Monday, July 13, 2009

NECC Wrap Up

NECC today was beyond great. This was the first time I presented...well co-presented at a national coference. I had a great time. Brian did an excellent job with his CISCO presentation and even better with our Jing presentation. I also attended a session on Activ Inspire which is the latest software used in conjunction with the promethean board. It is interesting to know that they now offer boards in three sizes and that they come on a stand which with the push of a button raises and lowers the board to accomodate student height. That is fantastic. I think that is one of the best possible changes they could have made. The software looks promising. They are currently in the process of working out any final bugs. I am excited to learn more about it. It was a great session overall and can't wait for next year.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Digital Locker full of 21st Century Tools

Above is a cool blog site that I just copied because it was in the favorites. I do not think it has anything to do with the actual workshop I am in now, so I guess I should probably focus on that. This presentation pertains to google applications and how to ustilize them effectively in your district. This website is the presenters web site that she listed for us. I will revisit that later to see what is offered there. The presenters offered two blogsites which are , and Both of which will be investigated at a later date as well.
The rest of the session focused on tools offered through google such as google docs, google sites, google videos, etc. I currently use all of these and find them to be very useful. These applications provide students with real time collaboration opportunities. They allow students to author and edit their own work as well as provide real time feed back on the work of other students. The provides an avenue for a student driven classroom where the students take real ownership of their work, thereby keeping them engaged and excited about the material they are learning. Just to clarify google docs provide a collaborative suite of office like applications. There is a presentation app, a spreadsheet app, and a word like app, to name a few. Overall the presenter did a decent job, but the only new item I learned was how to create a form, which I found to be very useful. 
In a manner of wayside learning I was reminded of what I consider to be a good resource. This resource was Another site mentioned in this session that I also like is A couple of sites that I discovered that I was not aware of are, and I can see all of these becoming very useful in the future.
The session was good and I look forward to other such sessions in the upcoming days. 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Interactive Videoconferencing

So far so good. Good information and good resources. The session I am in right now is discussing going green with videoconferencing. A representative from the Global Nomads Groups spoke first. She made us aware of the fact they they are capable of providing classroom collaborations, as well as teacher professional developments. They break information down by themes, strands, and aligned to state standards. Some of what they offer is free. Their contact website is , or I am very excited about brining this information into our district.
Bev Maddox spoke next and spoke on something that is a passion mine which is student created content. She focused on the fact that with student created content the action is focused and very real to the students. Videoconferencing does indeed provide the opportunity for student collaborations that  are student created and student driven products. Student created content promotes student voice and a lot of student ownership that allows students to develop a working knowledge of technology tool that allows students hands on experience that provides both rigor and relevance. Next up is Dave Slaymaker from Arkansas University. He made the point that utilizing videoconferencing allows students access to content they would not otherwise have access to. Real teachers in real time.  He is from the Office of Distance Education and the website provided is They offer k12 courses in any subject. They also offer flexible scheduling, AP classes, with Highly Qualified teachers. 
Next up with a discussion on professional development. He made us realize that with the equipment we have the opportunity to bring in amazing speakers from around the world without the overhead cost. While it would not be completely free it is considerably cheaper to only have to pay for an instructors time without the cost of travel. The CILC website has many professional developments available. A book was highly recommended that is sold through ISTE, Videoconferencing for the k12 Classroom. 
Next up is Dawn offering resources that are available. Some of these are:,, and Other material that are uploaded from this workshop are listed on the NECC website under Going Green with Videoconferencing.
From here we moved into a skype session discussing the different aspects of funding videoconferencing. Some ways of funding are through grants one of which is,  USDA Rural and Distance Learning Grant, (RUS, targeting rural schools and communities), another is of course through ARAA. The first pot is through the stabilization phase, in September more will come down through school modernization and technology, you can also find your state application on the dept. of ed website, E2T2 is another way this money will be funneled through the state to the district. E2T2 monies will begin July 1, 2009. E2T2 must be filed separately but not Title I or IDEA. 4 Billion will come through Race to the Top (focus on substantial student gains), Invest in What Works (650 Million). October is when the apps will be posted, December is when those apps will be due, and money will be dispersed in March of 2010. There is also vendor grant assistance. Polycom and Tanberg are 2 vendors that do indeed provide grant assistance.  Polycom assists in the navigation of the grant process. Tanberg grants team researches and identifies funding sources that have an IVC peice, they then meet with those who have need and strategize a plan even to the point of making writter connections to help get the money, however they do not leave you there, they also help you through the implementation process. 
Overall this was a great session with very informative presenters. It is my hope that IVC will grow and really take root in our district this year. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

An IPod, Sight Words, and Keynote = Learning for my 4 Year Old

My office mate introduced an idea to me this week and I couldn’t help but to run with it. The results were amazing. I have a wonderful 4 year old named Ethan. He is incredibly bright. He is already reading and writing. Needless to say (considering his age), Ethan’s favorite mode of learning is through an electronic device (of which he has plenty). It was suggested to me, by Mrs. Packer, to put his sight words in keynote (Mac’s version of power point), record my voice saying the words, upload them to the IPod , and hand it over. I did this and you would not believe the results. Ask a child to sit down with you and go over some flash cards and see how long you maintain their interest(I tried that first), and then try this method. I assure you the results you see will be impressive.
So imagine this; a room full of kindergarteners or even first graders all gathered on the carpet with IPods in their hands, hearing, seeing , and saying the words. Imagine the level of interest, retention rates, and not to mention the different learning styles you are accommodating.
Let’s take it a little farther. Imagine a history class in which students walk in the door to iPods preloaded and ready to go with the lecture of the day. The students immediately pick up the devices and get moving. Once they have finished listening and taking the necessary notes, the teacher is then ready to take over with a dynamic, interactive discussion, or Socratic questioning session. The students are learning through a medium that is exciting to them. They are allowed to move at their own pace, and the opportunity is provided for real, thought provoking feedback. The lectures can also later be uploaded to a learning management system like Moodle, or even iTunes for remediation purposes.
Technology in education provides so many avenues to reach and engage this generation of students. My question is how do we make the connection between 20th century educators and 21st century learners?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So, I have been hearing great things about Twitter and finally decided to check it out. I liked it immediately. Thomas Friedman has made the argument more than once that "The World is Flat", and I am now a believer. Sorry Columbus! Imagine that at the touch of your finger tips which are already attached to a phone you communicate thoughts, ideas, locations, warnings, any given minute. Why is it better than texting? Because you can check on more than one person that you are "following" with out having to have any real time communication. So if you are just curious as to what your friends are up and do not want to text each one individually to satisfy your curiosity just pull up your twitter connection and have a look.

Before I really delved into what Twitter is and what it does I called a friend, Jeff Browning, and asked him to investigate Twitter and give me a positive report on how this tool can benefit society. This is what he came back with: Rachel why not find a way to utilize Twitter to benefit people who are in long term care homes. He felt that it would be a great way for these people, who are often disconnected from many of their family members more than they would like to be, to communicate their own thoughts, or simply check on their friends and loved ones. I was very impressed and now I would like to see one of our upcoming seniors in the school district that I work in take this on as a Senior Project. The upcoming senior could host a fund raiser to raise money to put computers in a given nursing home or long term care facility. The senior then could work with our sociology teacher to have a group of students volunteer their time training the employees, residents, and family members of this facility, and then monitor the data for results.

It amazes me more every day the new technologies that are becoming available that can do great things to improve communication in society if utilized appropriately.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Live and Learn

I was so excited to meet so many different people at meca this year. The presentations were incredible, each one offereing ways to better reach our students. That is, after all what it is all about right? Will Richardson was amazing. He was incredible in his presentation on the justifications for why technology should be embraced in education. Like him I truly beleive it is one answer to getting our students re-engaged in education. Let's face it....we are not marketing a product that is in high demand. We must take what we have to offer and package it in a manner that students will be receptive to accepting. Technology provides us with this opportunity. Blogging, and Podcasting are things that our students are doing in their everyday lives. Why not integrate that into the lesson and make the material we are presenting them with more meaningful and relevant. This seemed to be the common thread at meca. As always it is great to come together with like minded people to discuss and discover new ways of accomplishing our goals.