edubragging

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to brag on behalf of the neat work coming out of several of our classrooms. I am so proud of these teachers who are trailblazers for integrating tech into their classrooms. It was really nice to celebrate their work and now I share it with you!

 

 

How do you celebrate the success of YOUR superstars?

#educhristmas

edcamp MetroDC has come and gone and I have that amazing feeling of happy exhaustion that comes from months of planning coming to fruition. As an edcamp organizer, I feel like this is one of my babies. As we plan, we draw together on the strengths and resources of our local and national PLN networks. We use lots of collaborative tools. We ask for a LOT of free stuff. We make pleas on our networks and within our faculty to build a registrant list. We use a lot of tape, sticky notes, bandwidth, and coffee. 

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And then the day arrives. And it is like #educhristmas. I have never been to an edcamp that doesn’t seemingly fall into place and leave its participants inspired and excited about their educational practice. I have seen twitter friends meet in person, old friends cling to their annual day together, veterans teaching newbies, and ideas new and old swirl in the ether. It is my favorite edu-day.

This year was no exception. Our team worked for many months to pull our program together with hopes of leaving no detail aside. We each naturally took a role in leadership that highlighted our own strengths. (And as for me, challenging my fear of asking people/businesses for things, and GETTING them!) It was a fairly pain-free collaboration; to come together and put an event out there for educators to learn–what an honor! I had the pleasure of sharing edcamp with many of my Norwood colleagues, which was a great blessing! To see their enjoyment of edcamp was a gift to me. I also took advantage of my own learning time, particularly enjoying sessions on coding and mindfulness. And, as always, my edutriplets and I were able to share our knowledge and love of Twitter with the newbies in the room.

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I’m sure my list of “edu-favorites” will continue to grow in the afterglow of edcamp, but here are a few highlights from the day:

15 Minute Filmmaking Session-This is edcamp

Mindfulness in Education

Smackdown (where @mrfichter brought me to tears with the NPR Women in Tech resources #nprwit)

And some great reflections from friends:

Maris 

Margo

Matt

Vicki

And so a brief hiatus from edcamp planning begins until we start fresh for 2015. In the meantime, edcamp Philly is in May and edcamp Baltimore will be in the fall. edcamps happen all over the world, every weekend and every one feels like #educhristmas.

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The why before the how

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last two and a half years as a tech integrator asking questions. I usually start with, “what are your goals or objectives?” “What do you want your kids to know or be able to do, regardless of tech.” From there, a process of choosing the right tool, pace, and content for the project comes naturally.

When we start any conversation in ed tech with an app or a device, we are cutting short the conversation. We aren’t allowing learning to drive our choices but rather the tool. Unless we are speaking in the terms of CS or STEM, most technology is being used to enrich and enhance a learning process or product. (At least in the S and A stages of SAMR.)

As our ed tech revolution drives through our schools at an unprecedented pace, we simply must continually return to the why and what of our teaching. This will provide a pedagogically solid foundation of teaching and learning rather than surface level application of a cool tool.

My education hero, Lucy Gray provides an excellent op-ed in edsurge and I encourage you to check it out!

Shall we continue this conversation? Tweet me or comment below.

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edcamp evangelist!

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T-minus 12 Days until our 2nd Annual edcamp MetroDC hits the ground running. The last few months have been a whirlwind of planning, tweeting, sponsor-wrangling, and google hangout-ing. I have had a blast getting to know my planning teammates and am tremendously excited for our edcamp. 

I love edcamp with a passion. I first attended edcamp Philly in the spring of 2009 and have attended edcamps all over the country, met colleagues new and old, built great friendships, and most importantly, learned so much! My participation in edcamp has led me to believe that the professionals in the room have innate value and knowledge. I believe that the best professional development comes when practicing teachers share their ideas and connect to one another. I believe that amazing professional development does not have to come in the form of an expensive conference or keynote (though these are nice, of course.) 

When edcampers gather and conversations start to flow, my heart rate increases. When people learn about the power of twitter for professional practice for the first time, my heart simply jumps with fluttering. When we have a smack down, it is amazing my heart doesn’t attack! edcamp has truly stolen my professional heart and I’m an evangelist!

Have you edcamp-ed yet? Do you live in the DC Metro area? Do you love to learn? Do you like free stuff? Did you know that edcamp MetroDC is happening on April 5 at Stone Ridge? Have you registered? Do Not Delay! Check us out and join us, we can’t wait to learn with you.

 

 

 

What Equals Success?

So here we go again, another formula for success. This time in the package of three factors-a feeling of superiority, insecurity, and impulse control. Oh, and if you happen to be part of a specific cultural or ethnic group, that helps too. In the newest book from Tiger Mom, Amy Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, we have an exploration of these three topics and how they equate to success in America.

From the Front Cover of U.S. Hardcover Edition Penguin Press February 2014

**Full Disclosure: I have not completed this book yet. I attended their lecture last night at Politics and Prose in DC and have read  their op-ed in the NY Times as well as several critiques including this one and this one, oh and this one, too. I am not in any way trying to negate their data or be critical of its validity. What follows is my thoughts on the word, success.**

My initial concern is that, according to Chua and Rubenfeld, success seems to be defined only through the lens of academic and financial success. As an educator of all kids, I simply can’t define one’s life success solely through the lens of financial or career gain. As an educator, whose lifetime net worth is far from top tier, am I determined to be unsuccessful despite anecdotal and transcriptional evidence to the contrary? What about the great artists and musicians of our time who perhaps struggle financially but create or perform great works of art? What about our most successful Olympic athletes who achieve world championship success yet work at Home Depot to afford the bills. What about a man from Georgia, who became a preacher, who would change the world? What about families who sell everything, move to a foreign country, and work to make a difference in world poverty? Are these people not successful in their own right?!

(A colleague remarked to me today, “what about being happy?”, to which I replied, what if that is a cultural value, not a human one? But that, I think, is a whole new blog post, to come after I digest The Triple Package.)

From the perspective of a teacher, I want my kids to know that success comes in more ways than money. Yes, financial security is vitally important. However, some of the richest people in the world count their success in many different ways. I want them to know that hard work is important, as is impulse control, humility, physical and spiritual health, play, joy, and resilience. There is no magic button to success–but there are many roads.

I don’t think I’m yet finished on this topic…do you? Let’s start a conversation: @teach2connect

For a bit of humor…in case you missed this gem from 1987, here is a hoot of a look at rising from the bottom of the food chain to the top.

Oh and for a musical interlude, from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, 2011

Joys and Perils Part 3

Today I had the distinct honor to speak to the Parent’s Association of my amazing school. I was so pleased with the turn-out of parents and their thoughtful, engaging, challenging, and gracious participation in our discussion. I am such a believer in the village approach to raising “our” children. I cannot imagine doing my work alone and the work of parents is exponentially more difficult. I tip my hat to our outstanding parents and the hard work that they do, particularly in our competitive, rapidly changing age and location. In the words of one of our parents today, “Be Strong.”

rethinking tech and assessment

I think if I were to write my philosophy of education in one word it would be “rethink.” I love the power of looking at how we have done things and rethinking how we can make them different and/or better for today’s learners. As part of my work this year, we (a cross divisional working group) are examining the role that technology can play in raising the bar on assessment. We are using Bloom’s Taxonomy and the SAMR model as our benchmarks in this process. This graphic from the great Kathy Schrock, is a spectacular guide for us.

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Our current task is identifying places where we are already moving up the continuum of SAMR. From there, we will explore new places as possibilities to move to re-definition. Along side this process, we are looking at the scope and sequence for technology instruction based on the ISTE standards.

Our current sticky wickets:

  • As a school without “tech class”, upon whose shoulders does it fall to teach some of the basic computer operations in order to complete projects using tech? (If you don’t know how to type, how do you create a text-based presentation?) (If you aren’t sure the difference between left click and right click, how do you record a podcast?)
  • What are the philosophical and pedagogical implications for moving towards more integrated technology in the classroom?

There are so many more questions than answers at this point and that is tremendously exciting. There is great potential at hand. I am grateful to the working group for the opportunity to grapple with these ideas.