Monday, December 24, 2007

Tracking my Web 2.0 Journey 2006 - 2007

My Blog Stats for 2007

It all began at the Building Learning Communities Conference in the summer of 2006. Tim Tyson, Alan November and Will Richardson opened my eyes to Read/Write Web. I came back to school that year pumped up and ready to participate. I set up a account and a feed reader in August, 2006 and I was on my way. I returned to school in the fall ready to start a podcasting project. I posted my first Book Review Podcasts in December of 2006. I presented on the project at my first conference in March of 2007.

I posted my first blog post on March 31st 2007. That began a new explosion of learning for me. Writing regularly for a global audience is an inspiring and daunting task. It took me a while to find my voice and figure out what I have to say. On April 10th, 2007 I joined Classroom 2.0 on ning. That is where my network truly started to expand. The conversations there were global. I found people who understood the intellectual transformation I was going through. Thanks so much to Steve Hargadon - one of my Web 2.0 heroes and a really nice person.

In the June of 2007 I attended NECC for the first time. It was Edubloggercon (thanks again to Steve Hargadon) and the blogger cafe that set me off on my next journey. I met people face to face that I had only "seen" Online. I actually spoke to Joyce Valenza, Chris Lehmann and Will Richardson. The conversations I had there were inspiring. That is also where I learned about Twitter.

I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now. I've written about Twitter before, so I won't say much in this post. I will say that Twitter is the most powerful new tool I've encountered this year. I've discovered a network of amazing, interesting and helpful people. The collective Edtech twitter mind has helped me when I was stuck, alerted me to interesting blog posts and online learning opportunities, introduced me to many useful tools and just made me laugh.

I can't imagine what 2008 will bring (hopefully a democrat in the white house - I digress), but 2007 is a hard act to follow.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two for Tuesday 12-18-07

1. Taking Your Slideshow to the Next Level: Avoid Powerpointlessness! Scott Elias, the assistant principal for Loveland High School in Loveland, CO, has created an amazing slide show with audio that brilliantly explains and demonstrates how to use slideshow software effectively. The link above is to the slideshare Website. You can also read more about this on his blog. Thanks so much Scott for sharing this with us.

2. Give Credit Where Credit is Due: This Website was designed by David Warlick to make the process of citing sources more manageable. The Website supports MLA, APA, Chicago and Turabian citation formats. It is really easy to use.
Citation Machine is an interactive web tool designed to assist high school, college, and university students, their teachers, and independent researchers in their effort to respect other people's intellectual properties.The primary goal of this tool is to make it so easy for high school, college, and university students and other researchers to credit information sources, there is virtually no reason not to -- because SOMEDAY THE INFORMATION THAT SOMEONE WANTS TO USE, WILL BE YOURS.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Teaching Teachers to Fish (or cut bait)

Learning anything new is frustrating. Learning how to use new technologies can be especially frustrating. I think it is a given that nothing ever works the way that it is supposed to - especially not the first time. In my experience, the model for rolling out new technology to teachers is to provide them with training and support materials in an effort to help them avoid those frustrations as much as possible (the other model is to provide absolutely no support at all).

I'm beginning to wonder if we need a new model. A model that celebrates frustration and poses a challenge to teachers to try to figure things out on their own. Most technologies in the "real" world don't come with user manuals. I constantly have to figure things out. I do (often) get very frustrated. But, the more I do it, the easier it becomes. If we constantly baby-step people through every new process, will they ever learn to feel confident doing things on their own?

As teachers, our ultimate objective is to prepare our students to face and conquer whatever challenges life might throw at them. We teach our students to think critically and help them to approach life's problems with a tool box full of good strategies. Why should we expect anything else from ourselves?

Many could argue that since this is what I do for a living, of course I feel comfortable and of course I'm willing and able to devote my time to figuring things out. Others might suggest that I am trying to get out of doing my job.

I would respond that instead of focusing on specific applications and stepping people through them, we should be modeling and teaching general problem solving strategies so that they will be able to handle the curve balls that technology will inevitably throw them. We need to teach teachers to fish - not just serve it them on a platter.

So the question is - how do you we do it? How can we help teachers to interact with new technologies in a confident way so that when they are faced with a road block they can navigate it (at least initially) on their own? I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Image Citation: Eesti, “Big Fish Story” The Rocketeer's photostream. 8 Aug 2005. 17 Dec 2007 .

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Read the Fine Print!

Recently, I learned about a Website called Elfyourself from several different sources, including Twitter (of course) and my brother (who is not on Twitter). Elfyourself is a Website created by OfficeMax that will let you upload a picture of yourself and put it on top of a dancing Elf's body. You can send this elf to all of your friends as a holiday greeting. Sounds like fun... until you read the fine print.

I sign up for things constantly and rarely read the terms of use. I'm not sure why I decided to read these, but I'm glad I did. Among other things, when you upload your picture to the Elfyourself Website you agree to the "unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual and royalty-free right and license to use... distribute, display, publish, broadcast, transmit or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever your submission throughout the universe, in perpetuity."

Who writes these things? If it weren't my picture I was worried about, I would be on the floor laughing about this. However, if I had any hope of running for office (which I don't at the moment), I might not be thrilled about a picture of my head on top of a dancing green elf's body that OfficeMax has the right to distribute, display and transmit throughout the universe in perpetuity.

Something to think about!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Two for Tuesday 12-11-07

1. Twittory-The Darkness Inside

Just after writing my "Found Twittery" poetry, I discovered a different meaning for the term. "Twittory" is a word coined by Cameron Reilly, a blogger and podcaster in Australia. A Twitory is a story written 140 characters at a time by 140 contributors from around the world submitted through Twitter. You can read about how Cameron came up with the idea here. I signed up to be one of the contributors and am eagerly waiting for my turn - I'm number 51. We are being slowed down a bit by time zones.

I've added a bunch of the people on the list of contributors to my Twitter network. Many of these people live in Australia and most are not Ed Tech people. It has been interesting to follow their tweets. My network is becoming much more diverse. I'm hoping it will lead me to new and intriguing resources.

Cameron is using Wikispaces to post the Twittory. You can follow the story here. I think this could be a great class project even without using Twitter. Why not use a Wiki and have the kids contribute in a round to a story. That could be a lot of fun.

2. Google Street View

You can now see photographs of many streets using Google Maps by clicking on Street View. If a street is highlighted in blue, that indicates that a street view photograph is available. This could be a great tool to help you find your way using landmarks. Students could also use the street view to explore different locations around the world.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Found Twittery - Micro-blogging goes Macro...

In the spirit of found poetry (and due to some writer's block), I thought it might be interesting to go back over my recent Twitter posts and turn my micro-blogging into micro-poetry. Here is my "found twittery..."

Thanks for the Learning

Feeling like I have
blogger's block!
I know I've got to get
out there -
don't yet know
what it will be.

Back on Twitter
catching up on Tweets.
Amazing resources here -

Lately, I'm a taker, not a giver.
I really appreciate all of your gifts!

Comments on my blog -
I have never gotten so many.
It is great to know
I'm not
talking to myself.

Good night all -
It got late when I wasn't looking.

Thanks for the learning.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Two For Tuesday: 12-04-07

1. Test Your Information Literacy Skills: November Learning, an organization "dedicated toward supporting and challenging teachers and students to expand the boundaries of learning," has a number of very useful resources for becoming more information literate. You can test your own information literacy skills and/or have your students take the quiz. The quiz includes an answer key and follow up activities.

2. Vote for your favorite education blog: Every year people nominate their favorite educational blogs for an edublog award called the Eddies. This is a great resource for finding interesting and useful blogs to add to your aggregator. Voting concludes on the 6th of December, so there is still time to pick your favorite.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Two For Tuesday: 11-27-07

Thanks again to my Twitter network for these two great resources!

Jott and Jing...
1. Think it. Jott it. Do it: "Jott™ is a revolutionary new service that automatically converts your voice into e-mail and text messages—anytime, anywhere, with any cell phone. Jott™" I've tried it and it really works. Call Jott from your phone, leave yourself (or someone else) a message, Jott transcribes your words into text and does an amazingly good job. You can tell Jott to send you a reminder at a particular time. Students can use Jott to speak their ideas for a paper or answer a homework assignment. I even "jotted" a blog entry this week. This is a really useful tool and it is free - give it a try.

2. Video capture and share images and video on your computer:
"The concept of Jing is the always-ready program that instantly captures and shares images and video…from your computer to anywhere." You can use this application to record a class presentation and then post it Online so that students can reference it later. I also use it to create "how to" videos to teach people how to use different applications.

*Are you using either of these two tools in a different way? Please share your ideas here!
*Do you have a suggestion for a future "Two for Tuesday" tip or tool? Please let me know.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm phoning this in,...

I'm phoning this in, this blog and I'm just interested to see how it works. I'm using Jott, a tool I discovered recently through my Twitter network and I think it has a great potential if people can call in their thoughts and have it transcribed into words. Then, the writing process changes entirely. You could actually compose your ideas and speak them aloud as opposed to writing them down. listen

Powered by Jott

Friday, November 23, 2007

Technology Evangalists: Are We Too Righteous?

I feel very strongly about the integration of Web 2.0 technologies into the classroom. I love learning about new technology tools and applications. I hunger for interesting and thought provoking blog posts. I somewhat obsessively (according to my husband) check my Twitter feeds, my aggregator and my e-mail. I wait, not so patiently, for the next Ustream feed and jump into the conversation head first. And, I try to bring everyone else on board, sometimes very passionately.

Fortunately, it is my job to convince people of the power and importance of using technology in the classroom. Unfortunately, sometimes my zeal pushes people away, instead of pulling them on board. It is hard to find the balance. Teachers work really hard. We don't like to listen to people tell us we aren't doing enough. There is already too much to do. To many, what I say just seems like more work, especially in a district where kids are doing really well academically.

I'm really struggling with my impatience. I know that Web 2.0 can transform you as an educator and a learner. Writing this blog has done more for my intellectual growth than anything else I have ever done professionally. I only want to share my enthusiasm - for others to feel the way I do and grow the way I have. How can I do that without seeming too preachy and righteous? (Even though I know I'm right;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two For Tuesday 11-20-2007

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the U.S.!
I would like to start this post by thanking everyone in my Twitter network who gave me suggestions for todays links. These are the two that I chose for this week. I've tagged a bunch more for future Tuesdays.

I've recently added lots of people to my Twitter network. I'm following 173 people (111 are following me). The more people I add to my network, the more useful it has become. I'm learning so much. It is really exciting.

I've written about Twitter before, but it is hard to describe. Give it a try, look at the people I'm following and follow them too. You will be able to create an amazing real time resource of Ed Tech people from around the world who share resources and can help you out instantly. Warning - it can become a little addictive.

Thanks to Ewan McIntosh (ewanmcintosh on Twitter)for the Lingro tip! I can't remember who shared the Free Rice Website - I also heard about it on NPR.

1. Practice your vocabulary and help feed the world:
The Free Rice Website features a vocabulary game - for each word you get right, they will donate 10 grains of rice through the United Nations to help end world hunger. In the spirit of the holidays, give it a try and spread the word.

2. Define and/or translate any word on any website: Lingro is a multilingual dictionary and language learning site. Plug in a Web address, it opens that page, click on any word on the page and you will see a definition of the word you can also translate the word into French, Spanish, Italian, German or Polish (or the other way around).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry

The Thin Book Of Appreciative Inquiry by Sue Annis Hammond is just that, a very thin book (59 pages) that explains and describes the process of appreciative inquiry. Hammond describes Appreciative Inquiry this way,
The major assumption of Appreciative Inquiry is that in every organization something works and change can be managed through the identification of what works, and the analysis of how to do more of what works. (page 3)
I was first introduced to the ideas of Appreciative Inquiry by Gene Thompson-Grove, the head of Professional Development for the Public Schools of Brookline (my former employer). Recently, I've been reflecting on Hammond's 8 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry and how they relate to my work as an Instructional Technology Specialist.

8 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry (pages 20-21):

1. "In every society, organization, or group something works."
In a society that is always trying to solve problems, we often miss seeing what works. Those of us who evangelize educational technology in our schools, often complain that teachers aren't doing enough to integrate technology into their curriculum. Yet, there are many teachers and students in our schools who are doing great things. The first thing to do is to ask the questions - What is working?

2. "What we focus on becomes our reality."
If we focus on all of the ways that our schools are NOT preparing students for the 21st century then that will become our reality. In turn, if we take a look at all the ways we are preparing students to succeed in the future, we can use those positive models to inspire others to do the same. It is a much more pleasant reality.

3. "Reality is created in the moment, and there are multiple realities."
Our own perception of what is real might be very different than a colleague's perspective. OK, this one is a little too zen for me. I welcome your thoughts here.

4. "The act of asking questions of an organization or group influences the group in some way."
Just asking the question makes a difference. Think about the difference you could make by asking what IS working, rather than what is NOT working.

5. "People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future (the unknown) when they carry forward parts of the past (the known)."
We can't and shouldn't expect teachers to abandon everything they know and do well in order to bring technology to their teaching. Technology is a tool that only works when it is placed in the hands of a thoughtful practitioner.

6. "If we carry parts of the past forward, they should be what is best about the past."
This brings it back to the positive. If we are going to keep doing what we have always been doing, let's make sure what we are doing is working.

7. "It is important to value differences."
Different opinions, different approaches, different perspectives all add value to an organization.

8. "The language we use creates our reality."
You are what you eat - OK I'm just checking to see if you are still paying attention. Choose your words carefully.

I'm going to try to carry these 8 assumptions with me into my work (and my life). I think they are particularly appropriate as we in America celebrate our Thanksgiving next week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two For Tuesday: 11-13-07

I've compiled all of the Two For Tuesdays (and will continue to do so) on the WHS Wiki page.

1. "The Perils and Promises of Praise" - As report cards are printed, I thought you all might find this article by Carol Dweck, printed in the October issue of Educational Leadership, interesting. I have written about Carol Dweck in previous posts (July 27th and August 2nd) those of you who read my blog know I'm kind of obsessed with her. This article is a great synopsis of her theories and how they apply to teachers.

2. Satellite Images - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration post real time satellite images of significant environmental events around the world. You can find images of dust storms, fires, floods, storms and volcanos.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Two For Tuesday: 11-6-07

I've compiled all of the Two For Tuesdays (and will continue to do so) on the WHS Wiki page.

1. Evaluating Websites - A quick and dirty way to grade a Website
Thanks to Deeth Ellis, our librarian, for alerting me to this great blogpost and excellent resource for evaluating Websites. You can read about it here.
Check it out, it could be a really useful tool for a research project!

2. Podcasting resources -
All Mac computers come with GarageBand software which can be easily used for podcasting. I've created some How To Movies to get started with GarageBand:

I am going to be presenting at the MassCUE technology conference on Thursday, November 14th on Book Review Podcasting. I have been assembling resources for the presentation on a wiki. This is a work in progress (until the 14th). I'll be adding my slide show and other resources as I finish them.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What Do You Stand For?

According to Robert Evans, the author of The Human Side of School Change, this is an essential question that all leaders must ask themselves. He also suggests that a motto is much more effective than a lengthy mission statement or a long list of goals or values. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, trying to frame what I "stand for" into a motto. So far I have narrowed it down to three:

1. Empowering Students and Teachers to
Succeed in the 21st Century!
There is a lot we don't know about the world that will face our students when they are done with their "official" schooling, but we can probably agree that it will include technology. I believe it is our responsibility as educators to teach students to successfully, critically and competently navigate the 21st century technology landscape. In order to help students to do this, we must first feel comfortable and confident about doing this ourselves. I am committed to supporting both my students and my colleagues (and their students) in their efforts to make this happen.

2. Celebrate the Challenges!
According to Evans, Motorola's 1986 motto was "We Celebrate Noble Failure." Carol Dweck would have been proud! I often hear teachers talk about the many challenges that they face when trying to use technology in the classroom. And I completely agree, the network, the computer, the software, the connection, the browser, the operating system will all present a problem individually or collectively at one time or (and) another. How you and your students work to solve the problem is the key. Which leads me to my third motto...

3. Solving the Problem IS the Work!
An essential component to success in the 21st century is being able to work your way through those technology obstacles. Every time you or your students find a solution to a network, computer, software, connection, browser or operating system problem you are succeeding in the 21st century! That is why it is essential that you put yourselves and your students in the position to do so.

OK - so I probably should just pick one motto. Which one do you like best? Do you have a motto? What do you stand for? Please add a comment and let me know.

Evans, Robert. The Human Side of School Change. Reform, resistance, and the real-life problems of innovation. Jossey-Bass. 2001. p. 261

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Two For Tuesday: 10-30-07

1. Instant Feedback: iChat is an instant messaging application, installed on all Mac computers, that allows you to communicate with others in real time. Don't have an IM account - no problem. iChat comes with a feature called Bonjour messaging. Just open the finder, click on Applications and open iChat, log in and open Bonjour messaging, iChat will find all the people in your network who have also opened up Bonjour messaging. Here are some directions for how to do this:

2. International Photo Sharing: is a photo sharing Website where people around the world post and share their photos. This is a great resource for copyright friendly images that you can use for presentations and Website. You can also watch photos as they get posted in real time using You can view a map of the world in 3D and see photos pop up in real time as they are posted. You have to see it to understand it. Give it a try.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two For Tuesday: 10-23-07

1. Social networking for good rather than evil. There is a website called ning: where you can create your own social network around any topic you are interested in – baseball, knitting, technology… It can become a space to talk to people about your interest and find and get to know others that have something in common with you. There are some great public networks – the one I am active in is called It is a network created for teachers that are interested in integrating Web 2.0 technology tools into their classrooms.

You can also create closed networks on Ning that are by invitation only. They are very easy to set up. I have created networks for my school faculty and staff and for some of my classes. This is a new adventure - I'll write more about it in the future.

Here is a video that explains Social Networking (in plain English)

2. Increasing the text size in Word. Have you ever opened a word document and found the text too small to read? Here is a quick fix. On your Word toolbar there is a zoom drop down menu. The default setting is 100%. To increase your text size, click on the drop down menu and choose 125% or 150%.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I hate Conferences...

I've just returned from a TV/Video Educators conference. It was a frustrating experience. I am not very good at sitting and listening to people talk. The first session turned out to be a sales pitch. I thought I was going to learn something about the software, instead I was treated to an apple rep telling me how good the software is. Arghh! Thank you very much - I didn't pay money to come to this conference so you could sell me things that I already own.

The second presentation was a typical PowerPoint with lots and lots of text - and no hard or electronic copy of the presentation. The guy had an interesting project to share, but oh yeah - this is a TV/Video conference - how about showing some video...

The third presentation was much better - finally. She provided us with lots of materials (hard copy only) and showed us some interesting video both about the project and video from the project itself. She also left a lot of time for questions.

The final session was another sales pitch, this time for a TV/Video textbook written by the presenter...I went home.

In less than a month I am going to be presenting at the MassCUE conference about my podcasting project. How can I make my presentation interesting for people like me. I have one hour, one computer and a projector. I have some ideas - obviously I'm going to share my podcasts, I've created a wiki for all of the presentation materials, I want to create a podcast of people talking about the project (could be hard to do, since I am now working in a different school), I hope to use Google presentations and allow for some back channel chat and I was thinking about providing some time for people to turn to their neighbor and share some ideas.

What do you think? What was the best 1 hour conference presentation you ever attended? What made it great? Please share your ideas! I've cross posted this as a discussion over at Classroom 2.0 on ning. Please feel free to join the discussion there as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two For Tuesday: 10-16-07

Two For Tuesday 10-16-07

I am going to try to share two interesting tech tips, tools or Websites every Tuesday.

1. This week I want to remind everyone about an old favorite:
Delicious is a social bookmarking site that allows you to take your Websites with you wherever you are. You can also share them with others. I think this is one of the most useful Web 2.0 tools out there. You can learn a lot more about it by watching this video:

Check out Google Docs Presentation. This Google application allows multiple users to view and collaborate on slideshow Online. They can also participate in an Online chat while working together. Mark Wagner wrote an excellent blog post about this tool.

This tool has the potential to allow students working in groups to work together on a presentation without having to be in the same place at the same time. Check out this presentation about Google presentations created by Vicky Davis (no relation) along with many other educators around the world.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Multiple Intelligences

This week I attended the fireside chat with David Warlick as a kick off event for the K12 Online conference. I followed that up with a demo of with Will Richardson. I ended my evening feeling like my head was going to explode.

Both experience involved watching, listening and reading simultaneously. I found it very difficult to listen to someone speaking while reading what people were writing about what was being said. I could only focus on one stream of information at a time. And, since it was live, I couldn't pause to catch my breath. When I was done, I wondered if I had learned anything. There was so much going on, that nothing really sunk in.

This was my first experience with this kind of learning. I remember when I started reading articles, blogs and discussion forums Online. At first, I printed everything out. I found it very challenging to read on the screen and make sense of what I was reading. I needed to see it on paper to process the information. I wonder if attending to multiple sensory inputs is a learnable skill. In a growth mindset it is. The more I put myself in these situations the better I will get at taking everything in.

So I am going looking forward to the K12 Online conference experience as a place to learn and improve my skills. In fact, I've even signed up to moderate one of the "As Night Falls" sessions. I hope by the end of the conference I'll have grown enough to do that.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Getting to know you

It has been three weeks since I started working at Wellesley High School. I am starting to get to know people, I am also starting to realize how many people I don't know. In Brookline, I was a full time technology specialist at a school with 400 students. I am now less than full time (I also teach TV/Video) at a school with 1200 students.

I worked in Brookline for three years. Over those three years, I gained the trust of the faculty and really saw some progress in their use of technology. Now I'm starting all over again. I believe in the power of Web 2.0 technologies to change the way we teach and learn. I think it is essential that we incorporate 21st century skills into our curriculum. But that is just what I think. Why should anyone listen to me?

I'm reading a book called The Human Side of School Change by Robert Evans, which was recommended to me by a friend on the ning Classroom 2.0 social network. Thanks to Pamela Livingston for the suggestion. (Ironically, it turns out Robert Evans works in Wellesley.) I'm only at the beginning of the book. So far I'm reading about why change doesn't work.
Traditional organizational change often fails because its designers, overemphasising rationality, underestimate the opposition reform generates and the power of staff members to resist....At the core of traditional approaches to change lies an arrogance that invites failure and plays a key role in the inability of those approaches to overcome resistance.... The conviction of an advocate, even a powerful one, inspires resistance if it simply dismisses the inevitable dilemmas of implementation. (Evans, p 16)

...our response to change, particularly when it is imposed upon us, is determined by how we understand it, what it does to our attachments and beliefs, and how we can fit it into the sense we make of our world. (Evans, p17)

How can I help people understand the changes I am asking them to undertake, to fit technology in to the sense they make of their world and to expand their attachments and beliefs? I'm looking forward to the part of the book where Evans tells me how to do this! I'm working on it. I would love to hear your ideas! Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Starting Small

"Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten." (fortune cookie, author unknown)

Today I helped several people solve some small problems. At least they were small to me. Everyone I helped was thrilled that I was able to figure things out. I got a lot of praise, which was nice, but in a growth mindset (see my earlier posts) kind of undeserved. Solving small technology problems is what I do. I have had a lot of practice. Solutions come to me quickly because I have encountered similar problems before. I realize to others it seems like magic.

I think I am going to work on making my problem solving process more transparent. As I work to fix something, I'm going to try to articulate my thought process. It really isn't magic. Sometimes I know what to do because I've done it before. Other times, I know what to do because I've been through the problem solving process before. And I care. And I am interested.

These little moments are sometimes called "just in time" learning. I think the key is for the learning to happen for everyone involved, not just the problem solver. As teachers we want our students to be life long learners. I want this for my teachers too.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Act first, ask questions later?

It is after midnight on Friday, August 31st (I guess that makes it September 1st) and I should be sleeping. My 3 and 5 year old children are going to appear beside my bed tomorrow morning to wake me up. And yet, my brain is buzzing. It's that time of year. On Tuesday the new school year begins. I'm always crazed at this time of year, but a new job adds a whole extra layer of frenzy. I've never worked with high school kids before. I'm both excited and terrified - neither emotion is particularly suited to a good nights sleep.

I'm also thinking - I've got lots of ideas, but it is a new job so I've got to pace myself. I would like to set up a private social network just for the faculty and staff at the school using ning. I think the classroom 2.0 site on ning is an amazing resource. I would like to recreate that kind of community on a smaller scale. As a new teacher, this space could really help me to get to know and connect with the other teachers in the school. It could also serve as a great resource for teachers to discuss and share ideas and questions.

In the past I have often used the "act first ask questions later" approach to trying out new technologies. But, when starting a new job, that probably isn't the best plan. I've sent a note out to my administrators to see what they think. If they approve, you'll be hearing more about how it goes. Cross your fingers for me.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A New Job

This summer I was unexpectedly offered a position as the Instructional Technology Specialist at Wellesley High School (A public high school in Wellesley, MA). As much as I have loved working in Brookline, this is an opportunity to learn and grow that I could not pass up. I will continue to use this blog to share my thoughts on the Power Of Educational Technology. I hope you will keep reading and commenting as I start this new chapter in my professional life.

Thanks so much to everyone in Brookline who has supported and collaborated with me over the last three years!

Happy New School Year!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Changing Your Mindset - Part Two

Blogging with a Growth Mindset

As you know from my last post, I just finished reading Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. In Mindset, Dr. Dwecks explains her work on the "fixed" versus "growth" mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their intelligence is fixed - there isn't anything he or she can do to change it. A person with a growth mindset believes that if they work hard and challenge themselves they will succeed and grow. Fortunately, those of us with fixed mindsets can change and learn to embrace a growth mindset.

As I have been encouraging people to try blogging, a lot of the resistance that I hear is a fear of writing. People will say to me, "I'm not a good writer," or "I'm a slow writer." This is a fixed mindset attitude. The more I write the faster and better I get. Blogging itself is improving my writing and my confidence in my writing. The only way to get better is to try - and maybe fail - but keep trying.

The beauty of blogging is that your entries should be short (just like attention spans). You don't have to write a lot. Just write a little bit about what you are thinking. Keep at it, don't give up and you will see that your writing will improve. Good writers are made not born. Open your mind to the possibility!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Changing Your Mindset - Part One

I just finished reading Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. I am so excited about this book that I don't know where to begin. In Mindset, Dr. Dwecks explains her work on the "fixed" versus "growth" mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their intelligence is fixed - there isn't anything he or she can do to change it. A person with a growth mindset believes that if they work hard and challenge themselves they will succeed and grow. Fortunately, those of us with fixed mindsets can change and learn to embrace a growth mindset.

At some level this seems obvious and yet I don't think we realize how much we carry around this fixed mindset, especially when it comes to intelligence. This can be a very dangerous mindset when it comes to our children. When we tell our children or our students "you are smart" we are unwittingly passing along a fixed mindset. This kind of vague praise doesn't give room to grow and learn, instead it can create a fear of risk and a fear of looking stupid.

" the fixed mindset, effort is not a cause for pride. It is something that casts doubt on your talent." (Dweck, p 99) I think we can apply this concept to teachers and technology. Sometimes, successful, experienced teachers will be very resistant to exploring new technologies. These teachers may be exhibiting a fixed mindset. They feel what they are doing works, they think of themselves as "good" teachers. If they try something new and fail, then they will no longer be "good" teachers.

The phrase "a born teacher" plays right into a fixed mindset. Good teachers are good teachers because they work at it, because of the experience they have working with many children over the years, of trying different things with different kids and seeing what works. Teachers are not born, they are made.

I have so much more to say about this, but I'll stop here for now. This book should be required reading for all teachers and parents. It will open your mind to so many possibilities! Stay tuned for more.

Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Dweck.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset. The new psychology of success. Random House Inc. New York. 2006.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Technology Integration Between Friends

I just completed a 5 day course learning how to coach and facilitate a type of professional development called Critical Friends Groups or CFGs. In CFGs, groups of 10 - 15 teachers meet regularly (monthly) to discuss student work and teacher practice in an effort to improve student achievement. They do so using protocols facilitated by a trained member of the group. These protocols provide a structure that focuses the conversation, keeps people accountable for the things they say and helps the group find solutions to difficult problems.

I believe in the effectiveness of this work. I wonder how to both bring technology into the work itself and how to use the work to help increase the use of technology in the classroom. Can one support the other? I'm sure the answer is yes, but I don't yet know how. Perhaps a social networking site like ning, a blog or a wiki could help teachers to stay connected, keep the conversations going, and reflect on practice in between sessions.

I also wonder if there is a way to use the protocols Online. Could these types of structures help facilitate Online interactions? Could we create some protocols to help guide our Web 2.0 conversations? Do we need to? What do you think?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What is the question?

"How will you incorporate information literacy skills, such as evaluating and comparing the quality of sources, effective and efficient searching for information, and issues of copyright and plagiarism into your teaching?"

This is the question I recently posed to several candidates applying for a teaching position at my school. Some of the candidates followed with, "Are you asking me how I will use technology?" I realized through this interchange that I wasn't really asking about technology, I was asking about information. Yes, technology is changing rapidly. Yes, there are millions of interesting Websites and Web 2.0 tools out there. But what I really want to know is, how you will teach your students to navigate the massive ocean of information in an intelligent, efficient and ethical way.

David Warlick refers to this as learning literacy. He describes it as " — the skills to resourcefully use your information environment to help yourself learn what you need to know, to do what you need to do." So it isn't really about the technology, it's about what you do with it. We need to teach our students to think critically about information. This is not new to teachers. Good teachers have been doing this all along. There is just a lot more information out there to wade through.

On a side note - not one of the candidates had read any of my blog entries. My blog is linked to the front page of our school Website. It isn't hard to find. (I thank my principal for allowing it to be so prominent on the page -Thank you David if you are reading this). So narcissistic me thinks that maybe one of the candidates will walk in the room and say "Oh I read your blog..." Not one of them did. I'm not sure what that says - and if you are out there reading this please leave a comment and prove me wrong - but I have to say I was a little disappointed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

iLove my iPhone

I just got an iPhone and WOW! it is so amazing I can hardly put it down. I am not normally a gadget person, but the beauty of this phone just sucked me in. And no, I didn't have to wait in line for it. I went to the store and asked for one, easy as that. Setting it up was just as easy. In a matter of minutes I had synced my contacts, calendar, music and podcasts. The interface is so easy to use. I got lost yesterday, put an address into the phone and figured out where I was. I can search the Web, access Google reader and check my Gmail and Yahoo mail. And, oh yeah, it is a phone too!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Star Struck at NECC

I've just returned from The National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Atlanta. The most amazing part of the experience was the opportunity to speak in person with some of my Web 2.0 heroes. Starting with the edubloggercon unconference, and followed by discussions at the blogger cafe and the MassCUE reception, I personally spoke with Steve Hargadon, Will Richardson, Kathy Schrock, Joyce Valenza and Chris Lehmann. Joyce even mentioned my podcasting project in her presentation. I wish I had brought my autograph book.

It is interesting to me how starstruck I am by these people. I know they are teachers just like, but through their blogging and presentations I have found them to be inspiring educators. I guess I shouldn't be embarrassed by my awe of these people. It is just amazing to me that I've gotten the opportunity to shake their hands. I thank the edublogosphere for that!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Blogging with Grandma

My mother-in-law writes a family note every week and sends it out via e-mail. She lets us all know what she has been up to, sends us pictures and also updates us about each other. I recently suggested that she set up a blog as a better way to communicate with all of us. She can write her weekly notes as blog entries and post and share her pictures. We can comment on her blog and the whole family can see our comments. Finally, we can add her blog to our aggregator and read it along with the rest of the news we regularly read. There are many free blogging services, I'm using one of them right now, that are easy to set up and use. Check out this great wiki on blogging for lots of ideas and resources.

You may be asking your self "What is an aggregator?"An aggregator is a tool that uses RSS feeds to collect all of your news in one place. Still confused? Watch this great video to learn more. If you would like to set up your own aggregator, I've put together a series of screencasts to teach you how. If grandma can do it, so can you!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Crashing the Server

We have been very busy here at the Runkle school making movies and podcasts. So busy in fact that we have nearly crashed the server several times. Movies and podcasts are big files. Note to self - next year don't do them all at the same time.

The 8th grade has been in movie heaven (although it has at times felt like the other place). They have just completed their element music videos. They worked really hard on these videos, finding facts about their element and then putting them to music and adding visual effects. I hope to get them up on the Web soon, so that you all can check them out. In addition to their element videos, they have also completed travel videos for countries in Europe, and both animation and claymation projects. You can see many of their animation projects here:

Third and forth graders have been hard at work on their book review podcasts. We should be finishing these up soon and I will add them to the Brookline Book Review Website. The seventh graders have finished their wiki project on genetic disorders. You can check them out here. The year is definitely coming to a close with an exciting finish!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A wiki by any other name...

I dislocated my pinkie last week. I know that sounds kind of pathetic, but it really has a serious effect on one's ability to type. Particularly the letter p, the semi-colon, question mark, period, and any capital letters made by the left hand. I'm a pretty fast touch-typist, and this has slowed me down big time. I have gained a great appreciation for the benefits of being able to type as fast as I think, and also for the importance of the pinkie! O.K. enough complaining, on with the blog.

Seventh graders started a wiki project in science class this week. They are working in groups researching a genetic disorder and publishing their findings on a class wiki website. You can follow their progress here. This is a first for all of us, so we are all figuring this out as we go. So far so good. What I like about the wiki is there aren't many formatting options. Students have to focus on the content and can't spend all their time choosing fonts and colors.

Speaking of wikis, most people are only familiar with the wiki, Wikipedia, around which there is a lot of controversy about using it as a source. Here is a video titled "Why Wikipedia Sucks" that does a good job of summarizing that sentiment.

Personally, I am not an anti-Wikipedian. I believe, as with all web sources, all information found on the web is suspect. As researchers, we need to be diligent about using more than one source and checking the reliability of the sources we use. Chris Harris cited a great rule for research in his blog, infomancy:
One is none, and two is one. This rule comes from a variety of sources, including the maxim for flashlights in serious situations like caving. If you have one tool, then you effectively have none because of the source for failure. If you have two, then you can hopefully count on one, but one is none. This is why, among other very silly reasons, that I tend to have three flashlights on me at any given time. In the world of library research, the same is true. Having one source is as good as having none. I don’t care if the source is Britannica or Wikipedia, one source has no validity.
With more than one source to confirm the information you find, Wikipedia can be a great place to start. What do you think?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Learning to write - Writing to learn

The students at Runkle have been very busy using technology this week. Kindergartners just completed their Ocean unit and each child drew a picture, wrote about something they learned and then recorded their voice sharing one thing they learned about ocean life. I put the pictures together into a movie which you can watch below. The thing I love about this project is the combination of visual, written and oral expression. For students who are not quite ready to write full sentences, recording their voice provides them with the opportunity to show what they have learned. If you would like to download a copy of the video, right-click (PC) or control-click (Mac) this link.

It has been so interesting for me to watch the growth of our Kindergartners this year. I have worked with primarily with middle school students for most of my career as a teacher. Working at Runkle has allowed me the privilege to work with students in the primary grades. As I've observed our Kindergarten students in the lab over the course of this year, they have grown in both their technical ability and their literacy skills. When they first started coming to the lab, many of the students couldn't find the letters for their name on the keyboard, let alone write a full sentence. And, when they began writing words and then sentences, they rarely included vowels or spaces between their words.

As this year comes to a close, I am thrilled to see these 5 and 6 year-olds using vowels (even if they aren't always the right ones), including spaces, and easily reading their own writing (even when we can't). This growth has been fascinating and thrilling for me. I want to thank Runkle's Kindergarten teachers and paraprofessionals for all they do. They really are amazing teachers.

This is just one of the amazing ways that Runkle students are using technology. I'll be sharing more projects in future blog posts.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

To blog or not to blog...

that is the question. Why read blogs? Why write a blog?

We are living in an amazing time in history. Speech is truly becoming free. People everywhere are saying what they want to say and publishing their ideas for people around the world to read. Web 2.0 has given a voice to millions of people and also given us the ability to share our voice with other people around the world. Web 2.0 has taken out the middleman (middle person). We don't need a publisher to tell us that what we want to say is worth reading. It is the readers who will decide. And the readers who can tell you what they think. We no longer write in a vacuume.

What does this mean for teachers? Teachers are learners at heart. Reading blogs provides teachers with a community of colleagues beyond their own school. That community has ideas and opinions about teaching that can motivate and inspire. Writing your own blog is a learning experience in itself. You have to ask yourself, what do I have to say and how do I want to say it? Finally, it makes the teaching of writing that much more important. If blogging is the future, then writing is the future. We want our students to be prepared to make a point and argue it articulately and creatively.

What does this mean for parents? Parents are also learners. Reading blogs provides parents with a community with ideas and opinions about parenting that can motivate, challenge and inspire. Writing your own blog is a learning experience and also lends your own voice to the voice of parents everywhere. There is so much propaganda about parenting. Parents need to take control of their own issues. Finally, blogging by teachers lets parents in on what is happening in the classroom. It opens the black box. It allows conversations to take place within a classroom community that can lead to better understanding and learning for everyone in the community.

What does this mean for students? Blogging provides a public voice for students. It makes writing authentic. When writing a blog, you really have to consider your audience and be open to feedback. This provides incentive to students to think before they write and to write well. Blogging forces students to dress up their writing for a public audience.

What does this mean for school administrators? School administrators should be participating in a community of bloggers. Administrators can learn from each other about what is working and what isn't. They can provide each other with support, feedback and ideas to make schools work better. They can model writing and participating in the future of technology for their teachers, parents and students. And, they can make their goals and intentions transparent to the school community. Nothing keeps you more honest than laying it out on the table and opening yourself up to your community for ideas and suggestions.

Of course, the public nature of blogging is scary. Is anyone listening? Are they going to criticize my writing, my spelling, my ideas? As a community we need to respect the risk that bloggers are taking by laying their ideas and opinions out there. We need to presuppose the good intentions of the writer and honor his or her vulnerability by contributing in a caring and nonjudgemental way.

What do you think - teachers, parents, students, administrators? Are you willing to come on board? Are you willing to lend your voice to the blogosphere? To submit your ideas to the conversation? Do you need help to do that? Do you have questions? Ideas? Ask me, ask others. Let's get this party started.

David on classroom 2.0 at ning just shared this amazing wiki site on how to start blogging. Check it out!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A new literacy...

I am a reader. I love books, especially young adult and adult fiction. I know how to read a book. I know how to look at the cover, to read the inside flap, to find out about the author, to make predictions and connections as I'm reading. I know how to read from left to right and down the page. Reading books is a two dimensional experience. I'm pretty fast and I usually remember a lot of what I read.

Reading Online is a whole different animal, a "three dimensional animal" (Warlick, page 22). The more I do it the more I learn how, but it requires attention and practice. In a Web 2.0 world, it is just as important to teach kids to read and navigate information Online as it is to teach them on paper.

Just reading this blog takes a different kind of attention and approach. There is a lot on this page, pictures, videos, and links. As you are reading this blog there are opportunities to go elsewhere, to read and reference more than just what is on this page. That is the beauty of Online literacy, but also the challenge. It is easy to get lost, to wander off to explore a link and then lose the train of thought where you began.

I myself am just learning how to do this. So far this is what works for me: I first look over the whole page, reading headings, looking at pictures and reading links. I then read the article that interests me from start to finish. After I have read it through once, I start exploring the links on the page. This works for me, but I have had to figure this out for myself.

As teachers, we need to be able to support and help our students to do this as well. I think this is an essential skill for students to have. Students are constantly interacting with Online information. We need to give them the tools and skills to do so in an effective and efficient manor. And, this needs to happen inside the classroom, not just in the lab. This is not a "technology" lesson, but a reading lesson that involves technology. Check out this interesting Website: 21st Century Literacies, Tool for Reading the World You will find a lot of resources on how to teach these skills.

What do you think? Are you addressing this type of literacy in your classroom? If so, how are you doing it? If not, what kind of support do you need to start bringing this into your "reading" lessons? Do you agree that it is important?

Works Cited: Warlick, David F. Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century. Linworth Publishing, Inc. 2004.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Try it's Yummy!

If you aren't already familiar with the social bookmarking Web 2.0 tool, I highly recommend you check it out. With a account you can bookmark Websites and access your bookmarks from any computer. This is great for me because I work on a lot of different computers and my account allows me to find my Websites wherever I am. I can also share my sites with students and teachers, while still keeping some sites private. Finally, I can also look at and follow other people's Websites which often leads me to great Websites that I would never have found on my own. The Library and Technology department in Brookline is also working on a system-wide Website. If you want to learn more, go to and/or watch the screencast below which shows you how to get started.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

What is Web 2.0?

If you are reading this blog, you are participating in Web 2.0! What is Web 2.0? My idea of Web 2.0 or the read/write web is simply that the Internet has become an interactive environment. It is no longer a space where you go and watch and read, it is a space where you can contribute. In fact, to get the most out of it you should contribute.

There are many Web 2.0 tools that people use to interact on the web. This blog is one of them and if you comment or subscribe to my blog then you are interacting with me and others through the Internet. We become a community and as a community we share ideas and discuss them. One mind becomes many and many minds become one. And, our community can expand way beyond the Runkle School. Through the read/write Web the world becomes our community. That is what makes it so exciting and gives it so much potential for the classroom.

I am going to be teaching an Intro to Web 2.0 class for teachers on Thursday afternoons in May. This class will be worth 1 graduate credit. In this class we will explore many Web 2.0 tools and think about ways we can use them both for our own professional development and for our students.

Here is a look at a video that is often used to help people understand the concept of Web2.0. What do you think?

Saturday, March 31, 2007


This is my first in what I hope will be a weekly blog entry. The Runkle School is doing amazing things with technology integration and I want this to be a place where I can share our great projects with the community. I also hope to keep you all up on what new Websites look promising for use in the classroom. This is a place for parents, teachers and students to check in and keep up with what is going on. I welcome your comments and hope you will take advantage of your ability to contribute your own ideas, resources and insight to this forum.

I thought I would start by talking about our biggest technology project at Runkle right now - The Brookline Book Review Podcast project. As I hope you know, students are writing reviews, recording them as podcasts and posting them to our Website. This is a great resource if you are looking for a good book. I encourage everyone to listen to these reviews, they are fun and informative. So far first, second, seventh and eighth graders have contributed their reviews. Third graders are writing their scripts right now and we hope to add their reviews by the end of the month.

We have been fortunate to get some outside recognition and support for this project. The MassCUE (Massachusetts Computer Using Educators) organization awarded us a grant for noise reducing USB headphones. Teresa and I presented about this project at a Brown University conference. And, we were just featured in an article in VOYA (The Voice of Youth Activists - The Library Magazine Serving those Who Serve Young Adults). I hope that eventually, The Brookline Book Review Podcast Project will collect review podcasts from kids all over the world.

In addition to this podcast project, fifth graders have just completed a travel to the universe podcast project. They wrote and recorded podcast travel commercials for the moon and planets in our solar system. These podcasts will be available soon for your listening pleasure.

Fourth graders have been working on a landform project using PowerPoint and have also been learning and practicing their keyboarding skills. In Kindergarten, students have been working with KidPix to draw pictures for a story. They will soon be recording their voices telling their stories. Seventh graders have learned about effective research skills and Website evaluation, have done research on a topic of their choice and are making Websites about their topics. Eighth graders just completed a travel brochure for a European country and are now using iMovie to make a travel commercial for their country. Sixth graders have learned about databases and have used some of the Brookline subscription databases to help them with their Living History Projects.

So there is technology going on everywhere and much more to do. There are so many possibilities and so many great ideas. I look forward to sharing them.