Thursday, June 30, 2011

Geek is the New Cool

Smart isn't something you are.  Smart is something you get. (Steph Harvey and Smokey Daniels)  We need to teach our kids that being smart is being cool. (Freeman Hrabowski) We only get one chance to prepare our students for a future that none of us can possibly predict.  What are we going to do with that one chance?  (Stephen Covey). 
Geek is the new cool.  Geek is Chic.  If you got a chance to stop by at ISTE you might of seen this guy taking Geek to the next level.  Walking around at a tech conference dressed like this was kind of funny because people weren’t sure if I was for real.  Some folks likely thought this was how I dressed everyday.  We need to let our kids know that it is not only okay to be a little geeky, nerdy, techie, or whatever.  Each of these terms typically goes hand in hand with another – smart.  As Bill Gates has been quoted, “Be nice to nerds, chances are you will wind up working for one.”  And in a larger sense, “If your culture doesn’t like geeks, you are in trouble.”    Be proud.  Celebrate your geekiness.  After all, it is the new cool.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Great Seeing Everyone at ISTE!

We just returned from our trip to the ISTE conference in Philadelphia.  It was great having the opportunity to talk with so many fellow mobile enthusiasts at our poster session this morning.  To those who are just launching their mobile projects, we are here to help support you in any way we can.  To those who are on the same page, let’s stay in touch and continue to learn together.   To those that are ahead of the curve, keep pushing the edge of that envelope to help us truly transform education.  We will continue posting over the summer, so consider following us, or at least check in periodically to see what we are up to.  We are on to something really important.  It’s just the tip of the iceberg……  By the way, we just passed the 4,000 page view milestone.  Again, just the tip of the iceberg…..

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thinking Teachers - A Classic Robin Hood Story

If you are in Philly this week at ISTE, you have to stop by the Teachers First Booth 2809.  These folks do website reviews and provide resources for teachers, free of ads and free of charge.  Run by teachers for teachers, imagine that!  They are funded through the leasing of frequencies to cell phone companies they bought like a million years ago. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor....

Walking through the exhibit hall is a little overwhelming.  Over 3,000 vendors!  One thing for certain.  There are tons of money to be made.

Friday, June 24, 2011

See You In Philly?

We hope to catch up with as many people as possible this week at ISTE in Philadelphia.  If you are attending the conference, please stop by and see us.  We will be presenting a poster session sharing our experiences with our IPod Touch Pilot Program.  Our poster session is scheduled for Wednesday morning (June 29th) from 8:00-10:00 a.m. at Table 14 in the PACC Broad St Atrium.  See you in Philly!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A" Pod of IPods" or is it an "IPod Pod?"

How about we continue building on this mobile one-to-one computing wave by rethinking the mobile laptop cart?  You know those big clunky carts that get wheeled from room to room, inevitably showing up with only 7 or 8 of the 10 laptops actually working, and of those, only 4 or 5 able to get an internet connection.  Well, what if we saved a boatload of money and instead purchased “IPod Pods” or “Pods of IPods.”  I envision 6 to 8 IPod Touches in a traveling case, complete with power strip for charging and a laptop for syncing.  Teachers would be able to check out a “Pod” and use them for authentic student inquiry (or curriculum-based inquiry if you’re still a little cautious of trusting your kids on the internet) or for small group instruction or remediation using the plethora of free Apps out there on the market.  Pods get passed from teacher to teacher until funding permits a set for each classroom.  I’m going to pitch the idea to the folks at Apple and see if they would be interested in designing a scaled down, passable version of the Bretford Syncing Cart. I’d like to see if they could develop a package that is a little more ergonomic than my IPod Pod bag with a bunch of USB wires and extension cords.    I think I might be on to something….  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are Smart Boards "Old School?"

I just finished reading the attached article on Smart Boards in the latest edition of Digital Directions.  We purchased Promethean Boards for each of our classrooms several years ago.  While some teachers have made effective use of the boards, I’m starting to question our judgment.  In our defense, the purchase made sense at the time.  Having those same funds available today, we would likely look to purchase additional IPods and IPads to increase the scope of our one-to-one mobile initiatives.  My biggest issue with the Smart Board is the fact only one person can be “driving” at a time.  Not surprisingly, the teacher is usually in the driver’s seat.  Even when a student is at the board, all of his or her peers are pretty much in the back seat.  We need to provide our children with numerous opportunities to “drive”.  The most logical way to do this is through one-to-one mobile computing.  More and more folks are coming to the same realization.  We need to continue to focus on providing our students the same technology experiences we have every day.  Access is everything.  I encourage you to go back to my last post and read the two pages of my kid’s comments about their mobile computing experiences.  Let’s stop moving so cautiously and focus on where we need to be going, especially if we truly want to prepare our kids for the future.

Monday, June 13, 2011

IPod Touch Pilot - Year End Report

Last week of school - woo-hoo!  The link below will take you to the Sandy Plains Elementary IPod Touch Pilot Year End Summary Report.   As expected, our results were very positive for kids, teachers, and parents.  You really must check out the kid’s comments on slides 8 and 9.  Out of the mouths of babes.....
Please contact us if you have any questions about our report.  Even as the year winds down, don't let up in your efforts to expand mobile one-to-one computing in your districts.  It's been a great year and we are just scratching the surface of what is possible.  I will continue to post over the summer.  Check back frequently....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

IPod Pilot - Year One Attendance Data

We just completed an analysis of student attendance data for the first year of our IPod Touch Pilot Program.  As expected, we saw improved year-to-year attendance in our IPod classrooms compared to our control classrooms.  In fourth grade, 52% of students in the IPod classroom posted improvements in attendance compared to 33% of students in the control classroom.  In fifth grade, 65% of the IPod students posted improved attendance compared to 37% in the control classroom.  We fully expect these increases in attendance will translate into increases in achievement as well.  Stay tuned for additional data in the coming weeks.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Clayton County, Georgia visits Sandy Plains

Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, and two Area Superintendents visited the IPod Classrooms at Sandy Plains on Thursday.  The children amazed our visitors with their “tech-abilities.”  While we lobby and advocate for funding to increase the use of mobile one-to-one computing in schools through blogs, wikis, letter writing, and presentations at budget hearings, it suddenly occurred to me that our efforts should be focused on inviting the powers that be to simply spend some time in our classrooms.  In as little as half an hour of watching and talking to kids about how they are using technology, even the most fiscally conservative politician, school board member, or high level administrator would be swayed to somehow find the funding to support programs such as ours.  Watching the kids working together trumps any other “research based, empirically validated, yada yada” data out there.  To Dr. Heatley, Superintendent in Clayton County:  Thanks for being a visionary and HOORAH!   

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Coming soon to a blog near you...

After a relatively short period of time, this morning we passed 2,800 page views from 40 different countries, with our most recent view coming from Macedonia.  How cool is that?  Reaching out on a global scale to share ideas and experiences is what this venture has been all about.  This, my first blogging experience, has served to reinforce my belief that we need to be doing more of this sort of thing with our students.

Our pilot teachers have started using Kidblog ( with their kids.  While being used internally with our teachers and fourth and fifth graders, we are moving in the right direction.  They will be sharing some their experiences in upcoming posts.  The website is easy to set up, as well as to manage.  I encourage you to check it out.

I am still trying to post James’s 10 second Kakooma video, but I’m running into formatting issues.  I hope to have it posted soon.

As our school year winds down, we are pulling together our first year data from our IPod Touch Pilot.  Look for that to be posted in the coming weeks.

Finally, we will be hosting a poster session at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia later this month.  We will be sharing our pilot experiences and hope to make even more connections with folks doing similar work.  If you are planning to attend, please stop by and hang out with us for a while.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another School System Sees the "I" Light

Let's hear it for the Hillsborough County School Board in Florida.  It's not a system-wide initiative, but definitely a step in the right direction:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

James Scores a 10!

If you know the game Kakooma, you know what a challenge it is for those folks like me who consider themselves math casualties of our past and current approaches to teaching math.  If you don’t know the game, you really need to check it out.  See earlier post, “Looking for a Great Math App.”   One of my fifth grade students finished the game this morning in 10 seconds!  I’ve got the video to prove it and will post it tomorrow.  It’s amazing how we can improve children’s mathematical thinking and number sense when we provide them with meaningful practice.  Check back tomorrow to see the video.  It’s pretty amazing.