Posted tagged ‘EdTech’

We’ve Got Openings!

March 26, 2009

We have come to the point in the year when we start scouring for new talent, and with the addition of new specialty areas and 150 students next year, we need some more great teachers.

A few of our current folks will be leaving us and we will need to add core teachers to support our growing campus; we will also need a Web Mastering teacher. I can’t give you a lot of  specifics yet, but if you are interested in working at an outstanding high school with an active one-to-one laptop program, please consider submitting your application.

We are always looking for innovative teachers who work well with students and would like to break out of the traditional educational mold.

You can find out more about The Academy by visiting our website – make sure to check out our specializations – and by watching this video produced by our Media Tech students.

Interested parties should fill out an online application with Irving ISD and e-mail a resume to Eric Creeger, 1st floor Vice Principal.  We hope to hear from you!


I Am Back… And Some Things to Think About

February 18, 2009

I returned to work yesterday after several weeks off for maternity leave. While on leave I have been using most of my online “free time” to document little Dylan’s life, but now that I am back to work, I want to share some of the educational and “professional”  things that have been on my mind.

To begin, I have a few articles and/or blog posts I would like to share with you all. They are things that have really gotten me thinking about the direction of education.

The first is a blog post from Jeff Utecht which discusses the possible demise of the traditional educational model with the creation of the University of the People. It is a good read with some interesting ideas.

The next is an article from Campus Technology which discusses how textbooks are evolving from printed to more “Web 2.0” based. There are some great links to free online textbooks and some thought-provoking concepts.

And finally, this article from eSchools outlines how a Colorado district is reorganizing their schools from the traditional model. I would love to hear your thoughts on the ideas in this article.

With the ideas from these articles in my head, and some questions from some of my fellow staff members, I have begun to formulate a potential new plan for staff development opportunities on my campus… once I get my idea a little more organized, I will share it with you all to get some feedback.

Hopefully, I will begin posting and reflecting on a somewhat regular basis again…

Irving ISD and the K12 Online Conference

October 28, 2008

This year Irving ISD has decided to borrow an idea from Jeff Utecht and his K12 Online LAN Party idea. We will be hosting a couple of live sessions for teachers in the area to attend, watch some of the K12 Online Conference and take part in some discussions with fellow educators.

The plan is to start the morning by viewing a couple of K12 Keynotes and discussing. Participants will then choose a strand (Getting Started, Prove It, Kicking It Up a Notch or Leading the Change) and a couple of sessions from that strand to participate in. Next, participants will get together with others who selected the same strand and take part in some face-to-face facilitated discussions. The purpose is to hopefully gather some new ideas from other educators from around the world (K12 presenters) and around the community.

In order for the Irving ISD/K12 extravaganza to be successful, we need some participants. Please join us!

The get together will take place at The Academy of Irving (map) on Saturday, November 8th and Saturday, November 15th from 9:00am – 12:00pm.  You will need to bring a laptop with you so you can view the on-line presentations.

Please join us to take place in the discussion (and bring a friend)!

I have included a flyer and podcast below so you can learn more about the Irving ISD/K12 endeavor.  Feel free to leave me a comment or contact me on Twitter (astevens74) if you have further questions.

Thanks and we hope you choose to join us in the discussion!

Listen to the IISD K12 podcast

Why I Encourage Laptop Use in the Classroom

October 24, 2008

The entirety of this post is written in response to Why I Ban Laptops in My Classroom by David Cole, so you might want to read it first.

This year I am not “in the classroom.”  I am working this year full-time as an Instructional Technology Specialist on my campus which allows me to see in to many teachers’ classrooms and get a varied perspective on teaching and learning.  We are a one-to-one laptop campus as well as a career focused non-traditional high school, so I see many interesting learning activities taking place as I look through the windows of classrooms or go in to the classrooms to assist students and teachers.

As I walk through the hallways of The Academy I see students working collaboratively both on-line and in person; I see students interacting with text both digitally and traditionally; I see teachers lecturing traditionally and via pre-recorded videos students access via their laptops; I see hands-on activities, laptop-based activities and book-based activities; I see students engaged in their learning – students making choices, re-evaluating and facing consequences.  I see students getting a varied and effective education in a public high school – laptops are an integral part of this.

Laptops enable students to interactively participate in the classroom (and outside of the classroom) in ways they would be unable to without the aid of such technology.  With laptops in the classroom, students can still participate in a verbal discussion, but they can also extend that learning by participating in discussion boards, collaborative note-taking, instant messaging, Twitter, blogging, etc.  Students can deepen their knowledge of a topic or answer their own questions by accessing information via a search engine like Google during the classroom lecture or discussion.  In short, laptops give the learner more power to take charge of their education; they encourage learners to step away from the passivity of the traditional model of lecture and receive to the more active model of seeking information and learning.

Certainly I see students “off-task” on their laptops as I walk through the hallways, and I am okay with this because adults get off-task while working as well. In fact, while composing this post, I have been instant messaging with a teacher and a fellow ITS, as well as keeping up and responding with e-mail. I even took a break and read a news article some sent via Twitter, but I am still accomplishing my goal of composing this post in a reasonable amount if time. I am able to do all of these things because I learned how to manage my time; I learned personal responsibility; I learned how to multi-task, and I learned what happens if I do not get my work completed by the deadline. Students need to be afforded the right to learn these lessons as well – banning laptops does not teach them how to be responsible in a digital world; it does not teach them time or information management; it is the easy way out.

How does incorporating laptops work in practice?

Effectively integrating laptops into the classroom starts with a shift – a shift in pedagogy.  If the instructor continues to teach the same way he/she has always taught and simply views the laptop as a note-taking device then the integration will not be successful and students will definitely get off-task. It requires that teachers stop thinking, “This is the right way to do it because this is how I learned how.” It requires that teachers begin questioning, “What is the best way to present this information so my students (my students TODAY) are engaged with this topic and interested in learning? How do I prepare this lesson so that my students have some learning choices but still receive a rigorous assignment and deep understanding of the information they need?”

Effectively integrating laptops in the classroom demands that teachers take a step out of their comfort zone and give some of their “power” to the students. Gone are the days when the teacher was the sole purveyor of information; contrary to popular belief, teachers do not know EVERYTHING about their subject-area, but with the help of search engines like Google, students and teachers can quickly and easily locate the information they need.

Effectively integrating laptops in the classroom does not mean that they are used 100% of the time for every assignment because they may not always be the best tool. It is the instructor’s job while planning and teaching to assess student learning, offer choices and vary learning as needed to meet the needs of all students in the classroom… no one said good teaching was easy.

Finally, effectively integrating laptops in the classroom requires continuous learning on the part of the instructor (and students). It requires utilizing new tools, learning new skills, attempting new instructional strategies; it requires flexibility and change.

I encourage the use of laptops in the classroom because they can assist in extending learning to a higher-level – a level that may not be controlled by the teacher, a level that can transcend the walls of the classroom, a level that encourages collaboration and evaluation, a level that is active, engaging and fun.


July 14, 2008

Yesterday I posted about three Irving teachers who are visiting and working in Kenya this summer, and yesterday I received an e-mail from Darren who shared a student blog with me.

Anastacia Njoki is a student at the Made in the Streets school in Narobi, Kenya, where the “Irving Three” are working.  She is a “newbie” at blogging and would love some comments from people outside of Africa.  She is doing a great job so far, so please give her some encouragement to continue… she wants to be a journalist, so she needs to practice her writing.

You can find her blog here

Perhaps we can’t all travel to Africa, but we can support and encourage education from wherever we are on the planet… such is the power of the Internet and the connections we make.

Irving Three: Expanding Our Minds in Kenya

July 13, 2008

Three educators from Irving ISD (with the help and support of South MacArthur Church of Christ) will be spending a portion of their summer in Narobi, Kenya, helping to set up a networked computer lab (among other things) for the students of Made in the Streets.

After reading their recent posts, it seems that all three made it to Kenya safely (although missing some luggage).

If you are unfamiliar with “the three,” Darren is a webmastering teacher at The Academy of IrvingJerram is an Instructional Technology Coordinator for Irving ISD, and Emily is Jerram’s wife and new teacher to Lamar Middle School (I think).

The three left with some hardware (digital cameras, iPods, Wii, mics, etc.) and a 500 GB hard drive full of instructional materials created by students and teachers from The Academy (and Brown Elementary… again, I think).

The goal is to make some connections with the students and teachers and network the computer lab so the instructional materials created will be easily accessible by all of the students… Internet is not an option at the moment, so the learning materials and open-source software will be the staple of the students’ learning with technology until next year when another group of volunteers can attend.

I am sure the group would appreciate your support and comments while they are away from home, so add them to your feed reader and follow along with their journey.

NECC 2008 – Day Two – Session One

July 1, 2008

Today is the second full-day of NECC activities. The first session of the day didn’t start until 11:00 and I slept in… apparently there was a keynote speech this morning, but I missed it.

Session One: Marzano and Web 2.0: Ed Tech That Works

  • Session being live streamed to teachers in Arlington, Virginia
  • Web 2.0 That Works Wiki
  • Ning Forum for Marzano and Web 2.0
  • Web 2.0 That Works Google Presentation
  • Ustream of session
  • Teachers hear “tech speak” and feel overwhelmed; we need to get teachers understand the need for what we would like them to do
  • Lot of resistance out there
  • How is your school or district preparing teachers for web 2.0?  Are they talking about the tools or pedagogy?
  • Why are teachers resisting change?
  • Early adopters and Innovators – give them space to play
  • Early and Late Majority – mean well but feel overwhelmed and overworked
  • Laggards – May never adopt tech; feel no need to learn
  • Classroom Instruction That Works – Nine effective strategies
  • Coaching – Model the use of tools yourself, speak THEIR language, how can Web 2.0 help them?, provide on-going, embedded and one-to-one support (keychain), make learning bite-sized
  • Idea from Kevin Honeycutt – The Keychain – laminated cards  – front side has name of tool and backside has an “expert” who can help with that tool
  • Typical characteristics of web 2.0 – tagging, RSS feeds, mashups, web tools, user-generated content
  • Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works – recommends the book

I enjoyed this session and the focus on pedagogy not just tools.  I may post further reflections on this session later…