Monday, January 31, 2011

How can we improve PD and faculty meetings...?

I was lurking in the shadows today (not in a weird way) during a conversation between @wmchamberlain, @geraldaungst, @ktenkely, and @stumpteacher. They were discussing professional development and faculty meetings (the two most beloved activities by educators...). The discussion revolved around ways to improve these two events, so that educators would be more interested and ultimately get more out of them.

As a professional development representative at my high school, I tend to really enjoy PD days. Though, I have heard more than a few times that there are educators who absolutely loathe PD days. I don't understand, what could an educator not love about a day full of learning about ways to improve his/her instructional practices (no sarcasm intended)? In addition, faculty meetings are perfect for sharing information about what is going on in the school, as well as another viable PD what exactly is the problem?

I think we have all heard more times than we can stomach why some educators believe that PD and faculty meetings are a waste of time, and because I believe in accountability and responsibility, I am going to reach out to my PLN and what ways do you believe we can improve PD and faculty meetings so that they are more appealing to educators? A simple and straight forward question that applies to all educators (unless you work somewhere that does not have PD or faculty meetings). For the record (because I know my building principal @mrgrimshaw will be reading this - which is totally cool by the way), I honestly believe we are making some great strides at SHS as it pertains to our PD and faculty meetings, but I believe there is always room to improve.

How do you think we can improve PD and faculty meetings to better meet the needs of our students by better meeting the needs of educators?

My good buddy @cmcgee200 wrote this excellent post on fixing for thought...

(I look forward to continuing this discussion in my brand new "intensedebate" comment section!)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Technology in schools...25 students sound off!

We all live in a world that is rapidly changing, and in particular, the advancements associated with technology. As society evolves and changes, schools are coming under increasing pressure to stay with the times. So often we hear that technology is a silver bullet in education, but we must remember that technology is merely a tool. A tool in the hands of a sub-par educator will continue to yield a sub-par education, while a tool in the hands of a great educator will only enhance and aid that educator. With the huge push for technology in schools, I thought it would only be fitting to take some time and ask what students thought. Here are the responses from 25 students at Seckman High School in Imperial, MO.

What are your thoughts...are we really listening to our students?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

5 Ways to Empower Your Students...

Here are 5 concrete examples of how I am empowering my German 2 and 3 students. I was inspired to write this post after reading a great post by Chris Wejr (@mrwejr) on Giving Students CHOICES. Empowering students, giving students choices, and making sure their voices are heard are crucial pieces to increasing student engagement and motivation.

to empower: 1 - to give or delegate power or authority to; authorize
                   2 - to give ability to; enable or permit

Here are 5 ways I authorize and enable my students to take control of their learning:

1) Herr Tarte Blog - With my newfound interest in blogs, it was only fitting that I started a blog for my German classes. Students have done blog posts about German class; they have left comments on my blog about their feelings toward certain activities, and they have written about technology integration in German class. Additionally, each student now has their own German blog where they have learned to write and respond to each other.

2) Facebook - I started a Facebook group this year for my students. Each week we have a weekly discussion question that gives students the opportunity to voice their opinion on things we are doing in class. This platform meets the kids where they already are, while also giving them more of a say in their education. Here are a few of the weekly questions they have been asked:

- What is the role of homework in schools...what % of your grade should be homework / projects / presentations?
- How do you feel about the Flip Camera so far in class?
- We just finished a Prezi project...what did you think? Should we use it again...should I use it next year?
- We just finished reading a story...what kind of project would you like to do to demonstrate your understanding?
- If you could design the perfect would it operate and what would it look like?
- What are your favorite parts of this class...what are your least favorite parts?
- How can we use technology in schools to improve learning?

3) Flip Camera - I have been using the Flip Camera as another means for giving my students a voice. I give the students a discussion prompt and ask them to talk for 30 seconds to a minute about a particular aspect of German class. The students also have the opportunity to watch what other students have said, which gives them an idea of how others students think things are going.

4) In-Class Discussions - This is perhaps the simplest and most "old school" way on the list, but it continues to be productive and worth while. When asking the students questions about German class, they (for the most part) do not hold back. The good news is you hear the truth from the students...the bad news is you don't always hear what you want to hear.

5) Herr Tarte Assessment - I got this idea from Shannon Smith (who also happens to have an awesome blog). With 1st semester over, it was only fitting that I gave my students the opportunity to assess me. Here is the assessment I provided them: Herr Tarte Assessment

As I previously mentioned, empowering and giving students a voice can be a double-edged sword. On the positive side, you will most likely get an accurate representation of what the students believe, and they will have a voice in their education, which is awesome! On the negative side, you must be prepared to acknowledge and respond to their opinions (even if you don't agree). If you don't plan on listening and using their feedback, then you should save yourself the time and don't bother asking. Your students will NEVER forget if you ask for their opinion and you don't acknowledge it...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Whole New Educator...

I recently finished reading Daniel Pink's book, "A Whole New Mind." I was inspired to read this book because I am a huge fan of Pink's most well known book, Drive. I highly encourage you to read both of these books if you have not yet.

"A Whole New Mind" illustrates the transition we are experiencing from a society that values left brain thinkers, to a society that will value the right brain thinkers even more. The left side of the brain "handles logic, sequence, literalness, and analysis," while the right side "takes care of synthesis, emotional expression, context, and the big picture." (Pg. 25)

As an educator, I was especially interested in how this applies to the educational setting. Pink provides this excellent graphic which helps to describe how our society and civilization have been changing over the centuries:
If we are approaching (or already in) an age of conception, meaning we are a society of "creators and empathizers," what can we and should we be doing as educators to make sure our students are prepared? I think it is appropriate that we should first start with ourselves, the educators... Pink outlines six main aptitudes that need to be mastered...six main aptitudes that need to be mastered for the "whole new educator."   

Design - The whole new educator will no longer teach something purely because of its societal functionality. The whole new educator will teach about concepts that are aesthetically pleasing and inspiring. The whole new educator will encourage students to create and design products that are "beautiful and emotionally engaging," while simultaneously serving a functional purpose. (Pg. 65)

Story - The whole new educator will make sure information and data are part of a narrative. The whole new educator believes that information and data alone are worthless, and as such information will need to be a part of something contextually greater. The whole new educator will both practice and teach the art of "persuasion, communication, and self-understanding." (Pg. 66) 

Symphony - The whole new educator will see how individual pieces fit together to form the big picture. The whole new educator will both practice and preach the ability to synthesize. The whole new educator will no longer see things for what they are, but rather the whole new educator will have the ability, awareness, and perspective to see things for what they can become.

Empathy - The whole new educator will model and teach empathy. The whole new educator emphasizes the importance of being human, and consequently a whole new educator will attempt to put students in the shoes and lives of others. The whole new educator sees empathy as a crucial piece to developing and establishing strong relationships.

Play - The whole new educator will bring a classroom to life with games, laughter and humor. The whole new educator sees the value in making sure that everything is not always taken too seriously. The whole new educator recognizes the educational and health benefits of living life.

Meaning - The whole new educator will present educational content as more than just isolated pieces of information. The whole new educator will present educational content as a way to helping each student find greater meaning and purpose in life. Education will become a means to finding "purpose, transcendence, and spiritual fulfillment." (Pg. 67)

All quotes are from Daniel Pink's book, "A Whole New Mind."
Follow Daniel Pink on Twitter: @danielpink

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

10 reasons to get educators blogging...

5 reasons educators should start reading blogs:

1) - Blogs are the heart of learning and sharing...

If you are an idea and inspiration junkie like myself, then you will find blogs to be extremely beneficial. Educators of all ages and backgrounds are bringing their ideas, reflections and experiences to one convenient location; their blog. Educational bloggers have one goal, and that is to share as many ideas and experiences as possible. During the last 7 months, I have had the opportunity to learn so much by reading and following the blogs of others. Additionally, reading and following blogs helps keep me current on new and pressing educational issues.   

2) - Blogs are real world and real time experiences...

When educators write a new blog post I can say with almost 100% certainty that they are writing about something that has happened recently. Whether it happened as part of their daily job experience, or it happened as part of a professional conversation, educator blog posts are relevant and current. Blogs are personal and can be quite intimate at times, thus bringing to the life the real experiences of real educators.

3) - Blogs will make you reflect on your educational practices...

As you begin reading educator blogs you will instinctively start to reflect upon your educational practices and beliefs. You will (whether you like it or not) start comparing yourself to others and to their experiences, and fortunately this is not a bad thing. The more we question and think about what we are doing the better off we will be. Reflection is key to educator growth and development, and blogging helps with this.

4) - Blogs give you the opportunity to connect and collaborate with educators from all around the world...

One thing most educators don't have the time for during the course of a normal work day is sharing and collaboration. Blogging provides a safe and comfortable forum that supports two-way (at times even more) conversation. Imagine this: you read a blog have a leave a get a response from the original author (or another reader) start a conversation with these've made several've started expanding your PLN (professional learning network). Blogs create opportunity through collaboration and sharing.

5) - Blogs are free, accessible and extremely convenient...
The Internet has made educator growth a "anytime / anywhere" kind of thing. New educator blog posts are being written on a daily basis, and most importantly they are all FREE! If you have access to the Internet (computer, phone, etc...), you have the world of blogging at your finger tips. Blogs are accessible 24/7 and help to provide you what you need when you want it. I am not saying that books will become obsolete, but reading blogs has definitely taken a chunk out of my book reading time.

5 reasons educators should have their own blogs:

1) - You wish to improve your educational practices through sharing and collaboration...

Your blog posts will be an open invitation for educators to leave comments. This is an excellent opportunity to see what other educators think about your educational practices and / or beliefs. By engaging in open conversations with other educators through comments you are able to learn from the opinions of others. More importantly, these opinions are coming from a very diverse group of educators who all want and are willing to help. The educator blogging community is extremely gracious when it comes to supporting one of their own.

2) - You want to help other educators by sharing your experiences...

Every time you write a blog post you are giving another educator the opportunity to learn. By reading about your beliefs and experiences, you are providing them the perfect foundation for growth. Just as you can grow and develop as an educator by reading the posts of others, others can grow and develop by reading your posts. Once you become comfortable reading the blogs others, it is only fair you start to repay the favor and start adding your own!

3) - You want to add to the educational discussions happening all around the world...

Too often educators are able to list all the negative and bad things happening in education, while they are only able to talk about and list a few of the positive things happening. A blog provides you the opportunity to be a part of the educational solution. Your voice now has a much broader and diverse audience, which in turn can be extremely powerful. Please take advantage of this great opportunity and let your voice to heard.

4) - You want to take professional reflection to the next level...

One of the best things about blogging (in my opinion) is the reflective piece. Whenever I sit down to write a blog post I am forced to really think about what I am going to write. Consequently, there is no way I can write something without having given it considerable thought. Anytime I share a classroom experience or an educational belief on my blog, I am forced to evaluate and analyze. This is a crucial piece to future educator growth and development.

5) - You want to inspire others and lead by example...

Some of the best blogs posts tend to have two things in common: 1) - they inspire me... 2) - they describe an experience or thought where the original author is leading by example. Here is your opportunity to inspire and motivate others toward new heights. Share your success stories...share your failures...share how you are trying something new and leading by example. Your blog is your playground, and I promise you...there is no greater feeling than getting a comment or an E-mail from somebody who was inspired and motivated to try something new because of your blog post...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

14 books Educators should read...

Here are 14 books that I have read over the last two years that have had a positive effect and impact on me as an educator. Some of these books were read in the book club at Seckman High School, and some were read as part of my doctoral studies. Despite doing a lot more online reading of late (blogs, articles, etc...), I still feel that books play an important role in educator growth and development. Please comment and let me know what you would add to the list. Thank you and enjoy!

The Art of Possibility - Rosamund and Benjamin Zander

- The Zanders really do a great job of pushing you to think "outside of the box." They emphasize the importance of "possibility," and that through traditional thinking we are unfortunately limiting ourselves. An interesting and thought provoking read here.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni

- This book hits on some of the most common problems we face when it comes to teams and working together. The message is woven into a story and does an excellent job of providing solutions and alternatives when working with a team of people. This was one of the first books read as part of my doctoral studies.

Winning with People - John Maxwell

- This is a fantastic book about building and establishing strong relationships. This book was well received in book club because it not only had professional advice, but also had personal advice. Strong relationships are the keys to so many doors. I highly recommend this book.   

Tribes - Seth Godin

- Godin describes a world in which nothing is possible without "tribes." Tribes have throughout time pushed and helped our society to evolve, therefore their importance can't be ignored. An interesting read when it comes to establishing groups, teams and followers.


The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell does an excellent job of describing how something becomes "something." Once an idea or concept reaches "the tipping point," the idea or concept is really able to take off. This book has some valid points in the educational setting, and will most certainly get you thinking. 

Brain Rules - John Medina

- The brain is a hot topic right now in society, and as educators it has great value to understand more about how the brain works to better meet the needs of our students. Medina addresses some common myths and misconceptions as it pertains to the brain...well worth your time. 

How Full is your Bucket? - Tom Rath

- An inspirational book about filling the buckets of others. When you are negative you end up taking from somebody's bucket; when you are positive, encouraging, and solution oriented, you are able to add to someone's bucket. This book was a book club book and was well received by teachers.

The Fred Factor - Mark Sanborn

- This is the extraordinary tale of a postman named Fred. Fred takes all aspects of his life to the next level. No matter what he is doing he makes sure to do his best. Great inspirational book applicable to all educators. Our entire high school staff read this book this year.

Drive - Daniel Pink

- An extremely popular book right now. Pink outlines the three main factors of motivation: mastery, purpose and autonomy. This book really questions what it means to be either extrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated. Great read for all educators.

If you Don't Feed the Teachers they Eat the Students - Neila A. Connors

- This is an excellent read for both current and aspiring administrators. If the needs of the teachers (support, encouragement, autonomy...etc) are not met, teachers will be unable and unwilling to meet the needs of the students.

The Energy Bus - Jon Gordon

- This is another book club book. A great story about harnessing and taking advantage of positive energy. This book is applicable to educators of all levels and backgrounds. This was a very popular book among teachers. Check out Jon Gordon's website.

What Great Teachers do Differently - Todd Whitaker

- This book illustrates 14 traits and characteristics that make a great teacher. Simple and straight forward read that was enjoyed by many teachers. Whitaker also has another book What Great Principals do Differently. This book is not that entirely different than the "teacher" version, but does introduce a few new ideas. (here is a great Prezi)

The Radical Leap - Steve Farber

- Awesome book on extreme leadership. Farber explains why we need a new form of extreme leadership, as well as ways one can accomplish this. This book is a simple read full of great ideas and motivational moments.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 - Travis Bradberry

- Bradberry argues that one's emotional intelligence could actually be more influential than one's IQ. Once you are better able to understand and respond to your emotions you will have found a new way of approaching life. This is an interesting read that debunks most traditional thinking of IQ versus EQ.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Trying to do what's best for kids...

I recently made some big changes in my German classes. I have been contemplating these changes for a while now, so please don't assume I made these changes without thoughtful consideration. My focus has transitioned to having my students show what they have learned, instead of simply assessing them on what they are willing to do. It bothers me when I see students who have a high level of content mastery, but yet have a low grade. Likewise, I see misrepresentation when students who do all their work and are very good at playing the "school game" have high grades, but yet are lacking when it comes to content mastery. It is my hope that with these new changes students will be more focused on learning, rather than simple compliance and grades. Additionally, I want future grades to be a much more accurate representation of actual German ability.

Old way:

- Traditional paper/pencil homework every night (5 -10 minutes)
- Homework was always graded on completion (worth 10 points)
- Homework made up about 50% of a student's grade
- Homework was used to reinforce the concepts learned in class


1) - Students were completing homework for the sake of completing the homework (grade driven)
2) - Homework was being copied and the focus was taken off of learning
3) - Students had jobs or had a difficult home environment, thus homework was not completed
4) - Semester grades were not always an accurate representation of mastery of German content
5) - Some grades were inflated, while others were low when compared to actual content understanding

New way:

- Traditional homework has been eliminated
- The weekly reflective discussion post on Facebook will remain to get class feedback from students
- Students will spend more time creating, discovering, and exploring while in class
- Grades will be based more on what students are able to do, versus their simple compliance
Blogs, presentations, skits, movies, quizzes, and reflective discussions will be new assessments 
- Students will be more intrinsically motivated to learn

New Concerns:

1) - Homework provided additional practice which actually benefited some students
2) - Students who had a higher grade because of homework might not do as well this semester
3) - Parents might not be happy with the new changes in homework policy
4) - Fear of being "that" teacher who does not give homework

I encourage you to leave comments and feedback, as I look forward to reading what people have to say based off of their own individual experiences. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

10 Steps for Educators New to Twitter...

Educators from all around the world are beginning to use Twitter as a valuable piece in their professional growth toolbox. As professional development continues to evolve and transform, we will need new ways to encourage teachers to embrace new opportunities. Here is a "How to Twitter Guide" to share with new and veteran teachers. Enjoy!

1) - Sign up for your Twitter account! Click Here!

Sign up for your Twitter account and get started. Make sure to fill out your profile as much as possible, and it is also a great idea to make sure you upload a picture of yourself! Educators on Twitter will feel more comfortable knowing what you look also helps to keep the social in social media - say cheese!

2) - Spend some time watching and observing others... Check out my Twitter video!

Take some time to learn the ins and outs of Twitter. This step is important because it will lay the foundation of how others are using and embracing Twitter as a professional development tool. If you are looking for a few awesome educators to follow and learn from, here is a great list to start with:

@gcouros @web20classroom @NMHS_Principal @tomwhitby @kylepace @cybraryman1 @principalspage @ShellTerrell @ChrisWejr @shannonmmiller @patrickmlarkin @L_Hilt @ToddWhitaker @Dwight_Carter @datruss @mcleod  @plugusin @stumpteacher @kleinerin @mattbgomez

3) - Talk to educators who are using Twitter...

I would be willing to bet that you learned about or heard something about Twitter from a colleague. This is great news! This means you most likely have someone in your building or in your district who is using Twitter, and this gives you the opportunity to question them about how they use Twitter as a professional development tool. Tap into their experience and find out how Twitter has affected them professionally. These colleagues can be huge when it comes to supporting you and your future growth and development. Treasure them!

4) - Start to interact with your followers...

The key to making the Twitter experience the best it can be is in developing relationships with the people with whom you interact. By interacting with people you are able to foster an environment of sharing and collaboration. People are more willing to help and support you when they know they can rely on you to be a valuable member of their Twitter community. Building and establishing relationships with your followers is crucial.

5) - Continue the conversation by leaving comments on their blogs...

As you start interacting more you will take part in more and more conversations. You will find that many of these conversations can lead to future blog posts. Take time to read the blogs of people with whom you interact, and make sure to continue the conversation by leaving comments. By leaving a comment you are showing your dedication to the thoughts and musings of others...this is extremely important as you continue developing relationships.

6) - It's okay to be social...

Twitter conversations need to be focused and on topic, and for the most part should remain professional. However, it is important to remember that the people with whom you interact are people with lives and families, and as such it is okay to be friendly and social from time to time. In fact, I would say it is encouraged! Being social helps to develop and refine your Twitter relationships, which in turn will lead to more productive professional conversations.

7) - Be selective when it comes to who you follow...

There are some people on Twitter who are going to challenge you and make your Twitter experience greatly rewarding...there are others who will not. Make sure you find and follow those people who are actively tweeting and participating in conversations. Just because somebody follows you does not mean you have some obligation to follow them. Twitter follows the "unconference" model...if somebody adds value then you follow them, and if they don't add value then you move on.

8) - You will get what you put into it...

As mentioned several times already, building strong relationships is key. If you tweet once a week and never check to see what the people you are following are tweeting, then you probably won't get too much out of Twitter. To get something out of Twitter you will need to be an active and frequent participant. You don't have to tweet 100 times a day, but you will need be actively involved if you wish to get any meaningful use out of Twitter.

9) - Remember...use Twitter as a tool to meet your needs...

Twitter is anything and everything you need it to be. If you want to get professional development ideas they are out there...if you want to collaborate and share with math teachers they are willing...if you have questions and need help it is available. When somebody helps you to meet your needs, please make sure to repay the favor if possible. Twitter thrives on the generosity and reciprocity of the Twitter community.

10) - Share, explore, discover, collaborate and encourage others...

Enjoy Twitter and take advantage of the many great educators who are willing to share and help. Some of the most progressive and influential educators can be found on Twitter, and it is their dedication to improving education that makes this such a powerful tool.

If you have any additional questions on how Twitter can be used for educators I would suggest checking out these links:

Twitter for Teachers: a Professional Development Tool

10 Commandments of Twitter Etiquette

Educator Hash Tags via @cybraryman1

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Power of a Comment...

I recently did a blog post titled, How do you Define Learning? This post centers around the struggles I am having this year as I move away from the traditional style of learning to something I hope to be better for my students. I have spent a good deal of time asking my students and polling them to get a feel for their thoughts and beliefs as it pertains to their education, and ultimately about the direction of my German classes. One of my German 3 students read this blog post (which is awesome), and he left a comment on my blog (which is even more awesome)! Here is what he had to say:
Alex Bailey said...
Today I was finally given my edline activation code and decided to finally get a chance to check out all of your blogs. Being one of the students that made this comment to you, I would like to clarify my statement, and hope to help you understand where I'm coming from. I'm posting this here because it is much easier for me to say this in English rather than German.

When I come to school, I have seven classes to go to along with an Advisory. My classes are given a specific name and that name comes from what I'll be learning in that class. When I come to German class, the first thing that comes to my mind is "I'm going to enjoy this hour." Last year in German II, I learned so much. I learned the basics of a language, and how to form sentences that you along with my classmates can understand. This allows us to communicate in another language, and in my mind, that's a huge thing. Now, since German III has begun, I've just added to what I've learned with things such as grammar, about fifty more vocab words, and how to use the thinking process when I'm trying to say something in a language that I've been speaking for just over a year. I can't help but feel like I haven't learned as much German as I've learned last year simply because we aren't studying the German language alone and how to improve our Grammar every day. Instead we're practicing using it, which if you can't use it, there is no point in knowing the grammar.

Now, this year in German, I haven't learned as many new words, and how to talk to you and my friends in German (because I already learned how to do that last year), but I've learned so many other things that it's impossible to list all of them because I seem to sometimes learn them without knowing it. For example, you've taught me how to make a blog, post on a blog, resize pictures and add captions to them (for my glog, not blog), you've inspired me to learn the ins and outs of a few computer programs such as paint, and the alt keys for umlauts which inspired me to learn other cool alt codes such as the blank character, a triangle, a smiley face, and a few others. These are just a few things you've indirectly caused me to learn, but the list goes on for an incredibly long time, and all of this took place while I was reinforcing as well as adding to my German speaking skill.

When I made that comment, I didn't truly think before I spoke. What I should have said was something more along the lines of "I haven't learned as much German this year as I learned in the whole last year." When I came in to German III the first day, I felt like German III would be much faster paced, and we would learn a whole lot more about the language than in the previous year, but I have come to the realization that this isn't the truth. We are learning not about German alone, but about everything no matter how hard we try, because you somehow manage to find assignments to assign that cause me to keep thinking and learning. For that, I think you're a great teacher and have truly taught me more in your class than any other class has taught me in my time in High School because you are not focusing on specifically German (like the name of the course), but more of a "learn as much as you can while doing something related to German" type of thing. So please don't be so hard on yourself about the comment because I feel I probably shouldn't have said something like that so quickly, and should have thought it through more thoroughly before saying it.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Technology that Augments the Use of Technology by Educators...

I recently had a discussion with a friend about the relative merits and demerits of technology, and before you jump in to claim that the pros outweigh the cons, let me iterate that the topic under debate was the value of (or lack of it) technology for those who are either scared to use technology or have no clue about it. The tech savvy may find this hard to understand, but there are still those who refuse to embrace technology or do so under considerable duress.

There’s no doubt that technology offers many advantages in the world of education; however, if educators are reluctant to utilize it to the fullest, then its benefits do not reach those it is supposed to help. The best way to get around this hurdle is to find the right kind of technology that would entice even the most reluctant of educators to adopt technology in their teaching methods, and for this to happen, technology must be:
      1) - Easy to use – the easier it is to use technology, the more likely the non tech savvy are to use it regularly.      
      2) - Relatively inexpensive or preferably free – who wants to pay for expensive technology when they don’t even like it in the first place?
      3) - Addictive - the lure of most forms of technology is that they’re addictive once you start using them, and this is what allows you to tap the technology to derive the most of its potential. 

      4) - Interactive – so that results can be measured in real time. 

      5) - Capable of producing results – the best kind of technology is that which is effective in the world of education, and educators who realize this are quick to adopt its use. 

      6) - Restrictive – in the sense that educators are able to retain control and prevent students from misusing or abusing it.

Perhaps the best form of technology that satisfies all these factors is the Internet – it allows educators to come up with innovative ways to teach and provide their students with an education. It makes it easy for students to learn much more than their textbooks contain, and in more interesting ways. And it provides access to a variety of tools that make education more fun and much more interesting.

However, on the downside, the Internet can lead to dubious learning practices, one of which is plagiarism. Other negatives include the fact that students who are not committed could end up wasting a whole lot of time with all the distractions that the Internet provides. But, with the right kind of supervision and the right kind of restrictions in place, educators could make the best possible use of the Internet to foster the use of other kinds of technology in the processes of teaching and learning.

This guest post is contributed by Cathy Thomas, she writes on the topic of Computer Technician Online Degrees . She welcomes your comments at her email id:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What are you really worth...?

There are lots of things that people love: new car smell, walks on the beach, winning the lottery and most importantly, opening a gas station soda only to find out you won a free soda!

In addition to these most cherished things in our lives, I also really love to be inspired and motivated. Over the last couple weeks there have been two pieces in particular that have so eloquently come together in perfect harmony...

1) - When I asked 27 administrators what they loved about their jobs I received some awesome responses. Educators making a difference turned out to be a great compilation of great comments by a great group of administrators. In particular there was one comment by @mrgrimshaw that really hit home with me...

     "20 years ago I wanted to prove that I could make something happen, but today I take a lot of pride in helping and supporting others make the magic happen!"

This comment re-emphasized the notion that it has nothing to do with you and has everything to do with our students and colleagues...

2) - Today I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Library Media Specialist Tonya Thompson. We discussed the role of a leader and how one truly knows whether they are worth their leadership grain of salt. We determined (as if we were some world renowned academic institution) that there are good leaders and there are great leaders (we all know there is another type, but that is not for here).

A leader with above average worth will be recognized as being good only during his/her tenure...while a leader with a high worth will be recognized as being a great leader only after his/her tenure has ended.

These two different events have made it very clear to me that one's true worth will and can only be determined once they are gone. If the castle crumbles after your exit, then you might have been good at the time, but you did a poor job of helping anyone else to become great.

As educators we are in the business of empowering and encouraging. If we are always the glue holding everything together then we have not done our jobs, and at best we will be good. When we have students and colleagues who can excel and thrive in our absence, then we will have arrived at great.

A great leader of high worth wants to help others become great leaders of high worth. Greatness can be created or destroy...the law of conservation of energy need not apply...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

7 videos that WILL ignite a discussion...

One of the biggest reasons I enjoy using Twitter is it enables me to connect with educators from all around the world. Additionally, Twitter has proven to be an efficient and effective platform to discuss pressing educational issues. Unfortunately, most educators don't have the opportunity to discuss educational issues during the course of the school day with their actual building and district colleagues. As a professional development representative, I see great value in trying to incorporate time into the schedule that allows educators to sit and discuss. Here are 7 videos I have selected to use in an upcoming professional development day. Please feel free to comment or suggest additional videos that will initiate a healthy, productive and necessary discussion.

1) - David Letterman - The top ten things you DON'T learn about teaching in college...


2) - Dan Brown - An open letter to educators...

3) - Todd Whitaker - What great teachers do differently...

4) - Dan Pink - RSA animate - Drive - The surprising truth about what motivates us...

5) - Alfie Kohn vs. Dwight Schrute...

6) - Steve Spangler - How to be an amazing teacher...

7) - Pursuit of happiness - Protect your dreams...

Can't access Youtube at problem!