The #eduonair conference and PD in NJ

On May 2, 2012 Google hosted its first conference using Google Hangouts On Air. During the 8-hour conference, there were over 40 presentations on everything from robotics to 1:1 initiatives to using Google Apps in schools. The presenters all donated their time to try this new way to present, interact and archive professional development. I have supported this form of PD over the last few years as I truly appreciate the archiving so that educators can go back at any time and watch again. Other organizations have been practicing this for a couple of years including Classroom 2.0 Live and The Global Education Conference.

Speaking of professional development. Did you read the article about the possible discontinuation of the 100 hours in NJ? I’m concerned about how the new standards for professional development are going to be determined in NJ. Though I strongly believe that teacher assessment should be driven by evaluations and student achievement gains, I also believe that there has to be a standardized directive from the administration on how much and what type of PD teachers should participate in.

What are your thoughts and concerns on requiring professional development hours for educators? How should the hours be counted? Who should determine what type of sessions are attended?

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Looking to Hear Success Stories from Educators in NJ

On Saturday, March 17, 2012 I will be speaking at the first ever West Essex Tech Symposium. This special free event has been designed to educate K-12 teachers, administrators, media specialists, school boards and interested community members on the innovative uses of technology in education.

I am one of three keynotes that will be presented that day. Eric Scheninger and Patrick Higgins will also be presenting, so I encourage you to attend and also check out the many sessions from fantastic teachers and admins across NJ.

I would love to share your story during my keynote, “Possibly the 648th Time You’ll Hear About 21st Century Learning”. Please consider filling out the form below, contacting me directly or passing the link to this page on to someone you feel has a story to share. It’s these stories that encourage other educators in NJ and elsewhere to shift their teaching strategies to help prepare our students for what is to come.

I love, Love, LOVE Technology, but…

Source: http://muskokagirl.ca

I recently received an e-mail from a private school teacher down in South Jersey. She wrote that she had heard me speak at the NJETI conference at Stockton this past May.  She said that although her school technology has come far, they are still behind. The school does not have a network, Wi-Fi, or even school e-mail for the teachers.

I want to change that!!!!

Teri Matus wants to get the computers in the lab networked. She wants to be able to use free resources like Google Apps. She wants to get the staff communicating. She wrote, “I want to change that!!!” after she listed what was not happening in her school.

I am sure that there are lots of enriching and engaging projects and activities going on in Teri’s school. I am sure that the students are immersed in learning. But are they having experiences with the technology they will need in higher ed and in their careers?

I suggested the following three sites as sources for funding. But there has to be more.

  1. http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/grants
  2. http://www.donorschoose.org/
  3. http://www.bbycommunications.com/crnew/teach.asp

I don’t think that the need here is the hardware. The need is for support. Teri’s school needs someone to create a network (including e-mail and Wi-Fi) and then to maintain that network.  Please help Teri and I find outlets for private schools to get technology funding. If you would leave a link, name of an organization, or even a success story as a comment, perhaps we can help get this private school, and its students, better prepare for their futures.

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:

Casual Chit Chat with the Family over the Weekend

Source: Allposters.com
Source: Allposters.com

I’m beginning to think that I am not capable of casual chit chat when it comes to talking about children and education.

I don’t remember how the topic of conversation came up, but I was with some of my family over the weekend and one of my relatives was speaking about a local school district and how they can’t seem to hire and retain any quality teachers. He was questioning what the issue was with the administration and why after all these years of receiving additional funding from the government for teacher salaries, students still are not scoring well on the tests.

Pause. Breathe…Lisa…Maybe this is not the time and place to talk about all the… OH FORGET IT!!!

Maybe, just maybe, I was able to tweak this relative’s view on public education a little bit as I talked about the student population of this specific district. I spoke of how most of these students came from foreign countries where formal schooling was not common place. They had to take the State standardized tests, possibly before they even had a handle on the English language. By the time they were finally getting into a routine at school, making friends, adjusting to the schedule, their family would find jobs elsewhere and relocate. The test scores that were published in the local newspaper were not indicative of the time, effort, skill, ability and knowledge of the students or the teachers in the district, merely, the situation of that given day.

The response…”Huh? I didn’t know that. I never thought about it that way.”

I don’t know how I thought he would respond. The others in the general vicinity kind of slinked away. Perhaps I may have ranted a bit.

We went on to talk a bit about Universal Design for Learning (UDL)  and how I’ve been working with schools and educators in NJ on implementing that framework in their classrooms. We talked about being flexible and accommodating students needs. I gave him examples of my own children needing accommodations in their classrooms and situations of when they got them and when they didn’t.

My concern was that the chit chat at my family gathering last weekend just happened to have two sides to the story. It doesn’t always. Many people, including taxpayers, are making judgements on our fellow educators that are placed in near-impossible positions. I wish I could do more to help people visualize what’s going on in today’s classrooms.