Tuesday, February 28, 2012

SLCSD District March Newsletter

Central Office asked me to email their March SLCSD newsletter to all our families yesterday. If you didn't get the link, here it is:

March Newsletter

Take a look at all that's going on in our SLCSD family!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

International Learning and Relationships

I spent my noon hour yesterday with our kindergarten teachers. They are all working very hard to share and collaborate with classrooms across the world. Using Skype when time zones allow and using shared presentations, web links, or email when asynchronous communication makes more sense, the teachers and their students are realizing the opportunities for learning outside the four walls of the Storm Lake Community School District. As the teachers, along with Juli Kwikkel and Michelle Huntress, all watched a presentation created for our kindergarten students by kindergarten students from an international school in China where pictures of each child were accompanied by recordings of each child introducing themselves was amazing. These teachers are "getting it." They realize that we live in a global world now and that communicating with others far away will lead to rich relationships and educational experiences for our students. The questions the teachers were asking about technology and how to best create the richest learning experiences for their young students was uplifting.

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

Devices for Students

Being both a tech director and a personal tech geek, I have access to lots of devices--A large beast of a laptop, an iPad, a Kindle Fire, an iPod Touch, a Chromebook, and my netbook. What's my go-to device? The lowly netbook. There is nothing that I do day to day that I can't do on my netbook; the size is right both for use and for portability; it has a keyboard that I can touch type on; and the price is economical.

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

Technology Can Transform

For some time I've questioned the remark I hear almost everyday, "Technology is just a tool for learning." While I've agreed for a long time that there's a time for technology and a time to learn in other ways, I think technology transforms our society and education so much that to think of it as just a tool is underestimating its role.

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

Introverts and Extroverts in Classrooms

I've been reading the brand new book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and I just keep thinking about the implications for our schools. Our society and our schools are currently designed to reward extroverted behavior, and I've long believed that this is fundamentally unfair to our students who aren't natively wired to behave this way. As the book points out, introverts are very important to our society. We need both the talkers and the thinkers--the social butterflies and the readers--those who like to work in groups or speak in class and those who prefer to work on their own--those who deliver the message the best and those who quietly created that message.

Face to face groups can be intimidating for an introvert, and with so many well rewarded extroverts in classrooms, it can even become just plain difficult to get a word in edgewise. Technology offers us some wonderful tools to accommodate the needs of our students who are introverts. With email, discussion boards, shared documents, Twitter, blogging, chatting, and many other forms of technology for communicating, we can provide our introverted students with new tools to participate more fully in their education and to share their important insights, knowledge, and thoughts with their peers.

I am happy that Susan Cain has opened the conversation. I hope that we will come together as educators and think about whether some of our methods for educating give an unfair advantage to extroverts and whether we might be overlooking the introverts who have so much to share but have often not been given a comfortable outlet to do so.