Step back and focus with Instructional Rounds

What you are about to read is nothing new, nor is it innovative. But, it is common sense and I find myself continually in conversations that discuss mandated professional learning as well the intrinsic motivation for faculty to seek out professional learning that supports their profession and the career path they chose. I am, as well as the education profession, is out of medical analogies to compare this to. The simple fact is why does this continually surface in a profession based on growth mindset, lifelong learning, and preparing young minds for an unpredictable future?

Continue reading “Step back and focus with Instructional Rounds”

Day one

“This school year I want you all to fail. I want you to mess up, break something, and fall down. I don’t want you to get it right the first time. I want you to listen to Robert Frost. I want you to leave your comfort zone. Every day you will talk in class. Every day you will learn something new. Every day you will question. Every day you will intellectually challenge your teacher. This school year should be unlike anything you have ever done. This school year will break molds and defy status quo. We will learn together and you will leave here in June hungry to learn more.”


Meet The Parents

Last week on #edchat we discussed the myths of social media and how it gets a bad reputation. The conversation was scattered in many directions, but most came back to one simple solution: transparency.

Social networking is nothing new, just like incorporating tools into content driven curriculum, the technology has evolved the game while maintaining the fundamentals. When I was in High school we were all part of a social network. We made fun of each other (wall posts), passed notes (private messages/DM), snuck out of our houses to meet up with

girls/boys (texting), got in fights (cyber-bullying), talked about sex (sexting) , drugs, and tried to keep ALL OF IT from our parents (facebook privacy settings).

Social media is nothing new. Sometimes we act as if we were all home schooled in the past and we never socialized. And now with the ease and accessibility of communication we want to say it’s taboo and too private. I can assure you the generations growing up prior to the Internet age were just as mischievous and private. In fact, now parents can at least summon a status update to know (pending it is true and their son or daughter has allowed them in to this realm) where their precious child is.

No matter the decade there has always been one common goal among adolescents: “Don’t let Mom and Dad find out.” I always found it funny to hear my Dad reveal stories of his youth to me in front of my Grandparents. We would always laugh about it and it seemed completely innocent.

In education technology is simply a new tool that is helping drive the content. Teachers are, and will always be necessary. Classrooms are still a good place to provide direct instruction. And yes, direct instruction is STILL relevant and necessary, however, there should be a balance between DI and independent…(insert the newest buzzword here).

My solution to all of this…invite the parents to the social networking in your classroom. Let them be a part of the process, the analysis, and the reflection. Use social networking in your classroom to your advantage. Make it completely transparent and allow parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to participate in the learning. Before this can happen, you need to train them.

One of my initiatives for this upcoming year is to take two nights per month and hold free workshops for Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Teachers, etc. and show them how to access all these cleverly named tools that we are consistently using in school.

In the past I have seen districts provide workshops to parents on how to use the school website or to access the parent portal. While this is a great idea, it is only scratching the surface of how we can include parents in the game. School websites are great for information and updates, but are very static in nature. They are usually non participatory and serve as an overpriced message board.

Here are some of the workshops I am suggesting that you provide to parents. I plan on implementing this bi-monthly, but depending on your schedule and you may want to create your own schedule.

1. Google Docs and Applications

Even before you pitch the idea of twitter to them, show them a basic web tool that is easy to use and will allow parents the opportunity to see student work throughout the year. Incorporate a Google Calendar into your classroom website and show them how they can track student homework and see daily and weekly agendas.

For my AP students I invited all students and parents to our classroom wikispace and embedded a Google Calendar that housed weekly assignments and updates. Parents and students subscribed to this calendar and most students and parents could receive text or email updates when the calendar was updated. At the end of the year last year I showed all parents and students how to set up their own Google Calendar and then showed them how they could receive update via their phone and via email.

In Google Docs show parents the basic functionally of the site. Explain to them that his is just like MS Office, but you can access it from any computer that is connected (Do we even need to say this anymore?). Show them the chat window, how to access a documents history, and how they can collaborate on a document at the same time.

Some of my parents were awestruck by this type of tool and had no idea it was even out there. Some asked how much it cost or what’s the catch. Overall this presentation went fairly well and after about a 90-minute session on these tools, I had most of my parents using Google Docs and exploring new applications.

2. The Classroom Website

Most teachers are now required or choose to maintain their own website that houses information about their specific class. There are various platforms that teachers use depending on what your school offers. Some are using Moodle, Edmodo, Wikis, Google Sites, Schoology etc. Whatever the platform, give them a basic overview of what the site can offer. Encourage them to check in daily or set a time throughout the week that they check in with their son or daughter. This is your opportunity to really get the parents involved. Plus, this type of classroom structure will allow for easier parent teacher conferences throughout the year.

A wikispace has always been my tool of choice when it comes to class pages. The collaborative nature of the page has always been one of the top selling points for me as a teacher. I like that students and parents can take ownership of the page and really make it theirs.

Start by showing Lee LeFever’s Common Craft Video on “Wikispaces in Plain English”. Review the video and ask them, “What is a wiki?”, “How can we use this in the classroom?”, etc. The combination of this short, simply stated video combined with a few simple questions will allow parents to understand the relevance of this tool and why we are using it.

Follow this up by creating a dummy wiki that all parents can access (or you can simply use your classroom wiki). Show them the basic functionality of the page and explain that every page – pending it is not locked – can be edited like a word document. Hold off on showing them how to embed photos or videos initially, but focus on navigation of the page and accessing the page.

There are many other tools out there that you may want to show parents in order to bring them into your classroom. Introduce them to the positive attributes of social networking in the classroom and explain that it is not cutting them off, but simply bringing everyone together. Show them it is safe and private. Students will not be exposed on the Internet and all work will be safe. I assure you, the social networked classroom is something you do not want to keep from Mom and Dad.

*Photo courtesy of CC image by Erica_Marshall via Flickr

Creating a Summer Reading Network

NOTE: The following post will be cross referenced with a future post at Edutopia.


This summer I created a summer reading network that allowed me to monitor the progress of my AP English Language students. They are reading 1 Dead in Attic by Chris Rose and I have asked them to read and annotate the text very closely. I also wanted to monitor their progress by questioning them throughout the summer at varying intervals and compose a response journal. This is all standard, but how could I provide oversight and seamless communication with my students who are scattered around Philadelphia, the Jersey Shore, and Senegal?

I used these tools:

Google Voice
Google Calendar
Blogger
Wikispaces

Process

I first created a wikispace for our summer reading assignments and communication. This forum has always worked well for me and allows for transparency and ease of use. Plus, students can take ownership over the site and can make the site theirs. The wikispace is also a great starting point for students to post external links to their blogs.

Once the wikispace was up and running I introduced all of my AP students to the website after school. I spent 30 minutes covering the basics of a wikispace – edits, posting, linking, etc. – and also showed them how I could see every edit they made. Yes, big brother will always be watching. Any time you use a wikispace, stress the history tool and how you can see everything that is edited.

After I set up the wikispace, I had the students create a blogger account and give it a title. Their title could be anything they wanted as long as it was appropriate. Once they had their blog created they copied the link to our blog roll on the wikispace and created an external link on their name.

I embedded a Google Calendar on the wikispace and would post new assignments via our calendar and post handouts using attached Google Documents. All of my students carry cell phones and probably check them more than my parents check the weather. I can easily type up a mass text message to my students via Google Voice and remind them to look for assignments and also any updates I have to convey. This allows for ease of communication and I can always be reached if they have a question. For those who like to be left alone in the summer, you may just want to stick to email communication or pigeons.

The Results

My students are reading weekly and responding to the assignments on their blogs. We are in constant communication via Google Voice and they check the Google Calendar embedded on the wikispace every Monday for assignments. They have are genuinely interested in reading each others blogs weekly and commenting on what their peers are writing. And remember, this is all happening during the summer months. My students are basically learning year round, only the classroom structure is missing. I feel confident and excited coming into the beginning of the school year knowing that my students were engaged readers and writers all summer.

This type of assignment can easily be incorporated during the school year and it may be something you want to set up and have ready for the beginning of the school year. The setup is the most work for the teacher, but once you have the elements mentioned in the above process set up you can easily manage your class room in the summer and during the school months.

This is the way I like to set up my classroom. You may want to explore other platforms for classroom social networking such as moodle, edmodo, schoology, facebook, etc. However, the wikispace has always been a platform that allows for seamless student participation and classroom transparency. Please provide comments if you have tried this type of assignment. I am interested to hear positive and negative feedback concerning your experience with building a classroom social network. Maybe you used twitter in conjunction or one of the aforementioned platforms for housing your student work.

If you would like more information on this assignment and future assignments, please feel free to contact me.

Image courtesy of http://www.ewriting.pamil-visions.com/img/community.jpg

My EdTech Letter


Below is an e-mail I am sending to my entire faculty to explain my new position as the Instructional Technology Specialist next fall. I have also included a link to the survey I am sending to gather information about technology use in the school. I am hoping to clarify any confusion with my role next year and to gauge the comfort levels of my colleagues. Please leave your feedback, comments, and suggestions about this post. Also, if you are currently an ITS or have worked as a Tech Coach, please share your experience.

NOTE: Please feel free to access the survey, but do not submit any responses. Thank you!

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Next year you will have an Instructional Technology Specialist in the building. Wait…we have a what-now? You heard it right. Next fall I will become – not physically transform – the Instructional Technology Specialist for the entire school. So, what does that look like? What can I do for you? What is my role at Boys’ Latin? Marcinek is a Specialist? These are all valid questions and I am writing this memo – sorry for lack of TPS cover page – to answer your queries about this position and explain what my position entails.

In short, Help me, Help you

I am not the technology czar. I am your technology integration friend, your resident nerd. It is my goal to help you integrate technology with the content you are already teaching and not force you to try anything you don’t feel comfortable trying. I will develop a technology integration plan for each teacher and each department. We will work together to develop new ways to use technology to present rich content to our students. By no means am I asking you to change your way of teaching, simply rethink lessons and assessments.

For those that exclusively teach freshmen, this does not exclude you from the fun. In fact, I could still manage this position without any technology in the classroom. As I said before, it will be one of my goals to take rich content and put a new spin on the way you present and assess it. Also, we have access to two COWs (Computers On Wheels) that we can integrate into your classes for various projects and assignments. No smartboard? No problem.

Starting in August, I will meet with each department team and each individual teacher. We will work together to develop a technology (or 21st century skills and assessments) plan. Each plan will have three year long goals that focus on technology and 21st century skills and assessment integration. I will help maintain those year long goals and assist both inside and outside of your classroom.

If you have any questions about my new position or would like to brainstorm some ideas for next year please don’t hesitate to ask. In the next few days I will be following up with a quick survey to gain a clearer understanding of your needs and wants for technology. I will also be sending out a regular EdTech newsletter that focuses on new educational platforms, websites, links, blogs, student work, etc. I will be revising my website to focus on my new position,this page will have a calendar in which you can sign up throughout the course of a week to schedule time for me to work on a project with you and your class or to schedule time outside of class to design a project or unit plan. I am here to support your teaching in any way possible.

Again, if you have any questions concerning my new position or how I can support your classroom, please ask. Let’s start the conversation and see what we can build for next year.

Professional Development Menu


Last night edchat convened for another riveting discussion as it does every Tuesday at 12pm and 7pm EST. The topic last evening was, If we were to create a best practices PD program, what are the elements that we should see? The conversation was rich and chalk full of progressive ideas. One of my early suggestions was to take the Edcamp model and mimicking the same style in faculty PD sessions. PDs should be a conversation and allow everyone to lead and present ideas for best practices.

As the conversation progressed, I wanted to hear specifically what everyone was thinking for a PD session and what PD sessions others have already incorporated. I proposed that we extend the edchat topic to a Google Doc. I set up the document and within minutes my inbox was overflowing with requests and the Doc was filling up with excellent ideas for PD sessions. I want to share what the list we generated and I will list it at the end of this post. If you would like to be a part of this ongoing collaborative, please email me at ontheroad51@gmail.com

This is the true essence of edchat. Edchat allows us to rapidly generate ideas in an organized and focused manner. However, the true merit of edchat is what follows. Last week I left edchat writing a blog post on Reinventing Assessment in the 21st Century. And tonight we created a Google Doc that generated a useful list of professional development ideas that any administrator, teacher, or tech coach can use at any time next year.

Edchat is a collaborative community that generates stimulating, thought provoking discussion on a weekly basis. We should not limit edchat to 1 hour. Edchat should continue on and generate ideas and provoke thought within our classrooms and our schools.

Below is the list that was generated from our Google Doc. 1. My first PD will cover The brilliance of Google forms and the ability for teachers to track data and maintain a digital record of student work. I will use my wikispace as an example http://blenglish.wikispaces.com/ by @andycinek

2. Using Twitter to develop a Personal Learning network @davidwees

3. How to manage a 1 to 1 program in your classroom @davidwees

4. Teaching paperless @davidwees

5. using digital audio editing software to enhance storytelling. @eliza_peterson 6. Effective blogging for students @eliza_peterson 7. Making Google Sites your classroom’s 5th wall @21stcenturychem

8. Clickers and Formative Assessment in classrooms of all sizes @21stcenturychem 9. How to create online learning content with Moodle @Mr_Lister 10. Integrating technology in the classroom – examples for non-tech savvy educators @Mr_Lister

11. Student-centered learning in the science classroom @21stcenturychem

12. Responsible use of online resources in the secondary classroom @21stcenturychem

13. Beyond Powerpoint… ’nuff said @21stcenturychem

14. Bypassing MS Office: Using Google Docs to facilitate a paperless classroom. @21stcenturychem 15. Using Google Docs to collaborate with other teachers for lesson planning and committee work. @RjWassink 16. Using google docs for faculty collaboration JUST LIKE THIS! 🙂 @andycinek 17. using ustream (or equivilent) for live streaming exciting classroom / school events @RjWassink

18. Creating an Authentic Based Classroom through the use of PBL @daylynn

19. Using http://www.jingproject.com/ to help teachers provide better feedback on student work (verbal comments & screencast) @michelleleandra

20. Service Learning Online? Blogs as a way to connect classrooms globally (and locally) @21stcenturychem 21. Using students to help teach teachers how to use tech tools in their classrooms @missbartel
@jkokladas is doing this in her district next fall for more info 22. Developing reliability and validity in differentiated assessment @DrTimony

23. Creating Personal Learning Networks @actionhero
Outline/handout http://docs.google.com/View?id=ajb789gvf6sk_147gbn5s3gx

24. Be Social With Your Bookmarks @actionhero
Outline/handout http://tinyurl.com/socialbookmarkingclass

25. RSS: The Killer App @actionhero
Outline/handout http://tinyurl.com/rsskillerapp

26. Media literacy–critical reading and deconstructing of ads for our kids. Information, not prohibition! @DrTimony
http://medialit.org/
http://www.medialiteracy.com/
https://www.adbusters.org/
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/teachers/media_literacy/what_is_media_literacy.cfm
http://www.medialiteracy.net/

27. Using student & teacher blogs as a means of achieving transparency in classroom instruction @arosey

28. Best ways to collaborate @cybraryman1
Collaboration Page

My edcamp


I was the first camper through the door. I entered to cheers and raised arms by the wonderful edcamp team. My initial thought, “I’m never early. I’m always late and hardly ever on time.” I met everyone – some for the second or third time – and received the inaugural t-shirt from Hadley Ferguson (@hadleyjf). I was set.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from an “unconference”. It was my first time attending one and I was anxious to experience the forum. I decided to sign up and lead a session. I had something in mind that I had been discussing with Mary Beth (@mbteach) for some time. I never led a session, but felt that I really wanted to start a conversation. Recently, I had been hired as the Instructional Technology Specialist (ITS) at the Boys’ Latin Charter School of Philadelphia. I proposed the idea for this position in October of 2009 and had seen the proposal all the way through to my new position. Now I am stuck. I’m not clueless, but I want to do this job well. I am the pilot of this position. No one came before me. There is no precedent.

What does an Instructional Technology Specialist look like? This is what I called my session. I fixed my index card to the bright, yellow board and worked my way into the main conference room. I met with a few old friends and some new ones at a round table. I met up with Yoon (@doremigirl), Rich (@rkiker), and David (@DrTimony) for some coffee and discussion. Rich and I traded small talk and soon found out he had my position for three years. He offered to co-present and I gladly accepted. Our session would RULE! We began tweeting our session around edcamp and offered door prizes. But before we get to the door prizes, let me reflect on my first two sessions at edcamp.

The first session I attended featured Joyce V. (@joycevalenza) and David J. (@djakes) I worked with Joyce at Springfield Township and she turned me on to many new trends in education. One of our first assignments together was visualizing vocabulary. Students took pictures of their vocab words, uploaded them to flickr, and suddenly senior vocabulary was cool again. Joyce and David led a session on “The Future of Student Research”. This session was not only informative, but presented many great questions and hurdles that we all face in conducting student research in schools, restricting access being the most common.

More and more, IT and Administrators are filtering the internet and restricting access to what students can see while on the school’s server. I still don’t understand how we expect our students to seek out information when half of the pages of the book are torn out. Didn’t Ray Bradbury warn us against this once? Didn’t George Orwell live this nightmare? The consensus in the room was that there are a lot of good resources out there for our kids to access information. On the same token, there are a lot of “crappy” resources out there that kids are actually using for research and getting good marks for it. We need to teach our kids to filter through the jungle of information on the internet. They have access to more information than any generation in history. Our responsibility, as teachers, is to give them the tools to get to the most credible and legitimate information out there. Moreover, IT and Administrators cannot limit that scope. They need to ensure our students are browsing and searching responsibly, but on the same hand, having access to all available sources.

My next session talked about two sites that I plan on incorporating into the Boys’ Latin project based learning units next fall. The session was delivered by Mike (@mritzius) and Nicolae (@nborota). They shared their experiences as classroom teachers using Project Foundry and Moodle. I left this session and edcamp very impressed with the comprehensive nature of Project Foundry. Until today, I had never really heard much about it, but I found myself modeling a similar, free application in my own classroom: A wikispace. However, the one element that I really enjoyed about Project Foundry is its ability to catalogue everything a student does throughout the course of high school, and at the end of their senior year, they have a digital portfolio to take with them on a DVD. Plus, this program puts the student in the driver seat and places the onus on the student to get their work done in a timely manner. I plan on looking into this program further and hopefully integrating it into our PBL units next year.

And now, back to door prizes.

After lunch and a brief stroll in the rain, Rich and I entered our classroom for our unconference session on what an Instructional Technology Specialist looks like. We entered the dated classroom and noticed desks in rows, a chalkboard, and an overhead projector. Somewhere the gods of Irony were laughing out loud. Rich found a lost expo marker and a CFF keychain light. We decided to give them away as door prizes and began tweeting to the masses to promote our wonderful session:

#EDCAMP giving away a sweet CFF pocket flashlight in our session. You want to be in 305 at 1:30.”

#edcamp 1:30 in 305-being an effective Instructional Technologist and make real change- @andycinek & I would love to have you in discussion!”

#edcamp 1:30 in 305-being an effective Instructional Technologist and make real change w/ @andycinek Come join the convo”

#edcamp Also if no one shows up at 1:30 in 305 I’ll cut the power. Just kidding. No but seriously…”

Our session started with my plans and fears as I move into this new position. I started by giving my background and my visions for the position. I relayed my plan to start with a survey monkey. Not actually a monkey that goes around soliciting answers for coins (although this would be awesome), but an actual website that is great for free surveys. I expressed my idea of wanting the faculty to tell me what they wanted to do with technology rather than telling them they have to use a wiki or have to use Google Docs. I’ve seen this before and it never takes off. Plus, one will always encounter uncooperative faculty when it comes to trying anything new. They have been doing it the same way for years and there is no way they will be changing now. And that is fine. Be an Edu-saur. Enjoy it.

We discussed many great ideas in our session, from Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) to unblocking websites, and finishing with some great insights on Google Apps from Michelle (@michelleleandra). I provided many questions about starting out as an ITS and Rich provided clarity and experience to what he has been doing as an ITS for the past three years. In the end, we could have spent days talking in our session. We left fulfilled and we were still talking as we went through the hallways towards our next session. This got me thinking “This is what I want my students to emulate, this is how I want my faculty and Administration to converse, these conversations need to happen!”

The final session I attended focused on the wonderful world of Google Apps. Again, this was another lively session that could have lasted for days, if not weeks. This session was led by Rita (@rchuchran) Frank (@Fronk2000), Karen (@SpecialKRB), and Kristen (@kristenswanson). This session involved a lot of collaboration and sharing of ideas. We all spoke up and disclosed our best use of Google Apps. Everyone said something completely different and we all agreed that Google Forms rule.

This was a fulfilling day in many ways. I left wanting more. I wanted edcamp to last for a week, maybe more. The conversations were rich and thought provoking. I left better than when I entered as the first camper that morning. I think I speak for all attendants when I say this is the model we want all of our schools to emulate. These conversations need to fill our halls and trickle down to our students. I want my students to leave my classroom like I left an edcamp session; I want them continuing the dialogue far beyond the parameters of school. Edcamp provided all of this along with a really cool t-shirt. Thank you edcamp. I plan on being first every year.

My Next Steps


A month ago I was hired to be the Director of Instructional Technology at Boys’ Latin Charter School. I proposed the idea in the fall of 2009 and the idea soon became a job proposal. I interviewed, was hired, and now I’m devising my next steps as our school year winds down towards the summer. At times I feel overwhelmed with seeing this position through and finding the time to keep track of everything I want to accomplish for next year. On top of that, I’m also designing the curriculum for the AP English Language and Composition course that Boys’ Latin will be offering for the first time next fall. So where do I begin? Where do I start? Should I just tell all of my colleagues to begin belching into voicethread, followed by a transitional roller coaster prezi that ends with a thirty second animoto clip? This plan is probably not the best idea unless my goal is to acquire seething stares rather than tech driven lesson plans.

Ok, so this is the part where you give me an answer. Give me some direction!

I’ve decided to divide this process into three steps. Three bullet points that will help me guide the next 6 weeks of school and not drive my exhausted colleagues crazy.

1. Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey, of all the monkeys, you’re my favorite. And I will use you to find an ideal starting point for fusing technology and curriculum at Boys’ Latin. The one thing faculty members can’t stand is a PD that throws technology at them and does not provide ample time to break it, fix it, and learn it.

Technology should be introduced in summer PD sessions and allot enough time for your faculty to find a comfort level with the new application they are using while not being overwhelmed by grading, parent emails, and planning. I’ve seen former colleagues put their laptop screens down during an ed-tech PD and stare at the presenter for the remainder of the session. There is always one. Getting that one on board is my goal.

Finally, this survey will give me insight into what my faculty wants to do with technology in their classroom. I have seen districts force teachers to use technology just so they could look like a tech driven school. This never works. Teachers can present 21st century lessons and learning without having aspect of technology in the classroom. The grand assumption in 21st century learning is that classrooms need laptops, cameras, wikis, moodles, pods, etc. But that’s not true at all. 21st century learning skills take the context of contemporary times; bring those ideas into the classroom through varied lessons, assessments, and collaborative projects that provoke student learning. One of the greatest skills a student can have in the 21st century is the ability to filter through a plethora of information and seek the best pathway to an answer. Tangible technology is only one component of this new style of learning.

2. Connect and Organize

The one element that is lacking at Boys’ Latin is interconnectedness between Administration, Faculty, Students, and Parents. At the beginning of the year we were given cell phones, but only half the faculty consistently use and charge them (I suggested Google Voice Numbers). Some of us are on twitter and most are on Facebook. I know a few colleagues who understand the brilliance of using Google Docs, but for the most part, go unused. This is sad.

Why?

Because most districts, charter schools, and private schools have the ability to connect like never before, but are not using these forums effectively. All of these applications are free and require little effort and time to manage. Here is where I hope my new position can shine in the early stages.

I’ll start by introducing a handful of applications that will unify the school’s tangled web of communication. I plan on starting with a wikispace where all of my colleagues can share resources: links, blogs, wikis, etc. This gives everyone a chance to share and build a resource library.

The next step will be to get all of my colleagues signed up on twitter. I have gained so much from having a twitter account and creating a personal learning network of teachers around the globe. Imagine an entire school community using this forum effectively. The possibilities for interconnectedness and collaboration are endless. Teachers can share resources, updates, and plans that go far beyond the school web page.

Finally, I want to give the faculty candy. Yes, candy. Here is a Butterfinger or a packet of gummy worms for trying out this new technology. I want to keep it simple and allow them to break it, fix it, and learn it. I don’t want to overwhelm them with every clever new presentation tool or acronym floating around the Ed-tech movement. In the end, let them play and give them candy.

3. Collaborate

I want to sit down with each department and work on creating collaborative lessons and projects that are inquiry based, provoke student thinking, and challenge students to seek out the best answers to questions they generate themselves. The focus in these meetings will be the content, standards, and objectives that each project will highlight. In many planning meetings and classrooms I notice technology abuse. Teachers use technology as the focus of the lesson and forget that the content, standards, and objectives still drive lessons and always will.

The meeting outcomes will not resemble a well constructed lesson plan, but simply content that my colleagues wish to enhance through the use of a collaborative technology project. My job is to turn that content into a lesson that will use technology and align to 21st century skills.

These are my first and next steps as the newly appointed Director of Instructional Technology or as the call me on the streets, “MC DIT”. As some of you quickly email that attempt at humor to fail blog, stop for a minute, and give me your feedback on my progression. Offer suggestions and constructive criticism. I’m sailing into uncharted waters and have an idea of what course I want to take, but sailing with an experienced crew is much better than going at it alone.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check in as I chronicle my experiences as Director of Instructional Technology.

*Image Courtesy of “God At His Computer .” Atheist/Agnostic. Web. 7 May 2010. .

Future Plans


Below is the Technology Integration Plan for Boys’ Latin Charter School. This is our first draft and it will change, but I wanted to elicit feedback if you have done this before. I created this position at our school, drafted a job description, and will be fully implementing a technology driven curriculum next fall. This project has been in the works since November of 2009 and has finally come to a reality.

The plan below is the action plan for the Instructional Technology Specialist, which I will take over this summer. This plan serves as a comprehensive list of duties and responsibilities that my position will require. Again, if you have any experience with this kind of position or action plan, please give me your feedback

Boys’ Latin Technology Integration Plan

I. Integrate

II. Collaborate

III. Connect

IV. Organize

V. Educate

Boys’ Latin Instructional Technology Specialist Vision Statement
———————————————————————————————–

The Instructional Technology Specialist will develop comprehensive technology use plan to implement technology goals; Provide unified integrated technology approach throughout all grade levels; Enhance connection between Administration, Faculty, Students, and Parents; Research and analyze data to improve technology integration in all content areas; Seek ways to restructure and/or refine the role of faculty and staff to enhance the technology integration plan vision at Boys’ Latin.

I. Integration

The role of the instructional technology specialist (ITS) will be to assist and integrate appropriate technology in to the Boys’ Latin curriculum. The ITS will perform the following tasks to integrate technology:

1. The ITS will work with each department during summer planning. This meeting will focus on integrating 21st Century Literacy Standards into the existing Boys’ Latin Standards.

2. The ITS will meet weekly at each content area department meeting. Content area teachers will showcase student work or ways in which they are integrating technology into their weekly curriculum. The ITS will present new ways to integrate technology and schedule appointments to assist classroom teachers in technology driven lessons or projects.

3. The ITS will provide one professional development session a month to all content area teachers. This professional development may utilize an outside speaker, the ITS, or a collaboration of the ITS and teachers.

4. The ITS will make himself or herself available throughout the week. The ITS will have a shared calendar in which faculty and administration can sign up for ITS assistance for integrating technology.

II. Collaboration

The ITS will maintain communication and collaboration between Administration, Faculty, Students, and Parents. This collaboration will make the classroom transparent and allow for ubiquitous access. The ITS will perform the following tasks to maintain collaboration:

1. The ITS will ensure that Administration and Faculty are collaborating via online resources, email, and web pages.

2. The ITS will collaborate via social networks to acquire new resources for classroom teachers and seek out professional development.

3. The ITS will oversee the content area online resource library created in conjunction with each department head.

4. The ITS will collaborate with local and national schools that wish to link up for an online project.

III. Connect

The ITS will maintain connectivity with the school, community, and the home. Students and Parents will have access to assignments, projects, and online resources at all times. The ITS will perform the following tasks to maintain connectivity:

1. The ITS will communicate with parents to enhance home connectivity and provide consistent connectivity support at the home.

2. The ITS will assist teachers in connecting to resources and establishing an online presence.

3. The ITS will assist students in connecting to various online resources and databases.

4. The ITS will connect with local and national schools that are technology driven schools looking to collaborate with Boys’ Latin.

IV. Organize

The ITS will organize an online resource library and wikispace for Administration, Faculty, and Students. This resource library will constantly be updated and feature web resources that can be easily integrated into the Boys’ Latin Curriculum. The ITS will perform the following tasks to maintain organization:

1. The ITS will introduce the online resource library to Faculty in a brief professional development.

2. The ITS will maintain the online resource library so that all links and websites are current.

3. The ITS will show Administration and Faculty how to add content to the online resource library.

4. The ITS will create a shared calendar for Administration, Faculty, and Students. This calendar will allow all to set up an appointment with the ITS.

V. Educate

The ITS will consistently seek ways to improve the technology integration at Boys’ Latin Charter School. Professional development opportunities and conferences will be proposed throughout the year and integrated into weekly and summer faculty meetings. The ITS will perform the following tasks to promote technology education:

1. The ITS will compile and provide a weekly list of webinars, online professional development sessions, and journal articles on technology integration.

2. The ITS will assist teachers with online professional development sessions.

3. The ITS will recommend professional development opportunities for Administration and Faculty.

4. The ITS will present professional development for teachers during the summer, Wednesday Faculty meetings, and professional development days throughout the school year.

5. The ITS will offer instructional seminars and webinars for Parents and Students.

6. The ITS will educate Students on laptop responsibility.

7. The ITS will create and integrate an Acceptable Use Policy for Boys’ Latin Charter School.

The Return of 1


In July of 2009, I launched The One Comment A Day Project. My mission was to promote new bloggers and bring comments to existing blogs. Initially, The One Comment A Day Project burst on to the scene with the celerity of a gazelle, however, it soon became another faded project. The members of the ning remained, however, the collaborative dialogue that made the project so amazing, faded.

This decline happened because the project took off so fast that I, as a moderator and organizer, could not keep up with the progress. Couple that with the start at a new school year and a flooded basement and you have the decline of The One Comment A Day Project. However, in my absence, the members of the project remained true and continued the project along with its collaborative heart.

Now is the time for a renaissance. The One Comment A Day Project will no longer be a project, but serve as a forum for promoting new bloggers and illuminating the voices of the education world. This project will continue to be collaborative, but open up an entirely new forum for discussion and educational dialogue. My vision is that every Thursday at noon and 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, The One Comment Project can come together and discuss two different blogs via twitter. These conversations will be filtered through the hash tag #onecom. After the conversation on twitter, members will then provide constructive feedback on each blog post for that day. The goal is to generate discussion from the content of a blog and continue the conversation through comments and feedback.

Each week, members of The One Comment Project will vote on which blogs to discuss that week. I will accept e-mail submissions for blog posts at ontheroad51@gmail.com. The submission deadline will be Sunday night at 9pm. Once the blogs are selected, we will read each post and begin our conversation on Thursday. Each twitter conversation will be archived so that bloggers can read through the tweets and dissect the conversation. The twitter conversations will allow for authors to participate in the dialogue and even lead the conversation. It is my hope that conversations will linger far beyond the hour time slot on twitter and provoke our thinking and generate new ideas for the classroom and beyond.

If you cannot make a Thursday conversation, there will be RSS feeds on The One Comment Project Ning. Members of the Ning will be able to see archives and also read the blogs that are discussed for that week. I have also set up a Diigo group for The One Comment Project that all members can join. This way, we can create an online resource library of blogs that are making progressive strides in education.

I hope that you join me in this venture and help make The One Comment Project a forum that promotes new and existing blogs, expands the educational dialogue, and provokes our thinking.

Please join The One Comment Project Ning at http://onecommentproject.ning.com/#

We will begin our first twitter conversation next Thursday, February 18, 2010 at noon and our second round will commence at 7 p.m. Please submit blog posts at ontheroad51@gmail.com by Sunday at 9 p.m.