Reflections on #edcampSC

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Today I attended edcampSC in Rock Hill, SC. Before I forget, I am just going to briefly share my “take-ways” from this conference.

Session #1: How to engage parents
Facilitator: Bobby Lynch

  • Strengths of Remind101 – allows to txt w/hyperlinks
  • What ever way in communicating with parents, consistency is the key to success
  • Traditional methods of communication with parents via newsletters is still effective with puzzles and/or brain teasers
  • Look for ways to allow bidirectional communication including anonymous feedback
  • Teacher was successful in using padlet to have students create artifact and have parent interaction with it
  • Another teacher had success in posting high performers on stars on the wall. Students were very eager to have parent to come to school to share accolade
  • Blogs are a great resource in communicating with parents and to receive feedback from them. (Weebly was mentioned)
  • ConnectEd was agreed by all to be annoying and a “turnoff” to parents
  • Focus groups including parents to address issues seemed to help with communication

Session #2: Using Non-traditional web/app resources in the classroom (Apps as creation tools and Google apps)
Facilitator: Me!

  • foursquare.com – Could be used to have parents to checking at school functions where teacher have evidence of their attendance and can give student incentive
  • craigslist.com & ebay.com– Students could discover and compare purchasing items on this site vs local store. Discuss or debate the pros and cons of ordering items online; or have an assignment having students findin someone they know that has purchased items online and share findings
  • Train students how to research and be an informed consumer
  • Other websites that were mentioned: freerice.com, playspent.org, and readwritethink.org

Session #3: What about students who don’t have tech @ home with
Facilitators: Heather Rollings & Derek McQuiston

  • Record video or audio of lesson on DVD – Classroom Redbox
  • Set student expectations of Internet usage using contracts
  • Someone mention this project (http://wigle.net/) that displays wifi coverage
  • Offer alternate assignments that do not require technology; or if teacher requires an assignment to be completed using technology, students need an interval of time to complete assignment to find access to Internet resources.
  • Remember that it is not about the device, but about the learning
  • TPACK was mentioned
  • Ipad = Manipulative on steriods
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Exhaustive List of Online Math Resources

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I gotta thank http://ccssmath.org/ for this list of resources for math educators. If you are deciding to front-load/flip your classroom, this is a great place to start.

I am familiar to approximately 98.6% of the list. So, this Labor Day weekend is a good time to explore!

  1. Brightstorm
  2. CK12
  3. Class Zone
  4. Geogebra
  5. Glencoe
  6. K-5 Math Teaching Resources
  7. Khan Academy
  8. Kuta Software
  9. Henrico County Mathematics
  10. Illustrative Mathematics Project
  11. IXL
  12. Learn Zillion
  13. Mathematics Assessment Project
  14. Mixing in Math
  15. NCTM Illuminations
  16. National Science Digital Library (NSDL)
  17. PBS Learning Media
  18. Purple Math
  19. Quia
  20. Read Write Think
  21. Regents Prep
  22. Science Net Links
  23. SECC.SEDL.org
  24. Shodor
  25. Smithsonian Education
  26. Teach Engineering
  27. Ten Marks
  28. Texas Instruments
  29. Xpeditions by National Geographic
  30. XP Math
  31. YouTube

The Downfall of BYOT

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In the back of our minds, we are already aware what may cause the downfall of the BYOT movement. We just don’t want to admit it. The source of what powers technology is “the problem”. Using common sense, we all know that there will be a great demand for charging these devices to last throughout the day. Colleges are already dealing with this issue.

Charging stations will be a vital requirement of power management for teachers in the classroom. While a student’s device is being charged, will the teacher have a backup device to supply in order to maintain the student engagement?

Will schools have to give a limit of devices that can be charged at on time in an outlet? Will there be an increase of fire hazards in schools? I will not even touch the issue of theft of property theft while the electronic devices being charged.  These issue cannot be avoided (unless we demand engineers of our electronic devices to create be solar powered versions) for the time has come for students to be empowered with these devices for instruction. As TD Jakes states, “Get ready, get ready, get ready!”

eBooks, tablets, & laptizzles: Do we really need them in the 21st century classroom?

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Now whither the textbook…

Yes, there is a big push to move to digital text books. I understand there is a great need to eliminate paper and the convenience ebooks/tablets possess. Anyway, before your read this blog post any further please view:  North Carolina School Engages Tech Generation With Digital Learning Tools.

This video champions the big push to having technology resources in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong. I am one of the biggest edtech nerds that you will ever know. As a nation, are we really for our classrooms to be transformed to a multimedia rich, Internet-driven environment? What is required for this to happen in school districts nation-wide? I am overjoyed how the above video elaborates why they are successful.

However let me let me quickly point out the key phases of any successful local school or even district wide full technology adoption.

1. Implementation – This is know as the “roll out.” Within implementation, there is a very brief period of training. It is important to know your hardware and know it’s limitations. This phase it the easy part.

2. OJT (On-the-Job Training) – This is the phase that is the key to the success or failure of any technology initiative. Videos on a website are good for training, but training should not stop there. To learn anything, you must get your hands dirty. The IT department and every school department must merge and become one (in my best Yoda voice). Teachers must be as tech savvy as your computer guy. The expectation is there. Period. There is no getting around this fact. Not just having a help desk on standby, but hand-holding/shadowing may be needed as necessary for those who are hesitant or very-slow to adopt in the transformation of the expectations of the 21st century learner.

3. Maintaining universal hardware and software requirements and access for all – In my humble opinion, to maintain a successful technology-dependent school you must ask hard questions. Will what we are doing continue to be successful in 1 year? 5 years? Will all our new equipment become obsolete next year, if so, what do we do? Will learning still take place when power is down?  Can I find another teacher that can fit in the shoes of the hot-shot nerd-extraordinaire teacher that just left to the other school district with better training/equipment? Will my all students with their BYOT computer/tablet/smartphone/laptizzle work on the network?  How do we handle students that bring their own network? How often should school districts supply students with updated equipment? How long will we be in the piloting phase of BYOT when students possess their own smartphones and portable wifi hotspots?

I can continue on with my rant for or against technology in the classroom. Let me just conclude that it will always come down to money. Without money there is no budget for technology or training.  At this time, we just have the expertise of the teacher with their bag of best practices and textbooks to support instruction. How long will this be acceptable for the 21st century learner. We must allow the technology transformation to occur.

Smart Notebook for iPad: TWO THUMBS DOWN; NEEDS WORK

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Okay… This app may have been the reason I have an iPad for having a portable IWB is the greatest tool for an educator. If you cannot tell, I really have been waiting for this app for a while once the word got out Smart tech was on the project.

Honestly, I really wanted to share on this blog to say this is the only IWB app you will need. Please delete all of the others, but I cannot express that positive opinion at this time.  Unfortunately, after dropping eight bucks and downloading this app, I was immediately disappointed in what it failed to offer compared to the other apps such as Notability, Penultimate, Paper and Show Me. Here are the missing features that I was looking for to separate it from the other lame IWB apps:

– Where is the Extend page function! They really missed the boat on this feature. This was the first feature I looked for, and was disappointed not to find it!

– Cannot change thickness of pens; no magic pen; no niffy erase features!!!!

– What? No lines? Ya’ll know I cannot draw a straight line!

– Next page does not mean new page… Okay, I’ll let this one slide.

– Cannot hide preview panel?! Shesh, Smart tech, I cannot utilize the whole page? Or at least have an option to go full screen, homies?

-Huh, no gallery? I’m done…

I’d say it’s only best feature that it will allow you to use existing Smart Notebook files. Honestly, this product is more like a beta product and IMHO should have been free. If you have not purchased this product, don’t until they get it right. If you need an app that’s better that is worth the $$, I highly recommend the purchase of Notability, Penultimate or even Paper to get the job done.

Sand or Cement?

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Nowadays, everyone is on the Internet. So, should one stop to reflect their personal online behavior and evaluate their online digital foot prints. Yes, because everything you do, say, act, click on leaves either a foot print that is either cemented permanently or temporarily impressed in virtual sand. What do I mean?

Google yourself, and you will see your cemented tracks. Or anything that you participated or contributed online that is permanent to certain extent that can be recovered by someone other than yourself that you cannot remove. Server logs of your whereabouts online that you cannot access is also virtually cemented and only viewable to a select group of people as if you was a star! Ask anyone that is being sued to downloading movies or music lately.

However, if one can remove your digital tracks, that could be considered a foot print in the sand, which is somewhat temporary unless you or someone else can remove  it such as the cookies of your web browser (cache) and browser history.

Do footprints serve a purpose? Yes… You can discover many things about someone that have or do not have digital footprints. Current and potential employers, significant others, and just ordinary nosy people find joy and sorrow in what people knowingly leave behind.

What if I do not leave any digital footprints? That would be impossible, only if you do consider yourself a non-participant of the web 2.0 revolution or a user that is very restricted with your online activities.

C’mon Uncle $am…

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“Technology should be leveraged to provide access to more learning resources than are available in classrooms and connections to a wider set of “educators,” including teachers, parents, experts, and mentors outside the
classroom. It also should be used to enable 24/7 and lifelong learning.” -Excerpt from National Education Technology Plan 2010 Executive Summary (p.8)

The above statement makes you think that one would really benefit from using technology in education. However, the latest word on the street is that the military is limiting their recruits that have obtained their diplomas via (non-traditional) virtualVirtual Graduate high schools. This sends a strong message against blended, distance, homeschooling and any other variation of learning outside the classroom. Kinda makes you wonder if there is really a difference between graduates of the two different sides of the spectrum.

For example, if someone learns better, excels academically and obtains their diploma using online instruction, should they be excluded from serving our military? In my honest opinion, if someone has earned their diploma traditionally or non-traditionally, I feel that they should have the opportunity to serve our great country. Anyway, isn’t the ASVAB still used to evaluate recruits to see if they can ‘cut the mustard?’

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