Consider that if SBOE has their way, these kinds of actions by districts will disappear…just like….
One of my favorite Librivox recordings is a sermon entitled “Absolute Surrender.” I listened to it one summer as I was driving to and from work. While I don’t remember much, I suppose I was captivated by the title of “absolute surrender.” It is an attractive concept of surrendering to a higher power…and the idea of just letting go can be liberating. I like this example of absolute surrender:
I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly.
Is the technology in today’s schools “absolutely surrendered” to the work of teaching and learning? The problem we have is that technology in schools isn’t absolutely surrendered to us for the purposes of teaching and learning. We have to deal with the consequences of preventing inappropriate use so that technology isn’t used because others have control over it…in truth, technology is absolutely surrendered to whomever controls access to the computer and what you can do with it, right? But even then, technology directors don’t really have control…only the illusion.
The illusion of control is hard to dis-spell, isn’t it? It’s a problem technology directors face every day when they have to make a decision, “Should we rely on a third party vendor who will host our content, or should I put in a server farm to support it?” Whichever choice is made, it is fraught with peril. You simply can’t know everything. If you choose the server farm, you’ve just overcommitted yourself one more time, pushing your people beyond the limit to get a new server setup–even if it’s virtualized–and deploy another solution that includes data synchronization with a third party vendor.
Often, the decision is made to host district content on internal servers rather than mess with placing “confidential” content outside of the District’s literal control. That’s why it’s fascinating to read, like marooned men lustily trading stories of mainland mayhem, of people who have surrendered or let go.
Mike Gras (White Oak ISD) is almost belligerently optimistic about his decision to surrender to the cloud and stop trying to ride herd on servers gone wild. He writes the following:
My District (White Oak ISD), when compared to other districts in Texas is always in the bottom 10% in funding and always in the top 20% in student achievement as measured by the state. We were heavily invested in servers and software. That is no longer the case.
In fact I told my superintendent last week that my department is in better shape this year financially than ever before. Consider doing what we have done -get rid of your servers. See if your administrators will allow the opening of your network to the world at large (Filtered goes without saying, I hope). The online academic world is richer than any number of “worlds” districts can build. The services a district needs are out there.
Mike goes on to write:
…the question is really what do we have left. One BCIS course, Plato, and Follett, which is going online soon (read off site).
Our mail and document storage, calendars etc are done by a staff far more dedicated than I could ever be, Google. Students and teachers are responsible for their own file storage. Many of the stored files are available online through teacher and student blogs. Cooperative projects abound because of Google’s ability to share all sorts of files, from videos to spread sheets. When Google goes down I’ll be out of luck but I won’t be alone.
Our Web site and lots of our Moodles are hosted off-site for less than $5.00 a month. I have near total control there but don’t need it We do e-portfolios and blogging, using WP-MU that costs thousands but what a value. See http://edublogs.org/
No single human can keep up with our teacher’s accomplishments in those blogs and our students are developing positive identities on the cloud . Out there control is not the issue it is more an issue of trust. Parents of every student can know what is happening tomorrow in every class at White Oak and reviews are being attached to every item in each teacher’s syllabus (we just started this) All this is often done with the personal flair that is hard to believe. As I’m writing this I’m attending a meeting with teachers and administrators via Skype about how we use and will use our network The enthusiasm for teaching and the excitement about the resources delivered is hard to communicate.
In this meeting a teacher of 25 years just said she is more excited than ever about teaching and the resources we delivered has produced a new spark in her life and her classroom. She added that the network is it is a blessing in the classroom. A Blessing…Let that sink in. I’m not bragging, I’m trying to share. A Blessing, I can hardly believ it myself. I don’t need to control more and I don’t need to trust less.
Hard times are easier to bare [sic] if the teachers are excited about what they can do with what they have at their disposal. We have an agreement among many at White Oak that less is more when it comes to control. I must say this meeting with the teachers that attended TCEA sharing with administrators abut their successes has me on cloud 9. One teacher said the network is so much better than it was 3 years ago.. And the big difference between now and then… we use other peoples servers.
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure
Are you in Texas and trying to get administration to better understand how to use technology in instructional settings? Then, definitely consider participating in the LOTI Professional Administrator Program advertised below…having gone through it myself, I can highly recommend it!
Get printable PDF flyer or click on the images below to see them full-size.
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure
Thanks to Paul Cornies (Quoteflections) for sharing his insights at this blog entry.
Over the last year (maybe longer), I’ve been citing tons of content in “DiigoNotes,” which is really a way for me to keep track of what I’m reading online. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read my DiigoNotes–called that because I use the Diigo highlighting tool–to find relevant ideas and information to some timely topic.
Now, while I often find that in Blog entries I read, I seldom have time to weave them into conversations. Usually when I’m skimming Google Reader, I’ll see patterns in the blog entries that appear and can easily juxtapose those…but “easily” takes time. Sometimes, I just want to grab the ideas and run, then reflect later. Since my blog serves as a scrapbook of content, as well as a place to share what I’m learning, I’m launching a new approach which is entitled “BlogNotes.”
Yes, this means I’ll be using Diigo to grab great quotes from blogs I’m reading WITHOUT much reflection on my part.
We’ll see how it works out, huh?
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure
TCEA TechEdge’s Editor, Marisol Valdez, took the time to respond to my wild, out of the blue questions that appeared in this blog entry entitled, TCEA and TechEdge New Policy. I appreciate Lori Gracey (Executive Director) and Marisol Valdez (Communications Director) for giving this their attention!
Note that Marisol states that the new TCEA web site should be out later this week!!
I’ve included Marisol’s response in its entirety below for your reading:
I hope this email finds you well.
I have addressed the questions you sent Lori regarding the TechEdge. See below.
Will TechEdge continue to feature writers from Texas, or will it pull a “Tech & Learning” approach and grab content from the web to fill the magazine?
Currently there are no plans to pull content from the web to fill the magazine. We will continue to seek writers from Texas as well as across the US.. We want to reach out to other resources to provide our readers with different perspectives and the latest information.
Is it realistic to focus on generic themes for articles? I mean, if something great in leadership happens now, does it have to sit on the shelf for months before it appears in print?
It is fairly standard practice to have an editorial calendar for a magazine. Though our goal is to adhere to the editorial calendar for each issue; if the information is timely and essential to our readers we can choose to run it – that is at our discretion. Another avenue we use to address current and breaking news is to communicate via our web site and our bi-monthly TechNotes.
If TechEdge–which is rumored to have an online component–is publishing content all the time, what pieces will make it into print, and which will appear only online?
As indicated in the letter that was sent to current TechEdge writers, a digital version of the magazine will be available. The content in the digital version will be the same as the printed version.
Since TechEdge is now publishing online, will it increase its publication schedule to monthly or continue on a quarterly schedule?
Currently we will continue to publish on a quarterly basis for the next year. We will re-evaluate at year’s end to determine what our needs and the needs of our readers are and make adjustments accordingly. We hope to go to a six-times-a-year or more magazine in the future.
What standards will writers have to adhere to <http://www.iste.org/content/navigationmenu/publications/ll/submit_articles/how_to_submit_articles_to_landl.htm> ? Will these be transparent and published, will there be peer review, or what? For example, Who’s editorial opinion counts more, TCEA’s or an external consultant?
Currently, the standards for writing will remain the same. The information will be updated and posted on our web site, as it currently is. (It should be updated by end of this week). TCEA has 100 percent control of all content in the magazine, editorial and advertising. Though we are working with an outside publisher, we remain the final say in what does or does not run in our publication.
If you have further questions, please let me know.
Director of Communications
Texas Computer Education Association
512 450 5408 p
512 476 8574 f
Thanks to TechEdge editor for responding! One of the positive points is that they will be going to a six times a year publication! Woohoo! Can’t wait.
Problem: Does anyone have the steps or information on embedding animoto videos into Moodle? or can you do this with the free version? Thank you in advance for the information.
Solution (includes video)
Embedding content, especially video content, is pretty straightforward in Moodle. However, before getting started, you’ll probably want to check a few things. Those things include:
- Are your Moodle installation’s Security->Site Policies set to allow Embedding of Code as displayed in the image below?
- Are your Multimedia Filters turned on? While these aren’t necessary for Animoto, they can be useful for other projects. Check the image below:
OLD MOODLE EMBED TIP
Below is an “old” MoodleTips on embedding content…it’s specific to other tools besides Animoto. I hope it’s useful to you:
VoiceThread embedded on a Moodle web page
Via the Diigo user group on Moodlers, I ran across this question:
My students create podcasts (1minute) and I want them to be able to listen to their peers projects. I would like them to be able to upload their mp3 files to a block or whatever and allow others to listen to them.
At this point I have to post them on a server for the students to go to the server link to listen to them. My understanding is that they would have to download the file in order to listen to the audio file. These podcasts have still images, not motion video. Does anyone know an easier way to do this?
I recommend using Edublogs.tv as your MP3 audio host, then embedding that in a Moodle label or web page, depending on whether you want it up front or as a link to a web page.
To share enhanced podcasts, or as Robin Martin describes them as podcasts with still images, you can convert them to video format. Whether they are WMV, MOV, convert them to a usable format (some tutorials to help you do that with free software) and then host them on Edublogs.tv (which is great for MP3 audio or video).
After you’ve done that, you can copy the EMBED code which appears next to every video/audio file hosted on Edublogs.tv and paste it into HTML view of Moodle:
Of course, for it to show up and work, you have to make sure you’ve adjusted your Security->SitePolicies in Moodle to allow embedding:
That’s pretty much it!
FIND MORE MOODLE TIPS ONLINE AT MOODLE CENTRAL!
At a training a year or so ago, teachers attending training on reading/writing notice that they were devoid of technology connections. When they shared the materials with me, I noticed something.
One of the books they’re passing out in Reading/English Language Arts workshops is Nanci Atwell’s The Reading Zone. This is one I hadn’t read yet, even though I was an avid reader and practitioner of Atwell’s In the Middle Reading/Writing Workshop in my own teaching. So, I cracked it open and stumbled across this paragraph.
In fact, a more useful lesson about the connections that story readers make, as we’re reading, is one that helps students decide how to respond to them. I ask my kids, “When you’re reading a story, do you ever bump yourself out of the zone because something in the book sparks a thought or memory?” and follow up with, “If so, how do you respond to the bump?”. . .these occasions when we read like writers:we pay attention to the way a text is written, and we enjoy an efferent moment as we observe something in someone else’s writing that we might choose to carry away, and put to use, in writing of our own.
What a powerful way to introduce blogging as a way to deal with the bumps that move us out of the Reading Zone. I’m going to be reading this book in more detail in the future, but I have share how excited I am to see the connections and how blogging can kick off a bigger conversation that is, in itself, efferent…an understanding that learning is in the connections a la George Siemens’ connectivism.
When facilitating reading workshop with my students, in fact, even when doing sustained silent reading with my children at home, I experience a certain pleasure at reading quietly…it is a feeling that is incongruous in public schools frothy about high stakes test prep. As I read a review of Atwell’s book, I ran across the “P-word.” It is a word that reminds me of same obstacle that technology faces. In the review, the author writes:
Every day, smart, well-meaning teachers erect instructional roadblocks between their students and the pure pleasure of the personal art of reading.
There it is: the P word. I know, because I’ve felt it too, that there’s a sense of uneasiness among teachers and parents about an approach like a reading workshop. Shouldn’t there be some pedagogic strings attached here? Some paper and pencil and small group activities that look like schoolwork? Because otherwise, isn’t reading class, well, too enjoyable?
Couldn’t that statement read just as well, like this?
Every day, smart, well-meaning teachers erect instructional roadblocks between their students and the personal, digital communication tools.
How do we bridge the divide, conflating these guilty pleasures?
Here are my notes from The Writing Workshop by Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi.
- Most kids experience schools as a series of tasks, dittos, assignments, tests–things that are administered to them. Writing workshop turns the table and puts kids in charge…engage in responsive teaching rather than relying on present lesson plans.
- Writing workshop puts kids on the spot and makes them responsible for their learning.
- “Flow”: optimal learning condition for human beings according to Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is when an individual enters a “flow zone” in which s/he loses track of time and becomes totally engaged in the task…Create conditions that allow students to occupy the zone when they can work/play with language, and learn as they do it.
- Students need to have frequent, predictable time set aside for them to write. Minimum of 3 days, 1 hour each. 4-5 days is better.
- Student choice is prevalent.
- Students decide when a piece of writing is finished.
- Students set their own agenda and pace.
- While teachers may determine what gets taught, only the student can decide what will be learned.
- Components of Writing Workshop:
- 5-10 minute minilesson
- 35-45 minutes of writing time
- 10-20 minutes of share time
Component #1: MiniLesson – Various categories of a minilesson include the following: Procedural, Writers’ Process, Qualities of good writing, and Editing Skills
Component #2: Writing Time – Students work on writing projects they have set out for themselves. Rough drafting, planning, re-reading, proofreading, conferring with other students. Teachers confer with students.
Component #3: Sharing Time
Share sessions direct students to act in ways that will help them when they are conferring one-on-one with peers.
- A Meeting place
- Place for materials/tools
- Carefully arranged desks or tables.
- Short-term goals for writing workshops
- Getting students to have writing time
- Establishing a safe environment so that kids can take risks in their writing
- Setting up a workable management system to handle the flow of paper, folders and so forth.
- “Choice leads to voice” John Pouton
- Safe Environment
- Give specific praise
- Let primary children draw
- Read aloud “from the heart” pieces of writing
- Use a Writer’s Notebook
- Write with your student
- Workable Classroom Management
- Finished Box: acknowledges people finish work at different times, asks teachers to review writing piece.
- Unfinished writing folder:
- Color coded by group/table
- Personalized list of writing ideas
- Topics to Write about….
- I’m an expert at…
- Things I will always Remember
- Topics I feel deeply about
- Kinds of Writing i would like to try
Is Nanci Atwell, whose book In the Middle helped me structure my reading/writing workshops in my years as a writing teacher, living in fantasy land? That is, is Nanci’s experience as a teacher dramatically different than what is actually happening in schools today?
Consider that in some school districts, the work of Nanci Atwell, Lucy Calkins, Donald Graves, Kirby and Liner, Kenneth Koch finds its way onto teacher shelves, but the ideas go unimplemented. In conversation with one school district language arts director in central Texas, the ideas espoused in the article below are completely unrelated to what is happening in classrooms today. The only idea that was recognizable in the miasma of monotonous teaching that is ongoing in language arts indoctrination centers was this:
Many teachers who recognize the power of stories to create readers are doing all they can to squeeze time for independent reading into mandated, proven-ineffective programs of instruction that perversely substitute activities, drills, textbooks, quizzes, and tests for engagement and experience.
Chaperoning a field trip for my son’s school today, I couldn’t imagine sharing my joy of writing and reading in the classrooms that many colleagues find themselves in, and that Nancy describes so eloquently. And, while no one wants to be negative, when you’ve seen the light, nothing else is quite as good.
Someone asked, is Awesome Highlighter the same thing as Diigo Highlighter? In short, the answer is NO.
While it’s nice, allowing you to highlight, you can’t send items highlighted directly to your blog, GoogleChrome add-on isn’t available (one for Firefox is, though), copy to clipboard didn’t work for me (using Firefox).
And, here’s what the output looks like:
Participate in the San Antonio Writing Project Summer Institute 2010…More information online.
We are pleased to announce the San Antonio Writing Project’s fourth Invitational Summer Institute, to be held on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio.The San Antonio Writing Project (SAWP), housed in the Graduate School of Education, is a collaborative program between the University of Texas at San Antonio, the National Writing Project, and San Antonio area schools. Not only will SAWP be a vital resource for teachers and area schools in the arena of writing, but it will also serve as a model of professional development and excellence, teacher leadership, and reform.The SAWP Invitational Summer Institute is at the heart of the project, and with the experience and guidance of the National Writing Project, we can be clear about its purposes:
- to identify successful teachers of writing across all curriculum areas in San Antonio area schools and colleges who will be effective teachers of other teachers
- to identify approaches to the teaching of writing and the uses of writing-to-learn in all subject areas that have been successful in real classrooms, and that add to the profession’s knowledge
- to involve teachers in their own writing so that they can better help their students
- to examine basic issues of equity and access as they affect student learning
- to make current research in the field available to teachersThrough the Summer Institute, SAWP will build its corps of Teacher Consultants, expand its collective knowledge, and increase its capacity to address complex issues and concerns regarding literacy in San Antonio area schools.This year we are able to invite 15 teachers, kindergarten through university level, to the University of Texas at San Antonio campus to participate as SAWP Summer Fellows in the Invitational Summer Institute, supported by a summer stipend. At the end of the summer program, Fellows will be SAWP Teacher Consultants, an expanding network of exemplary San Antonio area educators.As a SAWP Teacher Consultant, you will become part of the SAWP community–a lively, collegial network which offers resources and programs for deepening your knowledge about the teaching of writing and literacy issues, opportunities to grow as a writer, and ongoing support to realize new projects and initiatives. You will also have the opportunities to expand your role as a leader. SAWP Teacher Consultants shape and carry out all of SAWP’s work: professional development in schools, summer programs for teachers, Young Writers’ Camps, teacher research programs, Saturday Seminar sessions, special interest groups, and more.We are seeking strong classroom teachers, school principals, and other educators who are helping students become better writers, who promote equity for all students, especially for English language learners, and who are interested in taking on leadership in the ongoing work of the San Antonio Writing Project.We invite you to apply for the Summer Institute. Please complete the online application for the Summer Institute (see above) and by April 1, 2010 at the latest. SAWP staff will review the applications, and select a group of candidates for interviews which will take place on selected Saturdays throughout the Spring. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or the person who nominated you.
You must also apply online to the UTSA Graduate School as a Special Graduate Student no later than April 1 , 2010. Please apply as soon as possible, you do not have to wait for the deadline! The application, required materials for submission and other information can be found online at: http://www.utsa.edu/graduate/Admission/index.html . If you have questions, please feel free to contact one of us, or the Graduate School at (210) 458-2330.
As the San Antonio Writing Project enters this new year, we are delighted to have teachers such as yourself nominated for SAWP’s Invitational Summer Institute. We look forward to receiving your application.Sincerely,Dr. Roxanne Henkin, Director
Jacob Sanchez, Graduate Assistant
If I could, I’d participate…but a month is too long when you’re a 230-day administrator!
Thanks to TexasISD.com for the link back–“linktribution”–regarding the report about Fort Worth ISD and financial exigency!
Well, they haven’t done it yet, but the work is in progress. The problem? Simply, school districts pass bonds to buy stuff. Sometimes, that stuff is technology. In fact, for many districts, this is the ONLY way they are able to bring in updated technology to their school districts. The timeline is cited as follows:
“The committee will likely continue discussing these and otherpossible changes to the bond-guarantee program at its monthlymeeting on Feb. 19 in preparation for presenting the full SBOEwith recommendations for a first reading vote in March. Finalreading would likely occur in May, with implementation of anyresulting new rules set for June.” (Source: Email shared with Texas Technology Directors citing “Texas Education News”)
A Texas educator wrote the following; I’ve anonymized the email:
Please be aware that the State Board of Education is currently trying to pass an initiative that would limit the use of bond funds to only items that can be specifically shown to last 20 years or more. As such, the purchase of technology items, including laptops, would be specifically prohibited. This move essentially limits the ability of local communities and school board to decide what needs they have. SBOE has actually contacted the Texas Education Agency about this as well to try to pressure them to support this fundamental shift in thinking.
There are also efforts being put forward by individual members of the board to interfere with legislation that allows schools to use textbooks funds to purchase electronic books. In short, there are those on the board who feel technology is just a toy that schools are misusing.
I am attaching a link to this message with the email addresses on it for the State Board of Education members. There are those on the board that very much support technology. You need to contact all of the members by phone or email and let them hear your viewpoint. To date, only two or three people have contacted them, which is making it very easy for a minority of the members to push their views through.
Of course, another way of looking at it is the way this technology director put it:
You wouldn’t let your teenager purchase a car that took 30 years to pay off. I don’t think a bond over 20 to 30 years is the place to purchase technology. You can create a technology bond that takes 5 years to pay off or even 10 if it is infrastructure. We are trying to learn how to be fiscally responsible. And a 30 year loan for laptops is not fiscally responsible.
[A School District] purchases technology with 5 year bonds(as do many other districts), but if this passes, we may not have that option at all and then how will end user technology get funded? And please do not say “Technology Allotment”……that is a joke.
While President Obama is saying that the recession is almost over, I get the feeling it is just starting in Texas. Speak up now or watch your District’s technology infrastructure crumble into the ground…and for those districts that did not pass a bond to get technology in schools, well, it could be too late.
Breaking the rules isn’t all bad. However, what happens when a teacher does what Tami Brass says in this comment on my blog entry, “My Teacher Made Me Do It?” In that blog entry, I share the example of teachers who encourage students to sign up for email accounts or web services that they are under-age…without parent consent, as if that would make it any better. Tami writes:
I’ve struggled with this issue more than once. The arguments I get from teachers are “nobody reads the user agreements anyway”, “kids do it all the time”, “nobody actually checks this stuff”, and “they all have Facebook pages before they’re 13″…. Drives me crazy. I spend a big chunk of time helping kids to get it and do training with parents a couple of times per year, but getting teachers and administrators to get it is another thing. It’s somewhat comforting to know I’m not the only one facing the issue.
In a follow-up tweet, Tami asks a question I have yet to hear answers from administrators and teachers on the Web:
How do you deal with teachers who encourage misuse for convenience?
Ever wanted to duplicate a hard drive? A colleague in Oklahoma shared this hard drive duplication problem…
I have a technical problem I am sure one of you has run into:
I am attempting to clone a drive. I have two identical drives. I used
Ghost 2003 to clone the drive.
The drive is partitioned into 2 partitions.
The 1st partition, Drive C is active.
The 2nd partition, Drive D is not.
It has a multi boot system: Win 98 and Win XP Pro.
Win 98 boots fine.
Win XP Pro will boot to the login screen and then immediately logs out.
If I boot into safe mode, the same thing happens.
Safe mode to a command prompt, same thing.
When I use the repair option on my XP CD, it boots into the D: Drive where
the windows files are.
I can’t use FDisk to set the D: drive active because it is NTFS.
And, while I offered the following as a possible solution, I’m not entirely positive it was the best solution since there might be an easier way to do it. How would you have solved the problem above?
If I might offer a technical (you said it was OK) suggestion that is free, except for your time. First, though, here is an article that might be helpful:
I’ve successfully used a GNU/Linux program called “dd” to make a copy of an entire drive, including partition tables, partitions and all. Given you have identical drives, you use dd to make a copy of the first drive and then use dd to restore the copy.
This blog entry may be helpful to you:
You’ll need several things to accomplish this, including the following:
1) A SystemRescueCD installed on a flash drive (1 gig USB flash drive)
2) An external USB drive that can hold the entire contents of the drive you are trying to copy.
3) Patience as the copy is made, and then restored. I can only offer you the simple truth that I’ve done this successfully with a similar situation.
Make a bootable USB Flash Drive (1gig) using System Rescue CD
a) Download Unetbootin – http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
b) Use it to create a bootable flash drive (you can format it to MS DOS/FAT the standard way first)
c) Follow instructions but note you can download the SystemRescueCD from within UNETBOOTIN:
Format the external USB drive:
Makes the backup:
dd if=/dev/sda of=/USBexternaldrive/sda.backup
Restores the backup:
dd if=/USBexternaldrive/sda.backup of=/dev/sda
Or, you could try this approach:
So what do you think? Other responders suggested the following:
EASEUS Disk Copy is a potent freeware providing sector-by-sectordisk/partition clone regardless of your operating system, file systems and partition scheme by creating a bootable CD. The sector-by-sector method assures you a copy 100% identical to the original. Disk Copy can be used for copy, cloning, or upgrading your original small hard drive to a new larger drive. Simply speaking, it can copy anything from the old hard drive including the deleted, lost files and inaccessible data. So, the freeware is a perfect tool for Data Recovery Wizard to recover files from a backup disk.
Looking forward to co-facilitating a workshop with Diana Benner at the Heart of Texas Writing Conference on Saturday, March 27, 2010 in Austin, Tx I started brainstorming some ideas.
It’s been a night full of blogging–must have been that cup of coffee I had at Bourbon Street Seafood restaurant tonight (just awesome food!!)–and I’m feeling the need to sleep. But here’s the rough outline for two workshop ideas…I’ll flesh them out in the days to come.
Workshop Idea #1: Refining the Writing Workshop Structure with Digital Tools
In this hands-on session, participants will refine and revise their approach to the Writing Workshop integral to teaching and learning writing in classrooms. To accomplish this, they will use digital tools like GoogleDocs/Sites, and/or Moodle.
Presenters will show how a variety of tools can enhance the experience of Writing Workshop according to the specific stage of the workshop process. Some examples:
- Self-Editing checklist that is actually a GoogleForm or MoodleQuestionnaire so you can quickly see class progress in graphs
- Create a bank of online mini-lessons that students can watch and listen to again and again in an archive. Build that in your GoogleSites Wiki or Moodle.
- Facilitate sharing using recording tools in a discussion forum or Sites wiki. When doing the Circle at end of Writing Workshop, you can either play the students’ presentation of the audio (which they recorded when they were ready) or record the feedback students get so that it can be added to the written piece/recording shared. That way, students can come back and reflect on the advice provided by their peers.
Although some have other preferences for educator wikis, my personal favorite is Wikispaces.com. Today, they announced a new feature that anyone who uses it is bound to love:
You asked for ways to delete your old files before the new school year begins or to lock those 50 pages before you invite your colleagues on board, and we listened.
Our new bulk management tool makes it even easier to manage your files and pages – without the tedium of administering pages and files one at a time…To use these bulk administration features, go to your wiki, “Manage Wiki,” and then to either your “Pages” or “Files” page.
Keep up the great work, Wikispaces crew!!! And, you’ve gotta love this tip!
Snow in San Antonio today…I’m sure it’s been covered but here’s my contribution:
What a surprise it was to look up from lunch at my work desk and see the snow falling, although there was no accummulation.
Having spent 20-30 minutes looking for a blog entry on Advice to First-Time Keynoters, I’m going to quickly highlight it as well as add some feedback. Why? Well, I figure if I repost it will be easier for Google to find it no matter what search terms I use!!!
Before going any further…I’m far from perfect in the application of my own advice, so keep that in mind.
The presentation isn’t about transmitting information, it’s an experience that the audience must enjoy.
This makes the act of presentation an experience that must be worth having.
If you’re going to be bringing in Second Life to your preso, try to do it through video recordings/screencaptures rather than having to depend on in-house wireless/wired connections. Make sure your entire presentation can happen off your computer and isn’t dependent on any internet connections.
That’s pretty much it…run of the mill stuff. I suppose, #8 is the most important for me, then #2, then #4, if I had to prioritize.
A sign of tough times, a lone tweet by Express-News Reporter Veronica Flores may signal that Fort Worth ISD has decided to extend financial exigency. To quickly review what that term means:
So, no fun for anyone. Having visited Fort Worth ISD as a consultant on several occasions, I’m thrilled at their educational technology efforts and I shudder to think what may happen.
I’ve shared my frustration with some local districts financial exigency declarations, as well as my concerns about the $11 billion dollar deficit Texas will have soon…which will definitely impact school systems.
On February 10, 2010, this source reported on the following:
Trustees are getting their first look at the 2010-11 budget that shows little new money for the district. Chief financial officer Hank Johnson said he will ask the board to vote on extending the district’s “financial exigency,” which is essentially declaring a financial emergency and is a required by the state if there is to be any reductions in force.
Trustees declared a state of financial exigency last year and cut about 100 positions, mostly campus monitors. The district is changing the time line of its fiscal year to begin on July 1 rather than Sept. 1 to catch one-time savings. Trustees are expected to vote on the declaration on Feb. 23.
Austin: School board OKs plan to cut programs, jobs
The Austin school board met past midnight Monday with a packed agenda that included controversial proposals to redraw school boundaries in Southwest Austin, possibly turn failing schools over to outside management and possibly declare the district in a state of impending fiscal crisis, which would allow Superintendent Meria Carstarphen to cut more than 100 positions. Trustees voted to move forward with an alternative to declaring a financial exigency. The alternative, first presented last week, would allow the superintendent to cut programs and the positions associated with them. “One of my concerns is that we really don’t know the fallout of financial exigency,” Trustee Annette LoVoi said. The vote was 5-3; Trustee Cheryl Bradley abstained. [ View Article ] Feb 23, 2010, 08:38
Senate panel gets stark forecast on school finances
AUSTIN — School officials and education groups presented lawmakers with a somber picture Monday of rising costs and shrinking revenue, adding to the mounting budget pressures facing state officials in advance of next year’s legislative session. “Texas school districts are facing tough decisions unparalleled in my 20 years as a superintendent,” said Richard Middleton, legislative chairman of the Texas Association of School Administrators, to members of the Senate Education Committee. Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, the committee chairwoman, called the hearing to examine budget pressures and other issues facing school officials as lawmakers began mapping out legislative remedies for the 2011 session. [ View Article ] Feb 23, 2010, 08:38
Source: Nate’s Blog
As an Android phone user, one of the questions I had about using GoogleVoice was this:
In a family plan, is there a fee or charge to the carrier for using GoogleVoice when calling other local area code numbers?
Here’s the response Nathan Schloss shared and I have found it to be accurate after a month of experimentation:
The carrier fee for using google voice is whatever fee you would be charged for calling your specific google voice number. For example if you live in area code 310 and your google voice number is 310-555-9599 and you use google voice to call area code 530 then your carrier would treat this call as a local call, but if your google voice number is 202-555-9599 and you use it to call a 310 number then even though you live in 310 your carrier would treat this call as a long distance call because your google voice number is long distance.
Source: Nate’s Blog – Comments on Setting Up Google Voice on Android-G1 (works on my Android phone, too!
Nate has a great blog entry walking you through on how to setup GoogleVoice on Android:
This guide will walk you through the setup process for a normal google voice user and will also walk you through setting up your phone to use google voice for voicemail only.
I heartily recommend using GoogleVoice based on my experiences and following Nate’s guide on setup.
About a month ago, my family and I switched from AT&T to T-Mobile. I won’t elaborate on the misery we endured at AT&T’s hands…I was just grateful to get out of their clutches. After reviewing various providers, I decided to take a chance on T-Mobile. Sure, I’d heard of poor service, but everyone I spoke to just bragged on them. And, after careful pricing, T-Mobile was my first choice.
(I shared my deliberations about which phone to get, my expectations, etc.)
In my previous blog entry, I had suggested that my bill would be $220 or less. Randy Rodgers pointed out to me at TCEA 2010 Conference that it was almost a car payment. However, my family uses phones extensively to stay in touch with each other, and I needed something with Internet access. I’d already tried Blackberry and hated it after a week, as well as played around with an iPod Touch. The Android phone, however, had features and was more “open” in terms of its policies. But as I looked forward to my first bill, I have to admit that I was sweating it…Randy was right…who was I kidding?
Today, I found out how much less my bill is to what I had projected and budgeted for. The bill is $151. For 4 Android phones. Wow! Please be aware that T-Mobile waived the $140 activation fee because my wife and I are educators. They also applied a significant discount to each line (4) and this significantly knocked the price down as well.
T-Mobile Rocks!! Not just in terms of competitive pricing but also customer service. Their web site is easy to navigate and work with. Where AT&T’s was cluttered and focused on them, T-Mobile’s had a different feel to it. And, Android is everything I hoped for.
In short, I have found the T-Mobile folks hard working and supportive. Every time I’ve called, they have been responsive and helpful in explaining features, problem-solving my charges to my phone.
For example, in the first 3 days–Friday, Saturday, Sunday–of having the phone, my family sent about 300+ text messages. When I checked the T-Mobile web site for account management 4 days later, I realized I had not added the unlimited text messaging. Our texting had incurred $20 in fees. Unchecked (we’ve sent over 4000 text messages since we got the phones), this would have been a hefty fee.
On Monday, first thing, I called T-Mobile and they did an awesome job of working through the problem and retroactively applying the unlimited text messaging to the beginning of the billing cycle. . .waiving the text messaging fees.
They then said, “When you get your bill in a month or so, don’t sweat it. Call us and we’ll work out what you actually need to pay.” My bill arrived for $308. They reworked the numbers in a 26 minute phone call down to $150.
Thank you, T-Mobile! This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
Disclosure – T-Mobile is not adjusting my bill for posting this blog entry. I am sincerely impressed and that doesn’t happen every day with a vendor!
Image Source: http://www.speaktruth.org/defend/gallery/images/37.jpg
If ever there was a quote that captures the essence of blogging in educational leadership/management, it is the one at the end of this blog entry. One of the challenges of working in K-12 schools can be the top-down, hierarchical approach our schools take in managing people.
Please Note: Before going any further, let me say that I am NOT writing about my current employer or work situation; any resemblance is coincidental. This is a challenging scenario due to the organizational structure and culture of K-12 public school districts. The examples that I allude to are in Texas districts, certainly, and flow from my observations as an education consultant chatting with people throughout the State. That said, this is not a study of principal positions, what happens to them, etc.
For example, a school district has a failed principal. Failed is the wrong word to use because principals themselves do not see these necessarily as “failures” per se. If they did, I suspect they would be more depressed.
So a re-assigned principal–which is done for a variety of reasons, any of which might be categorized positive or negative based on perspective–the principal at a campus is judged to not be the right fit for a particular job of enhancing teaching and learning at a campus. Or, if you want to be politically correct, there is a better fit elsewhere (which in some cases related to me, isn’t accurate and IS a canard).
As a result, the principal is re-assigned to “other duties.” Those other duties could be personnel management, testing office, counseling, assistant principal, etc. at either central office or based at a campus. “Failed” principals can also be placed in “leadership” positions as program directors. In fact, for some districts, this is desirable–placing a principal in a leadership position because they can then fine-tune the program to “better meet the needs of the campus.”
While one can’t deny that a placed principal can be effective in a particular role, sometimes these folks have the role of being “Yes People.” I’m going to steal the description of Yes People from The Art of Followership:
Yes people are positive, always on the leader’s side, but still looking to the leader for the thinking, the direction, the vision. If the leader asks them to do something, they’ve got the energy and they’ll go forward with it. When they finish that task, they’ll come back to the leader, asking “What do you want me to do next?” Yes-people will say, “I’m a doer; that’s my job. The boss gets paid to think, and I’m the one who does the work.“
Is that really a valid expectation for principals? I worry when I see this kind of behavior permeating an organization. It’s right in line with the idea that principals are soldiers that should do what they are told from on high.
I’m pushing back on this idea because my real concern is that Yes People end up in “program” leadership/management positions…yes, positions like Educational Technology, Core content Curriculum leadership, Library & Media Services that serve the entire school district. Is SERVICE defined by the Yes People’s attitude?
Such a perspective better serves a top-down hierarchy, a command-n-control approach that is (IMHO) no longer effective anywhere, including the military (I loved the movie We Were Soldiers Once and Young example of platoon leaders being wiped out and then the next in line being asked, “What are you going to do now?”), education and business. A more nimble approach is required.
In truth we need more of star followers approach in schools today:
Start followers think for themselves, are very active, and have very positive energy. They do not accept the leader’s decision without their own independent evaluation of its soundness. If they agree with the leader they give full support. If they disagree, they challenge the leader, offering constructive alternatives that will help the leader and organization get where they want to go. Some people view these people as really “leaders in disguise” but this is basically because those people have a hard time accepting that followers can display such indpendence and positive behavior. Star followers are often referred to as “my right-hand person” or my “go-to person.” Organizations with more star followers perform better because the star followers need not depend on the leader for direction or motivation. This reduces the transaction costs that hinder organizational success.
The question is, what happens when a star follower finds himself in an organization that prefers Yes People?
This is where “what we cannot say” comes into play, or as Chris Argryis defines it so well, “the undiscussables.” These things we cannot say or talk about present problems and people are afraid to bring them up…Argyris’ point in Overcoming Organizational Defenses is that….
…managements, at all levels, in many organizations create, by their own choice, a world that is contrary to what they say they prefer and contrary to the managerial stewardship they espouse. It is as if they are compulsively tied to a set of processes that prevent them from changing what they believe they should change. . .The most fundamental assumption of the underground managerial world is that truth is a good idea when it is not embarrassing or threatening — the very conditions under which truth is especially needed.
Or, as Fierce Conversations author Susan Scott puts it, “A careful conversation is a failed conversation, because it merely postpones the conversation that wants and needs to take place.” It means that we often have to wrestle with the “world” that organizations have created and move to the real conversation that needs to take place. That’s why we end up with the “Yes People’s” version of what is to happen versus the Star Follower’s version. In an organization that has its defenses up–that values Yes People over star followers–and protects itself against embarrassment, which conversation is validated? The careful one or the one that needs to take place but you can’t find the people to have it with (they are hiding in their bunker).
Consider this quote from Morning Manager:
The people who say what we cannot say, who have the conversation that needs to happen, who work to overcome the organizational defenses…well, it’s their job to say what most are unable to say.
Of course, reflecting on that, is that you are unable or that you choose not to? If unable, then this might refer to people being written about at sites like GlobalVoiceOnline.org. For those that lack the courage to speak up, hmm….images like the one at the top of this blog entry remind me that there are more fearful things to speak truth to power about.
“The role of writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”
– Anaïs Nin
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure
Not sure how I was dragged into a conversation on Moodle, but I’m grateful to have been invited. You can find the conversation happening among school district folks online here.
Michael Wacker makes an observation about using Google Buzz for the conversation:
Wow this is what Buzz is great for, aggregating great conversations and thinkers. I am thankful for all of this, I love the willingness to share. I think that as we move forward it’s so important to continue to share these amazing resources with each other. I will be as transparent as I can on this adventure and I hope more people continue coming in to join in the discussion.
Here’s my contribution to the conversation, but you’ll want to see it all in context, of course:
Howdy! My team and I have detailed how my district approaches Moodle management/implementation online at http://www.mguhlin.org/2010/02/moodle-possibilities-tcea2010-diben.html
Included in that is the routing diagram that show the overall structure of Moodles in our district. After you’ve reviewed those documents linked above, please share any specific questions…obviously, there is a lot to consider!
In regards to the original Skype conversation above, while we’re using Moodle 1.9.x, I’m not sure I’d recommend starting out with Moodle 2.0 beta…in my district, we typically avoid beta products and if you’re building this in the hopes of crafting a professional learning community online, beta might not be the best place to start…unless everyone knows that failure is an option.
One point that I would also consider is whether Moodle is the right tool for the job. That’s not to say I wouldn’t use it to build a PLC, but that the focus on such a Moodle is professional learning. A PLC has other goals and objectives–in addition to professional learning–and as such, an Elgg might be more appropriate with Moodle as an extended resource.
The distinction appears to be made that Moodle is teacher-centered platform for design for “formal, directed learning” while Elgg provides “a space to explore informal, learner-led activities.” This is a powerful distinction to make and might mean for those who think Moodle is too…teacher-oriented that Elgg is an acceptable, walled garden solution
I’ve explored that a little here in this blog entry and point you to other conversations:
The truth is that Moodle can be fitted to be what you want it to be. I would focus on your purpose then clearly articulate what can and cannot be done up front as aligned to your goals/objectives.
Thoughts on the issue?
A Texas colleague recently wrote the following:
Here is a basic reliable method to determine your measurable goals for instruction in the classes in which the software is being used.
1) Determine which instrument will be used to see if the goals have been met (a standardized test for that subject, or perhaps a test which your teachers create that determines whether the students have gained the knowledge taught, etc).
2) Set up three test groups (classes)preferably all taught by the same teacher (ideally with students randomly assigned to each class, but we know that won’t happen because of scheduling problems, etc.).
Class 1 – the teacher will teach using the software to be evaluated. Give a pretest and posttest given to the students.
Class 2 – the teacher will teach BUT NOT USE the software to be evaluated. Give a pretest and posttest.
Class 3 – the teacher will use the software to be evaluated WITHOUT a pretest but WITH a posttest.
Make certain that you do not simply do a pre and post test on one group of students. That is a non-reliable method of determining the effectiveness of your software (although widely used).
If you have an evaluation specialist in your district who can work with statistics, work with that person to do the posttest analyses. If not, find a specialist at a local university or community college.
How do you evaluate software in your district?
Every year, Technology Applications Teachers meet on the Tuesday PreConference at TCEA to share great ideas and lessons! And, except for one year, I’ve missed it. That’s why it was such a delight for colleague Diana Benner to forward this message to me:
The Technology Applications Teacher Network (TATN) website is currently showcasing the 2010 TATN Event Lessons. These are exemplary technology-integrated lessons created by K-12 Texas teachers who showcased their lessons at the recent TATN event, part of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) 2010 conference in Austin.
The lessons are categorized as follows: K-2, 3-5, 6-8 Core Instruction, 6-8 Tech Apps, 9-12 Core Instruction, Computer Science, Desktop Publishing, Digital Graphics, Multimedia, Video Technology, and Webmastering. The lessons are aligned with TEKS and most include corresponding graphic organizers, assessment rubrics, and multimedia resources.
These are the best of the best, such as Technology Related Alternative Book Reports, Using Glogster in the Classroom, Interactive Websites for Math, and Stuck in the Moodle with You. I encourage you to peruse them and share them!
https://www.techappsnetwork.org/ Click on 2010 TATN Event Lessons.
The 2010 TATN is now history. This year’s event was a huge success, attended by 1,350 eager educators. The nearly 80 break-out sessions allowed teachers great opportunities to share best practices with others. You can access these lessons by selecting “2010 TATN Event Lessons” from the menu on the left.
The Heart of Texas Writing Project is happy to announce its Annual Conference. This is an excellent opportunity to hear local HTWP teacher-consultants share some of the work they are doing in their classrooms, think about how those things will work in your classroom, and meet area teachers. The presentations will cover classrooms from K-12, and a variety of topics relevant to the English language arts classroom. See the attached flyer for details and to register. And please pass this on to your colleagues!
Seriously, more on the Heart of Texas Writing Project (affiliated with the National Writing Project):
The Heart of Texas Writing Project is devoted to improving the teaching and learning of reading, writing, and 21st Century literacies…[and]…strive to make a difference in the quality of students’ school experience by educating the public and communicating our values.
What a shame their professional development sessions aren’t available as podcasts!
On a positive note, they even have a 4 week summer thing…unfortunately, the deadline is TODAY to get accepted.
Each year, the Heart of Texas Writing Project holds a four-week intensive, invitational Summer Institute for teachers.
Our Summer Institute helps teachers develop their knowledge and abilities as writing teachers and as leaders in literacy professional development. Participants spend a good portion of their time at this institute quietly writing, reading, and consulting with other teachers. Once they have participated, they enter an exciting community of excellent teachers from the Austin area, and they are able to receive free support in teaching and continuing professional development. Some also have opportunities to provide professional development services to other teachers.
We invite experienced teachers of writing to consider participating in the Summer Institute by submitting an application.
Participation in the Heart of Texas Writing Project will include:
• Full tuition for 3 graduate credit hours (for those who need such credits) as well as books, supplies, free parking, and a stipend, which may be used for additional credits
• Opportunities to write daily and develop not only as a teacher of writing but as a writer who teaches writing
• Opportunities to develop as a teacher leader in the field of writing.
Applications are due on February 22, 2010. See the application for submission instruction. If you have any questions, please contact Randy Bomer at 232-4861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to an exciting summer of writing.
A colleague in Texas recently asked the following question:
Does anyone know of a good FirstClass email (opentext software) partner in Texas? Trying to find someone a little closer to us.
One of the responses was from Lori Gracey, Executive Director for TCEA:
ISTE has negotiated pricing on FirstClass email services from a nation-wide perspective with accompanying discounts. Therefore, as an ISTE affiliate, TCEA is able to offer school districts a significant discount on FirstClass pricing. While I cannot provide a price quote to the listserv, I can tell you that you won’t find greater discounts anywhere else.
The ordering window is open from now until June 18th, 2010. If you are interested, please reply to me…and I will be glad to provide you with more information.
Texas Computer Education Association
I thought this information might be helpful to fellow colleagues in Texas schools!
These numbers certainly represent the teens in my life. . .in fact, they represent many of the connected adults in my life. It IS a part of life, not just a tool to use to accomplish a work-related goal.
While GoogleApps for Education may be catching on in some places, it’s clear that tomorrow, many school district technology administrators are going to wake up and do something really terrible–block Gmail access in their districts.
While Gmail is already blocked in many districts for students, it is still available for adult users. Yet, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook ARE blocked to adult users because they are perceived to “fritter away” time that educators should be spending improving AYP, enhancing high-stakes testing anxiety, you name it. Education is a serious business, and it’s frightening to think that adults may be wasting their time, putting themselves at risk DURING the school day sending out tweets, Facebooking, or Buzzing. And, as many have pointed out, there are plenty of “off-task” social networking educators who will cross the line…at least, enough to get written up or fired if the need arises.
And, now, with Buzzcantweet.com–a web site that enables you to post to Twitter from Google’s newest addition to the social networking family (Buzz)–I suspect districts will block Gmail. After all, turning off Buzz in Gmail is a PERSONAL choice. No school district can say to its employees, “turn off your Buzz!” They’ll opt for the easy way out and just block Gmail. Sad, but true.
But will that really matter? With mobile smartphone use numbers rising–even among teens–how long will it be before people are using Buzz to Tweet then Facebook? And, trust me, this is possible…one stop shopping.
A few months ago, I shared a diagram about how I could post to ONE social network and have everything disseminated to all the others.
For example, my old approach was to post something to Plurk, adding a special hashtag to send it to Twitter, and it would end up on Twitter, which in turn, posted it on Facebook.
Or, I write a blog entry, and it goes immediately to Twitter, which then ends up in Facebook.
Now, the approach is incredibly simple.
Do you need all these fancy social networking sites? Not really. But here’s the diagram I’d like to have:
And if you don’t know what the icons represent…
David Truss (Pair A Dimes) wrings his hands–figuratively–in this way:
Although Google Buzz isn’t causing my worlds to collide in such a dramatic fashion, I am keenly aware that it opens up my social communities and combines them in a way that I am not sure I’m prepared to do….
I tried linking Twitter to Facebook and all I did was infiltrate my non-twitter friends Facebook timelines with context-less tweets that really meant nothing to them… it lasted about 24 hours. Similarly, Buzz came out and I started chatting with a few people in it, then my daughter (a Gmail user who was quicker than I to figure out Buzz) said to me, “Dad you sure talk a lot about buzz with people.” And this got me thinking about how I’m normally very purposeful with my online identities. I think about where I say what, to whom and why… I contextualize my conversations to the tool.
My response, tongue in cheek certainly, follows below.
David, sorry to hear about the imminent collision (pack your towel, Hitchhiker), but this may be because you’re trying to bestride multiple worlds…as an educator, it’s important to be the same in all worlds. In fact, if I were invoking some sci-fi/fantasy archetype, maybe the Gate Between Worlds (Joel Rosenberg, Guardians of the Flame) would do it..but maybe not.
All the issues you mention really come back to transparency and better management of your digital footprint. I think schools, businesses, are having trouble with this because individuals want to be naughty but pretend they’re nice, or vice versa. In truth, we are having to decide once and for all who the heck we REALLY are and remember that no matter whom we deal with. What a refreshing challenge.
With that in mind, the importance isn’t on keeping worlds apart, but figuring out how to best align the planets to achieve confluence. For zealots and fruitcakes, planetary alignment signals end of times. For the well-prepared, it’s a once in a millennium opportunity.
What do you think?
As a writing teacher, I can tell you that I would have loved to have had GoogleDocs/GoogleApps for Education to use in my classroom. In fact, I still recall a story I heard from two classroom teachers a short 3 years ago who wanted all their students to collaborate on a newsletter, editing the work of other students, but being unable to. They had planned to work some elaborate process where one period of students would work with another period’s writings, but it fell apart instantly due to security restrictions in place at the school.
Simply, collaboration wasn’t easy to enable. At the time, I recommended using a blog or wiki but even those tools were blocked 3 years ago in this large urban district where my children attend school. Now, with GoogleApps for Education, those problems can be overcome…if only we can overcome the fear of CIPA and FERPA.
In the meantime, this is what collaboration in a writing classroom CAN look like for those nimble districts–notice I didn’t say "small," especially when it’s no longer small districts anymore, but mammoth ones like this District in Maryland–who take the plunge: