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