Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The PD that is slipping through the cracks.

A fellow tech colleague has shown some disheartening feelings on the "failure" to teach responsibility with technology in his school. I have felt the same many times and wonder why this is. After recently attending Sylvia Martinez's session at ISTE, “We Need More PD!” and Other Myths about Technology Integration, I think I have found some answers.

© Stockbroker / SuperStock

Sylvia spoke of some of the most obvious PD in new much more efficient and effective forms that we all have access to but are not using.
  1. Virtual Communities - Now most of you reading this blog are thinking, duh, that is what I am doing right now. Yes, that is true, however, we still find ourselves constantly bombarded with the "gather teachers in a room and lecture, or if you are lucky, attempt new teaching techniques to teachers, expecting their "professionalism" to keep them focused, engaged and on task". Sounds a lot like some unfortunate classrooms out there. We need to see the powers that be encourage virtual PD, PLN's for example. (My twitter PLN has taught me and continues to teach me FAR more than any traditional PD.)
  2. Student Provided - This is the one I am most excited about. I did attempt my own version of this this year as a "learn a piece of software and create some help documents and a presentation for a teacher who may be interested" project found here, here and here. However, this was just scratching the surface after hearing Sylvia speak about Generation YES. In this presentation she spoke of incorporating students into the tech plan, allowing their strengths to help guide us as teachers. As many of my colleagues know, if you don't know how a piece of technology works, "ask a kid".
Well then, lets ask kids, put our out dated mentality that we are the knowledge keepers and truly take technology integration adventures with our students.

I will be further exploring this concept using the GenYES documents to guide me.

How do you include your students in tech planning?

...and to get back to my colleagues issue and not having students "buy into" the respectful and responsible use of technology, would the GenYES concepts create a student policed citizenship guided use of technology?

Teaching to the Test

This is a concept that has been thrown around a lot in my school over the past three or four years. It all started when we began talking about PLC's and new assessment practices.

I am dead set against this concept, however, I have not been put in the situation that my job was on the line due to test scores. I try to empathize for teachers in this situation and find myself torn.

I was never more curious how teachers could teach to the test than at ISTE this year. I attended a session, I thought was about writing, and learned very quickly that the framework of this session was teaching to the test. Needless to say I was very dissappointed and walked out of the hour long session after about ten minutes.

What are your thoughts on teaching to the test? Necessity? Tragedy? Cop out?

Is this were Saskatchewan is going?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Does paper still have its place in the classroom?


I was not expecting to find myself at a session about using paper graphic organizers in the classroom during my "all tech" oriented plan at ISTE. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the Print Cut Fold session.

I have used graphic organizers in the past both successfully and as tragic failures. Most of the failures were due to the vague nature of the organizer I either created or adapted from something I found. Attending this session and seeing how adding a little cutting and folding can really make a boring old organizer into a focused creative one.

Jim Holland, author of the book series "Print Cut Fold", did not only display the creative nature of his graphic organizers, but explained in detail how this can be used in the classroom through all grades. His focus was not so much on printing off an organizer and having students fill it in, but more on including the student in creating the organizer as a study or work tool or a hand in project.

Jim also gave great pointers on how to explain to students some of the simplest tasks, like filling out a text box, triple click and type.

As a representative for not only my school but my school division, I was able to take ideas that will work across curriculum and grades, back to my division and school. I look forward more so to see how my high school English classes will take to some of these activities.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My ISTE Top 10

After experiencing the ISTE conference, I have came up with ten things I learned, my ISTE Top 10.

  1. I need an iPad. Everyone seem to either have one or was giving one away. Watching the ease of use these devices had convinced me.
  2. It takes a conference like this to create the atmosphere for the greatest PD out there, connections. Getting to meet some of my twitter friends and connecting with some of their friends was by far the best experience and largest learning opportunity.
  3. It is all about the STUDENTS. Hands down, the best part of the conference was visiting the poster sessions and listening to students speak passionately about their education. I saw middle years kids from Mexico show me 3D movies they created, script and all, and 9th graders from Texas present to me their schools 6th graders videos and poems about Texas.
  4. QR Codes are not just the next shiny object. I believe these codes have their place in education, as we see the move to POD's in the classroom. Their appeal is not so much the "shiny new object" but the mystery and excitement of not know where they are going to take you and the convenience roll they play.
  5. In Philadelphia, they don't call them Philly cheese steaks, they are just cheese steaks, and they are delicious.
  6. American conferences are done up right! I was amazed at how much entertainment is incorporated into the conference. I couldn't wait to get to the keynote speakers to see the next Philly talent. Everything from acapella to dancers to drums. This was just short of indoor fireworks. (Check out the drummers at the beginning of the video posted below.) If you are reading this post, you must have and interest in educational technology. Check out the link above and go to San Diego!
  7. There are enough "tech tools" out there to solve every educational problem out there, accept for one HUGE factor. None of these are effective without a passionate teacher behind the tool.
  8. Student Response Systems is what my school needs to look into next. These devices are being made in many different shapes, sizes and capabilities. However, as explained in #2, the information gathered by the teacher could be key. It is the teachers responsibility to gather this quick data and respond accordingly.
  9. Paper has its place. After attending the "Print/Cut/Fold" session put on by Jim Holland, I was reminded of the unique educational worth of graphic organizers and print.
  10. NETs is a guiding document that is not going away any time soon and will not be limited anytime soon. These guiding standards need to be learned and followed to ensure we are engaging our students and ourselves to create efficient, effective, creative and critical thinking citizens.
p.s. Chris Lehman is my new hero. To date, his keynote address is the most inspirational "teacher" speech I have heard. He speaks with such passion and compassion, confidence and humility, leadership and wisdom. Beginning his speech with a poetry slam from students from his school he had to have an incredible speech to justify speaking after the incredible poem by the kids. He did. His words resonated with me on so many levels as he explained not what technology can do to a school, but what passion and caring can.