to work on their projects, because they can collaborate there and get almost instantaneous feedback.
- The high school geometry classes taught by Mr. Grant are using software called Geometer's Sketchpad for "hands on demonstration to help visualize different parts of a triangle."
- Mrs. Vieira has her high school Spanish students blogging, researching poets and creating presentations in Voicethread, using Google Docs to share vocabulary in sentences for immediate feedback, and accessing Spanish resources to increase their Spanish skills. In addition, the Spanish 3 class collaborates with three other Iowa schools regularly for learning.
- Mrs. Mouw's Accelerated English students are doing a research project about cultural history, that makes extensive use of technology. They have "researched, questioned, created, written, revised, problem-solved, collaborated, and exercised their inventive individuality in how they are choosing to fulfill the assignment's requirements." I've seen the assignment, and it is authentic, cross-curricular, collaborative, and demanding. Combining family history with research, history, literature, creative writing, reflection, and collaboration is enhanced enormously with technology.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
there is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe,
But the most important thing is,
--Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
Thursday, October 18, 2012
- Focus on the student and the learning outcomes and not the technology. Once you know what your learning goals are, then you can think technology -- And, start with what you have!
- If you haven't tried Evernote, you should. It's a great place to store your thoughts. Better yet, I learned I can buy a Moleskine notebook, get three months of Evernote premium free, put a special sticker on each page of the notebook, take a picture of my handwritten notes, and they will go to Evernote to the right folder based on the sticker. For someone who loves to write things by hand sometimes, this is fantastic! My handwriting is my art. The best thing about Evernote, in my opinion, are the search and features.
- iPads, although created for consumption and personal ownership, can be coerced into doing some pretty amazing, creative things. I'm still not sure they are worth the expense with the short period of time before they are obsolete and need to be upgraded, but boy, teachers have found ways to use them effectively. Jamie Fath has some great info.
- I may just be ready to move to virtualized servers. I've been reluctant to add the complexity, but I learned enough at the conference to realize there are some real benefits to going this direction.
- You don't need a classroom full of technology to be effective. You can have a few things and do great technology integration by sharing. Follow @mrnidey on Twitter. He's a third grade teacher who has truly transformed his classroom.
- If you aren't using your interactive whiteboard as more than a screen for your projector or a worksheet substitute, you are missing some great educational opportunities for your students. Try making your whiteboard one of your Student Centers and give your students the reins.
- Offer your kids authentic choices, and they will fly. Let them collaborate outside the school walls.
- Using primary sources will bring history to life. Seriously, I think I would have loved history had my teachers gone about it this way.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
We had an electrical wire torn out in an accident today and have been reminded how dependent we are on electricity. First, we lost Internet and switches. Then the Internet came back for awhile. Oops, Internet and fiber gone again. Then with the battery backups running down, I've shut off servers. No email. No grade book. Sometimes you might as well go home . . . . Unless you're the Tech Director and need to make sure it's all back online once the power returns. Thank goodness for my phone while I wait!
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
More in the next couple of days. That EdTech PD coming up is going to be awesome!
Friday, July 20, 2012
- 180 new netbooks for student use. We have them all configured for imaging, and the first lab is complete. We are waiting on the next five labs to see if we are changing our copiers at the elementary school and to get our new middle school wireless settings. They should all be imaged the first week of August.
- Yes, we will have brand new, robust wireless at the middle school! The cablers come next week, and we deploy it the following week. We are so excited as this is the last part of our wireless improvement project!
- New and improved student information system - We are still running JMC, but it is a brand new web-based version with many new features that is going to be very nice for our staff, our students, our parents, and our teachers. The new JMC server is up and running, and it looks great!
- Our updated website is just about ready to be launched. We hired a company to design the site, and Pat Fisher and Tracey Bailey at Central Administration have busily been updating it and getting it ready to replace the old site. This site will become the hub of online information about SLCSD, and we think you are really going to like it. Kim Johnson will also be involved with her high school web page class students, and every teacher and administrator will be involved with their corner of the Internet world, whether it's lesson plans, student grades, blogs, student bookmark sites, or their own teacher/classroom web sites. It's very exciting!
- Eight new SmartBoards are going in at the high school, middle school, and elementary school.
- There will be three new student computers at East Early Childhood and another SmartBoard, too. There will also be a laptop for teacher use on the SmartBoard that is already in the media center.
- Network upgrades. We are re-routing some of our district network to provide better performance at the middle school and the elementary school.
- A couple more iPads for Special Ed students.
- Some new software for math and reading interventions at the elementary school and the high school.
- And, we continue to update all 1200 district computers.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I have so much to share with you, SLCSD!
Monday, June 25, 2012
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Presenting about the global connections of our kindergarten classes:
End of conference SLCSD meeting to plan for EdTech for next year
Using Twitter to connect with others and share resources:
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
TICL 2012 Conference Program
Here are some of our staff members:
- McRel's Classroom Strategies that Work have been updated in the second edition of the book, with the realization that none of the nine strategies are better than others, that the choice of strategy depends on what one is teaching. While we want to get to the higher order thinking skills in our classrooms, we can't do that without our students having a certain base of knowledge.
- The best way to learn is through play, and the best way to teach is by developing relationships with our students, according to the keynote speaker Zac Chase.
- If you want your teachers and students to use technology in the very best ways for learning, your administrators have to model the behavior by their use of technology.
- While I love the battery life of my iPad, it does not play well with Google Apps. It lends itself best to individual users with their own iTunes accounts but can't be deployed on a mass scale in a school that way. That iPads can do some really cool things if you have a Mac computer to use with them. That the first iPad, which is only 2 years old, is already outdated and can't run the current operating system, which means there are new apps it just can't run. And most are in agreement that an iPad is great for running apps, such as games for students, but that it isn't a replacement for a computer.
- That you can realistically create professional presentations of your announcements each day with nothing more than a laptop and Windows Movie Maker.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
I had the pleasure of attending the National Honor Society induction ceremony a couple days ago, and while there were many things that struck me as very special during that event, there was one thing I just have to share here. Every year the NHS students select a faculty member to give a speech at the ceremony. This year Mr. Jason Heeren, high school band director, was invited to give the speech, and he did an excellent job giving these outstanding students advice.
What struck me, though, is this. The students voted to select the teacher to give the speech, and in that voting process nineteen different teachers received votes. Nineteen! To know that so many of the SLCSD teachers are respected so much by their students just makes my heart sing. What wonderful students! What wonderful teachers!
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Mrs. Mortensen, specifically, has formed a partnership with a school in British Columbia. They have exchanged various presentations to learn about each other's culture.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Take a look at the original articles. Both of them bolster my belief that school technology is only as beneficial to learning as our ability to view teaching and learning in new ways. Until we are willing to shift our thinking, we might as well have saved our technology dollars.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
The same goes for educational technology if we're not careful. We see the potential of the technology, whatever it is; we purchase it and deploy it with great fanfare; and then we watch with dismay while students and teachers implement the use of the technology at only the most superficial levels. The stakeholders are very excited at first, but because the users aren't growing with the technology, the newness wears off in a hurry. Then the advertisers tout the next new technology, and the users clamor to move on to the next new device or software, only to once again hip skip along the surface of the potential of the technology.
This cycle must end. We must make educated decisions about the best devices and software for our schools, and then we must train and collaborate and dig very deep to make sure we are making the very best educational uses of the technology. We must avoid the temptation to put the old aside to move on to the next newest thing over and over again, because it means we never really reach the place of teaching differently or learning differently, and that after all, is the point. isn't it?
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
However, you can't load programs or software on them. They don't do Java. They have only limited Flash capabilities. And, they are paperweights if they don't have a wireless Internet connection. As wonderful as it would be to get away from laptops and netbooks that sometimes take a minute or two to log in, I just don't think Chromebooks are the answer in a community where we have so many families without Internet access, let alone wireless Internet access at home.
What do you think?
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom.--Clifford Stoll
We must continue to move the education of students from fact memorization to higher order thinking skills, and we must do it urgently and systematically. The use of technology in the classroom can be the catalyst for this process, or it can enable teachers to teach the way they've always taught, turning out students who are completely unprepared for the ways of our globally connected, technology rich world. We must continue to read the literature and study educational technology, and then we must continue to urgently work with teachers and administrators to both choose the best technologies and to also push students to their own active, authentic learning for life.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Don't let anyone ever say that EdTech professional development and time to work on EdTech integration is wasted. Teachers want to fly. They just need the tools and the time.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I wonder if we don't aim too high when it comes to devices in the hands of our students and even our teachers. If we truly analyze what students and teachers use their personal devices for, I think we will find that less is more.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Take a look at this blog post from George Couros and make sure to read through until the end where there is a powerful picture:
Technology is More than a Tool
In my opinion, Mr. Couros has said it so well. What do you think?
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it."--Margaret Thatcher
Today was our new computer technician's first day, and boy, did he ever work! All the odds and ends of different brands and ages of individual computers that we haven't found the time to repair are first on his list. Some have hardware to fix or replace. Then, most don't have images to throw at them, so it's a process of loading Windows and all the other things that need to go on them. All in all, it's very time consuming. I can't tell you how great it is to know it's finally getting done.
Welcome to Jorge who has jumped right in and made SLCSD a better place for learning already!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Proud is an understatement.
I ran into this video on Twitter this morning and had to post it here. We have all been in presentations like this. Here is my question:
How many class periods a week do students have to deal with this exact scenario?
Technology integration is not the same thing as "using technology." We must change the way we teach. Give the students the technology. Set them free.