Monday, May 30, 2011

Six Summer Blogging Ideas




A great question from one of our new teacher bloggers: What can I blog about this summer?


1.  Since we are all reading teachers, how about investigating one of these sites, and providing some tips for families using links and ideas from these sites and your own professional strategies.


2. How about reading about literacy for professional development or planning for next year? Use your blog to explain the how and why of literacy learning.



3.  Try a new web-tool and write about how it could apply in your classroom.


4.  Build your Personal Learning Network -- read Silvia's post on PLNs. Then sign-up for one of the groups. Check out the members and start a conversation. Write about what you learned and your new PLN on your blog.


5. Read and comment on others' blogs. Write about the ideas and link back to the blog that inspired you.

Some interesting blogs:

Edte.ch  Including his famous Interesting Ways Series

6.  Participate in some project and blog about what you have learned, how to apply to your classroom or life, and what the next steps are.

June July August Photo Project by my friend Paula Naugle

Please add ideas in the comments: What should I blog out this summer?

Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

It's not the tools, it's the people.. Part 6


Why do we need technology in the classroom? Why learn these new tools?

It's not about the tools, it's about the people.

It's you. It's our students. It's our parents. And our staff and students should celebrate what we have accomplished so far.

How are we doing so far in implementing technology tools?

According to one advocate of Learning Management, Simon Finch, we are moving towards our goal.

He and the research on which he works indicate these components:
  • supporting organisation, 
  • management and practice, 
  • extending opportunities for collaboration, interaction and communication,
  • information and data management, 
  • approaches to learning, 
  • parental involvement 
  • supporting learning in and beyond school.
Note: This material has been developed from publications produced by Becta or its predecessor organisations which was made available under the Open Government Licence.
Our school improvement plan and technology plan include similar components, but it's the people who implement it and receive the benefits that matter.

In what phase are we? Aware? Developing? Adopting, Integrating? Transforming?

Students in grades 5-8 are at Step 4: Integrate  as shown by this benchmark in the above research:
"Learners routinely access the resources and complete tasks through the learning platform."
In our staff benchmarks, we have achieved, overall, the "Aware" phase:
"share the work they have done with their parents/carers by putting work into a personalised online learning space."
"take part in a variety of communicative and collaborative tasks on the learning platform."
"Some of the tools and resources on the learning platform are used to motivate and support independent learners"
" awareness of e-safety documentation and user resources."
In the following component areas, we also rate in the "Aware" phase:
In the Management Practice, 
Some staff use time effectively by logging on regularly to access information, for example calendars and notices.
Some staff are beginning to comment on how easily they can access core policies, planning and day-to-day notices."

For Collaborative learning, interaction, communication,

Staff contribute to school developments by viewing and contributing to discussions and responding to online surveys using the learning platform tools.
Groups take part in a variety of communicative and collaborative tasks on the learning platform.
Some begin to put work in their personal online learning space. They are able to share and talk to their parents/carers about the work.
 Staff adopt the learning platform for the secure storage of data on learners as a way of improving the sharing of information.
In the area of Learning Approaches,

Some can independently access motivational and engaging learning resources on the learning platform to extend and consolidate their learning for example web links, and digital games.
 Some staff begin to set up project areas on the platform with resources to support learners’ independent work and share their experience with others.
Some staff access resources and digital content within or through the learning platform that has been put in place/set up by colleagues.
Some use the tools and project resources on the platform to support independent working in class.
E-safety messages are reinforced as necessary
(NWEA )-- " From information displayed in the learning platform, early adopters/champions identify some learners who need additional help and support."
And for parents
Teachers begin to develop multimedia areas for the sharing of information, work and activities that are made available to parents.
Some begin to use the learning platform to share their work.
 Information about events and notices are put on the platform, in line with school policies and the digital safeguarding guidance for publishing images and resources.
Staff and learners will have contributed to the learning platform to engage parents.
Staff are all aware of the plans for parental engagement and some staff are taking the first steps in the process.
Did you realize how much we have accomplished?  Pat yourself on the back! Our people, our staff and students, are moving forward towards integrating technology tools into our daily learning. We are opening doors to families and the community with our online presence. Students are engaged collaborative and connective sharing through Google Apps.

How can you take a first step?  Just log in to your account.  You'll be ready then to access the links and documents that others want to share with you. Maybe you'ld like to set up a class website like this one or a class blog like our staff bloggers listed on the sidebar at right. Perhaps you just want to set up your calendar. Just log in, then email a request or question to one of the staff bloggers in the sidebar. If they can't answer your question, they'll know how to find help.


If we want to transform how we teach and learn at our school, then we are beginning the steps.


It's not about the tools, it's about the people. It's about you.




Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

It's not just a tool, it' a transformation... Part 5

Why do we need technology in the classroom? Why learn these new tools?

Dean Shareski (@shareski) explains in this post "It's Not Just A Tool" what these tools could do: transform education
"While I advocate largely for the ability to use technology to share and make connections,the ability for us to leverage technology to create projects,works of art and beauty not possible prior to our current age should change they way we think about learning. ...
Much of this infusion is just about continuing on with current practice and sprinkling technology on top and calling it innovative. This is when it’s just a tool. When the technology transforms the way we learn,offers us new, unchartered experiences and opportunities, it’s much more than a tool but a whole new environment. "
At Nespelem School, our mission is to enable a child to become a thinking, caring, productive person using high standards in a positive learning environment. Our school-wide plans and technology plans expect us to move forward:
  1. School Improvement Goal: The technology goal is to build the capacity of every teacher to use the existing technology in the classroom to assist implementation of goals in reading, math, science and writing and to develop an advanced technology users group (Professional Learning Community) among staff.
  2. Learning Strategy: With access to and proficiency in the use of technology tools, and with the guidance of skilled educators and community members, all students have the opportunity to become actively engaged and take responsible roles in their learning as they think, create, conduct inquiries, solve problems and communicate in individual, collaborative and interdisciplinary settings. 
  3. Rationale (or Research Support): Technology can improve communication, enhance thinking skills, make instruction more efficient and effective, and develop life skills critical to success.
Our Google Apps tools allow us "the opportunity to become actively engaged and take responsible roles in their learning as they think, create, conduct inquiries, solve problems and communicate in individual, collaborative and interdisciplinary settings. " 

We don't want our tools to be a sprinkling on top; we want them to transform our pedagogy because:


How will these tools transform our teaching and learning? This blog is part of our journey. What will you add? Tune in for Part 6.









Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

It's not the tools, But yes it is the tools, Part 4

Why do we need technology in the classroom? Why learn these new tools?


"computers are not mere tools but are media with which to think. They can provide mental models that are transferable within, and across, domains."
‘Effects with’ are the changes that take place while one is engaged in intellectual partnership with peers or with a computer tool, as, for example, is the case with the changed quality of problem solving that takes place when individuals work together in a team. On the other hand, ‘effects of’ are those more lasting changes that take place as a consequence of the intellectual partnership, as when computer-enhanced collaboration teaches students to ask more exact and explicit questions even when not using that system.
Secondly, tools shape behaviours. Tools shape cognition. Tools shape societal structures in both intended, and unintended, ways.
It seems to me that this will be achieved when we see them not simply using ICT as ‘tools’, but rather when we see students thinking differently as a result of their ubiquitous presence and facility. The invention of words, and subsequently the printing press, resulted in a new literacy because people now had words with which to think and to communicate. ‘Blue water’ with respect to ICT means that people must sufficiently appropriate these technologies in order that they become ‘media with which to think and to communicate’.
Because students have access to these tools, they are able to think critically and creatively to solve the task of their learning work. The New Media Literacies site cites four key parts of a new focus on literacy that will be essential from now and forward: create, circulate, connect, and collaborate. Remember cooperative learning? Do you rely on Think, Pair, Share? In this example whereby students access the same Google Doc to add ideas simultaneously, students extend those strategies in ways that allow all students to actively participate, and the teacher can view all the activity and offer feedback. That brings even more accountability to students to participate effectively.


Did you know you can create an open document not requiring sign-in for your students to add ideas?  Let's try it: Click this link to add a hope for our graduates. It's easy! And everyone can participate.
So yes, it IS the tool that enhances the strategies and skills, content and process, that students apply in authentic ways to learn what we require of them, and more.
Think about it. What if you and your students had access, and if they do have access, what will you try?

Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

It's not the tools, it's the students.. Part 3

Why do we need technology in the classroom? Why learn these new tools?

Once again, I call to my PLN: Professional Learning Network to help tell the story of technology in the classroom.


"It can give students a voice and connect them to a world outside their classrooms. Social media alone has impacted many classes across many borders."

In our first Introduction to Google Apps for Nespelem School, our teachers learned ways to connect to experts and authors to broaden the world connection for students. In grades 5-8, we have conversed with classes around the world through blog comments.  We tracked our work in Google Docs so we could choose those top five blogposts from around the world.

It's the students that who, through their engagement with a choice in technology tools, can share their voices as they read for understanding, respond with audience and purpose in mind, and write critically and correctly to explain their ideas. In the classroom, sometimes students choose Google Apps (documents or presentations), sometimes they choose a wiki, and sometimes they choose paper/pencil to apply their learning.

It's not the tech tool, it's the students. And the students need the choice to have a voice in lifelong learning. Do you think students are waiting for our lectures?

If you have read this post on our Cyberbullying Project, did you know that students had already started making up examples before we decided on the project? Did you know that they remembered our script writing from last year and wrote scripts without a reivew?  Did you know the fifth graders wrote the script format based on the play they had read in class? Did you know they were completely free to plan and organize what they would present? All they had for the lesson were 1) review of previous learning video,  2) notes on the tips, 3) a walk n' talk time to plan and write a "script", 4) back to the classroom to act out, revise, and complete their video.

It's the students: they had voice and choice, and the engagement with a tool that allowed them to express themselves as they applied the necessary skills they needed to learn.

School is changing, and our school is moving ahead with the change. What would you like to try to move forward in your classroom?



Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

It's not the tools, it's the learning skills... Part 2

Why do we need technology in the classroom? Why learn these new tools?



"The project I had planned as a simple way for them to share their book reports had turned quickly into a project that helped them build reading fluency and verbal expression skills…

Plan the lesson and the learning goals first, choose the tech tool last. However, I hadn't considered how the tool might help my students learn in other ways. So in the future, could I plan a lesson around GarageBand with the goal of increasing reading fluency?  Or would I plan a lesson on fluency, including my learning goals, keeping in the back of my mind how GarageBand would serve as a great tool to teach this skill?"

On this post, read a comment  by wrtngtchr:

"my comfort level increased exponentially when students became so engaged. It became immediately apparent which skills were supported by online tools so next year, I can be more deliberate and purposeful when I choose how to use technology to support learning."
As we use technology as a learning tool, the students' engagement helps us become more comfortable.  I found that to be so true -- Look again at this writing class post -- watch and listen to the noisy classroom. Yet, I heard planning, revising, editing, organizing, collaboration as they added more people (including me) to their skits, and an emphasis on explaining the content of cyberbullying so others students understand.  Technology helps bring authenticity to learning.

Look again at Mary Beth's students:





Here is her reflection and presentation on this and another project:



Once again, we see students engaged and learning skills: It's not the tech tools, it's the learning skills that are enhanced by engaged students.


At our school, we are working towards more technology in each classroom.  Will you try the tools before the technology arrives?


Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

It's not the tools, it's the skills... Part 1

Why do we need technology in the classroom? Why learn these new tools?


It's not the tech tools, it's the skills.

As teachers, we know what students need. The thing is, students have more ways of learning and showing their learning than ever before, and they want to learn this way.

We know that people over age 25 years of age in 2011 are hesitant about technology. They wonder why use it in schools.

In today's world, kids apply and learn their literacy skills while creating. Please read Silvia Tolisano's blogpost and follow her on Twitter for an amazing literacy learning journey with technology. @langwitches

This work by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


Here are her skill sets for her use of technology in the classroom:




Look at her posters, then consider Bloom's Taxonomy. And when thinking about skills, consider what teachers have always focused on: objectives -- what the students can DO. In other words, the verbs of teaching using the technology or nouns of teaching. Please read Bill Ferriter's EdWeek article here


Now, it's not about the tech tools, it's about the verbs!


For a thorough set of resources on 21st Century learning --- using what we already know as good teachers, look at the wiki: Educational Origami where you can find resources such as this explanation of the digital Bloom's taxonomy:  Andrew Churches pdf, and this image explanation:







Now, think about these as you read about one of our writing class projects and lessons.

Listen to the engagement. Think about the verbs, "the DOing" by students to learn and understand what to do if one is cyberbullied:

  • Understand the content.
  • List the content.
  • Explain the content.
  • Organize the content.
  • Share and edit the content.
  • Collaborate to share and edit content.
  • Plan, design, and produce the content.

These are essential skills of the 21st Century. The tool engaged students and allowed application and practice of the skills.


It's not about the tech tools -- it's about the skills, the verbs student need to DO.


We incorporate technology into our classrooms so students learn the skills of today's literacies, not so they learn the tool.

Ask your students if they would participate in a project like this. What did they say?


Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

Welcome !

NSD 21st Century !

Our students barely remember the 20th Century. Our goal is guide them to their futures as we struggle with letting go of our past.

School is different. Technology is ubiquitous to students. This blog is about blending the two worlds, past and present, so our students are ready for tomorrow.

Enjoy the journey with our staff as we learn and grow together, each in our own way, one new tool at a time.

If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Edwards.

Thank you.


Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.