Monday, December 10, 2012

Tech the Holidays

Over the weekend, the leaders of SEPACT held a session called Tech the Halls.  Brandon Lutz and Brooke Mulartrick lead the organization to a sharing that was held for SEPAECT.   This organization has been working to share ideas with other tech loving teachers in such a way that the use of new tools will assist in student centered learning.

I want to thank everyone that attended the session and shared tools that will assist in instructional practices.
That is what the holidays are all about:  sharing new toys!

Enjoy learning about new information!
Mentimeter--track answers in real-time

KanBan2go--create a to-do list that can be shared with others it is a search tool for lessons, resources, quizzes- it’s great for finding content for teachers.

Slide speech- narrate your Powerpoints - create a PPT and then type what you are going to say in the comment section... upload

Readwrite in chrome browser will add a full set of tools for Google Docs... vocabulary and dictionary and more. It is an extension for Google Docs and can be added to Chrome. Play Pause and Stop buttons... reads and can translate... great for ELL.

Chrome Brower tools: You can go to the Chrome store and add information to your browser.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Professional Learning Networks

A professional learning network is a place an educator can go to for resources, content, support and overall educational relationships that will build their own learning. I have learned so much from online communities as many that are a part of the community are willing to share information or how they completed a task to make it easier for you.

I can compare online communities to a child's preschool class. Picture some three year olds  playing by themselves for a little bit until a new person comes. Then without fail  one child will go to another child, "Look what I have! Do you want to play?" Before you know the whole class is engaged in the new toy and sharing news, toys, and other information about themselves. All the information is helpful and because you go to these sites fellow teachers from all over the world will share information. A few that I enjoy following are as follows:

Flat Classroom Project Vicki Davis and Julie Linsday   (May have to be in the classes to join the ning)
Educator PLN    Thomas Whitby
The Future of Education Steve Hargadon
Google Reader
Teacher 2.0   Steve Hargadon
Microsoft Partners in Learning

Check one out or share if you have found a new one!! There are many communities through conferences too so keep on looking and you will see new ideas coming into your inbox!

Comment and share the new communities that you find!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Find out more of Teaching Standards

Inquiry Research

While attending the iNACOL Conference, I found that most of the sessions were built around research.  The presenters were sharing their findings and how the research affected their way of thinking, instructing, and planning.

This year our staff will be sharing in this experience of completing an inquiry research and gather data to assist in finding information on any "wondering" they may have.  My question is to find out if I help engage staff in different forms of professional learning will it assist them in extending their own professional development?  Therefore, I have a few willing participates to help me find this information and share different professional learning to them throughout the school year.

I will use this blog to share out information but also reflect on my own thoughts during this research!
It will be a fun ride!

Who is ready to join me:)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Opening Opportunities

Recently I took a course that pushed me further into understanding the tools for Power Point.  I have to say I never really was trained on how to use this resource expect uploading some text and a picture.  Through this opportunity, I have learned to make my presentations more interactive, exploding with information, and a way to share all information with different groups of people.

Now that I have completed this task, I am looking forward to taking the Word and Excel exam to further my knowledge for those tools.  Again, I know from working in the Microsoft products but working through the ITAcademy has given me new ways of utilizing these tools!

I would highly recommend learning these tools as it will help you work more effectively in planning, presenting, and reflecting on any presentation!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Where For Art Thou Portfolio???

As all educators look for a way to secure data from their students, teachers need to think of ways to capture their own data to support their instruction. It seems like an simple idea, but collecting data will be challenging for teachers that do not know how to.  What data should I gather?  How much do I need?  When should I start and end the collection?  Why is it important to gather?

First the idea that collecting data for grades only needs to be revised just a bit.  Education needs to be a more well-rounded, real-life experience in order for students to thrive in a global economy.  Yes we need students to remember certain facts and show ways of comprehension, but could grades only be based off of the paper and pencil assessment; absolutely not!

Second, we can look at Bloom's Taxonomy and how we need students to analyze, evaluate, or create to gain a deeper understanding for any content of study.  This is where the search for thou portfolio comes into play.  With all new technologies, gathering data and reflecting on ways to do this task is easier than ever.   The need to gather writing samples, projects, math journals, pictures, problem solving steps, and more in a portfolio can show more than a quick snapshot of a written test.  If schools could develop a way to have the portfolios travel with students could even get a bigger picture of how a student learns, thinks, and creates.

Now how would that be for real-life experience!  Using project-based for learning which in turns changes the way students graduate, pick a college, and career.  Education could be more then “Open your mind so I can pour the info in it.”  Education  could be “Lets work through ideas for find the best solution.”

Lastly the use of portfolios is not a new idea; however, I think the idea of real-life experiences is becoming a buzz word in education which makes the use of a portfolio ideal.  Students, teachers, administrators  and even parents should keep all student information in one place so when they graduate they have a link that demonstrate their growth as a student since kindergarten!  I can see the commercial now by Google:)  I better trademark my idea before it gets out!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back to the Basics

Over the weekend I heard Apple sold over 2 million phones world wide!  The funny part is I didn't think that many people needed a new phone; but then again it is the latest and greatest tool out there right!  Now fast forward to back to school night that I was attending for  my oldest son.  Every teacher had EVERYTHING posted on their website.  I want to see homework for the day; website, projects; website, grades; website.  All the teachers I visited thought this was awesome that the students could get their materials at any time, even if they were absent.  However, every class I sat in had me fill out a paper survey about my son!  This must still be the latest and greatest thing in schools.Well every class but one.

There was one teacher that spent two years pleading with the district to get iPads for the kids and he finally won.  In that class, I filled out a Google doc on an iPad in a class that will be using Dropbox for submitting assignments.  This all my sound great, but did I tell you my son is on a team in which the 7th grade Falcons use the same teachers.  So why am I filling out a survey for each teacher when Mr. Tech lover could have just shared the info on Google Drive.

The whole point of this story is one thing:  change!  Schools need to listen to a teacher that is willing to spend two years of meetings, presentations, budgeting, and data collecting for 30 iPads as they are the practitioners.  The teachers are the mover and shakers, but will not be able to move and shake if administration is not willing to change.  Administration will not change unless the state regulations change, and then the federal governments roll in education.

As I see this year, it will be changing for my son as new tools are coming his way!  Especially the mom factor:  accessing homework and projects everyday is awesome.  But to me this is old hat as PA Virtual continues to have this information available and has for a few years.  Again change needs to happen and we need to get back to the basics:  educating child in any avenue possible!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is Reflection Part of our Professional Learning

There are tons of pull and push resources in which I gather to share with my staff.  I pull information from places like Twitter, FB, various nings, and even Google Reader.  I am able to decide which materials are relevant to me, ones that I could share with others, and those that I may not need just yet.

I also have resources that I like to push information out to others like Glogster or even blogger where I can assist others with resources and materials that maybe others can utlize.  (At that is what I try to do:)

But how do I pull or push out reflection on what I am trying to accomplish in my little world of professional learning.  Where can I go for that information or how can I send it out to others??  So I have to take some time to think for myself and see what I am doing is really working.  I would like to say yes, but data could say no.  Therefore, I am going to start thinking about how I can pull in reflection on a daily basis and push out my ideas or thoughts to those that may be able to pull in one nugget of information.

I am going to start to keep a OneNote book about my daily reflections and see where it takes me.   I am going to review what I do on a daily basis and then see how I can improve my own professional learning and the learning of others.   There is something important to putting ideas down on to open up a place for new thoughts and I am going to give it a shot!   

Does anyone else feel like they are in a tug of war with ideas??

Friday, August 31, 2012

Out of Our Minds

Recently as a staff we were asked to read the book Out of Our Minds by Sir Ken Robinson.  I have to say the book supported the idea of keeping creativity in school, but also ignited the inspiration I needed to start to think more out of the box.  I need to develop a shape for myself and how it will define me.  Do I want to inspire others by my actions or try to be innovated in creating something so amazing for my staff.

I am also reading Reflective Educator's Guide which is assisting in developing a teacher inquiry question that I need to study this year.  This is were the two books are colliding and forcing me to rethink how I have done things in the past!  I will continue to build my skills by being a part of my online communities but also try to get staff members as my school to see the benefits of building a a creative network of online supporters!

What do you do to be creative?? How does that transfer in your instruction??
Share your thoughts!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Learning 2.0 Conference

If you have not had the opportunity to be a part of the 2012 Learning 2.0 Conference, I would suggest that you check out the archived sessions.  Steve Hargadon has created a place for learning, sharing, and collaborating in such a way that make building your own professional learning networks easy.

As I have reflected over the summer, I want to develop a place where teachers can share and my hope is this blog!  I will be working on developing a place to collaborate and hey maybe I could help develop avenues for other educators!

Share, tweet, Facebook this site as we will build another learning/sharing site!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Innovation was everywhere in San Diego

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the ISTE 2012 in San Diego which was an amazing experience. I was in session after session with educators that were willing to share, collaborate, and ready to move forward with new initiatives or institutes. Could you just image working with a building full of staff members that are all working on the same goals using innovative tools and sharing with anyone that asks. This week I have received emails, tweets, and business cards from folks that I just introduced myself to and they would share what they just learned. The culture of ISTE is inspiring, regenerating, and stocked full of new ideas. As I sit here, tired from a late flight I am still ready to move forward with the ideas that I learned and want to share with all of the teachers in my school. Well...I will just have to wait until August! That will give me plenty of time to create a nifty way to share of of my information. Hmmm, what should I do? Podcasts, wikis, Voicethreads, Evernote? Decisions, Decisions!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Promising Practices 2012

Above are tools that I used during the 2011-2012 school year to develop my skills in understanding how they worked and why we may need them. I found these tools to be productive and useful ways to sharing information that I will continue to use next year. I am also looking to create more goals to include these tools but also develop a library of videos to accompany these resources. What are your thoughts on these technologies and have you used them?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What is your take on Web 2.0?

Have you used FacebookTwitterFlickr? Evernote?  If you have, congratulations for moving into the "Read Write Web!"  Some years ago the web was only for reading and accessing information but the developer of the WWW, Tim Berners-Lee, wanted people to "a collaborative medium, a place where we [could] all meet and read and write".  With the idea of more critical thinking, problem-solving oriented tasks, and collaboration the use of Web 2.0 tools give students the tools they could use to optimize their learning.

The the use of cloud technologies makes the access to this information even more accessible!  How about Apple products?  You can read a book on your iPad then move to your phone, and if needed go to the mac computers!  Now that is awesome and the android market has tools very similar in the cloud.  I have Evernote on my tablet, computer, and phone.  So if I have an idea on something, I can add it to my app and then find it on my computer the next day. 

The possibilities are endless so my challenge is to get yourself out there!  I read somewhere that about 90% of people are lurkers and 1% are true contributors to the read write web.  The more we share the bigger our potential can be.

What are some web 2.0 tools you use??  Share how they have improved your learning/instructions?

Web 2.0 Glog Info

Friday, April 13, 2012

How Flat is Education?

Recently I completed a Flat Classroom teacher certificate course offered by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.  These two innovative ladies developed an idea on how to connect students around the world while learning 21st century skills.  This did not happen over night, but they recently released a book with all the steps needed to complete tasks of becoming active in a Flat Classroom.  This opportunity was enlightening as it gave me more insight on collaboration in a virtual world and how to compromise, communicate, and problem solve to build stronger connections.  

This idea brought me back to the school I work in right now.  PA Virtual is on the edge of innovation and building new ideas everyday to improve  education for its students.  Our school is flat and will continue to make the connections needed to learn about community and collaboration. First we can make the connections locally within our flat school, then we can move to schools in the US to find a more national connections.  Finally a global connections can only give students opportunities to learn about global issues that will impact their learning and development of their future!  Think of all the connections we can make by just using technologies at our fingertips:  email, FB, Twitter, Wikis.  The list can be endless and the connections can be so great.  There is a world out there full of willing teachers and students that want to learn about different places and we can make those connections.     As teachers we always make decisions that will improve instructional practices that will enhance a student's learning environment.  Innovation happens in education everyday and I feel we need those in charge of making policies to understand why and how.  April is Advocacy month at ISTE and as a member of the ISTE Voices Carry Advisory Group I feel it is important that we are aware of decisions and make our voices heard as they will change education for the better!  Share with me your experiences of how we can make education better and what steps you have taken for this improvement!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Test! I have to take a Test! AHHHHH

I can remember being in Mrs. DeMarco's sixth grade history class getting ready to take a unit test on the content we just finished. How bad is it that I just remember it was a history test and not what was on it! I started feeling sick to my stomach and nervous about the questions. Mrs. DeMarco was reading through the directions, passed out the test and I read the first question. I remember drawing a blank as I did not know the answer. So I went to the second, then the third and still nothing. Short of getting out of my chair screaming I closed my eyes, took a deep breathe, and began the test all over again. I made it through the test, and could not tell you my grade on it (I don't even remember the content) My memory never forgets this test scenario every time I took a test after that day. Even now I get worked up about completing a task that may be evaluated or judged by my supervisors. The reason I made it through this test and knew to regroup my thoughts was because of something my mom said to me that morning. She told me to take my time, check the answers, and if I did not know the answers skip the question and move to the next one. She said, "Kath, have confidence that you will do fine!" Because of her encouragement on the day of the test, it helped me through. However I also knew about the test, what kind of questions on the test, and how much time I had to complete it. The same goes for the PSSA for our students! To prepare the students, let them know about the place they will be taking the test. The time they will be leaving, coming home, signing in, and what they will do at the testing sites. The more information students and parents have about testing will ease minds of all. During the next few weeks you will receive information for testing, what to bring, the time frame of the assessment, and some policies for testing. Continue to work through your curriculum, complete the test taking strategies, and continue to build your student's confidence in answering questions on their own. The more they feel confident, the better they will be able to complete the test. Finally, as a parent you may be feeling some anxiety for your student. That happens and very natural to want to help our students gain success. Make sure that your student does not feel, see, or sense your fear for this assessment. Just like any of content topic you may dislike, a student will take on those same fears if they know you have them. This can be a challenging time, but preparation for all avenues of testing will be helpful for students and parents! What are your thoughts of assessments and how to you ease the sense of anxiety?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Digital Writing: How can it help my student?

Writing can be daunting task for many students at any ability level. As educators, we can guide students through steps that can assist in organizing their writing, but the true content of writing has to come from the thoughts or reflections of the writer. Students need to understand they can be a writer just like they can be a strong reader, mathematician, or even scientist. Helping students find the connections between their thoughts and paper is where some anxiety can occur for our students. Writing is a process that needs to be learned over the course of a student's educational journey. Each year students take steps to understanding connections between the content of study and their knowledge within that content. Being able to build that bridge to improve gaps could be using motivational tools to achieve understanding. This is where digital writing comes into play! Any educator will tell you the best way to engage students would be to find their interests, learn how they are motivated, and letting students be responsible in their learning. Once you have covered all of these areas we can engage our writers by looking for tools that invites them to new avenues of expression. You may have heard of wikis or blogs but how do they really engage students? Well first knowing that these are two types of collaborative tools opens up conversations online with other writers. A student could keep a writing journal online in a blog for family members and friends to see. Once a student knows that other could read their essays then they see the connection between learning the steps of writing and sharing thoughts in a safe environment. Over the summer, my son read a book and wrote a summary of each chapter in a blog we created for him. I was the only one that read it and would comment on his reflections. Each day he would check to see if I commented and what I had to say. He started to comment back which opened us up for more dialog for the book he read. We still talk about the book as his comprehension was strong in this area which also has helped with his motivation to read. Baby steps all around:) I believe there needs to be small steps when creating a digital imprint so making a safe environment for sharing and collaborating will allow for a student to express their thoughts through digital writing but also develop skills as a global communicator which is a skill needed for the 21st century learner!