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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Some of the Reasons Why Administrators Should Blog

After attending a workshop entitled Unleashing the Power of Web-Based Tools for Every School Leader: Using Digital Tools for Instruction, Communication, Community building, and Professional Development presented by Dr. Kathleeen P. King, Professor of Education at Fordham University. Iroquois Superintendent Neil Rochelle and Kimberly Moritz had to talk on the 'regional applications' of such tools. That is , more or less how Moritz started her post to announce she was starting a series of post about the reason as to why administrators should start raising their voices through a weblog.

While many people already are familiar with this powerful tool, it seems to me that very few administrators are using blogs to share experiences and knowledge. If you take a look on the Twitter stream referred to education administrators, there are only few posts. With every reason, http://billswartz.com/ asked to summit Twitter users acting under the administrators umbrella, but to our delight, there is someone else who already took the lead: Follow some educational administrators.

Back to the blogging benefits. The practice of blogging has tremendous power. Let me tell you that, as far as you keep writing about what you like, there is always the chance someone is reading what you have to say. Most importantly, when you have a blog, you have a voice, you have internet presence, that little by little grows and in the meantime gives you authority. Administrators are leaders, suffice to say it, they are in charge of many ongoing topics that may well be shared, reinforced or abandon, after listening (or reading for this matter) comments on their posts or at any social network they participate.

Reasons for Admistrators to Blog


From Kimberly Moritz BlogPosts' Blog:

1. Connect to other administrators.
2. Get your word out, influence thinking.
3. Perform transparency in leadership.

In any way, Blogging is Hard!

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Education Blogs for Teachers And by Discipline

Over and over we have said lists are not our specialization. Although, some time we have spent compiling the list we considered were the most influential by that time. Below is the list of 7 posts we have included in education and tech since we started blogging. The list is presented from newest to the oldest to give attention to most fresh information available.

If you still think this list incomplete - well, most of the list really are, drop a comment and let us know what we have missed.

The Most Complete List of Education Blogs - Link

Education Blogs Classified by Making Teachers Nerdy - Link

Two Links Which Help You to Find Great Edublogs - Link

Top 50 PostRank Education Blogs - Link

100 Mejores Blogs Educacionales (Spanish) - Link

All Time Top EduBlogs - Link

Social Media Explorer Top 50 Edublogs - Link

And, the "list subject-specific P-12-oriented blogs that are worth sharing with others." - Education Blogs by Discipline.

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Top 5 Web Resources for Students

There are various reasons why students use the Internet, and although I’m sure social networks take up a major chunk of their time, they do utilize the web for practical purposes too. While the Internet has made life a whole lot easier for the entire world, it opens up opportunities for students that never existed before. They have access to a host of resources at their fingertips, the best of which are:

  • Scholarships: To a student, no word can be sweeter than scholarship. It means free money to earn your education. It means freedom from debt and the headache of using all your hard-earned money to pay it back for most of your life. And it means having a little more spending money in college than living like a pauper and scraping to get by on a minimum allowance. So naturally, every student wants to grab hold of a scholarship if it’s being offered at no cost at all. The Internet helps the identify opportunities that they’re qualified for and send in applications according to guidelines.

  • Networking: Networking with friends is one thing; using connections to secure a job is another. The Internet helps students find and apply for jobs that are located in other places, states and even countries. The sky’s the limit when it comes to looking for a job with the web at your disposal. And this is why students prefer it to the traditional method of visiting offices they know and asking for work.
  • K12 Online 2009: Bridging the Divide

    On September 26, 2009, the K12Online Conference in partnership with EdTechTalk will host a worldwide, synchronous “LAN party” (free web meet-up) from 2:00PM EDT (6:00PM GMT) to 5:00PM EDT (9:00PM GMT).

    K12 Online 2009Organizers encourage educators around the world to get together with colleagues and engage in lively, online discussions during this time using links provided by EdTechTalk. Past presentations will be shown, and participants are invited to engage in live conversations about the presentations with the featured presenters during and following each session. A K12Online Conference overview is scheduled at the EdTechTalk website 30 minutes prior to the LAN party. This event provides an opportunity to try out the synchronous EdTechTalk environment and platform, which we will be using for the 2009 K-12 Online Conference in December.

    For more background about LAN parties, see Jeff Utech’s post from Sept 2006 and the K12Online08 Shanghai LAN Party wiki. The Shanghai LAN parties are models we hope educators around the world will emulate in 2009. You do NOT have to gather face-to-face with other educators to participate in this Saturday’s live LAN party events, but F2F connections are encouraged!

    Here’s the schedule. (Times below are EDT. Start time for the first presentation is 6:00PM GMT. Use this WorldTimeServer link to convert this time for your local time zone.)


    mathew needleman2:00 – 2:45 EDT Film School Mathew Needleman, Apple Distinguished Educator, has been integrating video in the classroom for seven years as a teacher of kindergarten, first, and second grade. Make better classroom movies with simple tips that will help elevate your vodcast to the next level in terms of artistic and technical merit. Learn how to storyboard like a pro, choose shots that support the telling of your story, and capture better lighting and sound.

    alec couros3:30 EDT Open, Social, Connected Dr. Alec Couros is a professor of educational technology and media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina. This presentation unravels a recent open graduate course offering titled “Open, Connected, Social” that was offered at the University of Regina, Winter 2008. The presentation describes the theories influencing the course, types of open practice, reflections and outcomes, and goes on to describe the emergence of “open teaching”.

    mark wagner 4:15 EDT Wiki While You Work (Basic) A former high school English teacher, Mark Wagner has since served as an educational technology coordinator at Estancia High School, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, and the Orange County Department of Education.  His session briefly introduces participants to the Read/Write Web, and to wikis in particular. A live demonstration of wikispaces.org and wikipedia.org will illustrate that…, “If you can use a word processor, you can use a wiki.”

    5:00 EDT We Like Our Blogging Buddies: The Write Stuff With Blogging Mentors Kathy Cassidy is a grade one teacher at Westmount School in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada.  In the winter of 2008, Patrick Lewis’s university class of pre-service teachers were blogging mentors for Kathy’s grade one students. This presentation talks about that collaboration and the results of the research that was conducted about the effect this mentorship had on the students’ writing.

    000100


    Kudos to the K12Online09 Live Events Committee for organizing and hosting this event! Please plan to join us and share this learning opportunity with your colleagues!

    Reproduced and modified from Kim Caise, Patrick Woessner, Dean Shareski and the K12Online09 LAN Party Wiki. Please copy, reblog, and tweet this information!

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    An End to Education Reform? by Michael S. Greve

    Conservatives were reluctant to trigger a public spat over education with a new administration, but their failure to offer criticism and insist on choice was a mistake.

      The education "reform" about to emerge from Congress is a perfect disaster. Conservatives such as William Bennett and Chester E. Finn Jr., who initially supported and in many ways shaped the administration’s position on education, now argue that the proposals have been so badly distorted and diluted by Congress that the administration should insist on improvement.

      That sensible advice, alas, comes too late, since the administration signaled weeks ago that it would sign absolutely any education bill. While a handful of Republican legislators continue to argue for an education tax credit that would redeem an otherwise abominable bill, the White House has shown no interest in that proposal. The chance for meaningful federal education reform has come and gone, not to return for another decade or so. All that can be done now is to learn how to prevent similar policy wrecks in the future.

      The original Bush agenda for education reform rested on school choice, in the form of a $1,500 voucher for parents of children trapped in failing schools; increased flexibility for states and local school districts, through the consolidation of a panoply of highly specific federal programs into a few block grants; and "accountability," through national and state tests. From these building blocks, one can fashion a sensible reform strategy. The key is allowing federal dollars, whether through vouchers or tax credits, to bypass what Bennett as secretary of education famously termed the "blob" —the cartel of education bureaucrats and officials (at all levels of government) that impedes any serious reform effort. Give the blob sufficient flexibility to demonstrate its incompetence; administer tests to prove the point; and, at the end of the day, let parents remove their children from failed school systems.

    Click away for the complete article on The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, writen by the John G. Searle Scholar, Michael S. Greve.

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    Popular Language Arts Literacy Message

    We attended our first PT conference last night. We really enjoyed the enthusiasm from many of our Jr's teachers, especially the Science teacher and Language one. For our son, the Science teacher is 'cheesy' but for us, she was a very well motivated professional of the education.

    Not much technology was in display, the typical retro-projectors and master conferences explaining to parents what was the assessments and what was expected from students in terms of discipline. We were surprised that being on a 4 floor building the poor kids had to 'come prepared' for their gym class in about only 7 minutes (Gym is located in the 1st floor). Mr. Pulsford told us, they need to act quickly and added, there are considerations as to what they were seeing as 'unprepared' and "late for class."

    Mrs. Lanza handed out a Welcome Booklet and a small bag of cookies. What we found inside, was a cute poem comparing the sugar and flour in cookies to teacher and parents who work together. I think it really creates the rapport between teacher and parents (beyond the cookie plastic bag). We think it was a cute idea for Meet the Teacher Night. I hope someone can help me find who the author is.

    The poem in reference can be found at Ms. Woodman's 3rd Grade Class Blog. For your convenience, it is reproduced here>

    A Message for You



    As sugar and flour come together to make
    A wonderful cookie creation that you bake,
    Parents and Teachers join as one
    To create an educated daughter or son.

    It takes lots of love, caring and understanding
    But an individual will emerge who is special notwithstanding.
    We will work together to help each child bloom
    So they can grow and prosper as they learn in this room.

    So I share this little confection with you as I say...
    I am committed to helping your child grow each and every day.
    Yes, the road is long, but the journey's begun
    As we strive together to educate your daughter or your son.


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    What Role Does/Should Social Media Play in Education?

    That was the topic of tonight's fantastic conversation (#edchat) about one of the multiple parameters the education encloses.

    The consensus was that social media should be modeled and utilized properly in the classroom. But to overcome success, teachers and administrators have to find a way around to work with the so spread filtering in schools

    @tonnet tries to participate every Tuesday and he did so tonight. Here are some of the posts that he found interesting:

      In the classroom, Social Media can be used to bring experts, peers, etc into the classroom from anywhere in the world. @Digin4ed

      I agree with this completely - @tomwhitby: The perception mst people have of Twitter is that its a joke. @LeesaWatego

      A good number of colleagues see Twitter for chat only. They often are surprised by a good idea... Which I get from Twitter. @CotterHUE

      Social Media allows students to move away from only searching Google for answers/info and moving toward searching others for answers/info. @eduinnovation

    And there were pretty thoughtful questions like this one:

      If a librarian in 1970 had ripped "objectionable" pages out of the New York Times would that have been "filtering"? @irasocol

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    Digital Literacy Programs Needed to Embrace Digital Tools

    Marisa Connolly, from Common Sense Media submitted a press release about what education experts consider, based on the available digital media, it is a new approach to learn:

      Digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life, and these changes have important policy implications, according to a panel of experts participating in a Capitol Hill briefing today. The event, hosted by the Consortium for School Networking and featuring speakers from Common Sense Media and the National Writing Project, was held with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of its digital media and learning initiative.

      “Learning is increasingly participatory,” said Julia Stasch, MacArthur’s Vice President for U.S. programs. “Digital media are not only changing how young people are accessing and sharing new knowledge —they are extending the classroom to more informal and unconventional spaces, such as libraries, museums and even online communities. Our support for the field of digital media and learning is designed to help these institutions take advantage of the learning opportunities presented by digital media and to help build an infrastructure for successful teaching and learning in the 21st century.”

      Despite the potential benefits of new media, many schools are banning or severely restricting its use, reported Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), who presented findings from a recent survey his organization conducted about the learning potential of Web 2.0 software in schools. ”While school district administrators see the learning potential of these new media, few understand how best to incorporate it into schooling,” said Krueger. “School leaders need help in formulating policies and implementing leadership practices that enable the effective use of digital media.”

      Teachers are also critical to the successful integration of new media into schooling, said Sharon J. Washington, Executive Director of the National Writing Project, a professional development network for teachers of writing. “The notion of what it means to write is changing,” said Washington. “Teachers must not only redefine writing, but also increasingly adapt teaching practices so that they are web delivered, user-managed and customized to individual learning goals.”

      “There’s plenty of good news about what kids are doing with digital media, from volunteering with charities and posting their own creative work to joining online study groups and supporting causes,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, an independent, nonprofit organization that provides ratings and reviews of media, entertainment, and technology. “But our surveys and focus groups this year revealed that parents don’t have a clear idea of what their kids are doing with digital media. We need digital literacy programs to teach the rules of the road, and to empower parents and teachers to embrace digital tools, as well as address the potential negatives.”

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    A Student's Goals Many Teachers Should Read

    Every often we teachers are dedicated to read, investigate and plan ahead our class management and the substance of our subjects, but the contact with our students is reduced to greet them at the beginning of the school period, randomly check their homework and there we go.

    Teachers can (and should) always learn from students. There is nothing wrong with accepting that and adult is able to learn from kids, either in the relationship teacher-student. Below is the transcription of a student's goal of a very respectable school in the U.S. I should give proper credit to the student but I don't have permission to do so. What we teachers can learn from letters like this one?

      My goals for this school year are getting A's, talk less, listen more and learn more grammer. I want to get Superintendent's and make my parents proud. They will be like "Yup, that's my son always getting A's." I want to talk less because I am extremely talkative. I have the nag to not listen to some of my teachers, this is because they sound so boring. Also I wanna learn more grammer because I can't write that great.

      Another reason is I have to write poems and I need to know a lot of grammer.


    The student has also a plan to get into his goals during 2009:


      1. I will e-mail my teachers when I need help.
      2. If I get carried away I would want the teacher to call my name and say, "David pay attention"
      3. I will obey every rule I am given and to very single thing no matter how simple or hard.
      4. Asking a responsible adult to keep an eye on me so I can stay focused.

    There are many clues, that being a teacher, will allow me to redirect and enforce the learning to students like the one being quoted. What will now be your steps to gain confidence in this type of circumstances?

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    The Need for a Moratorium on High-stakes Testing

    There is a growing movement in the U.S. to abandon high-stakes tests because they don’t work as anticipated and are costly. I agree, but hope that we don’t throw out the need for accountability along with the high-stakes bathwater.

    Before No Child Left Behind (NCLB) became law, Audrey Amrein and I discussed the dangers of high-stakes testing. We found that high-stakes high school exit exams did not improve scores on other tests such as the SAT or NAEP tests, and contributed to higher drop out rates. We also described the corruption that invariably occurs when an indicator of any kind takes on too much value. Both the indicator (test scores, stock prices, return on investment) and those who work with it are frequently corrupted. The 1200+ years of the Chinese civil service exams, and final exams at all three US Military academies are high-stakes examinations. Yet cheating by candidates was common despite the penalties of death and dishonor associated with such cheating. When indictors take on undue value people too often engage in morally questionable or reprehensible activities. States, schools, and teachers act similarly when faced with high-stakes exit exams.

    Then came NCLB with mandatory high-stakes tests for all states and schools. With my colleagues Sharon Nichols and Gene Glass we showed that even though scores on state high-stakes tests were going up, scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were not rising as expected. We also found that the pressure within each state for achievement was correlated zero with gains in NAEP reading and mathematics test scores. Thus we negated a basic premise of NCLB, namely, that if pressure were exerted so that teachers and students would work harder, achievement would rise.

    Then Sharon Nichols and I, in the book Collateral Damage, showed why NCLB is not working and why it cannot work. We documented how schools, under pressure to achieve, dump low performing children from the schools; or arrange for absences and suspensions on test days; or move children around from school to school so their scores will not count; or they drill, and drill yet again, on items suspiciously like those that are on the tests; and so forth. We found it hard to blame educators for a little loose record keeping, a little fudging of the data, a little more practice on items close to those that are on the tests, and for designing tests with easier items when their professionalism is undermined, their jobs are at stake, and they are forced to engage in a fruitless attempt to meet unreasonable expectations about student improvement. The Bush administration designed an accountability system perfectly suitable for corrupting the educators of our nation.

    We said in our book that NCLB would not work as planned and that one of its terrible side effects would be to narrow the curriculum. We were right. Now, in fall 2009, school accountability systems based on high-stakes have proven to have no or negative effects on the achievement and the attitudes of children, and they have proven costly. Thus there is every reason to call for a moratorium on high-stakes testing in America. That’s what we asked for at the conclusion of our book and the case for a moratorium is even stronger now.

    I hope that the Obama administration learns that there are alternative accountability systems that could work and are cheaper to administer. It is time to admit our nation got it wrong and must start over.

    The Author of this post is David C. Berliner (First appeared on The Frustrated Teacher.) David is the Regents' Professor of Education at Arizona State University in Tempe. He is a past president of the American Educational Research Association and a member of the National Academy of Education. He is the author, with Sharon L. Nichols, of Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools.

    Lessons Through Holograms of Your Teacher

    nzherald:

    Teachers could soon be conducting lessons in holograms around a family's dinner table if mobile technology continues to evolve, an award-winning Auckland teacher says.

    Nathan Kerr from Howick College recently represented New Zealand at one of the world's largest teaching conferences, in Washington DC, and has come home with some exciting prospects for incorporating m-learning, or learning through mobile devices, into the curriculum.

    As soon as next year, mobile phones will have in-built projectors, and Mr Kerr forecasts this will let students do things such as use their phone to create a film about a subject they are studying, then project it on to a wall in the classroom.

    Read the original article written by Jacqueline Smith

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    Using 'Screenr' for Free to Make Interesting Math Presentations

    Last week, while I was checking the streamline of our Twitter account, fellow Steven Diaz, who is a experienced math instructor and in pursue of his Ed.D. degree, gave to Screenr a try, uploading his very first work to show how to find the equation of the line between two points.

    For all math teachers, the good approach showed by Steven, opens the door for improvement of the always criticized methods of teaching the abstract science. According to the author, the process of engaging students with this kind of new system, not only makes it interesting but it also allows students to download the archive into an iPod, which of course, adds more value to Screenr in the study of mathematics.

    More than one teacher was excited about the slide. To hear more comments about what can be improved or how are you using Web 2.0 tools in math teaching, please spare 4 minutes to watch this beautiful Analytic Geometry class:



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    The "Culture of Poverty" Theory, Applied to the American Education

    Lorettaacook's Blog

    The role that the education system should be in the game which people live, is to educate them to be aware, critically thinking people know not to accept passively, but the question of knowing how it is taught. Education should be taught to the students the skills and intelligence they need to understand the world and how the world works in order to survive in it. However, the American educational system has been known that students who are frightening, produce ignorant about the world and different cultures. One of the reasons is because the education system in its current state is not much room for critical thinking, but also trains individuals to be docile worker bees in a global economy, the rich the status quo and "others" believes it can hardly do. The problem becomes clear when we consider the many themes, the curriculum and are taught to search. There is a lack of emphasis on academic learning, and the only thing that counts is high investments tests. The schools in this country have teamed up with fuzzy curricula, which flooded expect to be prepared by the continuous assessment, students living in a new global society... whatever that is.

    I recently had a conversation with a staff and we discussed how African Americans were treated forty years ago, and I was amazed by her naivete on the subject, given the fact that it is a college graduate and an African-American . From the moment I stepped College, I was concerned, the history of African and Afro-American history from a perspective, which they themselves do not seem sub-human and provides college students to explore this possibility. I could not help wondering, but what kind of history and sociology classes, she had none of their conversation. But the sad truth is that when most people make the decision to attend college, it is harvested for the purpose of economic success, not for the expansion of consciousness.

    [...]

    The "culture of poverty" theory, which is used by some politicians to account for differences in learning between the different ethnic groups is a blatant attempt to get the status quo, to "blame" people for their poverty as the education system would be restructured can to fulfill the needs of all students, not just the rich. There are large gaps between rich and poor students are not students because the poorer students have to adapt their miserable existence, but because they have no resources necessary to succeed in school to be. If the students have with textbooks that are outdated, lack of toiletries and computers from the late 1980s to do, the opportunity to advance academically is dark and deserted their chances in the school, probably.

    More to read...here.

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    The So Expected Change in the New School Year

    I was inspired by this post written by a Philly Teacher, Mary Beth Hertz. School year just started and all Summer fun we had is vanishing to embrace a new collective of new faces, challenges and work. All that time we've spent on Twitter, learning and interchanging ideas has reduced and sometimes we "often feel powerless at (our) job," as Mary says.

    For some education professionals, as Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto, they've encountered on Twitter, a place that resembles a big noisy teacher’s lounge. Being so far away, in Kitakyushu, Japan, she also believes on the strength of social networks included Twitter, Ning, and Diigo to mention only a few.

    But what to do when you arrive school and discover nothing has changed?



    The change was still in you mind and you have fresh memories of what has been said in your PLN (Personal Learning Network). If you feel discouraged that nothing has changed indeed, remember that process like this, first occur in our minds. So, go back and appeal to your social network. Why? Because, in Philly Teacher's words: "A supportive and innovative PLN will help you grow in your career, help you grow as a person and give you a place to bounce new ideas around, ask simple questions or get help when you need it. It can also be a place of comfort and belonging when you feel isolated or alone."

    This is the third day of school while our son attends one of the three schools immerse in the Gifted and Talented Program, I've been signing papers where teachers make me acknowledge of a contract among teacher, parent, student and where they tell me about assessments, grading and discipline. Test/Quizzes and Centers are with the highest percentage of grading, 30 % each.

    Despite what we've been talking and learning in our PLN on Twitter, we have to say that nothing has changed, at least at our son's school. There is a policy from The Board of Education on Cell Phones and Electronics Devices, which states: "Cellphones, Iphones, beepers, headphones, radios and other electronic devices are not to be used in school. They will be confiscated and a parent must come to school to pick up the confiscated items. Schools are not responsible for lost, damaged or misplaced electronic devices (EBOE Policy Code 5131)" But what really, makes me laugh , as a parent in this case, is this note about discipline (prohibit behavior), sent out by the Principal: "Use of students' cellular phones and other electronics inside the school, including before/after school hours." (After school hours, really?

    I think parents, as teachers are to overcome the strict internet phobia, students need to learn hands-on what is expected of electronics and technology devices as cell phones. We have to be open-minded not only to 'control' students in class but among ourselves as colleagues or administrators. There is a long way to overcome the internet filtering but your PLN are going to be there to help you out and to patronize the aimlessly call of change in American schools.

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    All Invited to the LEARN NC's 2009

    LEARN NC, the organization that makes Instructify possible, will hold its 2009 conference on October 1 in North Carolina.

    Event will run on Thursday, October 1st from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The face-to-face morning session is full, but you can log in virtually and get lots of great information during the afternoon for FREE!

    In addition to a presentation from Instructify writers Bill Ferris and Jason Don Forsythe, you’ll see sessions on sharing free resources, technology integration, professional development strategies, and more. Interact with fellow educators from around North Carolina via web conference software, Twitter, and the online back channel. Virtual participants may join for the entire afternoon or for whatever portion of the conference is convenient. For a full rundown, please see the conference agenda.

    Teachers, media specialists, technology coordinators, professional development coordinators, administrators, and other leaders in curriculum and instruction will all benefit from this conference. But you have to register!

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    Top 10 N.J. High Schools - Newsweek

    In New Jersey the back-to-school day is tomorrow and while I am helping my wife to set up everything around our 7th grader, I though it is a great opportunity to remember what are the choices parents have to enroll their sons in a High School, this year.

    There more than one list about Gold Medal High Schools in the U.S., Top Performing High Schools in N. J., and the New Jersey Monthly Rankings. We will abide by Jay Mathews's methodology and had extracted the first 10 High Schools we've found in his list, appeared back in June, 2009:

    1. McNair Academic - Jersey City (86)
    2. Millburn - Millburn (172)
    3. Ridge - Basking Ridge (177)
    4. Bernards - Bernardsville (200)
    5. Princeton - Princeton (213)
    6. Cresskill - Cresskill (311)
    7. Demarest - Demarest (388)
    8. Governor Livingston - Berkeley Heights (426)
    9. Summit - Summit (429)
    10. Glen Ridge - Glen Ridge (462)

    Parentheses indicates the rank established by Jay Mathews at Newsweek.

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    How Does Technology Help in Learning Languages?

    It’s something almost all of us pick up from our parents and those around us, this thing we call our mother tongue. We learn it instinctively and through repeated usage, and we hardly give it a second thought. However, development of language skills and excellence in a tongue comes about only when you engage in exercises that further them, like reading, writing and experimenting with other aspects of the language.

    How Does Tech Help in Learning Languages?A second language is harder to learn for most people, unless they’ve grown up in households or places where they are surrounded by people who speak in two dominant languages. Some of us learn a new language through necessity while others do so because of an interest in the lingo, and the rest just pick up bits and pieces through intermittent usage. Whatever the reason to learn a second or even third language, technology does help in picking up the basics and even mastering it, because:

    • It provides us with access to variety of resources: It’s easy to learn a language without a tutor today simply because of the multitude of resources that exist on the Internet and through other technological avenues. You have online lessons and worksheets that you can access for free or at a reasonable cost, some of which are interactive and so much more useful than books. Besides this, social networks like Second Life hold virtual classes for those willing to learn languages, so you can enroll in these just as you would in a regular class.

    • It allows us to learn when time permits: When you use technology to learn a language, you don’t have to set fixed times to attend classes or take lessons. You can learn anywhere, anytime. Besides the resources available on the Internet, you have applications that can be accessed using your iPhone, iPod and other smartphones, so you’re always connected and in a position to tap the various opportunities that exist online.

    • It provides handy and instant answers: If you’re struggling for a word in the language you’re learning, you now have the answer at your fingertips through online dictionaries and other translation resources. It’s easy to pick up words and phrases that are commonly used and which come in handy when you visit a new country and need to communicate with the locals for information.

    • It allows us to practice: Using technology to learn a language means you don’t need other people who speak the tongue to practice your skills and develop them further. With television programs in foreign languages and other interactive tools, you can pretend to engage in imaginary conversations and improve your vocabulary and sentence making skills.

    This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of online degrees. Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:adrienne.carlson83@yahoo.com

    Photo:spike55151

    "Teaching FOR the Test And Teaching TO the Test"

    During the edchat, a collaborative tool for teachers, and followed on Twitter this last Tuesday, Theresa Gray was contributing to the conversation with thoughtful questions and facts that we had to continue our own research to understand better what she was talking about. The topic for the online meeting was: What is the role of standardized testing in education?

    @theresagrayTheresa stated : "Teaching FOR the test and teaching TO the test are two very different things! Don't need a unit name for that!" but she also questioned the terminology, she thinks teachers some times get confused with wordy and take as synonyms the words, evaluation, testing and assessment. The concepts of testing and assessment still today, continue to be considered interchangeable by many, although they have incredibly different definitions and educational values attached to each of them. If we are to promote the clarity of performance in our students and schools, then we likely want to consider being clear in our own word choices.

    As some brought to our attention during the #edchat , the topic turned to be more debated that expected, as always, when education community touches the words 'evaluation' and 'tests', everyone sets themselves at ease. Moreover, what exactly do standardized test and assessment mean? And what impact do the use and understanding of these terms have on educational and promotion decision-making?

    We had to turn to the The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing in order to help ourselves about definitions. They define test as "an evaluative device or procedure in which a sample of an examinee's behavior in a specified domain is obtained and subsequently evaluated and scored using a standardized process." While the assessment is defined as "any systematic method of obtaining information from tests and other sources, used to draw inferences about characteristics of people, objects, or programs."

    The disenchantment many participants felt that day was evident. They would likely change that way the use and applied standardized test but there is no much they can do, since is the government and test designers who have the last word on decisions of this magnitude. Assessment and testing are part of curriculum, but when designers pay little to any attention to teachers, parents, students and society, there are very few option to improve American schools and education. I am sorry Mr. Duncan.

    In a interview conceded to Scholastic, Grant Wiggins considered a guru on the assessment matters, said: "When teachers assess student performance, they're not placing value or judgment on it — that's evaluating or grading. They're simply reporting a student's profile of achievement."

    Regarding the teaching FOR/TO the test brought by Gray, he points out:
    Many teachers think that they have to teach worse in order for their students to get better scores on standardized tests. Not true. The tests are usually simplistic and generic, so if teachers have a rigorous local curriculum and assessment system, their students should do very well. The test designers aren't interested in teaching through the test — all they're trying to do is find the quickest and easiest way of getting at some basic skills. Teachers' standards should be much higher than the test designers' standards, which are minimal.
    Teachers work in different ways to create their profiles, develop their own assessment and even evaluate. It is also dependable on what each state allows and directs, but all professional of education need to look besides their classroom, there are not only social and professional responsibilities but legal connotations, as well. It is quite easy to implement and apply standardized tests but requires incredible work to gather evidence of student performance over a period of time to measure learning and understanding, despite all psychological terminology involved.

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    Learning Isn't For Nine Months; It's Forever

    Jay Mathews of The Washington Post writes "he liked showing up the first day of school with a fresh binder and newly sharpened pencils." as much as today's kids love it, but Mathews also rise concerns: "How would school have turned out for me if I had been able to ignore what grade I was in and skip ahead to the pleasures of J.D. Salinger, or stay out on the ball field for a week until I finally learned how to catch a fly ball?"

    And he goes on models and the experiential education proclaimed by John Dewey. However this is the part that really make us think about our practice:

    ...We should keep in mind how artificial that learning environment is compared with what students will find as adults. At The Post, for instance, I have had to learn to blog. For a while, I pretended that I did not have to do this. When I finally, grudgingly, started writing blog posts, I acted as if they were just short stories for the paper. I sent them to my editor and asked him to put them on my blog. I put off learning to do it myself. I used vacation, bad weather or sniffles to excuse myself from training. But I wasn't in school anymore. The Post wasn't going to give me a report card with a C-minus in blogging and ask me to do better next year.

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