Archive for the ‘Human Resource Development’ Category

whirlwindWhat a whirlwind school year!  It is hard to believe that it is over.  My posts to this blog (lack of posts!!!) are a barometer of how busy I was especially over the last few months.  I am preparing for summer professional development workshops, and I wanted to share my resources (A work in progess over the next few days; so, please check back as I add information).  If you have anything to add it would be appreciated (Please add your suggestions to the comments, thanks)!

Summer 2009 Workshop Resources (My PBWorks Wiki)


Alan November I am pleased to have the opportunity to be able to see and hear Alan November when he arrives to visit our school district next week. Alan’s writings have been important and they have influenced me to work to find ways to help students learn and grow. I had the opportunity to attend the Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston last July 2007, and the conference, workshops, and wonderful people I met and conversed with were inspiring. Our little part of the world is moving forward as we look for ways to embed technology in the learning process, and Alan’s influence is a big part in that process. I look forward to Alan’s time here, and I know my colleagues will benefit from what he has to say. My hopes are that his inspiring words will lead to more action. This is a really big deal!!! Can you tell I’m excited!?! 🙂

Next week is also the one year anniversary of when my wife, children and I visited to interview for my position as educational technology specialist and Dianna’s speech-language pathologist position.  If I had been told I would be in the presence of Alan November one year later I  would have thought it was a dream!  What a difference a year makes, and I am so fortunate to have had the experiences I have had over this period of time.  The heart of it all has been the wonderful people I have met and been blessed to work with.  We are in the midst of something great, and as I have had more opportunities to work with students as of late, I know more than ever we are working with precious souls that need our guidance in an ever changing and complicated world.  My fifteen years in public education is such a short period of time, but I have gained a better perspective because of people like Alan November.  I would call it focus, and that is what people like Alan help me to do:  focus on things that are most important and things that matter most!  Working with young people and shaping a better future is what it is all about, and my lens is aimed at doing all that I can to be a positive influence in that noble cause!

Today is a continuing education day in our district and several offerings are on tap for staff to partake of (Several offerings are associated with Atomic Learning tutorials!):

Blogging (WordPress)

Web 2.0 (Vicki Davis)

Quia (Another Tutorial Resource:  Hot Potatoes)

Microsoft Office Word 2007

SMART Boards & CPS Clickers

Early Childhood & Technology Integration

cornucopia I have been involved in a “cornucopia” of events, tasks, meetings, trainings, and decisions over the past few days. Monday consisted of virtual mentor training with administrators in the district and CPS clicker system training for staff at one of our middle schools. I have been piecing together technology “equipment” orders in between solving multimedia issues, and we trained for deploying parent portal access to our web-based student management system to be done next week during the middle and elementary schools’ parent teacher conferences. I visited a second grade classroom and observed a lesson that was facilitated with clickers. I “fixed” a SMART Board today, and had many wonderful, thoughtful, and vital discussions about the future of education and technology’s role in the process. There are so many things that happen during each week and it is exciting to be a part of it all. Tomorrow I have the pleasure of travelling with two fourth grade classes on a field trip as their podcaster. I plan to use Gcast, iTalk devices with iPods, and of course we will piece together video clips for a future final product. Maybe a “cornucopia” isn’t the proper term to use for all of this, but hey, ’tis the season, and I am thankful for all of these opportunities. Peace!

Whatever it Takes This morning I had the opportunity to join my new professional learning community group made up of some of the administrators in our district. We chose to study the book “Whatever it Takes: How Professional Learning Communities Respond When Kids Don’t Learn” by Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker, Gayle Karhanek, and, Richard Dufour over the course of the school year. We discussed several issues we face in our leadership positions and best of all shared exciting things that are happening in our professional lives. It was a refreshing and uplifting meeting for me, and I appreciated the setting and especially the people that I will continue to share with.

Later in the day I had another iPod mini-class that went very well, and I feel the seeds are growing bit by bit here in my new district. There are so many people to reach, and I know it is important to continue to help build a network of learners that embrace technology and look for ways to integrate it into their curriculum.

As of late, there has been discussion of not merely integrating technology but rather embedding the technology in the learning process. Read Jeff Utecht’s post (see preceding link) and the thoughts of those that have chimed in to discuss this idea. I think it ties into the subheading of my blog: How to seamlessly integrate technology in the classroom. Oops! There’s that word integrate again! 😉

As a side note, here is a humorous video clip from Late Night with Conan O’Brien on BG (Before Google), or has Google always been around!?!

Madison Middle School This has been a busy and exciting week for me. I had the opportunity to teach another SMART Board mini class on Tuesday. We had parent teacher conferences last night and this morning and deployed the parent portal portion of our student information system. Many parents stopped by our display to gain their access code that allows them to view their children’s grades online. Special thanks to Connie, and it was a pleasure to work alongside her!!!

This afternoon I took part in a professional development with the staff from one of the middle schools in our district, and we learned about RSS and everyone left with a brand new blog added to their arsenal of teaching tools. I look forward to following up and supporting these great teachers in their pursuits of blogging, and I hope that it becomes a useful tool for many of them and their students.

This middle school staff is great, and I have to admit each time I am with them or in their building I wish I was teaching with them, sharing their students, and being a part of what is very special. Their instructional leader is superior and a person that I am honored to work with. They may not even recognize the excellent situation they all have, and if they do I hope they cherish it, nurture it, and hang on to it with all their beings. Madison Middle School, I am completely impressed with you all. Thanks for letting me be a small part of all you do!!! Peace!

Desks Today I offered a mini-class on SMART Boards and invited a teacher who I have heard high praises on to assist in showcasing the basics of using the board in instruction. Tara is one of many great teachers in my new school district, and I am just in awe of the dedication and willingness to share, learn, and grow here. So many educators are pushing the frontiers of technology in education and even more are taking the steps necessary to take a leap into the innovative approaches that are making their way into classrooms across the globe. I have to admit I have had my doubts the past few years as to whether or not this whole education thing was going to turn around and make some gains in real, meaningful, engaging, and relevant learning for our youth. It is happening here. It is by no means easy, and the challenges that we face as educators at times is disconcerting, but there is hope, initiative, bravery, and desire. These things add up to the beginnings of a network of learners, and as we learn about and use the tools that can continue to link us together we become a learning community that can do, teach, and change anything. I see all of this more and more each day, and I am glad to be a small part of it.

SMART Board Today I had the opportunity to be part of a SMART Board training with two of the elementary schools in my district. I am continually uplifted by the dedication and willingness to learn and share that the teachers and administrators exhibit.

After I went over some basics of using the SMART Board we split into five groups and spent a lot of time gaining hands on experience. Each school had their experts that really know their stuff, and the SMART resources that were shared are great tools. I also shared several online activities that I have collected over time that work well with interactive SMART Boards (See my wikis!!!).

The following are links to some of the resources we tapped into today:

SMART Board 2 Minute Video Tutorials

SMART Education Resources (Grade level lessons & more!!!)

SMART Board Training Printable Materials

I keep coming back to Sir Ken Robinson‘s speech “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”  I watched it again and share it here:

Yahoo Teachers A new resource for teachers is about to be unveiled in Yahoo Teachers. Stop by today and sign up for a notification to be informed when it launches. View the “Sneak Peak” to get an idea of the features that will be available (I like the “Gobbler” and “Portfolio” features!). I placed my name in the “Peer Network,” and I can see this as a valuable resource when it comes to sharing ideas, lesson, and experiences. Explore today and get ready for what appears to be a wonderful resource.

The Dip by Seth GodinOne of my favorite people, David Jakes, talks in his weekly post at techLearning about a book The Dip, by Seth Godin. David eloquently puts the education spin on the ideas found in the dip and gives us all some solid things to think about:

“Over the summer, I read The Dip, by Seth Godin. It’s a short book with small pages, but with big ideas. Basically, the idea is that you want to be the best in the world at something. You start out great, all energized, and you start that climb towards implementation, and then the barriers set in, which result in resistance, and then your ability to reach that goal enters into a big dip. The question that Godin poses is this: should you quit, or should you lean into the dip, push through the dip and proceed on your way to excellence?”

David goes further by saying:

“Now what?

Sometimes it’s not possible to make it through the dip because either you don’t have the skills or the resources, something gets in the way. If that’s the case, strategic quitting is the answer, according to Godin.

I’m not interested in quitting if the goal is to be the best.

So my question to all of you is this. Have you thought about the approaching dip? Because it’s coming…

To the teachers out there: What will you do to work through the dip? What can you do to anticipate the factors that will contribute to the dip? What alliances do you need to form or develop that can help to mitigate the dip? How must you alter what you do to provide the time necessary to nurture, develop and extend the things you have learned so that they become a seamless part of what you do? How will your past practice, behaviors, and methodologies contribute to the onset of the dip? How will you avoid these? How will you lean into and push your way through the dip to be the best?

To the administrators out there: What will you do to help teachers through the dip? Do you know what they learned over the summer? Have you learned the same things? What do you have in place to support teachers on those new initiatives? Have you built organizational readiness to support teachers, or will you be a contributing factor to the influence of the dip? In September, will you think of November, when the initial energy of the start of school is a distant memory? Are you planning to help teachers maintain the energy? Are you providing the dollars, the infrastructure, and the leadership to help your school become the best? Teachers can only do so much; administrators have the ability to open the door to more.

And the technology people out there: will you supply that lost or forgotten password ten times, and do so with a smile? Will you answer that email in a timely fashion because behind every email is a whole bunch of kids that need to know. Can you get that site unblocked for that teacher that wants to do more and take kids to the next level?

Look at all the questions. Look at all the potential excuses. It’s easy to see why the dip occurs, and why it’s difficult to get things changed in education.

Start leaning now.”

I’m leaning everyone, let’s lean together! Thanks David!!!

A Dip?

SeedsWhen you plant a seed there are many things that need to happen in order for it to grow. Fertilizer, good soil, water, regular weeding, and so on. Seeds can be cast anywhere with hopes that they will grow, but if unattended their chances of maturing into a flowering plant are by luck at best.

Blogging in education, for many, is an idea or seed waiting to be planted, and I have had the fortune of helping three principals begin the blogging adventure. For now they are experimenting, and I hope to share their accomplishments in the future. I realize that this is just the beginning of educational leaders using a wonderful collaboration tool on personal and professional levels.

A comfort zone needs to be reached at the beginning, and I realize that I must be a gardener in the process. Follow-up and encouragement are in order to help these great people grow and blossom with their blogs. Principals are change agents and champions of innovation, and I know through their examples they can make the biggest impact on the teachers in their schools.

There are many things that can be done with a blog, and that is the beauty of this tool. For the practice to flourish it must be attended to by an audience, and that audience begins with the first person that stops by the garden to look around and that partakes of the fruit that has been planted. I am watching these new gardens with their blogging seeds that are just taking root, and I want to see the fruits of their labors spread throughout their schools and community. Fertilizer, good soil, water, regular weeding: I have important work to do!

I’m some 100 + pages into Daniel H. Pink’s book A Whole New Mind.  Interesting and provacative to say the least!  The text meshes well with the issues we face in education and the use of Web 2.0 technologies that do tap into the right-brained aspects Pink outlines.  I’ll sum up my thoughts when I finish the book, but I wanted to share my latest professional reading.  Peace!

Will Richardson Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts,… Today I finished Will Richardson’s book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. I have always appreciated Will’s viewpoints on his blog, and I like the straightforward, easy to understand approach he presents in his book. Having used many of these tools in my classroom for over a year now, I was familiar with much of what Will shares, but I had many “I should have tried that moments!!!” Now, I am in a new position (district level educational technology specialist) with a new audience (educators) and the book proved valuable in giving me ideas and ways that I can share these tools with teachers.

Teachers themselves will benefit from reading this book (Get it ASAP!), and I believe it would serve as an excellent textbook for in-service training and for use in teacher preparation programs. Even a seasoned Web 2.0 teacher (Can there be such a thing in such a short period of time!?! 🙂 will pick up new ideas or ways of using these tools that they hadn’t thought of before! As with any text that concerns the web the reader will encounter shared links that have since moved on in such a short time since the book was published; nevertheless, I could easily search the name of a particular person or topic mentioned and find the new location of the information on the web. (Maybe Will could add a page to his blog with updates or create a wiki page where readers could help update links.)

The book, to me, is written for the now, and it is intended to jump start educators and students into using the many Web 2.0 tools that exist today. I know Will has much more to say concerning these tools and the future of integrating technology to facilitate collaboration, critical thinking, and self-directed learning, and I feel his blog serves as a continuation and expansion of the text. One of Will’s main points in his book is to recognize the “teachers” that are and information that is out there, on the web, ready to fill your RSS feed reader! His text is really a staging area for the journey that he invites the reader to take in using these powerful web tools in the classroom, and I think it is a good place to start and to take ownership of your own learning.