education & tech

mLearning, teacher, scholar, social media

Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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The Education Unfinished Business Left By Sen. Ted Kennedy

Education Week

Sen Edward M. Kennedy, who died Aug. 25 after nearly 47 years in the Senate, left a lot of unfinished business at the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which he chaired. Though the committee worked on legislation to reform health care -Mr. Kennedy’s signature issue- during the chairman’s absence for treatment of a brain tumor, the panel also has important education items on its plate.

Those include oversight of the education portions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and what is likely to be a very tricky reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, whose current version is the NCLB law.

Even though Sen. Kennedy was "a dedicated liberal," he "would have compromised this way or that way in order to get legislation through" the Senate, said Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, a research and advocacy organization in Washington.

"I’m not sure there is somebody who could take over who would have that ability at this time," said Mr. Jennings, who served as a top aide to Democrats on the House education committee for nearly three decades.

Read whole article by Alyson Klein. (Subscription required)

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Schools' Overworked IT Staff, Are Seen Unfriendly to Teachers

Jim Moulton has some insights about the internal relationship among school, ITs, teachers and students. In a reflexive post, he quotes three posts where the experiences and data about interaction is evident. The first one is from eSchools News, other from his own production at Edutopia. and a report from FutureEd

Moulton concludes "tech staff is understaffed and overworked" so, "such a relationship is no big surprise" and sets up an hypothesis: If there is too much to do isn’t the natural human response to cut back, to draw in, and not to innovate and encourage creativity in the way our schools need?

And explains: "But hold it - one thing is missing in this report - no mention of involvement of students as part of the solution. Formal involvement, as in a class to train IT support - complete with soft skill training in finding ways to leave the learning behind when you resolve a technical issue. Creating technology consultants instead of help desk staff. Kids who can fix the technology and effectively communicate with people.

Instead, the kids are seen as a big part of the problem - they are the ones wreaking havoc on filters and clogging the network’s arteries with video. But what if it was different? What if the kids were a real part of the solution? Here is one small example of student involvement in a Maine middle school that is part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative…"

Could it be the reason of the divorce between teachers end technology?

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20 Useful Websites and Tools for Elementary School Teachers

Engaging students in an elementary classroom can be difficult. But there are a lot of sites online that can help. Here are 20 useful sites that offer lesson plans, web apps, and other aids for elementary school teachers:

Lesson PlansWashington Street AIG

Scholastic - Scholastic provides many different lesson plans, strategies, and tools for teachers. Lesson plans are available for all ages and subjects.

TeAchnology - With over 30,000 lesson plans, TeAchnology is an excellent source of lesson plans on a wide range of subjects. The site also provides over 7,500 printable worksheets.

Discovery Education - Discovery Education provides hundreds of lesson plans and other tools. The site's original lesson plans were designed by teachers for teachers.

Smithsonian Education - Smithsonian Education provides teachers with lesson plans on an array of subjects--from art and design to language arts.

LessonPlanz - LessonPlanz is a search engine for lesson plans. The site also links to books, activities, and other teaching aids.

Web Apps

Chalksite - Chalksite is a free online suite of tools for teachers who want to connect with parents and students through the web. Teachers can use it to post grades, assignments, discussions, and messages.

Education World - This site provides teachers with customizable templates and tools. A few of the templates teachers can find include starting blocks for assessments, calendars, awards, bulletin boards, and organizers.

ClassMarker - ClassMarker is an online testing tool that can be used to create quizzes and tests online. The tool also grades tests so you don't have to.

SlideShare - This creative web app makes it easy to upload PowerPoint presentations and share them online. SlideShare works especially well for assignments, webinars, and parent-teacher conferences.

Evernote - Evernote is a bookmarking and note taking web app that can be synced with mobile devices--perfect for teachers who want to be able to create, manage, and share notes from anywhere.

Teaching Tools

FlashcardExchange - The FlashcardExchange provides teachers with tools to create flashcards. Once created, the cards can be printed or shared with students online.

4Teachers.org - This resourceful website provides teachers with several different tools to use in the classroom, including a Note Star, Think Tank, and Web Poster Wizard.

PBS Teachers - PBS Teachers offers interactive studies, activity packs, development classes, and other useful resources for elementary school teachers.

Tools for Educators - This site offers free worksheets, worksheet creators, and a table wizard. Teachers can also use the site to create word searches, board games, and more.

TeacherTube - Teachers can find instructional videos from other teachers on TeacherTube. The site can also be used to post instructional videos for students.

Miscellaneous

Elementary Education - The About.com Guide to Elementary Education provides a huge collection of resources for elementary educators. Resources include tips, lesson plans, forums, and an educational blog.

RefDesk - The RefDesk is an online tool that can be used to find facts, news, and reference materials. Other site features include a calendar, currency converter, and calculator.

The Clever Sheep - This site provides podcasts to assist teachers in integrating technology into the classroom through e-learning, websites, and web apps. Each episode lasts seven to ten minutes. New episodes are published weekly.

Time for Kids - The Time for Kids Teachers' Edition provides current news appropriate for K-6 students. This is a great site for elementary teachers who want to keep children up-to-date on current events around the world.

Awesome Stories - Awesome Stories provides information about films, trials, natural disasters, history, and biographies in addition to stories from historical sources.

Guest post from Karen Schweitzer, the About.com Guide to Business School. Karen also writes for OnlineDegreePrograms.org, an online degree program resource.

Photo credit: jmacphoto

Open Standards, the Solution to Mobile Security

Jeff Crawford is the manager of networking and security for East Grand Rapids Public Schools in Michingan. Mr. Crawford was to struggle helping students to go online using their very own devices. After rejecting many vendors and convinced he was capable to develop his own ideas, he never gave up until he found a solution initially intended for use at the middle school level but right now expanded to the district's high school.

"That's where Avenda came in. Avenda is the developer of a "network policy solution for securing wireless and wired access solutions for any operating system." After an unexpected meeting with the vendor at a trade show, Crawford came up with a plan for integrating the Avenda's solution for the 2,800-student East Grand Rapids School District, which comprises three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Known as eTIPS, Avenda's 5000 Series NAC platform is a network access security suite that features guest access and provisioning, RADIUS authentication, 802.1X support, and endpoint device detection and management."

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What Do You Believe to Be the Most Effective Methods for Delivering Professional Development to Teachers?

Despite what many still think about professional development for teachers, workshops and seminars ranked highest in a recent survey referenced by Alfred Thompson in his blog. Even though, the survey was exclusively used to measure the Computer Science Education (CSTA) we think empirically that same categorization applies to other disciplines. Nowadays that pressure to hold teachers accountable is not only in Secretary Duncan's mind but parents and society, it is vital that teachers engage in deeply conversation about their practices, not only in their place of work but outside of their own institution. Get involved in offline and online conversation. Read educational publications, included blogs -there are a good number of experts around educational blogosphere. Add your own comments. Help to build a personal learning network (PLN)

And so goes Alfred Thompson in his Computer Science Teacher blog. After he spotted that "networking with others ranked a high second. Online resources and professional conferences ranked third and fourth (by my calculation) respectively", in his mentioned survey, he comes up with some experiential theories about learning, conversation and teacher's networking:

    I think that online resources are valued and thought of as effective in part because they help with the time and money part of the equation. If you have no time or money being able to learn on your own online for little to no cost that’s going to be a lot better than a workshop that may not be on topic, be located far away, and cost a lot of money. Professional conferences provide some of what a workshop does and some professional networking but not always enough of either. I know that some people go to conferences just for the networking. Others just for the sessions. Any way you play it you are going to miss out on something because you can’t be in two places at once.
Thompson is a strong believer of the the efficiency of workshops and seminars, notice that he is an expert on computers, reason why he offers some suggestions:

    If you are an AP CS teacher sign up to be an AP Reader. What? Yes, sign up to be an AP reader. The grading itself is like a graduate level course in exam creation and grading. Seriously you can’t pay for a 'course' that good in my opinion. Secondly you will have networking time. Meals, evenings, breaks, through out the day you will have a chance to talk to some of the very best computer science teachers (high school and university both) in the country. I’d be a reader again in a heart beat if they would let me but I don’t teach AP CS or an equivalent college course these days.

    Secondly [we think he meant third] look for residential workshops/conferences that are held at various places around the country. Sure you may wind up living in a dorm but that helps keep costs down. But remember those late night 'bull sessions' in the dorm when you were in college? Guess what? The are even better with a group of professional educators who care deeply about their work. Yes you may give up between a few days and a week of summer vacation but the networking alone will be worth it. Plus the shared learning and discussions with peers will teach you a great deal. You may make friends for life – I know I have.
Do you agree with the survey results? In other words, are the workshops/seminars the best way to gain professional developments? Are suffering from isolation in your own career or do you think online learning still as an option?

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