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!!!

As most of you are probably aware, we will host our 11th annual SDPBC Technology Conference in March 2009. We are pleased to be returning to Santaluces High School for the second consecutive year. Here an example of a free online publishing tool that you can employ to spread the word. Feel free to share this countdown with anyone you think might want to have it simply by clicking on share in the lower left corner! Or better yet… go to www.sproutbuilder.com create a free account and build your own! You can build all kinds of widgets and other neat things. If you build something you’d like to share, LET US KNOW!!

If you wold like to add a little personality to your Edline page, possibly lighten up the presentation of some of your content, or try and inject some creativity into your project based learning. I recommend checking out Go!Animate. You’ll find this web based publishing program at www.goanimate.com and it does require an email to create an account, but the service is free and FUN!! Here’s an example of something I put together in about 15 minutes, and I am still learning the interface. Your students will amaze you!!
Get Creative!!

Spelling City

Here’s a great way for elementary teachers or parents to help your students practice for those weekly spelling tests that we all know and love!  Also, you can search for a huge number of provided lists that cover a large range of age appropriateness, and content specific subjects.

As a teacher or parent, you can very easily create a “weekly spelling list” that can be accessed at home with a username and password of your choice. You have the choice of making your list public and searchable, or keep it private so only your students will know how to find it.  No email or identification is required of the student, and when they log in, they will be presented with several very interactive ways to learn their words. They can hear their words, take practice tests or play one of several games.
Jump in and give it a try!  I am using it with my children and they really seem to enjoy it.  I am sure you’ll find the same results with your students.  Let us know how it goes, and if you’ve shared any great new lists!

As information technologies have advanced rapidly, things like Google, blogs, Blackberry, i-Phones, and social networks have become ever more prevalent, and being “connected” has taken on a whole new meaning for many people. For more and more people the thought of being “offline” for even a few minutes is a real cause for concern. I read recently an entry form the creator of one of my favorite “social bookmarking” pages www.twine.com (which is currently in invite only beta to participate) His thoughts are that this prevalence and that the ubiquitous nature of technologies and sharing of information will only continue to grow.

This brief article is definitely worth a read.

Some unintended results have come from all of these advances. Some people find that keeping afloat in this massive wave of information is a challenge. Here’s a link to listen to some very tech savvy individuals mull this over at a session of the Churchill Club that took place earlier this year. (MAY NOT WORK FROM WITHIN OUR FIREWALL)

I will leave you with one more look at the same general trend towards a possibly “techno-centric” future. This is brought to you by the ever sharp Colbert Report

Review your experiences, and what you know of your students’ experiences, and let us know your thoughts…pro…con… or otherwise.

As you strive to educate today’s students in a way that will prepare them for an unknown future, it might be clear to you that the responsible and effective use of technology should be of utmost importance. Nearly every facet of our student’s lives has been affected by technology. I hope in mostly positive ways. So it should follow that their educations should also be positively impacted.

To those of us active in understanding the trends of education in the 21st century, the use of new tools and media afforded by new technology is a forgone conclusion. Also, it seems very clear to me that we want our teachers and students to become familiar with the technologies faced and embraced in today’s society. But how do we stress the importance, and model these behaviors so that others might share in this vision.

I recently sent an open ended email to some of my colleagues with a question about a recurring theme I keep running into.  I often see it stated that: “Technology is most effective when it is transparent”.  To me this is both obvious and perplexing at the same time.  As we look to engage our students and bring the content they need in the formats they desire, how do we make the need for new skill sets and tools obvious if they are “supposed” to be unseen?

Many of the responses I received recommended video or other similar examples of “best practice” and peer or community development. I quickly realized we wouldn’t have to look very far to find these things. Luckily, we have many dedicated and forward thinking educators right here that have been doing just this for a long time, and getting results that validate their efforts. Many teachers have been leading the way for years by exploring new delivery methods and developing strategies that encourage collaboration and produce amazing results.

I invite your comments to discuss some of our successes and the challenges that have been laid out in front of us as we move further into this unknown future.

At the close of the last school year we conducted a poll of our teachers asking them about their general attitude about the use of technology in their classroom, as well as the impact that certain specific programs and services have on instruction and learning. Nearly 1,000 teachers responded to our survey and the feedback was terrific!

Personally, the chart below is my favorite of all of them as it demonstrates just how critical our teachers find technology to be.

The impact of technology in the classroom

 We asked other questions too of course, including this one that asked teachers how technology impacts student interest and attention.

You can see the full results of the survey at the two links below. While these results are specific to Palm Beach County Schools they are well inline with the results that other surveys produce.

The Impact of Technology in the Classroom

The Impact of Specific Programs and Services in the Classroom

Have a comment about these results? We’d love to hear from you!

 

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has released the first of their policy briefings on the role that technology plays in student achievement. This is another peer-reviewed longitudinal study based on the results achieved in state-wide programs in Michigan, Texas, and Iowa. You can download the PDF file of their article–Technology and Student Achievement— The Indelible Link–directly from this link, or visit ISTE’s Support EdTech site.

There’s a lot of interesting conclusions in this article, including ones that track closely the results we received in our own internal survey of teacher attitudes towards technology. You can see the results of that survey at this spiffy little page with pie charts and all, but the real keys to both the ISTE study and our own results can be seen in the statistics. In Palm Beach County schools our teachers have this to say about the use of technology in their classroom.

  • An astounding 97% of teachers agree or strontly agree with this statement: My students show increased interest and attention in class when I incorporate technology into my lessons.
  • Nearly the same number of teachers agreed with this statement: The use of technology in my lessons allows my students to see real world connections to the subject they are learning.
  • 84% of our teachers agreed with that The use of technology in my classroom has a profound impact on student motivation and classroom behavior.

Does this provide definitive proof that technololgy has a major impact on learning? Between the ISTE study of the work done in other states and the same results from our own teachers it certainly appears evident that the debate about the efficacy of educatational technology has been settled in many ways. Is there “bad” uses of instructional technology out there?

Do we need to do a better job of training our teachers and choosing the best technologies for use in our classrooms? You betcha. But the question on whether there is value in educational technology is continuing to be settled in study after study.

Palm Beach SunriseWelcome to the Educational Technology weblog!

Traditionally this entry would have the words “Hello World” somewhere inside it, so we certainly don’t want to disappoint! With that out of the way let’s talk a little about why this service has been created and what we hope to gain from it.

First, what is the purpose of this blog anyway? (Yes, it is a blog.)

Simply put, our team hopes to find a new and better way for teachers in Palm Beach County schools to have a place to discuss the latest successes and challenges in their classroom, particularly when it comes to their use of technology tools.

More than that though, this blog is intended to be a demonstration project where we have the opportunity to lead by example as we collaborate and discuss teaching practices using what has become one of the most ubiquitous tools available today–the ability to connect and share using simple publishing tools. When you hear the term Web 2.0, that is exactly what this new paradigm is all about. Connecting. So please join in the conversation by leaving a comment. It’s easy!

We’re expecting this to be a fun ride, so don’t sit back and relax, but lean forward and engage with us! We want to hear from you and hope that you’ll be as excited about this new service as we are.

Don’t forget that you’ll want to subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog in your favorite news reader. Not sure how to do that? Well, stand by. More will be coming soon!