Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Online Project (K-3) – Winter Winderland   1 comment

….thought those of you who are working with this age group would be interested ……..

The Winter Wonderland Project is an online project for grades K-3 that includes winter-themed technology activities with reading, writing, and math components. Registration will open on November 17th. The Project will begin December 1st and end February 29th. Please visit the Winter Wonderland Wiki to register, learn about the planned activities, or to get more information about the project.


Posted December 4, 2008 by Jack in 1, technology

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Unruly Classes – Ordinary People Being Leaders   Leave a comment

Teachers have a job like no one else. No kidding.

Get unruly with a cop you can get arrested or detained.

Get unruly at a restaurant and you’ll be refused service.

Get unruly with your partner and they will tell you to get out.

But, get unruly in a K-12 class and the responsibility of a teacher is to run through their discipline system with the priority to keep you in class and have you be educated. My discipline system worked like this:
– first incident of disrupting class was a verbal warning.

– second incident of the same behavior was calling home, which sometimes meant stopping class – thereby disrupting 25+ students learning the content.

– third incident of same disruptive behavior was a “Responsible Thinking Form” and trip to the Dean.

– fourth incident was writing a Referral, which goes in student permanent file, and a trip back to see the Dean.

What I saw as a teacher was that there is a very small minority of students who are disruptive but then they can disrupt the entire class.

I think there are two ways to reduce disruptive behaviors and thereby support students who want to learn in excelling. First, remove disruptive students. Public K-12 classes are not experiments in behavior modification. Students that continually disrupt more than one class need to be set free. Put them in an alternative learning environment or put them to work at a job skill or a job. The worse action to take, for teachers and students who want to learn, is putting them back in a classroom.

Second, teachers need to be better leaders, which definitely requires a certain chemistry; a mix of content knowledge, people skills, presentation skills, some degree of being technology savvy, and compassion. I do agree that it’s tough to train leaders. Think about it, we can take an ordinary person and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to make one Navy Seal. But has anyone built or even researched the effective program that turns and ordinary person into a K-12 teacher?

Students nowadays are more prone to be technology savvy, able to multi-task, and obviously looking to understand more about life and their role in it. The television shows and movies they watch cover serious stuff and that comes with them to class, along with everything else that is happening or not happening at home. Today, young people are inundated with sex, violence, speedy advertisements, and dysfunctional behaviors at all levels of life. K-12 students today are not a docile blank slate waiting to be filled. They have an undying thirst to understand.

When you look around at the majority of new teachers, what do you see?. They are 20 something and fresh out of college. Kudos to them for making a decision to support education, but they have little life experience to offer students. My concern is that we are filling K-12 teacher slots with young teachers who lack the life skills to be able to teach because they are unable to match or exceed student thirst. They haven’ been out in life enough – yet. Sure they know the content, but can they deal with what else is happening in a K-12 class?

The chemistry of teaching isn’t easy. We all had at least one teacher that knew everything but couldn’t control the class. Or, the teacher that was everyone’s friend and no one learned a darn anything. Remember the teacher who filled every class period with worksheets and s/he just sat at their desk? And then the nightmare teacher, where you did exactly the same thing every day in class.

Life experience is priceless – no matter what profession you are in. It means volumes to the students when you can pull life into a lesson and talk to the lesson content. That is called engaging students with life outside of class. The other point, students are always taking everything to the limit – don’t all young people do this? I did. Young people need to test the limits to see what they can get away with. The challenge of new teachers is that s/he hasn’t built up a repertoire of meaningful social experiences to deal with “behavior incident” situations because they have been learning the subject content.

K-12 teachers must be a solid leader in the land of young people thirsty to comprehend our complex world. We owe it to new teachers to train them, not in being book smart, but in the comprehensive chemistry of effective K-12 teaching. If you know of a “pre-service” teaching program that you think offers the right chemistry for training teachers please let me know.

What helped me the most as a new teacher?
Harry Wong – a must read and then DO IT.

Multiple Intelligences – Harry Gardner

Even though he has little research his ideas are compelling and helped me understand individual students.

K-12 Grants for project learning and service learning

Make Your voice Heard – Report cards

Constructing Innovative Teaching   Leave a comment

Service Learning: Community Café
The Community Café is a table-service soup kitchen that has served more than 15,000 meals to needy residents since December 2006. Kristen Allcorn founded the Café as part of a high school community service project.

Project Based Learning: Digital-age projects give students room to follow their own interests.
Elise Mueller is a Bellingham, Wash., teacher who seems to be in an ideal setting for project-based learning to thrive. She and two fellow elementary teachers share teaching responsibilities for grades 3-5. Students come to Mueller’s room for social studies and language arts; her colleagues teach science and math. All three teachers integrate technology, and they regularly plan projects that cut across disciplines. But as Mueller told me recently in an interview for Northwest Education magazine, there’s still one remaining challenge: getting students on board.

Education Games: One Stop Resources – all subjects
The world of wikis is … well rich and wicked too.
Finally, a decent resource for all you interested in exploring the world of education video games. Check out this Education Game Resource wiki and you’re bound to learn at least one new resource today.

Online Teacher Community

K-12 Green Ed News

Get ready, set and go to digital learning materials – for free   Leave a comment

Hey, what if we got rid of the textbooks and allowed teachers to share digital texts and course materials? Then any teacher can modify/translate/contextualize that material for their class … oh yeah, it’s all free to do this. Would you use it? I would in a heart beat. This video below, Richard Baraniuk, shows this has already begun around the world … it’s being realized right now in an effort called Connexions.

Posted March 11, 2008 by Jack in Curriculum, learning, technology

Cool, free tech stuff for learning tools   Leave a comment

Technology is here to stay and as educators we have to learn it and, if we are lucky, keep up with it. Here are some tools you can use for free, each has a different level of skill requirements.

Get “Pro” version of Google Earth for free.
Read how and learn about how to apply it in your lessons here.

Productivity: documents, presentations, file storage, database, and more
Zoho is a suite of online applications (services) used from an online server. The applications are free for individuals and some have a subscription fee for organizations.

Virtual World
Quest Atlantis (QA) is an international learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-15, in educational tasks. QA combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation.

Chat Rooms
1. Yaplet: a simple idea: Add anonymous, no-registration chat to any Web site. Yaplet is a browser sidebar that can also be popped out as its own browser window.
2. ChatMaker: make your own chat room.
3. Chatzy: make your own chat room

Presentation – Collaboration
1. Multiple people can work on a document at the same time: Just 2 Easy, Zoho Writer, Solodox.
2. White board that allows multiple online users – up to five – at the same time: Scriblink.
3. White board that allows multiple online users and you can paste in other docs too: Skrbl.
Squeak is a “media authoring tool”— software that you can download to your computer and then use to create your own media or share and play with others. It is free and downloadable here.

1. A web-based software for creating WebQuests in a short time. When you use zWebquest, you will not need any of writing HTML code or using any web editor software. zWebquest creates all the necessary files and puts them on the server automatically.
2. Filamentality is a free fill-in-the-blank tool that guides you through picking a topic, searching the Internet, gathering good Internet links, and turning them into online learning activities.

Provided by Education Reporting, Inc website for reports, trends, and news on K-12 education.

Posted March 9, 2008 by Jack in technology, tools

Are you a literate educator?   1 comment

I have always thought a literate educator was one that knew the language and could draw metaphors with it, as well as write and read. What do you consider the qualities of a literate educator?

What peaked my interest was learning how to make a podcast the other night after arriving home from school. Creating one is something I’ve been meaning to do, so I sat down at the trusty laptop and got a Googling. Within 20 minutes I had found the article that worked for me to explain the procedures and the parts I needed, which weren’t much. With a microphone hooked to my PC and free software I’m able to get started in the world of podcasting.

As an educator, I think I can turn my podcasts into a handy education tool for students. But why make the effort? They will listen. How many students have MP3 players in your classes? About 50% or more in mine have ‘em. Students obtain more knowledge from watching a 15 minute clip that they do listening to my 15 minute lecture, even when I’m using a PowerPoint presentation. I’m thinking the time has arrived to redefine a literate teacher for my view.

There is so more media available to teach with nowadays besides books, paper, and a pencil/pen that the students will use. We as teachers have to take the leading edge in integrating technology into our lessons and classes. Here are my skill requirements for a literate educator in the not too distant future ….

Blogs: can produce a blog at regular intervals for lesson use or to communicate with other educators

Email: must be fluent in sending, receiving, and managing email

File Management: manipulate files, upload or download, and is well organized in maintaining and storage of files, including bookmarks of favorite web sites

LCD projectors: with this linked to the teacher computer the entire world, via the internet, can be used in a classroom lesson.

Podcast: develop, produce and share content relevant podcasts

Peer Collaboration: skillful at using online resources in lessons where students and teacher can have dynamic discussions, including being able to navigate social networking sites

Texting: understands how to receive and send text messages

Web page building: demonstrated success in constructing an informative and interesting web page

Wiki: makes use of this tool in publishing lesson content or to manage student discussions

What are the requirements you see as necessary?

Visit my web site at

Posted March 2, 2008 by Jack in educator skills, pedagogy, technology

Five top resources: service learning   Leave a comment

Service learning provides time for students to work with each other and their hands to learn skills, understand social responsibility, and live their education. In a nutshell, this learning reaches beyond the textbook and builds essential life skills. Here are my five top resources:

5. Points of Light
Extensive information about volunteering that may not necessarily be involved with schools. However, the site does provide extensive resources: local; national; international; and faith based, that is organized by categories:

Assessment,Communications, Leadership Technology, Organization Management, Partnership Development, Risk Management, Targeted Volunteer, Engagement, Volunteer Management, and Volunteer Service Models

National Service Learning Partnership
A national network of members dedicated to advancing service-learning as a core part of every young person’s education. Service-learning is a teaching method that engages young people in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies or other type of intentional learning activity. This site has hundreds of free documents and papers to help educate yourself and others about service learning. Join their national network for free.

3. Learn and Serve Clearinghouse
Excellent site to understand what service learning is all about. There is plenty of good information to educate and link up organizations, including detailed student efforts underway. The site is split up into age groups which will help teachers better define appropriate material. If you are new or old to service learning there’s content to help you move your ideas/projects forward. Here are some of my favorite publications and there’re many more:

Guidebook for introducing service learning
Faculty/Staff Toolkit for understand service learning
K-12 Serve Learning Project Planning
Partnerships For After-School Success Tool Kits

2. Reach Every Child
Excellent resource for every subject taught in K-12; provides loads of web sites with notes on how those sites can be used in service learning projects. This is the best site where teachers can get some comprehensive resources for integrating lessons around service learning.

1. Facing the Future
This organization offers curriculum, teacher workshops, and service learning opportunities to create and maintain positive, healthy and sustainability communities. The material is designed by and for teachers, and focuses on bringing critical thinking about global issues to students in every content area. They have some free downloads for high school that are units,
get them here. The textbooks they offer must be purchased. The lesson and curriculum are matched to state and national standards here. They have a database of action oriented projects with domestic and worldwide information located here. This is a comprehensive site that will definitely get you educated and enable you to move forward with lessons and some action ideas too.

What is/are your favorite resource(s)?

Posted February 27, 2008 by Jack in K-12, service learning, technology