Sunday, July 19, 2009

Putting the PD Before the IT

As I do all too often I checked up on the Tweets of the day for a little PD (professional development). I'm still working on that thing called balance. I think I still fit into all of Jeff Utecht's stages of PLN adoption. Working on getting to stage 5, but I'm not there yet.
A colleague of mine "tweeted" something that hit home with me and I couldn't help share it with the Bolton staff. I wanted to share it here as well because the point was to put the "PD" before the "IT."
Paul Bogush, an eighth grade teacher in CT, posted Dear Administrator on his Blog called Blogush as a response to Scott McLeod's challenge to “blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, etc.” The challenge was issued for LeadershipDay09, an event in its 3rd year that has been created to help education leaders (adminstrators, etc.) get and handle on
  • what it means to prepare students for the 21st century;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (budget, staffing, infrastructure) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
and so on…
Click here for more on Leadership Day 2009. It's an interesting concept!

As 2Teach21 went through their three-day kickoff training last week I thought about them often, and I knew they were putting the PD before the IT, so that when the IT is there, installed in their classrooms, they know what to do with it, and why to do it. I don't think we should underestimate the importance of that step. That's also what has been foremost on my mind as I begin anew at Kimmel Farm Elementary. If educators aren't lifelong learners, how can we expect our students to strive to be?

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Farewell - But Not Goodbye

Photo by H. Koppdelaney via Flickr
"Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends." - American Author Richard Bach
I write this feeling ambivalent, but nonetheless at peace. My colleagues at Bolton Elementary now know that I will not be back with them for the 2009-2010 school year. I accepted a generous offer to help open the newly-built Kimmel Farm Elementary. The process was a quick one, and it wasn't taken lightly. As I often do, I stayed up through the night and into the first hours of the next day pondering my future.

Ironically, a couple of months earlier our principal asked me point blank if I was going to apply for the Kimmel Farm job if it was open. Honestly, at that point in the year, I was so engaged with what we were doing at Bolton I had not even thought about working elsewhere. Then, out of nowhere, I received an email inviting me to interview for a possible position at Kimmel Farm. I realized then, I had to at least consider the possibilities. A few weeks went by after an initial interview and I had heard nothing. I put it out of my mind, thinking for one reason or another it wasn't an option.
Tuesday, the final week of school (with students) I returned a phone call and learned I had to make a choice - quickly. The next afternoon I accepted, and let our principal know my decision. She was very gracious through the entire process, which I greatly appreciate. I realize she took a chance on me when we decided to embark on the Teach21 journey (the hours of professional development, the expensive classroom makeovers, the belief in different methods of teaching), and it would not be the success it is without her leadership and commitment. But I also realized the process will continue on, and that the chance to begin the process again with a new faculty at a new school is something I very much want to do. It's a very unique opportunity.
As I presented an update on Teach21 one year after it began I said I believe what made it successful was that the team challenged the status quo, built a learning community that connected people, and that they committed to our cause. Those are no small accomplishments. We've all come a long way in a year, but all realize there's still a long way to go. That's just how it is in education. We can't stop moving forward, can't stop developing our ourselves as learning educators, can't stop trying new ways to develop our students into well-prepared 21st Century citizens.
As I move on to Kimmel Farm I don't really feel like I'm totally leaving Bolton. There's just too much of me invested there. I believe learning is social and connected and there's no reason, through the use of technology, that Bolton can't be connected to Kimmel Farm. I said I believe learning is shared and transparent - and that can happen at both these schools too. There's a genuine opportunity for student motivation right there. And I said I believe learning is rich in content and diversity, which technology brings to the classroom so well.
There hasn't been a year in my entire career when there wasn't change. People come and go, and with each new school year comes new professional relationships and new opportunities. It's been an honor to be your colleague, and I know I'm a better educator because of the many things I have learned from each and every one of you (Remember, learning - and teaching - is social and connected). I'm still learning.
I have always believed Bolton has talented educators. The unique element that comes through Teach21 are that there are ways to connect that talent into an especially powerful collaborative. I know Mrs. McMillan will be a wonderful Technology Facilitator, and Bolton will move forward through the use of her innumerable talents. She's already a gifted educator, but her desire to learn more and share it with others makes her perfectly suited for this job that changes by the minute.
This is my farewell, but not my goodbye. Remember, I'm just a text message, email, or Skype call away.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Students Give the Answers

In late April I asked the question - "How do You Measure Your Effectiveness?" The point was that in a data-driven education environment it sometimes becomes all about the numbers. We strive as educators to help our students earn "those numbers" and schools and teachers get defined - sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse - by the numbers. I said, "That doesn't tell me enough about my effectiveness as an educator."
Tonight, we celebrated the passing of the 5th grade class from elementary to middle school with our awards and recognition program, held at a beautiful church near our school. It was there that at I received at least part of the answer to my question of effectiveness - from a likely source - our students.
The students were the ones I work with producing our school's broadcast show. Ever since we launched WBBB we have worked dilligently to make it supportive of the curriculum, and motivational not only for the students on the show, but also our entire student body. We hold the broadcast crew to high standards regarding academics, behavior, and citizenship because we want to express and them to model what we value about those elements of life at Bolton.
We always honor our broadcast crew for their consistency in those areas, and ask them reflect on the process at the end of each year. Their reflections are edited into a short video presentation which we share at the awards program.
As I stood before packed pews and proud parents the students I was there to honor, honored me. It was humbling, because I've always believed our students make the broadcast a success. I'm just there to support the process.
Presented with a generous gift card to a local restaurant and handwritten cards from each student the answer for which I had been looking began to reveal itself. As I read the cards their words brought more into focus.

Here are some excerpts from their writings

"Thank-you for the stuff you have done for always make me laugh and made WBBB interesting."

"Thank-you for doing the best you could do for the new and old crew of WBBB. The new and old crew appreciate you so much... I want you to know that when I move I will miss you and Mrs. McMillan."

"We had a great time at school because you are a great leader to our whole class."

"Thank-You for a wonderful time at Bolton. It's an honor being on WBBB. Thanks for taking us to all the awesome places... I will always remember the things you did for us."

"Thanks for the field trips and videos and letting us have fun."

"Wanted to thank-you for all you do on WBBB. You are very smart (that's debatable). I will miss you when I move on to middle school."

"Thank you so much for your hard work teaching us rugrats how to use electronics to do our show. I will miss you terribly..."

"I have really been honored by being on WBBB news and I've learned a lot. Without you, none of this would have been possible."

"Thank-you for everything you have done."

Sometimes being an educator can be a thankless job, but tonight I was thankful to have mine. Many students always write or say they'll never forget you because that's the thing to say in the moment. In my experience, few have returned or written back to tell "the rest of their stories." While the gift card was overwhelmingly generous (and I plan to use it to help decompress from another arduous year) it's their written words I value most. They were so obviously genuine, and they let me know at some significant level I am, and we are at Bolton effective educators. Thanks students, for giving me the answers to my own test. (Is that cheating?)

Here is the video we presented tonight with our student reflections.

(Above photo by Alison Jackson-Bass via Flickr)

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Brief History of Technology in the Classroom

This speaks for itself, and I can proudly say this is where we are and the direction we're going at our school! This comes via SchoolTube.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do You Have A 21st Century Brain?

Thought this was intriguing. It comes via the website "Big Think." This is Princeton Neuroscientist Sam Wang answering some probing questions about how we think about learning and knowledge in the 21st Century.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Do They Know?

I heard a colleague and friend of mine, a fifth grade teacher, comment to another in passing it was her least favorite day of the school year Friday. This past Friday marked the end of the first round of the NC End of Grade Tests, and the results were back. Teachers conducted one-on-one conferences with their students to share their results, and followed up with phone calls to their parents. 
In the last two posts I've discussed thoughts about our effectiveness as educators, and the mind set pertaining to whether standardized testing results tell us if we've prepared students to be lifelong learners, to think critically, creatively, and work cooperatively. As I left school Friday afternoon I fully understood where my colleague was mentally and emotionally. The push to get to and through EOG testing was draining enough, and pouring over the results was mind-numbing. I have questions.
Do those who set assessment policy know...
  • what kind of pressure teachers put on themselves in preparation for these tests?
  • how much time is spent on "assessment," and the preparation for it, rather than actual teaching?
  • how much school personnel are reconfigured and school-wide routines disrupted?
  • how much principals, assistant principals, and curriculum coordinators worry? 
  • what kind of stress students exhibit during this period (sometimes to the point of illness)?
  • that at no other time do we ask students to sit still and perfectly silent for long periods, an environment almost totally foreign to them and "uncomfortable?" 
  • how many teardrops fall, sometimes even before students hear their actual results?
  • how much impact this process has on students' feelings of efficacy (both positive and negative)?
Just asking the questions?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mind Set

This post piggybacks on my last, which I had hoped would have drawn more comments. We are very appreciative of the two insights we did receive. We welcome more. It also draws from other blog posts which come courtesy of Will Richardson and his blog "Weblogg-ed."
A friend and colleague of mine called my attention to the first of two Richardson posts I want to reference in this one. It was Richardson's "Quote of the Month," and it resonated with me because of my own reflections on my effectiveness as an educator. Richardson pulled the quote from Education Week's article called "Bridging Differences."
The subtitle for this letter of response is "Test Scores and Reinforcing the Wrong Connections."

The writer is Deborah Meier:
"As long as we use test scores as our primary evidence for being poorly educated we reinforce the connection—and the bad teaching to which it leads. If by some course of action we could get everyone's score the same—even by cheating—I’d be for it, so we could get on to discussing the interactions that matter in classrooms and schools: between “I, Thou, and It.” I’ve spent 45 years trying, unsuccessfully, to shift the discussion to schools as sites for learning. Such a “conversation” might not produce economic miracles, but it would over time connect schooling to the kind of learning that can protect both democracy and our economy. Because that’s where schools are (or are not) powerful."

BTW - I'm not proposing or supporting cheating. Those are Meier's words.

Richardson followed on May 6 by blogging in "Wanted: School Chief Learning Officer" that he had recently asked a school superintendent - "What percentage of the teachers at your school do a good job of preparing kids to take meet the requirements, pass the tests, and get prepared for college, and what percentage do a good job of teaching them how to learn?"
The response he received was - “I think 90 percent of my staff is really good at delivering the goods, but only about 10 percent really get student centered, inquiry driven, lifelong learning.”
I would have hoped for the inverse, but Richardson's point was, "how much more we could do in emphasizing the process of learning as well, not just for students, but for everyone in the school."

At this time of year we play the numbers game with standardized testing - the preparing for and administering of it. And I'll reiterate that accountability is necessary and ultimately good. But I fear that we sometimes miss the point of it all when we struggle so hard to get our students to "earn" that number. If we let it all end with the formal test result have we truly prepared our students to be lifelong learners, and to think critically, creatively, or cooperatively? All educators have to answer that question for themselves.

As for me, I think it's the teaching between the testing that gets our students to that point of learning how to learn. That's how it connects with what we have started at our school with this Teach21 initiative. Most, if not all of the kinds of activities we have looked at, implemented, and planned for future use requires our students to think critically, creatively, cooperatively. And I believe it has started to connect our teachers as well. What we are doing requires a certain mind set. I see my role in all this should be to support, encourage, research, and collaborate with all my colleagues. That's where I hope my career is headed. To facilitate means to make easier.

Until our measures of accountability change we will continue to prepare our students for the test as best we can. Whatever the method, I just hope we look at what it really tells us, and keep it all in perspective. Teachers - value those moments of teaching between the testing. Students - good luck with the testing!
Photo by Sidereal via Flickr

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How Do You Measure Your Effectiveness

It's that time of year again. The final push in the marathon school year that ends with North Carolina's End of Grade Tests. I always have a mood change when the stress of the daily grind takes over at this time of year. I asked myself, "Why am I feeling this way?" I have some ideas.

This mood hit full force this morning on the way to work when I realized that most of my Wednesday afternoon would be reserved for test administrator training. That's usually a 2-hour or so ordeal where we go over things like the Testing Code of Ethics (again - and yes it's important), and dissect the test administrator's manual. Highlighters whiz across pages at breakneck speed and we all pay special attention to all the warnings and directions about how to administer these assessments reliably and ethically.

I fully understand assessment is necessary, and accountability is ultimately a good thing. Every business has it, and education needs it too. It's just that I have an issue with what our method really tells us at the end of the year.

This morning I was helping third grade students take multiple choice test items using ClassScape. Teachers can pull test items by state goal and create assessments that return detailed data about what students answered correctly and incorrectly. It's a powerful tool that lets us as educators know how our students are doing and what we need to review and reteach. It's basically an EOG test on the computer. Usually, when our students come to the lab I see a little excitement in their eyes and motivated pupils who know we're going to do something creative and "cool." Today, the reaction was just the opposite. That reaction was powerful too.

I can't answer for for anyone except myself, but I know I got into education because I wanted to make a difference. I know that's cliche', but it's accurate. I believe most good educators got into the business for this reason as well. But what does that look like? How do we define and assess the difference we made at the student level like we attempt to using standardized test scores?

The fact is - I don't think we do, and that leaves me with an empty feeling.

At the end of the year all we are left with are rosters with scaled scores, percentages, breakdowns, and roman numerals. That doesn't tell me enough about my effectiveness as an educator.

I'd like to know that I helped develop more than a good test taker, but helped develop the whole child. I'd like to be able to look at my rosters and say, I helped motivate a child when there was little motivation. I'd like to know I taught students successfully to understand and accept classmates that were different with different opinions. I'd like to know if what I taught was clearly conveyed as necessary for successful living. That list goes on, but you get the point.

I want to try something different with our students using our teaching blog at the end of this year by allowing them to reflect on their school year and see what they can convey about what they have learned. I'm still working on the prompt, but at least I will have an assessment of sorts that is bigger than any scaled score. The responses will be valuable because the students will define the assessment by reflecting on what was significant to them. It won't be constricted to an A,B,C, D answer on a bubble sheet. I don't think students reflect enough, and that is a valuable lifelong skill to master. Of that I am sure.

Help me, if you will, shape this prompt. How do we as educators measure our authentic effectiveness?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Catching "Chocolate Fever"

After our video conference with author Robert Kimmel Smith (Chocolate Fever) the students had so much to say about their experience. Each student felt that they had a personal connection with this author, the world of books, and even publishing. They gained a personal insight into the world of literature that you don't get from just reading a book and writing a book report. I have asked my students to share their reflections about our video conference and how it made reading this book a very personal experience.
From a teachers perspective I feel that the little bit of time that I spent getting this experience set up was so worth it. To get ready Robert Kimmel Smith and I had a "practice" skype session to see how everything would work. This was new for him too since he had just gotten a new computer with a web cam. Once we were both comfortable with the logistics we were ready to set a date and time for the video conference. I then emailed him the questions that the students had written so that he would know the things the students wanted to ask. Since this was the first skype experience for the students as well we then set up a practice skype session. I took the class into a classroom with a web cam and my fellow teacher Ms. "A" was in another classroom in the school that also had a web cam. We "skyped" from one classroom to the other! The students loved seeing themselves on the screen and had to get all the wiggles out! They practiced reading their questions and then were ready for the big day. During the next week every time I saw one of these students in the hallway they would ask, "Are we going to skype today?" Over and over I continued to hear this question! Eventually the big day came and they could hardly contain their excitement! Once the video conference began the students were so engaged! They were having a real life experience with a book that I bet they will remember forever! See what one of our colleagues said about this experience on her blog "Technology" (Image from Madeleine_'s Photostream via Flickr)

Teach21 - Year One

The title says it all. Year one implies there is a future for Teach21 and there will be. Teach21 will be implemented with a new group of educators next year, and this trailblazing group, who met today for three hours to learn for the last official time this year, will continue to grow and learn and pass it on. That alone tells me that Teach21 has been a great success. If you go back to the origins of this blog you will see the milestones along the way. There have been pitfalls and glitches, but they've not been excuses for not moving forward.
Here's what I've seen in less than a year. Teachers who were anxious and reserved about using technology are no longer treating anything we show them tenuously. They have gained a comfort level never before reached. Others have seen the value of connections with other students and teachers within and beyond the walls of Bolton School. More to come THIS SCHOOL YEAR with that. Teachers who loved using technology continued to do so, but learned even more looked at it through a different lens, with new tools and products, and shared their expertise with others. That has even spilled over to our personal lives as we've celebrated several new additions to the families to those on our team. In the media center students at every grade level have been trained to check out their own books. That's a huge step that allows our media coordinator to be more free to be engaged in helping students navigate our resources. That part of our school is still being upgraded with hardware, but the mounted projector and screen has allowed a new level of instruction. In science lessons have come alive with video and interactivity to the whole world.
Teach21 has changed my teaching significantly as well. In the lab I have tried to teach our students how they can use technology to show what they know. It has made me more of a facilitator, forced me to become more connected within my own school and worldwide. That's exciting! I've been in contact with technology educators who are asking the right questions and have a head start on the things I want to learn how to do and bring to Bolton School. The impact on students has been significant. I don't know what it's statistical impact will be with regard to NC's End Of Grade Test scores, but I know there's an anecdotal record that shows a big impact on students and their ability to connect, create, and be lifelong learners.
I will never forget what one fifth grader who has been at Bolton since kindergarten told me about being a class with a teacher who has been part of Teach21. She said this year has been her best ever. Digging deeper into what she means I found that the Smartboard was a part, but it was more of what they did, and how they approached learning than it was having a glowing interactive whiteboard in the room. The success within our group of educators will be evidenced through their reflections on their own blogs, so check those via our blog links. Please comment and let us know what is working where you are. This is an ongoing process. It always will be, and that makes being in education at this moment in time a rich and exciting experience.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Visit With Author Robert Kimmel Smith

My colleague and friend, Leslie McMillan, is truly a gifted teacher who is broadening her skills every day - especially with regard to technology. She's been a lifesaver over and over as we've gone through Teach21 together. I see that she has a passion to use these tools to be even more masterful.
Today she arranged a video conference meeting with her third grade reading group and children's author Robert Kimmel Smith, who wrote the books Chocolate Fever, and The War With Grandpa.
Her students prepared questions for Mr. Smith, who lives in New York City, after studying and reading Chocolate Fever. We invited other classes to watch and/or ask questions by broadcasting our meet over We told teachers if they wanted to ask Mr. Smith questions they could get a UStream account and use the chat feature. We then relayed the questions to him for his animated and anecdotal answers. At one point we had as many as eight locations "tuning in," and I know some classes combined in a room with Smartboard so they could see and hear well.
Our students were TOTALLY engaged with this, and we prompted Mr. Smith ahead of time that we wanted him to plug his other books in the hopes that our students would take the initiative to read them as well.
This was our first attempt at this, but we see the possibilities and learn with each new product and "educational experiment." Mrs. McMillan will surely share more about this later. Here is the recording of the webcast if you would like to see our time with Robert Kimmel Smith.
Streaming live video by Ustream

Monday, April 6, 2009

Educating A Colonized Mind - Who Are We?

This is more of a thought in process, but I hope it's one with which everyone can help. There are a lot of elements that brought these ideas together - music, various twitter tweets, random blog posts that I've read, and President Obama's Inaugural Address. Here's how it's come together.

The more I look to connect our students with a global culture the more I realize I am thinking with a colonized mind. I guess my age is showing. Let me define colonized mind. It is a mind or mindset that narrowly looks at our nation derived from its roots of British colonies, and with a largely Judeo-Christian background. That's who we were, although it's not really that simple. But the more I read and learn the more I realize we are not that anymore.

A recent Will Richardson tweet on Twitter said he really likes reading the NY Times Global Edition, and that he even was pointing his own children toward that resource for news. He wanted, and likes a global view. I look for news sources that come from outside the United States. It's "interesting" to see how the same news is reported based upon who is telling the story.

Vicki Davis, aka Cool Cat Teacher, recently defined a flat classroom in a post entitled "How do YOU Roll?" In that post she talked about vicarious modeling and its affect on students' viewpoints. She said through vicarious modeling and making connections students learn not to be sterotypical. She wrote: "Unfortunately, some of the biggest phobias we all have relate to one another. Flattening the classroom is about learning, technology, and collaboration, but the most important by product about which I am PASSIONATE is how it transforms the world view of the students involved. Learning to overcome cultural barriers and collaborate with anyone, anywhere, anytime, is vital to the success of any nation, and indeed all of us."

Refer back to this past January and the Presidential Inauguration. Partisan politics aside, Barack Obama made it a point to redefine us in his address by stating, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.
"And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace." Not the thinking of a colonized mind.

I'm not sure if I know who we are now, but I know it's not what we were. I also believe that even if I don't have a good handle on that I should continue to consider this. In our schools we teach children of varying races, creeds, values, and religious backgrounds. We live in diverse communities. While we don't always agree with the values and beliefs of our neighbors surely it is important to respect and consider them. Surely teaching our students to do the same is even more important now. That's why I am passionate about connecting our students. Please comment, share your global connection successes, stories, and insights.

Still in process...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How Microsoft Can Help Me Teach Better

Times have changed! They are changing faster than most of us can keep up. So it's important to pass along to our students the skills that are transferable to any discipline, any career, and for anything they may want to do in an unforeseeable future.
As educators, that means we must assign our students tasks that involve higher order thinking, project based work that requires them to work collaboratively, to reflect on what they have done and are doing.
Whether we like it or not the Internet has become part of our infrastructure. We use it to bank and manage our money, to conduct all kinds of business, to communicate with voice and video, and to connect and collaborate with colleagues, friends, and family. Its become a part of our identities. Like it or not, this is not going to change. That fact means that we need to teach our students responsible ways to use these hardware and software tools and be good digital citizens.
Technology hardware and software changes fast, but the basic functions stay relative the same.
To teach better we as educators must think globally about what we are doing and allow our students to design, connect with stories and create their own, see the big picture, how all the smaller parts work together, have the ability to see through the eyes of others. They need to understand many perspectives, and bring meaning to whatever they choose to do in the 21st Century. All this can come about by integrating technology in education. It's not all about the hardware and software - it's what you do with it. Microsoft can help by continuing to create the hardware and software to make these connections and support events like NECC and conferences at the state level.
The opportunity to connect, virtually, electronically, and face to face is the key to great education. It's only through these connections that we broaden our skills, learn new things and continue to try to keep up with these changes, and change ourselves. This way, none of us has to learn alone.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Enough is Enough!

I've noticed as we've gone along that with all the requirements of the everyday grind that there comes the feeling that we haven't done enough with our new found tools and knowledge. It will all come together with time. The important fact is that we've started to think about connections and actually make them. We've started to think about integrating technology and we actually have. We've started thinking globally about how our students can create and be engaged by what they're creating.

STUDENTS LEARN WITH THIS PROCESS because they have to think critically about what they are creating. Our last Teach21 meet was a sharing process of what we found at NCTIES, where we put it for teachers to access, and how (using effective digital tools) we captured it all.

To regain perspective on where we are and where we're going we shared a post from Vicki Davis' blog "The Cool Cat Teacher Blog." The post was entitled Do What You Can. Share What You Can It's message was simple - when you feel like you not doing enough you probably really are. Davis says when it's your students time with you give them 100 percent. When that time is over, let it really be over. "Share what you can, when you can and that is enough."

There are many times in teachers' lives that they feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the job and the lists of things to do. I think it's good to remember that when we started Teach21 it wasn't designed to be something else on the plate, but a different entree' that was already on the plate. Davis was the opening keynote speaker at the NCTIES Annual Conference held in Raleigh, NC the first week of March. In that keynote she said that we should all leave the conference with three new things to take back and try or implement. Applied to the Teach21 model I think she means three new ways of doing things we already do - and that will be enough.

Monday, March 9, 2009

NCTIES - Teach21: Building Capacity

Mrs. McMillan and I are back at Bolton after soaking up all kinds of ideas and information at the NCTIES conference. I have never experienced a conference quite the same as I did this year's NCTIES conference. As we attended sessions we kept notes, updated Delicious accounts with new resources, and participated in what David Warlick likes to call the subterreanean conversation.
Connected with my newly added Tweetdeck and using the conference backchannels I participated in the connected conversations of others attending. So - instead of the communication being a presenter to audience/1 to 1 conversation there was the presenter to audience and audience to audience interactions/reactions as the presentations were happening. That made it a much deeper learing experience for me - being able to share ideas and respond to what educators from all over the state were thinking, asking, and sharing in real time. There was a clicking of laptop keys throughout these sessions, but somehow they weren't a distraction. It was just passionate educators sharing ideas in a connected world.
Being able to have these conversations with national technology leaders such as Vicki Davis, Meg Ormiston, Kathy Shrock, David Warlick and Will Richardson was very beneficial, but not nearly as beneficial as having them with colleagues simultaneously.
Our own presentation, Teach21: Building Capacity went well. David Warlick even slipped in the back to hear our story, which meant a lot. Later - in passing on our way to a session he simply looked at us and said, "Good Show." He had blogged that what he wanted from the NCTIES conference was stories and HE HEARD OURS!
Although we collected many ideas to bring back to Bolton more than anything, after hearing what is happening around our state and being able to talk with fellow educators, we are convinced we are on the right path, and doing things the right way. We have never lost sight that it's not about the technology, but what we do with it. This is the reflections video we shared in our presentations - and it's very powerful because it signals shift happening at Bolton Elementary.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Personal Learnng Networks at NCTIES

Mrs. McMillan and I have arrived in Raleigh and have been working for over 4 hours on learning how to develop our personal and professional learning networks using applications/web 2.0 tools like Twitter, blogs (imagine that), wikis and the sort. By the end of the day we'll have spent over six hours developing our own networks, learing of new tools to use and can share that with our faculty and staff. It's great to know we have started that as a team with Teach21 and can now take that to the next level where they'll be truly powerful tools for information and collaboration. We'll learn all we can and post notes to our wiki.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Teach21 at NCTIES

Teach21 Bolton will tell its story at next week's annual North Carolina Technology in Education Society Conference in Raleigh, NC. The presentation is entitled Teach21: Building Capacity. It will highlight the process, the teachers, the students, and the technology that has started to transform our classrooms into 21st Century learning spaces and change the way we are teaching. It's a story worth telling and hearing!