Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reflection #2 On Gladwell's Keynote at NECC

Since my last post I have been thinking about Gladwell's comment about the power of Feedback. This is something that I strongly believe that we don't do enough of in our classrooms and schools. The rise of video game playing should show how much human beings like immediate feedback and interaction. People like to interact and get a response.

I was on a tour of DC the other day and our tour guide told us something that really struck me:

"One of the reasons for The Mall in DC is to provide a space for demonstrations"

First of all, what a forward thinking idea, that those that founded the city that is our center of government would not just welcome the voice of its people - it would provide a space for the voices of all. When we look at the current events in Iran we can see how quickly change can be thwarted by stopping demonstrations. By removing a place for people to express their beliefs and ideas. By scaring people from sharing what they need.

Think of the powerful events in American history that have happened in this space - like these two from opposite sides of the mall:

How many of our classrooms have a place for demonstrations? How many allow student voice?

Gladwell expressed the need for feedback to our kids. That we give them the direct indivisual feedback that they need to learn and grow.

I think the communication the other way is more important. We need to create classrooms that allow for immediate feedback to the teacher. Our teachers need to create places (physical or virtual) where students can share their needs to their classroom leaders without fear.

How do we build a space for student voice?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reflections on NECC - Day 1 (or maybe 2)

There was a really mixed response to Gladwell's speech yesterday. Some loved it, others hated it, and some were left with a mediocre feeling. I was left a little disappointed for two reasons:

1. He is such a terrific storyteller in print and that did not translate into his presentation last night. He was not fluid in his presentation and I felt he did not really know his audience. Plus it doesn't help when some of your facts are wrong in front a very educated group of people.

2. He took the most powerful point in the entire presentation and flew right past it. At about the 22 minute mark he mentioned, very quickly, that we have to challenge our students to believe that they have the power to create change in their own life. Then he skipped back over to another story.

I don't know if he was pressed for time (he could have got some back by leaving out 4 of the 6 one liners he opened with), but this was a major point that really needs to be brought forward. It is at the heart of all of his writing and stories. To me it is the thread that ties them all together. Unique events and people happen because one person chooses to change and others follow.

Believing that you have the power to change your world is efficacy. There are hundreds of studies on efficacy in the classroom (including this piece of junk) that point to it having the potential to change the way people interact with the world. We need to teach our kids that they are in control of their future. There may be factors in their lives that put them at a disadvantage, but they have the power to go beyond it and be stronger for it. They have the power to choose to succeed.

Over the past 2 days I attended Edubloggercon (awesome event), have been touring the city, have been catching up with my PLN, and attended the opening keynote. In all of this one little part of the tour of the city really hits home and makes this point. Yesterday I was at the FDR Memorial and there is a little part when you enter called "Prologue" that was added after the memorial was built (here for why). This is what it looks like:

(Image from Wikipedia)

To me - the most important part of this part of the memorial are the words etched in the wall behind FDR. They are the words of Eleanor Roosevelt.

"Franklin's illness...gave him strength and courage he had not had before"

This is at the heart of what Gladwell spoke to last night. Very average people (just like me) can become great - no matter what odds are stacked against us - should we decide to take control of our lives and be great. It is going to take time and it is going to take effort, but if we choose to succeed, the odds are greater that we will.

As educators we need to do what it takes to help our students to believe in themselves and to use their talents, their challenges, and the world around them to shape their lives and empower themselves to become great.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/28/2009

  • This cross-platform Java application has one purpose: to upload multiple documents at once to Google Docs, which is a powerful tool for collaborative learning and collaborative work. The interface allows users to authenticate to their Google Docs account, and then drag and drop multiple documents (or folders full of documents) for upload. The application also provides feedback on upload progress. This application requires that you have the latest version of Java installed. If you find the Google Docs Mass Uploader useful, please consider donating $5.00 to help support the development of this tool.

    tags: uploader, google, docs, upload, googledocs

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/25/2009

  • Also variously referred to as "NECC 2.0," the NECC "Fringe" Festival, or the NECC "Unconference." NECC Unplugged is held during and as a part of the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC ) June 28th - July 1. It is three days of presentations where anyone can sign up to present, either on-site or virtually, and held on-site in it's own "lounge" area and hosted virtually in Elluminate . Have you always wanted to present at NECC but weren't selected? Or dop you have a topic to present or discuss that wasn't timely when formal presentation applications were due last year, but is so now? If so, sign yourself up! (Special note to presenters representing commercial companies: This is not a venue for direct promotion of your commercial product[s].)

    tags: necc2009, necc, neccunplugged, unplugged, necc09, conference

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NSERVE 6/23 Session

Please start your computers and visit:


Today's presentation is available from a link of the right side:

Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/19/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/18/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/17/2009

  • * Simple & Easy Todo and Time management for teams.

    tags: tasks, project_management

  • There's a lot of misinformation out there about legal rights and responsibilities in the digital era.

    This is especially disconcerting when it comes to information being shared with youth. Kids and teens are bombarded with messages from a myriad of sources that using new technology is high-risk behavior. Downloading music is compared to stealing a bicycle — even though many downloads are lawful. Making videos using short clips from other sources is treated as probably illegal — even though many such videos are also lawful.

    This misinformation is harmful, because it discourages kids and teens from following their natural inclination to be innovative and inquisitive. The innovators, artists and voters of tomorrow need to know that copyright law restricts many activities but also permits many others. And they need to know the positive steps they can take to protect themselves in the digital sphere. In short, youth don't need more intimidation — what they need is solid, accurate information.
    EFF's Teaching Copyright curriculum was created to help teachers present the laws surrounding digital rights in a balanced way.

    Teaching Copyright provides lessons and ideas for opening your classroom up to discussion, letting your students express their ideas and concerns, and then guiding your students toward an understanding of the boundaries of copyright law.

    tags: copyright, fairuse, teaching, education, technology, fair_use

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SWID June 9-16, 2009

The last week has really been filled with 3 major tasks.

1. Purchases/Changes for next year - which included

  • Fielding calls about awards for the last RFQ and questions about the current RFQ
  • Settling various contracts including our new data warehouse (TetraData), consulting for automating Google account creation (SADA Systems) , and stuff related to the RFQ's. I never realized how many contracts you would have to read as a tech director.
  • Working out the details of a SmartMusic pilot in a couple of our Band and Orchestra programs. (Exciting to pretend to be back in the music classroom again!)
2. Continuing the laptop pilot conversation (this will be its ow post soon)

3. Filling out year end evaluations for my staff.

The next 5 days are pretty jammed up. Heck, the next month is packed:

6/17 - Teach all day class on Web 2.0 tools for teachers
6/18 - Teach all day class on Web 2.0 tools for administrators
6/19 - Vacation Day :)
6/22 - Meeting (instructional team w/ the new boss) and 1-1 laptop meeting with other area high school tech folks
6/23 - Teach all day class on "Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works"
6/24-6/25 Try to get some work done
6/26-7/3 NECC

Then I am back for a week. Then I am taking a week's vacation. Then the end of the summer crunch starts at the end of July. Summer started Monday and it is almost over :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/13/2009

  • "In 2005, West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (“P21”). P21, an advocacy organization that includes members from the business community, education leaders, and policymakers, was developed to “define a powerful vision for 21st century education to ensure every child’s success as citizens and workers in the 21st century” (P21, 2004). Highlighted by four core 21st century student learning outcomes, the unified vision of the Partnership is to develop teaching and learning for the 21st century in order to strengthen education in America. In joining this Partnership, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) collaborated with West Virginia leaders from business, government, and education, who committed themselves to systemic change that will prepare the youth of West Virginia to be productive and successful citizens globally, both now and in the future. The WVDE, with guidance from the visionary work of P21, has instituted a comprehensive framework of policies, strategies, and resources to implement 21st century learning and instruction. In support of this undertaking, Edvantia, Inc., was contracted to work with the West Virginia Department of Education to create a comprehensive chronicle of West Virginia’s experience with P21."

    tags: 21st_century, WV_Teach_21

  • The 21st Century Learning Imperative: "In West Virginia, we were one of three states that received full approval with regard to its assessment and accountability system. Our standards, our assessments met the gold standard, so to speak, at the U.S. Department of Education. And I can remember the call that came in from [former Education] Secretary Paige at the time that said, 'Congratulations, your system has met the mustard,' at which time I said, 'Thank you Mr. Secretary.' At first glance our numbers under NCLB looked pretty good.... We have improved performance [in] every single student subgroup in both content areas at every grade level."

    tags: 21st_century, WV_Teach_21

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/12/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

SWID June 3-9, 2009

It has been a busy week with school coming to a close. Here is where I have spent most of my time over the past week:

  • 1-1 Laptop pilot discussions
  • RFQ 2009-2
  • Sending out end of the year reminders
  • Helping teachers fix problems in their gradebooks
  • Dealing with some issues around students posting inappropriate material on the web
  • Discussing future tech planning for next year
  • Meetings with our Web Programmers (AmericanEagle.com) regarding current and summer upgrades
  • Discussing RFQ 2009-1 winners with vendors
Lessons learned from this week:
  • Deciphering confusion in a teacher's gradebook is a 30-60 minute process. Problems are usually centered around teachers not fully understanding the math in weighting.
  • I really didn't understand the number of issues centered around inappropriate use of email and the internet I would be drawn into in this job. It seems that (now the seamless role of technology) means that when people do something dumb they drag technology in with it.
  • Vendor relations can be one of the most taxing part of this job. Vendors are just people trying to do their job. Sometimes they don't understand that I have a job to do as well. Sometimes that means that we have to tell you no thanks.
For those of you interested in what I am reminding staff of - here is my email from this morning:

I hope the last week of school is going well. Before everyone takes off for the summer I wanted to remind you of a couple of things:
1. Big phone changes this summer: We will be installing a Voice Over IP phone system this summer to improve and expand on the features our phones offer. Every phone in the district will be replaced (traditional phones will no longer work in the district). Some key points:
  • Every staff member will have their own extension, but not necessarily a dedicated phone line.
  • If you do not have a dedicated phone line your direct calls will go directly to voice mail
  • Your voicemail messages will also be delivered to your email inbox
  • There will still be common phone lines (general office/departmental numbers)
2. Staff with laptops - please be diligent over the summer with your care and maintenance of school owned laptops.
  • Keep them secure (use the lock that was provided to lock them down) - especially when traveling
  • Do not leave them in a hot car or in direct sunlight for an extended period of time
  • Do not install software that has not been approved by the building technology staff
3. Classroom printer changes:
  • Classrooms that have 5 or more workstations will have a networked printer
  • Classrooms where special education is taught will be supplied a printer - due to the nature of how IEP's must be printed
  • Labs will continue to have a variety of networked printers
  • Classrooms with less than 5 workstations would not be supplied with a printer.
  • As stated in the district's Acceptable Use Policy, personal printers are not allowed or supported in the district and will be removed from any location in the building (this includes printers individual staff members have purchased, have been purchased by activities, have been donated, etc...)=
  • Classrooms that need printers due to the above requirements will have printers added to them over the summer and all printers that are in classrooms that do not meet the above requirements would be removed. This includes printers that staff members may have bought on your own - please remove any printer you own from the building before summer break - printers that are left behind will be discarded.
There are many other changes happening over the summer and the technology staff will be very busy. Please continue to use the online help desk to record any tech issues that may arise and we will respond to your needs as quickly as possible.
Thanks for a great year and have a relaxing summer!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/06/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/03/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

SWID June 1-2, 2009

This is a twofer. There was a board meeting last night so I really didn't have much time to reflect on the day.

So over the past 2 days my time has been spent:

1. Preparing documentation for our feedback that will be included in Google's case study of how Maine 207 is using Google Apps for Education.

  • This has been cool chatting with Google about our philosophies and how we see the product improving to meet the needs of schools.
  • A follow up to this was contacting my teachers for examples of the activities they are using with their kids that require Google to get them done. This is a great learning experience for me because I have seen several activities teachers are using, but I have a much broader scope now.
2. Working on the announcement for the winners of our RFQ. You can see the winners here. We got some really good deals. The savings we have here can be leveraged towards other products or be returned to the Education Fund (business managers really like it when you come in under budget)

3. Working on outlining a 1-1 student laptop pilot. I spent the morning at Maine East working with a cohort of teachers and administrators to start outlining what a 1-1 pilot of netbooks would entail.

4. Technology Manager's meeting: the technology leadership meets 2x a month to discuss business and plan for the future.

5. Board Meeting: I didn't have anything on the agenda, but I am finding that being there for tech support is important. You also get a chance to build relationships with board members. There was a question that came up during the meeting that I was able to immediately answer for the board. It doesn't look good when you are not there to answer those kinds of questions (I have learned this from past experience)

6. Future planning discussions: With purchasing comes lots of working out of fine details. They are not exciting to talk about here, but attention to detail is important. It also eats up lots of time.

I also took part of the afternoon off today. I had to get my knee looked at - I messed it up playing basketball. Looks like I need an MRI - might be a meniscus tear - yippee. Also got a haircut. Tuesdays are Mr. Dad at home (wife has grad class). Sneaking in this post while the kids play nicely together (yeah that happens sometimes).

Until Later...

My Bookmarks and Annotations 06/02/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Technology Budget Planning and Redeployment

Continuing my discussion on technology budgeting... (much of what you read below was taught to me by other people - I take little credit for this wealth of information)

One of the concepts that I didn't fully understand when I moved into technology was budgeting. Now I think I am pretty good at it. Later I will share a tool that I use that allows me to really tweak thing out and test changes in my overall plan before I actually make them.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

When it comes to technology budget planning I start with one key philosophy:

Try to give everyone what exactly they will need for the next 3 years today.

Here are the fine points of that statement:

  1. What they need may not be what they want
  2. What they need may not exist today
  3. Needs always change
  4. You can't do this on your own
  5. You cannot accomplish this goal
So how do you achieve an impossible task? You don't. You just do your best to come as close as possible.

So, you have to start with communication. Talk to everyone that will share what they want from technology. Spend more time talking with people that have no clue about what technology can do for them. The only way you can set up point #1 above is to talk to people. This is also where redeployment comes in. Redeployment is moving your old tech junk around. I always have 2 goals here. Put resources where they are needed and never give someone a piece of equipment that is older than the one they have now. The computers that you buy for a high end lab today might not be able to run the software needed for that curriculum 3 years from now - but they might work just fine for a writing lab. So in 3 years replace the high-end lab and move those computers to the writing lab. They will do just fine there. You have now build a redeployment cycle 3 years high-end, 3 years writing lab, and then they leave your building.

Cycles like this are easy to plan for, look great on paper, and impress other administrators and board members because of your forward thinking. Take 4 cycles and you have planned 25 years into the future.

Always over budget for these cycles - then you will have enough $$ for items #2 and #3 above.

Finally - use a good tool for this planning. I started with a pretty good tool in 211. I really tweaked it out when I came here to 207. You can see the spreadsheet here (it is a Excel 2007 Macro enabled Spreadsheet). If you do use it you can build out 25 years of a technology budget in a couple of hours. You can change everything on the fly and use it to see how future changes will impact your budget.

If you really want to use it take a look and then contact me so I can walk you through it.