Tag: integration

2-Minute Tech Challenge #1: ifaketext.com

The select few who have read this blog for a few years now might remember the old, 12-Second Tech Challenges from my previous life. These were (EXTREMELY) short video intros to some tech resources, followed by a challenge to find a way to integrate it into the curriculum. Well, 12seconds.tv doesn’t exist anymore, which is good and bad news, probably. On the negative side, 12seconds was a really cool site and community. On the positive side, I won’t be limited to just 12 seconds (No, that is not the negative side..ahem!). Still, in order to respect the time of the reader, I’ve vowed to myself to keep each video under 2 minutes.

Here is how this 2-Minute Tech Challenge thing works.

  1. Watch the video
  2. Use the resource.
  3. Share your result as a comment.
  4. Seguin faculty who participate will be entered to win some cool stuff! 1 entry per challenge + 1 bonus entry if you or your kids use the resource in the curriculum–be sure to specify.

That’s it. Sometime in the spring, I’ll tally up all of the entries and give away some useful, technology-related prizes. Just remember, it only takes a few minutes, but you have to do a little work to win. This first one will get you off to a VERY easy start!

Now, create your own. Think of how this might be used as a conversation between historical or literary characters, scientific things such as atoms, cells, etc. When finished, share the link to your fake text conversation by posting a comment to this blog post. That’s it! I look forward to seeing your creative responses!


10 Years, 10 Educational Technology “Truths”

Amazingly, I just finished my 10th year working in educational technology. Time truly passes in a flash when you are engaged in something you enjoy so much. After a decade in this business, I would like to share 10 experienced-based truisms that have come to be the guiding principles for me in this business. It’s tough to prioritize some of them, so, in no particular order…

  • The learning objective comes first. Put this with an understanding of the abilities, preferences, etc. of the kids, then choose the right technology.
  • Technology might not be the best tool for the job. There are times when learning succeeds best without technology. Shut it off.
  • No technology is perfect. What works for one classroom might be unsuccessful, unused, and unwanted next door.
  • Digital natives? Sort of. Kids are generally very fast tech learners, indeed, but they don’t come to your room knowing as much as some would assert.
  • Make do. Your budget and resources are not as deep as what that expert speaker is spreading. Use what you and your kids can get your hands on.
  • You gotta believe. Teachers who routinely use tech believe it is important and beneficial for their students. Those who don’t, won’t.
  • Leaders have followers. When the principal uses technology, the teachers will. Simple.
  • Filters are why I’m losing my hair. That and traffic. No clarification needed.
  • Teaching and learning aren’t the same. The technologies for each are often very different. Keep in mind when setting priorities.
  • Reconsider that PowerPoint or brochure. Technology can and should let students do things they cannot otherwise do or do as well. Kick up the expectations.

Of course, I’m open to others, so please share your own!

Traits of an Innovative Adminstrator

I’m preparing a presentation for a group of administrators next week. I’m used to primarily collaborating with teachers, but I think this is a critical opportunity for me to influence a crucial group. These guys and gals set the tone and determine the instructional direction for entire districts and campuses. I’ve been reflecting upon the qualities that have made so many of the administrators I have worked with fantastic assets to me in my own job as a technology specialist and, previously, as a classroom teacher yearning to innovate. I’ve shared a few below in hopes of receiving feedback (and basically crowdsourcing my presentation) based upon others’ experiences. If you have any suggestions, they would be really appreciated! (Note–suggestions don’t have to begin with an “e”, but bonus points will be awarded!). The ideal, innovative administrator will…

  • Embody–take the time to study, experiment, and use technology in your day-to-day work. Share your experiences with your teachers, students, and parents.
  • Enable–Create the climate by setting responsible but progressive policies (e.g. filtering policies) and providing needed resources.
  • Encourage–Look for and share the successful innovations happening in your school.
  • Expect–Hold teachers accountable for using technology in the context of the curriculum, in high-level ways that promote meaningful knowledge and skills.

2008-2009 Technology Integration Progress Report

report cardThe 2008-2009 school year saw some exciting developments in the use of technology in Birdville schools, and there are increasing signs that many teachers and administrators here no longer view technology as an exciting addition, but as a critical necessity. Among other trends, the district witnessed explosive growth in the number of students enrolled in online courses. A new digital media system will make storing and retrieval of digital content faster and accessible from any Internet-connected computer. Video is gaining momentum rapidly, as more campuses add webcams and small, portable video cameras to the arsenals of teachers and students.

Web 2.0 tools also continue their steady infiltration of the day-to-day activities of students, teachers, and administrators. Our department launched a very successful program to educate administrators on a wide variety of educational technologies this year. Called Lunch and Learn, the program offered short (1 hour) introductions to technology over a gourmet lunch (usually pizza). The response was very positive, and plans are under way to continue the program next year.

The 12 Second Tech Challenge was started on a whim as an effort to encourage reluctant teachers to try new tools in short bursts. I offered the challenges (and possible prizes, such as web cams, graphics tablets, wireless presenter mice, etc.) to my own campuses, and I received excellent participation and feedback asking for more. I am hopeful that the project will be a district-wide offering next year.

Numerous Web 2.0 tools have gained a significant foothold in the teaching practices of our district campuses. Blogging and wikis continue to have a significant impact. Two campuses, for instance, established student news sites using Edublogs. Students published researched stories, conducted interviews, reported on school events, and incorporated videos of campus events. Twitter is beginning to be utilized in exciting ways. As examples, a middle school teacher (Twitter name foxworth) utilized the tool to communicate news and course information to students and parents. Several campuses, such as Birdville High School and Holiday Heights Elementary, are using Twitter to broadcast campus events and announcements to parents and the community. Ustream was used by the technology department, campuses, and several teachers to stream class and district events, training, and more. The availability of YouTube in the district let teachers and students access powerful educational videos and, even more exciting, to create and share their own work with a global audience. Communication tools, such as Skype, Dimdim, and Mebeam allowed classes to collaborate with other students in distant locations and teachers to attend training (see below) from the comfort of their classrooms.

Student creativity was encouraged through the use of online tools such as Glogster, Animoto, and VoiceThread. Online office applications began to be utilized, with tools such as Google Forms showing particular promise for conducting surveys, gathering data, assessing student progress, etc. The online quiz tool MyStudiyo gained a following among teachers who incorporated the interactive products into class websites and blogs.

The list could certainly go on, but this gives a good, general view of some of the exciting ways teachers and administrators have taken to the use of Web-based instructional tools in the district. Were I to create a “grade” for our progress, I’d give us a solid B+. Our faculties are showing tremendous creativity and enthusiasm, but the utilization of technology needs to see continued growth in the coming year. Far too many of our classrooms are still the domain of well-intended but out-dated practices, resources, and curriculums. The encouraging thing to witness is the fire that is spreading from small sparks of innovation, and the potential exists for a blaze of 21st Century teaching and learning to engulf the classrooms of our district.

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