Wednesday, June 27, 2007

School 2.0- Wes Fryer

A few quotes and some of my thoughts from the Wes Fryer presentation on School 2.0- what is it and how do we support it?

It is remarkably easy to teach and lead poorly.

How true, how true. Getting to know the students, their interests, their strengths, their needs- this is a difficult task at best. And as a leader, the same is true with getting to know the educators you lead. I think this comes down to the question, "What is your vision?" Am I here to teach and learn? If so, this requires me to learn about my students in such a way that all my decisions revolve around what I know about them.

The technology did not make the educator fundamentally different. It amplifies good teaching just as it amplifies bad teaching.

In my role as an instructional technology specialist at the elementary schools, I have to stay focused on the goal, the vision, the mission. And I have to remind myself that encouraging teachers to use technology essentially for the sake of technology itself is far from my vision. It is easy to fall into that situation, because my passion is exploring the ways technology can be infused in learning environments. But, IT'S NOT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY. It's about learning. Period. So, technology in the hands of a bad teacher (or a bad leader) is terrifying, because it really will amplify all the wrong things (and encourage those not involved in "the conversations" to continue questioning the benefit of technology in education).

Become a reflective practitioner.

Last night, back at the hotel, Katie and I discussed our role, our philosophy, our vision. I think the two of us challenge each other to think outside of our comfort zone and continually evaluate what we do and why we do it. It isn't always easy, but we try to purposefully reflect on what we believe and what we should do to help students and teachers.

Our students deserve better. Our future requires better.

I often say that we are doing a disservice to our children when they walk in our door, unplug, disconnect, and stop talking. When four walls define the learning environment, we limit the possibilities. Our students do deserve better and I have been reminded at the conference that I need to spend some time talking with and listening to the students. I know they have a lot to say.

Great session to keep me thinking about school 2.0, what it means, and what my role really is. It was a great springboard to some thoughtful conversations.

Finding Voice

The School 2.0, Classroom 2.0 and Web 2.0 visions bring incredible possibilities, problems to be solved and open-ended discussions to be had. We are attempting to envision and embrace an open-ended future. We continue to talk about helping kids find their voices and authentic audiences, how that empowers and engages them. Learning to speak and converse with competency, confidence and appropriately using new and powerful tools is exciting, interesting. It will look very different from what we see now.
First steps in this direction require all of us to find our own voices and become actively engaged in conversations, to encourage and support teachers and administrators to recognize and participate in fundamental transformations and risk taking. Experiencing the community and converstation is essential to seeing, understanding and shaping the vision. Unless we ourselves are willing to be transformed, take risks and reach for an open-ended future we cannot expect to truly impact our students and the environment in which they learn.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

School 2.0, Web 2.0, Creativity and Innovation

The themes for me today seemed to be:
  • School 2.0/Web 2.0
  • Creativity and Innovation

School 2.0/Web 2.0
Ok, so I just renamed this from just School 2.0 to School 2.0 and Web 2.0. I think in our district we really need to work on both. We are really moving forward with our use of Web 2.0 applications, but does that mean that we are really moving towards School 2.0? I don't think it does.

One of the most thought producing things from the School 2.0 sessions I went to was that we are using technology in our district mainly to make School 1.0 flashy. I really think that this is something we need to look at in our district. What does School 2.0 mean? Where do we want to go? I also truly believe that we need to involve all stakeholders in the conversation (students, teachers, admins, CO).

Creativity and Innovation

I was so impressed with the emphasis in the sessions and keynote today on using technology to enable us and our students to be more creative and innovative! I believe that this is SO important - this is what we need to be focusing in on. Our students need us to focus on this!

I loved also that maybe our role should be to INSPIRE! And to look for our Cathedrals. And also and maybe most importantly to be willing to FAIL!

I'm willing to fall down in my attempt to inspire!

Special thanks to Wesley Fryer for the great notes he took on his blog!

The ITM Flip Videoed Us!

Sorry the movie is green it just happened that way - all the videos from the Blogger's Cafe are turning out that way! See more of the videos from today here...

Conversation with Jeff Utecht

Jeff, the author of the blog The Thinking Stick, talked with us today about his school in Shanghai, China. His school does not focus on restricting sites or content from their students. Instead, they embrace the interests of the students, letting them check out a TV show they missed the night before on YouTube when they get to school. They have a school YouTube and Flickr account, posting pictures and student work online for families and others to see. Some things are posted as private, and parents and families can join the group to be able to view student work/pictures online. The focus is on the content, not about keeping kids away. Teachers have blogs, including group blogs to collaborate and share ideas. The focus isn't on fear, it is on learning. The biggest struggle they have is with China's internet restrictions. But learning is happening, and the tools are being embraced.

Video Clips of the Music before the Keynote and an iPod Case!!

The music playing before the keynote today was just absolutely beautiful! WOW!
Another cool thing today was the iPod case we saw on the exhibit floor.
Check out a short video clip of each of these here:

Life at NECC

I feel like I'm just beginning to get the feel of NECC, like my newness is wearing off and my comfort level is increasing. The panel this morning was fabulous and the conversation often had me nodding as I agreed with so much of the statements they shared. (I hope that discussion is online somewhere, as I really want to listen again.)

I wish I was more willing to take the risk of stepping out there and starting conversations with others. I see folks pass by here in the Blogger's Cafe and I recognize names on nametags as bloggers I read...and I sit and say nothing. Sometimes, the veil of an online presence brings a comfortable anonymity that allows me to be more... well, "me". The opportunity to have a F2F conversation is passing me by!

So, is there a lesson in there somewhere? Our students may be more willing to collaborate and communicate, share and expand their learning with the use of online tools. Some students may find comfort (as I have) in an online presence that may encourage a feeling of safety/anonymity for sharing thoughts and ideas.

As I look around and listen to the conversations going on all around me here at the conference, I realize even more the advantages of F2F. But I love the fact that I can also sit here and become a virtual voice as well. A nice harmony.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I survived day 1 of NECC!

I have had such a great time today at the conference - I am so tired! I felt totally wiped but what an experience! I also felt so much better once I noticed that almost everyone else had the same glazed look! YEAH it isn't just me!

I think some of the greatest things I saw today in sessions was all the great free open source software and also Doodle which is a great way to do polls!

But, maybe the neatest part of this has been collaborating and talking to everyone else who is here! I just needed to get even braver tomorrow and talk to even more people! So signing off for now - someone (Donna) took my flip video so more movies will be posted tomorrow!

Connecting at the Blogger's Cafe

I had a wonderful conversation with Jeff Whipple about Instructional Technology and some of the incredible things he is doing in his district and with his schools. I loved the blogging idea of having the students collaborating with a local author on a blog! What a great idea! He also showed me the Site Meter that I added to our blog - I'm very excited about seeing exactly where people are viewing our blog from - so keep on visiting us! Thanks Jeff - It was wonderful talking to you!

Open Source Software in Education Session

This was a great session - I saw some new open source software I had never seen before - I have links to some of them on my wiki here.
Great session and lots of fun!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

At the Blogger's Cafe - Sunday afternoon

We have landed at the Blogger's Cafe and Katie is tormenting us by posting videos of us. She has this nifty Flip Video camera and is enjoying taking quick videos, editing, taking clips and posting with the idea that this will be great tools for the classroom.
I, on the other hand, keep taking pictures with my "old" digital camera and getting blurry pics. My hands are either shaking quite a bit OR the camera is about to die. Maybe it WILL die and I can get a new one.
Most of today has been spent getting here, checking into the hotel, registering for the conference, trying to get oriented, and making sure all our techie gear works. We are still spinning in circles about what sessions, etc. we will attend....although it is getting a little clearer...I think.

We are here!!!!!

Here are some pictures from the movies:

See some of the movie clips here:

Just "wow"

Small town girl in the big city. Wow. I'm in awe at the size of this conference, at the idea of planning such an event. You can walk down the sidewalk, through the convention center and hear the conversations. Techie vocabulary, educational words.
I feel out of my league, not sure where I fit in. But I look forward to listening and learning.
Mostly, to absorb all I can.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We Are Off to NECC 2007

We are off to NECC 2007 in Atlanta! We leave for Atlanta tomorrow morning. There are several of us from our district who are fortunate enough to be able to attend. We met Wednesday to go over sessions, events, etc. We are all headed in a hundred different directions and are excited! My conference planner still has about 30 things scheduled for Monday alone. Lots of yellow conflict icons. I just can't decide. What a great opportunity!

We have spent this past year refocusing on educational technology, after supporting our district through 3 years of transitioning to a new on-line student information system. While we have continued to "do" instructional technology through this time, much effort and energy has necessarily been spent on the transition. This year we have begun to return to our true passions, the kids, the teachers, learning and technology. We ended our school year with our first ever technology conference for the district (See Katie's post: Summer Technology Conference) and from that high.....We are off to NECC 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

Summer Technology Conference

We just finished our first ever Summer Technology Conference! It went awesome! Our participants loved it and everyone (including us presenters) seemed to have a great time! Please visit our wiki to see what we did and find information on some of the sessions we offered - also, we have put up the comments from our evaluation sheet! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Buy a Mac and get a Free iPod Nano

If you are an educator you can get a FREE iPod Nano with any purchase of a new Mac!
1. Buy a Mac.
Buy a new MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, or Mac Pro using your education discount.

2. Add an iPod.
Purchase an iPod or iPod nano with your qualifying Mac and get up to $199 back after mail-in rebate.*

3. Submit your rebate.
After you receive your products, start your rebate online for fastest processing. Or download and mail the rebate form.

Special Instructions for Residents of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Please read additional terms and conditions.
Get more information here!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Ok so I’d heard of ReCAPTCHA but I didn’t really get it until listening to this podcast from the Museum of Science

It explains ReCAPTCHA and how you can use them – I’m using it to hide my email on webpages. On the right side of this page under Please Join Us – you will see the link to the ReCAPTCHA hiding my email from all those nasty spammers and helping to digitize text!

Want to hide your email address? Get the code here