Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Got Power???

Wow! Fourth day without power, hanging out in a Panera in order to reconnect with the outside world.  Thanks so much Irene for reminding me how "digitally dependent" we have all become.  Not having Internet at home or at work has cut my productivity in half.  I hope my boss isn't following my blog!  First an earthquake on the East Coast with no phone and an overloaded Internet and now a hurricane!  At least we do not have any active volcanoes in Maryland, for now.  At any rate, I'll be posting updates to our IPod project in the coming weeks assuming schools are able to open later this week.  Stay tuned and hopefully connected.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Need PD - Ask Tammy Worcester!

Education Technology Consultant, Tammy Worcester, worked with our teachers in series of workshops today.  It was amazing.  If you have attended a conference related to technology, you have likely had an opportunity to attend one of Tammy’s sessions.  If you have not, you really need to.  If you are looking for an excellent presenter who can address the needs of a diverse group of teachers, you need to consider having Tammy come out to your school or district.  Here is the link to her website, chock full of good stuff to promote technology use in our schools:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coming Soon - JSET Article

I have been asked to be a guest editor for the next edition of the Journal of Special Education Technology.  The piece I am writing will address the App Evaluation Rubric I developed last year.  Included will be discussion of the criterion used in the rubric, as well as suggestions for using the rubric to evaluate the quality of apps.  I will post a link once the article is published.  Look for it sometime next month.  Pretty cool....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Go Ahead, Just Try to Make Me Use Technology!

Which is more effective?
Tech integration driven by innovation or by legislation?
Keep an eye on Florida….
Recent Florida state legislation requires districts to use half of all state-issued textbook-allocation money for digital content by 2015.  What impact will this have on how kids are educated in Florida?  Does this indicate legislator's impatience with the pace of change in their schools?  What lessons are there to be learned by folks in other states? Check out this article just posted in Education Week Digital Directions.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Let’s hear it for the Common Core!

Looking for support to increase the integration of technology in today’s elementary schools?  Look no further than the Common Core Standards, recently adopted by most of the states in our nation.  Technology is woven into the standards in ways that we have not seen in past state or local curricula.  The next few years have the “potential” to bring us closer to the 21st century.  I think the powers that be have finally come to recognize that we are already in the 21st century.  Better late than never….
Here are a few examples of the “potential” I see in the Common Core:
The Writing Standards K-5 document has a number of explicit connections with technology:
The continuum moves from Kindergarten – “With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.”  By grade 5 – “With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing as well as interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.”
Other grade 5 standards include:
“Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.” and “Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources.”
In the Speaking and Listening Standards the following is listed as a grade 5 indicator – “Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.”
In terms of Math standards, the integration is sometime explicit, sometimes more implied.  With the advances in technology and the wealth of apps available on today’s smart phones, I would expect additional fundamental changes to how we approach math instruction in the coming years.
All of this without even mentioning STEM education?  Wow! 
Several things jump out at me about technology and the Common Core.  First, in order to our fifth graders to reach the expectations in the Common Core, technology integration needs to start very early.  Kids in PreK and Kindergarten need rich technology experiences to build the foundation skills they will need in order to meet the standards in later grades.  Second, the standards will be unattainable given the current computer configurations found in most elementary classroom settings.  One or two shared classroom computers simply will come up short.  I believe the Common Core Standards make a very strong case for the expansion of one-to-one mobile computing programs.  Not only does it make sound financial sense, today’s learners need to be connected when THEY need access to information, not when the teacher grants them access to information. 
I used the term “potential” earlier in today’s post.  At this point, that’s all the standards represent.  It’s up to folks like you to advocate to greater integration of technology to truly prepare our students for that amazing future that lies ahead of us.  No pressure.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

South Korea moves "All In!"

South Korea is prepared to spend over 2 billion dollars on tablets for ALL (that’s right, all!) of their students, replacing textbooks in favor of digital content.  If you thought we were behind in terms of technology integration in our schools already, get a load of this story.  South Korean students, as well as students from other Asian and European countries are already way ahead in terms of their ability to access and use digital information.  If we in the United States are to compete on a global scale, we need to ramp up our efforts to provide our children with the same technological advantages being provided to kids in countries like South Korea.  The digital divide is growing every day.
Some good news for the US – The Common Core Standards addresses technology and will start to move us in the right direction.  Enough, and perhaps as importantly, fast enough?  We’ll see…  In the coming days, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the Common Core and the “promise” they potentially have for our students. 
Make sure you check out this article from Education Week about the initiative in South Korea: