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.

Language 2.0


Today I was called out by one of my students.

I teach tenth grade Literature and Composition class back to back for first and second period. I am teaching them through various Web 2.0 and open source venues. Every now and then we tend to digress into a conversation about technology and its role in the 21st century classroom. I often tell them that technology is changing faster than ever and everyone else is playing catch-up. This is very evident in education and the way in which we use language and communicate. I like to feel that I am on the cutting edge and can see what is around the corner before anyone else, however, today I felt archaic.

During a random tangent in class, we began talking about text messaging and the length. One of my students said, “I bet Marcinek’s text messages are like this five paragragh essay we are writing. He probably uses punctuation as well. “

I paused. Reflected on how cool I thought I was and how quickly I became my father. Standing in front of the next generation of learners and realizing that I was behind. Or was I?

From a distance, I showed my students a text message thread I had going on my iPhone. They all began to laugh and couldn’t believe the length of each individual message.

One student interjected, “How do you spell ‘though’?”

I responded, “Though.”

“What! You mean you don’t spell it tho?”

“No, what’s the point?” I shot back.

“Yo, if I got a text that long I would never read it. I’d be like, delete!”

This conversation, this tangent provoked my thinking and led me to question the relevance of my entire career and what content I was teaching. If this is what kids are currently engaged in, they why am I teaching them to read a novel at length? Why am I teaching them to spell and use grammar if the majority of their day is spent not using it? What is the future of language and grammar and punctuation? Are we on the precipice of a major language shift? And if so, what will it all look like in five to ten years?

In a brief vision I could see the future of education. Students walk into class, sit down in complete silence. I give them a copy of Lord of the Flies which has been shortened to 140 characters. They tweet me their thoughts on the 140 character novel they just wrote. They hurl me shortened adjectives over their all in one, do everything but slice bread Smart Phone. This smart phone is ironically titled Brain 2.0.

That vision started to scare me. Kids spend the majority of their day reading and writing, however, none of it is correct. They read more facebook profiles through the week than content from a text book. They write more text messages, e-mails and wall posts than essays or critical analysis responses. And this, THIS is where we, teachers in the 21st century come in to save the way in which we learn.

*Standing on my soap box* we need to be responsible with the spelling, grammar and mechanics of the English language. Teachers must teach students that when they post on walls, or send emails that they cannot break down language and toss the rules aside. Students must take it upon themselves to know when to type ‘you’ and when it is ok to type ‘u’. When technology is brought into the classroom and students find themselves typing more than writing with a pencil, we, as teachers, as facilitators, must monitor the content to which they present. We cannot sit back and let this slide or we will be disrespecting everything that is good about our language.

However, I still think there is merit to twitter and facebook in the classroom. We should not take this trend and simply ignore its appeal. I have posted before on several lessons which I have built around these two social networking forums. I use concept of twitter to elicit key ideas and focus a student’s thoughts when reading a chapter in a novel. I use the concept of facebook for characterization and reflecting on character arcs throughout a novel. There are plenty more as well. The key factor is that we need to teach our students to not just use technology, but use it with purpose and responsibility. We need to create rubrics that catch students writing when it digresses into text message format on a blog response or a discussion thread. When we combine the two, the technology in the classroom can open up many learning opportunities for our students.

Finally, I asked my students what they thought about the idea of language digression in online and text forums. Here are the two questions I asked them along with some of their responses. NOTE: I did not edit their responses to make my point. This became a teaching moment and a lesson on the responsibility we have when writing online.

Yesterday I was called out by several of you for sending paragraph length texts and it prompted two questions;
1. What are the language requirements or responsibilities when we write online and in text messages?
2. What will become of language if we continue to shorten it in length?

Answer each question in a brief paragraph. I will post these responses on my blog and share the comments and reader responses. Proofread your response for spelling and grammar.

1. i tnink that u can use and make ur own language when we write in txt meassages and in e-mails but when we are doing something professional then we need to use the write way of spelling and talking.

2. i think that sometimes you may forget how to spell a word or two nbut i think we will be fine.

~ OMAR

When you’re online you try to talk proper and try to make sure you spell your words right. But when you text you spell words a different way. If we keep spelling words short i think that it will be hard to write a story..!

~Khalid

The language requirements for certain people when there writing online is just being thrown out the windows when they are online but at the same time it’s still there in ways too. I say this because when we write a text message we do still use things like acronyms in our text messages. If we continue to write like this our language will be way different because most people will want to write the word in a different way than it is properly spelled

~Jaylen

When many people in the world don’t always follow the rule of language while they text. They either use lol (laugh out loud ) idk (i don’t know ) and for the people who follow the rule of language don’t always know what it means. Many people throw out the rules of English because they figure that they don’t have to apply it to modern life. The same for online like myspace facebook etc . In other words people now days are too lazy to type a full sentence, and instead write a response to have less to type .the language rules we learn now could be no use if we continue if we don’t apply at all times.

~Devaun

My Decade


“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need Roads”

Twenty years ago a movie came out that changed the way I looked at the future. This movie was Back to the Future II. Back to the Future II was different than any future movie my adolescent eyes had ever seen. My only comparable film was 2001: A Space Odyssey, but at the ripe age of nine, Stanley Kubrick was not really appealing to my audience. I remember watching the previews and hearing about some of the “future” scenes in the movie. It took place in 2015. At the time, that seemed so distant and I could not even imagine the calendar year starting with a 2 and a 0 instead of a 1and a 9. In the scenes where Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future, we get a brief glimpse of what is awaiting us down the road. It all seemed far-fetched, but you still watched, and you still held that thought in the back of your mind that said, “hmmm, maybe this could happen.”

In 1989 we imagined a future where cars fly, hover boards are the must have toy for kids, NIKE shoes glow and your jacket air-dries and talks to you. There are vintage shops that house relics of a time gone by and there is baseball in Miami. Who could have ever imagined all of this? Robert Zemeckis did. Did it all come true? (Baseball in Miami happened and the Marlins managed to win two World Series titles since Back to the Future made this bold prediction) we don’t know yet, we are only approaching 2010.

I see this vision of the future and think about what has come in the past ten years and look forward to what will be greeting us in the next ten. This image in the New York Times today really struck a cord with me as to how fast things have progressed over the last ten years. Since 2000 the way we communicate and collaborate has changed so fast that it is hard to keep up with it all. Think about this, ten years ago we did not tweet, check facebook or use an iPhone. The web was still lingering in 1.0 and we used lots of bullets on MS PowerPoint and thought flying text and toasters were progressing us forward.

Today, the average person wakes up, checks their phone, sends a few texts, checks e-mail, brushes his or her teeth, sends a tweet about it, updates facebook status (blah Monday morning), sends a reply to previous text, eats cereal, sends a tweet about an article you are reading via an RSS feed on your iPhone, check e-mail again, grab your iPod and update it with your favorite podcasts to listen on the way to work and finally, you are out the door. Think about what just happened…THINK ABOUT IT!!!!

So my question is, “What is next?” Where does all this lead? We can connect to copious amounts of information and communicate faster than ever before. We have even started condensing our language in order to express how we feel in 140 characters or simply to show laughter. Have you ever thought about what it means to write LOL? I once asked someone if they actually laugh when they reply back to a text or an IM conversation with LOL. This person said, “Well when I write LOL that means I really laughed out loud, when I write “haha” that means I’m not really laughing hard, but you received some funny points and when I type “hehe” that is just a giggle.” Yes, this is where we are! This is our future.

When Doc Brown said, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads” he was sending a message to all of us here in 2010. We still need roads, however, maybe by 2015 we might not need them. While we might not need roads anymore we still have become reliant on so many tools that govern our daily lives. Imagine your day without your smart phone, e-mail, facebook, ATM card, Google, and your standard Internet connection. Imagine this world, because at one time this was reality and all the terms I just mentioned were not even invented yet. And someday my grandchildren will probably wonder how we lived without teleporters, “Wow Grandpa, you mean you actually had to drive places!? Weird.” Don’t laugh. It will happen.


And here are five things that I predict will happen in the next ten years.

1. Everything will merge and condense further

In a few years, we will all carry one device that can do everything. It will be an iPhone on steroids. One will be able to perform every daily function aside from eating and breathing on this device. It will control the lights in our house; it will start our cars, pay our bills, give us every bit of news, connect us with everyone and house every document we need. It will simply be called “Awesome”.

2. Print media will fade

I still like the smell of an old book and enjoy walking out on Sunday morning to get my newspaper, however, this medium of spreading news and information will soon fade into the past. With the advent of the kindle, the RSS feed, the podcast and the constant stream of news there will be no need for print media and the cost of producing it.

3. Google will prove George Orwell right

Google has grown and expanded faster than any company over the past ten years (save for Apple, so I may be wrong on this one). In the next few years Google will be releasing its own operating system along with its own smart phone. Google will think for us and take care of all our daily connectivity needs. Eventually Apple will revive its 1984 Super Bowl add and this time market it at Google, not IBM.

4. Text to Speech

As we continue to condense our language via twitter and text messaging, our speech and usage of words will continue to denigrate as well. People will communicate less through verbal means and more through cryptic texts and tweets. Eventually language will be obsolete as we condense every word into one character that has yet to be invented.

5. The Ubiquitous Classroom

School will change greatly over the next few years as technology becomes fully integrated and a necessary means for learning and teaching. Teachers will have to demonstrate the knowledge of content along with technology skills in order to get hired. This will go far beyond understanding MS Office Suite and blogging. Skype and the advancement of video conferencing will tear down the classroom walls and allow students to see the world and learn globally and locally. Standardized assessments will be taken out back and shot. Yes! The age of standardized tests will fade along with the failed No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Education will finally differentiate for all, students will learn in forums that suit their learning styles best and they will be assessed in a way that is authentic, rigorous and diverse.

My 50


For my 50th post I wanted to do something special, something big, however, if you know me, that’s not me. I prefer my fireworks on July Fourth, prefer to give a gift rather than receive, think that confetti could be put to better use and wonder why we still have ticker tape in the 21st century? Can’t we just drop ones and zeros on a parade? I would like to distance myself, for the time being, from these celebratory traditions and focus on the reason I began this blog.

For this minor anniversary, I decided to focus this post on the reason why I get up in the morning; The reason I spend my days browsing twitter for new ideas; the reason I scour blogs; the reason I linked up (and IN) with a PLN; the reason I decided to get this blog rolling in the first place: my students.

My students motivate me daily, just as I hope to motivate them. When I see one of my students disinterested or not engaged, I get motivated. That student becomes my challenge! I want to motivate that student and I want that student to enjoy my classroom. I want them to leave my classroom and continue talking about how much they liked my class or continuing to seek questions and answers about the literature we are reading. I want my students to give me a shout out at our weekly student summits, not because I want the attention, but because I want them to enjoy school and I want them to appreciate what a grand opportunity education is! Like a proud parent, I want them to have everything I have but I want their time to be better!

Therefore, I will stop talking and focus my attention on my students; especially the students in my first and second period English class.

To my class: This is your shout out! This is your voice being heard not only by me, but also by the masses. All who read and comment on this blog will know your thoughts, desires and your wants for technology integration in your classroom. This is my gift to you. This is your voice reverberating around the globe.

Today I gave my students a prompt at the beginning of class. I asked them this…

We have been using various forms of technology thus far in the classroom – wikispaces, google docs, RSS feeds – what have you liked thus far about the technology integration in the class? What do you dislike about the technology integration? Do you have any suggestions for further technology integration in this class?

My goal was to give them a say in where we go. I wanted them to take ownership of their education. I am merely the facilitator. They are creating their educational path and they should have a say in how it is fostered and presented. Here are some of their responses:

I like how we use the Internet and I like the idea of having our own website it’s all a very great idea. I don’t dislike anything; it’s all a great way to learn because the kids pay attention more. I think we should make a part to this where the kids can make their own blogs and we should categorize it…example: sports history holocaust and all the stuff we are learning.

~Omar

What I like about the technology thus far is that instead of writing on paper – half the time having a hard time looking and understanding the handwriting – typing it out can make your writing easier for the reader to understand your writing.

But for some, others prefer to use paper and a pencil to do their writing. What I can infer, is that people dislike technology because they don’t know how to use it, and is having a hard time to get to there destination on their new technology.

For those who don’t know how to use this new technology, you can use a set up guide for them to go back and forth to use for their assignments.

~Devaun

I like that we have more access to our computers and not just pen and paper. I like that we don’t just have our computers sitting in our bags and lying around. I think that we should connect with other schools that use technology.

~Anonymous

I think using technology is cool for this class because technology is the future.

~Isaiah

Well I like the idea of using technology in class, but we could use some other web sites like twitter, like maybe we could come up with a Boys’ Latin twitter address or something like that. However like I said I do like the idea of using technology in class.

~Anonymous

The things that I like is that we can get on the Internet in the classroom. What I dislike is that when we are on the Internet we have people on are backs.

~Khalid

I like that we are using computer for technology an do most of the work. There is nothing I dislike about working with technology.

~ Jaron

Well being that I have just been transferred to this class I don’t know about most of the technology integration into this class, yet. Although the technology integration into the school is probably the best thing about the school. There is really nothing I dislike about the integration of technology. I think that technology should be integrated even more so that the classes can flow much more smoothly and faster.

Nakola

I like many of the things we get to use in this class. For example, I like that we get to use laptops in this class. This is something that I like because most teachers don’t use laptops in class and I felt that having a laptop was a waste to have if they weren’t used in class. I don’t believe that there is anything that I don’t like about this class.

-Jaylen

These are just a few of the responses I received from my class today. I urge you to give them feedback and motivate them by sharing your thoughts about technology integration in the classroom.

Finally, I would like to thank a few that motivated me and helped me become a better educator.

I would like to thank Ms. Stellfox who was my inspiration and the best teacher I ever had. She challenged me daily to think critically and inspired me to read beyond the back cover of a novel. She made Shakespeare fun and told us about her world travels in class. We all benefited from her teachings.

I would like to thank Ken Rodoff and Joyce Valenza. Without them, I would simply be 1.0. With their help and guidance, I became a more dynamic teacher. Ken and Joyce introduced me to the world of 2.0 and power points without bullets. They are truly inspirational figures in my career.

I would like to thank Donelle O’Brien. Donelle challenged my thinking and provoked me to become a life long learner. She always commented on this blog and opened the doors of my PLN.

I would like to thank Steve Anderson. Steve is one of my most influential Tweeps! He is a integral part of my PLN and although I have never met him, I feel like we have collaborated on one hundred projects. He is one of the founders of #edchat and has truly created a forum in which we all can benefit.

I would like to thank Lori Vanaman. Lori is not on twitter,doesn’t blog, but she is a dynamic, dedicated teacher and most importantly, she was my first fan. She inspired and motivated me to be an author (almost there) and to write this blog. She provoked my thinking in a way that made me a better teacher and person. She challenged me to write a book someday and expects to be one of my first readers. She is a true friend and without her, I would have never written my first post.

The list could go on for days, but those listed above, helped me see my true potential. They helped me get started and they are the reason iTeach.

Thank you to all who read this blog and those who have shared my ideas. You are all motivators and inspirations to my writing. I cannot say thank you enough.

This is my 50. I look forward to 50 more.

My Letter To Parents

To Whom It May Concern:

This trimester in English Literature and Composition, my class will be taking a new approach to learning. We will be utilizing various technology resources to communicate, collaborate and differentiate instruction within our classroom.

Each student will be setting up their own free e-mail account for my classroom. We are utilizing the G-Mail platform through Google Applications. This e-mail will only be used for our class. I told each student that they will have the opportunity to communicate with me through this e-mail and I ask you to do the same regarding any questions or suggestions you have for this venture.

Secondly, I have created a classroom website that will only be used for my class. It is a completely separate platform from the school’s webpage, but serves many of the same functions. Our website is created through a wikispace. A wikispace is a site where we will communicate, collaborate and engage in a variety of classroom activities. The wikispace is a private platform and can only be accessed when you are invited by the organizer. I briefly showed the students how to use this site and informed them that they now will have 24-7 access to their classroom. If students miss class or are absent for some time, they can keep up with their work simply by accessing this site. All that is needed is a computer and an internet connection.

We have created classroom rules for this venture and on Wednesday, I had the students come up with their own rules for technology use in our classroom. They know these rules will be enforced and you can view our rules on the reverse of this page.

Finally, one of my primary goals for this venture is to include everyone in the learning process. I invite you to join our wikispace and become a part of the learning process. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me or call me (e-mail and number to follow). If you would like to be a part of our wikispace learning community, please provide me with your primary e-mail address so I can send you an invitation to our page. Please provide your name, signature and e-mail at the bottom of this page.

Sincerely,

Mr. Andrew P. Marcinek
e-mail: amarcinek@boyslatin.org
Phone: 484-416-0424

Parent/Guardian Name (Printed):__________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian Signature: ______________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian e-mail:_________________________________________________________________

ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY FOR TECHNOLOGY

The Following Rules were designed by periods 1 and 2 at Boys’ Latin Charter School of Philadelphia

  1. No social network sites in school
    1. Myspace
    2. Facebook

  1. No games
  2. Laptops are not to be used for notes
    1. When teacher is talking, laptops are down
    2. Notes can be written and transferred to computer
  3. No Youtube unless it is being used for a presentation or reference
  4. No inappropriate searches for images
  5. Background must be a solid color


Consequences

  1. First policy offense – cannot use laptop for the rest of the day. Parents and Administration notified
  2. Second policy offense – cannot use laptop for the week and assignments will be done through another platform (i.e. pen and paper). Parents and Administration will be notified. Student will also have an after school detention.
  3. Third policy offense – student will lose laptop privileges. Parents, Administration, teacher and student will have a conference. Student will have to earn his laptop back by completing the following:
    1. Write a laptop reinstatement letter to teacher and administration detailing why they broke policy and why we should let them have their laptop back. **


**If student has his laptop reinstated and break a policy rule again, the laptop will not be used for the rest of the year.**

This is my letter to parents. I welcome your feedback and ask you to share your own experiences with incorporating technology into your classroom. How did you involve parents? Administration? What was the experience like with parents working within the website? I look forward to hearing your experiences and I plan on writing about mine as we progress in the classroom. Also, if you would like to join our wikispace and become an observer, please feel free to get in touch with me at the e-mail listed below.


Let’s make learning ubiquitous!

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Today we started a new trimester. We had shortened periods today so I decided to follow up with the #edchat topic from last evening. The topic asked, how could all education stakeholders balance the need for learning vs. the need for network security and safety? The conversation was very engaging and I left with some good insight from my PLN.

Today I decided to see what my students thought.

First, I played them this video clip.

I took their responses after it was finished.

“Technology is everywhere.”

“Most kids are on facebook and other sites while their teacher is teaching”

“Our jobs are not made yet”

“Most teachers don’t use technology, because they don’t understand it”

I was pleased by each reflective response. Several responses led into brief conversations about technology and education. Once we finished our discussion, I reemphasized how important technology and education are to their future. I quoted Spiderman by saying, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” I asked them what that saying means to them in the context of technology in the classroom. Responses followed…

“there is so much on the internet and we have to be careful where we go.”

“the internet is full of freaks”

“we have to be careful what we click on in case we get a virus”

Again, I was pleased with the frank responses to this question. Each student said their response with subtle hesitation as if they didn’t want to “tattle” on someone next to them. It was an interesting discussion that eventually led to this…

I wrote on the board in bold letters: ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY FOR TECHNOLOGY

Based on our discussion, I asked them what kind of rules we should have in place for using technology in our classroom and what should be some of the consequences for inappropriate use. Here is what we came up with…


ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY FOR TECHNOLOGY

  1. No social network sites in school
    1. Myspace
    2. Facebook

  1. No games
  2. Laptops are not to be used for notes
    1. When teacher is talking, laptops are down
    2. Notes can be written and transferred to computer
  3. No Youtube unless it is being used for a presentation or reference
  4. No inappropriate searches for images
  5. Background must be a solid color

And that was it. This is the list we generated and tomorrow I will be sending it home as a hard copy for parents and guardians to sign. The students will bring the contract back, sign it themselves and then had it in to me to sign. I will also make a copy for our principal and our IT department.

When a student breaks a policy what should happen? Here is what the students came up with…

  1. First policy offense – cannot use laptop for the rest of the day. Parents and Administration notified
  2. Second policy offense – cannot use laptop for the week and assignments will be done through another platform (i.e. pen and paper). Parents and Administration will be notified. Student will also have an after school detention.
  3. Third policy offense – student will lose laptop privileges. Parents, Administration, teacher and student will have a conference. Student will have to earn his laptop back by completing the following:
    1. Write a laptop reinstatement letter to teacher and administration detailing why they broke policy and why we should let them have their laptop back.**

**If student has his laptop reinstated and break a policy rule again, the laptop will not be used for the rest of the year.

This is our plan. The plan was created by the students for the students. A contract was signed and will serve as an agreement between all parties. Again, with great power, comes great responsibility.

As educators we can only monitor so much. However, if we give the students the power to govern themselves and act responsible then we can feel comfortable knowing they are using technology as a powerful tool while maintaining responsible behavior. It is not to say we should sit back and not monitor screens, but hope that the students feel they have put something in place that they created and will now live up to.

15 Slide Show Tools for Teachers

Slide shows are a great way to present information and engage students inside and outside the classroom. This article contains of list of 15 free slide show tools that would be useful to almost any educator.

Empressr – Empressr is a free multimedia tool that is virtually effortless to use. The tool creates, manages, and shares slide shows without limitations.

VoiceThread – With VoiceThread, teachers can create dynamic multimedia slide shows for students or colleagues to comment on. Comments can be made through microphone, telephone, audio file, text, or video.

SlideShare – SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing and managing presentations. The site allows you to upload presentations to the public or a private group of people.

Slideroll – This site offers free software for creating smooth slide shows that can be viewed by anyone with Internet access. Created slides can be published on the site or embedded in web pages, blogs, or emails.

PhotoPeach – PhotoPeach is a slide show creator that uses photos, text, and audio. This is a great tool for teachers who want to create entertaining slide shows within minutes.

Joggle – This free beta site allows users to manage and share photos, music, and video. Joggle provides the tools for quickly embedding slide shows into websites, blogs, and more without the use of complex coding.

Yugma – Teachers can use Yugma to upload and share presentations, collaborate in real-time, or host a web conference. This site makes it incredibly simple to make educational presentations for students.

Animoto – Animoto is an easy-to-use slide creator that offers unlimited videos to teachers. Within minutes of signing up, teachers can start creating custom slide shows of images, audio, and text. This site can also rearrange your photos to create a new slide or custom video.

Slide – This interactive presentation site features tools for creating slide shows, posting video, and creating an online group.

One True Media – One True Media offers a free subscription for teachers who want to upload and share images, music, and videos. This site also features special effects for a dynamic, personalized touch.

Vyew – This free web conferencing site provides tools for hosting presentations, webinars, or online meetings. Vyew also allows teachers to upload and create real-time courses and collaborative learning.

Vcasmo – Vcasmo is a rich media presentation solution designed for personal use and academic teaching. As soon as you sign up for a free account, you can start uploading images, audio, and video to create a personalized presentation or simply publish a pre-created PowerPoint presentation.

LectureTools – LectureTools is a free lecture and slide tool that can be used to engage students in lectures. The site provides tools to upload and organize slides, make notes directly on them, and post questions.

iWebPhoto – This site is a free image hosting site that allows you to create slide shows for embedding and sharing with colleagues and students. The free membership includes five free slide shows with 50 photos each that can be linked to websites and blogs.

Sliderocket – Sliderocket offers 250MB of free storage for slide show presentation and creation. This site also allows you to import, organize, synchronize, and share your presentations.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about online degree programs for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.

My Proposal 2.0


This is my proposal. This is my initial pitch for technology reform in my school. Our students have laptops and our classrooms have smart boards, however, at this point we just have aesthetically pleasing tools. How we use these tools, how we integrate these tools, will define how our students learn in a 21st century context.

A lot of schools wear the badge of technology proudly on their sleeve, however, how are they really incorporating these new tools? How far do students travel beyond Microsoft Word and Powerpoint? In short, could we run the same class if we were using word processors or typewriters? If you answered yes, then you are not integrating technology.

“We never use our laptops.”

This comment was all it took for me. I began by engaging my PLN and looking back through the previous work I had done with technology integration (most examples are found on my blog archive). I found standards for the 21st century student via the NCTE framework for 21st Century Learning skills and assessment. I wrote the following proposal and presented the idea to my administration. This was only step one. Step two will take place on January 13 when I will present a PD to our faculty. This presentation will run roughly 30-40 minutes and include time for “playing around” with new technology “toys”. Teachers will work on writing their technology integration plans and select one, maybe two, new learning tools to incorporate into their curriculum maps.

This is exactly what I had hoped for when I addressed my administration about this idea. They were receptive and excited about getting our technology plan in order. The other end of this is the possibility of a new position for next fall. I would still teach a few ELA classes, but my other focus would be working within classrooms to help teachers incorporate, utilize and effectively monitor technology use in their content area. I would work hand in hand with teachers to design and implement tech-driven lesson plans.

Like riding a bike for the first time, it is good to have someone guiding you. Eventually they will let go and we will be off on our own, riding without assistance. The same can be said for implementing technology into our curriculum. We need to guide our teachers, give them the initial assistance they need and eventually let them ride on their own. My school is giving me this opportunity, and I plan on making our school “cutting edge” “21st century” “2.0” and every other neo-buzzword you can think up.

As with any post I write, I look forward to hearing your feedback, comments and suggestions. If you have traveled this road before, please feel free to contact me with comments about your experience.


Curriculum & Instructional Technology Specialist
Job Proposal by: Andrew P. Marcinek


Please consider the following job proposal for a new position for Boys’ Latin Charter School of Philadelphia. The title I am requesting is “Curriculum & Instructional Technology Specialist.” If awarded this position, I believe I can use my experience, talents and abilities to help our school be on the cutting edge of Virtual Learning and 21st Century Skills.


Job Description:

The Curriculum & Instructional Technology specialist will collaborate with administration, teachers, students and parents in the area of instructional technology synthesis. This position will work in creating a school wide educational technology curriculum, synthesize all content standards and technology standards and work with teachers to incorporate technology into all content areas to meet the needs of 21st century skills.

21st century skills

  • Information and communications skills Examples:
    • Using communication, information processing, and research tools (such as word processing, e-mail, groupware, presentation software, and the Internet) to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create, and communicate information). These skills include information and media literacy skills.

  • Thinking and problem-solving skills Examples:
    • Using problem-solving tools (such as spreadsheets, decision support, and design tools) to manage complexity, solve problems, and think critically, creatively, and systematically.

  • Interpersonal and self-directional skills Examples:
    • Using personal development and productivity tools (such as e-learning, time managers, and collaboration tools) to enhance productivity and personal development. These skills include accountability and adaptability skills.

  • Use digital technology and communication tools to access, manage, integrate and evaluate information; Construct new knowledge; Communicate with others effectively. Examples:
    • Using 21st Century tools (such as word processing, e-mail, presentation software, the Internet, spreadsheets, decision support programs, design tools, e-learning, time management programs, and collaboration tools) combined with learning skills in core subjects equals 21st Century Skills (ICT Literacy) Teach and learn in a 21st century context.

  • Learn academic content through real-world examples;
    • Learning must expand beyond the four classroom walls. Teach and learn 21st century content (3 emerging content areas) Global awareness, Financial, economic and business literacy, and Civic literacy. Use 21st Century Assessments that measure 21st Century Skills High quality standardized tests Classroom assessments for teaching and learning.

21st Century Assessment

· Supports a balance of assessments, including high-quality standardized testing along with effective classroom formative and summative assessments.

· Emphasizes useful feedback on student performance that is embedded into everyday learning.

· Requires a balance of technology-enhanced, formative and summative assessments that measure student mastery of 21st century skills.

· Enables development of portfolios of student work that demonstrate mastery of 21st century skills to educators and prospective employers.

· Enables a balanced portfolio of measures to assess the educational system’s effectiveness at reaching high levels of student competency in 21st century skills

Suggested List of Performance Responsibilities

Curriculum and Instructional Support

1. Monitor the use of instructional technology to ensure that resources and activities enhance rigorous academic content and the school’s mission.

2. Assist teachers in the classroom to provide training on the integration of technology and curriculum. Offer support hours in tech lab.

3. Maintain blog for teachers, parents, and staff; to share inspiration, assistance, engagement, and resources.

4. Make continuous improvements in key processes, techniques, and procedures.

5. Promote a positive, caring climate for learning. Deal sensitively and fairly with all staff ranging in diverse levels of technology proficiencies.

6. Participate in training and conferences for 21st Century Skills and Web 2.0.

7. Establish technology proficiencies for teachers and students and provide support training model to help them achieve success.

8. Participate in collaboration teams to develop a school-wide technology plan.

9. Develop list of project ideas, to be submitted in August, which would be centered on teacher support and professional development.

10. Seek out professional development opportunities for administration, faculty and staff.

This is an updated version of what I am using to present my idea to our Administration and Faculty. I encourage you to steal this and make it your own! Show your faculty, your friends your tweeps! Enjoy the lack of bullet points and minimalistic approach. If you would like to see what I have done with my wikispaces in the classroom or any other learning tool presented, please feel free to get in touch with me.


Creating A Grassroots PLN at your School

Recently I have been providing some of my colleagues with web 2.0 resources for their classrooms. They ask, “this is great, where did you find it?” I casually say, “well in my free time (meaning all day) I am quite the avid twit.” A light laugh ensues.

In a new charter school that is struggling with performance standards and catching up students who have been left behind by urban public school systems, it is hard to thread technology into the conversation. However, in the next few weeks I am going to propose several new initiatives to our administration. These new initiatives will include the following items…

1. Creating a learning network within our building


This learning network will include several key ingredients. First, I plan to inspire my colleagues to obtain a twitter account. I really feel like twitter has become the stepping stone for jumping off into a world of endless resources and collaboration. Since joining twitter two years ago, I have met so many great minds and educators. They have all helped to provoke and motivate my thinking in ways that make teaching an exciting venture. Now, I am sure I will encounter the questions


“what value will this have in my classroom?”


“we have enough to do, I cannot add anything more to my plate”


“this will just distract from teaching, no?”


These are some of the questions that I expect and I am sure there will be more. My answers will flow something like this. Twitter is what you make of it. It is not required to teach and is certainly not a distraction from my own teaching. Our kids are behind because most of them received a 20th century education that included copious amounts of “busy work”. Having a twitter account will allow you to find other teachers, principals and administrators who are encountering the same hurdles. You can begin by posing a question and segue into a discussion in which you are solving problems through twitter. At that’s it, twitter is simply a forum that allows us to engage in a rapid exchange of ideas. Twitter is what you make of it. It can be a distracter from lessons and work if you let it be, but for the most part, it is an integral part of my own teaching and has provided me with more insight into becoming a dynamic teacher than any other forum in my career.


There will always be those who are afraid of trying something new, however, if you want to start a PLN at your school, like I plan on, start with twitter. Show your colleagues the value of the rapid exchange of ideas and resources and they will never look back.


2. Wiki or Ning


Once you have your colleagues tweeting up a storm and delivering new teaching methods because of twitter, introduce them to a place where you can house all of your plans, units, ideas, calendars, meetings, etc. I am not partial to either of the aforementioned platforms, and have had great success with both in my experience.


I find a wiki space would work best for creating a forum to house lesson plans and school documents that parents, guardians and other teachers can access universally. I have used wikispaces with many of my classes and the kids find it easy and the parents adapt to the accessibility of information. The wikispace also allows everyone to be an active participant in taking ownership of the site.


However, if you simply want a forum to exchange ideas and resources links, then I feel a Ning would be best for you. A ning has less manipulability than a wiki and works best as a way for faculty, parents and administration to communicate and spread announcements rapidly in one place. In the Ning, you can also create groups for your departments. These groups can have remote PD’s through the chat forum and create and respond to discussion threads.


Again, both have their merits, but find out what you want your PLN forum to look like and choose which works best for you entire district.


3. Start organizing resources through Diigo


Diigo is the third part of the trifecta of creating a PLN within your school. I have really benefited from the Diigo groups that I have become a part of. I have found and promoted many blogs via Diigo and I cannot say enough about the ease of use. Diigo is a very easy to use site that allows users to bookmark a site, define the site and then categorically organize your sites. The web interface allows you to tag all of your websites you save and access them easily by each tag. You can also create groups and add friends to share in all of your bookmarks. When you add a colleague you both will be able to share and exchange bookmarks.


Creating a Diigo group is a great way to organize your department this fall. E-mail your department colleagues a link to a Diigo group. Tell them that you want to create an online resource library for links and blogs that fit your discipline. For those who say, “Now what? Something else to sign up for and receive junk mail” bribe them with candy. I usually go with Butterfinger, but also provide moist towelets, because no one wants a sticky keyboard!


Once you have them hooked, branch out and look into creating cross-curricular groups! Create a digital bridge with language arts and history; math and science. With Diigo, users have the ability to create wonderful learning communities and collaborate with each other. Building an online resource library should be on the “To Do” list of ever teacher this summer!


So that’s all. These three steps, along with standards and edu-tech curriculum examples, will serve as my platform for creating a PLN and a culture of education technology in my school.


I am tired of hearing my students complain that they do not get to use their laptops enough and I plan on changing that. Students need 21st century skills to compete globally. These skills are just as essential as reading, writing and math. If we keep pushing it off, it will only fade into wasted resources within our schools. We cannot let this happen. And we need to lead by example. Get your PLN started and give all of your colleagues a high-five for trying something completely different!