“In the times of rapid change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” ~Eric Hoffer

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hour of Code

I would like to congratulate Prairie Ridge English teacher Jen Fuerholzer for seizing the opportunity with her Junior Honors English class and participating in a Google Hangout with National Geographic fellow Paul Selopak. This virtual field trip was part of Google's Connected Classrooms initiative. The entire hangout can be viewed here. It was an amazing experience for all the students involved.
Did you know that this week is Computer Science Education Week? Computer Science is one of the fastest growing careers, yet less than 5% of U.S. students take a programming class in high school. There are currently over 25,000 open computing jobs in Illinois, a state with a current unemployment rate of 8.3%.
Help promote computer science in school by encouraging students to participate in the Hour of Code. On Thursday, December 12, Prairie Ridge High School will host an hour of code in Lab S102 from 3-4 pm hosted by Brian Burger and the Computer Club. Please encourage the PR community to drop in and see what coding is all about.

Friday, November 8, 2013

GAFE Midwest Summit

This week I had the opportunity to attend  my second Google in Education Summit. Once again it did not disappoint. I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about Google Apps for Education and how it can transform what you are doing in the classroom to attend an upcoming one. There will be one in Illinois at Glenbrook North High School March 1st and 2nd. Details can be found at  http://il.gafesummit.com/.
Some of the highlights for me was David Jakes' breakout "Re-Imagining the Spaces in Which We Learn" and Dr. Hank Thiele talking about some of the challenges and rumors that come about while implementing Google Apps and building toward a 1:1 environment.
I look forward to sharing and discussing many of the things I learned with the District 155 Technology Vision Committee and Prairie Ridge High School staff members.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Connected Educators

First quarter is in the books and Connected Educator month has come to a close. Department, building and personal goals for the year are done, and one of my personal goals is to commit to one blog post per week. That has been a goal since I started this blog in December of 2012, but as you can see this is only my fifth post. It would be easy for me to say that I have not had the time, but the truth is, I have not made the time. I think that happens often with our professional development and technology integration efforts. It is very easy to get caught up in our day to day responsibilities, and before you know it another school year has passed. 
When I first read the CEM Starter Kit put out by the Department of Education, I loved the idea of a technology challenge per day, but looking at the challenges, I realized they would take a significant amount of time to complete. For most teachers they would take more time than they could make each day. That was one reason I came up with the shorter challenges meant to introduce different technologies and spark interest. None of the challenges should take more than 15 minutes to complete. Currently only 20% of teachers have completed at least one challenge, and I know that we can do better.

I am committing to take ownership of my own professional learning opportunities and will use this forum to reflect on those discoveries. So my final challenge question for the month of October is this,  "what did you do first quarter to make yourself more effective at delivering quality instruction?" Or to use Dr. Koch's analogy, have you devoted anytime yet this year to practicing free throws?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Digital Portfolios

As I walk through the faculty office I can’t help but notice that another school year is coming to an end. The windows are finally open, it is warm outside, and several of the teacher’s desks are overflowing with stacks of binders, papers and folders. Yes it is that time of year again, projects are due. I could not fathom why in today’s digital world, anyone would want to lug around all that extra stuff. Immediately I thought of Eric Curts’ recent post on Apps User Group, The Big Blank Wall: Embracing EdTech Change and I wondered how many of these projects had become a process and had simply lost their purpose. I also thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about digital portfolios.
A digital portfolio gives the students a place to showcase and reflect on all of their learning experiences with a collection of documents, presentations, videos, audio and blogs. By incorporating these tools you allow the student to take an active role in their learning experience. Many educators have mentioned to me how they see the quality of work rise when students publish their work rather that just turn it in. The new Common Core State Standards address the importance of several skills that can be obtained by creating digital portfolios. For more information I recommend reading Exactly What The Common Core Standards Say About Technology.
Jonan Donaldson states in his article, Digital Portfolios in the Age of the Read/Write Web:

Digital portfolios have become increasingly widespread over the past few decades, and with Web 2.0 tools becoming easier to use, the read/write web has transformed passive consumers of information into producers. This transformation holds enormous potential for pedagogy. Education built around digital portfolios not only ties together various student-generated artifacts into a coherent whole but also creates an environment in which technology use has a clearly identified purpose. Well-designed learning environments organized around published digital portfolios can increase not only academic achievement but also intrinsic motivation, student autonomy, collaborative learning, and digital literacies.

Google Apps for Education has all the tools necessary to produce a digital portfolio. I recommend having each student set up a Google Site using a template that you create, this way they are all structured the same way. It makes it easier for you to find the information and allows the student to focus on learning rather than the appearance of the site. How many times have you watched a PowerPoint heavy on the transitions and light on content? The student can embed Google Docs or Presentations directly into the portfolio. They can also insert images and videos into their Google site easily using Picasa and YouTube. It is time to bring the tri-fold brochures and writing journals into the digital world and Google Apps can help.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hangouts On Air

Two District 155 teachers have been selected to participate in the Google in Education team's Hangouts On Air next week for Teacher Appreciation Week. So if you are looking for innovative ways to use Chromebooks in your classroom check it out at http://goo.gl/g2VZQ. If you can't catch them live they will be  posted on Youtube later.