There’s Still Time…

…to register for the Upstate Technology Conference going on June 22 & 23!  The Theme is “The Face of Today’s Learner,” and the event will be hosted by Wade Hampton High School.  This year’s keynote speaker is Hall Davidson, of Discovery Education.  And best of all?  No registration fee!  That’s right – this is a FREE technology conference!

The schedule of sessions is posted now, and I can’t believe how many are being offered!  (There are 90 on Tuesday alone!)  The variety of tools and topics included here will ensure that there’s something for everyone, so please share this info with your colleagues.

By the way, I’ll be presenting a session myself:

Managing Web 2.0 Tools for Today’s Learner
Online journals, podcasts, blogs, wikis, Twitter – all are invaluable resources for teachers, administrators, and students, but keeping track of so much information can be overwhelming!  Learn how to use a free personalized start page to organize all your Internet content in one place.  I’ll share my best resources with you, and walk you through creating your own start page so you can leave with a handy one-page view of all your Web 2.0 tools.

Hope to see you there!

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Upstate Technology Conference

If you live near Greenville, SC, I hope you will consider attending the Upstate Technology Conference June 22 & 23.  The Theme is “The Face of Today’s Learner,” and the event will be hosted by Wade Hampton High School.  This year’s keynote speaker is Hall Davidson, of Discovery Education.  And best of all?  No registration fee!  That’s right – this is a FREE technology conference, so please share this info with other educators who might be interested.

By the way, I’ll be presenting a session myself:

Managing Web 2.0 Tools for Today’s Learner
Online journals, podcasts, blogs, wikis, Twitter – all are invaluable resources for teachers, administrators, and students, but keeping track of so much information can be overwhelming!  Learn how to use a free personalized start page to organize all your Internet content in one place.  I’ll share my best resources with you, and walk you through creating your own start page so you can leave with a handy one-page view of all your Web 2.0 tools.

Hope to see you there!

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Teacher Technology Survey

As promised, I gave my teachers a very informal technology survey, and the results are in.  I simply sent an email asking them to respond with suggestions for after-school technology workshops that would meet their needs.  I included a few examples of possible topics, and left it wide open for them to reply with whatever interested them.  Out of 45 teachers, I received 12 responses, and some people made more than one suggestion.

Using Promethean Software (our brand of interactive whiteboard) – 5
eChalk (our web authoring software) – 4
PowerSchool (our state’s new school management software) – 4
Accelerated Reader – 1
Starting a Blog – 1  
PhotoStory – 1
Excel – 1
Publisher – 1
School Set of Laptops – 1

So there you have it. 

I wish I had heard from more teachers.  Granted, there may be any number of good reasons why most of my teachers failed to respond, but it’s still a bit discouraging.  Hmmm, I bet I wouldn’t be lacking for responses if I had polled the students on what they are interested in!  That will be my next survey….

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Putting Technology In Its Place

I just read two blog posts yesterday that echo some of the ideas I’ve been wrestling with lately concerning the place of technology in the classroom, and I’d like to share them here.

Background:  As my school’s Library Media Specialist and Technology Coach, I have a responsibility to provide appropriate resources to my students and teachers, and to make sure they know how to use them.  With so many useful (and free) technology tools available out there in cyberspace, I want to make sure I’m keeping up with them, using them appropriately, and sharing them with those who need them. 

However, I don’t want to become so focused on the “coolness” of technology that I lose sight of my ultimate goal, which is student learning.  I also don’t want my attitude regarding the importance of technology to become so overbearing that I alienate teachers who, for various reasons, are hesitant about using a lot of online resources or tech tools.  I need to balance my role as a cheerleader for Web 2.0 with my role as someone who assists users with what’s actually going on in the classroom.

Enter Jennifer Wagner and Joyce Valenza, two educators who are doing wonderful things with technology at their respective schools.  Continue reading

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Don’t Integrate Technology Into the Classroom

Surprised by the sentiment expressed in the title of today’s post?   So was I when I read it in David Warlick’s book Redefining Literacy 2.0.  (See the accompanying wiki here.)  Since I became my school’s Technology Coach earlier this year, I’ve been concerned that we aren’t doing enough to equip teachers to successfully integrate technology into their classrooms.  So I picked up David’s book at the SCASL Conference last week, and here’s what he says in the introduction:

There is one call to education reform that will not be used in this book, a mantra that attendees to technology and media conferences often hear, that we should be integrating technology into our libraries and classrooms.  It is an idea that is not without its usefulness.  Integrating technology is a simple and inclusive way to describe the modernizing of our schools.  However integrating technology misses the point that technology has no special place in re-examining the pedagogy of teaching and learning.  It is merely a tool – the pencil and paper of our time.

So what should we be doing?  Read on: Continue reading

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Don’t Know, Don’t Care

Survey

Last Thursday the results of my district’s annual Professional Development Survey were made available.  Teachers were asked to choose three topics of particular interest to them from a list of seventy possible training opportunities.  Now, with that many choices in the list, only one topic is really going unify people and that is Power School, our state’s new school management system, which garnered a whopping 155 votes (11%).  (“It’s coming in April whether you’re ready or not!”)  So let’s just move on to the other choices.

It was with great interest and some trepidation that I looked to see where the Technology options had placed in this popularity contest, and I guess it could have been worse.  Interactive Whiteboard training was third in the rankings with 87 votes (6%), which shows that teachers are eager to get the most out of the Promethean boards that were installed in all classrooms this year.  The next most popular technology choices were Technology for Teachers: Intermediate with 29 votes (2%) and Technology for Teachers: Advanced with 23 votes (2%), which indicates that those who are already comfortable with using technology would like to learn more. 

Interestingly, there was no Technology for Teachers: Beginner option, so I’m left wondering why not.  Are our teachers all presumed to be farther along than beginner at this point?  (Surely not!)  Were those who are beginners were expected to pick and choose from the more specific technology offerings such as Using eChalk (our web page authoring software), Classworks, or TestView (which all placed near the bottom of the list)?  Or perhaps the survey creators thought no one would admit to being a beginner?  But I digress.

The option I was most interested in was Integrating Technology into the Curriculum, which in my opinion is our best bet for giving kids those 21st Century Learning Skills we keep hearing are so important.  And how many chose it as a priority workshop topic, you ask?  Continue reading

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May You Live In Interesting Times

  screen technology

There’s no doubt that there are interesting things going on in education right now with regard to technology!  I think we will all agree that we can’t equip our students with 21st Century Learning Skills without incorporating technology into our teaching.  Serving as both the Library Media Specialist and the Technology Coach for my school, it’s my job to look at the issue of integrating technology into the classroom from four different perspectives:

1. What are “best practices” when it comes to using technology in instruction and with students?  What strategies will enable us to be more effective users of technology?  How can we make time for training, collaboration, and integration in an already crowded school day?

2. What are the technology literacy, media literacy, and information literacy standards that we should be addressing for each grade level?  How do our content standards mesh with these literacy standards?

3. What tools are affordable and available in my school and my district?  How much tech support can I manage at the building level?  How much tech support is available at the district level?

4. How can I ensure teacher and administrator buy-in for technology integration projects?  How can I involve more stakeholders in the planning and implementation process?  How can I be an agent for change in my school and my district?

I’m struggling with the answers to all of these questions, particularly the last one.  That’s why I’ll be participating in a free webinar on April 5, 2010 at the TL Virtual Cafe.  The webinar is titled What it Means to Be a Change Agent in Educational Technology, and will feature Ben Hazzard and Rodd Lucier. 

Rodd Lucier I’m familiar with, since I’ve been following his blog (The Clever Sheep) and listening to his podcast (Teacher 2.0) for the past year and a half.  I’ve never heard of Ben Hazzard until now, but even a cursory glance at his website tells me that he’s someone to watch. 

You’ve probably heard the title of this post referred to as “the Chinese curse,” but you may not realize that it’s supposedly the first in a trio of curses.  The other two curses in the series are, “May you come to the attention of those in authority,” and “May you find what you are looking for.”  One can only hope….

 

Photo Attribution: “Screen Technology”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/11022910@N00/503238148

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