Browsed by
Category: NCTE

How to Bring Teachers in Your District on Board with Technology

How to Bring Teachers in Your District on Board with Technology

I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had over the years to attend and present at educational technology conferences hosted by outstanding organizations such as ISTECUE, Google’s EdTechTeam, National Writing Project, and NCTE. Being able to attend keynotes and sessions by nationally known educational visionaries, such as Will Richardson or Kylene Beers or Rushton Hurley, provides sufficient inspiration and innovative ideas to energize my teaching throughout the school year.

When I attend conferences outside of the Sacramento region or outside of California, I’m also aware that very few teachers from my district have been able to find the funding to cover registration and travel costs. Many are just dipping their toes into the technology integration waters and are not yet ready to submit a workshop proposal, for instance, which might entitle them to attend a conference with registration fees waved (a benefit I frequently take advantage of). And those who do attend some of the two-day, three-day, or four-day conferences often share with me that they ended their conference experience a bit overwhelmed by all the mind-blowing tips and tricks from the many technology rock star presenters.

I love what my district is doing to bring teachers on board with technology integration. Last Saturday, we hosted our 2nd annual Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar at one of our high schools. For a mere $20 (which covered breakfast and lunch costs – and was waived if you volunteered to present), teachers could begin the morning with an amazing keynote from nationally/internationally known technology innovator and #HyperDocs queen Lisa Highfill. Following the keynote, our teachers could then select four 1-hour, hands-on sessions to attend.

Photo of Lisa Highfill presenting at Elk Grove USD's Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar
The ever-inspiring Lisa Highfill rocks the Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms house!

To give you an idea of the wonderful variety and range of topics, here are a few session descriptions:

  • Teaching in a [Semi]Paperless Google Classroom – Teachers of all grade levels can learn tips and tricks to setting up their Google Classroom and implementing assignments.  Basic knowledge of Google Drive very helpful, but not required. I will show you what it looks like from teacher view and student view.
  • e-Portfolios for PRIMARY Students – Start an amazing journey to meet CCSS with authentic assessment using 21st century tools. Come learn how to create digital portfolios of student work to provide them with important opportunities to reflect on, curate, and showcase their learning beyond the classroom walls. Engage easily with parents and connect them to the heart and soul of your classroom.  It’s EASY, versatile, and accessible from ANY device. You’ll love it!
  • Extension Must-Haves for TeachersChrome extensions can make you a millionaire! Okay, so not really, but they can help you and your students be more productive and isn’t that more important than money? Come learn how to install and use the top must-have extensions you need now.
  • NASA & Project Spectra – Come learn about various tools you can use to teach astronomy & magnetism, grades 6-12.  Get hands on practice with interactive games, find resources that augment your regular class materials and try your hand at mapping magnetism on another planet. “Project Spectra!” is a science and engineering program for 6th – 12th grade students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. “Project Spectra!” emphasizes hands-on activities, like building a spectrograph, as well as the use of real data to solve scientific questions.

I believe what makes our Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminars so immediately relevant to attending teachers is that, other than our keynote speakers, every presenter is a district teacher. Across grade levels and curriculum, our presenters share best practices that work with our students – students who the attendees may have taught in the past or may be teaching in the coming years. Add to that motivating factor the fact that all presenters are easily accessible for an on-site visit or via district email, I know many attendees left ready to implement on Monday new ideas, strategies, and tools.

photos of teachers attending session to learn about Twitter
Awesome group of Elk Grove USD teachers delving into the power of Twitter.

It was my privilege to co-present Extending Student Voices Through Videoconferencing with Erica Swift and Twitter: What’s all the fuss about?! with Cathe Petuya. Already several teachers have contacted me with questions and ideas for weaving videoconferencing into their curriculum and others (via Twitter) to express their awe at the power of Twitter.

Given the manageable scope – and reasonable expense – of organizing and hosting a district-centered Saturday technology conference, I highly recommend this concept as an effective way to encourage technology “newbies” to explore how different tools offer new possibilities for teaching. I’m pretty sure the “newbies” who attended our Saturday Seminar are now ready to head off to CUE, ISTE, and other popular technology conferences – minus the intimidation factor. And based on the above session descriptions, I will be encouraging ALL of our presenters to start submitting proposals – beyond our 2018 Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms event.

If you are already sponsoring district-based/centered technology conferences, I would love to hear any suggestions or answer any questions!

 

 

Hulk Hogan Taught My Son to Read – Sports Literacy in the Common Core Era

Hulk Hogan Taught My Son to Read – Sports Literacy in the Common Core Era

My son was a late reader.  He entered 2nd grade already a grade level behind in reading. That changed one Saturday afternoon when he stood next to me at a checkout stand at a convenience store. He spotted a wrestling magazine with his hero Hulk Hogan featured on the cover. As he handed the magazine to me with the plea of “Please, Mom. It’s Hulk Hogan,” I put aside minor concerns of appropriateness for a 7-year old and purchased the magazine. Within the hour, as I listened him begin the article on Hulk, I saw, with each sentence, his fluency, confidence, and energy level escalate . In less than 60 minutes, Hulk Hogan transitioned my son from a “reluctant reader”  to a reader.

As a teacher, in the years since witnessing first hand the power of sports literacy, I am always on the look out for resources that bring reluctant readers or disengaged students on board with literacy. I found a great one this morning via the National Council for Teachers of English Teaching and Learning Forum: Alan Brown’s Sports Literacy blog. Alan Brown is an assistant professor of English education at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Aimed at middle and high school, the Sports Literacy Blog provides an array of  resources and literature recommendations for integrating sports-related topics and readings across the curriculum. With the Common Core Standards’ emphasis on informational reading, sports literacy would be an easy cross-curricular connection.

In November, I am hoping to attend the NCTE’s 2013 Annual Conference in Boston. It is always a fabulous conference, worthy of the travel expenses. With National Writing Project (NWP) and NCTE members like Troy Hicks, Sarah Kjader, Bud Hunt, Paul Oh, Sandy Hayes and Kevin Hodgson leading sessions, I always leave with new understandings of  the power and possibilities of digital learning. This year will be no exception. Alan Brown has proposed the following session:

The Intersection of Literacy, Sport, Culture, and Society. The session will include keynote speakers, reactants, and round table leader,s all focusing on a wide array of sports and literacy connections.”

If I make it to Boston, I promise to blog the session!

Back from NCTE 2012 Convention

Back from NCTE 2012 Convention

I’m back from a 5-day trip to Las Vegas, host site for the 2012 NCTE Annual Convention: Dream, Connect, Ignite. The opportunity to hangout with and learn from NWP and NCTE colleagues more than made up for having to traverse the ultra smoke-filled, incredibly noise-filled casinos that lay between the MGM Grand rooms and convention center.

I arrived in time for Thursday’s NWP Plenary session, where I joined a room full of educators “writing together, writing in the moment.” What better way to start a conference than with Tanya Baker’s words, which came to life each of the five days, that “I am smarter and better because of the many NWP mentors who continue to push me ahead, as a writer and as an educator.”

A few take-aways:

Thursday

  • Natalie Merchant’s Thursday Night Opener – My first conference take-way will actually go to my niece: Leave Your Sleep– Natalie Merchant’s collection of classic children’s poetry – put to music – which Natalie played for a delighted conference hall of English teachers, as she strolled through the gathering.

    NCTE 2012 Convention

Friday

  • Sir Ken Robinson’s Friday Keynote – Being a big fan of Sir Ken’s TED talks, it was a treat to see and hear him live. Three quotes I now carry with me:
    • on empathy (which is usually defined by what it is rather than its absence) “When you don’t have it, unimaginable things can happen.”
    • “Imagination is the heart of human life – from it springs set of competencies. Creativity = applied imagination.”
    • “Our resumes don’t come at birth – we earn them – we create them.”
  • Will Richardson’s (20 minute) Ignite Session – “Networks are the new classrooms…The network is more powerful than the node (e.g., Twitter)… The literacies, skills, dispositions have changed – we have to change too (from analog to digital). Connected teacher network graph by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach makes visible the need for us to stop being teachers and to start being learners. Our students need to see us as learners”
  • Stop the Bullying – Although I am deeply involved in this topic as a stepping stone into positive digital citizenship, I knew with this outstanding panel, I would walk away with new insights and resources.
    • Ferial Pearson – Reminded us of the power of pro-active vs. re-active  – and the value of spending the 1st week of school building community – with the result that students will understand what “respect” looks like.
    • Kevin Hodgson – I know that back at my district, I’ll be pulling from Kevin’s When Bullying Goes Digital Prezi, including his reference to Our Stories Count.
    • Kylene Beers – For all the times I’ve talked with students and staff about the need to “google well,” I can’t believe I haven’t also walked them through the steps for setting up a “Google alert” to notify them instantly when their names pop up in cyberspace. Great tip!
    • Lester Laminack – I can’t help thinking about the impact Lester’s Sticks and Stones Break Bones but Words Can Really Hurt You presentation could have on a faculty or student body as they plan their own anti-bullying campaigns. Such a compelling, gripping story.
    • Chris Crutcher – So sorry I couldn’t stay for Chris’s presentation.

Saturday

  • Meenoo Rami’s #engchat Tech-to-Go  session – If you haven’t been able to participate in the synchronous Twitter session, the good news is Meenoo is archiving the sessions. Meenoo recommends TweetChat for easy following and adding to #edchat discussions.
  • Chad Sansing and Andrea Zellner’s Hackjam Tech-to-‘Go session – So glad I was able to catch the last 10 minutes of their high-energy presentation, just in time to learn about Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker, a great free tool to “enhance, remix and share web video.”

Sunday

  • Reports from Cyberspace – It’s definitely worth getting up early on a Sunday morning when the session is co-hosted by Sara Kajder, Troy Hicks, and Bud Hunt!  Here are a few gems from each:
    • Bud – “If you don’t have a rationale for the (tech) tool, don’t use it”
    • Sara – In addition to exploring ways to use a Livescribe pen (to create “pencasts” of notes and audio, which can then be sent on to Evernote), SoundPaper (lets you create “talking labels”), and WeVideo (for book trailers), I’ll definitely be checking out Subtext (currently available as an iPad app, but scheduled to go live to the cloud), described by Sara as the “game changer” for having students collaboratively close read texts.
    • Troy – Five Ways to Destroy Digital Literacy:
      1. count slides, images, links – with a rubric reflecting that
      2. blog without blogging (wikis, docs, wiki) – instead of recognizing and tapping into the power  of connective writing.
      3. criticize “digitalk”  – instead of recogning the benefits of students “code switching” as described by Kristen Turner  – these kids are more digitally aware.
      4. ask only “googleable” questions – For example: Let me google that for you – http://lmgtfy.com/
      5. always be thinking about the “coolest” website app, or gadget – when instead, you could use Google docs to read, confer, respond with students).

Sunday (ACE workshop)

  • I wish Katherin Garland’s session on Prezi had been filmed.  In the Prezi workshops I’ll be doing back in my district, I will definitely draw on Kathrin’s reminder to “think conceptually” as I attempt to model her simple, elegant creation of a favorite author Prezi.
  • Thanks to Carey Applegate’s session on Storify, I’m now on board with this free tool for telling our stories. Carey posed the question, “How would your story change if you could bring in images, film, etc.?”  Carey’s example illustrates her question: http://storify.com/careyapplegate/breaking-canon.

There is nothing like the power of five days spent with 9,000 English teachers to truly “push me ahead.”  What I learned in Vegas will be reflected in my upcoming workshop.

I’m already looking ahead to next year’s event…in Boston!

4 Best 2011 NWP~NCTE Conference Sessions I Did Not Attend

4 Best 2011 NWP~NCTE Conference Sessions I Did Not Attend

Traveling to Chicago for the 2011 Annual National Writing Project (NWP) and National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) Conferences was not in my budget this year, so I was delighted by the opportunity to attend three  four sessions virtually:

Whoohoo, just found/attended a 4th great NCTE session, thanks to a link from Paul Allison:

As much as I would have loved to have joined these three  four sessions in real time, I really appreciated having access to the next best thing: virtual attendance. And, of course, the upside is that I woke up this morning, already home, ready to start the Thanksgiving prep routine, minus the usual NWP/NCTE conference jet lag;-).

2011 NWP~NCTE Annual Conference – one more huge thing to be thankful for!

Teaching Writing “Out of a Box” – Can we reverse the trend?

Teaching Writing “Out of a Box” – Can we reverse the trend?

Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. ” (National Writing Project)

Image from the National Writing Project

I was not taught how to teach writing as part of my teacher credential program.  It is through my 16-year affiliation with the National Writing Project that I have joined conversations, learned strategies, and shared best practices on helping students improve their writing skills – in ways that help them see themselves as writers and to actually look forward to writing.

Following my participation in the Area 3 Writing Project’s 1995 Summer Institute, as I headed into the new school year, I could almost immediately see the difference in my 6th graders’ attitudes and progress as I revamped my writing program.  By the time we headed to science camp, many had already transitioned from “having to write” to “getting to write.” I can still remember our first stop on the way to camp, where the students had an hour to explore a sandy beach, watch the seals and seagulls, and marvel at the pounding surf.  I noticed a number of students sitting silently, counting on their fingers.  I realized that, in their heads, they were counting syllables – for words they would include in the haiku poetry they would write down that night in their notebooks. Writers in the making!

Not surprisingly, in our current test-driven climate, many school districts have adopted scripted, formulaic writing programs with the belief that writing can be taught step-by-step out of a box program. Sadly, I think districts often value most programs they have to pay for – over the knowledge and expertise of their own teachers on effective ways to improve students’ writing.

I started my morning reading Paula Stacey’s Let’s Stop Teaching Writing, an article by that was included in today’s National Writing Project Daily. I value Paula’s reflections on teaching writing to 3rd graders and share her belief that “In our desire to help students engage in the process of writing, we have defined a process that really isn’t writing.”

I am currently out of the classroom, working as a technology integration specialist, and therefore am not in a situation of having to take a stand with an administrator or “writing” coach on teaching a boxed program. To those of you who are in that situation, I recommend initiating grade level and site discussions around the National Writing Project’s Core Principles:

  • Teachers at every level—from kindergarten through college—are the agents of reform; universities and schools are ideal partners for investing in that reform through professional development.
  • Writing can and should be taught, not just assigned, at every grade level. Professional development programs should provide opportunities for teachers to work together to understand the full spectrum of writing development across grades and across subject areas.
  • Knowledge about the teaching of writing comes from many sources: theory and research, the analysis of practice, and the experience of writing. Effective professional development programs provide frequent and ongoing opportunities for teachers to write and to examine theory, research, and practice together systematically.
  • There is no single right approach to teaching writing; however, some practices prove to be more effective than others. A reflective and informed community of practice is in the best position to design and develop comprehensive writing programs.
  • Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation. Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform.”

Given the incredible amount of bureaucratic requirements and accountability issues administrators must deal with,  I think it’s easy for them to lose their vision of what students really need to thrive in today’s digital world. I recommend sending good resources their way. Resources such as Edutopia  to provide them with a window into “what works in education,” or the NCTE’s  working “definition of 2st century literacies,” or the NWP’s Digital Is  to inspire and re-energize them with a  “collection of ideas, reflections, and stories about what it means to teach writing in our digital, interconnected world.” Because writing matters.

 

Reports from Cyberspace – Heading into the New Year

Reports from Cyberspace – Heading into the New Year

http://edcapps.edcgov.us/photoalbum/SmallPhotos/S_WinterSnowPlacervilleTL.jpg
http://edcapps.edcgov.us/photoalbum/SmallPhotos/S_WinterSnowPlacervilleTL.jpg

What a great start to the New Year! I woke up to beautiful snow (something we get only a few times a year here in Placerville, CA) and my morning edition of The nwp Daily, full of thought provoking posts, Tweets, and links for stepping into 2011.

The first link I clicked on took me to Troy Hicks’ Summarizing of Our Reports from Cyberspace. Attending the NWP / NCTE Annual Conference was just not in my budget this year, so I tried to attend virtually, which proved to be a challenge.  For example, following the Twitter stream of #nwp10 and #ncte10, proved to be a bad idea.  With the 140 character limit, session-goers tended to Tweet what a great session I was missing – something I already realized. And one session I really, really wanted to attend was TroyBud Hunt, and Sara Kjader’s Three Reports from Cyberspace workshop.

But thanks to Bud’s video editing and Troy’s post, this morning I was able to click on the YouTube link and virtually attend Sara’s excellent part of the threesome’s workshop – Assessment in the context of digital teaching and learning. There is something about viewing a presentation “live” that is simply more impactful than reading about the session. I’m starting the year with a firm resolution to think more deeply about assessment: assessment of learning; assessment for learning, and, more important, assessment as learning.

Also in The nwp Daily was Paul Allison’s link to a post by one of his 8th graders  – Speak with the Heart, an invitation for other students to collaborate on a multimodal piece that will be hosted on the Voices from the Gulf project.  I’m  imagining this project will fit Sara’s description of a “messy work in progress…making it authentic…making it ‘commentable.'” And “keeping it real,” to quote Paul’s take on teaching and learning in general. And such a good use of cyberspace!

Right up there with my New Year’s resolution to get a better handle on assessment in a digital age is my resolution

http://a3.twimg.com/profile_images/64914663/New_Years_Fire_Works_-_1024x768.jpg
http://a3.twimg.com/profile_images/64914663/New_Years_Fire_Works_-_1024x768.jpg

to delve more into technology as a tool for English Language Learners. I am fortunate, in my current position as technology integration specialist, to support K-12 teachers with their technology questions, concerns, and visions. Sure, I still visit classrooms that are having “test scrimmage” or “power down days,” but I also, on a very regular basis,  witness powerful teaching and learning. Heading into 2011, my reports from cyberspace will include sharing some of the best practices and tools for ELLs…starting with the Stories from the Heart project – with a shout out to Audacity.

Looking forward to a year of sharing, collaboration, learning, and attending some great conferences – in real time and/or virtually;-)

Building a News Story = Building 21st Century Literacies

Building a News Story = Building 21st Century Literacies

News 10’s Nick Monacelli’s September SECC session on Building a News Story was outstanding! And the good news for teachers – across grade levels and subject areas – who were not able to join us live at Channel 10 is that you and your students now have access to the entire presentation:

SEVA-nick

As I’m writing this post, I’m also re-listening to Nick’s talk – and thinking that the samples, tips, and discussion all help  to make visible NCTE’s Definition for 21st century literacy:

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments”

Many thanks to SECC and cameraman Doug Niva for hosting this wonderful resource.

National Day on Writing – Come Join the Celebration!

National Day on Writing – Come Join the Celebration!

If you haven’t already marked October 20th on your calendar to take part in the National Day on Writing, please read on! In recognition of how integral writing has become to all of us as we journey further into the 21st century, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is inviting our nation to come celebrate composition in all its forms by submitting a piece of writing to the National Gallery of Writing.

NCTE National Day on Writing

Why a National Day on Writing?

In light of the significance of writing in our national life, to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives, October 20, 2009, will be celebrated as The National Day on Writing. The National Day on Writing will

  • celebrate the foundational place of writing in Americans’ personal, professional, and civic lives.
  • point to the importance of writing instruction and practice at every grade level, for every student and in every subject area from preschool through university. (See The Genteel Unteaching of America’s Poor.)
  • emphasize the lifelong process of learning to write and composing for different audiences, purposes, and occasions.
  • recognize the scope and range of writing done by the American people and others.
  • honor the use of the full range of media for composing.
  • encourage Americans to write and enjoy and learn from the writing of others.

What a wonderful opportunity to write as an individual, a family, a classroom, a school site, a department – to write from all walks of life.  All the resources you might need to get started with your piece are available on the website, from a flyer about the event to a link to Writing Between the Lines – and Everywhere Else, a look at how young people are using forms of digital media to reshape the process of composing.

A huge thank you to all the folks at NCTE for your gift to the nation!

Kathleen Yancey at NECC – Best session I did not attend

Kathleen Yancey at NECC – Best session I did not attend

I should have known that Kathleen Yancey would pack ‘um in at NECC – and I should have been there early.  Try as I did, I could not persuade the ISTE door person to let me in.  But I lucked out….Sandy Hayes taped (with permission) “The Yancey’s” whole session. And Carla Beard blogged the session.

Live from NECC 2009 – Kathleen Yancey from Gail Desler on Vimeo.

What can I add about a session I did not attend, besides the above snippet?…How about posting NCTE’s 10 Belief’s About the Teaching of Writing (another gem shared by Sandy Hayes)?!

More Gifts from the Nat’l Council for Teachers of English!

More Gifts from the Nat’l Council for Teachers of English!

I’m surprised that my MS Word spellchecker continues to underline literacies.  It’s been more than a year since  the National Council for the Teachers of English President Kylene Beers posted a definition of 21st century literacies, moving away from what had for decades been a word that existed in singular form only. I’ve probably referred teachers to this link almost as many times as I’ve recommended visiting NCTE’s wonderful Read, Write, Think site. And for colleagues who ask me about research on writing in a digital age, I refer them to Kathleen Yancey’s Writing in the 21st Century report. I’ve also recently joined NCTE’s English Companion Ning, where I have opportunities to join such groups as the upcoming discussion of Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It.

But wait, here comes one more huge gift to teachers from NCTE: The National Gallery of Writing :

To celebrate composition in all its forms, we are inviting diverse participants –students, teachers, parents, grandparents, service and industrial workers, managers, business owners, legislators, retirees and many more — to submit a piece of writing to the which will be a digital archive of samples that exhibit how and why Americans are writing every day, accessible to all through a free, searchable website.”

Thank you, NCTE!  I’m working on a multimedia essay right now (A Case for Filmmaking in the Classroom, a piece inspired by Ernest Morrell’s keynote at last summer’s NCTE Conference on 21st Century Literacies) that I hope to soon submit to the Gallery.

Skip to toolbar