Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reach out and touch somebody's hand, make this world a better can!

In the aftermath of the unspeakable horror and unfathomable sadness of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we are asking, what can we do? What indeed? Part of me just wants to curl up in a ball and cry for days. But I can't do that. I have kids who need to see me in the classroom tomorrow morning, who need to know that I am there for them.

Last night, I heard the song, If I Could Have a Beer with Jesus, and I wondered what would He say about this? Is it really possible to turn the other cheek?  It is easy to blame the lack of gun control or mental illness, but what can we as a society and as individuals, do to change it?

We can help make it safe to reach out. On Tamara Fisher's blog, Unwrapping The Gifted , she writes "To a Bright Kid With Troubles" "Somewhere in your life you crossed paths with someone who got you even a tiny bit. Maybe it was a teacher from ten years ago. Or a friend from your grade school playground... or mom or dad or a sibling or a neighbor or that teacher who laughed at your joke in the hallway but you don't know his name. A school counselor, a principal, an older cousin, or grandma and grandpa... Yes, you've thought of it. That's the one. That's the person to reach out to. ..." And when they reach out, we need to be there for them.  When someone we know needs help, we shouldn't wait until they are in crisis to reach out and truly make a difference. A friend of mine once told me her advice, "Don't just say, 'how can I help?' Actually show me that you will help by showing up. Do something!"

As a teacher, my heart aches for my students, wondering how afraid they might be to come to school tomorrow. Monday will be difficult for many of our children and staff. I take it as a sacred trust to take care of these children, MY kids. As Angela Maiers states there is no lesson plan for tragedy. My intent is to let the children guide the discussion. I understand that their parents may have shared a little or as much of the tragedy as is appropriate in their home. I will not let my kids discuss the shootings, but I will reassure them that they are safe and loved in my classroom. I will let them know, They Matter.

Jackie Gerstein offers some real, concrete suggestions for teachers on her blog, and says honestly, As horrible as they are, they become teachable moments for students to feel that they count and can make a difference. Activities such as the ones described can help students heal and give students the opportunity to help heal the world. If you are a teacher, I urge you to consider her suggestions.  The one I hope to start my day with is a Sharing Circle: Have a morning circle or group to offer students the opportunity to discuss how they feel about the event. This is not a forum to discussed the details of what happened.  The news does enough of this.  The focus is on feelings.

As my 80 year old mother said to me Friday night, "I am glad that you have a plan, but I am sad that you have to have a plan."

If I could, I would probably teach for free, yet no amount of money they'd ever pay me could cover the value of what we do for our students. It is an awesome responsibility and a great honor. My heart goes out to the staff and families at Sandy Hook.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Student PSAs with iMovie

Over the past few weeks our students have been researching, writing, filming and editing Public Service Announcements (PSA) about issues that concern them. Our principal wrote about students using this platform to address positive behavior. One of my students suffered a concussion during some early morning playground horseplay. He learned about the seriousness of brain injuries and wanted others to know about the risks so he made this movie, Playground Safety. Some students used their iPads and some used our small Sony cameras. All of them used iMovie to edit and produce their projects.

I am constantly amazed by my students creativity, initiative and productivity using 21st century tools!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bar Exam for Teachers

Francesca Duffy of Education Week posted about the American Federation of Teachers ( but their links are all down as i write this) recently released a report that calls for the implementation of a bar-like exam, which new teachers would have to pass to enter the profession. AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement that "it's time to do away with a common rite of passage into the teaching profession—whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they and their students sink or swim."

When I decided to become a teacher I had to take the CBEST, CSET, RICA and frankly can't remember what all alphabet soup of tests I had to take just to get into the classroom. I think it is good that I had to take these to be sure I had the textbook knowledge of how to teach and what to teach. But none of these tests measured how I would end up teaching in the classroom with real children. Could I handle a kid throwing up on my shoes? What would I do when I had a range of learners in my 4th grade classroom, one who can't read and one who was reading at a 12th grade level? The test couldn't tell whether I would love teaching or just do it for the glamour, high pay and three month summer vacations. Would I be able to adapt my practice to the changing needs of my students?

Do I agree that a "bar exam," on top of state certification and academic degrees, would ensure that more teachers are better prepared for classroom instruction? No I do not, any more than I think a bar exam ensures we only have good lawyers. We don't need another hoop to jump over to get into the profession. There are enough barriers to entry as it is. What we need is to ensure support for our new teachers as they are entering the field to help them as they navigate the real issues that some up in the classroom. BTSA programs are a good start, in theory. I had a great coach, others I know we're buried in seemingly meaningless paperwork. New teachers need good coaches for more than 2 years. In my 7 years in the classroom I have taught at three different schools in 5 different grade levels. Perhaps instead of laying off new teachers every year we could provide them with the solid opportunity to establish their practice. The principal could fill the coaching role, but there is a wide ability level there, as well as the fact that most of them are swamped with other administrative duties. As a student teacher, my principal only observed me the requisite two times in the entire 7 months I was in the classroom without a full credential!

The new teachers I know enthusiastically embrace best practices and are flexible and passionate. Sometimes more so than the veterans who have 'always done it this way'. I support meaningful evaluation of all teachers. We are charged with a solemn responsibility to prepare the next generation to be lifelong learners and contributing citizens. We should all be up for the task or find something else to do.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I wasn't sure where to post this ---since it is generally about me being a teacher but also specifically about my iPad I wrote it in that blog and am linking to it here. It was just so exciting to see me published for writing about something other than being laid off!

Check it out!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Day of Thanks Giving

I am taking a pause from the preparations for our little family dinner to make note of some things I am grateful for that are specifically related to my teaching with technology. I just read a quote that said "it is not what you say about your blessings that matters, but what you do with them."

I have been blessed with a loving, supportive family, both the family of my birth and my family of choice. Having their support has helped me take the courageous leap to 'retire' from high tech at 40, and embark on a new career of teaching at 45. My husband has been so patient, supportive and generous on this new path we've taken.

I am grateful to SUSD for giving me a start as a librarian then teacher, and actually, yes, grateful that I was laid off. After 5 years of annual layoffs it finally happened that I was not called back. So that year, 2011, my mentor called me from her new district and invited me to interview there. What I didn't know in my layoff despair was that my new district would open doors of opportunity for me. So yes, I am grateful that SUSD laid me off so that I could expand my horizons.

My new district, Cambrian, has a lean, mean, IT machine. There is only a paid staff of three, with SysOps teachers at each site who receive a small stipend to handle first level support issues. The vision and insight of our "magic men", as my students refer to them, as well as the leadership and guidance of our superintendent and school board have provided for an atmosphere of technical leadership and innovation.

I am grateful that my background, reputation and enthusiasm are evident enough for me to be accepted into both the iPad and Digital Media Academies, allowing my students and me access to incredible tools, information and opportunities.

I am so thankful for the parents of my students, who trust me to teach their kids, help them navigate the 21st century landscape, but above all, keep their little ones safe in cyberspace and real life.

My heart is filled with gratitude for my creative, courageous, and committed kids who are willing to try anything. Their spirit of adventure and willingness to leap in to the unknown and help each other and me find new ways to do things is inspiring.

I have many blessings, and am even more blessed to have the opportunities to share my blessings with my students.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Monday, November 12, 2012

Yes Teachers Want Tech, Let's teach them how to use it!

I just read an article tweeted to me by Edworld written by Edworld Jason. He points out how most teachers are finally ready to take on tech, and want more of it in the classroom. Buried at the end of the article, beneath some really cool graphics, is this sentence...

Researching costs for technology purchases—ranging from installation to training time—is the first step in identifying what's right for your school.

The training time has been in my experience the biggest block to anyone other than early adopters using technology in the classroom. Teachers I have worked with have dust gathering on projectors, use Smart Boards as screens for their overhead projectors and don't know what to do with laptops, iPads and PCs. I hold dual citizenship, but most teachers are digital vacationers at best. We need to find ways, and finance ways, to help these teachers learn how to use the tools to provide meaningful and authentic learning opportunities for our kids.

I have scoured the Internet for lesson plans using iPads and have come up with very few good examples. New-to-tech teachers need good and easy to find sources of information and resources to help them step across their own digital divide. In our district, where we have a growing pilot program for 1:1 iPads, we have started a wiki and edmodo group to share best practices and ideas. But it is still a challenge for all of us, we are so busy teaching, to find the time to research and learn and share new ways to be innovative in the classroom. Yet, we owe it to our kids to prepare them as best we can 'for jobs that don't even exist yet.'

And, to reward you for reading all the way to the end, here is one of the really cool graphics I mentioned.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thoughtful Implementation and Digital Storytelling Process

In Education Week: Teacher, an English teacher from Kentucky talks about why he won't use social media tools in the classroom. He isn't shunning all technology though. He writes, "Being tech savvy should include the ability to synthesize ideas and media forms, and create something original. So how can we promote more thoughtful use of technology in schools?"  This is as it should be, a thoughtful discussion,  planning, implementation, reflections and then go through all the steps again!

I like his ideas on the digital storytelling process. 

These days, instead of simply embracing Web 2.0 tools, I’ve decided to embark on creating a curriculum that utilizes technology as part of a larger creation process (emphasis mine). Like the writing process, which requires planning, prewriting, drafting, editing, and revision, we can utilize audio, still photos, and video—all student-generated—to teach students to be tech savvy in a meaningful way. 
In my digital storytelling course, for example, students learn how to collaborate using Google Docs, analyze images and video in the context of literature and narrative, and apply photo rules when they shoot, interview, edit, and sequence all of their raw footage and images. They create photo essays, audio slideshows, and short documentaries from start to finish, then critique each other’s work. I’m lucky to have collaborating professionals join class weekly. I’ve also learned that true tech savviness starts with people. If students can’t communicate face-to-face to conduct interviews or set up photo shoots, there is little point in placing a camera in their hands or a laptop at their desk. As educators, we must find a balance between screen time and “face” time.
If it’s simple—even mindless—to use or create with new technology, then we must question the pedagogical value of what we are doing. That said, I don’t regret using Poll Everywhere and experimenting with class blogs several years back. After all, as educators we must be willing to test out, and sometimes adapt to, evolving opportunities to teach and engage students. I’m still trying to figure out my curriculum, and will continue to test out new programs and technology applications to enhance the course.
Paul Barnwell teaches English and digital media at Fern Creek Traditional High School in Louisville, Ky. In his spare time, he enjoys bow hunting, urban gardening, and rooting for the New England Patriots. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

More on the subject of EdTech, not either or

David Ginsberg has more to say about the debate that shouldn't be a debate, in his post, Technology: Teacher Enhancement, NOT Replacement. Technology is not meant to replace effective teaching. It can enhance it!

I offer this as encouragement for those who feel daunted or threatened by technology. At the same time, you've got no choice. It's our duty now, as it's always been, to provide schools where kids can learn to their potential, which technology helps us do. Change can be challenging, so it's understandable if you're tentative about technology. Keep in mind, though, that just as countless veteran teachers successfully implemented new approaches such as cooperative learning, so too can you learn to use technology to its fullest in your classroom.

But also keep in mind that you'll need the same qualities to be effective in a technology-rich classroom that you've needed to be effective in a traditional classroom. In particular, the human qualities--per theory of mind--needed to achieve what Science Leadership Academy Principal Chris Lehman called "the most important thing that we do" in his closing keynote at ISTE: help children become fully realized people of their world.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

It is technology and education, not technology vs. education!

My amazing friend Tracey just sent me this article. Tracey and I worked together in telecommunications for years. Her husband, Michael Bobrowicz, is another teacher like me who left high tech to become a teacher. Like me, he has faced many of the challenges, and enjoyed the personal rewards of, this change. He is teaching an SDC classroom in Pacifica. The discussion about technology in classrooms is reaching a tipping point in our district, and I'd guess in many districts around the world. It doesn't have to be a divisive issue.

Brandon Busteed writes in the Huffington Post Education Blog that A technological revolution is happening in the world of education; it is changing schools for the better. But, it will never change the definition of and need for great teaching. His article, entitled, In Education, Technology Changes Everything and Nothing, he discusses research findings that show what we (teachers) all know, Simply put, great teaching is about emotionally engaging the learner in a way that is individualized. Our opportunity to innovate and improve education is deeply tied to these fundamentals. A great teacher is a great teacher -- whether she is real or avatar.

It is important in discussions and debate to remain respectful and keep the goal of education in mind. We are here to create lifelong learners. We do what we do, however we do it, to make a difference. Technology isn't a fad, it isn't going away. But it is a tool, not a solution.

The Atlantic forum highlighted that the debate about great technology vs. great teachers is unnecessary. Instead, the conversation needs to be about technology and teaching. So now education leaders need to create a seamless interplay between teachers and technology. This will not be easy, but least [we are] left with a clear sense of purpose.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Technology and inclusive education practices

co authored with Sheila Monger

More often than not, students are asked to read, discuss and write about their studies at school.  I ask, “what about those who do not read, do not use a common language or cannot write?” Demonstration of knowledge in the classic school room is narrow and predictable.  Those who did not participate have traditionally been marginalized. 

Until now.

This year, the two of us, Ms. Monger and Ms. McConnell, joined the teaching staff at Bagby.  Ms. Monger teaches a 3-5 combo and Ms. McConnell teaches 4th grade.  Between the two of us we bring a depth and breadth of experience working with students with unique learning needs.  In the first staff meeting of the year, we both signed up to be on this new committee that no one knew much about, called CreaTV.  We soon found out it would be a wonderful way for us to spotlight the collaborative work that our students were doing.  Since the beginning of the year, our students have been learning together about PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) as well as all academic areas.  Ms. Monger also co-teaches with teachers in 5th and 3rd grade so that all students have access to their own grade level content and peers. We have created CreaTV segments highlighting some of our kids' projects, such as Squash Day, Stream Tables, Stone Soup with Ms. Montes’ class, literature study with Ms. Makinson's class and Smoothies with Ms. Lauck's class.   All of these segments, and more, have been broadcast on DirectTV channel 28 to communicate with our community about the exciting programs happening Around Bagby.

In April, we were accepted into to the Cambrian iPad Academy, a 1:1 program where each student is assigned an iPad. We are investigating apps and processes helping to set the stage for developing 21st century students and leaders throughout the district.  We were both a little worried that our kids would bury their heads in their iPads and never interact again. We were surprised and excited to learn that this was far from the truth.  It is inspiring to see students from our classes working together to create projects, to teach each other, to learn and to share.  Students are storytelling, teaching, and creating using this innovative tool.
Technology has been a great way for us to engage our students and provide them with differentiated tools to allow them to create, collaborate, problem solve and inspire!

Bagby, along with Cambrian School District, has reinvented what it means to demonstrate knowledge and share experiences within the community.  By using technology such as SMART boards, Podcasts, CreaTV, and the co-teaching model in the iPad academy, Bagby has proven that all students are learners and contributors to success.  These tools help provide a vehicle for learning, collaboration and demonstration of that learning in unique and creative ways.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hire, layoff, rescind, Rehire, repeat as unneccessary

Sharon Noguchi writes fair and unbiased reports about education in the bay area and beyond. Last week she wrote an article, Bay Area school districts rescinding layoff notices
which described the various schools attempts to meet budget and staffing needs in these challenging times. She describes what we ironically call "the pink slip dance."

The dance of issuing pink slips then rescinding them is a complex and expensive process mandated by California law. School districts can't lay off teachers for
the following school year without having issued a preliminary notice by March 15 and a final notice by May 15 -- even though they likely won't know their revenue until late summer. This year, even facing a dire state budget, fewer districts issued preliminary notices because many of them said they simply couldn't cut much more from their budgets after years of successive cuts.

The story is more complicated in the Fremont Unified School District, possibly the only district in the state with a no-layoff clause in its teachers contract. As a result, every year the district hires scores of teachers on temporary contracts, then notifies them all that their jobs could be ending. So Fremont sent out 250 teacher pink slips, union President Brannin Dorsey said. The district enrollment is growing, so nearly every year most of those teachers are rehired, although many seek out jobs elsewhere in the meantime.

I am a teacher who reluctantly attends the pink slip dance every year. I currently am employed by a district who, like Fremont, hires teachers at temps then asks us back in August, right before school starts. Our board and administration are proud of the fact that our district didn't issue any pink slips this year. Yet, there are a dozen or so of us who have been told that, as of now, we don't have jobs next year. They need to fill those spots, so the odds are most of us will be called back.

Good teachers are committed to our kids and to our practice. School districts should be committed to good teachers They should help struggling teachers get better and if that is not achievable, then assist them in their departure. The cycle of laying off then rescinding is not healthy for teachers, students school districts and society.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 10, 2012

This is the face of teachers you layoff

Tonight I spoke to our school board. This is what I said, from the heart.

Thank you for allowing me to speak, and for the wonderful opportunities you have given me in Cambrian. I wanted to speak to you tonight about something that has been heavy on my mind. With furlough days and already increased class sizes, already hardworking, dedicated teachers are being asked to work harder for less money. I come from industry and I understand the business needs. But I also understand human needs. We need respect. We continue to work on furlough days, And weekends, and evenings, doing what is right for our students. And we continue to be disrespected by a society that requires yet devalues what we do. But still we do the right thing.

My colleagues are worried about making ends meet and still, we do the right thing. I am lucky that I do not have to teach for a paycheck. Yet, I do have to teach ... not for a paycheck, but for my heart. It is part of who I am. I am here to put a face on the cycle I like to call the annual pink slip dance. Let me explain... People start asking "how are you" with that sympathetic smile right around January when we start hearing about the latest budget problems. In March we get our preliminary notice and then in May, ...right around teacher appreciation week, we get our final notice. Then maybe in August, we'll get a callback. For six months we do not know if we'll have a position next year. I know it like the steps of a dance because every year in the six years I have been in education, this is the routine I go through, and I am not alone.

Yet through it all, we remain professional and continue to engage and educate our students. We spend our own money to be sure our student needs are met. We grade papers at home in the evening just to keep up give our students timely feedback. We meet with parents after school and We participate in various committees. We do our best, just as we expect our students to. We continue to do the right thing. And wait. For half a calendar year, we wait.

Yet, not all of my colleagues are as fortunate as me. Some of us cannot afford to wait it out. They need to know that they will be placed next year, so in addition to remaining engaged and professional while at school, after hours they are out looking for a new job. This is the face of who you are asking to put life on hold while you sort out what you already know, you WILL need teachers to fill our spots, to teach our children.

There has got to be a better way. Consider please, how you can do the right thing for our kids, for your teachers and for our community.

Thank you for listening.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dan Pink- why simply implementing merit pay for teachers isn't the answer

Thanks to Vicki Davis, I just came across this article written a few months ago by Dan Pink.

He writes succinctly about an issue I have been struggling with since I joined the field of education seven years ago. Is merit pay the answer? Pink says no. And cites 8 reasons why. Here is number 4, simple and clear. Couldn't agree more!

4. There’s a simpler solution. My own solution for the teacher pay issue, which I’ve voiced many times both in writing and in speeches, is to strike a bargain: Raise the base pay of teachers – and make it easier to get rid of underperforming teachers. Not only is this approach more consistent with the evidence, it’s easier to implement and doesn’t require a new bureaucracy to administer. (To her credit, Michelle Rhee launched some efforts to move in this direction.)

So, how do we make that happen?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 7, 2012

Teaching as Leadership: Demystifying the “Natural Born” Teacher - ASCD EDge

In an ASCD blog post, Steven Farr articulates the differences between truly exceptional teachers and less effective ones. Teaching as Leadership: Demystifying the “Natural Born” Teacher. The blog states that Farr's research shows that effective teachers set and maintain high expectations for their students; they plan purposefully and tirelessly. But perhaps most importantly, they habitually reevaluate their approach, which means that their methodology is always fluctuating and in the process “of becoming.". Farr is the author of Teaching for Leadership.

so the net....
Expect quality work and effort
Plan, plan, plan

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Teacher tries to remain positive amid repeated layoffs - ASCD SmartBrief

Teacher tries to remain positive amid repeated layoffs - Related Stories - ASCD SmartBrief

It is very cool to be cited at a national level. Now that I have expressed my frustrations and continued the convertion, the big question is do we work for change?

My article was also published on School Leadership 2.0 , very cool!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Same verse, same song

California's fourth year of teacher layoffs spurs concern – Sad to say my story is not unique. Teachers all over the state are in the midst of RIFing season. Delaying notices until after the school year would be refreshing, but then leaves those of us who "really" lose our job scrambling in the summer. And just throwing more money at education is not the answer. Yes, we need more funding to education but we also need to be smarter in how we spend it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Social Kids

Raising kids to be socially conscious leaders is the mission of my friend Justin's company, Social Kids.
It is an interesting concept, sort of Khan Academy meets Facebook meets Kumon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, May 4, 2012

Won't get fooled again...

I keep thinking I'll be strong and not feel sad....I'm happy my voice is heard, but sad it is about this.

Beginning teachers get trapped in a cycle of heartbreak

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Santa Clara,United States

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Great article from Dennis Hong it reminds me of what I always tell parents after they spend an hour or day with my class. "If everyone could do it, they would."

Inspiring kids? Inspiring kids can be downright damned near close to impossible sometimes. And… it’s downright damned near close to impossible to measure. You can’t measure inspiration by a child’s test scores. You can’t measure inspiration by a child’s grades. You measure inspiration 25 years later when that hot-shot doctor, or lawyer, or entrepreneur thanks her fourth-grade teacher for having faith in her and encouraging her to pursue her dreams.

Maybe that’s why teachers get so little respect. It’s hard to respect a skill that is so hard to quantify.

So, maybe you just have to take our word for it. The next time you walk into a classroom, and you see the teacher calmly presiding over a room full of kids, all actively engaged in the lesson, realize that it’s not because the job is easy. It’s because we make it look easy. And because we work our asses off to make it look easy.

And, yes, we make it fun, too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:The Hardest Job Made to Look Easy

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Know and Show

Our kids are working on a Know & Show project. We brainstormed all of the things we learned this year. Then talked about what, of those things, did we learn well enough to be able to show others. They have all mostly chosen a topic and played with story boarding on the iPads. Some of them used Notes, some used Doodle Buddy and one kid found the storyboard option in my iMovie. What is really cool is even for this individual project, they are collaborating on the content, process and creation of the product.

Can't wait to share them at iOpen House and here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Those who know me know what a huge support my husband has been though everything, but in this case, through my journey in this, my encore career. The iPad Academy is no exception.  I told him recently I wanted my kids to make movies with the iPad but it is hard to hold still.  Look what he found!

Although the mount is nothing fancy, for the price it can't be beat!  The stylii (Styluses??) are pretty handy too. They really seem to help my left handed kids.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


This weekend I went to a two day conference, Lead3.0 put in by TICAL, CUE andACSA (my cousin, George Manthey is the  the Assistant Executive Director of Educational Services, of ACSA and the event co-organizer, an amazing guy).  

The first session I attended talked about Common Core Standards. The second session was near and dear to my heart.How Two Superintendents Collaboratively Launched an Initiative to Maximize Classroom Effectiveness in the Digital Age
Dr. Jacqueline M. Horejs, Superintendent, Union School District & Dr. Deborah L. Blow, Superintendent, Cambrian School District: Aware of the importance of collaboration as a 21st Century skill, Dr. Debbie Blow.. and Dr. Jacqueline Horejs, ... decided to initiate a 21st Century Digital Media Academy to provide professional development for teachers in both of our districts.  Teachers from each district applied and were selected to participate in a year long academy to learn how to effectively use digital media in their classrooms.  ...  Management team members are also collaborating on book studies including Trilling and Fadel’s 21st Century Skills, and workshops on the effective classroom use of iPads.

It was so cool to hear Dr. Blow talk about what we are doing and I honestly have never felt more proud of my school district! It was interesting to hear some of the background behind the thinking of the Academy concept & design, which basically is "feeding the rabbits" or as my previous Superintendent called us, "fire-starters".  Find the people who want to use it, they will use it and thus excite and teach others.

The keynote speaker at lunch was Alan November. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, DO IT! Here are some notes I took, but doesn't really do him justice. If you have time - watch the video recording they made.
  • Teach by asking not telling
  • Unlearning misconceptions is a phenomenally difficult thing to do.
  • Math 6th grade teacher site .for kids to make movies about math.  We so have to do this
  • Teach not only content but courage.  We have to teach them to be fearless learners.  Global publishing.
  • Children would prefer content provided by children when they are learning something new.
  • Unleash an army of creative problem solvers creating problem solving across the curriculum.   Kids work for free.
  • Check out Prime factorization by bob on  She says she learns more doing the videos that the kids watching because she "really has to learn it."
  • Kid who per teacher is not a Good 6th grade because she is lazy, as to why she is not doing school work but literally publishing content to a world-wide audience, "I have to decide, do I publish for my teacher or for the world?"
  • What is the proportion of work that has purpose and adds value to the world vs work that is done for a grade?
  • YouTube Dan Pink drive rsa animate   3 motivators...purpose, autonomy and mastery
  • Seed and tree. did it get there?  Kinder give same answer as harvard grads.  And they went to school between then!
  • If they don't have internet access, download to DVD and send home.
  • Mrs. Cassidy classroom blog   In Moose Jaw, 1st graders reaching a global audience creating documentaries of how they learned something.
Later I attended Technology Tools to Support Academics in RTI by Sheri Wilkins, Program Manager, Desert/Mountain Special Education Local Plan Area.
This workshop will provide participants with opportunities to explore technological solutions that will extend the effectiveness and efficiency of a Response to Intervention (RTI) model. The session will focus on tools for assessment and intervention in the areas of reading, writing, and math. Participants will be given time to explore the tools that are shared in the presentation.  I was hoping to find some good technology sources for reading intervention. This session focused mostly on assessment and not strategies.  I did talk to a vendor who has something similar to SuccessMaker but it runs on an iPad, so I might trial it.

I also attended a session with an innovative PD model between San Bruno Park SD and the Krause Center for Innovation.  I am a MERIT graduate so was interested to see what they did, which was produce an accelerated program to create tech savvy teachers. Creating Affordable and Timely Professional Development by Skip Johnson, Principal, Steven J. McGriff, Teacher-in-Residence, KCI, Gay Krause, ED, KCI and two teachers from the district: Providing high quality professional development to promote the use of technology is a challenge. In the San Bruno Park School District we created a partnership with the Krause Center for Innovation housed on the junior college campus of Foothill in Los Altos Hills to provide low cost professional development through the establishment of the Danford Center for Innovation.

The final highlight of my day was collaboration time with Jason and Martin.  We did some brainstorming about apps, they gave me encouragement about being laid-off, again, and then we went to the Apps for Apps mixer, where it was like speed dating but with iPad apps.  We learned about some really cool apps. I'll add links later.
  • App. Home 3d. To build a mission
  • App. Reflection can display whatever is on your iPad onto the computer, than project it.  Not as big a deal if you have appleTV
  • What we then brainstormed is to use a free app...Join me. It shares my screen with the kids they sign with a code.   Can also log in remotely.  This might be the solution Sheila and I were wondering about if we want all of our users on the same "page" at once, for example with a read along.
  • App. Classroom management. Can assign Badges, kids see how they are doing..they get points.  Could display using 2 windows so kids cn always see their status.  It can also be set up to send parent emails.  Maybe useful for 'that kid'.
  • app.  Educreation.  Just like show me. A little simpler. can't download videos with show me so if you want to embed them in something else, you may want to use Educreation ..both are free.
  • App Explain everything. 2. Cool app to annotate presentations, images, etc.
  • Doceri 3 versions can edit with the video then record   Export to an mov. Free $25 no ad, $30 also controls computers
  • If you are going to make movies, there is a Case/tripod mount/adapter for lenses. $64 Makayama. iPad 2. You can attach a 37 mm lens.  Kinda cool.  You can also attach external mic with $20 dongle
  • Cosmonaut. Stylus. A bigger handle for little kids.
  • App and web based tool  take notes and store them in the cloud for anywhere access..  It is where imam typing this!  Evernote. Shared folder so you can share assignments with kids that they can access anywhere...maybe much the same as Google apps though frankly docs is super slow and awkward.  Jon from Minnerette high school.   Taking notes in the cloud. 
  • Assignment: using Ask a friend three questions and record. (t has a voice feature) Then write summary. They have to stay on task because they have to produce soemthing!  
I am so happy I went to this event. It was engaging and re-invigorating. Will post later about the closing session with Steve Dembo 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Re-united and it feels so good...

Yesterday we were able to sort out why my student iPads weren't syncing. It was simple, IT had disabled them to add or delete apps, which totally makes sense. But when toggled off, I can't sync! So we fixed that. Then decided instead of syncing, we'd make a student master then just restore all the machines to that image. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love our IT guys at Cambrian! While he was there, my Magic Man solved another mystery we've been having on our CreaTV Mac. Moving from windows to iOS is quite the learning experience. But what fun!

We are on spring break this week, but five of us were able to come together to sort out the syncing, talk about and try out apps, and share ideas for classroom management and projects. It is an amazing, exciting opportunity to collaborate with colleagues on a program that is so meaningful and important to me. I feel energized!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Classroom Rules for iPad Use
We hope to get our iPads this week. The kids came up with the following. Not sure if we will need to add to them or further define? Maybe too many?  Suggestions?

Room 7
iPad Rules, Ideas and Stuff

  • keep water bottles under desk
  • do the right app at the right time
  • only take over apple tv when invited
  • be gentle and DO NOT run with it
  • follow the Bagby Bee’s
    • Be Respectful
    • Be Responsible
    • Be Safe
  • return ipad to the cart and plug it in when not in use
  • Close it, and Walk. Close it, and Walk
  • Mild (by the week)
    • 1st warning = $2 McC
    • 2nd warning = lose iPad for the lesson
    • 3rd warning = lose it for day
    • Final warning = lose it for 5 days
  • Serious
    • Lose it for day
    • Lose it for week
    • Lose it forever

We are in!

Despite union politics and me being a temp, our application to the academy was accepted and I am in! We had our first meeting and got our teacher iPads and MacBooks on the 26th.  Needless to say, my kids were very happy!

iPad Academy Background

So to catch up, a few weeks ago our superintendent, Dr. Deborah Blow, announced an iPad Academy. Our district! Cambrian Union in San Jose, CA, has implemented a hybrid Professional development(PD) model where teachers who are interested in an area of study can apply to an 'academy' where they will learn a lot and get the tools to use what they learn.

Here is a description of the academy:
Purpose: To provide Cambrian teachers with a collaborative learning opportunity to develop their use of technology as a powerful teaching and learning tool for the integration of 21st century skills.
Requirements of participants
•Completed application for the iPad Action Research Academy•Commitment to integration of technology into instruction•Participation in the 21st Century Learning iPad Academy Kick-Off Event – Monday, March 26 from 3:30 to 7:30•On Time, required participation in monthly sessions (2 hour sessions, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm) on Monday, April 23 and Monday May 21. Additionally there will be monthly meetings next school year, dates TBD.•Maintenance of a digital journal/portfolio•Attendance at end of year Colloquium in Spring of 2013
Components of Professional Development/Areas of Study•Through action research, investigate the use of iPads to individualize learning forall students•Components of instruction necessary for our 21st Century Students•Building upon the integration of technology into standards based instruction that leads to measurable student achievement gains•Challenge-Based Learning•Increasing student creativity and innovation•How to increase student collaboration and problem-solving skills•Fostering the use of engaging learning environments
Each participant in the academy will receive:•A class set of iPads•An iPad for teacher use•An iPad Cart for storage and charging•An Apple TV, which will allow you to project from your iPad to the White Board•Opportunity for further incentives in technology if participating in 21stCentury Learning Academy in future years.
Here is my application.

As soon as the iPad came out, I knew I wanted them for my classroom. They bring a level of student motivation, engagement and learning possibilities that was unprecedented before. I have used my own iPad as a productivity tool and have let students use it to play educational games and to make teaching videos (that is, students teaching other how to do something – like a mini-khan academy). I have also had BYOT days where I had 2:1 “iThings” (touches and pads) for math and literacy centers. I am interested in the iPad Action Research Academy as a way for me to learn new ways to harness this tool but also as a way to find out what works and what doesn’t. Some teachers are apprehensive or unaware of the benefits of using technology in the classroom. I’d like to be able to share tools, procedures and apps that will help allay some fears of implementation in their own classrooms. I see the role of teachers in the iPad Academy as being tech evangelists. Learning with an iPad provides additional opportunities for differentiation and compacting as well as an opportunity to present information to students in a variety of modalities. They provide access to information and research that is too expensive to do with books and hard to access with only seven old PCs or even the C.O.W., including access to regularly updated core content, without waiting for the next textbook adoption. With iPads, students can create their own learning opportunities and teach each other. I would love the opportunity to bring this technology, and these opportunities, to my students.

Ideally, Ms. +sheila monger and I will both be accepted into the academy. S. and I both are impressed with the apps we have used in the classroom individually and would love to collaboratively work on implementing some projects within our co-teaching structure.

I believe I am a good candidate for the iPad Action Research Academy because I am an open minded, tech-savvy, and extremely enthusiastic. I have taught other teachers how to use technology on my own time, including a summer website building workshop. Once I learn how to use something, I want to share it with anyone. I am also committed and organized which will help as we explore and establish ways to manage iPads in the classroom going forward. It is an exciting opportunity to be involved in the early stages of this project with the district and even though I am a temp, I hope you will seriously consider my application.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In what other profession indeed!

Just a little mini rant.  I have been thinking about David Reber's article in the Topeka Examiner.

In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? ...In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? ...In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? ...And if teachers dare ask for a raise, this is taken by many as clear evidence that teachers don’t give a porcupine’s posterior about kids. In fact, some say if teachers really cared about their students they would insist on earning LESS money....If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION by 2014? 

In what other profession indeed.  However, as a 6th year teacher in California who has been laid off every single year of my teaching career (after enduring only one layoff in my 20 years in hi-tech), I've been thinking about adding a few more..

In what other profession so people get laid off three months before their last day, while expecting them to be productive, inspiring, and engaging, working long hours and weekends, all the while knowing they don't have a job soon? While I don't want only two weeks notice, I do expect some appreciation for the fact that I come to work with a smile on my face every day.

In what other profession are employees retained almost solely based on seniority while passionate, talented and in many cases excellent "young" employees are let go? I am not saying experience doesn't matter, it does! I am a better teacher now than I was 5 years ago.  But there are some people who are in the profession that simply shouldn't be, but our system is broken.

In what other profession would someone question whether you know how to do your job?  Do you see the credential, the hours of continuous professional development, the masters degrees?  Yes, I am qualified and quite good, thank you.  Now, if I just knew where I was teaching next year.

iPads in Education

My district is rolling an an iPad Academy, the purpose: To provide our teachers with a collaborative learning opportunity to develop their use of technology as a powerful teaching and learning tool for the integration of 21st century skills. I am thrilled to have been accepted to this program and wanted to share the concept. The use of iPads in education seems a no brainer to many, though I wholeheartedly agree it is not a one size fits all solution.

Components of Professional Development/Areas of Study

  • Through action research, investigate the use of iPads to individualize learning for all student
  • Building upon the integration of technology into standards based instruction that leads to measurable student achievement gains
  • Increasing student creativity and innovation
  • How to increase student collaboration and problem-solving skills
  • Fostering the use of engaging learning environments
Each participant in the academy will receive a class set of iPads & cart, an Apple TV, to will project from your iPad. We will have to attend monthly meetings and keep a digital journal.

I am hoping to compile lists/links what have you of iPad resources for educators in my district. For example, CUE pointed me to Sample Lesson Plans

My application provided justification for my participation in the iPad Academy. I jointly applied with our Special Ed teacher (grades 3-4-5) as we see the iPads as another way to provide engaging and creative ways for our students to learn and demonstrate learning.

As I was writing my applicaiton, I thought, sure others have applied or will apply to something similar, so to pay it forward, following are excepts from the application:

As soon as the iPad came out, I knew I wanted them for my classroom. They bring a level of student motivation, engagement and learning possibilities that was unprecedented before. I have used my own iPad as a productivity tool and have let students use it to play educational games and to make teaching videos (that is, students teaching other how to do something – like a mini-khan academy). I have also had BYOT days where I had 2:1 “iThings” (touches and pads) for math and literacy centers. I am interested in the iPad Action Research Academy as a way for me to learn new ways to harness this tool but also as a way to find out what works and what doesn’t. Some teachers are apprehensive or unaware of the benefits of using technology in the classroom. I’d like to be able to share tools, procedures and apps that will help allay some fears of implementation in their own classrooms. I see the role of teachers in the iPad Academy as being tech evangelists. Learning with an iPad provides additional opportunities for differentiation and compacting as well as an opportunity to present information to students in a variety of modalities. They provide access to information and research that is too expensive to do with books and hard to access with only old PCs or even the computer-on-wheels (with netbooks), including access to regularly updated core content, without waiting for the next textbook adoption. With iPads, students can create their own learning opportunities and teach each other. I would love the opportunity to bring this technology, and these opportunities, to my students.

I believe I am a good candidate for the iPad Action Research Academy because I am an open minded, tech-savvy, and extremely enthusiastic. I have taught other teachers how to use technology on my own time, including a summer website building workshop. Once I learn how to use something, I want to share it with anyone. .... It is an exciting opportunity to be involved in the early stages of this project with the district...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wait til Next Year

Well, it happened again, I knew it would and I knew it all year and it still made me cry!  I was hired as a temp status by my new district. I tried not to get involved, to stay distant.  But it still hurt like hell on March 15 when they told me I won't be hired back. My cousin had dinner with my superintendent this week (it is a small world) and I asked jokingly, "did she say good things about me?"

"Actually, yes. But she still pink slipped you any way!" he ribbed back.  Funny but not.

Why is it good employees get laid off? The system is broken and I wish I knew how to fix it.

 Of course there is a strong likelihood they will call me back in August to offer me another temp contract for a year.  Yeah - I'll get to keep teaching...Boo - I still have to pack and move  and move and unpack