Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What a Lady She Was!

Yesterday I attended a service celebrating Dr. Dennise Maslakowski's life. Wow...what a lady she was! Pancreatic cancer robbed us of a tremendous leader in the field of education. Dennise touched so many lives in so many ways. She was the one who inspired me to earn a Masters Degree in computer technology. Dennise did so much for the graduate program at PSU. She will be sorely missed, but will remain in our hearts forever.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

First Thoughts

This class is just what I need to experience Web 2.0 and understand how to use it in my teaching and throughout the school. I have heard about wikis and blogs, but this is the first time I have used either. To date, the Skype call to Bangkok has had the greatest impact. Hearing Jeff's perspective on the one-to-one model and how free students there are able to use technology vs. the limitations we place on our students has made me reflect on this issue. We had a 2.0 forum at our school last spring and I was one of the participants (along with most of the teachers in my school) in favor of placing limitations on our students. After all, I (we) do not want to be responsible for students' inappropriate use of technology.
For me, this course is going to be the glue to understanding and using Web/School 2.0. I am very excited about having an iGoogle page with everything in one place. Now with the holidays behind us, I look forward to embarking on this Web 2.0 journey.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

School 2.0

Am I really embracing web 2.0? Not quite. My district is piloting an online grading system, one in which parents and students can have unlimited access (not for at least a year though). Our high school teachers must use it. We were asked at the middle school if we wanted to try it; I am the technology teacher in my school, and I voted no (yikes)! Our helicopter parents would have a field day with this option, I thought (not to mention how difficult it would be for me to keep it up-to-date). Yet, I know if grades had been available to me when my own children were in school, I would have loved it (and them too). At this point, only a handful of our teachers are using the new program, and I'm not one of them. I guess I should say I'm starting to soften; after all, it would eliminate the dreaded crunch at report card time. I do understand the need for individual and continuous feedback. I guess it's time for me to get on board!
Learning how to learn is surely a must skill for students. In my computer literacy classes, the primary focus is on teaching applications. However, year to year, some of these change—case in point: update to Office 2007 or consider the changes in iLife '08 (especially iMovie!). Students need to be aware of tools/skills available to them to adjust to the changes— analytical skills, help menus, tutorials, blogs, etc.
Web 2.0 requires that schools adapt to enhance students' learning experiences. School districts can adapt by providing the necessary resources, but as importantly, teachers must use the tools available. Students in my school are not allowed to bring any electronic devices to school (yet we all know that their iPods and cell phones are tucked away into those backpacks). We do support technology more than many other NH public schools. Students are beginning to blog (within the district only) and use Moodle to communicate. They learn the basics of animation, movie-making, and web design. But after watching a few videos on the Partnership for 21st Century Learning's Route 21 website, I can see how we need to go to the next step. There is so much unleashed power in digital imaging, visual literacy, and global communication and collaboration. Yes, we are a good school, but we must strive for something better.
Continuous professional development—so very important. Yet our core teachers have many things they want to learn about, and new technology is only a part of the whole. As technology educators, we must be the leaders for the school 2.0 initiative (even if it is not in the job description). We must share our knowledge in any way possible. In my job, I find that teaching my students all day long is only part of the job. Teaching teachers the hows of using technology in their classrooms takes up most of my 'free' time (before, during, and after the school day). I would love to be a technology integrator (but my school district doesn't have one). How fun it would be to spend my time developing technology-rich lessons for different classes all day long. Instead, I teach the students programs which they might or might not use in their other classes. It is so important that we encourage our colleagues to buy into this plan (but there aren't enough hours in a day!). Hmmm…food for thought.
How disappointing--NH is not a P21 Leadership State, yet Maine and Massachusetts are. We finally adopted the 2007 ICT NETS for Students; maybe our application is in? I say if Apple Computers, one of the foundations' founders, thinks it's a good thing, then it must be a good thing!
Where are we with School 2.0--connecting schools, districts, and communities for fostering creativity, connection, communication, community, collaboration, innovation, exploration, individualization, efficiency...with an understanding that knowing and learning are best friends? The good news is that BMS has entered the onramp of 'Route 21'; the bad news (or maybe it's good news) is that someone needs to maintain the highway. Hopefully I'll pass my drivers test when this course is over and bring a whole bunch of passengers along with me on this journey!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Internet Withdrawals

Here it is Tuesday morning...we FINALLY have power and as importantly, the internet (thus, why I didn't sign into Skype last night)! We haven't had school since last Thursday. One might think that an alternative is to just go shopping. True, but I love internet shopping, so it was a bit compromised. It is amazing how we have become so accustomed to having electricity and connectivity. It will be a short week this week, and I hear there's a storm coming on Thursday. Ah, the beauty of living in NH. I must admit, I never met a 'snow day' I didn't like. I'll get on and try for another Skype appointment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Need Universal Profiles

Oh my...how many profiles does one need?  It seems that a profile is needed for so many things.  I think someone out there is going to figure this out--one profile should work for everything, such as a universal ID.  Not only that, I swear I made a blog profile yesterday and I'm not seeing it.  RE: GoogleReader-- I need to give up for the night.  I watched the videos, but GoogleReader is not making much sense to me right now.  It looks like a mess to me.  Maybe tomorrow will be a brighter day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Conference Disappointment

Last week I attended the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in Nashua, NH. In addition to my huge disappointment that the keynote speaker Peter Reynolds (with a focus on creativity and innovation), was sick and not able to present, I came away feeling a bit out of the loop. Throughout the day I heard about so many web 2.0 tools that I was unfamiliar with: animoto, classroom 2.0, twitter, etc. I hope to come away from Teaching and Learning in a Networked Environment with the tools to embrace Web 2.0 in my classroom. I thought that teaching iMovie, Flash, and Dreamweaver were big steps; it seems that that is not necessarily the case; I need to do more. I am thrilled that I will be forced to get the hang of wikis, using skype (I have a feeling that I will need to use a hard connect given my old wireless network), podcasting, and using googledocs (and this is my very first blog). Learn by doing...that's what works for me. As an aside, a lot of time was spent trying to figure out the profile page ('add a page' wasn't there) and neither were my toolbars (needed to get out of Safari and use Firefox). I'm making headway, slow but sure.