Running and Reading

I speak with educators frequently about not starting from a blank slate. As teachers and administrators, you are so busy that recreating the wheel is not a productive use of your time. You should consider checking out what resources are out there before you begin writing curriculum, preparing for a presentation, or designing a unit of instruction.

This is not an original concept. But so many of us worked in isolation, behind the closed doors of our classrooms for so many years, that it doesn’t come naturally to us to reach out to others for assistance. It has just been recently that so many of us have join in on Social Bookmarking, Nings and other methods of sharing resources with each other.

As I was watching this video, it linked the whole week together for me. It’s funny how as you drive in your car, or are out walking the dog, (you know, the times you actually can catch moments to think to yourself) how everything becomes somehow connected…

Will Smith says in this video “There’s no new problem you can have with your parents, with school, with a bully, with anything. There’s no problem you can have that someone hasn’t already solved and wrote about it in a book.”

On Tuesday, I was listening to a middle school math teacher introduce exponents to her class. She spoke with them about the Twilight book series and the upcoming movie release. The students used their calculators to figure out how many people would become affected should one person in the class be bit by a vampire. I was impressed at how engaged they were and the teacher really made a great decision as to her choice of pop-culture connection to meet her objective.

Tuesday evening when I was doing home work with my daughters, I looked through the papers that their teachers sent home and was happy to see this. I figured that “Why I Can’t Skip My 20 Minutes or Reading Tonight?”,  couldn’t be unique to this particular school, so I Googled it and found that it’s widespread. I saw some familiar websites in the search results including the one I’ve provided from 1st grade teacher Marcy McGowan of HW Mountz School in Spring Lake. Here I was again with the exponents. The idea of how far behind my daughters would be if they didn’t complete their reading assignment each night. (Thankfully they both have a love for reading and at this point in time, it’s a non-issue.)

Friday morning I taught a podcasting workshop and would you believe it, the theme of exponents came up again as the enthusiasm exploded for just how many students and families this type of technology would be able to help int he district.

Will said “the person that works the hardest wins”.

He also said that the two keys to life were running and reading. If you haven’t watched the video yet, please take ninety seconds to watch it and then go read these books.

The Tipping Point
http://books.google.com/books?id=MMlxzMNkE_0C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Disrupting Class
http://books.google.com/books?id=wiBcUl44FEcC&printsec=frontcover&lr=#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Everything Bad is Good for You
http://books.google.com/books?id=9_YZyOfgqbEC&printsec=frontcover&lr=#v=onepage&q=&f=false

NJ Educators: Go Get This Grant!

Source http://epicself.com
Source http://epicself.com

Come on. This is one you just have to apply for. Think about what you can do for your students with $2000. So many of you are working so hard and these funds could get you some of the hardware that would make your visions come to life.

The goal of this year’s NJAET is “to financially assist teachers to develop and implement creative educational technology projects that engage New Jersey’s students in effective learning with technology integration.”

Let’s look at some prices of equipment:

I’m thinking that $2000 will go pretty far in your classroom with prices like these.

NJAET is accepting applications in digital form (kudos to them) and one application will be awarded this grant in each of the following grade level categories: PK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

For detailed information about this grant (for NJ educators only), view the flyer and consider e-mailing a link to it to your colleagues. Download grant guidelines at http://www.njaet.org/pdfs/mini-grant-guidelines.pdf and the application at http://www.njaet.org/docs/njaet-mini-grant.doc. (The application deadline is December 1. 2009.)

If you are not from New Jersey or you still need to explore other resources for funding, check out these other organizations:

I’m looking for a Few Good Men/Women

Image source http://www.biojobblog.com
Image source http://www.biojobblog.com

Please take me very seriously when I tell you that I need help. We have had such an overwhelming response to our initiatives this year that there are not enough days in the week for me to visit all the schools involved.

We are looking for consultants for our math initiatives, Universal Design for Learning grants, and the 21st Century Learning Initiative that I piloted last year.

Please contact me directly at lisa dot thumann at gmail dot com if you are looking for consulting opportunities in the New Jersey area.

Thank you in advance! –Lisa

The One-Computer Classroom

My copy of the 1998 version of Tom Snyder's One-Computer Classroom
My copy of the 1998 version of Tom Snyder's Great Teaching in the One-Computer Classroom

I was so surprised to see this book for sale on Amazon.com this week. I thought for sure there was a new version out.  I must have bought it back in 1999. It was exciting that it included the Internet as the picture below will show you. It was one of the few resources back then that was going to help me help educators use the one or two or even three computers they had in their classrooms with their students. I was even lucky to be in a school with a T1 line back then.

"Includes the INTERNET!"
"Includes the INTERNET!"

Well, in many districts, things haven’t changed that much. Though there are laptop carts, not every teacher has access to them all the time and they don’t always have a bank of computers in their rooms.

I spent the last few days putting together an agenda for a group of grade 3-5 teachers who after many years, are getting some new MacBook Pros. This new laptop will still be the only computer in their classrooms. They will have access to LCD projectors, but they will be sharing them, so they are not ceiling mounted.

My charge? Excite. Enthuse. Express. Et cetera.

Here’s my plan. I’m not going until September 8, so please let me know if you have anything to add.

The One-Computer Classroom

Let’s categorize the computer for three purposes:

  1. A presentation tool
  2. A personal productivity tool
  3. A learning center for small group activities

The Computer as a Presentation Tool

Use your computer to engage your students:

  1. Evaluate and discuss the role of the computer in the classroom.
  2. Locate and identify classroom presentation materials.
  3. Reflect upon the usefulness and effectiveness of presentation tools.

Possible Resources:

The Computer for Personal Productivity

Use your computer to be more productive:

  1. Locate and identify classroom materials using productivity resources.
  2. Examine, explore, and discuss Internet and software personal productivity resources.
  3. Reflect upon the usefulness and effectiveness of personal productivity resources.

Possible Resources:

The Computer as a Learning Center for Small Group Activities

Use your computer to bring students together in small groups:

  1. Locate and identify online resources appropriate for small group activities.
  2. Explore activities across several subject areas.
  3. Evaluate and discuss the use of the computer for interactive group activities.

Possible Resources:


I plan to demonstrate how to create a Google Form towards the conclusion of our 2 1/2 hours together. I’d like to generate a needs assessment as a group as to what types of activities they are looking for to use with their students and where they would like to house these resources. I know where I would keep everything (Delicious and Diigo and I might suggest they form a Ning,) but this is the first time I am meeting these teachers and this is an opportunity to show them what is available to them. I certainly don’t want to overwhelm them, certianly not in 180 minutes.