10 Things You Could Be Working on Right Now

We are all short for time, but there’s time everyday to learn something new. So, I’ve compiled a brief list of some conference/events you can attend. There’s something else we always seem to be short on and that’s funding, so I’ve also put together a list of sources for small amounts of grant money for your classroom or school. I hope you find these helpful.

5 Grants to Apply For:

  1. ING Unsung Heroes: Are you an educator with a class project that is short on funding but long on potential? Do you know a teacher looking for grant dollars? ING Unsung Heroes® could help you turn great ideas into reality for students. Each year, 100 educators are selected to receive $2,000 to help fund their innovative class projects. Three of those are chosen to receive the top awards of an additional $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000
  2. NJAET Technology Project Grants: Do you know that you could win up $2000 to implement a creative educational technology project related to your curriculum? Last year three awards were made, and this year up to four grants will be awarded. The deadline is approaching, So read the Technology Project Grant Guidelines soon and get your application in no later than Sunday, November 6.
  3. Lowe’s Toolbox for Education: It’s almost that easy when you take advantage of Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant program. Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) knows how hard you work for your kids and your community and they’re dedicated to helping your parent-teacher group achieve even more for your school. Check out additional information on how to apply.
  4. Adopt-A-Classroom partners donors with teachers so you can have funds to purchase critical resources and materials for your classroom. By registering, your classroom will be posted on the Adopt-A-Classroom website available for donors to select. When adopted, you will have full discretion to purchase items that meet your unique classroom needs.
  5. DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need.  Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org. Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class. Donors can give as little as a dollar. Every little bit helps.
5 Projects or Conferences to Participate In:
  1. The World at their Fingertips? Student Internet Access and Control in Schools: Join us for an eye-opening conversation about the promise and perils of Internet technology in schools. How much student Internet access is just enough? How much is too much? What is the balance between ensuring student safety and teaching ethical use? Should your school’s network be an open playground or a walled garden? Our diverse panel of experts will discuss Internet ethics, filtering, the role of instructional technology, legal and regulatory issues and the everyday challenges facing school practitioners. This event is on Thursday, November 17.
  2. Global Education Conference: The 2011 Global Education Conference will be held November 14 – 18, online and free. Sessions will take place in multiple time zones and multiple languages over the five days.  The deadline for submissions is October 15, but you can plan on attending as well.
  3. K12 Online Conference: This year’s FREE online conference will take place the weeks of November 28th and December 5th, 2011, with a pre-conference keynote on Monday, November 21st. The 2011 theme is, “Purposeful Play.” Educators and students worldwide are invited to respond to our 2011 call for proposals. Presenters create twenty minute, engaging video presentations shared during our two week conference.
  4. NJEA Convention High Tech Hall: Every year, High Tech Hall at the NJEA Convention, grows bigger and more technologically advanced.  New in High Tech Hall this year will the Teacher-to-Teacher Learning Lab.  Here members will present hour long planned presentations.  This year, for the first time, NJEA members can record their time spent in High Tech Hall for professional development credit. (I won’t be there this year, but please look for my buddies Kevin Jarrett, Damian Bariexca and Mike Ritzius along with countless others.)
  5. The ITU Telecom World 11 MetaConference [http://world2011.us] is all about seeing how young people think technology might solve some of the world’s greatest problems. You can sign up to get involved right now in this project brought to you by the United Nations agency responsible for ICT: http://world2011.us/get-involved/

10 Skills Students Should Graduate With

Yesterday, at the NJEA Technology Integration Institute, I presented the morning Keynote. I shared ten skills I feel that students should graduate with. These skills don’t have anything to do with standardized testing, or memorizing facts, they are just what skills students need to be prepared for college and beyond.

  1. How to determine who is the authority on the Internet
  2. A knowledge of reference sources
  3. Good digital citizenship and the ethical use of information
  4. Where they can go to stay current
  5. Established personal learning networks
  6. Knowing who their teachers and mentors are
  7. To always contemplate responding and interacting with content
  8. That they are content producers
  9. Knowing how to be safe on the internet
  10. Being cognizant of what’s in the pipeline
I had many interesting comments after I was finished presenting. One that particularly stuck with me was about special needs children. Some teachers I spoke with mentioned that the parents of those students didn’t want their work out there for anyone to see. Have you or do you deal with this in your school?

Plan B for the HTH at the NJEA 2010 Convention

Boy was I surprised when I got an e-mail from Kevin Jarrett regarding one of my sessions at the High Tech Hall this coming Friday. He e-mailed me to let me know that one of the tools I was using, Drop.io was about to shut down. This was bad news for me as I was going to be talking about Drop.io for an entire hour. But, as we know, there is always another tool and it was an easy decision to go with Dropbox as a replacement.

How many times has this happened to you? Was there a website or a web app that you have used in the past that is gone now? What did you replace it with?

Miguel Guhlin asked the other day for tools to use in lieu of Wallwisher. Well, I had a whole list as I had intended to use Wallwisher a few times that week and each time I tried I got “There is a glitch in the matrix” as an error. Dan Rezac had also blogged about the same issue. We always need to have a plan B.

Please share your Plan B experiences on this Voicethread. Not only will it be interesting to see/hear how we have all have coped with our favorite sites going down, but I am going to be sharing this with the teachers that come to High Tech Hall this Friday at the 2010 NJEA Teachers Convention.  I think this will be a great example. Thanks in advance for your participation.

 

Everything that’s given away for free costs you bandwidth

This is what one of the network admins stated at the NJETI Network Administrators Roundtable last Thursday. I was taking notes in the published Google Doc that Darryl Ensminger , Associate Director of Professional Development for the NJEA and I had set up as a guideline for the discussion. We set four questions for our four break-out groups to each have three (short) minutes to discuss and then to come back and discuss with the larger group:

  1. What exactly do we need to maintain the integrity of the network?
  2. How do we plan to maintain the network’s infrastructure?
  3. How do you allocate your technology budget?
  4. What communication vehicles does your district utilize? We never got to this one.

Speaking of never getting to the fourth question. Darryl and I agreed that if we were to coordinate this type of conversation at next year’s conference, we would request the two-hour block of time in the morning as 50 minutes was not enough time. I think we all left the room wanting to continue our conversation.

I’d also like to add that I may have missed valuable information from side conversations, and I have reworded much of the list so that it is written in my own voice.

1. What exactly do we need to maintain the integrity of the network?

Of course there is no one answer to what a school or district needs to maintain the integrity of their network, but in the short time we all spoke about it, it was suggested that network admins should have the following implemented:

  • group policies to control access
  • a good filter for specific file extensions (Squid, an open source alternative was suggested)
  • decent physical cabling and structure
  • staff buy-in to the AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)

How do we plan to maintain the network’s infrastructure?

  • The concept of hosting wikis, course management systems, videos,  etc inside the network seemed quite popular among the group
  • One participant brought up the very interesting topic of Internet 2 and how to put together a large group of districts to approach this network to help maintain connectivity
  • It was also agreed on that no matter how much bandwidth the district had, it would be saturated
  • One network admin proposed building networks in the building that supported cells

How do you allocate your technology budget?

  • First response to the whole group – How do you allocate nothing? (fair enough)
  • The priorities were to pay for filtering, subscriptions, and licensing renewals
  • It is always necessary to set money aside for replacement parts
  • It was agreed that the offices take precedence over the classrooms
  • It was also agreed on that the teacher’s computers takes precedence over student computers

As I mentioned above, we needed more time. But it was a great beginning to a conversation that needs to be had. We gave everyone a Tinyurl to the Google Doc and suggested that they go back to their districts with the concept I had spoke about in my Keynote earlier that day – No decision about technology should be made in isolation. There’s a trio that needs to gather in order to make informed decisions regarding using technology to improve teaching and learning for children. This trio includes teachers, IT staff and district administrators. The trio should be involved in all technology decisions regarding software applications, hardware purchases and what information needs to be filtered in. These decisions made by only one third of the group, might not be optimum for the good of the students and the good of the school.

I welcome comments and suggestions.

Do You Have a Handout for That?

I recently spoke at a conference where the anticipated attendance was 16,000. There were 30 laptops set up with 60 seats and then overflow seating for another 40 people. I gave 5 presentations over 2 days. I didn’t know before I got there how many people I was going to see and now that I’m home, I still don’t know. But I can tell you that at least 10 people asked me if I had a handout I could give them. There were also many attendees that commented about it. I was grateful to see this Tweet from NJ educator Brian McLaughlin.

brian

I think sometimes as educators, we are accustomed to getting everything on paper. But what really happens to it? We stick it in a folder, we throw it away, or it gets lost in a an ever-growing pile of papers collecting on our desk.

Here are some tools that I’ve been using and have seem some other educators use to share information and resources during presentations and professional development sessions:

Google Docs
Click on Share — Publish as Webpage and Google Docs will assign you a unique public URL (link) for your document. You still will be the only one that has rights to edit your Google Doc, unless you invite Collaborators, but you can use this feature to share a digital agenda, list of links, or anything that you would have printed out in the past. Here’s a sample… http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddn2z86w_3dn2hs4fj

http://www.scribd.com/
On Scribd, you can upload a Word or PDF file and they will convert it into a web document. This way your attendees have access to it on their computers. All you have to do is share the URL  with them. Here’s a sample…http://www.scribd.com/doc/17245218/Discovery-Education-Whats-New-2009

Wikis
http://www.wikispaces.com/
http://sites.google.com
http://pbworks.com/
Wikis will allow you to embed more than one type of content on them. Like I did for my presentations at the NJEA Convention, I included links to websites, embedded videos and gadgets to PollEverywhere and Slideshare. These are pieces of information you really can’t print out. Here’s a sample… http://njea-tis-09.wikispaces.com/shoestring-did-you-say-that-was-free

Glogster
Glogster advertises itself as “a creative, dynamic, and innovative digital outlet that captures learner’s excitement for online creations, keeps learners engaged in course content, and makes teaching and learning more fun.” This is great, but to summarize, it allows us to provide our attendees (whether they are students or educators) with a digital resource rather than a printed one. Here’s a sample… http://udltechtoolkit.wikispaces.com/

Wallwisher
Wallwisher defines itself as a “web page where people actually post messages.” The great part about this is that you don’t need an account with Wallwisher in order to post a note on a Wall. So you can have the folks in your session contribute ideas or links to the wall and then save the URL to refer back to. There’s no need to print out anything during the workshop and run and go make copies as they’ll always have access to the information. Here’s a sample… http://wallwisher.com/wall/techforum09

Do you have any tools you are using with your students or in professional development to eliminate unnecessary handouts and to increase productivity? Please share them!