Sunday, August 29, 2010

Results of Survey

Results of survey aug 2010

As you can see from the survey, there is definitely room for growth in many areas of technology when it comes to using online tools for personal and professional growth.  Over the next couple months, we will spend time getting teachers comfortable with some of the tools that can provide much information and allow them the ability to share snippets of information, as they become more and more comfortable.  We will continue to add new online tools, so they can see that there are many ways to communicate to many different audiences.

Some of the things that they have mentioned are concerns about time vs. benefit factors.  Teachers feel that adding new things to their plate (without taking any off), just gives them more to do.  We will attempt to show them that there is so much out there that can change the way they do their work.  There are online tools, communication tools, research tools, and many others that can help make their job more efficient.  They should not just keep doing things the way they have in the past.

We will start with Twitter and see if we can grow the number of staff that use.  We will attempt to share with them some of the ways I use twitter, as well as some of the people that I follow.  We will use sources of A Teacher's Guide to Twitter, by  Kate Klingensmith at her blog Once a Teacher, video clips from Common Craft, and others sources mentioned before, like Jeff Utech's Reach and Will Richardson's book on Web Tools.  We will try to get teachers to grow there personal learning networks.  Finding people from around the world that share their same interests and passions.

We will then discuss some safety and security issues - discussing digital footprint and what they want the web to know about them.  We discuss being proactive in the placement of information.  Many teachers are afraid to put information out on the web, but they don't realize that there is already information out there.  They need to flood it with good information, so that the incorrect or unwanted information is harder to find.

It is our belief that teachers will be much more willing to work with students in technology, if they are more comfortable using it themselves.  We hope they learn a lot of new skills this year that will allow them to be more open and aware of what is available to them and their students, which will push them to think of new ways to approach those old classroom activities.

Wish us luck as we head into the year - trying to get a lot of teachers using online tools.  Twitter, RSS feeds, photo sharing, podcasting, Facebook, and many more may be just part of our culture by May.  We hope they start to think of new ways to use that really help the students prepare for their future.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Talking Twitter

I had an opportunity to talk twitter with two teachers from Beachwood, Ohio the other day.  Garth Holman, Mike Pennington, and I sat down and Skyped a nice discussion about how Twitter could be used with high school teachers.  We discussed the purpose of Twitter and how it could be used to develop their own Professional Learning Networks.  Garth (@GarthHolman), Mike (@ProfessorMike1), and I (@ssibberson) follow each other on Twitter and that is actually how we made our connection.  After connecting through Twitter, they invited me to share my thoughts.

Garth and Mike recorded part of our conversation and have posted it on their blog - - and you can hear the conversation there -  These guys are doing a very nice job of connecting with people around the State of Ohio and are connecting with Alan November.  Their site is a great resource for educators.  They talked about possibly being at BLC11 next summer.  Hopefully, I'll get to see them and we can meet in person.  I am hoping that we will work together and share different thoughts of using technology in our schools.

Our hope is that we will do a follow-up interview to discuss where Twitter goes with the staff and community of our high school.  My hope is that we will have so much success that the other high schools in our district will jump on board.  I think that the Twitter world can provide some outstanding connections to professionals that will help teachers improve their craft.  There are many ways that we can use Twitter to communicate with the community and we are hoping it is very successful.  Follow us and see where it goes - Dublin Jerome High School (@dublinjeromehs).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kids and Technology

The phone rang at 8:30 today.  My wife looked at me like - "You are going lose your free day today" - as she was talking to my cousin's wife.  The girls were all going to see Wicked today and I was going to be alone to do some chores, watch some golf, and generally have a relaxing day.  The call was telling us that my uncle, who was going to watch my cousin's 5 year old boy, had the stomach flu and wouldn't be able to watch him.  What is next - I was going to be the fill-in.  I love him.  He is a hilarious, fun little boy, but my babysitting skills were a bit out of date as my own kids are now 10 and 19...

What I found out was that he was bringing some Wii games, his cars, and some other toys.  I was hoping the weather would break and I'd be able to take him to the zoo.  The Columbus Zoo is awesome and I haven't seen the polar bears, yet.  Options....   That's all I need.

When he got here, he showed me his Wii games.  I always enjoy some time with the Wii and he would give me a good excuse to play for a while.  Needless to say, I would be able to play and have some fun.  Does a 5 year old have the stamina to play for many hours?  Sure, he sure did.  We had a Wii marathon.  I am not the greatest player of video games, but I have to admit, he crushed me over and over and over.  We played three different games - Harry Potter Legos, Mario Galaxy 2, and Super Mario Brothers.  I  could not believe how much he could navigate the menus.

He could quickly navigate through the setup, then explain what was going to happen in the game.  He could teach me some basics of the game and then show me different things to do, which buttons to use, and what characters to use.  I asked him how he knew and he said that he played with his dad and that they figured stuff out.  He knew character names, button commands, which games needed nunchucks, and how the game would progress.  He even got frustrated with me if I didn't catch on fast enough.  I could really not believe how comfortable he was with the machine.

Spending the day with Jake makes me think about how much young kids could really use technology.  How do we get different gadgets in the hands of the kids.  They would be able to figure out how to do different things all the time.  They could play and figure out what would happen, then share with us.  I definitely swallowed my competitive pride, as I like to win, but Jake really opened my eyes as to what young children can really do and be comfortable with.  What can we do to get children comfortable with other forms of technology?  How can we get them to be as productive with other forms of technology as they are with gaming systems.  They have the ability.  We just have to give them opportunities to "play" with the  tools.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Old Technology - Visiting the Past

I spent the evening at the Gallery Hop in the Short North in Columbus.  We were walking around and looking in stores and shops and just happened to stumble upon some cool stores.  One of the shops was a paper store, On Paper.  On the shelf was...

We continued on our way until we got to a vintage store,  Flower Child, where I found these treasures from the past...

It really makes me appreciate the new technology we have.  How easy it is to have things at our fingertips.  We just plug in new devices, edit, and enjoy.  My youngest daughter didn't even know what some of these things were.  Enjoy today's technology - it will be in a vintage store before we know it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

You Have to Read This One!

Been reading Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, by Will Richardson.  I find it to be a "must read" for teachers at all grade levels.  Will Richardson is a master of technology integration and this book is filled with different web tools and suggestions for integrating them into the classroom.  He does an excellent job of describing the tool, so the teacher can be a user, and then explains how it can be used with students.  He even gives teachers ideas of how to be safe and careful with putting students and their work "out there" for the world to see.

This book focuses on tools that are free and easily accessible to teachers.  The tools and skills that he writes about include Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, RSS, Twitter, Screencasting, Flickr, and others.  He does a great job of including links to tutorials, screen captures, and step-by-step descriptions of what teachers can do with the tools.  His intention is that teachers become users, then integrate the tool into the classroom for the students.  These are all web tools that the students should be able to use to share their ideas and work.

My hope is that teachers will read the book, or at least some chapters, and start to utilize the web tools available to their students.  We are working in a time where students can gather much information quickly on the web, and they spend a lot of their spare time on the web, yet we keep them from working and publishing on the web.  This book provides some very clear skills and steps needed to help your students become creators of material and not just consumers.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Staff Survey

As the new school year approaches, I find it very important to develop a concept that can help our staff move forward.  After a long conversation with my principal, we have agreed that we would like to see our staff develop and grow their PLNs.  We believe that there are some areas that our teachers can use to grow as teachers and members of our learning community.  After reading material from Jeff Utecht (see previous post) and Will Richardson, the online tools that can be utilized are:

Google Docs
Blogging - Blogspot or Wordpress
Social Bookmarking - Diigo or Delicious

We've put together a survey for our staff using Google Docs.  We created a form that they can fill out quickly to inform us of their current use and also state a goal for their development in the area of social media.  The data will then be collected in a spreadsheet that can be analyzed to establish our needed steps to help the staff move forward.  We are interested to see where we start - and also know who can be leaders in the movement.  We believe we have some "closet twitterers" that would be willing to help spread the word of what great connections can be made.

After we get the results of the survey, we'll share them (generically, of course).  We are really curious to see if there is an enthusiasm to move into this realm.  Teachers tend to share with their neighbor teachers, but sometimes hesitate to throw their experiences out to the world.  We will make it our mission to convince them that there are many of teachers that can benefit from the sharing of ideas.  Social sharing is a good thing.  Teachers can gain professionally and personally.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Teachers Getting Started

For teachers that are just getting started utilizing technology, there are a couple of things to do at the beginning that will help facilitate the process.  There are a lot of free online tools for teachers to use, but most require an email address to register your information.  I would suggest that you spend a half hour and create two email accounts outside of your school address, so you can easily become a user of these online resources.  The two emails that I would recommend creating are free and easy to setup, and they are Google Mail and Yahoo Mail.

I would recommend creating a free gmail account.  It is not necessary, but I have found it to be quite useful to have a gmail account.  First of all, I use it to log into my google applications.  I also use it to log into Blogger, so I can blog and tell you about all these wonderful tools.  Gmail is also rarely blocked by email filtering systems, so you emails sent to and from this account will likely get through to the receiver.  Google will then have your information, so when you add different applications to your repertoire, you will be able to log in and be able to work.

I mentioned that gmail is not necessary for use of the Google tools.  You can create a google login using any email address, but since the process is so easy, I would recommend getting a gmail account.  I do not spend a lot of time checking my google email since I do get most of my traffic through other accounts.

The other email account I would create is a free Yahoo email account.  Yahoo has some nice features on their website and being a member of Yahoo will allow you to customize your homepage as well as many other things.  The main reason that I created this account was so that I could join Flickr.  Flickr is the site that I use to upload photos and share photos.  I requires a Yahoo ID, so creating it early will be helpful.

I think that creating these accounts when you first get started, will allow you to be thoughtful and consistent when choosing your login names, passwords, and email addresses.  The more consistent you can be with your online presence, the easier it will be for people to find you, follow you, communicate with you, and share with you.  My feeling is that people need to embrace that fact that these online tools are here, and learn quickly what they can do to help facilitate growth.  It takes some work (or what I like to refer as "play time") to figure out, but the benefits are great.  Plus, you don't have to spend a lot of money for special programs.

I will try share information in the future about Google, Yahoo, and Flickr.  I just wanted to suggest that there is some simple work you can do help facilitate your successful use of the tools.  Spend a half hour getting your accounts and passwords set up.  It will help you with your work in the future.