Tech Salad

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Month: August 2008

PD Credits

This year teachers have the chance to earn Professional Development Credits (recertification points) when they spend time with me working on new skills or technology-rich lesson plans. For every 30 minutes teachers will get one Goochland Buck. Two Goochland Bucks buy you one PD credit at the end of the year.

Goochland Bucks

After-school PD Launch

Yesterday afternoon I taught the first after-school class of th e08/09 school year. I had eight attendees, including one administrator. For today’s class, there are many more, and the same for tomorrow. This is a great start for the year.

I hope we can maintain the momentum for the rest of the year.

Interactive Maps

As a little kid, one of my favorite books was an enormous atlas my mom kept high up on a shelf. There were pictures of people, buildings, and animals on the margins. I had to ask permission to look at it, and had to wash my hands prior to having it handed to me. I grew up in awe of maps and all they held.

Now we are lucky. We have access to maps everywhere, and they hold so much more! Now we never run out of space on the margins and can add much more than pictures.

This is an interactive map I found last night in GOOD Magazine highlighting some historic and literary journeys. What? The journey you are thinking of is not on the map? Not enough detail there? Create your own! Read about Jerome Burg and his Google Lit Trips project to get started.

Sample from GOOD Magazine's interactive map.

Why G21?

Our new initiative at GCPS is the G21 program, which aims to transform the way we learn and teach to foster 21st Century Skills. If our kids are doing so well as it is, why do we need to change anything?

A survey by the job search website careerbuilder.com found that 50% of employers used the search terms “problem-solving” and “decision-making” when looking for prospective employees. 45% looked for people with good oral and written communication skills.

While the full write-up of the survey has some disconcerting statistics about dishonesty in writing resumes, the fact that those are the most-commonly desired traits in prospective employees points to the importance of our G21 initiative.

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three, Testing…

I just read a very interesting article by Gary Stager Published in GOOD Magazine about school reform, what has been done over the past two decades, who funds it, and how successful (hmm…) it has been. This particular line about the constant testing really caught my eye.

When most of us were children, we took standardized tests once a year for a few half days. The tests were a temporary distraction intended to offer one indicator of progress or aptitude. A teacher’s reputation or salary was not at risk; administrators didn’t feel compelled to cheat; and third graders certainly didn’t vomit on the test booklet. (Some NCLB tests actually come with instructions for what to do when a student hurls on a test.) When a child comes home from school, parents don’t ask, “Which quartile toward annual yearly progress were you in?” They ask, “What did you do today?” Since knowledge is a consequence of experience, it’s critical that children be engaged in learning activities that nurture their soul, expand their interests, build upon personal talents, and challenge their thinking. But today’s standardized tests—proudly called “high-stakes” by their proponents—trump all else. The theory behind the tests seems to be analogous to the theory that taking a sick patient’s temperature every seven minutes will cure him.

We are lucky to be in Goochland, where we can all be part of the reform process, and where testing has not taken over every available instructional day.

Presentation Techniques for Students

Today I spent some time rummaging through the Net Tools Workshop wiki created by a great group of media specialists. There are tons of very interesting resources linked there, but what caught my eye was this video created for students by students. Thinking ahead to the Senior Project presentations, maybe students may want to start working on presentation skills.

Find more videos like this on TeacherLibrarianNetwork

The Right to Copy

I recently had a conversation with a friend about an acquaintance who loves to have Winnie the Pooh on everything. The conversation started as a funny comment about the bear, but turned into a discussion of copyright law and all it implies for educators. My friend was upset that I was so insistent on respecting copyright law as it is. He said I should be more of an activist so educators have access to resources, that I should be more subversive and push harder for change.

Should I be subversive? Am I not supposed to be a role model for students and teachers at my district and elsehere? While I may not agree with the laws exactly as they are, I still have to abide by them while working in other ways to make resources available to teachers. Participating in Creative Commons licensing and educating others about it is one way I do this.

I do not think anyone can doubt my zeal when it comes to providing resources for educators. Were this an issue that impinges on our more fundamental rights, I’d be out there all the way, advocating wholesale disobedience with the likes of Ghandi and Rosa Parks. Plastering Winnie all over my classroom materials adds nothing to their educational value, and we should all be able to make do with free access-artwork.

GHS LMC

Yes, we will be at the LMC today. The AC is back.

Summer Training Announcement

This week’s training has gone smoothly so far, but we are bracing for some hiccups on Thursday.  Our scheduled location is the LMC at the high school, but there may be issues with the air conditioning. Please check either here or on the wiki for last-minute changes.

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