Time for Something New

I decided that since I am past the one year mark with my blog that I should mix it up a bit by sharing resources. I have been working on Luau 2.0 which was the purpose of the WAT grant I won at the beginning of summer. Here are a couple of Web 2.0 guides I created to use at that event. Copy, edit, and most of all SHARE!


A Letter to my Administrator

Dear ______,

I hope your summer is going well and that you had some down time to refresh for the upcoming school year. As you plan for the year I want you to consider more changes than new room assignments or a new schedule. I was reading this blog post and it inspired me to write this letter to you. For years I have approached your office with various ideas on how to infuse technology into the school. While you have been receptive, you have not been supportive. It doesn't matter if you have tech-savvy people that are willing to help in professionaldevelopment if you don't make technology a priority in the building. Let's make this year different and start off with some achievable technology goals for the year:

1. Let's Utilize Google Apps! We are lucky that the district chose Google Apps because there are all of these great tools under one account. We can start small with just everyone depending on Gmail to get all school information and help teachers to use the features of Gmail. You will have to take a stand and not put paper copies in the boxes of those that don't check their email. By the end of the year it would be great to be using Google Docs for lesson plans and Google Calendar for all school events. For this progression to take place by the staff, behavior will need to be modeled by the administration.

2. Everyone needs to be held accountable when it comes to accurate attendance and grades. I understand that last year was confusing with a new SIS system, but the learning period is over. There needs to be consequences for teachers not keeping accurate records.

3. Students need access! I have to admit teachers are better at using technology than they were four years ago, but student access is a problem. Most classroom desktops are not used except as a reward or babysitter for students who finish their work early. Let's work together to empower teachers with ways they can utilize those computers with their students to enhance the lesson.

4. Why not utilize the students' electronics to our advantage? You would have to agree that trying to keep the ipods, cell phones, and game systems out of school is a losing battle. So many of these "toys" can be turned into learning tools. Podcasts can work on any mp3 player and we should be recommending apps for all of the students with the ipod Touch. Cell phones could be used to text answers in class and we could be sending out information in the same manner. Talk with Ms. _____ and Ms. ______on what happened when they used Nintendo DS in the co-taught Math class. When students are engaged amazing things can happen!

Change cannot happen without you! I have learned this lesson too many times over the past few years. Teachers need to know that technology is no longer an option.

Thank-you for all that you do and for being brave enough to move forward. I look forward to working with you on this new effort.


Ms. Ward
aka The Tech Tiger


NECC Final Thoughts

I know this is a little late, but there are some reasons behind it. One, I needed time to clear my head after NECC. It was such a whirlwind that I felt like I had a NECC hangover where I knew I had a great time though the details were a little fuzzy. Two, I didn't feel like I had anything to say that wasn't already said better by other bloggers. Over the past days I have read some amazing reflections on the power of a PLN to experiences in the exhibit hall. Third, I couldn't quite put my finger on that one culminating idea that I took away from the conference. Then in the middle of a crowded Panera planning a technology PD day it hit me. NECC 2009 for me was all about the teacher.

NECC 2008 was my first time at the big show and everything I was exposed to was the possibilities of what students could do with access and the right tool. That conference along with the DEN National Institute was my driving force for the entire school year. I was absolutely amazed at the power of Web 2.o and how it gave my students a voice that most of us don't see in textbook assignments, homework, and tests. There was a new excitement in the computer lab and students wanted to produce the best work possible. For me it was a lot of work to keep up with them and to provide the tools they needed to fulfill their visions. It was a rough, but satisfying year as a teacher.

NECC 2009 seemed to be built on this idea that teachers need to take steps to reform, refine, and renew. Starting off with Gladwell's keynote address centered around Fleetwood Mac taking 16 albums to develop a sound and a band that was a success. The debate ending in the idea that students need a place to come together to learn, but that the current brick & mortar schools are going to have to change to meet students' needs. This push for teachers to develop a PLN to really learn from others and stretch their own possibilities. While Web 2.0 was still a big topic, the focus shifted to what types of materials could teachers create with the same tools. Other sessions showed the need to develop projects that were more challenging and that could be on a larger scale through collaboration with other classrooms, schools, or countries. Those teachers that couldn't find what they needed in the sessions took the time to find others to discuss their dilemmas and build solutions.

As I sat in that Panera cafe with my colleague planning out the day's activities, I realized how much NECC 2009 had an influence on me. Instead of jamming in as many tools as possible, the focus is about teachers having the time to play and build. I was able to step away from my methods of learning and really reflect on what my building needs to grow. My hope is that this PD opportunity will be a day that will lead teachers on a path to want to learn more. I am already at work to build a support system to where the teachers will not fill overwhelmed and give up. With any luck, this will bring about as much change to the teachers in this coming year as it did for students last year. Of course you will know the results right here.

Lastly, I wanted to say THANKS to those that made my NECC experience worthwhile. To my growing PLN, thanks for all of the ideas and getting me through the school year where sometimes it seems lonely when there is no one to collaborate with on technology use in the classroom. Thanks to Bernie Dodge for developing the place puzzle concept, my AHA moment of the conference. I will definitely be working on building one soon! Thanks to my district, there are some great people working behind the scenes that provide the access and freedom needed for teachers to grow. Thanks to those who developed Tweetdeck, because it allowed me to get a bigger view of the entire conference no matter where I was located. Final thanks goes to Twitter for not crashing like it did during NECC '08.