Podstock Pineywoods 2010

TCEA Area 7 and SUPERNet are going to be hosting Podstock Pineywoods with keynote speaker Kevin Honeycutt on October 29th in Tyler, TX. Get registered and find out the info here. You can also download the promo handout here.

Some more useful info:

What is Podstock Pineywoods?

Date: Friday, October 29, 2010
Where: Ornelas Center UT-Tyler, 3402 Old Omen Rd, Tyler, TX, (903) 565-4445‎
Time: Registration @ 8:30AM Conference is 9AM – 2:30PM
Limited to 125 participants

Cost: $50 members/non-members

It’s both a podcasting conference and a conversation.

It’s for educators who want to share technology integration strategies, explore iPod use, and strengthen established learning networks.

But we don’t want Podstock to be just about the latest gadget or the coolest software. We want it to be about creativity, inspiration, and what’s good for kids. We hope that our formal and informal conversations at this event will help change how we do school.

Registration includes lunch and snacks.

“iPhone/Touch App” shared Doc has a new sibling: iPad Only

The Google Spreadsheet for iPhone/Touch Apps by subject area we (over 60 contributors) have been building since November 2009 has been extremely popular. How do I know? Well, the Apple rep said she has been sharing it with all of the other Apple reps and they have requested an iPad only version as well. I actually had that in the works, but I just never got to sharing it out. So, I’m doing that now.

iPad Only Apps spreadsheet is now ready for contributions. I shared it with the same crew who has been editing the iPhone/Touch apps sheet. Hopefully, this one will grow as plentiful and popular as the other. I have a few listed already, but I know there are tons more ready to be added.  Yes, I do realize the iPhone and Touch apps will work on the iPad, but there are some just for the iPad that will not roll backwards and are worthy of attention. Now is the chance for that to happen.

Leave me a comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter (@woscholar) if you want to be added as a contributor on either/both of these. I just need your Google Docs email address.

Just when you thought…

From the files “Just when you thought your students and teachers were ahead of the curve,” here is a short video to show us we all have room to grow. The young lady shares exactly why students like the freedom of utilizing technology as well as gaining ownership. I did find it funny that the things “not for school” (Facebook, etc) are across the top of her site while the school links are along the bottom. It truly is cool to see a young student “get” PLE’s while many still struggle with the concept and the freedom it entails.  Enjoy:

TCEA Promotes Engineering, Math, and Problem Solving via Robotics

This video was shot during the TCEA State Robotics Tournament recently. It has some great sound bites from the kids how discuss all of the skills they are acquiring through this project. Be sure to attend the TCEA Area 7 Technology Conference in White Oak on June 11th to check out the robot you see in the video.

A Paradigm Shift in Classroom Design

Science Lab

Photo: Science Lab at Smithsonian in DC. We need one of these.

I have really been struck with the idea that we have reached a plateau in new technologies. I realize that useful, new gadgets and sites will continue to come out, but what we have currently will help us provide so much more to our students than we ever have before. So, why aren’t we seeing the change we need at the pace we need it and the pace the kids deserve it?

The answer is us. It truly is us. We are the problem. We are the disablers. We are the barriers the students cannot break through. Don’t get me wrong. We are using new tools with students in some amazing ways. We are engaging them like never before. Yet, we do it in spurts. It is just a modernized version of our old, standby friend the poster project. The kids get all excited, not because it is a good project, but because it is not a text and worksheet. That’s just wrong. To quote my friend and mind stretching mentor Dr. Gary Stager, “The blame lies within the bankruptcy of our imaginations.”

Yes, it is a start, but what good are starts if we hit the brakes every single block. It takes us forever to get across town where we should really be at already.  We should be buried in the middle of local conversations about how we could be changing teaching practices to better fit the kids we see coming through our doors. Seriously. What progress is made if we only automate the same boring routines? What new level (notice I said level and not concept) of learning is achieved if we continually return to the old textbook and worksheet far more often than open ended projects? And, yes, tests can still be passed if we do things differently.

It’s not just the teaching style that needs change, though. Shouldn’t it also be about the learning space? It is for them.

We have so many places we need to start with this. ISTE is moving forward with a new initiative as well.  Consider getting involved with it. But for now, let me begin with the presentation below. It is a nice conversation starter sure to thrill some, confuse some, and tick off others. Which category are you in? Wanna talk?

Google Docs changes easier to see

For teachers viewing student’s (or students’) Google Docs, this is good news. I picked it up from a tweet from Steven W. Anderson.

Here is the entire post from the Google Docs blog:

New additions to the settings page

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 3:25 PM

Earlier today we made two additions to the Google Docs settings page. The first, “Where items open,” lets you pick if you want items to open in a new window (how it works today) or in the same window.

A couple weeks ago, we launched “New!” and “Viewed/unviewed” indicators in the docs list which allow you to easily spot brand new and updated items. Since not everyone loves these — shocking, I know 🙂 – we also added an “Update indicators” setting, which lets you turn these indicators off.

Electronic Portfolios and the Thoughts of Educator

I sent this email recently to some in my district. I thought I would post it here to gather feedback from my PLN if any of you see fit.


Earlier this year we began in earnest a push toward integrating electronic portoflios (ePortfolios) with staff and students at the middle school level using blogs and the intermediate level using USB flash drives. There is an article in T.H.E. Journal that cites studies from Gartner supporting our choice in this.

While we are in the infant stages of ePortfolios, we are indeed headed in the right direction. I feel we should consider expanding this program into more grades to further enhance our goal of graduating 21st Century enabled students under the direction of 21st Century enabled staff.

The article states:

“And the holy grail is a personal digital portfolio, where you can store your accomplishments and have them verified by your mentors, teachers, or employers, and then take it all with you wherever you go. We’re nowhere near that at the moment.”

White Oak ISD is at that point now. We have the technology tools in place and the training available to implement this at all grade levels.

Please read the article if you have a chance. While it focuses on several software solutions, it also shares what others are doing and the possibilities. We are still fully capable of handing EVERY graduating senior from White Oak High School a flash drive with their entire eportfolio on it to be used anywhere they would like. Imagine the power of that if they are starting those in their earliest years in WOISD and maintaining it throughout.

I am always willing to discuss our ideas and goals with anyone at anytime.

Keyboarding, or the lack thereof.

Photo Credit: Me

I have had an idea for a post mulling around in my mind since May. I had even gotten some research from a friend to help me figure out the advice I need to give to our curriculum department.

I asked Gary Stager via Twitter his thoughts on keyboarding:

“What priority do you place on keyboarding skills with kids today?”

His quick reply was: “Huge waste of scarce resources – focus on mechanics rather than anything meaningful”

Then he sent me this link: http://stager.org/keyboarding.html (notice the date of the research he quotes and then his commentary at the top of the page). In the research found there, Steve Shuller points out a very interesting and important observation:

Keyboarding is seen as a way to input information into a computer so that it can be manipulated. Thus, initial accuracy is less important than speed, ability to manipulate text is more important than formatting skills for specific types of documents, and composing is more important than transcribing (so it does not matter so much if the typist looks at the keys).

These distinctions recognize important changes in the purposes for which people type on Industrial Age typewriters and on Information Age computer keyboards. Yet, if we look closely at the keyboarding programs proposed by business educators, we find a methodology geared to the Industrial Age purpose of transcribing rather than the Information Age purpose of composing (Freyd and Kahn 1989).

Now, both of these are valid points to consider in today’s course offerings for students. Yet, Freyd and Kahn made those points in 1989. If it was valid in 1989, is it not more valid in today’s times when most kids walking the halls have more computing power in their pockets than we had in buildings in 1989?

I then shared my position on the subject in a conversation with another colleague:

I know your concerns about student keyboarding skills are serious. While blogging in and of itself will not cure the keyboarding woes, it is one method of allowing students to become more familiar with the keyboard and its functionality as it pertains to their uses of the technology. When you add in email, productivity software, and many online tools our students are now using, their skill set should be increasing in quality.  I do know that others have worked hard to get the students more computer time on other campuses through authentic learning situations such as problem/project based learning.

I do not pretend to know all I need to know about how kids are learning these days. They are changing so quickly.  I most assuredly do not know what they need for every class we teach in WOISD. I just wanted to provide you with some support of what I was saying earlier about how the shift is occurring away from direct instruction of keyboarding to a more functional approach as it pertains to authentic use AND integration into the normal instruction whether core area or elective.

As usual with my PLN, somebody has also been pondering the same topic and blogged about it recently. Thanks to Jeff Utecht for doing the dirty work for me this time with his post “When or do we teach typing?” As I read through, all I could say was, “Yep. That’s what I was thinking.” He even believes, as do I, that we are wasting time teaching cursive during writing time. His idea of replacing cursive writing time with keyboard seat time is dead-on, but his idea of putting cursive writing into an arts course is a new one to me. I think it is as good a place as any, if it has to be taught. Jeff shares his beliefs:

So here’s what I believe:

  • We should expose students to the keyboard as much as possible!
  • Every student starting in Kindergarten should be exposed to a keyboard as often as possible. 15 minutes three times a week would be preferred.
  • In 1st grade the focus would be to have student use two hands on the keyboard.
  • By 3rd grade typing should be part of the writing curriculum. The time spent on cursive writing should be replaces with keyboard time (cursive writing is an art form and should be part of art…..my opinion and my opinion only!).
  • By 5th grade students should be required to turn in at least one type written assignment a week and spend no less then 120 minutes a week exposed to a computer keyboard.

I talked to a couple 6th grade teachers last week who both told me that they only have students type assignments to be handed in. That they have not accepted hand-written work for two years now.

I currently have three staff members at the middle school level building curriculum to go paperless next year. I know they will find the skills of their students increase as the year progresses. I also believe that our high school teachers will notice an increase in student keyboarding skills as those kids move on to that campus. That is, unless they force them to use the home row and industrial Age-style keyboarding requirements.

Now where can I buy a USB/bluetooth keyboard the size of a cell phone keypad with built-in predictive text?

Safe Blogging as a Class/Learning Community

Photo Credit: Me.

Once again, we had another fabulous day in Texarkana ISD. Today we spent time discussing blogs with the elementary teachers. It looks as if this district is going to light up with WWW with elementary bloggers in the very near future. I look forward to having the kids in White Oak collaborating with the students here.

Below you will find the list of resources we discussed. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

Blogging as a Class Resources

Step by step directions for setting up an Edublogs Blog

Tips on Blogging with Students

Room 202’s Blogging Contract

Advice on Student Blogging

Acceptable Use Agreement – Digital Citizenship

Room 229’s Blogging Contract (5th Grade)

Learning to Blog the Elementary Way (includes blogging permission slip)

Blogging is Elementary

Elementary Blog Policy

Pam Cranford’s Class Blog

Any Soldier (site mentioned to find soldiers to communicate with)


Thank you, Texarkana ISD!

Thank you, Texarkana ISD, for such a warm reception at your back to school, instructional technology-themed conference today. It was so nice to have a welcoming environment when I know how hard it is to listen to someone talk to you for 90 minutes to start the day. Hopefully, I was able to get you motivated for the kiddos who will be filling the halls and rooms next week.

As I mentioned in my talk, I am listing the links to the videos and sites we talked about during both the keynote and my breakout sessions. If you have any questions or I left something off, please leave a comment and I will add it in or get back with you about your questions. I look forward to working with your district again in the future. Good luck in the coming school year!

Keynote – “Instructional Technology: Who’s driving?”
Breakout Session – “Social Networking: It’s not just for kids anymore”

My Introduction video

Introducing the Book video

Joe’s Non-netbook video

PS22 Choir “Landslide” video

Kaplan “Chairs” video

A Brave New World video

RSS in Plain English video

National Technology Standards:

Star Chart info

Dr. Helen Barrett’s ePortfolio work

White Oak ISD’s ePortfolio & blog site

Voicethread site (book review samples)


My son’s pirate story

2nd Grade teacher’s (Emily Richeson) blog

iTunes U

Edublogs (education only blogs)

Scott’s Delicious account (bookmarking)

Google Reader

Google Apps (Docs, Spreadsheet, Calendar, Presentation, Forms)

Twitter (Scott’s site)

Ten Tips for Growing Your Learning Network