Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting to Know Folks

In this 21st century technological world, many say that we are not as connected "face-to-face" as we used to be and that is weakness of our 21st century world. As an idealist and technology "aholic", I disagree that it is this way because of the technology. I believe it is because of the personality of the person and choice of the person whether it becomes a weakness or not.

I am more connected in every way - face-to-face, electronically and on an even deeper level in this 21st century world. One of my goals this year that I consciously decided and have been implementing as well as having happen naturally is getting to know folks on a deeper level. Perhaps it is because I have been with my new district for a year now and it is just naturally starting to happen, but several times a week now, I've had the opportunity and taken it to get to know acquaintances better, more, deeper and share with them about myself on that level. Each time it happens, I feel awesome, appreciative and thankful. I am loving this! I love the reflections I get as a result. I am growing.

Who have you gotten to know on a deeper level this year? Was it through technology, as a result of technology's efficiency's that provided you more time, or just because. No excuse is a good one . . .I want to know the folks that I work with because it enables me to work with them better, because I care about them, and because it goes both ways. And it is not just folks in the district - it is everywhere.

Have you ever planned to get to know folks better and deeper and done it? What were the results? Do you have time to do this, or are you just surviving treading water? Could technology help? Are you ready to use it to help? How could it help perhaps?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Facilitated Communications" and Autism - Thoughts and Reflections

My sister Sandy and I spent over a hour last night talking with each other on our iPhones about the concept of "facilitated communications" for autistic individuals. Sandy indicated that as a part of the Educational Psychology class that she is "facilitating" with a group of Master's students, that this term is one of the concepts she has on the list to cover.

I didn't really know what it was, but after having her explain it to me, had a wonderful dialogue with her. She sent me the video above so I could gain further information.

Amazing to me the many things that were so obvious to Sandy and me in the video weren't instantly obvious to many folks in the video. It is astounding to me that the folks didn't consider the possibility of the facilitator unconsciously directing the communication of the autistic individuals. That realization is kind of scary to me.

It is a long video but well worth the watch. Check it out and let me know what are you thoughts, reactions, conclusions.

I just enjoy learning things :)!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Communications and Collaboration Experiences

Yesterday was a wonderfully insightful day of communications and collaboration experiences. It was not the kind you normally think of in education - working with teachers, librarians and tech folks to help bring about the best possible learning experiences for students - but rather a day of getting to know folks in the district administration in a whole different way. Getting to know them, value them - the real them - while at the same time collaborating to come up with workable solutions to issues.

As a result, I have decided that I need to get to know one person a day in a deeper way than I already know them. It was a blessing to get to know these folks in a deeper, personal way. It made my day and I couldn't help but reflect on it yesterday and today - hence this posting. It was a light bulb moment for me.

Thank you to those great district folks in 27J for increasing my reflection, thinking and for trusting me and sharing with me the real you. I am not the best listener, I've been told, but yesterday I did listen and hear and learned - you enriched my life and I appreciate it.

Learning things is a wonderful, never ending opportunity. What have you learned today that has clearly impacted you? Thanks for listening. . . :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

eReaders and eTextbooks - some thoughts

"The Future of the Textbook" is a great read.   Thank you Mike J. for sending it to me.  If you deal with library media, textbook adoption, instructional technology, curriculum adoption, implementing standards, you should click on the link and review the article.  I registered as I want to read the rest of the articles in this series. 

Why?  I am dealing with this issue right now as the Brighton Early Morning Rotary is working with our school district through a grant to provide ereaders and ereader textbooks for our students. Currently the only adopted textbooks that are available as ereaders are the language arts selected library books that are part of the curriculum. How are other schools and districts doing this?  Where are they getting the eTextbooks?  I can't really find any.

Someone or several folks have helped me to realize that since we have access to current information via the internet, that with a "good" teacher and "good" standards, the world is now our textbook - or should be. . . Of course we have to teach students to "drive" the internet and follow the "laws" and we have to "enforce" the consequences of not "driving" appropriately also.  And we have to give kids and teachers access to the information that they need to use and it has to be available at a moments notice.  Is that still too big a list of requirements for districts without proper funds, or families without enough income to supply the access tools?

I think it boils down to if you provide it, it will happen and yes we'll have to provide course corrections and displine when mistakes happen and most folks don't want to be the bad cop, they'd just rather never risk.  But at what cost is that to students when they get out in the world and don't know how to drive properly?  I think that option is even more deadly.  I'd rather my kids make a mistake while they are with me at home, so that I have the opportunity to help them with their mistakes, rather than let them make the mistake once they are on their own and they have to deal with the real police, and permanent results of bad decisions.

Experiential, just-in-time learning, evaluating resources to be sure they are correct rather than just accepting a textbook as totally perfect (which nothing is, right!) are some of the requirements and benefits of using the world as our textbook.  Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to have anymore textbook adoptions?  Districts could certainly save money and time and keep the resources current and up-to-date all of the time. :)

I believe schools are at a point in this process where with curriculum standards, textbooks no longer need to be adopted, but curriculum standards need to be followed in instruction and resources for accomplishing that learning needs to be just-in-time, current sources from where ever they may be accessed. Being limited to only one district adopted textbook for a class now limits learning potential as there are so many ways to get better information online.

Other benefits include student and teacher engagement, increased, active learning, and always staying current as a teacher as well.  Of course, there is always the danger of the teachers doing as they have "always" done (not a real rationalization on my part, but) and using their same old materials that are tried and true (and yes probably boring).  Teacher evaluation systems need to provide the accountability and motivations to keep that issue from being an issue.

Another benefit is students will be learning what is up to the minute.  Teachers will know what is up to the minute and our society will be better as a result and hopefully keep up a little better with the speed with which our world is changing.  Maybe there needs to be speeding tickets for the fast pace with which the world is changing.  Yeah, right.  That will never happen.  Thanks for listening.  Let me know your thoughts through your comments below.

Happy internet driving!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

That Get Together After Work That I Promised So Long Ago

This past Friday after work, the Brighton School Instructional Technology Technicians, Teacher Librarians and Library Paraprofessionals had the opportunity to meet and visit at the Copper Rail. Over Nachos, Hot Wings, Chips and Salsa we solved all of the world's problems! I wish!

Mike Jurkiewicz, Tiah Frankish, Carmen & Jeff Castro, Diane & Jeff Jewell, Kim Thoms, Julie Hacker, Paula Chalmers, Angela Trunkenbolz, Kim Westerman, Jennifer Rice, Julie Ann Baker and I all enjoyed appetizers, coffee, tea, soft drinks, water and great conversation and friendship. (I apologize in advance if I forgot and/or added anyone to the list).  We missed everyone that was unable to attend!  Maybe next time. . .

As a result of this get together, we planned a Potluck/Collaborative session for the next Professional Development Day. Originally we thought it was to be February 11th, but March 4th is the actual PD day. I look forward to helping each of you as you help our students to learn. I am excited to see what folks have to share regarding needs, successes, technology, books and who knows what else!

I am proud to be a part of this group! You are an awesome asset to Brighton 27J and our students are so lucky to have you to assist them in their learning!

We also had the opportunity to visit with Julie Hacker, say goodbye and offer hugs. Julie is returning to Alabama. She will be near family and her husband has accepted an engineering position there. We are so happy for Julie and her family, but sad for us and the kids at Southeast that will miss her terribly! Perhaps she should Skype in and read them a story one day!!

Now we need to plan "That 2nd Get Together After Work" - does April sound like a good month?

Do you and your colleagues get together after work socially to get to know each other and support each other? Looking forward to hearing from you on how you get together informally to build bonds and relationships with colleagues. Thanks!

I'd also like to say thank you to the Copper Rail and their staff!  They did an excellent job attending to our group and we appreciate it!

Monday, December 20, 2010

My New Second Home - Brighton, CO - Part 2

My New Second Home - Brighton, CO - Part 1 was written on November 8th.  A lot has happened in the past 42 days - good things! But I bet you thought you were never going to hear Part 2 since it has taken me so long to get back to it.  Well here ya go - :)

The District is taking a serious, research-based look at Cloud Computing productivity tools.  A Cost Benefit Analysis has been completed by Technology and my report on the State of Instructional Technology in the District is written.  We are considering Microsoft Live@EDU and Google Apps for Education.  We plan to pilot them both.  Two of the instructional technology key requirements are:

  • simultaneous editing of shared documents for teachers and student, and 
  • the ability to create forms that auto populate a spreadsheet.
A key question that we have is, how many of our teachers and students currently use the personal versions of Microsoft Live@EDU or Google Apps for Education and how much training time can be saved by choosing the one that most folks already use personally?

Last year the District was awarded an $150K E2T2 grant by CDE.  We are in the process of modifying the grant details to address completing the remaining tasks by May of 2011.  Teachers and students are using formative assessment, EDU20, slates, projectors and document camera's to enhance learning.  Things we need more of and perhaps will always need more of is professional development, up-to-date workstations to enable the slates and document cameras to perform, clickers to replace the missing projector clickers so we can black them out when it is necessary to access IC in the middle of a lesson and adhere to FERPA rules, wireless in those classrooms and wireless enabled devices, so that we adhere to Risk Management Safety Guidelines of no cords across the floor, time for the grant participants to get together as needed to collaborate, to plan on-going professional development as the program expands.  Well I could continue on this topic forever, so on to the next one.

"If we all share the load and responsibility, we will learn and gain even more than we share." is my personally created quote included in my 27J signature line.  Due to state budget issues, every Colorado school district has had to have their staff wear more "hats" this year.  No one gets to say "No - that's not our job" anymore. Everyone needs to be doing whatever is necessary (within appropriate district guidelines), to help out where there is a need.  I said all of that to prepare you for an opportunity within 27J.  In January all staff will be able to participate in an Instructional Technology Expertise survey (and yes, it auto populates to a spreadsheet :)). The purpose of this survey is for folks to let others folks know where they'd like to know more from an instructional technology standpoint as well as what areas of instructional technology you might feel capable of helping someone else.  This spreadsheet will include best times to contact each other to help or get help and will be available to everyone via  a link that is live and up-datable 24/7!  Go Prairie View High School for the idea!

Let me know your thoughts and comments and also "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year". As a new employee to the district, I will not be taking any vacation during the holidays as I won't have enough days to escort my daughter to all of her out-of-town cheer leading competitions if I did that!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A ReBlog of one everyone needs to read: "Facebook as an Instructional Technology Tool"

Okay this is a partial quote (ReBlog - Retweet, you get it, right) of one you need to read.  Though it is in a college class, I just love it.  It could be done the same way in high school, couldn't it?  Check it out:

Facebook as an Instructional Technology Tool

by K. Walsh on August 11, 2010

Can the wildly popular social network be used constructively in the classroom? This student’s story says it can.

Yesterday, student Kristen Nicole Cardon submitted a comment in response to my post 5 Reasons Why Educators Need To Embrace Internet Technologies in which she explained how she used Facebook in a course she took. I really appreciated her well stated discussion of how Facebook was used in the course and how the approach succeeded (slightly edited in the following excerpt).
“In my British Literary History course last winter semester, my professor created a class facebook group which we all joined.  We’d finish our reading for class and then get online and write a paragraph about what we’d read, focusing our comments on the specific course