Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Week in Tech Integration – Formative Assessment

Classroom Action Several teachers have been using during RTI. A great way to get that math practice in while working with a small group. All of these researched based help usually say something like students who put in 75 minutes a day have shown improvement in math. Well if you practice 75 minutes a … Continue reading My Week in Tech Integration – Formative Assessment

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Friday, September 21, 2012

I Am Not A Twit

Originally posted on my work blog

Some basic resources for effectively using twitter as a teacher.
A wiki to introduce people to twitter. Yes, you can tweet all about your boring breakfast (and worse) but if you would also like to get past that you can.
A wiki specifically for teachers to learn about using twitter in education.

The real question is:

Why would I bother using twitter as a teacher?

It does make one wonder. This Internet time suck used by celebrities and sports stars, how can it possibly be an effective tool for a serious endeavour like teaching?  

That is the beauty of twitter, you make of it what you want or need. Twitter, along with many other similar social media sites (Google +, Facebook, “yes, facebook”, pinterest, scoop it, etc...), has the ability to connect like minded people. Imagine if you will the teachers lounge, except the other teachers don’t know your students. All they can do is respond to questions with best practice advice, what I did in similar situation, what worked for me.

Twitter in this case has suddenly become what they call a Professional Learning Network as described in “The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age” by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall.

Professional Learning Networks are about individuals gathering information and sharing resources that enhance their personal and professional learning.

That’s great if I want to spend my evenings with teacher talk. Is it possible to be a bit more formal with our professional development?

As a personal learning resource use one of the links up top to find thousands of quality teachers to follow then check in once a day to see if there is anything interesting. Of course going through thousands of tweets is time consuming. We can sort through all of that by getting out daily twitter paper delivered right to our laptop. collects all the links and articles referenced in my twitter stream and  organizes them in a newspaper format based on how often they were tweeted out.

Still that isn’t formal learning. It isn’t professional development.

Social media is about connecting like minded people. Twitter and other media are great places to begin, to get ideas, but they are also great places to meet and connect while working as a more formal group. Below are a list of great weekly teacher meetings held on twitter.

General chates
#ntchat - New teacher chat - learn or mentor -
#edchat - The grandaddy of them all a general education chat -
#cpchat - connected principal chat -
#spedchat - Special Education chat -
#sschat - Social Studies -
#musiced - Music
#scichat  -Science

There are hundreds more find and learn about them here

Spending an hour once a week chatting on twitter doesn’t seem too big of a deal at first, but then again when it becomes a requirement it can be a big deal. Imagine this scenario though: This weeks #mathchat is "Is mathematics more important than numeracy?" this would be a great topic for elementary teachers to discuss. We decide to discuss it as part of our regular professional development in school. 

A professional learning community, again defined by Beach and Hall.
Professional Learning Communities are traditional school-based structures in which staff--both teachers and administrators--learn together with the goal of improving student achievement.
A teacher(s) or principal could participate in the #mathchat (held at noon or 7PM) then during regular team meeting times a discussion could be held. If nobody can make the chat, or even if they did, the archive can be distributed to the team and a discussion can be based on that.

Discussions are held, teaching practices are modified or strengthened, and the school as a whole is improved.

So there you have it, two, of many, ways twitter can and does provide professional development for teachers. There are more, many more ways networking through twitter and social media can be a catalyst for growth in our personal and professional lives. I can directly connect my twitter use to a graduate school program, CPDU opportunities, and and even a few job opportunities. In the end though twiiter is what you make of it, good or bad.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Competing Philosophies of Education

Perhaps this is just my view, but it looks like education is slowly inexorably changing and we have two choices competing for the dominant theory of what constitutes a quality education.


This is a nice model for the business community, because, eventually, the costs will drop. The basic premise is that if we design adaptive software students can sit in front of a computer all day and just follow the learning program. Costs will be limited to the hardware (less than $1,000), software, ($5 per student), and a person to monitor students (minimum wage). $45,000 for a class of 30, or $1500 per student, $65,000 for a class of 60 or $1,100 per student. Or about 10% or less of the cost to teach a student now.


Instead of the presenters of knowledge teachers become the facilitators of knowledge. Experts in their craft who guide students through individualized learning experiences.
  • Teachers of young children focus more on learning milestones and owning the skills that are the building blocks of different subjects.
  • Middle school teachers focus more on developing burgeoning critical thinking skills.
  • High school teachers give students a wide latitude in finding, creating, and solving problems that are central to learning standards.
Students use technology to explore, question, collaborate, practice, and create.

Which system of education seems better to you? Why?
If you had the choice which school would you enroll your children?


Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Best Teacher

I've read a several times in different articles this week the author saying something to the effect of If a student can learn from the best teachers then why shouldn't they?

This is a great sentiment, but I find the underlying assumption being that the idea of a great teacher is a person who wrote a great book, made a great discovery, presents a great lecture.

I think they are missing the point. Teachers don't present the material so much as they set up the learning environment. Teachers facilitate learning.

Sure it could be a lecture, or a presentation, or a power point-keynote, whatever. On the other hand it could be a project, or following a misconception all the way to it's end.

Teaching is more than filling the empty vessels, it is igniting the fire.
"For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth."
Moralia, On Listening to Lectures 48C (LCL 1.256-259)

Teachers respond to students questions, follow tangents, and allow the student to determine the direction of the class.

On the other hand we can just lock children in the classroom turn on the TV and let them be educated.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Master Learners

Master Learners by Clint Hamada
Master Learners, a photo by Clint Hamada on Flickr.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Dont Give Up

So I get this in the mail the other day.

Dear Friend:
Today, we are excited to announce that more than 1,700 schools will plan and hold events during National School Choice Week 2013 (January 27-February 2, 2013). Please check out our press release below.
National School Choice Week 2013 is going to break all records — so please help spread the word on social media about our big news today! If you're on Twitter, be sure to retweet this tweet. I know many of you are on Facebook too, so please like this post. You can also check out our new video.

Now is the time to start thinking about how you will participate in National School Choice Week 2013 — and we're excited to have you celebrate with us.


And I think to myself. What do they mean by school choice, don't they really mean I give up?

Our public schools are what we make it. We vote the school board in and we sit on our butts and watch Tuesday night TV while school boards decide what to do with our money. We didn't care as our schools went down the tubes. And don’t let me hear any excuses like my kids weren’t in school then or I didn’t live here then. We all live in a school district.

Oh, but this doesn't include school districts like Chicago and New York. They were taken over years ago by mayors who ran their little dictatorships right into the ground.

Nope this isn't school choice this is giving up on our local, community school.

Please oh please let me give my tax dollars to some "For profit" education company. I want them to cut costs so my tax dollars can actually fund some rich man's yacht. While my kids continue to get a sub-par education.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

What am I thinking Right Now

Try this, type ruby yacht of khayyam into Google or Yahoo or Bing. Go ahead I’ll wait.

Bullwinkle (Photo credit: bbaltimore)
Did you come up with a Rocky and Bullwinkle episode? Did it come up even before you finished typing yacht?

I find it amazing that a a bad pun for a children’s show that has been off the air for years comes up so quickly and easily.

I guess this goes to show you that I am not part of the digital native generation. I grew up with the idea that computers were stupid, if you didn’t spell things out exactly the way you wanted then you didn’t get what you wanted out. It even had its own acronym GIGO garbage in garbage out.

I suppose we shouldn’t read too much into this. The pun after all is probably the only one like it. Then I’m sure some geek heard the pun as a kid years ago and spent hours searching the information in dusty encyclopedias in the library. With the invention of the Internet and Wikipedia and finally Hulu s/he then created the page and as it turned out there were thousands of other geeks who did the exact same thing. Then when I introduced Rocky and Bullwinkle to my sons and got curious about the pun I could suddenly tap into the research in seconds.

This is the natural skepticism of the digital native. I question what seems like to amazing ability of technology to anticipate my needs. I’m sure it is getting pretty good right now, but it isn’t actually thinking. It is using the data it has about me and building a model of what people with similar data models might be thinking about.
What I’m wondering now is do our digital natives think the same thing?
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