Holt Think: Ed, Creativity, Tech, Administration


Posts tagged with "ed"

Five Ways to Get People on Board with #edtech

Education technology is always a hard sell, epsecially with those teachers and administrators that are perfectly happy with the status quo. “Why change? My scores are just fine.” is a phrase that we hear all the time. I have always thought of a bell curve that I learned about in my ed admin classes all those years ago:

A certain percent of your teachers, if you are a new principal, will do whatever you ask. A certain amount will never do what you ask. The vast majority of teachers however, want to be convinced that what you are doing is correct.

So what are some strategies that can convince those teachers that they should get on board with ed tech initiatives? Here are five ways that should help you convince those teachers and administrators that your ed tech initiative is worth their time:

Start With the Why
Why are we doing this? What is the reason that we are doing this initiative? So often, we see some ed tech THING coming from central office, we are not told why this is being done, only that we have to do it. The issue with this, other than the trust, is that decisions seem to be made in some sort of vacuum, without consideration of WHY the decision was made.
Explaining WHY this particular ed tech decision was made will go a long way towards teachers and administrators trusting that the technology was not just purchased because we could.

Explain How This Technology Makes their Jobs Easier
This kind of is an addition to the “WHY” argument: How does this new thingy make my job easier? If you can honestly show teachers that this technology actually makes their jobs easier, even if there is an upfront expenditure of time and effort, then you will win many converts, especially if the effort to keep using this new technology requires less effort than the whatever it replaces.

There should be some trade off as well. Don’t push a new effort out if you are not willing to give something up. What is it that teachers will NOT have to do if they adopt the use of this new technology? If you do not have an answer to that question, it will appear that you are “piling on” something else.

Explain How this Help Students
No technology effort in a school district should not even be considered if you cannot somehow explain how this will help students. What are students doing with this technology which is superior to what they are doing without the technology? How does this make learning more meaningful? How can students use this across classes? How does this allow students to address their learnign weaknesses? Show how this helps students, and many teachers will be convinced that this is a good thing.

Provide Meaningful Professional Development
Meaningful professional development means more than just showing how something works. Meaningful means how do you put this work in a classroom setting, using the new tool. If I teach science, then show me how to use this in science. Same for any class I teach. Do not just show me how to turn it on. Show me how to use this with my students.
If the PD is weak, then the implementation will be weak as well. Ed tech is not the field of dreams, where if you build it they will come. Meaningful PD provides the wedge between the naysayers who argue that the tool is a waste of time or money or effort.

Always Provide for Feedback and Transparency
From the very outset, allow for users to provide feedback. If teachers or administrators feel they have no voice in the process, then they will feel that they are being forced to use something that they may not need. Users of technology should be able to vent frustrations in a constructive way, as well as be able to provide feedback on what is working and what is not working. The folks that put in the technology should also be willing to admit when something is not working and be able to swallow their pride and create constructive work arounds for problems. There has never been a 100% successful implementation of anything. If you expect problems will occur, then when they happen, it is easier to respond.

Seven signs of professional learning.

To be successful in professional development efforts we must plan backward, beginning with the student learning outcomes. ( Thomas R. Guskey,p. 10)

Just as surgeons see observations and coaching as vital to improving their craft, so should teachers. ( Emily Dolci Grimm, Trent Kaufman, and Dave Doty, p. 24)

We have to remember that teachers are professionals who use their classrooms as innovative laboratories and want to engage in authentic learning. (Kristen Swanson, p. 36)

Teachers have a great deal of knowledge about their practice and their students that is incredibly valuable to other teachers. (Rebecca Van Tassell,p.76)

When video recording is shared in a way that supports each educator’s intrinsic desire to improve, it can be a powerful tool for rapid, significant improvement.  (Jim Knight, p.18)

Educators must ensure that professional learning networks are more than a forum for sharing war stories or platform for promoting personal preferences about instruction. (Richard Dufour, p.30)

When professional development fails to deliver genuine, face-to-face interactions with other people, educators feel cheated.  (John Settlage and Adam Johnston, p.67)

Get the image here.

Seven signs of professional learning.

  • To be successful in professional development efforts we must plan backward, beginning with the student learning outcomes. ( Thomas R. Guskey,p. 10)

  • Just as surgeons see observations and coaching as vital to improving their craft, so should teachers. ( Emily Dolci Grimm, Trent Kaufman, and Dave Doty, p. 24)
  • We have to remember that teachers are professionals who use their classrooms as innovative laboratories and want to engage in authentic learning. (Kristen Swanson, p. 36)

  • Teachers have a great deal of knowledge about their practice and their students that is incredibly valuable to other teachers. (Rebecca Van Tassell,p.76)
  • When video recording is shared in a way that supports each educator’s intrinsic desire to improve, it can be a powerful tool for rapid, significant improvement. (Jim Knight, p.18)

  • Educators must ensure that professional learning networks are more than a forum for sharing war stories or platform for promoting personal preferences about instruction. (Richard Dufour, p.30)
  • When professional development fails to deliver genuine, face-to-face interactions with other people, educators feel cheated. (John Settlage and Adam Johnston, p.67)
  • Get the image here.

    Handy Guide to The resources from Thinkfinity

    As most of you know, the website aggregator Thinkfinity is shutting down. For years, Thinkfinity was a great place to find loads of lesson plans that spanned curricular areas. For instance, if you needed a lesson that combined arts with pretty much anything, Thinkfinity was the place to go.

    Thinkfinity may be gone, but the resources and websites are still available. For those of you that are not familiar with Thinkfinity, let me assure you that ALL of these websites are of the highest quality and all have tons of resources for teachers.

    Here is the list of partners that helped make Thinkfinity so great:


    EDSITEment is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities.

    EDSITEment offers a treasure trove for teachers, students, and parents searching for high-quality material on the Internet in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies.

    All websites linked to EDSITEment have been reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom. They cover a wide range of humanities subjects, from American history to literature, world history and culture, language, art, and archaeology, and have been judged by humanities specialists to be of high intellectual quality. EDSITEment is not intended to represent a complete curriculum in the humanities, nor does it prescribe any specific course of study.

    The EDSITEment experience includes:

  • a user-friendly website that offers easy homepage access to the latest offerings from EDSITEment
  • NEH Connections: a robust feature that links to NEH-funded projects of particular relevance to educators
  • user-defined lesson-plan searches that can be customized and filtered five different ways
  • direct access to student resources and interactives from the homepage
  • a rotating calendar feature with access to a full, yearly calendar
  • Closer Readings +, a unique blog for and about the humanities in the classroom
  • EDSITEment was selected as one of the top 25 websites for 2010 by the America Association of School Librarians and has been accepted into the Smithsonian Institution’s Permanent Research Collection of Information Technology, the world’s premier historical record of computing applications and innovations.


    If you are a math teacher, you need to be here. Illuminations is a project designed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

    Lessons and interactives searchable by NCTM’s Principles and Standards and by the Common Core State Standards.

  • Over 600 lesson plans
  • Over 100 activities; these are virtual manipulatives, applets, and games
  • 13 Calculation Nation® games
  • Play online math strategy games against a computer or players from around the world. 8 Issues of Bright Ideas yearly

    Bright Ideas is the e-newsletter of Illuminations. This newsletter provides the inside scoop into the best and latest resources, information, and new ideas to interested teachers.

    5 mobile apps for iOS and Android

    6 social media platforms

    National Geographic Education

    The National Geographic Education Portal offers free geography, science, and social studies content resources for K-12 educators, learners, and families. Created by the National Geographic Center for Geo-Education, the Portal’s highly engaging materials maximize learning in and out of the classroom.

    The Portal features wide-ranging instructional content—spanning pre-kindergarten through post-secondary—that brings concepts and real-world events to life for our worldwide audience. Cutting-edge multimedia and mapping tools engage a new generation of young people in National Geographic’s iconic research and media.

    With over one million visitors each month, the award-winning Education Portal is recognized as one of the most innovative sources for educational and reference content.

    Teaching Resources

  • Standards-based lessons and activities use National Geographic photos and video to enable teachers and students to explore the world.
  • Hundreds of free activities and lesson plans are available for use in classrooms, homes, and other educational settings. They are searchable by grade, subject, and audience.
  • Lessons, activities, units, and ideas
  • Professional development resources and courses
  • Collections for STEM, Common Core, citizen science, and other timely topics
  • Educational interactives and games
  • Reference and News
  • The Portal’s extensive reference offerings for students combine maps, videos, photos, and text to explain complex topics in an accessible, student-friendly way. Students can search by grade and subject to satisfy their personal curiosity or conduct research for school.
  • Geography and geoscience encyclopedia
  • Real-world profiles of explorers and scientists
  • Articles on events and research
  • Homework help
  • National Geographic video, photography, and illustrations
  • Mapping
  • Interactive maps and tools offer students the chance to see the world in new ways by inviting them to create and print their own maps,
  • incorporate thematic data about the world, and supplement it with graphics and links of their own creation. FieldScope, our interactive mapping platform, lets citizen scientists view and analyze data geographically.
  • Interactive maps with thematic data layers for data analysis
  • Geo-tours and geo-quizzes
  • Black-and-white outline maps to print in sizes from 8.5x11 inches to 8x10 feet
  • Historical maps and maps from National Geographic magazine
  • Games and Interactive Multimedia
  • The Portal’s many games, apps, and interactives for learners focus on decision-making, interconnections, and learning through exploration.
  • History interactives
  • Interactive science models and calculators
  • Exploration games
  • Vocabulary games
  • Geography games

  • Read Write Think

    At ReadWriteThink, their mission is to provide educators, parents, and afterschool professionals with access to the highest quality practices in reading and language arts instruction by offering the very best in free materials. A great source for cross curicular activities, including lots of ideas and materials for after school lessons.

    RWT contains lesson plans, professional development parent resources. after school resources, and a wide variety of videos.

    Science Net Links for the American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science

    Science NetLinks is a premier K-12 science education resource produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. At Science NetLinks, you’ll find teaching tools, interactives, podcasts, and hands-on activities, and all of it is free!

    Science NetLinks provides K-12 teachers, students, and families with quality resources for teaching and learning science.

    All of the resources are Internet based and free to everyone. Lessons and activities can be printed or used online. Many of the interactives, esheets, and tools work great on an interactive white board or in a computer lab. All of the resources are designed to be delivered in a variety of formats and classroom settings.


    At the heart of Science NetLinks are standards-based lesson plans that incorporate reviewed Internet resources, and can be selected according to specific learning goals and grade ranges. Each lesson is tied to at least one learning goal and uses research-based instructional strategies that support student learning. The lessons are written for the teacher, but include student-ready materials such as student sheets (student reproducibles) or esheets (online worksheets that enable students to engage directly in Internet activities).

    Each Science NetLinks lesson ties to at least one specific learning goal and uses research-based instructional strategies to support student learning. All Science NetLinks lessons follow pedagogy guidelines recommended by the AAAS Project 2061, as well as many other education researchers, and begin with motivation exercises. These exercises allow students to engage in an introductory exploration, with guiding questions. These explorations may be conducted online or offline, and involve concrete, relevant involvement with the subject matter.

    The activities in a typical Science NetLinks lesson provide an opportunity for students to participate in a series of guided reflections that will engage them in the subject matter. These can take a variety of forms, including the following:

    Full class discussions, in which the teacher leads the class in a group discussion of the questions and situations that are posed; Self-guided exploration involving one student or a small team of students responding to the questions in case journal work sheets printed from the web site;

    Individual participation, using a student virtual workspace, in which a student responds to the material online in a personal, electronic notebook that stores the student’s answers on a web-accessible file. Online interactives that illustrate concepts or processes (for example, investigating the layers of the skin or how organs work together in a system) or other supplemental information that will help students understand the content. All lessons include detailed teacher components that offer content framework, instructional strategies, and suggestions for ongoing student assessment. Strategies for checking students’ understanding are embedded throughout the materials and guide teachers in making instructional decisions, and provide measurable learning results.


    Science NetLinks Tools are a comprehensive collection of the best resources on the Web for students and teachers. Included in Tools are original interactive lessons developed by Science NetLinks as well as annotated reviews of the best STEM resources on the Web. Each Tool includes a detailed description of the resources as well as substantive suggestions for using the resource in the classroom. Also included in each Tool are customized links to other related Science NetLinks content.


    Science NetLinks Collections are resource lists compiled around a theme or topic. They may include lessons, tools, Science Updates, or other Science NetLinks content as well as additional resources from trusted sites that support or enhance the Collection theme.

    Science News

    Science NetLinks Science News is the place to go to get the latest news on what’s happening in the world of science. It includes several dynamic features that provide links to articles from ScienceNOW and Science for Kids as well as the latest Science Update, Mystery Image, Science Blog, and Thinkfinity Community discussion. Science News is updated frequently to stay fresh and relevant to science educators and students.

    Science Updates

    Science Updates are 60-second radio programs presenting current science research, as well as responses to questions phoned in to the Science Update hotline (1-800-WHY-ISIT). Science NetLinks Science Update lessons include suggestions for using the research in the K-12 classroom, as well as the transcript and an MP3 file for playback.


    Science NetLinks Afterschool is for afterschool facilitators and daycare providers who would like to bring more hands-on science to the children in their care. It includes a list of activities, grouped by age. Each experiment includes a facilitator page and a student page. The facilitator page not only includes the instructions for setting up and running the activity, but also offers an explanation of the science involved in plain English and suggests related activities for further follow-up. The student page includes a link to the student’s instructions for conducting the experiment or online activity, as well as one or two links to additional youth-friendly resources, such as videos, podcasts, or websites.

    Smithsonian History Explorer

    This site appears to have moved to Edmodo. The links, at least when we tried them were slow or dead.


    Welcome to Wonderopolis®, a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. Brought to life by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), our Wonders of the Day® will help you find learning moments in everyday life—ones that fit in with dinner preparations, carpool responsibilities, a stolen moment between breakfast and the bus, or within school curriculum and education programs.

    Wonder is for everyone. It can happen anywhere and at anytime. Connecting the learning we do in our schools, our homes, and our communities, Wonderopolis walks the line between formal and informal education. Each day, we pose an intriguing question and explore it in a variety of ways. Our approach both informs and encourages new questions, sparking new paths of wonder and discovery in family and classroom settings.

    Since our inception in October 2010, Wonderopolis has been lauded for our fresh approach to wonder and learning. Some of our awards and recognition include:

  • TIME magazine’s “50 Top Websites of 2011”
  • Parenting.com “Best Kids’ App”
  • EdSurge featured School Tool
  • WOMMY winner (2011)
  • USA Today 4-star rating
  • TIME Techland Technologizer endorsement of the Wonderopolis app
  • Winner of Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Award for the Family
  • With multi-disciplinary content that purposefully aligns to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the STEM Educational Quality Framework, and Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, we’ve earned a place in K-12 curriculum and in classrooms worldwide. Teachers can use the daily Wonder to jumpstart their students’ critical thinking, or dip into our ever-growing collection of Wonders for content that relates to specific themes and student interests. The possibilities for using Wonderopolis in the classroom are endless, and we invite you to find firsthand accounts and additional resources in the Educator Sandbox.

    Children, parents, teachers, schools, and families all benefit from Wonderopolis—as well as contribute to its content and growth. Supporting 21st century communication and digital citizenship, visitors who leave comments on the site receive personalized responses from the Wonderopolis team. Users are encouraged to nominate their own Wonders and to vote on Wonder ideas from others.

    - See more at: http://wonderopolis.org/about/#sthash.yXQSQ3Mw.dpuf

    It was sad to see Thinkfinity die, but most of the material lives on in one form or another. Most of this content is free to use and replicate.

    Jul 8

    Apple Updates iTunes U Bigtime

    Apple updates the iTunes U app so that most of all the functionality is now available on the iPad. Introducing the new iTunes U New features in this version:

    Let the discussion begin

  • The new iTunes U makes it simple for students participating in private courses to pose questions on the course or any post or assignment
  • Other students in the class can jump into the discussion and ask more questions or provide answers
  • Teachers and students can keep up with the conversation when they receive push notifications as the discussion progresses
  • Create courses on iPad

  • Teachers can now create and update their courses using the iTunes U app on their iPad—getting started is fast, simple, and completely free
  • Provide every student a course outline, write posts, distribute assignments, upload class materials, easily track participating students, and much more
  • Take advantage of the built in camera on iPad to easily capture photos or videos and upload them for course assignments
  • Create materials using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—or other apps from the App Store—and add them to your course by using “Open in iTunes U” from within each app
  • Teachers affiliated with qualified institutions have the option to publish their courses to the iTunes U Catalog—making them available to everyone for free
  • Jul 7

    Extension of a Review of Flipped Learning

    I found this paper, a review of literature and more by Pearson, the Flipped Learning Network and George Mason University. Some interesting insights on the current state of flipped learning and a good intro for those not familiar with the topic. Essentially it says that Flipped Learning is taking off at a rapid pace in education. No duh there.

    From the report:

    While continued research and evaluation is certainly needed, the studies reviewed in this document along with the original literature review (Hamdan, McKnight, McKnight, & Arfstrom, 2013) provide support for the efficacy and potential of the Flipped Learning model. Not only do many more teachers report successfully implementing the Flipped Learning model, but the initial empirical evidence is promising. In several of these studies the Flipped Learning model is associated with increased student learning and positive perceptions of the unique elements, such as presentation of material outside of class and increase in active learning activities.

    Despite this support, the Flipped Learning model likely does not work in all contexts and there are understandable concerns about the time involved and fundamental shift in teaching style required. Research is needed on identifying the contexts in which the Flipped Learning model works best and how to most effectively apply the elements of the Flipped Learning model to enhance student learning. In addition, teachers would likely benefit from institutional support and professional development during the transitional period when implementing the Flipped Learning model. Despite these concerns and limitations, the Flipped Learning model represents an innovative approach to teaching with the potential to create active, engaged and learning-centered classrooms.

    Click on the Title to get the report.

    Got Chromebooks? Now what?

    "More and more schools are realizing that Google Chromebooks are the answer to updating outdated schools. Unfortunately though, in many cases they are making purchases for large scale deployment with little investment toward preparation for implementation issues or knowledge of where to turn to connect with others who have had experience in Chromebooks (and Google Apps for Ed) deployment.

    That’s where learning networks come in. Fortunately there is an experienced online community available to support others venturing into this world.

    Here are some resources:”

    Click on the title to go to the article.

    Can you add to the list? Do so in the comment section.

    American Assoc. of School Librarians Best Education Websites 2014

    Every year the American Association of School Librarians publishers their list of what they consider the best Education Websites for teaching and learning. This year’s list is broken down into these categories:

  • Media Sharing
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Manage & Organize
  • Social Networking & Communication
  • Content Resources
  • Curriculum Collaboration
  • I like these types of lists because they always introduce me to sites I have never heard of ,or had forgotten about. Although I wish they would be a bit more transparent on how they chose this year’s winners. Thanks to the AASL for making this yearly list. At the bottom of the page is the previous year’s winners. Click on the title of this entry to go to the article.

    Five Characteristics of Innovative Organizations

    I enjoy reading the thoughts of George Couros. If you are not reading his blog you need to, especially if you are a campus administrator. In this article (click on the title to go to his article), he lists the five characteristics he thinks define an “Innovative Organization:”

    They include:

    • Promotion and modeling of risk-taking
    • Competitive-Collaboration.
    • Proud of where we are, but know we have a way to go
    • The focus on sharing
    • Relationships, relationships, relationships

    While this is a good starting list, I think that there are a few he might have missed. For instance, I think that innovative organizations have the ability to look at trends and adjust or modify their organization to match the trends. Perhaps this could be called “Forward Thinking.”

    I think innovative organizations, as he says take risks, but I also think that they “fail with a purpose" where organizations learn form failure. I also think that most non innovative organizations quickly dismiss or forget failures. Innovative ones will remember what they used, and perhaps revisit the failure. Sometimes, failure happens because the idea was ahead of its time. Holding on the idea of being able to try something again even after it failed the first time is powerful.

    Innovative organizations steal. I don’t mean they literally steal, but they can see what others do and adapt those things to meet their needs. The book “Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon is all about that.

    What are some things that you think innovate schools or organizations do?

    Add to the list!

    Jul 1

    Nearly one-third of Americans aren't ready for the next generation of technology

    How are we as educators making this easier for people? From the article:

    A new survey suggests that the digital divide has been replaced by a gap in digital readiness. It found that nearly 30% of Americans either aren’t digitally literate or don’t trust the Internet. That subgroup tended to be less educated, poorer, and older than the average American.

    In contrast, says Eszter Hargittai, a sociologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who was not involved in the study, those with essential Web skills “tend to be the more privileged. And so the overall story … is that it’s the people who are already privileged who are reaping the benefits here.”

    The study was conducted by John Horrigan, an independent researcher, and released 17 June at an event sponsored by the Washington, D.C.–based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Funded by the Joyce Foundation, the study of 1600 adults measured their grasp of terms like “cookie” and “Wi-Fi.” It asked them to rate how confident they were about using a desktop or laptop or a smart phone to find information, as well as how comfortable they felt about using a computer. Of those who scored low in these areas, about half were not Internet users.

    E.O. Wilson’s “Life on Earth” complete is now free

    A couple of days ago, Apple announced it was upgrading iTunes U so that teachers could create entire courses inside their iPads. It looks like they are kicking it up a notch as they have just released E.O.Wilson’s entire work Life on Earth for free in the iTunes Bookstore. If you are not familiar with this work, it continues to be one of the most interactive AWESOME ibooks ever created. Even if you are not teaching biology, this is a great set of books to have on your iPad.

    Along with the books come the free course as well on the iTunes U

    “’Life on Earth’ comes alive on iPad, providing a stunning perspective on life. The interactive experience will ignite in students an appreciation for what they have inherited—this beautiful planet and every living thing on it—and an understanding of the role and responsibility we all have to preserve the biodiversity around us,” said Wilson. “I am immensely proud of the iBooks textbook series that the Foundation is providing at no cost to students and the public, allowing us to bring the meaning and importance of biodiversity to life for a global audience.”

    “We are very proud of the enormous effort by all involved in making E.O. Wilson’s ‘Life on Earth’ a reality. We have created a state-of-the-art teaching tool that brings a new dimension to our understanding of nature and biodiversity, and how it should be presented in classrooms,” said Dr. Paula Ehrlich, President and CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. “We aim to inspire a new generation of explorers and informed citizens who are prepared to take responsibility for conserving and protecting the biological richness of nature as a treasure to be passed on.”

    From the iTunes release notes:

    Inspired and led by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and naturalists Edward O. Wilson – and created with a team of world-renowned educators and artists – this comprehensive and original standards-based curriculum tells the story of life on Earth, giving students a deep understanding of introductory biology.

    Presented as a seven-unit collection, E. O. Wilson’s Life on Earth is a free iBooks Textbook that uses rich, Multi-Touch experience to engage students in lessons about everything from molecules to ecosystems.

    And accompanying iTune U course – Biology: Life on Earth – extends students’ learning in and out of the classroom with reading and writing assignments and extension activities like field observations and moviemaking.

    Designed to prepare tomorrow’s biochemists, explorers, environmental policymakers, and engaged citizens for their work, this captivating curriculum inspires students to take responsibility for conserving and protecting nature’s biological treasures.

    Another nail into the publisher’s of textbooks coffin.

    Go get it.

    Where would you want to work?

    Imagine you are looking for a job as an elementary principal and you see this as the job description:

    The position of Elementary School Principal requires a Master’s Degree; valid Administrative, or Principal’s Certificate; leadership ability in working with teachers and students in instructional and managerial administration; working knowledge of curriculum and instruction; the ability to evaluate instructional program and teaching effectiveness; the ability to manage budget and personnel and coordinate campus functions; the ability to explain policy, procedures and data; strong communications, public relations, and interpersonal skills; three years of related administrative experience in education to include at least two years assistant principal experience (for a person who has not previously served as a principal); three years experience as a classroom teacher.

    Pretty standard huh? A list of what you are expected to do as an elementary school principal. Nothing in that description MAKES me want to apply for that job. Pretty standard.

    Now, imagine of you came across this job description for an elementary school principal in another school district that read like this:

    Our district is doing some really exciting things and we want you to be part of it. This position is for an elementary school that is in a well established neighborhood with about 800 kids. (Hey, want to know the demographics of the school? Click here. Check out the campus test data here.) We think that a good leader can make this campus go from good to great and beyond. Are you that person? As you can tell from the demographics, there are some challenges to be met, but this school, with these teachers and these kids, deserve a great leader. Maybe you are that person. We are looking for someone that has the following qualifications: The usual stuff like an administrator’s or management certification and experience as a teacher and maybe as a campus administrator. But we want more than that.

    Of course anyone can get a certification. What we really are looking for this: Someone that has the ability to lead teachers and students and be a real instructional leader, not someone that just says they are a leader. Someone that knows what kids need to learn and what teachers need to teach and how best to match the two. Someone who is also a learner and can share that learning with their staff. Of course, you will have some money, so you will have to know how to wisely spend it. What will be your budget priorities? We want to know before we hire you. Can you communicate well? Great! Because you are going to have to explain what you are doing not only to your staff, but to parents and the community. We also like to hire people that can get along with others, because hey, our district is a big family, and we need to all keep in touch. Tell us that you have some innovative ideas, because if you don’t we really don’t need to talk. We like people that will take chances (to a point of course) and will back you up with professional development opportunities for you and your staff.

    Like we said, we are doing some awesome things in our district, and want to surround ourselves with the most awesome educators we can. Are you awesome? Then you need to apply.

    I wonder if a school district put out an ad for that, what kind of response they would get? Imagine of every singe job posting that district posted exclaimed how editing it would be to work in that district?

    Which place would you want to work for?

    Apple Announces update to ITunes U

    Why more people are not using this incredible resource is beyond me.
    Anyway, the best just got better.

    Apple Announces Updates to iTunes U
    Brings Course Creation, Management for Teachers & Student Discussions To iPad

    CUPERTINO, California—June 30, 2014—Apple® today announced updates to iTunes U®, bringing educators and students great new tools to build and experience educational content on iPad®. Beginning July 8, teachers using the free iTunes U app can create, edit and manage entire courses directly on iPad for the first time, and students will discover new ways to collaborate including the ability to start class discussions and ask questions right from their iPad.

    “Education is at the core of Apple’s DNA and iTunes U is an incredibly valuable resource for teachers and students,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “iTunes U features an amazing selection of academic materials for everyone around the world. Now, with the ability to better manage and discuss educational content, learning becomes even more personalized on iPad.”

    The new in-app updates to iTunes U give teachers full course creation capabilities on iPad, with the ability to directly add rich content and learning materials from iWork®, iBooks® Author or any of the over 75,000 educational apps available for iPad. Taking advantage of the built-in camera on iPad, teachers can also capture photos and videos to incorporate real-world subject matter into any course, making relevant content available to all students in an instant.

    “iTunes U is the most powerful destination for bringing the entire educational experience to life on iPad,” said Fraser Speirs, head of computing and IT at Cedars School of Excellence in Scotland. “By freeing teachers to create and organize courses right on iPad, educators can be better focused on enabling student participation both with the content and one another.”

    Students using iPad and enrolled in private iTunes U courses will now have everything they need to fully collaborate with their classmates and teachers. With Discussions in the iTunes U app, students can automatically follow classroom discussions and join conversations on new topics, or set up push notifications for when new topics are started or replies are added to active exchanges. Teachers can participate in forums too, and have the ability to moderate discussions by removing any off-topic messages or replies.

    “Discussions in iTunes U puts the potential for thoughtful exploration and collaboration into the hands of every one of our students,” said Larry Reiff, a teacher from Roslyn High School in New York. “iPad and iTunes U continue to provide students with the tools they need to build knowledge and demonstrate their learning.”

    iTunes U helps educators create courses including lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and more for millions of iOS users around the world. With over 750,000 individual learning materials available on the iTunes U app, iTunes U is the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content from top schools and prominent organizations. Today, thousands of educational institutions are hosting over 7,500 public and thousands of private courses encompassing the arts, sciences, health and medicine, education, business and more.

    Educators can create iTunes U courses in 69 countries and make their courses and educational content accessible via the iTunes U app in 155 countries. In addition to the thousands of individual iTunes U learning materials found on the iTunes Store®, over 500,000 apps designed specifically for iPad are now available on the App Store℠. Additionally, with the free iBooks Author app on the Mac App Store℠, nearly 30,000 Multi-Touch™ books have been created by independent teachers and publishers worldwide.

    Why Toddlers can Figure Out Your TV Remote and You Cannot

    A recent study suggests that the reason young children are not intimidated by technology, and can figure it out mud more rapidly than adults, is that they are better wired for figuring out cause and relation effects and are not intimidated by pre determined ideas.

    From the study "When children are better (or at least more open-minded) learners than adults: developmental differences in learning the forms of causal relationships."

    Children learn causal relationships quickly and make far-reaching causal inferences from what they observe. Acquiring abstract causal principles that allow generalization across different causal relationships could support these abilities. We examine children’s ability to acquire abstract knowledge about the forms of causal relationships and show that in some cases they learn better than adults. Adults and 4- and 5-year-old children saw events suggesting that a causal relationship took one of two different forms, and their generalization to a new set of objects was then tested. One form was a more typical disjunctive relationship; the other was a more unusual conjunctive relationship. Participants were asked to both judge the causal efficacy of the objects and to design actions to generate or prevent an effect. Our results show that children can learn the abstract properties of causal relationships using only a handful of events. Moreover, children were more likely than adults to generalize the unusual conjunctive relationship, suggesting that they are less biased by prior assumptions and pay more attention to current evidence. These results are consistent with the predictions of a hierarchical Bayesian model.

    Here is a story from NPR on the study

    Here is an audio recording of the story

    If you know where to hang your posters because of 15 year old tacky tape stain guides, maybe it is time to shake things up a bit. Kevin Honeycutt

    If you know where to hang your posters because of 15 year old tacky tape stain guides, maybe it is time to shake things up a bit. Kevin Honeycutt

    (Source: recitethis.com)

    Digital Textbooks and Film Cameras:

    Back in the late 1990’s I was a member of a photography club here in El Paso. That club was made up of all kinds of photographers, from VERY amateur ones to VERY professional ones. I remember that at the time, there was some talk about digital photography, and I had gotten my hands on some digital cameras, like the old Apple Quicktake 100:

    Back then, digital cameras were few and far between, with only high end professional photographers using them, and Photoshop was something that very few people knew about. Way expensive cameras, low resolution images, few ways to manipulate either, and even fewer ways to print an image out. If you wanted the image, you had to pretty much also own an Epson Photo Printer, whose images faded quickly and whose ink and photo paper cost a small fortune.

    Yet, the technology, as it almost always does, marched on. Slowly, surely, the cameras became more capable, the software to manipulate the images became more affordable (Photoshop remained expensive, but Photoshop Elements provided users with 90% of the functionality of Photoshop at 1/5th of the price. Photo stores began to adapt and purchase equipment that could print real photos from digital files.

    Still, in my photo club, there was almost unanimous opinion that this new technology would never ever replace film. The oft heard phrase was that film was here to stay and that this digital stuff was simply something as a diversion for rich people that could afford a lot of equipment. They pointed to Kodak as an example. Kodak was so big, how could it ever go out of business? And Ilford? And Fujifilm? There simply were too many film photographers out there. You had to know a lot about photography in order to be a “real photographer.” When I demonstrated some digital photo technique to the group, I was met with polite applause, but never a follow-up question. Digital, at least for these folks, was a fad that would pass. Indeed, for a while, photographers that used digital equipment were not really considered “real photographers” because they could manipulate their images on a computer and not in a darkroom.

    Well, we all know how that story has ended. Kodak and the film based industry, for the most part, simply could not adapt to the rapid change in their business model and have been relegated to the graveyard of failed businesses. Those “fad” digital devices which once were so expensive only professionals could use them soon became common place. Now, almost every person that has a cell phone has a camera. More photos are being taken now than ever before. Indeed almost one TRILLION photos will be taken in 2014 alone.

    Of course, not all of these are works of art, far from it, but there are now more photographers on the planet than ever before. Those high end Photoshop manipulations from a few years ago that cost around $600 to do are now free or near free as apps on those same phones.

    Digital photo technology has democratized photography. You no longer have to be a trained professional photographer to get professional looking photographs. That is not to say that professionals are not needed. A trained professional can still run rings around an amateur when it comes to lighting and posing. But for the most part, for 99% of photo needs, that camera in your cell phone will do just fine.

    That photography club I once belonged to? Last time I checked, every single photographer was using digital cameras.

    If you were like me, you could have seen the shift coming whether you believed it or not, whether you wanted it or not. It was a train that simply could not have been stopped.

    The shift was fast, the industry was slow to keep up, the power of the people, the availability of devices and the price being lowered to essentially $0 created a planet of picture takers. Entire industries that were not here a few years ago have now sprouted up in recent years to handle the onslaught of the sheer number of images. Sites like Flickr are designed specifically for digital images.

    Here is the sequence: Nascent technology takes on an entrenched and unwilling or unable to change industry and is overwhelmed by massive amounts of free materials that are almost as good , say 99% as good, as the “professional material.”

    Sound familiar? The exact same thing is happening right this minute in the textbook industry. Consider such groups as CK12.org which provides secondary textbooks for free, aligned to state and national standards. Did you get that? FREE TEXTBOOKS. No publisher can beat that price. None. And it doesn’t stop there. Literally thousands of free textbooks and entire courses are now available to students and teachers using such diverse sites as hippocampus.org and iTunes U. My district has even started a collection of all of the content we are finding online that can be used in lieu of a traditional textbook. One wonders how long it will be before the traditional textbook publishers start pushing back against the free material. Because knowledge is free, it will be difficult for them to argue that their CONTENT is better. My bet is that they will start arguing that their process is better. In any event, it will be difficult for them to justify $100 textbooks when the same information is available for free elsewhere. Maybe not in as pretty as package, but 99% good enough.

    Of course, the other advantage of a digital text is that a device needs to be used to read them. Students an use a device like an iPad to read the text, but also take notes, share information, research and write, all the while no longer having to carry around 30 pounds of books. Digital texts weigh nothing, something that publishing printshops are no doubt very aware of. Choices now seem to be quickly going away from heavy, paper texts. Sure, they will still be there for those that need them, just like you can still buy film for a camera if you really need to, but the reason for doing it becomes more and more moot as time rolls on.

    Has your district started to make the switch to digital texts? Let me know about it.