Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's not about the tools

In order to use technology effectively, an educational technologist needs to show others how to use tools to accomplish the objectives of the lesson, the unit, or the curriculum. Dr. Thornburg reminds of us a time when the blackboard was a revolutionary technology. He stresses that it is not the technology that makes a difference, but the mind-set of the one using the technology. It is not the tool itself but the pedagogy, or the art of teaching. As I have heard many others say, it is not about the tools it is about the content. Silvia Tolisano referred to this very subject in her blog post, "It's Not About the Tools. It's About the Skills."
Chris Lehmann also refers to the importance of the pedagogy over the tools when he says "active, engaged, constructivist learning will lead to active, engaged students" in his post about technology and pedagogy. Chris is the principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia where the yearly Educon conference is hosted.
Dr. Thornburg emphasized that we need a historical perspective in order accurately predict the future. This is part of the mind-set of which he speaks. Rather than forsaking all that has gone before us to focus solely on new technologies, we all need to consider the lenses through which we are viewing events.
Chris Dede defines learning technologies as those which focus on student learning and instructional technologies as those which focus on pedagogy and teaching. I never separated the two in my mind; I just consider any technology as a tool to accomplish the objectives. When using VoiceThread in the classroom to connect first grade students I am not thinking about the VoiceThread, the computer, or the microphone, but about the first grade standard, "SWBAT recognize that other countries have different customs."
The Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) emphasizes the ethical use of using technology to facilitate student learning.
The tools of technology can be used to stimulate critical by avoiding lower level questions and answers on Bloom's Taxonomy just as one would in a classroom devoid of digital technologies. By creating artifacts as culminating projects to units students incorporate higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, like analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. It's not the tool; it is how it is used to accomplish the objectives.
Note: I thought the blackboard originated in Scotland and was first used in the United States by a teacher at WestPoint.
Association of Information Technology Professionals. (2006-2011). Association of Information Technology Professionals. Retrieved from
Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008). Educational Technology: A Historic Perspective. Baltimore.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008). Educational Technology Defined. Baltimore.
Lehmann, C. (2007, January 5). Some thoughts about school 2.0 -- part 1 [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Monday, June 27, 2011

Who ARE we punishing? We are punishing ourselves and the culture we have worked so hard to create. Let me ask you, were the folks who hid Jews from the Nazis during WWII breaking the law? Would you so easily have pointed the finger at them and shouted it is not right? Oh, so killing people is okay because it is the law. And here in America, killing dreams is alright because it is the law? So this Dream Act is saying, if you are an illegal immigrant and you go to college or serve in our military, then you can apply for citizenship. What exactly is wrong here? Do American kids all go to college or serve in our military? We are basically saying, improve the educational level of the majority of citizens, or defend the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, and you too can be called a legal citizen. Wasn't this nation founded by immigrants who gathered here together to escape unjust laws / regimes? Are we going to be unjust as well? How dare we! Your clean comments are welcome:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Revolution is here!

Are we ready to meet the challenges of a changed world? The world will not wait for us, so we either change or be outdated - which will it be?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Global Education Conference

Last year, the 2010 Global Education Conference recorded over 15,000 unique logins with presenters from 62 countries. Steve Hargadon is up to it again with the 2011 Global Education Conference.
This conference is free, online, and occurs November 14-18.  The conference takes place across several timezones and presented in multiple languages.  Much more information is available at the Ning group and is changing even while I write this post.  Proposals for presentations open on July 20th and many volunteers are needed to make this conference happen.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tools of the Trade (crossposted on Angela Maiers blog)

There are tools I use in order to get my jobs done. I wear several hats and drink plenty of Starbucks. But seriously, the tools I could not live without include:
  1. An RSS Reader
  2. Meebo/Skype
  3. Google Calendar/Toodledo
  4. Twitter
  5. Evernote
  6. Instapaper
  7. Diigo/Delicious
I'm sure there are more which I have not mentioned. These must be the main things since they sprang straight to mind. How any educator can get the job done without these tools is totally beyond me. I use them daily. Let me tell you how I use these tools (although I am sure there are more ways to use them.)
  1. An RSS Reader - I use Google Reader to read f0r professional development and to grade student work. For instance, I simply subscribe to student blogs, and their posts are delivered to my one page instead of me checking many pages.
  2. Meebo/Skype - I am accessible 24/7 to students via chat services like GoogleTalk, Messenger, Yahoo, AIM, & Skype chat. I get a lot of work done by conversing with other educators in group Skype chats & sometimes GoogleTalk.
  3. Google Calendar/Toodledo - I like to plan. Spontaneity drives me to the edge. With Google Calendar I can subscribe to other calendars like ETT, or The Fire Escape, Classroom2.0LIVE, & Worldbridges. I can choose to have my cell phone alert me 10 minutes before a scheduled event. With Toodledo, I can write down all those To-Do items that keep me awake at night and schedule them. I can add items from my browser too.
  4. Twitter - my Personal Learning Network lives on Twitter. Well, they really live all over the world in their homes, but they are on Twitter. If I need a quick reference or someone else needs a quick answer, Twitter is the place to be. When you are looking for project participants or announcing an event, Twitter is your source. The more people you follow, or follow you, the more effective this network becomes.
  5. Evernote - my quick bookmark. I have integrated Evernote with my browser. So when I find those merino wool socks I like I can note it with Evernote in my Shopping folder. Then when I have the inclination, I can find those socks and buy them easily. I use evernote for those bookmarks I don't want to share with everyone, like merino socks (which I love!).
  6. Instapaper - when I don't have time to read, listen, or watch something but I want to return to it without subscribing to the whole page content, I use Instapaper. This gives me a newspaper of my own making. I usually get to this on Sundays with my coffee ... reading the Sunday paper just like Dad .....
  7. Diigo/Delicious - I use these services to bookmark sources I don't mind sharing. I might bookmark things to use with 3rd grade podcasters, or 2nd grade scientists, or even someone else like EdTechWeekly. I have set up a Diigo for Study Skills for their biome projects, so I won't get the "We can't find any information on that biome". I welcome anyone to tag resources for the Study Skills biome project by tagging one resource to
So if you have a group, a website, or group events, make sure your webpages have an RSS feed, a Google Calendar for events, and a twitter account people can follow. This is effective public relations - let the tools do the work for you. [Note Daniel Rezac on Twitter says we won't need to worry about RSS feeds soon =>BRAVO! I was able to get this to work on FF on my 'puters but not on the IE used at school, so it doesn't help students yet.]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Week in the Life............

This is one of the fantastically awesome final projects produced for the newest Flatclassroom Projects. Produced by high schoolers, you think to yourself, and being an elementary teacher, you move on. But wait! What was the average of the kids in this project? Participants ranged in age from 8 years to 10 years of age (about Grades 3-5). A downloadable/printable form is here -> Consider flattening your classroom this coming fall through participation in a Flat Classroom Project

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Revisiting the Yellow Brick Road...

Where do you begin on your travels down the road of web2.0? For many of us this is a most overwhelming and puzzling question. Here are some pointers, although certainly not the definitive answers.

  • Set your Google preferences to strict filtering [click on preferences on the Google search page, scroll down to strict filtering, click the radio dial (round thing), click save]
  • Search Google for something of interest, perhaps global warming. Read a couple articles.
  • Visit a teacher site, perhaps the Look for one lesson that you could use.
  • After you see the some of the possibilities, collect a few articles of interest using a reader. Here are Wes Fryer's instructions to get RSS, which is simply like subscribing to magazines.
  • After reading text for awhile, visit NPR and listen to a podcast of interest.
  • After text and audio, go to the next level, video. Visit TED Talks and watch a video.
  • Why is your orientation to the web important? Marc Prensky may explain it here
These are starting points for your journey. I have not included more confusing levels, master these first at your own speed. When you feel ready for more, join Classroom 2.0 This is a Ning community of many educators. Many are willing to guide, many are experimenting, many are brand new explorers.

Visit Classroom 2.0

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Photo by Karl-Erik Bennion, uploaded Jul 8, 2004, available at

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tips to writing a first-rate blog post ! (A recycled post 'cause I'm at the beach!)

The following are some traits of successful blog posts (written for fellow learners at my school):

1. The posts (or comments) are well written. This includes not only good content, but standard English conventions including the COPS -> capitalisation, organisation, punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
2. The posts (or comments) are responsive. They respond to other people’s ideas – whether it is a post by a teacher, a comment by a student, or an idea elsewhere on the Internet. The power of blogs is in connections – they are connected to a larger community of ideas. Participate in that community.
3. The posts (or comments) include textual references to support opinions. Adding quotes or links to other works strengthens your post.
4. To be part of the dialogue, part of the conversation, you have to participate fully, consistently and often.
5. Your posts (or comments) are respectful of others. It’s okay to disagree; it’s not okay to be disagreeable. Be respectful of others and their opinions, and be civil when you disagree.
6. Your posts aim to include 3 technorati tags.
7. Your posts speak to visual literacy by carefully choosing an image to include. The image should refer to what is written.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm going to the BEACH!

This is Nik against the world. He loves the beach, the beach house, and watching Elmo on youtube until he falls asleep... So if you don't here from me for a week, in the words of Nik -> I'm going to the BEACH! (include a jump at the end)
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