Did You Develop Professionally?

Image Source http://zcache.com
Image Source http://zcache.com

Let’s review the facts.

On June 22, 2009 I responded to Clif Mim’s Professional Development Meme with the following four summer PD goals:

My Goals:

1. Complete the last two video podcasts for the grant project I have remaining and submit them to the funding partners.
2. Record audio and or video of summer PD and upload to the CMSCE Rutgers iTunes U account for archiving.
3. Continue building the UDL4ALL Ning – add resources, build community, cultivate conversations.
4. Add to my iTouch the Future series of posts.

Now, before you judge me, stop and think about how hectic your summer has been. Think about all the time you spent with your family and friends. Think about all the work you did. Think about all you actually were able to accomplish.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the breakdown of the excuses for not accomplishing any of my goals:

  1. I didn’t finish the video project because during my two-week vacation when I was going to work on it (this is funny, right?) I had to manually code the Center’s fall 2009-2010 catalog (link).
  2. The sessions I intended on UStreaming were in fact recorded, I even uploaded them to Blip.tv . But when I went to convert and edit them down to import into iTunesU I ran into all sorts of errors that I just abandoned after a while.
  3. I did add a bit to the UDL4ALL Ning but not as much as I had planned. I have no excuse for this one.
  4. Blogging about the iPodTouch apps became less of a priority for me as my interests went elsewhere. I bookmarked many great resources and explored many great educational applications this summer though.

Though I did not comply with the 7th rule of this Meme in that I did not achieve my goals by September 7th, I do feel that I have developed professionally. Sometimes our priorities shift. Things happen.

I’m getting ready to welcome a new cohort of educators into the Center’s 21st Century Learning Initiative. I’m looking forward to the 3rd year of the INCLUDE grant and helping districts use the UDL framework to help students reach their objectives. I’m looking forward to traveling around New Jersey and the country to various conferences to speak about technology trends in education and exchange ideas with fellow ed-techies.

I’m looking forward to ANOTHER great year. How about you?

I Hope It’s Not My Last Chance

Tomorrow I will be speaking for the third and final time at the NJEA Technology Institutes at Stockton College. I’ve really enjoyed talking with New Jersey educators there. The feedback so far has been positive and the teachers seemed to have been enjoying their time in the digital storytelling, podcasting, Web 2.0 and SmartBoard sessions after each of the Keynotes I’ve been giving.

In a way, I kind of feel like this is my last chance. For what, I’m not really sure. Some of the teachers registered for all three of the July Institutes, some only one. Some that attended the two-hour hands-on sessions, didn’t attend the Keynotes. But I took my role as the Keynoter very seriously and put a lot of time and effort into the message I attempted to relay.

My first talk was on July 7 and was centered around the concept of developing a professional learning network. I set up a Twitter hashtag for the Institutes and with the help of my friend and colleague, Kevin Jarrett, have been able to UStream and archive each of the Keynotes. I was shocked and humbled when there were more educators in the UStream the first day than in the physical room.

During the second talk, I focused on what we could do to utilize all the portable equipment our students have access to. Of course many of our schools have some of these “boxes” on premises, but the focus of our time together was how to use what the students already had.

I’ve collected all of my resources on my wiki at http://sites.google.com/site/thumannresources/njea. I’ve embedded the Slideshares there. I’ve put links to all the videos I’ve used and the articles I’ve referred to. I’ve Tweeted as I usually do, yet occasionally the past few weeks, I’ve used the #NJEA hashtag where appropriate.

So, tomorrow, I feel like it’s my last chance to be a change agent for some of these teachers who I may not see again. They may not use some of the tools and techniques I referred to. They may, quite frankly, not be interested. But I’d like to think that many of them are.

Tomorrow’s presentation is about the 21st Century Classroom and the The Networked Student.  I am very fortunate to have such great resources to pull from. I’ll be sharing with these hundred educators Peggy Sheehy and Marianne Malstrom‘s No Future Left Behind video. I’ll also be showing some footage of some interviews that I’ve had with some students over the last couple of weeks. One other video I will sharing with be Wendy Drexler’s The Networked Student.

So, if you’re having your coffee tomorrow morning and can spare some time, please join us. We begin between 9 and 9:15 AM EST. I’ll Tweet out the link to the UStream. I am @lthumann on Twitter. Thanks again for your support.

I just Need to be Concise: Leadership Day 2009

NETS_A_Graphic_0609resize2I just moved to a new town and one of my new neighbors just happens to be a school administrator. I can guarantee you that he will not read this post as he sees no need for technology in his building or apparently in his life. In this post we will refer to my neighbor as Craig. Craig seems to me, very much, a bricks and mortar kind of guy.

Craig and I have talked about what I do for the Center at Rutgers. He sees me sitting on the front porch working on my laptop while my kids play in the front yard. He knows I usually have by Blackberry on me when I take the dog for walks. Craig on the other hand is very off-the-grid. I’m not even certain he owns a cell phone.

Does Craig know what is coming? Has he read the new Educational Technology Standards for Administrators? I’m thinking he hasn’t as he is extremely resistant to even talking about technology with me. It’s to the point that we just talk about our children and the neighborhood and not our jobs. This is a shame as I would love to talk shop with a neighbor. I also would like to hear more about his philosophy on teaching and learning and how it has changed since he started teaching 15 years ago. He really just seems to be one of those 8 to 3 teachers admins that we hear about (in his case 7 to 2).

2009leadershipday02_250Why do I bring this up on Leadership Day 2009? Well, recently I had a conversation with Scott McLeod about making sure that professional development is designed for the needs of the attendees and not the needs of a predetermined program.

So this is a big issue for me and I would think many others that consult or work in administrative roles. When you design an initiative or any type of sustained professional development, you set objectives. You design your program with some flexibility, as that is on of the main ingredients to success, yet you obviously have certain components in mind. Though these objectives may not be cookie-cutter, they can’t possibly fit every teacher that decides to enroll or is told to participate. But after talking with Scott, I realized that no matter how flexible I am, whatever I design for the educators I am working with, unless they are able to articulate what they need from me, I am not going to be able to help them.

So here is a short list that is going to help me design better PD. I don’t think this is anything that any of us didn’t already know. I just needed to be concise about it:

  1. This is the teachers learning environment – not the professional development providers
  2. Teachers have to take ownership of their learning
  3. Teachers have to look at technology as a learning tool rather than a social tool

If this list looks familiar to you it’s because it’s very much the same model we use for our students.

I hope this helps you in some small way. Thinking it all through has helped me. I know for Craig, he needs the upper admininstration in his district to begin modeling excellence in professional practice. Until Craig is ready accept that his district will ultimately move towards a technology-infused curriculum, he’s going to get left in the chalk dust.

Going Ga Ga Again

gaga

Back in January I spoke about Google Apps with Dean Shareski and Alec Couros‘s classes. There have been a few changes. We said goodbye to Google Notebook and for many Google Video. We have welcomed Drawing tools to Google Docs and Themes to Google Forms.

I’ve changed the way I am sharing some of the information with Dean’s class tonight. I’ve shared my presentation above. We’ll be meeting in Eluminate as we did back in January if you’d like to join us.

Also, if you have time to take a look at some additional resources. These are the top three I suggest:

19 Interesting Ways to use Google Docs in the Classroom

Google Tools Comic Book

Google Almanac

Be Teachable

sunday-at-educon21-0331
Written on one of the tables at http://educon21.wikispaces.com/Conversations#e313-4

Many bloggers have been posting their take-aways from Educon2.1. I have to admit that though I was sad to leave SLA and my PLN on Sunday afternoon and even sadder to say goodbye to Liz Davis as I left her at the Philadelphia Airport an hour later, my brain was fried. I wasn’t ready to think about next year or reflect on this year’s conference.

Let’s be honest. I wasn’t ready to drive home as I hadn’t had enough sleep. I wasn’t ready to tackle all the laundry that was waiting for me or to have to go grocery shopping to make sure that we had supplies for the girls’ lunches on Monday. Oh, and I wasn’t ready for my workshop on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. I was shot.

What are ya gonna do? Get ready!!

The next day I drove back towards Philly to work with a group of teachers on UDL. It was our third of 5 sessions together, so these were teachers that I had already built a rapport with. We talked openly about good teaching and what was working in their classrooms and then I asked them to take my presentation for the day and redo it so that it was more accessible to them.  We worked on the concepts behind multiple methods of presentation and worked on which tools would help them meet the objectives of the UDL framework. At first they were uncomfortable with editing my presentation. I explained that I had designed it that way to make a point and to teach me a more appropriate way to present these same ideas. I was hoping that they had really looked at the YouTube videos and wikis I had shared with them about PowerPoint reform.

On the drive home I spoke with a tech coordinator from a high school in North Jersey. We had been trying to connect with each other for a couple of weeks, so using the hands-free device in the car, I listened to him talk to me about how great the school’s infrastructure was, how they had at least four computers in each classroom, plus a couple of COWs. What he needed from me was to come in and get the teachers excited about using technology and to give them the tools, skills and confidence to bring their school into the 21st Century. I found myself thinking that I’d be happy to help him as log as his staff was teachable.

0128091The next day I drove to North Jersey to finish some SMARTBoard mentoring I mentioned in a previous post. I had 5 sessions mapped out for the morning ranging from a group of pre-k teachers with no IWB experience to a 5th grade teacher with over a year’s experience who was thirsty to learn the more advanced features of the technology.  What I didn’t expect was the middle school language arts teacher who walked in the room who had just started working at the school the prior week. She immediately asked me how this technology would help her get her students to be better writers. I asked her how she teaches them to write. We only had 25 minutes together, so you can understand that I needed to make some pretty quick decisions. She was very much against using any technology in the classroom because (…and you’ve heard this one before…) when she was a student, she learned to write just fine without a computer.

I sat and calmly talked with her about how not every piece of technology meets every need. That she might consider using collaborative documents with her students. I asked her if she wanted to make sure that her students were ready for high school, college and the work force in addition to being good writers. She said she was interested in learning how she could integrate technology and still teach the pedagogy behind good writing. She was open to ideas. She was teachable. I invited her to the upcoming Google Learning Institute at Rutgers University.

I was scheduled to drive back towards Philly today to work in one of the middle schools in Camden City School District. I work with a team of stellar teachers there in my 21st Century Learning Initiative. Though I’m disappointed it was canceled due to the snow (the district closed the schools), it gave me a chance to go through my inbox, my notes from Educon2.1 and look back at the week and what’s still to come.

What have I learned?

I tell people I try to learn something each day. I’m pretty sure that on the days I’m out in the field working with teachers I learn way more than one thing. I know I learn more than one thing a day when I attend a professional development event, be it in person or virtually.

I try to be teachable. Whether you are a noobie or a seasoned educator or somewhere in between – be teachable.

The Sylvia Charp Award

As you are getting ready to take a week or so off for the holidays? When you have some quiet time to yourself, (I know, I know, who am I kidding?) reflect back on the achievements of your students, your school, your district and yourself. Think about all the wonderful things that you do or contribute to doing to help improve teaching and learning in your building(s) and consider applying for the Sylvia Charp Award.

charpaward-banner

Nominations for this award only opened yesterday, December 15, 2008, and will remain open until March 16, 2009.

Sylvia Charp, was the editor-in-chief of T.H.E. Journal for 30 years until she passed away from serious injuries as a result of a car accident  in 2003. Dr. Charp was known for her countless contributions to the field of educational technology and her dedication to helping educators use technology with their students to improve achievement. 

To nominate your district you will need to submit three things via e-mail to charpaward@thejournal.com:

  1. A description of the district’s innovative technology program, including how this program met the NETS (http://cnets.iste.org/students/s_esscond.html) and a one-paragraph description of the technology planning process including a list of people involved.
  2. A description of the effectiveness and impact of the technology program, including evidence of impact on student achievement.
  3. A letter from the Superintendent and/or school board president supporting the application.

The winner will be notified this April. The award will be presented at NECC 2009, June 28-July 1, 2009 in Washington, DC. (The winner will receive a check in the amount of $2,000 to go towards registration, travel, and housing for two representatives from the winning district.)

Please visit T.H.E. Journal for more information about nominating your district or to read about the 2008 Sylvia Charp Award recipient.

Engaging the 21st Century Student

Marc Prensky at NJECC 9/19/08
Marc Prensky at NJECC 9/19/08

I had the pleasure of listening to Marc Prensky present at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of NJECC yesterday.

If you remember, Mr. Prensky was not feeling well when he arrived at NJECC’s Annual Conference last March and had to be taken to the hospital. After he was feeling better, he graciously offered to come back and keynote the organizations anniversary celebration which was held in Montclair State University’s 7th floor Ballroom. We had a gorgeous view of the University campus.

Marc challenged the audience with four questions asking volunteers to take a turn at the microphone to make one-minute statements about each of the following questions.
1. Are today’s students different?
2. What should our students know?
3. How should we teach them?
4. Is technology in class a help or a curse?

After listening to the audience volunteers, Mr. Prensky told us that In order to answer the first question we must first ask ourselves: Are people shaped by their environment? The 21st Century environment is all about change. Since technology is moving so quickly, we have to learn to deal with change on a regular bases. We need to learn to deal with the speed and magnitude of change. We used to have a good handle on what was developmentally appropriate for students. As students have access to more technology, they are exposed to more information. Students come to school with a larger knowledge base than they used to, yet they are still emotionally only capable of handling so much. So change means that the nature of education is changing. Prensky showed the audience the “A Vision of Students Today” video from Kansas State University.

With regard to the second question, Mr. Prensky spoke of teaching students skills and not tools. He referred back to the speed of change we discussed in the first question. Our students will be better prepared for their future if they have skills since the tools become outdated so quickly. He listed the following skills as being important and that “curriculum deletion” might be an option at this point.

  1. Teach students how to follow their passions
  2. Teach students about knowing the right thing to do
  3. Teach them about getting it done
  4. Teach students about getting things done with others
  5. Teach them about doing it creatively
  6. And finally, teach students about constantly doing things better

He recommended reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R Covey and spent a minute talking about why the book was on the NY Times best Seller list and then really urged the audience to read it.

The third question was responded to with another question. Is the time of the lecture over? Marc spoke about “A New Paradigm for Learning” where kids are teaching themselves with the teacher’s guidance. Children are already doing this outside of the school day. He quoted Albert Einstein who said “I never try to teach my students anything. I only try to create an atmosphere in which they can learn.”

Finally, as Marc began his conclusion, he asked us about the fourth question. He said that technology does not support the current way we teach. (I’m sure he was referring to a certain part of the teaching population and not those of use who are student-centered visionaries teaching our students skills and not tools.)

The answer to the fourth question was to let our students fly with it. Let them do the work and our job is to evaluate it. They are the researchers when it comes to the technology, so there is no need for us to create anything, but give them the time to figure it out themselves. This is the model of teaching that we should be striving for from now on.

Lisa Thumann, Marc Prensky and Ned Davis
From Left to right: Lisa Thumann, Marc Prensky and Ned Davis

Many of us Twittered throughout the day. Sharing our thoughts, ideas and comments on Mr. Prensky’s remarks and I was very interested in my PLN’s @replies. I was reminded of the remarks that were made after Prensky’s sessions at BLC08 this past July.

I enjoyed listening to Marc Prensky yesterday. He gave me a lot of food for thought. Though I was Twittering, and taking notes in a Google Doc, and taking the occasional picture, I was playing close attention to what he had to say and to the response of the audience. Take a look at the Doc if you’d like. It also includes my notes from the afternoon session (I apologize for not neatening things up, but it’s Saturday and I have a pretty lengthy to-do list [see previous post].) I’d be happy to discuss any of the four questions with you in more detail here, on Twitter or face-to-face. Just remember, like most people, I have a case of selective listening. I heard what I wanted to hear, most likely.  I probably focused on writing  the parts I agreed with the most.