Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's Important to Talk With Your Friends About the #TxEdBudget Crisis!

Because Texas school districts are already announcing layoffs and program cuts, I think there is a perception among the general public that the state budget is a done deal and there is nothing they can do. That's far from the truth. The budget won't be finalized until the end of the summer; unfortunately, districts have to begin planning now for the worst case scenario.

Although I have concerns that all of the cuts being made now won't be undone if the legislature ever comes to its senses, I think as citizens it is our responsibility to continue to advocate for the best interest of Texas students and educators, and it is not too late to make our wishes known and insist that our representatives really look at what they are doing as they push our education system toward the precipice. (On this theme, hats off to parents and teachers in Pflugerville ISD who aren't going down without a fight.)

This week I was at a church event, and because I'm an educator the topic of budget cuts came up. A mom who was at the event shared with me that she was involved in a Moms in Touch prayer group that faithfully gathers every week to pray for their children's schools, and that they had been praying for teachers and schools in the face of the budget cutbacks. Several of the moms have special needs children, and they were particularly concerned about what staffing reductions would mean for the services provided to their kids.

I thanked her profusely for the prayers, because being a Christian I definitely believe the master plan is in His hands.

I then ventured on to say that there was something else the moms could do - they could write their legislators with their concerns. I admit I was a little tentative because I did not want to offend by accidentally implying that prayer wasn't important or wasn't enough. You can imagine my relief when she said, "Really? We just don't know what to do or where to start." I offered to send her some information, and she gladly accepted the offer and said she would pass the information on to the other moms in her group.

As I composed an email to send to the mom I had spoken with, I found it difficult to distill down all of the information I have been consuming on this topic. I know it is important when communicating information like this to not overwhelm people. It's also important not to insult specific politicians or parties. We need to educate people with the facts, but not alienate them by making this a party-line issue.

Below is the text of the email I sent the concerned mom from my church. I would appreciate feedback on how you would tweak it to share with folks who might not be keeping up with the situation as closely as some of us are.

And, if you find value in it, please feel free to share with anyone who might benefit from this information and be encouraged to contact their legislators.

Subject: Texas Education Budget Cuts
Thank you again so much for being willing to share information with your Moms in Touch group! Feel free to share this with others whom you think might also be interested.
The main issue is that the state is looking at an overall shortfall of $27 billion in the state budget. Both the Senate and House released preliminary budgets which zero out all grant funded programs for schools, such as Pre-K, arts education, and technology funding.
In addition to cutting grant funded programs, the current proposed budgets cut the basic "allotment" that districts get for each student they teach, and they do not allow funding for any new students that come in to the schools.

Some school districts have their own "rainy day" funds, but not all do. And even if they do, in most cases it is not enough to make up for a reduction in their basic allotment plus cutting funds for grant programs. Since about 85% of an average district's budget goes to employee salaries, they have no choice but to cut staffing positions to make up for the shortfall from the state. That is why districts are starting to let teachers and staff know they will not have jobs next year in preparation for the worst case scenario. Estimates are 100,000 educators in Texas could be laid off at the end of this school year.

Cutting back on staff in this dramatic way will impact student instruction, as the students will receive less individualized attention in larger classes and specialists like speech pathologists or physical therapists will have larger case loads. Other types of positions being cut in many districts are registered school nurses, librarians, and instructional coaches who help teachers keep up to date on the latest teaching methods.

In addition, having all of those educators out of work will impact the Texas economy.

The state has a "rainy day" fund of $9.4 billion dollars that they could tap in to. If they spent all of it, it would make up for the education portion of the funding deficit. So far, Governor Perry has been discouraging the spending of any of that fund, and the legislature has been planning the huge budget cuts accordingly. But they are starting to discuss using the Texas rainy day fund, largely because constituents have been writing and asking them to make education funding more of a priority.

The number one thing anyone who is concerned can do is write their legislators.

I think hearing from parents is the most powerful thing, so if the moms and dads you know could write to their legislators telling them to make school funding a priority, that will definitely help encourage the legislature to approach this budget shortfall in a more balanced way. Cuts may be necessary, but a reduction at the currently proposed levels is going to be devastating to school districts and their programs.

The Save Texas Schools website has a lot of great information: They even have sample letters you can send to your legislators, but I would suggest customizing them and telling the stories of how programs and teachers have impacted your own children. The sample letters can be found here: Emails, snail mail, and phone calls are all important.

Find out your legislators here:

Contact Governor Perry here:

If folks want more information, here are some places to find it:

I would encourage anyone who wants more information on how this is going to impact their specific school district to go to the district's website and look for information. Many districts are posting their proposed budget cuts. Here are a couple of examples:

Round Rock ISD:
Pflugerville ISD:

Basic Overview of What's Being Cut from the Preliminary State Budget:

Article on History and Purpose of Texas Rainy Day Fund:

One of the things I hear from people I know is questions about why teachers want so much for themselves because the Wisconsin teachers are getting so much national attention. In Texas, we are not unionized and do not have collective bargaining rights. We aren't asking for more benefits - just to keep our jobs and as a result of that to keep schools appropriately staffed. Here is an article which discusses the differences between Texas and Wisconsin:


I hope this hasn't been too much information. I'm no political expert, but I am very concerned about our children's educational futures and he future of the teaching profession in Texas.

If you have questions, please let me know.

Your prayers are also needed! Especially for our leaders' wisdom, and for educators to trust in God's promises and provision as we face uncertain job futures - for many of us for the first time in our lives.

Thank you again!!!!

A quick followup email I sent: I forgot to mention in that giant email that folks on Facebook can follow Save Texas Schools there. It's a good way to stay informed on the situation.!/pages/Save-Texas-Schools/121711224567387

Thanks again!!!

So, there you have it. How would you improve it?

More importantly, who are you going to share this information with? Educators who may be in denial? Concerned parents and citizens who don't know if there is anything they can do? Think of the people in your life that fit into these categories, and find ways to share with them today!

Blog post photo from Morgue File, used with permission:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Raining! Why Texas Should Use the Rainy Day Fund

I am home today with a sick pet. While she rests and we wait to go to the vet, I have been reading up on the latest information to cross my screen regarding the Texas education budget crisis.

I am not glad my pet is sick, but I'm very glad I came across a Tweet from MrDW30 which linked to an article from the Center for Public Policy Priorities regarding the origin of the Texas Rainy Day Fund, examples of how it has been used in the past, and why it makes sense to use it in the financial situation Texas currently finds itself in. I only hope that those who subscribe to Governor Perry's "hands off the fund" approach will read this article and see the sense that is in it.

The full article, Using the Rainy Day Fund to Ensure Our Recovery and Prosperity, is six pages long and well worth the reading. I posted a link to it for my friends on Facebook along with some compelling excerpts which I am also sharing here. I believe these excerpts can form the basis for talking points as you share with your colleagues and friends the important fact that the impending budget crisis can be avoided if our legislators approach it in a balanced, reasonable manner. You might also cite this article in correspondence with your legislators.

Here are some quotes which stood out to me (bolding is mine):
"The Legislature told voters that if they saved tax dollars in the Rainy Day Fund, those dollars would be used to maintain current services in the event of an economic downturn. Voters took the deal, approving the constitutional amendment creating the fund in November 1988. The amendment became Article 3, Section 49-g, of the Texas Constitution."
"In 1991, the Legislature spent the entire balance ($28.8 million) on public schools, and in 1993, spent the entire balance ($197 million) for criminal justice. In 2003, to deal with the last economic downturn, the Legislature appropriated $1.3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund."
"...if we don’t use all of the Rainy Day Fund now to help maintain vital public services, the damage in 2012-13 is certain and great. Cuts would imperil our economic recovery. In the short run, Texas would lose 250,000 public and private jobs just because of the cuts to public education. In the long run, cuts to education would threaten our future prosperity if we shortchanged an entire group of Texas children."
"Why make a decision today to deeply cut critical public services for 2012-13 because we are worried that we might not have the money in 2014-15 to continue to provide the services? Texas has both the time and a process to adjust the budget if the economy does not continue to improve. This same process allows for budget adjustments to address any emergency such as a hurricane."
‎"The Constitution requires a three-fifths vote of the members present to spend the Rainy Day Fund to prevent a deficit in a current budget or to offset a decline in available revenue for a future budget. If all members were present, that would require 90 votes in the House and 19 in the Senate."
"The Rainy Day Fund was created by Texans who knew what it was like to deal with a crisis that threatens economic growth and future prosperity. While they wanted to preserve the fund for real crisis and important needs, they intended it to be used in the very sort of circumstances we now face. Texans will not abide billions ($9.4 billion) kept in the treasury while classrooms are crowded and teachers are fired, while promising young Texans are denied access to college, and while low-income children, the elderly, and those with disabilities are denied the humane protection of a compassionate state."
The entire article is very compelling and very easy to read. I understand more now about why the Rainy Day Fund exists, and I am more convinced than ever that it exists for the exact circumstances we are in today. I encourage you to read it in its entirety for yourself.

But don't stop there. Are you discussing this with your colleagues? I ran into some folks I used to teach with at lunch yesterday, two of them active teachers and one a retired teacher subbing for the day, and none of them were aware of the Save Texas Schools Rally on March 12th, and I suspect that means they probably aren't writing their representatives either. Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are wonderful, but it is my opinion that the most compelling conversations, the ones that move people to action, are the ones that take place in person. If you are reading this blog, then great! Now, go spread the word to everyone who isn't reading. Let's prove this blogger wrong in his appraisal of Texas teachers...


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Keeping Up to Date: Texas Education Budget Crisis

Letting Your Voice Be Heard

With so much information crossing my screen on the Texas Education Budget Crisis, I thought it would be useful to pull together a few places where folks can stay up to date.

I hope you do more with this information than stay "in the know" though. I hope you take this knowledge and use it to write and phone your legislators and let them know how you feel about what they are doing to our schools if they pass their currently proposed budgets.

Please share this information with your friends and colleagues as well. It is going to take all of us - parents, concerned citizens, and educators - to get the attention of our legislators and governor and let them know we do not want an education system that cannot meet the needs of students because it is inadequately funded, nor do we want 100,000 educators to stay on the public payroll because they are collecting unemployment instead of teaching our kids.

Where to Mail Your Letters and Direct Your Phone Calls

Find Out Who Represents You and How To Contact Them - Traditional snail-mail letters and phone calls tend to get more attention than emails.

Contact Governor Rick Perry

Staying Up to Date

Save Texas Schools - A State-Wide Coalition Dedicated to Preserving Our Texas Schools
News Article Page:

Texas Tribune - Independent online newspaper:
Home Page:
Public Education Page: -Aggregates stories from across the state:
Home Page:
Legislative Page:
School Finance Page:

Your Local News Media- Stay informed on how the budget cuts will affect your immediate community:
News Link Texas Newspapers:
News Link Texas TV Stations:

21st Century Teaching and Learning Blog - A colleague and friend of mine, @digitallearners, is posting a fact to her Facebook page each day in hopes that her noneducator friends will pick up the information and contact their representatives. She is cross-posting her daily posts to her blog. You can use her information to educate your social and professional networks as well. This link will take you to all of her Texas education budget posts:

Around the Corner Blog - @mguhlin is posting regularly about the budget crisis from an experienced educators' perspective. His posts give educators food for thought and action and can also serve to show concerned citizens from outside of education how the funding situation is being perceived in the education field. Texas education budget posts:

More Ideas?

Do you have sources you are regularly visiting for up to date information on the school funding crisis in Texas? Are you posting information regularly? If so, please leave a comment and tell us about it!

Photo courtesy of Flikr user Whole Wheat Toast. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike license agreement.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Moving from Web 2.No to Web 2.Go

I spent the week of February 7-11 attending the 2011 TCEA Convention and Exposition in Austin, Texas. The theme for this year's gathering was "No LimITs", and it was an appropriate theme for my biggest takeaways from the conference.

For years I have been hearing and reading about the need to open up Web 2.0 tools for student and teacher use in schools as well as moving toward 1:1 computer/device access for students. This year, these two themes converged at TCEA, and for the first time I heard from several schools and districts that have taken steps in these directions. I left the conference encouraged and energized to help my own district start making moves in this direction.

My conclusions:
  • It is time to bring cloud computing into our schools. Google Apps for Education is one very logical way to do this. It provides a balance of schools being able to oversee what students and teachers are doing in the cloud while giving them access to authentic tools for learning through creation and collaboration. At a time when the budget crisis in Texas is promising severe cutbacks in public education funding, using a suite of free tools such as Google Apps is even more appealing.
  • It is time to open up filters and bring more Web 2.0 applications into our schools. Instead of blocking everything that can be used inappropriately (in the end, what can't be used inappropriately?), it is time to teach digital responsibility and digital citizenship. We can't teach teachers and students how to successfully navigate and responsibly use the Internet which is now an integrated part of our lives if we continue to barricade the schoolhouse under the guise of protection. (One of my favorite quotes from the week was from Jamie Casap: "We teach kids how to cross the street. We do not ban cars.")
  • It is time to allow students to bring personal computing devices to school and integrate their use into instruction. Most schools are never going to be able to afford sustainable 1:1 computing. Yet if we open up cloud computing and Web 2.0 applications, access to devices will be critical to leveraging those tools. The answer lies in taking advantage of the tools many students already have - cell phones, smart phones, app phones, MP3 players, tablets, and laptops. This means we need to remove barriers which are blocking the use of personal technology at school.
As much as I would love to do all of the above NOW, I know that is not wise or feasible. There are conversations to be had and issues to be addressed. For all of you in the education world who think change happens too slowly, you are right in most cases. That does not mean we should throw caution to the wind, however. We need to lay the groundwork for these initiatives and keep the ball rolling to get everything in place.

Some issues I know schools will need to address are:
  • Bandwidth - Accessing the cloud, using Web 2.0 tools, and allowing students to connect personal devices to the network are going to take bandwidth - and lots of it. Many districts are not "up to speed" in this area, so investments must be made. Increasing bandwidth costs money, but hopefully that spending might be offset by not having to buy as much specialized software or as much hardware as students begin to use cloud applications and their own devices. A corollary to this problem is cell signal strength in some buildings. We have buildings in our district which are considered black holes when it comes to cellular access. Schools may need to invest in repeaters in some buildings to make student cell phone use viable. A second corollary is that schools will need a strong wireless infrastructure to support connecting personal devices to the Internet.
  • Equal Access - Not every student has a cell phone with unlimited data or text plans, nor do they all have laptops they can bring to school. What do we do for students in these situations? It really isn't fair to expect students with devices to share expensive equipment. Schools will need to invest in some devices, such as iPod Touches, tablets, or laptops/netbooks to provide equivalent access during the school day. Access at home then becomes another matter as well.
  • Policy - While moving into these realms opens up whole new areas of opportunity for digital citizenship education, it also opens up whole new areas of opportunity for kids to push boundaries. Obviously, new acceptable use policies need to be implemented. One of the policies I came across in a session was White Oak ISD, and what I like about it is it is applied both to the use of personal and district owned equipment. I believe a consistent set of consequences for violating acceptable use should also be established. Schools will also not be able to ignore CIPA and FERPA as they venture into these realms.
  • Administrator/Teacher Buy In and Professional Development - New opportunities for instructional integration will abound, but many teachers and administrators will be way out of their comfort zones in this new environment. Professional development will be needed to build the capacity of administrators and teachers to manage and leverage environments with much more open access to technology. Some will be reluctant to venture into this realm, so showing them the possibilities will be very important. While others might be ready to run with this opportunity, they, too, will need workshops in safe practices and quality integration strategies. Quite frankly, teaching in a technology infused environment requires new pedagogy which is not instinctive to most of us. As much as I try to keep up with what's going on in the educational technology field, I know even I will need training to help teachers make this transition.

    I was quite surprised at the number of schools and districts who threw the door open for students to use personal devices in school without first providing their staff with professional development. To me that's putting the cart way before the horse. Most admitted to experiencing some issues by implementing without appropriate training for staff. I would hope districts on the cusp of these implementations will learn from others' experience and provide the necessary training ahead of time, as well as in a continuing manner, to maximize the impact of these new technologies on student learning.
If the purpose of public education is to prepare students to be productive members of society, we can no longer claim to be meeting our purpose if we are locking the most modern of society's tools outside of the schoolhouse door.

It is obviously going to take a time and collaboration to move from the realm of Web 2.No to Web 2.Go. Almost every one of the sessions I attended at TCEA 2011 (you can read my session live-blogs) contributed in some way to convicting me of the importance of starting NOW to make these moves.

Although we can't flip the switch overnight, we can start the conversation on Monday morning and make the case for technology to finally be in a position to transform education as it has transformed business and society.

Please share your thoughts: What am I leaving out as I think about this transition for schools? Is your school or district already doing this and do you have insights to share? What questions/suggestions do you have? Do you have links to stories of places who have successfully made these transitions? Please post in the comments. With Web 2.0 at our fingertips, there is no sense in each of us trying to figure this out alone!

Friday, February 11, 2011

David Pogue - TCEA 2011 Closing Session

The Digital Kids Grow Up
Disruptive Shifts in Tech and Culture

The App Phone - Whole computers - iPhone, Android
It's a whole new category of gadget
350,000 iPhone Apps, 220,000 Droid Apps

Example: Ocarina - written by a music teacher in California - author became a millionaire in 7 months - blow into the mic and put your fingers over the "holes" on the phone. Also allows you to "spin the world" and listen in to a random person playing the app somewhere else in the world

Next wave of apps is Aurgmented Reality
London Subway app - point at ground and see tubes running under you and closest stations
TwittAround - Point at a building and it shows you who is using Twitter right now
Retina - point at an item and it tells in words what color something is - great for color blind people
TAT - Uses facial recognition to focus on a person and show you all of their social media presence

Landlines fade away - landline service has crashed 30% in last five years
Check out Pogue's blog post from yesterday to see how to use Google voice to make every phone call you make free!

Newspapers and print books have been slowly declining. But things don't go away - they just splinter. But TV did not replace radio. VCR/DVD did not replace movie theaters. Instant coffee did not replace brewed coffee.
Today's E-Book readers are from the Cro-Magnon Era

Web 2.0
Audience is the creator of the material -
Example Facebook with 500,000,0000 members as of December. There will be 1 billion members by Christmas 2011.
Craigslist - partially responsible for shrinking of American newspaper
Wikipedia - an encyclopedia where any idiot can write anything about anything
YouTube - sold by original creators to Google for 1.7 billion dollars only a year later - List grunt work you don't want to do and people bid to see who can do it for the least amount of money. - request loans from private citizens, cutting the bank out of the middle
Kiva - smaller loans to third world businessmen
Gologo - find carpool buddies
E-Petitions - British gov website to let anyone start a petition about anything
Who is Sick? - click off symptoms and see what bugs are going around your neighborhood

The New Generation
Take Back the Beep campaign from Pogue - David found out from an intern that students today do not leave voice messages. They return missed calls.
Students prefer not to use email. They watch TV on the computer.
They expect everything to be on demand: Ex:, Netflix, E-Book Newspapers
Privacy: Nobody Cares - purpose of Facebook and Twitter is to share everything
Speed + Ego - Privacy = Twitter
Groupon - one extremely discounted offer sent to you every day - have saved 1.6 billion dollars for people in the the year and a half since they've been founded

Concluding Thoughts
It's exhausting to keep up!
Everything you buy is outdated in 6 months.
Young people adopt technology much faster than adults.

Unlimited Staff Development With Limited Staff

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Concurrent Session

Jana Wenzel, Instructional Technology Specialist,
Sharon Ogden, District Technology Training Coordinator,
Troy Kuhn, Instructional Technology Specialist,
Bryan ISD

Online Questions:

Presentation Website:

Our staff development plan is not online but you can request it via email to

Wanted to move from going to campuses to train teachers to a systematic way that teachers could chart their own growth and move from level A to B, etc... Developing this system took a year and a half before it was ready to roll out. Technology staff and district technology committee worked together on developing this. Having teachers involved in developing the plan helped with teacher buy-in. Some principals also make this a part of their campus professional development plan.

Aligned what they were asking teachers to do with SBEC, TEKS, ISTE Standards, STaR Chart.

Level 1: Basic Teacher Productivity (Supports the learning experience)
Level 2: Proficient Instructional Use and Student Productivity (Enhances the learning experience) - After training, begin to integrate technology into teaching on a regular basis
Level 3: Student-Centered Learning Classroom (Transforms the learning experience)

Part of moving teachers to the highest level is getting teachers interested in using technology in their personal lives.

  • K-8 Principals present plan to staff and hold staff accountable based on expectations. High School campuses have an on-campus instructional specialist in charge of facilitating the tech PD plan
  • Staff expectation is individually based on Level of Progression. This will invlovle combination of leveled training, intgegrated classroom activities, and documentsed self reflection.
  • All training is recorded in employee's Eduphoria Portfolio and principals have access to Eduphoria reports.
  • Teachers are required to turn in an integrated project rfeflection form to principal or instructional specialist. They can get PD credit for this as well as for attending training.
Training Options
  • Training Menu - Sessions scheduled at technology. Teachers register through Eduphoria Workshop for Instructional Technology sessions organized by tech department.
  • Call Ticket - individual or group requests for training put in through Eduphoria HelpDesk. This helps track the trainings and the need for the trainings. Sharon receives all requests, gets clarification, and assigns the training to staff who are specialists in those areas. Also put in call tickets for trainings that were not scheduled through Eduphoria.
  • Atomic Learning - this is available to teachers and parents. Each school has a parent account. Teachers can log online hours toward reaching the three levels. Can be classroom focused, but can also learn skills for personal use to build up thier 21st Century Skills. Each IT specialist and campus administrator has access to look at reports in Atomic Learning. Teachers were very excited about this option. Credit is given in Eduphoria by administrator or IT specialist.
  • High School Options - Each campus has a dedicated specialist, so they are able to offer: Monthly period by period trainings, teaming planning (IT specialist attends team meetings to help them plan), before and after school support, on-campus daily support, one-on-one support, model teaching
Connecting with Teachers with Limited Staff
  • First Class Conferencing
  • Techy Blog - All instructional specialists post to this blog weekly. Post tools, ideas, and example lessons to the blog
  • Techy Rewards - Tracked using a Google Spreadsheet. If a teacher participates on the techy blog, gets caught using technology, attends staff development, does atomic learning, etc. Monthly drawing for technology integration hardware like a flip cam. IT staff makes a big deal out of the winner, interrupting class and giving the award to the teacher. No limit to how many times they can be added to the monthly reward document. At the end of the year all of the names from each of the monthly drawings will be entered in a drawing for the iPad. Monthly winners are publicized via email to all teachers.
  • Technology Walk-Throughs - IT staff fills out forms when they catch teachers using technology. They give feedback and share with campus admin. These teachers are entered in the monthly drawings as well. Email Sharon for copies. Teachers are usually happy to see the IT staff and welcome the walk throughs.

Dr. Judy Harris - William & Mary - Articles in ISTE 2008-2009
Dr. Kimberly Ketterer
Activity Types
Technology Integrated into Teaching and Learning

Wow! This was an awesome presentation! Bryan has done a tremendous job organizing technology staff development for their teachers. I will definitely be sharing these ideas back in my district!

RTI to Exemplary: No Limits with the iPod Touch

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Concurrent Session

Kelly Cordray
Elizabeth Powell
5th Grade Classroom Teachers
Texarkana ISD

PowerPoint presentation is available online at the TCEA website.

Kelly used iPod touches in her 5th grade classroom. Was using a Regulary Basal in 08-09 but wanted a change and was working on a technology campus. Started researching iPods, wrote a proposal for using them. Felt using audio books would help her students build vocabulary. Initially only wanted 25 iPod shuffles and a few audio novels.

Wound up getting an $1800 synch and storage cart with iPod Touches.

Planning - vertical alignment in order to choose novels
Library collections - borrow from other campuses
Different genres:
Sign of the Beaver, Stone Fox, Tuck Everlasting, Maniac Magee, Bud, not Buddy

Used iPod Touches primarily with class novels.

Integrated learning - video conference with author
Spelling/Vocabulary: huge for their diverse population, scarry for parents, 20 words in 2 weeks - type in your words and the site creates activities for you
Reading Skills - summarized everyday, discussed/compared chareacgters and story elements daily, predicted
Cooperative grouping - answer review questions together
Project at end of each book

Used app on the iPod Touches to help students figure out words from their reading that they did not know.

End of novel projects - Brochure, Wordle, Photostory, Take your pick project, Podcast chapter summary, Book trailer/podcast, share comments/answer quesion of week on knomi, Avatar - summary, Text speak - ex: How would Maniac explain what just hapened to a friend via text?, Design book cover in Photoshop

Noticed great increase in student engagement all year, including during the traditional "crazy" days leading up to holidays.

Paced reading - no wasted time
Level playing field - accessed by ALL: SPED, Dyslexic, ELLs - able to access curriculum with audio support
Inceased vocabulary through book/audio connection
Discipline is WONDERFUL...why???
Kids LOVE technology! - students used Touches to do lessons.
Response Systems
Geocaching - GPS app
Knowmi in hand - blogging
Can reinforce other subjects in down moments - flash cards app, presidents app, science movies, etc...
More ideas:

iPods helped teacher sneak up and trick kids with learning!

Pitfalls to Avoid
Actively monitor - easy to redirect because they can lose the privilige of using the iPod
Headphones - purchase individual for $.99
Assign 2-3 responsible citizens to put up iPods each day
Use gallon baggies

Ideas for Math and Science

Math Apps
Math Drills (free)
Flash Racer
Math Snacks
Telling Time
Fraction Math - w/tutorials
Thermometer Free

Modifications - Calculators, EZ Speak (another device you can use to read assignments aloud and download to iTunes, then sync to iPod - use more able students to record the assignments) - less stigmatizing to use the iPods

Download the App CloudBrowser so you can access Flash content on the iPod Touch. Costs about $.99

Science Apps
Deluxe Moon
Brainpop - Free movie each day
Science Glossary
Animal Lite Lite
3D Brain
Discovery Education Movies

Modifications - Allow students to read into the EZ Speak or iPod Touch with microphone or listen to science reading on the iPod touch.

Investigate this: eClicker available to make the iPod into a student response remote. Teacher runs main app off of iPhone or iPod/iPad. Students run response app.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Join the Conversation - Let's Skype

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Workshop

Cindy Brock, Presenter
Mary Lemons, Facilitator
Cynthia Petty, Facilitator
Mansfiled ISD Technology Trainers

Online Resource Handouts: or

Icenhower Intermediate School Class collaborated with a class in Alaska. The teacher in Alaska taught the students in Texas. Students in Alaska also presented PowerPoints to students in Texas. In conjunction with the Iditarod race a musher from Alaska presented to the Texas students and answered their questions.

You can share files and even your computer screen via Skype!

The information part of this session was short and sweet! We spent the rest of the time trying to set up Skype accounts and practice making Skype calls, which didn't go too well due to technical glitches on the computers. Still, based on the experiences of the presenters, I am encouraged to seek further applications of this program in teaching and learning back in my school district.

Primary Technology: They Can Do It Too!

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Workshop

Shelly Locke
Integration Specialist
Katy ISD

Resource website for presentation:

Web 2.0 Resources aren't just for older students.

Katy has adopted web tools. Use of Technology in Katy ISD

VoiceThread - Use to record student voices combinded with pictures. Great project examples at the link below!

Glogster - Online poster creation. Make sure you use the (Regular Glogster may have mature content) Use to create easy launch pages for younger students. When creating projects with younger students, take it slow in small steps. Maybe just do text and images at first. Add video later.

Sign up for trial of premium version so you can change the default account names to make them easier for students.

Kidblog - FREE! Simplified for younger students. Has posting and commenting moderation. Use comments for teachable moments, "Is it kind, true, necessary?" No student email accounts are required. Teacher can make posts and let students comment. Can also each have their own blog. Can create multiple classes and upload multiple users via a spreadsheet or create users one at a time.

Katy has Responsible Use Guidelines that lawyers have gone through to ensure Web 2.0 tools are covered. Parents sign off on this at the beginning of the year.

Worldle - Use to show overuse of words in a piece of writing. Put vocabulary words into a Wordle and print out to display in classroom. Study a topic or person and revise a Wordle as you go along to add important attributes. Tagxedo is similar to Wordle but makes the word clouds into shapes.

Voki - Create talking avatars. Teacher creates the account and lets kids create Vokis under their account.

Blabberize - Make images or drawings talk. Draw on it where you want it to talk.

Storyjumper - Create digital books

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Engaging Learners: Promising Practices in the Cloud

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Concurrent Session

Dr. Kay Abernathy
Dr. Diane Mason
Cindy Cummings
Daryl Ann Borrel
Dr. Sheryl Abshire
Lamar University

  • Research
  • George Siemens, University of Manitoba
  • Stepehn Downes, Senior Research for Canada's National Research Council. OLDaily Online Newsletter
  • You Tube Video, Connectivism and Technology
Connectivism in Practice
  • Building 21st Century Learning Environments in EC-20
  • Building Educational Technology Leadership Capacity
Promising Practices: Use and Transference - Using these tools with master's program students so they will in turn use them with their students. Give choice to the students - provide them with the standards and let them choose the tool to accomplish the project/assignment.

Lamar students have reported being able to get these tools unblocked for their students because they are able to show instructional uses of the tools.
  • Google Tools, Slideshare
  • Online References, Digital Content, Social Media
  • DropBox & MediaFire
  • Web Conferencing, Skype, Google Talk/Chat
  • Animoto, Podcasts ,Stykz, Audacity, Worlde
  • Assistive Technologies
  • YouTube, TeacherTube, SchoolTube
  • WikiSpaces, Blogger, PB Wiki, WordPress
Promising Practices - Professors noticed growth in their students throughout their studies especially in the area of cricital reflection
  • Collaboration
  • Project-based Learning
  • Personalized Learning (Choices)
  • Standards-based
  • Critical Reflection
  • Authentic Assessment
  • Mentoring, Coaching, and Peer Review
Cloud Computing Samples

Kathy Payne, Erin Cobb, Michelle Barber

Pam Comer

Professors learn from their students too. Example: An early group created a spreadsheet with contact information for all of their classmates. Now the professors create a class wiki or site so all of the students can easily stay connected and in touch.

Presentation link:

STEM - It's Not Too Early

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Concurrent Session

Diane Kahanek
Technology Facilitator
Village Elementary School
Georgetown ISD

What is STEM? The integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics into the curriculum.

Why integrate STEM?
  • Stimulates curiosity
  • Taps into student use of higher level thiniking skills
  • Engages learners
  • Manipulate concepts into any content area
MARE Curriculum - Marine Activities and Resources Education. Village does this in May. It is a school-wide STEM porogram for one month. School is decorated. It looks diferent every year because students research and decorate every year. Collect materials all year to recycle them for the decoration. Textbooks are put away and students stay in homerooms to immerse themselves into the program.

Students present what they have learned. Last year, another elementary was bussed over to learn from the Village students.

Students are very engaged in MARE and discipline problems are reduced.

Curriculum addresses standards in Earth, physical and life science, as well as inquiry; language arts, environmental issues, art, and music.
As students progress through the years, they build upon concepts and processes learned in previous years.

Village uses to help teachers plan the MARE unit. This includes Aha! Math and Aha! Science

Kindergarten - Life in a Pond explores habitats, water as a home, properties of water, adaptations and food chains/interrelationships. They do a Kid Pix Activity to create a living pond ecosystem.

First Graders - Rocky Seashore explores habitatae, animal and plant adaptations, different torms of rocks that make a seashore. Use Word or a PowerPoint or Blabberize to create a report about a rocky seachore.

Second Grade - Sandy Beaches - Themes include roc cycle and invertebrates. Math Activity - Sort, classify and graph biotic and abiotic elements using Excel.

Third Grade - The Wetlands and Estuaries - themes of organism diversity, habitat edges, and animal adaptations. Create a poster using Publisher, KidPix, or Glogster. Inquiry journals.

Fourth Grade - Kelp Forest - Includes themes of light and color under water, fish adaptations, seaa otters, seaweed, and human uses of seaweed. Students create a video about how kelp forests change throughout the seasons.

Fifth Grade - Dive into the Open Ocean - Disect squid and make it into calamari. Includes themes of global interconnectedness of the oceans.

MARE Museum - Students should learn enough about the topic so they can present it to someone else. They give tours to guests of what they are learning.

S: Life systems, water cycle, seasons
T: Graphics presentations research graphing and publishgin
E: Construcitng 3d models of organisms
M: Collecting data and measurement

Campus is now looking at Imagine Mars Project from This comes with AhHa Science and hopefully will come with Easy Tech soon after TEA approval.

Grades 3-8 STEM program, project based, where students create a colony on Mars. has all of the resources needed to complete the project.

All resources from this presentation are posted here:

Web 2.0: Balancing the Protection of Students for 21st Century Technology and Learning

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Concurrent Session

Dr. Stephen Waddell
Superintendent of Schools
Birdville ISD

Kelli Montgomery
Coordinator of Instructional Technology
Birdville ISD


Schools should be learning organizations, but how can we be learning organizations when we ban the use of the very tool that is creating learning today? (RE: Student cell phone use)

Daniel Pink - Addressed the Texas legislature House and Senate Education Committees in 2009

A Whole New Mind
Left Brain Abilities Powered the Industrial Age
Logical, linear, concrete, sequential
Right brain considered friviolous

But, the Right Brain abilities will be most important in the Conceptual Age (the 21st Century). Left Brain abilities PLUS: Inventiveness, creativity, Empathy, Design...

Three things contributing to change:

ABUNDANCE - More money is spent on trash bags in the US than 90 countries do on everything they purchase. Mini-storage is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US. We spend $14 for designer toilet bowl brushes. People are also looking for purpose, to figure out what hey are here for.

ASIA - Left brain routine work leaving for Asia where it can be done Cheaper. India produces 350,000 engineers a year. 48% of GE's software is developed in India. An American computer chip designer makes $7,000 per month - one in INdia makes $1,000. We cannot keep up with the number of engineers that India and China can produce. How do we compete? We need to produce creators, customizers, designers. Aerospace engineer in America = $6,000/month. Russia = $650/month.

AUTOMATION - John Deere 4930 Series Sprayer - computer controlled cockpit with GIS data beamed which includes humidity and soil data to automate the the process. Robots in warehouses now move the shelves and racks. Tax returns are outsourced to India for completion.

Focus on Design: "I see us being in the art business. Art, entertainment, and mobile sculpture. It just happens to provide transprotation." - Bob Lutz, General Motors CEO

Whole Foods - Their mission is to end world hunger. (Finding Meaning)

21st Century Jobs - We have to ask ourselves:
Can it be done overseast cheaper?
Can a computer do it faster?
Is it in demand in an age of abundance?

We have to develop skills that cannot be outsourced.

Moving from the knowledge age to the conceptual age.

"Software is a forklift for the mind" - Tom Peters

Conceptual Age Medical Schools - a new curriculum focus on empathy - the patient's "story" - for better diagnosis and care

MIT Open Courseware - free matreials and resources for HS teachers and students

iTunes U - more than 250,000 free lectures, videos, films, and other resources from all over the world

WolframAlpha - making all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone

Kahn Academy - a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high qualilty education to anyone, anywhere

242242 - Ask any question you want by text and you'll get the answer back via text message.

Imperative 21st Century Skills
Crtical Thinking
Content Area Knowledge

Disrupting Class - book by Clayton M. Christensen - How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns - predicts that 50% of all public school customers will be gone by 2025.

"The future belongs to those who can recognize patterns, empathize, with others, be creative, and provide meaning to peoples' lives - Daniel Pink

My Chinese360 - Teachers from Beijing who are certified Texas teachers who teach US students through virutual worlds.

Open Source Education
Open Office - Online graphing calculator comprable to TI

Birdville ISD Vision: Students Succeed In a Future They Create

If we do not learn how to use Web 2.0, we will be obsolete. Web 2.0 is a social revolution we cannot control or sustain.

Birdville unblocked YouTube four years ago. More important to show trust in students and help them learn responsibility.

We cannot mandate engagement. We wil llose customres if we do not utilize social tools.

Factors in Implementation
  • Driven by need to transform learning, engage learners
  • Cllaborative Professional learning
  • Conversations with Community
  • Seizing the opportunities in Web 2.0
  • Taking Risks
  • No Community Fallout - Framing the Question: How do you work? How is technology impacting you?

TEA Update: New Options with Digital Content in Texas

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Concurrent Session

John Lopez
Texas Education Agency

All TEA Power Points from TCEA will be uploaded to TCEA Project Share group for this conference.
Commissioner's List added Electronic Textbooks. These became available for districts to order in the Spring of 2011.

Format of digital materials being submitted is all over the map. Some are PDFs and some are more robust and interactive.
HB 4294 - Passed in 81st Legislative Session - Electronic Textbooks
  • Established Commissioner's List
  • Materials were reviewed by a panel of experts
  • Commissioner Rules have been approved
  • Commissioner shall update the list
  • Commissioner can remove materials from the list
  • Must be recommended by a panel of experts prior to removal
  • State will pay for electronic textbooks on Commissionaer's list
  • Districts may choose from either the SBOE list or the Commissioner's list
  • State textbook funds can be used to purchase technological equipment
  • Technological equipment used to support instruction for digital content
  • Section 5 (C-1)
    Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a school district or open enrollment charter school must purchase a classroom set of textbooks adoped by SBOE
Some rules are going to need to be aligned. For example, fines for errors need to be restructured to give time for correction (these corrections were not as feasable with print textbooks).

Commissioner's List of Approved Vendors for Proclamation 2010 and 2011
  • AWARD Publishing
  • iStation
  • Compass Learning
  • APEX Leaarning
  • Achieve 3000
  • A+Rise - ELPS - every teacher in Texas has access to these resources through Project Share Epsilen
  • Glencoe/McGraw Hill
  • Pearson Longman
How do you get to the products?
 If a district selects these products, TEA sends the money to the district, and the district contacts the vendor to order the books. There are Conforming and NonConforming lists.

 Aside: No guarantees Project Share will be funded in the next biennium although it is assumed it will be continued due to TEA's investment in it.

Open Source Textbooks - HB2488
  • Electronic textbook available for downloading free of charge
  • Cost may be incurred if district orderes printed copies
  • Allows the SBOE to adopt an open-source textbook at the secondary level
  • Districts shall annually certify that they cover the TEKS
  • SBOE will place on conforming/nonconforming list
  • Written by university faculty
  • Eligible university determines the level of qualifications with TEKS
  • Allows the Commissioner of Education to purchase state-developed open source textbooks.
  • Property of state
  • Commisssioner shal provide a license to school or district
  • Commissioner shall seek to recover costs for developing, revising, and distributing open source textbooks
  • Districts will be able to modify the open source textbooks
Attorney General's Opinion
  • Does a classroom set apply to lower grades? YES
  • Can a university open source textbook qualify as a classroom set? YES
  • Does the right to take home a textbook extend to classroom set? YES
  • Can the SBOE rfuse to place an open source book on the conforming or nonconforming list? NO
  • Can the SBOE fine or sanctiona university as a publisher? YES
  • Is the distict eligible for textbook creditif it selects an open source textbook? YES
  • Who owns technological equipment? The state does not own the equipment.
What to Watch For?
  • New legislation - set up keyword searches in Google to email you when there is activity! Will be effective September 1 - Appropriation is end of May so the timeline will be very compressed for getting materials to classrooms in the Fall. Also need time for PD.
  • District Decisions with instructional materials - get teachers involved and professionally develop them to use digital materials
  • Impact in the classroom - we need to allow mobile devices to be used in the classroom to leverage this content
  • Mobile Devices
  • Look at your district technology plan to make sure they are in place for eRate and Title II Part D funding

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TCEA 2011 Legislative Update Advocacy Panel

Notes from TCEA 2011 Panel. The speakers words flowed fast and I caputred/paraphrased them as accurately as I could. For an additional take on this event from someone else who also live blogged it, you can visit this post from Bryan Doyle.

Members of Panel:

Representative Scott Hochberg - Houston, TX
Representative Mark Strama - Austin, TX
Mr. Thomas Ratliff, State Board of Education - Mt. Pleasant, TX
Mr. Scott Floyd - Technology Specialist - White Oak, TX
Ms. Melanie Pritchett - Compass Learning, Austin, TX
Dr. Frances McArthur - Superintendent, Lexington, TX

We are on the cusp of exciting times in Texas, using digital content in the classroom. - Jennifer Faulkner, Director of Instructional Technology, Alamo Heights ISD (Moderator)

Question #1: What is your vision for the use of digital content in Texas schools for the next five years and how will that content be delivered?

Question #2: What are the barriers to implementing that vision?

Hochberg: HB 2488 Allows the Commissioner of Edu to purchase digital content and provide it free of charge to all students in the state. Vision includes not replacing books based on bindings wearing out, but purchasing content (EX: Shakespeare) and keeping it. Allows us to make sure errors don't persist for 10 years and to beef up portions of curriculum when needed. Barriers include strong lobby of the textbook industry in Texas. We spend roughly 1 billion dollars every ten years. There is a lot of political pressure not to change the way it has been. Second barrier is lack of access to digital high speed connections at home. We need to make sure people have a way to access the content. How can we budget for digital access for those who need it without budgeting for those who don't?

McArthur: She has seen the waste of textbooks stored in warehouses. Right now we cannot afford waste in public schools. It is frightening how we are going to make things work under the currently released budget proposals.One size fits all education doesn't work anymore. We need to be able to provide immediate feedback to students.It is most imporatnt that school districts have choice - local communities have different needs. Everyone needs to read the new Vision for Public Education from the Visioning Institute (Available on TASA website). Communities need a voice in these choices and need to be informed on how we are using digital content. Newer teachers and digitally savvy teachers are ready to teach with digital tools. They are able to address standards with more authentic materials. Equal access for children of poverty is an issue. Everyone needs the same availablility. Teachers need to be professionally developed as well to equip staff to move towards this.

Strama: Developed the first technology to help people register to vote over the Internet. 700,000 people registered in 2000. Much smaller than the in-person mobilization to register the same number of people. This demonstrates the transformative power of technology. In public education, we have not seen this transformation. We still teach for an agrarian society in a one to many scenario. We still teach the subject, not the children because we teach them all the same thing at the same time. In Strama's Sylvan learning centers, they run diagnostics on the students, identify their needs, and individualze their instruction. The only way to replicate this in public schools is through technology. The killer app that moved home technology adoption from less than 50% to over 75% in the 90's was email. Web 2.0 came about as a result. The killer app in public schools will be digital textbooks. Shakespeare is free if you have an iPad. We might be able to get value return on savings on textbook purchases in order to provide 1:1 devices. What device? Are tablets ready? Do they have enough interactivity without a keyboard? Barriers are bandwith, hardware, content. The ability to diagnostically deliver the right content to each kid at the right time may be the killer app. Teachers are also a barrier if the capacity for utilization is not developed. There will be wildly different degrees of enthusiasm in the teacher core for this. We can't make it happen with state policy. It has to come from the ground up. State can faciltate and provide resources, but educators have to make it happen. Collaboration through Project Share is a step in the right direction.

Floyd: How you deliver the content isn't going to change the instruction automatically. As long as we keep assessing the way we are assessing, we are going to keep instructing the way we are instructing. Authentic assessment is needed but is expensive and time consuming. We spend rediculously large sums of money to the same companies every few years for repackaged content. We should pull in educators to package open content and use it. Then contract with these people to revise the content on a regular basis to keep the information up to date. Barriers include the system we are in and the fact that teachers don't send lobbyists to Austin. We need to demand opportunities to be more open in our instructional styles.We also need to get telecommunications companies to run fiber to rural areas which they are reluctant to do because it is not profitable for them. There are more small rural districts in the state than there are large districts. Content needs to be portable because of this.

Ratliff: Many members on the state board are living in an 8-Track world, and we need to bring them into modern times. SBOE felt they could control the content of the textbooks; digital content is not as controllable. Kids don't consume content in an analog world anymore. Kids have to power down when they come to school. SBOE needs to determine the WHAT, educators need to decide HOW to deliver it. Universal, ubiquitous formats.State textbook fund should become state learning materials fund.(Side note: leg. will not adequately fund education; courts will make them fix it.) ISD stands for INDEPENDENT school district. TEKS stands for Texas ESSENTIAL (not comprehensive) Knowledge and Skills. SBOE needs to get out of lesson planning and give us standards and get the heck out of our way. Get PTA and booster clubs to mobilize. Fill the legislator's office with letters (not emails). They need to hear from parents.

Pritchett: We are losing creative teachers and engaged students because we are not letting them use engaging technologies. We no longer need to be constrained by the traditional classroom model. Teachers are overwhelmed having to deal with the diverse learners in their classrooms. A range of digital resources are needed to get the job done. How do we get students and teachers excited about learning again? Having hardware and software that helps effectively diagnose student need and place them in learning materials that they need is critically important. Digital and online content will enable this to become the norm. Students can be directed to customized learning experiences ala Amazon. Social media will allow connections between the classroom and personal lives. Solid practices and strategies will survive and flourish in this atmosphere. Textbook adoption processes are a barrier. They are still built for a print based world. We have an issue with teacher training in terms of what effective technology integration means. We need to differentiate teacher professional developmentt.

Question #3: What will we do to overcome the barriers?

Hochberg: Allow educators to experiment and innovate. Seeing 5th graders using iPods in science opened his eyes to the possibilities.

Discussion with audience on what kinds of devices are needed? Audience says should be device agnostic. Also issues with filtering devices when they go home.

Floyd: We are making steps with Project Share as it continues to be changed for K-12. iTunes University is also an amazing resource. There is lots of good stuff and engaging content for teaching already out there. Getting more content out there will help build the base.

Ratliff: If we get the content out there, we'll figure out the devices. We won't get there overnight.

Hochberg: Things that happen in the legislature that are temporary tend to last, so we need to be careful. We need to not just take care of districts who already have the equipment. Shout out to Anita Givens at TEA who is championing these initiatives.

From the audience - Electricity is also an issue in older buildings. Reply from Hochberg: Charge them at home. Reply from audience - Still need electicity to add computers at school and staff to help support additional devices. Reply from Strama - Electric remediation is expensive. Also need robust batteries.

Can't go digital unless there is a connected device everywhere a student goes.

Leverage the content into a way to provide devices to every student.

Cool Tools Duel

The final event of TCEA 2011 Edubloggercon - Two computers, four people, sharing as many free  (or almost free) tools as they can in 2 minute intervals - Create a Facebook-like profile for a famous or historical person. Must create an account to use. - Similar to Wallwisher. No one has to log in. Gives you a unique URL you can share with students or colleagues - Free online photo editor - instant audience feedback from cell phones - Will pull in your friend feeds from Facebook, Twitter. Collects everything that has gone across your feeds that day - Lets you share specific time frames of video clips. You can share a link or embed. Works with YouTube, Teacher Tube, Schooltube - App which reads QR codes on your phone or creates QR codes for you (NOTE - there is a QR code on the TCEA - $1.99 app for iPad. Put the desktop remote on your computer and your iPad will be able to act as a remote control for your desktop computer

360 Panorama - Camera app for iPhone - lets you take 360 degree panoramic pictures - grammar, spelling check, FREE, checks for plagiarism, just paste in text, gives reading level - highlight any web page and add notes, then share the link with students or colleagues

8mm Classic Camera - iPhone app - puts 8mm effects on a video - Create a public space where everyone can contribute to a collaborative document - feedback tool during meetings, uses Twitter or text messages to gather the feedback - web browser that integrates seamlessly with Facebook, Twitter, Diigo, etc

jot not pro - iPhone app that scans any image and shares it to Google Docs

Webstroyer - turn any page into a game of asteroids

PixelPipe - desktop/mobile tool for disseminating media to over 100 sites from your smart phone - One stop shop with a suite of tools you can use

AUP/Policy Discussion

Notes from Edubloggercon breakout session at TCEA 2011

Scott Floyd
White Oak ISD
  • Student AUP
  • Open wireless
  • Students are allowed to bring their own devices and use guest wireless
  • AUP applies whether students are on district computers or their own devices
  • Being too specific in an AUP can cause problems in the end. What is the next Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
  • Better to build a policy around doing the right thing.
  • Students should bring tools if it fits their learning style and the class they are in, but are not required to bring their own devices
  • District computers provided to the "have nots". Netbooks with DeepFreeze and SD cards for local saving (instead of Thawspace) so students can take the computers home when needed
  • Bandwidth use went down when social networking was opened up b/c people were no longer using proxies to get around the filter
How to get started?
  • In a large district, start with a pilot at one campus.
Questions/Thoughts/Ideas/General Notes
  • What about FERPA? Use anonymous student accounts (Ex: Glogster, Voice Thread, Kid Blogs, etc) or use filtered/managed accounts.
  • Teaching accountablility has to start with teachers when you begin to open these tools up.
  • Have a plan! Teach how to use iPods, cellphones, etc without them becoming a distraction or discipline issue. They need strategies because this is a new pedagogy.
  • Set an expectation that the students and teachers will use technology responsibly
  • Bud Hunt from Colorado -
  • What about CIPA? It is very specific and is usually interpreted too strictly.
  • A district committee with instructional tech, admins, technology staff to decide blocking policy might be beneficial for creating filtering policy
How to make things better?
  • Get your site based committee involved. Have a plan and present it to administration. Be the pilot campus!
  • Get an audience with leadership above the campus level.
  • Share the ISTE Nets with them to start - national technology standards for our kids!
  • Point out what the TEKS say - are the policies you have in place hindering the coverage of the TEKS?
  • Tie the need for improvement to mission statements - empowering students, educating global learners, etc.

Bring Your Own Devices - How Do You Do It Or How Do You Get There?

Notes from Lone Star Edubloggercon Breakout Session at TCEA 2011. I got to facilitate this session, which means I briefly set the stage and then invited everyone in the session to share. Fortunately, there was a plethora of experience and ideas in the room!

McKinney ISD - Three high schools piloting students bringing their own devices
  • AUP for guest access pops up every time someone tries to connect to their guest wireless
  • Teachers now struggling with using devices which have many different types of software and limitations such as limited data plans.
  • Setting up forms for teachers to survey students on what type of devices their students have so they can plan better for instruction
  • Survey of parents has shown generally positive
  • No staff development with teachers first
  • Nothing in place yet to block 3G/4G access. Going to observe and see what happens.
  • Some campuses have laptop carts they can use to supplement for students who do not have devices to bring
  • McKinney ISD BYOT Advertising Flyer
  • McKinney ISD BYOT Student, Teacher, and Parent Guide
Eanes ISD - Starting a pilot with their 8th graders bringing their own cell phones
  • No staff development with teachers first
  • Teachers who were interested initiated the project
  • Now doing once a month PD sessions; instructional technology partners offer classes and tech committee teacher members will eventually get release time to offer classes as well
  • Students from NJHS have formed a Campus Geek Squad to help teachers learn to use the technology - this was initiated by the students!
  • For next year the idea is to go school wide and do staff development in the summer
  • Estimates about 80% of students have smart phones
Independent School in San Jose California
  • Did do staff development before going to 1:1
  • School buys a large number of devices and leases them out to the students for $600 per year. Insured for breakage
  • Software that is specific to a discipline (Ex: Chemistry software) can be purchased and licensed for the leased computers
General Observations/Questions/Notes
  • Students have the technology already and would like to use it
  • Teachers may not have the devices themselves - should the school provide these?
  • What if we're an all PC campus and now we have to work with Apple iProducts
  • Guest access may need to be segmented to protect bandwidth and protect internal network from virus, etc.
  • How do we create lessons that are device neutral and account for the fact that not all students will have devices to bring? Cloud computing?
  • Can districts provide a vehicle for parents to know what to purchase? Provide bulk purchase agreement?
  • Monitoring appropriate use is an issue.

Thanks to all who participated in this conversation. Please post further thoughts or links to further resources in the comments!

NOTE: If you were interested in this post, you might also be interested in my May 3, 2011 post Successes & Challenges of a Bring Your Own Device Initiative

TCEA 2011 Day 2 - Edubloggercon!

OK. After a good night's sleep and smooth commute, I am ready to engage in learning again. Today is Edubloggercon, my first unconference. I've been blogging for not quite two years now, and I'm looking forward to hearing from others and seeing what they are doing with professional and maybe even student blogging.

The nature of an unconference is it gets organized on site, so I don't know what "sessions" I'll be in yet. If live blogging works out, I'll try it again today.

People are gathering and the Web 2.0 lounge is starting to buzz! Let the learning begin!

TCEA 2011 Google Academy - The Rest of the Story

Live blogging at the TCEA 2011 Google Academy yesterday was a new and fun experience for me. I'm really pumped that I will always be easily able to find my notes from the day (I don't lose my blog as often as I forget where I stored a Word doc...) and there seems to be an added bonus of folks who couldn't be there benefitting from my notes based on the number of Tweets some of my posts received.

There were multiple sessions going on, so of course I could not be in all of them. If you are interested in more info, here are a couple of other folks who posted notes from the sessions they attended:

21st Century Teaching and Learning blogs from @digitallearners

PILOTed Blog

I am looking forward to applying my learning from the Google Academy. I hope you will find some takeaways from those of us that were there as well!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Closing Session - TCEA 2011 Google Academy

Notes from the closing session of the TCEA 2011 Google Academy

Professional Development for Becoming A Google Apps Certified Trainer - both in person at TCEA, webinars, and on your own options.
  • Every Wednesday TCEA does a lunch and learn webinar that is free for TCEA members. If you sign up, you can get recordings of the webinars if you can't attend the live session
  • All content from the sessions today will be posted to the academy website after TCEA conference is over.
Closing Speaker
Jaime Casap
Google Education Evangelist
Twitter: @jcasap

Innovation in Education

Education is the silver bullet - Jaime grew up in Hell's Kitchen in New York. His own children have no idea what poverty is and know that college is an expectation for them. In one generation, his family's trajectory has been changed.

Today's young generation is different in many ways. They are growing up with technology all around them. It is part of their every day lives. They are caught in an environment where they can do multiple things at the same time. (That doesn't mean they're good at it though!)

Search is central to students' beings. For example, they walk into a bookstore and go straight to a kiosk to look up the books they want. They have no idea that the world existed before Google. No memory of card catalogs, folks!

The expectations students have for the tools they will be using are very different than previous generations. (Young people don't say "Not another version of the iPhone!)

The founding fathers would be amazed by cars and airplanes if they saw today's world, but they would be very comfortable and familiar with the majority of classrooms today (that's not a good thing, by the way...).

Outside of school, students are increasingly interacting with the world through mobile devices - phones and tablets. We might think it's too small to type on, read on, etc...but it's about the kids, not us.

The New Millennium Learners (NMLs - born 1980 and later) are ready to dive into teamwork and collaboration)

Just because we have devices in the classroom does not mean we are building technical skills.

When the Internet came into wide use, it was supposed to level the playing field. Everyone has access to all the information they need. But, there is so much information, we now need to learn how to search well.

Teach Not Ban - We teach kids how to cross the street, we do not ban cars. We should teach them how to search, collaborate, create good content, and leave a good digital footprint.

Mastering the Education Age with Google

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Google Academy breakout session.

Monica Martinez
TCEA Director of Professional Development
Google Certified Administrator

Bing TV Commercials - Information Overload-

Web 3.0 - This will be about semantic web (or the meaning of data), personalization (e.g. NetVibes), intelligent search and behavioral advertising, among other things.

Surfing - Will we do the surfiung or will the machine do the surfing for us?

Organization - Howwill our information be organized?

Interface - Will the web look the same for me as it does for everyone else?

Tools - What technologies will be common and which will be obsolete?

Information literacy becomes very critical in a Web 3.0 world.

Finding the information we want, verifying the information, and applying the information are all components of information literacy.

Google Squared
Example: Look Up US Presidents on Google Squared -
  • You can add and delete columns. When you add a column, Google searches the information for you. EX: Add a column for spouses to the US Presidents Search
  • Hover over any square in your search results to see where the information is coming from. Click on the square to select a different source.
  • Google squared results can be saved to Google Docs and further manipulated

Narrowing Down Your Search - Use Google Advanced Search!
Efficiency in search is important in the ocean of information that is on the Internet
  • Click that Advanced Search link to the right of the Google Search Box on the home page
  • Use the fields and watch Google build the syntax for you
  • Narrow searches by file type (just looking for PowerPoints?)
  • Use usage rights filter to make sure you are not violating anyone's copyright (students are no longer protected by fair use when the graduate from school, so it is important to teach this)
Google Wonder Wheel - Look in left column of a Google results page for the link
  • Returns search results in a web/mindmap format
Google Scholar - look for professional content (white papers, legal briefs, etc)

Google Image Swirl - Similar to Wonder Wheel but for images. Categorizes the type of image you are looking for.

You Tube - Upload a video to get help!
  • Ex: Help With Bow Drill Set -
  • Digital Citizenship - boy never shows his face or gives his name or phone number
  • Digital Literacy - boy created the video and is sourcing the cloud to get assistance with his project
Google Mobile -
  • Search using your voice and your location. Find websites, local businesses, product prices and more.
Google SMS
  • Search Google via text messages
  • Text message query to: 466453
  • Text HELP to 466453
  • Send STOP to cancel to 466453
  • Example - let students look up words while they are reading
  • Gives multiple ways to search Google. Many of the same features as Google advanced search but in a little more user friendly format
  • Google has its own form of this -
From the Google home page, be sure to click the More link at the top and click the Even More selection from the menu to see tons of Google tools you probably never even knew existed!

Ins and Outs Of Google Certification

Notes from a TCEA 2011 Google Academy breakout session.

Jennifer Bergland

Apps for Education Certified Training Website

Google is looking for people who will conduct themselves professionally and who will represent Google well.

If you become a trainer, you must commit to providing trainings at least three times per quarter.

If you become a trainer, your name is listed on a Google website so others can contact you to provide training.

NOTE: You should take all of the certification tests before filling out the online application.

The application to become a certified trainer is very in depth. When applying to become a certified trainer, you will need to prove experience providing professional development. This will include an outline and details of a professional development experience you have facilitated.

Google also wants to see evidence of a web presence and use of Web 2.0 tools. Parts of your application will be submitted via Google docs.

You will need to submit a two minute training video showing a key concept in Google Apps.

TIP: Print the online application first so you can pull together everything you need to apply.

You will need to complete and pass 6 Tests.
  • Each test costs $15.
  • You have 90 minutes and must make an 80 on each test.
  • Must complete all tests within 90 days.
  • You may look up answers as you take the test...however don't count on that to substitue for studying.
Google Apps Education Training Center
  • Some of the training modules take several hours to complete. Jennifer suggests reading the modules then going and practicing what they talk about.
  • Jennifer used Diigo to highlight key sections of the modules, then went to Diigo and used the highlighted text as a study guide.
  • Study a module then take the test the same day if possible.
  • System administration questions will be included in the tests.
  • If you see a link in a module, you should click it and read up on it - it will probably be on the test.
  • You can take all of the tests and pass them before filling out the online application.
  • Passing score on a test is 80. Must wait 7 days before retaking the test. Retakes cost $15 just like the original test.
Keeping Your Certification
  • Teach required number of trainings each year (3 per quarter)
  • Retake a certification test each year

Google Apps in the Middle School Classroom

Notes from a breakout session at TCEA 2011 Google Academy

Amy Hopkins
Caddo Mills ISD

Links to Presentation or

  • Implemented use of Google Accounts in her classroom 4 years ago with 8th graders
  • District converted email to Google Apps 2 years ago
  • Converted classroom/middle school campus to Google Apps for Ed this year
Why Google Apps for Education?
Caddo Mills 6th Graders Use:
  • iGoogle
    Customized homepage
    Students can pick themes and gadgets to add to page educational and personal
  • Gmail
    Gives students an email address to  make signing up for educational websites EASY!
    Teachers communicate with students on regarding assignments, tests/quizzes, etc
  • Docs/Spreadsheets
    Ability to create documents - word  processing, spreadsheets, and presentations
    Upload already-created documents and continue working
    Access from anywhere the user has an Internet connection
    Create forms
    Collaborate on documents with each other
  • Bookmarks
    Students can save their favorite websites to access at any time
    Create "labels" or folders/categories to keep them organized
    Share bookmarks with others
    No more having to remember website names and addresses!
    Students put a widget for it on their iGoogle page
  • Reader
    Constantly checks favorte news sites and blogs for new content
    Shows all of your favorite sites in one convenient place
    A great site for kids to learn about Current Events that we subscribe to! The Big Picture
  • Notebook
    Aids in compiling research - save only the information from a website that is really wanted
    "Clip" information into notebooks for later access
    Makes creating citations for a Works Cited page a SNAP! - saves all needed information
    Note: Google has said it is no longer upgrading Notebook
  • Calendar
    Receive email or mobile text-message reminders
    Share calendars with others
    Print calendars if needed
    Access Google Calendar from a mobile phone
  • Picnik
    Acquired by Google - March 1, 2010
    Edit digital photos
Random Tip: When teaching keyboarding, make kids wear basketball dribbling glasses so students can't see the keyboard