New Jersey is “In Tune” With Technology

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Tomorrow, October 13, the NJ Association for Educational Technology (NJAET) will hold it’s 22nd Annual Conference. Their theme this year, “In Tune with Technology” has led to some great session descriptions and I’m really looking forward to networking with the presenters (I’ve listed some of the sessions below).

I have two sessions to present tomorrow; one presentation style and one conversation / hands-on style. I’ve embedded the decks below and I’ll be Tweeting using the hashtag #NJAET09 if you want to follow along with me and anyone else who may be Tweeting from there as well.

“In Tune” with the 21st Century Student

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Lisa Thumann
, Sr. Specialist in Technology Education, CMSCE, Rutgers University

We have a framework for teaching students in the 21st Century. We’ve been told to combine skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies, but how do we, as educators, help students master the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st Century? Join us in a discussion to learn more about how we can address the needs of our networked students.



“In Tune” with Your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Lisa Thumann
, Sr. Specialist in Technology Education, CMSCE, Rutgers University

Are you on Twitter or Plurk, have a Diigo or Delicious account set up already – but you are just not sure where to head next? Join us as we tap into the collective intelligence of the group to find information and support our network both online and off. Whether your PLN is overflowing or just starting to grow, this workshop will help you to mine your network to best suit your needs. Bring your big ideas, your hopes and your dreams and be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

“In Tune” Tech Tips to Create Activities for Community Interaction

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Ted Krulikowski
, Director, HELM Education Foundation

Explore ways students can participate in various community service projects using technology as a catalyst. Projects range from senior computing classes to interacting with community organizations and civic committees. Many school/community activities will be discussed and demonstrated.

“In Tune” with Centers from Heaven (K-5)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carol Cherson
, Thinkfinity Trainer, ETTC-Middlesex

Are you trying to develop centers for your classroom? Do you have at least one computer center?  Then this is the class for you. Using the FREE site, Thinkfinity, you will leave this workshop with interactive sites, lesson plans and ideas. This workshop will help you with every curriculum you teach now and in your future.

“In Tune” with Concept Mapping for the 21st Century Classroom

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Alexis K. Morgan
, Teacher/Special Needs Teacher, Camden City School District

From Shakespeare to science, Kidspiration and Inspiration can help students plan, research, collaborate and complete projects successfully. Learn ways to meet the diverse needs of students that allow them to organize and represent complex information in meaningful ways. Participants will also view the many uses of InspireData, an important tool used to develop analytical skills and strengthen critical thinking.

“In Tune” with Creative Expression through Digital Storytelling

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Dr. Nancy Sardone
, Assistant Professor of Education, Georgian Court University

Rediscover the art of storytelling using today’s digital tools. Digital storytelling is a tool to promote the development of digital and media literacy as well as the traditional literacies of reading, writing, speaking, and art that are foundational to all content areas. Learn the effective principles of storytelling, how to use (free) Windows-based Photo Story 3 software and digital media production techniques so you can guide students in their own creative expression.

“In Tune” with Digital Storytelling in the Elementary Classroom


Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Susan Wahling
, ESL Teacher K-6, Westwood Regional School District

Discover Digital Storytelling, an exciting way for students and teachers to create their own stories, combining images, voice, sound effects and music. Especially powerful with ESL students, Digital Storytelling is an immensely creative tool that can be used with students of all ages.

“In Tune” with Lesson Plans that Rock (PK-8)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carol Cherson
, Thinkfinity Trainer, ETTC-Middlesex

Looking for FREE, innovative and interactive teaching materials aligned to NJ standards? Thinkfinity is a FREE educational resource. Bring your curriculum topics and leave with weeks of activities (paper and interactive) and resources to enhance every aspect of your classroom. Begin that new unit with lessons that rock.

“In Tune” with SMART Boards and Digital Learning

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Andrew Grefig
, Instructional Technologist, Tequipment, Inc.

This interactive session will focus on how to create engaging activities with the SMART Notebook software. We will explore how rich media, movement, color, animation, drag and drop activities and immediate feedback can be used to increase student engagement in a variety of subject areas.

“In Tune” with Technology: Media to Teach Reading


Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Dr. Christine Davis
, Assistant Professor of Education, Georgian Court University

Explore well-designed online resources and streaming video clips of master teachers modeling essential reading skills including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. See the value of using online media materials to personalize and support professional development. Participants will be “in tune” with a wealth of technology-based teacher development resources to teach reading.

“In Tune” with the Fundamentals of Wikis, Blogs and Podcasts

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Ryan Evans
, Technology Teacher, Wanaque Borough Public Schools

The array of wiki farms, blogware and podcasting software can often appear intimidating and overwhelming. Take an analytical journey in the creation of wikis, blogs and podcasts. The focus will be on evaluating the major hosts and software, getting started (creating, designing and maintaining), adding users or inviting members, concerns about security and privacy, and practical applications for the classroom.

Get “In Tune” with Music Videos


Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Heather Sullivan
, Technology Facilitator, Freehold Regional HSD

Animoto is a FREE web tool that helps you (and your students) make music videos in just a few simple steps. Discover how you can use this awesome and EASY tool in your classroom.

Google Sketchup: “In Tune” with Math

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carla Hockenbury
, Computer Facilitator, Wm. Davies School

This is your chance for an opportunity to explore the basics of Google SketchUp and how it can be applied in your classroom. The program is especially “in tune” with math but also can be used in other subject areas. Google SketchUp is a free download from Google, which can be used alone or with Google Earth and the 3D Warehouse.

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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.

NJECC’s Digital Learning Institute

Before we even pack our bags for NECC in Washington, D.C. there is some quality local professional development going on through the njecc.orgNew Jersey Educational Computing Cooperative.  NJECC is holding it’s annual Digital Learning Institute at the end of June.

This year is the first I have the pleasure of presenting. I’ll be there on Thursday, June 24, presenting two sessions:

#RA2 The Power of our Collective Intelligence: Building Online Learning Communities
#RP2 The Power of our Collective Intelligence: Social Bookmarking using Delicious.com

But the Institute runs three days. There’s quite a line-up. Here is just a sampling of what’s being offered:

Wednesday, June 24
iMovie ‘09
Intro to Creating Blogs
Google Cool Tools
InDesign
Web Publishing with iWeb

Thursday, June 25
Building Online Learning Communities with Twitter
Flickr for the Classroom
VoiceThread
Digital Music Lab for Beginners
GarageBand/iMovie
Power of Social Bookmarking using Delicious.com
Facebook for Educators

Friday, June 26
Google Earth
FLASH
Animated Claymation Presentations
SCRATCH
iPhoto ‘09
Photo Story III

For more information and to register, please visit http://www.njecc.org/site/files/2009dliregbrochure.pdf

Using the Power of Twitter: Building Online Learning

Map of lthumann's relationships
Map of lthumann's relationships

I realize there are many amazing posts on the merits of using Twitter to develop a PLN. I also realize that there already exists dozens of collections of tools for making the most of Twitter. Yet, as I prepare for my presentation at NJECC‘s annual conference tomorrow, I am compelled to write one of my own.

Tomorrow, sometime after the lunch hour, I am presenting “Using the Power of Twitter: Building Online Learning” at NJECC’s 23rd Annual Conference. Here’s the session description:

“How can educators around the world use technology to connect, collaborate, teach, support and inspire each other? Collaborative Internet applications allow educators to create online communities that support their professional learning and relieve their isolation. In this session we will focus on the ways two social networking tools, Twitter and Classroom 2.0, can be harnessed to build a rich and powerful learning community. We will discuss tips and tricks to leverage the potential of these networks. We will provide resources to help attendees set up their own networks during and after the session. Finally, we will capitalize on the face to face connections within the workshop to further enrich our online learning community.”

There’s so much about Twitter that I won’t be able to share because I will want attendees to take advantage of the face-to-face networking time before they go off to develop their online learning networks. I thought I would mention some of the tools and topics I would have liked to discuss tomorrow here, so that anyone attending still has access to the information – all in one place – and of course to share with my PLN what I feel are valuable resources.

Twitter Memes and Hashtags:

Follow Friday
Each Friday, Twitter users suggests other Tweeters to follow. They end or begin their Tweet with #FollowFriday (An example.)

Gr8t Tweets for the month of March
Re-Tweet (RT) one great Tweet a day and include the hashtag #gr8t at the end.  All Gr8Tweets show up on the Grt8Tweets Wiki home page. Here’s a list of who’s participating. (Though I’m sure there are many, many more.)

Using Twitter Hashtags – This is a great explanation of what a Hashtag is and how they are used.

Ways to Build your Network:

Twitter4Teachers – An extensive list of educators on Twitter  – categorized by subject area / grade level
Who Should I Follow? – Find new Twitter Friends
Mr.Tweet – Discover great people relevant to your current needs

Searching for Tweets and Twitterers:
Twitter Search – Search by keyword, Hashtag or even Twitter ID
TweetScan – Searches Twitter and allows you to get e-mail updates
Tweetdeck – Group people together and have separate columns for @Replies, DMs, Groups and the public timeline

Cool Twitter Tools:

Tweet Wheel– allows you to visually discover which of your followers know each other.
Top Twitter Friends –  Including a list of your top 20 BFFs and suggestions of Twitterers to follow.

For discovering many more Twitter tools:

Top Twitter Tools for 2009
Twitter Fan Wiki

I know there are so many more tools and resources out there. Many folks in my PLN have created screencasts and video tutorials on how to use these tools and on the merits of using Twitter. They are all in my Social Bookmarks at http://delicious.com/lthumann/twitter or http://www.diigo.com/user/lthumann/twitter. I also bookmark anything related to Twitter to the Diigo Twitter Freaks Group. Please join us!

Are We Idealistic or Optimistic?

feb2009-misc-010

One of the responsibilities of my job at the CMSCE at Rutgers University is to offer sustained professional development in Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Some of the districts that I have been working with are part of a grant through the NJ Department of Education called the INCLUDE grant and some of them have taken it upon themselves to begin to embed UDL principles in their curriculum. In either case, I get the opportunity to develop a rapport with the teachers, work with them over a sustained period of time, customize the professional development to their needs and the needs of their students and in some cases have the opportunity to go into their classrooms and co teach with them.

One of the topics that we spend a large chunk of time talking about in our professional development on UDL is removing barriers from our lessons, curriculum and classrooms so that more students can reach the objectives of the lessons. We show teachers all types of digital tools that help students decode directions using text-to-speech tools, highlighters and even something as simple as just making fonts larger. We talk about using mind maps and imagery to help visual learners. We offer the concepts of allowing students to represent that they have met the objectives of a unit by a means of their choice versus a single choice assignment or assessment.

I urge educators that are involved in UDL to make use of social bookmarking. I share my Delicious and Diigo bookmarks with them and encourage them to explore the “tag” for UDL. I try to show them the power of collaboration not just with the teachers they are working with, but with other teachers in the state and the nation that are also embracing these same techniques in their classrooms. We join conversations in the UDL4ALL Ning and look for other schools and educators that are implementing these same principles in their classrooms to share their experieinces with us.

During one of my recent UDL sessions, I invited my friend, and UDL guru, Karen Janowski to Skype in with us. When I had first met the group of teachers they told me they were “just not getting UDL”. I talked to them for about an hour and made some suggestions about how I might help them move forward and then explained to them that I don’t learn alone. I learn from and with others.  I asked them who they had learned from and they mentioned Karen’s name and her Toolkit.  I indicated that I would ask her if she was available for a Skype with us and it seemed as if it was a completely new concept. (Many of the folks in my PLN wouldn’t think twice of video conferencing with someone who had the answers to some of the questions they had.) I explained to the group that by making this connection, the answers might be a bit more meaningful to them. They would see Karen’s toolkit not just as a list of valuable links, but as resources from a thoughtful educator from Massachusetts that took the time to speak with them.

Karen gave us some great suggestions after we told her we were still looking for ways to increase our Activity Toolkit. We talked about general tools to help remove barriers for different types of learners and specific ways to make accommodations in our classrooms for the three Brain Networks. Since these teachers were part of the INCLUDE grant and had a focus specifically on middle school math, she suggested Mathcasts and MathPlayground as resources for activities to integrate with the curriculum.

Then the conversation went down a different road. One of the teachers brought it back to a topic we had been discussing before Karen had joined us on Skype. The teacher spoke of three specific barriers that they felt could not be removed from the situation.
The Three Barriers:

  1. Teachers cannot count on support from home. Most students go home to older or younger siblings and do not see parents until much later in the evening.
  2. These are classified students, ELL students and students that tend to not test well. We can’t change that.
  3. Time. There is never enough of it and they are told to get through the curriculum by the end of March so that all content is covered before the State testing. Then after testing they can go back and redo anything they feel needs reinforcement.

After the teacher laid it on the line so clearly, there was really nothing Karen or I could say that was going to bring her back to what she COULD do. These barriers are the realities of her challenges.

What are the realities of your challenges? Karen and I both commented that we might be idealists…

Yesterday I shared these three barriers with the group of teachers I am working with in another NJ district. In this group, there are some non-public school teachers that join our sessions. This made for interesting conversation, since a non-public school might make different requirements for its teachers than a public school with its union teachers.

He offered his districts answers to some of these barriers:

  1. Each teacher is to offer “Office Hours” once a week. These are to be the same day each week from the end of the school day at 2:45 until 3:45. Students are to make appointments and parents are to arrange for transportation. These hours are designed so that students that need help from their teacher outside the typical school day, can get it.
  2. Each teacher is to make themselves available to help students during their recess time. (Recess in this school is held before lunch time.)
  3. In this particular non-public school, the text book guides the curriculum for mathematics. Get done what you can.

I have yet to find anyone who has all the answers. But collectively, we do a pretty good job. I don’t know if I’m an idealist or an optimist. I know there are at least two sides to every story. Really, what are the realities of our challenges in the classroom? Are you the teacher that throws up barriers or walls or excuses at every accommodation that is suggested or are you this teacher? Thanks Chris Craft – you had perfect timing today.

crafty

French Fries for the Brain

gyag-bgbag-bobvyegrb-bggoyoggylger

Or so I thought. I figured this one would take me no time at all.

I was honored when Dean Shareski asked me to do a quick presentation for his pre-service students this coming week along with the pre-service students of Alec Couros. Well, in typical Lisa fashion, I got caught up in what should have taken me an hour or so to prepare. I’ve presented on Google Apps, Tools, Resources, however you want to phrase or look at them, dozens of times. But every time I prepare for a presentation I get caught up in all of the fantastic resources out there. I am proud to be part of the Google Certified Teacher network, but there are also other extremely innovative educators out there who have resources to share. It’s difficult to keep up with the resources educators have created. What I thought would be just another review of a past presetnation and a look through my bookmarks ultimately turned into an entire Sunday Google Fest, 3 cups of coffee and anything but french fries for my brain. (Add in glare from husband and two children.)

So, how do I wrap this all into a neat 45 minute package? At least when I prepare for the Google Teacher Academy and only have 20 minutes, it’s for ONE specific tool. Dean wrote that he was “thinking of things like iGoogle, docs (including forms) Notebook (although I see they may not be supporting that anymore) Picasa or any other key educational tools, tips or tricks. It’s your show.” Those of you that know me know that I have a certain, should we call it, enthusiasm, for what I teach. I could spend 45 minutes alone on just saying hello to the class. So I chose to create a new presentation that focused in on the 6-application suite of Google Apps Education Edition. Of course, by doing so, I was leaving out iGoogle and Google Reader, so I also addressed those tools.

Never mind the fact that this was the last weekend before Educon, I wanted to dedicate some time to continuing my UDL Toolkit for a group of educators I’m working with on Wednesday and I’m mentoring some teachers with their SMARTBoards this week as well (and this is the schedule I’ve been given):

  • Period 1 4th grade general studies
  • Period 2 Set up and questions
  • Period 3 Using the SMARTBoard with K-2 students
  • Period 4 General technology questions
  • Period 5 Foreign Languages
  • Period 6 Middle School English
  • Period 7 Middle School Math
  • Period 8 Science K-8
  • Period 9 5th grade general studies

Having said all of this, thanks to Dean and Alec, I’ve gathered some really great resources on using Google Apps and Google Apps – Education Edition. Some I already had in my Diigo / Delicious (I maintain both). Some were new to me and I’m so glad to have found them. I don’t know if we’ll get to these resources during my time with the pre-service classes Wednesday night, but I will be able to point the students here to check them out and I wanted to share them with all of you as well.

Have some others to share? Please leave a comment. Thanks!

These two articles are worth a read, if you haven’t already:

Colorado State University Partners with Google to Enhance E-mail and Collaboration Services
http://newsinfo.colostate.edu/index.asp?url=news_item_display&news_item_id=979928202

Go Ahead and Blog; the Experts Would Approve
http://www.techlearning.com/article/8908

These resources developed about Google Tools are phenomenal:

A comic book by Kern Kelley
Google Tools Comic Book

Google Earth is our Paper: A Five Part Series by Tom Barrett

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4
  5. Part 5

Google More – a wiki created by Mark Wagner
http://googleined.wikispaces.com/

The Google Almanac by Kyle Brumbaugh, Jerome Burg, Cheryl Davis, and Kathleen Ferenz
http://sites.google.com/site/gctalmanac/

Not sure where to start: Try with one of these 40 ideas: https://sites.google.com/site/thingstolearnwith/

Another PD Site by Cheryl Davis https://sites.google.com/site/classlearningnetwork/Home

What’s Your “P” in PLN Stand For?

My post from last week drew more attention than I anticipated. I developed the presentation 21 Ed Tech Leaders You Just Have to Meet for a session I was facilitating at the annual NJAET conference, but do to the power of online social networking, its audience was much larger.

I found the comments people left to be exactly what I was looking for. A few responded to my request to suggest other ed tech leaders to follow such as Wesley Fryer, Doug Johnson, Scott McLeod, Clarence Fisher, Cheryl Oakes and Stephen Downes.

Karen Janowski called me out on the fact that my list of 21 did not include any ed tech folks that focused on struggling students and Universal Design for Learning. I surprised myself with that one as I go to Karen for lots of support and refer people to her UDL Toolkit on a regular basis. Paul Hamilton, Brian Friedlander and Ira Socol also would have been great additions to my list as advocates of using tools designed for students with special needs to help the general education population.

But it was Miguel Guhlin‘s comment that got me thinking back to the process of selecting the 21. Though I did make sure to include some local educators as I was presenting to a NJ association, and I also wanted to provide a variety of areas of expertise so that I would have something in the presentation that was of interest to everyone in attendance.  But much of the voice of the presentation was in HOW I presented the information.

What does your “p” in PLN stand for? If you look at the big numbers, my “p” stands for professional. But when it comes down to it. The ed techies that I communicate with on a regular basis are part of my personal learning network. I had a story or an anecdote to say about pretty much every one of the 21 ed tech leaders I presented on October 14. There are a few on the list that I don’t have a personal connection with, but that I just learn so much from,  I had to share their story.

Do you separate your personal and professional learning network? I’ve learned in conversation that many of my colleagues are doing the same as me. They are keeping their networks on Plurk small and personal. They use Twitter to share resources and ideas.  We all seem to benefit from the social bookmarking in Delicious and Diigo and from networks there as well.

There are a few additional ed tech leaders that I would have liked to include in my original post from last week. Along with those I mentioned above, they are Jeff Utecht, Alan Levine, and Hall Davidson. These are three ed tech leaders I would like to meet. There are many more, I’m sure.