Educational Vision


Recently,  Dr. Diane Ravitch the author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (New York Times review here) sat down with Alan Gerstel from The Education Network in Palm Beach County to discuss her book, her views on educational reform, and how best to prepare schools to meet the challenges of the future. As a former policymaker and member of the administrations for both the  Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton, Dr. Ravitch has particularly interesting views on school reform, testing, and the impact reform efforts have had on teachers.

Below is the full interview which may also be seen on the local broadcast of The Education Network carried in Palm Beach County on Comcast channel 97.

We should all be PROUD!!!

The School District of Palm Beach County has been recognized by netTrekker for our commitment to keeping our students safe online and providing educationally sound Internet resources for our students and teachers.  Each year netTrekker recognizes the top 100 Districts based on the usage of their educational search tool, and this year WE RANKED # 7  OVERALL!!

To see where we ranked compared to some of the other districts in Florida and the nation click on the award.

ssa_logo_-_top_100_districts

As a reminder,

netTrekker is available to all students, teachers, and family members of the School District of Palm Beach County, and is available via a link on the Learning Tools website.  This is a direct link from school, and inquire at your school to learn more about access from home!

To learn more about netTrekker… check out the netTrekker Support Page, and KEEP SAFELY SEARCHING!!!

The use of technology Digital Communicationin the classroom to engage and motivate students is hardly a new concept. The question that both teachers and policy-makers have been asking themselves almost from the moment that the first computer landed in a classroom is a simple one: “Which kinds of programs work?”

In 1998 the Milliken Family Foundation released a study that identified 7 dimensions of effective technology integration. Even though this report was released over 10 years ago, the focus and dimensions that were identified are hardly dated. In fact, 10 years of experience in the classroom and the release of standards such as those created by ISTE for both teachers and students have validated the domains of learning that lead to effective technology integration. (You can download and read the full report here in PDF format.)

Here’s a brief recap of the identified dimensions of technology integration that can be used as a guide in designing your own programs and for examining their effectiveness:

1. Learners: Are learners using the technology in ways that deepen their understanding of the content in the academic standards and, at the same time, advance their knowledge of the world around them? Does the student use contemporary technology, communication networks, and associated learning contexts to engage in relevant, real-life applications of academic concepts?

2. Learning Environments: Is the learning environment designed to achieve high academic performance by students through the alignment of standards, research-proven learning practices, and contemporary teaching methods? Does the school culture enable teachers to individually and collectively improve the learning and teaching process through the use of technology? Is there sufficient access to technology tools, data, and the means to examine and manipulate them?

3. Professional Competency: Are educators fluent with technology and do they use technology tools to impact student achievement? Do teachers provide learning contexts that require students to take on more independent roles in their own learning?

4. System Capacity: Is the education system re-engineering itself to systematically meet emerging needs of a changing global workforce and new educational objectives? Is there a system to build human capacity through training and mentoring?

5. Community Connections: Are key community and school stakeholders committed and involved in the planning, funding, implementing, and evaluating the system’s use of technology? Is their clear articulation of roles, expectations, implementation, time lines, and accountability?

6. Technology Capacity: Are there adequate technology, networks, electronic resources and support to meet the goals of the system? Is capacity evenly distributed? Do all students and teachers have equal opportunities?

7. Accountability: Is there agreement on what success with the successful use of technology looks like? Are there measures in place to track progress, report results, and change as needed?

While there may be individual points to argue in this study, there is much to be gained by asking these questions. As you examine your own priorities and the priorities of your school, how would you answer? What changes do you feel need to be made in the approach you are taking with technology integration? And where do you feel changes are needed?

As you begin the 2009-2010 school year it’s good to keep the significant role that teachers play in the lives of our students in proper perspective. Here are a few words from some famous individuals with their thoughts on teachers. (Quotes courtesy of The Quote Garden):

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.  ~Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann”

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called “truth.”  ~Dan Rather

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work.  It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.  ~Jacques Barzun

Modern cynics and skeptics… see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.  ~John F. Kennedy

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.  ~Gail Godwin

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.  ~Horace Mann

A teacher’s purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image.  ~Author Unknown

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.  ~Karl Menninger

Teaching should be full of ideas instead of stuffed with facts.  ~Author Unknown

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.  The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.  ~Carl Jung

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.  ~Kahlil Gibran

The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate “apparently ordinary” people to unusual effort.  The tough problem is not in identifying winners:  it is in making winners out of ordinary people.  ~K. Patricia Cross

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.  ~The Talmud

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.  ~Author Unknown

Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher.  That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number.  ~Author Unknown

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.  ~John Cotton Dana

Here are a few more from Teacher Appreciation

“We think of the effective teachers we have had over the years with a sense of recognition, but those who have touched our humanity we remember with a deep sense of gratitude.”
Anonymous student

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job. ”
Donald D. Quinn

“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots. ”
Thurgood Marshall

“Education…beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of conditions of men –the balance wheel of the social machinery…It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich; it prevents being poor.”
Horace Mann

“Public education rests precariously on the skill and virtue of the people at the bottom of the institutional pyramid.”
Tracy Kidder
“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.”
Plato

“The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education.”
Plutarch

“I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well”
Alexander the Great

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Henry Adams

Have a GREAT school year! Your students are counting on you!

A cross-state collaborative event occurred between one of our teachers here at Waters Edge ES (Mr. Fisher) and a teacher in Chicago (Mrs. Broos) to celebrate Lincoln’s 200th birthday.

5th grade students completed a KWL on VoiceThread and were then grouped in 2’s from partnering classes to conduct research together. They collaborated by creating their own VoiceThreads, adding their documents and leaving each other comments. Classes communicated using Adobe Connect and the links were shared on Edline. In addition, this has all been uploaded to MediaShare (search “lincoln”) for the ultimate sharing experience for all teachers to be able to replicate. As if that isn’t enough, Mrs. Weinroth  and Emilie from WOWL and one of the anchors from PalmBreezeCAFE were on the scene to capture it all!

On this final day (shown in the video) the Mrs. Broos’ class in Chicago had an assembly and put on a show while the class here watched and participated.

I hope you will take just a few minutes to watch the video and check out their VoiceThread.

Skills:

American History

Government

Research Skills

Effective use of technology

Back in August, Kim posted here about word clouds, specifically using Wordle to build them. I found this extremely timely interactive website while reading Larry Ferlazzo’s blog. The New York Times has created an interactive look at the language of presidential inaugural addresses. The most-used words in each address appear in the interactive chart, sized by number of uses. Words highlighted in yellow were used significantly more in each inaugural address than average. Included is the full text of each address as well.

After listening to President Obama’s, can your students (or perhaps as a whole class) use Wordle to create their own?

As many of you may remember, Lee Kolbert wrote an entry on September 2nd about a very rousing and motivational speech given by Dalto Sheman, an amazing student in Texas.   At the time the post provided a link to the video that was not viewable within our district’s network.  Someone recently reminded me of this young man so I thought I would re-post with a version than can be viewed from school!  Well worth sharing with your students!

ENJOY
 

I will be the first to admit that I can use plenty of help when it comes to my ability to remember lists of facts, or organizing my thoughts.  I will bet that many teachers are familiar with ways to become better thinkers and I’d love to here them.  Here’s a link to a really immpressive list of things you might consider useful in improving your own thought processes.


 This interactive list of ideas and information surrounding ways to improve your cognitive skills comes courtesy of Jessica Merritt and can be found at http://www.find-schools-online.com/blog/  This list has something for everyone. 

Please feel free to comment on your favorite or on any that you think are not worth the time.

Me neither but I felt like I was very close!

Today, I had the pleasure of video conferencing with a 5/6 grade class in Central Butte, Canada. Participating in the activity was (teacher) Barb Mcinnis (& her students), Tim Lauer (Portland, Oregon), Tom Barrett (Nottingham, England) and Dean Shareski (Moose Jaw, Canada). This is direct from Mrs. Mcinnis’ class blog

:

The grade 5/6 students had the chance to meet people from different parts of the world thanks to wireless technology!  On Tuesday, November 4 we participated in a web conference.  We had the opportunity, thank you to Dean Shareski (division technology) to interview educators from Nottingham, England;Portland, OR; Florida; and Moose Jaw via a web cam.  We were able to see and talk to these individuals. We first asked them questions to try and locate them, then we talked about the wireless technology that exists in their classrooms and schools.  Wow!  there are sure some great pieces of technology being used!! This project came about from an article we had read called “Get Set For the Net”. This article helped us understand how past inventions lead us to the wireless age we live in. Most of the students take this age for granted and do not realize the negative and positive effects it can have on our lives. We watched “Smart Guy:Stranger on the Net” to help us become more “Net” smart. Then we decided to do something positive and exciting with our wireless technology.

I’d like to commend Mrs. Mcinnis for her innovative vision as she seeks out relevant technologies to make learning for her students relevant. Wouldn’t you love to be in her class? This is an easy and free activity that took less than 40 minutes and can easily be replicated in YOUR classroom. Where would you find another class to communicate with? Try ePals, for starters.

This is the edited version that Dean created (5 min):

This is the entire conversation (40min):

Thank you, Dean, for asking me to participate. It was truly a pleasure to “meet” Tim, Tom, Mrs. Mcinnis and all of her students.

P.S. I hope my clues (about where I live) still have them stumped!!

The Technical Stuff:
We used Adobe Connect to have our online conversation and I recorded the session. When we were finished, I downloaded the video in .flv format (the default for recorded Adobe Connect sessions) and then uploaded that file to our school district’s Vodcast server (Video On Demand). I was then able to copy the code (anyone know how to read code??? Certainly not me, but I know how to copy and paste!) and pasted it into this blog. Code like that can be pasted into ANY webpage, including Edline! The video is also available on MediaShare along with a description so other teachers can easily access and replicate similar activities in their classes.

An excellent and thought-provoking article appeared in the New York Times this week, and the teacher who published this piece speaks eloquently about the challenges of teaching and learning in a technology-driven environment. In “Putting Technology in Its Place”, teacher- blogger Matthew Kay discusses his experiences in a one-to-one laptop school. His article makes a couple of excellent points that serve as reminders that technology in the classroom has to be about teaching and learning and not about the technology. Here are some of the tastier bits, but do read the entire article–and just as importantly–read the comments that come after the article. That’s where you see the beginnings of the collaboration that takes place on the modern Web.

“…technology provides sexy alternatives to older methods of instruction and assessment. (I once) spoke about my “podcast year” — when, as a first year teacher, I discovered the joy of digital microphones. Every piece of creative writing was recorded, an activity that ate up entire class periods. By the time I reached a unit where it actually made sense to capture student voice (speeches), the kids were ready to fight me. I too had allowed myself to be distracted.

Technology is also expensive. The kids have to buy insurance, and they constantly lose and replace parts. Schools feel the pinch, too. There is the myth about the Soviets using a pencil when we spent millions developing a pen — and I’m sure that’s how many feel about schools using technology. In hard economic times, there certainly is an argument to be made against unnecessary expenses.”

And yet, as he sums things up, Mr. Kay still finds incredible value in the role technology plays in the education of today’s students.

“As important as it is for students to expand their sense of community and learn to collaborate — it is more crucial that they learn how to sift thoughtfully through increasing amounts of information. The Internet presents a unique challenge to scholarship — many of the questions that once required extensive research can now be answered with 10-minute visits to Google. The issue now is distinguishing between rich resources and the online collection of surface facts, misinformation, and inexcusable lies that masquerade as the truth. It will be hard for our students to be thoughtful citizens without this ability to discern the useful from the irrelevant.”

Hmm. Being able to discern the useful from the irrelevant. Now there’s a 21st Century skill!

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