Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I love conferences. Despite all the online connecting I do everyday through Twitter, listserves, email, and other social networking sites, there is something exhilarating about coming face-to-face with those you've interacted with online, as well as others, new people, who share their own passion for learning and for helping students to learn.

Storm Lake teachers, take the opportunity to attend TICL at BVU this summer. The district will pay your registration fee. Let me know, and I'll register you.

Take a look:

Teachers who have attended in the past have come back ready to move to a new paradigm of teaching and learning. Ask them, and then let me know you want to go, too. You will be glad you did!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


It's funny how one gets so wrapped up in the community of EdTech supporters on Twitter that one forgets how many aren't even close to the same perspective on education. It's funny how one attends conferences on education and hears experts talk about project based learning and technology integration and self-directed learning and collaboration with others outside the school walls, and then forgets that others still believe in getting back to basics with closed door classrooms, pencil and paper, drill and practice, and textbooks. It's funny how one pushes teachers to adapt learning to incorporate the vast wealth of opportunities found in a global, connected world only to experience hesitation from the same forces that pushed teachers to change but now panic when they have.

Maybe it's not so funny.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Power of Teachers

I was asked to attend the High School English PLC meeting today where they explained to the superintendent why their students need access to Chromebooks in their classrooms all day long. It was a powerful presentation that made the advantages of students having access to devices all day every day very clear. The things these teachers are having their students do through Google Apps, Google Chrome, Schoology, and other websites is educationally sound, and the examples of student work they showed were excellent. Both these teachers and their students have seen the advantages:
  • Differentiation
  • Collaboration
  • Organization
  • Accessibility
  • Formative assessment
  • Accountability
  • Feedback
  • Higher Order Thinking
  • Creativity
  • The ease of revising
  • The power of writing daily
  • Fact checking at one's fingertips
  • Tools like dictionaries, text to speech, and language translators
  • And so much more
I don't think it's overstating things to say that this was a profound moment for these teachers, and I feel privileged that I was able to witness it. These teachers understand that education is changing. These teachers are willing to let go of the reins and let their students work together and learn from one another. These teachers are challenging each other to be better teachers. These teachers are willing to do the upfront work to continue to change their classrooms.

As a techonology director, I've been preaching these things for years, but there is nothing like the power of a teacher. I am always inspired when I get to watch groups of teachers who have seen the light and are ready to fight for what should change. I sign every email I send with:

A huge Internet pipe, robust wireless, and mobile Internet connected devices in as many students' hands as possible. A teacher who loves to learn, learns new things regularly, and models that love of learning to students. Student-centered classrooms. It's that simple (and that complicated)!

I saw this in our High School English teachers today, and I am proud.