Education & Tech

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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 L. Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is an instructor with UoPeople, is a 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 blogging and I'd written articles about education and technology almost every day since 2003. In the gazillion of notes, Education & Tech provides you with education news, tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Getting Prepared to the Parent Teacher Conferences

Some states already started the new year but others are still waiting for the back to school day, next week. When you are an experienced teacher meetings may sound as routine, but for new teachers and those who had moved for any other reasons, the PTC may result frustrating. Personally, I still remember when I had to stand up in front of about 20 curious parents, really looking forward to meet their sons' teachers. They kept asking me more question that I could really answer. It was at the beginning of the year 2003. I could barely remember their son's names or identify the by their name. Imagine.

So we thought it will of the interest of many of our readers (mostly teachers and educators)to read what was the experience alike ours, of They Call Me a Teacher's author, who "recently moved to NYC from out-of-state, where he learned how to be a teacher and taught for a year before deciding to head to New York City:"

  • Had a few conferences with parents who don't speak English (that happens in some places in the Midwest, just not something I had experienced). The language barrier makes communication so difficult for us. So often I find myself wishing I would have acquired Spanish through college.

  • Parents asking two young children-less women for parenting advice. I came prepared this time. Told a few parents to take away privileges (those things the kids are using as excuses for not doing homework... TV in particular). I was very adamant. I would have never taken that stance with parents of last year's students. They would have thought I'd crossed the line. This year, I feel like some of these parents have let their kids do what they please to the point of no control. One parent was proud of herself for following through with a 4 day punishment. She usually lets her student off within the day.

  • A while back, we were even offered money from a student in trade for a good report. Laughable. The parent laughed about it. We also confirmed that the student had been forging the parent's signature. These kids....

  • Some of the parents told the same stories as we heard last set of conferences... I guess some things never change. Interesting when they go on and on about how bad their student is at home, when they aren't a problem at school. Not really sure how to respond to that information, other than try to encourage the student to behave at home...

  • A few parents showed their violent sides. Threatening to beat their children, cursing them right in front of us (the F-bomb took me by surprise a few times!). We'll be keeping our eyes on those kids for any scratches and bruises. I was a bit scared of this violence. Sadly, it seems to be a norm with this community.

  • Got in trouble for asking for supplies... Got them anyway. What's a teacher to do when students seem to eat pencils daily? (Wish I knew the hidden hole these pencils get hidden in, because I'd love to discover the mounds that must be collecting somewhere. That or they literally eat them.) Students have to write, right? Then again, this is me asking a question that seems to make sense, when I work in a place that does the opposite of anything that makes sense!

And there is more here.
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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. - 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.


Elementary Education - The 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 Guide to Business School. Karen also writes for, 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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Sexual Education Begins at Home , But it Fails

On July we started reading a very interesting book by Debra W. Haffner. There is a post about How to Protect Your Children Online and this is the continuation of what we offered back then. In this opportunity, we will refer to Chapter 6, Raising Sexually Healthy Children.

Why Raising Sexually Healthy Children Is So Important?

First of all, let me tell you that I am a parent of a 12 years boy. He conceded that at age of 6 his father tried to get him into the delicate information but his parent has failed, he says. It was on Health, at school, that he learned a bit more but in a "wrong way" because he found out that the puberty video wasn't for him, it looked nasty, he recounts. Right now, I am in the responsibility to show him what was that nasty part that he didn't like or understand. And unfortunately I, like many parents/educators are in the same situation. Many times we have read and have been told, start sexual awareness at home before it is too late. We need to be 'affirming parents' as the author likes to refer to parents who are having some kind of success communicating with their sons about what most of us do not feel so comfortable about.

In her What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know, Haffner recommends 7 steps affirming parents should follow to raise sexually healthy kids:

1. Start educating about sexuality early - Do not repeat the frustration of our 12 yrs boy. It is hard to imagine that parents, 8 in 10 do not believe their child is sexually involved. Talk to them about contraception and the use of condoms before is too late.

2. Communicate your values - Send out clear messages. Let your child know what are the values at home and what you, as parent expect as valuable sexual behavior. If you speak openly on what it means the intercourse, child is likely not only to postpone his first encounter but have fewer partners and they will use more consistently the birth pill of the condom.

3. Set Limits for daring - The author writes that teens should be "dating no more than two grades apart." They are to pick age-appropriate partners. Adolescents coming from both Permissive and Authoritarian families are more likely to have intercourse earlier than those of Affirming families.

4. Supervise and monitor - Do not go "teen are teens" or teens go bananas. They are in an age where sexual arousal and curiosity just take them to the sexual place at any time. Avoid bedrooms with doors closed, watch the sleepovers and don't erroneously think that because they are the same sex there in anything to worry about.

5. Keep talking and then talk some more - "There is not a single research study that has found that adult-child communication about sexuality, whether it is from parents or teachers, caused teens to have sexual intercourse at early ages."

6. Guide your decision making about sex - Talking about oral sex and masturbation it is almost impossible without managing sexual pleasure and sexual response. As hard as it may seem (and it is for me) parents, and I mean both, the couple need to set common ground on not so easy questions like: When they should have sexual intercourse? Do you want them to graduate high school as a virgin? When they have to abstain from orgasm, genital caressing, oral sex? Etc.

7. Discuss the characteristics of a moral, ethical sexual relationship - It does not no matter what your spiritual or moral convictions are, it makes a difference to set and maintain sexual limits. Debra Haffner suggests 5 criteria for a moral sexual relationship: Consensual, Nonexploitative, Honest, Mutually pleasurable, and Protected against pregnacy and disease if any type of intercourse occurs.

I do understand that sexuality is a complicated topic, but we endorse what the author of this book has written, and whenever you feel like any of these points do not apply to your beliefs, rest assured that if your sons chose to have intercourse, they must be protected.

Teens do not even comprehend when they will be 'ready' both emotionally and neurologically for their first sexual experience. Parents and teachers are to guide them all that way down.

For more 21st-Century Parent advice and information, visit

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Digital Characteristics of the New Literacy and Curriculum

Education Innovation

“…in the digital world everything is only a few clicks away.”

Or as Tom Peters would say, “Distance is dead.” Students can use the web to instantly reach out to any part of the planet to talk with people, or find information on anything that interests them, or collaborate on projects. They can work with the person at the desk next to them or a student on the other side of the globe. Information, once warehoused in libraries, is now a few clicks away. Student collaboration is a digital world is very scalable. Student groups can grow from the classroom room to the globe.

“Instead of being the same way for all people, it can instantly rearrange itself for each person and each person’s current task.”

It is not possible to differentiate instruction and learning to the level that is possible when a student does it for their particular individualized needs. The web makes it possible to match a student with his or her interest and ability far easier than one teacher alone could. Each click brings the student just what they need in the way they need it. Learning that is truly customized and differentiated on demand. The digital world will bend to your needs when you want it, where you want it, and how you want it. That is the future of learning.

Please, read the original article by Rob Jacobs

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Mobile Devices Are Machines for Learning ( Not Distractors)

"I want my children to be taught how to use their mobile devices to create and publish and connect, but I also want that done by adults who know how to do that for themselves." A Will Richardson comment featured in this post, thanks to the terrific work developed by Lisa Nielsen on The Innovative Educator.

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"Students Who Took All or Part of Their Class Online Performed Better," Says a Study

It's Sunday and Education & Tech usually gets updated on weekdays. But what we have to say today is something we had to postpone for two or three days, given that our schedule was tight, so barely we were able to read feeds and update Twitter.

Someone asked me by e-mail about uses of Twitter and Facebook by gender: Is there any specific gender preference by chance? I do not know, I've noticed for example that many of my friends prefer FB ... Men love Twitter .... I'm not generalizing, but noticing it on friends' circle.

I don't have the answer. I couldn't see the same tendency as my female friend sees it. How I am going to see it if "teachers do not know technology", sentenced another female journalist. Well, it seems Twitter and Miguel Guhlin will help us to solve these questions.

Following Mike's advice, beginning today we will start publishing relevant Twitter posts. Even when this post do not really respond to first question, it does to the second one. "Effective teachers need to incorporate digital content into everyday classes and consider open-source learning management systems." That's what U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said on purpose of a study released by the Center for Technology and Learning, SRI International(pdf doc here):

    ◘ Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction. Learning outcomes for students who engaged in online learning exceeded those of students receiving face-to-face instruction, with an average effect size of +0.24 favoring online conditions. The mean difference between online and face-to-face conditions across the 51 contrasts is statistically significant at the p < .01 level.

    ◘ Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction. The mean effect size in studies comparing blended with face-to-face instruction was +0.35, p < .001. This effect size is larger than that for studies comparing purely online and purely face-to-face conditions, which had an average effect size of +0.14, p < .05.

    ◘ Few rigorous research studies of the effectiveness of online learning for K–12 students have been published. The systematic search of the research literature found just five experimental or controlled quasi-experimental studies comparing the learning effects of online versus face-to-face instruction for K-12 students. As such, caution is required in generalizing to the K-12 population because the results are for the most part based on studies in other settings (e.g., medical training, higher education).
Social Media works but notice that regular people outside the echo chamber are quite sure teachers do not know about technology. It's a generalization of which educators need to be careful. Not all teachers are at that level but certainly a high percentage need to get better on these skills.

We are in need not only of technologists of Education but professionals to whom, the work of "connectors" is very much understood. As an example only, there is PhD Roxana Marachi, she is being so active about what teachers are supposed to introduce in their classroom during this period just about to start, look out to one of her post about Lecture Tools.

Question about uses of Facebook/Twitter by gender remains open. Do you have the sources to respond this empirical statement?

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Teaching Teenagers to Foresee Their Future

Today, I met a former student on Facebook. When she was a teen, I remember we had talked about what it will be their aspiration to the future. Among them, there were her dream of becoming a lawyer. Once she finished school we befriend her on Facebook and she just posted about her interest in the teaching career. We reply back something like, you must be kidding me...

Back in time and still today, what we see in teenagers is that they do not see the point of learning at school. They really want to talk to their mates, but not listen to their teacher! If they do have a vision of their future, it is one of being famous as a singer or some kind of celebrity. How they are going to become this famous person is a little more vague.

Successful teachers mix the lesson up to incorporate the necessary learning with real life topics that the teenagers talk about. Teachers do this to motivate them. A teacher has to give them a vision of the future. Soon the teenagers begin to look forward to coming to class and listen more to the teacher, rather than only talk to their pals in class.

To give the teenagers a taste of success in their future we have to give the young person confidence. It could be followed up with the teacher giving approving comments like -well done! I knew you could do it! Reinforce positive thinking.

This will possibly make the youngsters to put their feet on the ground. The person on the story had to say: "I had to be honest with myself , Law school would be too crucial, it's a lot more studying and exams, A LOT more money, and I know people in the profession who just ended up working as paralegals because of the stress." It showed me the adult in her.

To wrap up, face up to the facts that you will have to work hard to motivate the vast majority of teenagers that come to your class. You have to find a way to get them motivated and have a vision of the future. Once you give them confidence, use this method to inspire even more positive thoughts: Use successful people as examples for them to achieve success. Mix in some humor and an overall good feeling in the classroom. Good luck!

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20 Free Web Apps to Use in the Classroom

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the Guide to Business School. She also writes about college online for

Teachers who are looking to transform their classroom with new technology can find many free resources online. Many of these resources are web-based and do not require any download. This list provides 20 free web apps that work particularly well in the classroom:

mySchoolog - This online application allows students to organize their school life with to-do lists, class schedules, success graphs, and email reminders.

Edmodo - This private social platform was created specifically for teachers and students. Edmodo works a lot like Twitter with built in privacy controls. The site can also be used to share notes, links, files, assignments, and much more.

Engrade - Engrade is an all-in-one suite of tools that can be used to create an online portal for students. Engrade works well for teachers who want to post homework, class events, a gradebook, attendance calendar, and other items online. This app also helps with parent-teacher conferences.

SnapGrades - SnapGrades is a popular web-based gradebook for teachers. The app makes it easy for students and parents to check grades online at any time.

SchoolTool - SchoolTool is free administrative software that was created for schools by a non-profit organization. The software provides a free gradebook, attendance book, class calendar, and much more.

SimplyBox - This free web-based service is perfect for teachers who want to capture, organize, and share pieces of the web with their students. SimplyBox supports multiple languages, including English, French, Japanese, and Spanish.

Hooeey - Hooeey is a free web application that records web browsing and allows links to be used later in a fun and productive way. Every link that is recorded can be tagged, commented on, and retrieved at any time.

Mikogo - Mikogo makes it incredibly easy for teachers to share their desktop with students in the classroom. It also works well for online parent-teacher conferences.

Cramberry - Cramberry is an excellent web-based application for classroom use. This flash card site allows teachers to create online flash cards and track students' progress.

Flash Card Machine - Teachers can use this app to create web-based flash cards for students. Flash cards can include text, audio, and images.

Revisions - This free Michigan State University resource allows students to collaborate on writing assignments. The tool can also be used for teacher and peer reviews.

Scriblink - This free, web-based whiteboard allows students to collaborate, write, and share ideas in real-time without registering for an account or downloading software.

Wridea - Wridea is a free web service that can be used to brainstorm, record, and share ideas. The service offers built-in chat and many other features to make brainstorming and collaboration easier.

Sketchcast - Sketchcast is a web-based sketch pad that can record sketches created by a mouse or graphic pen. Users can also describe an idea into a microphone to create a hands-free sketch.

RIA Materials - The RIA (Rich Internet Applications) Project provides a wide range of web-based materials that assist in language learning. Materials include an audio recorder, video recorder, podcasting program, worksheet generator, and interactive exercises.

MIMEA - MIMEA (Multimedia Interactive Modules for Education and Assessment) is a series of web-based video modules, interactive exercises, and assessment tools for language learners.

NumberNut - NumberNut is best described as an interactive, web-based math textbook that can be used by students at any level. The book is split into two sections: basic math and advanced math.

Spelling Wizard - Created for younger students, this free Scholastic resource takes the stress out of memorizing spelling words.

FreeRice - This innovative web-based game from the United Nations World Food Program allows students to build English vocabulary and work to end world hunger at the same time.

Smithsonian Panoramic Virtual Tour - This free web application from the National Smithsonian Museum of Natural History takes students on a panoramic virtual tour of the museum.

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The Four Pillars of Technology Integration


What are the key elements required for a transformation of teaching and learning through the use of technology? There are obviously many reasonable ways to look at this. From what position do you view this issue? Are you a teacher, instructional coach, building principal, technology facilitator, director of technology, chief administrative officer of some flavor, superintendent, parent, or student? For you, this issue will likely run through the filter of your current position.

It will also run through the filter of your experience. Are you an eighteen year old student who lives a life that is highly digitally integrated, or are you a teacher of 20 years or more who is just now trying to become familiar with the Internet as it relates to teaching and learning? Are you a superintendent or head of school who is beginning to open to the importance of a smart approach to technology integration, or are you a technology facilitator who has been a digital evangelist for the past five to ten years?

More to read at the original article by Sean Nash.

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Undertsanding a PLN to Build a Strong Learning Community

Almost never we talk about what Twitter means in our daily life. This is due to the short periods of time we have to spend online and where we have the great opportunity to talk and share about common interests with other professionals in education.

PLN DefinitionThe first thing we need to understand is what a Personal Learning Network(PLN) means? I think the concept not only applies to professionals but it can be used among students in a personal level, too. But this is not the topic. Tom Whitby has been doing a great job helping educators to create and develop their own PLN. His definition is quite clear as what it is to be understood by PLN.

Dr. Alec Couros already made a first approach trying to laid a definition of Personal Learning Networks, also known as PLE. He found difficult to establish a "solid reference or definition for the concept of PLN". An he is not alone. Scott S. Floyd, has set his own definition, as well, but he thinks that "If you only plan to follow along and not participate, you will never expand your own learning." A community does not grow if the answer we receive is always passive: Yes man, no 'mam!

The concept based on the "set of practices and techniques aimed at attracting and organizing of relevant content sources" as David Warlick says, can be only accomplished following the advice Scott gave us in his post Passive Learning Stinks:

    1. Have the right idea about friendship. Know that true friends are honest regardless of whether they agree or disagree.
    2. Be sure you see the reality of the process of a community. Get the true value out of it... You can learn and grow during both.
    3. You have to move beyond the superficial. In other words, who cares who your friend is or what his/her title/ranking/popularity/Tweet ranking/etc really is... Moving deeper into the relationship is what helps build trust. It puts the conversation and expectation of input at a level that you both can grow from.
I want to be part of your network an I promise I wouldn't be the passive man we talk before. Add me to your PLN, I go by @tonnet, and let's have a deep conversation on the matter most interest you.

Also recommended:

- Origins of the Personal Learning Network
- My Personal Learning in Action.
- The Power of the Personal Learning Network
- 5 Things You Can Do to Begin Developing Your Personal Learning Network

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Are Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ Requirements Fair?

National Journal is an online magazine which runs its own Education Blog funded --in part, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the purpose of creating an educational forum for sharing research, ideas and opinions regarding issues related to college readiness and college completion.

This week, Eliza Krigman wrote a post titled, Are The 'Race To The Top ' Requirements Fair? Krigman takes on the "draft guidelines for the Race to the Top fund [and] the $4.35 billion in grants to improve America's schools." The problem is laid out because according to the guidelines, states that prohibit linking student achievement data to teacher and principal evaluation will not be eligible to apply. Is this fair? Why or why not?, Eliza asks.

At the moment there are 27 responses to her question. All of them worth reading. What is your opinion on this matter? Are you an administrator with plenty of experience, wanting to weight in?

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Boudreaux: "Merit Pay for Teachers Will Not Result in Better Teaching"

The prospect of higher pay will not prompt teachers to perform better in the classroom, was part of what Economics Prof. Donald J. Boudreaux, wrote to Kathy L. Smith, Chairman of Fairfax County Public Schools, in response to a an article in The Washington Post from Rick Nelson, former Fairfax County Federation of Teachers president.

Joanne Jacobs weighted in and her blog's readers have different opinions about what really motivate teachers to do their best at school. Roger Sweeny, says:

Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Most school systems have different “tracks” for teacher pay. Those with just a Bachelors are on the poorest paid track. Higher pay goes to teachers with a Masters. Then there may be additional tracks: Masters with 15 more graduate credits, Masters plus 30, and so on.

What would happen to enrollment in graduate education courses if there were just one track, if everyone were paid the same as someone who had never taken a graduate course? Since my experience is that most teachers don’t think much of the usefulness of ed courses, my hypothesis is that enrollment would go to just about zero.

Geckonomist voices his concerns about frustration merit pay carries on most employees, teachers included:

Are teachers in private schools all get merit based pay? I would be surprised.

And what is merit in education? Even the link to the later pay of the students is laughable, or the same “access” to so called top universities (who discriminate openly in favour of the rich, famous & offspring of alumni).

Of all people i studied with, the ones with by far the highest income are those whose daddies owned big companies and were made director upon graduating.

They would even be extremely wealthy when illiterate.

To base any “merit” ranking on later salaries, is proving one doesn't understand the fractal nature of wealth distribution. But it is difficult to explain to people who strive to get their kids into Yale, …

I have in the business environment for quite a while, and what I know is that employees do not work better because they have a salary increase, they may change their dedication eventually, but the results are not reliable in the long run. So, teachers will may increase their dedication to teaching but it won't even last an academic year, being extremely positive!

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Education & Tech 08/03/2009

Why I Support The Cellphone Ban At Our School

School’s banning the use of cellphones during school hours (not banning bringing them to school, though), I believe, has contributed positively to improving our school climate says Larry Ferlazzo

10 Tips To Setting Expectations On The First Day Of Class

How you conduct the first day sets the tone for the rest of the semester. Our job as faculty is to establish our expectations as well as “sell our class” to the students in order to create a learning community.

Lessons Learned: Tips for New Technology Facilitators

It doesn’t matter how much (or how little) technology a teacher might be using in their classroom, what does matter is that they see you as approachable, dependable, collaborative, friendly, and above all, willing and able to support their needs. It those personal relationship that you form early on that end up leading to positive and successful collaboration later on. After all, it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job if no one is interested in working with you!

The rest of my favorite links are here.

Why Teach for America and The New Teacher Project Exist

The Quick and the ED

If you stop and think about it, Teach for America (TFA) and The New Teacher Project (TNTP) are well-functioning, non-profit, national human resource departments for schools. They recruit, screen, and hire candidates, all functions of a traditional HR department. TFA and TNTP do provide a lot more induction and support for their hires, but at the base level their purpose is to find and recommend potential teachers. Of course, school districts have their own human resource departments as well, so it's worth asking why these programs were needed in the first place.

If you look at the data on the teacher hiring process (some of the best of which has been put together by TNTP itself), what you see is that districts just aren't very good at it. They're slow, which causes them to lose out on better candidates. They don't recruit all that well, which means they have fewer candidates to choose from. And they tend to privilege more experienced teachers throughout the process, which, fair or not, limits their ability to attract young and motivated applicants.

Read whole article by Chad Aldeman

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