Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year? A Leap Ahead for First Grade Tweeters

What a great Leap Year Story - A group of first graders leaping forward, leading the way, pushing the envelope, on the cutting edge, TWEETING away.  Just when I think that I am making progress, learning new tricks as an old dog, along comes this story out of Chicago - First Graders at Abraham Lincoln Elementary using Twitter to let their parents know what's happening in school and to send them reminders about upcoming events.  Messages are delivered as a group and controlled by the teacher, but still, how cool is this?  Kids are also blogging to share work with classmates, parents, and other contacts outside the state.  You can read the short piece from the Chicago Tribune below:,0,7378048.story

Here is the link to the Abranham Lincoln Elementary website:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

So Is All This Technology Spending Really Worth It?

The answer according to researchers at Concordia University is "YES!"   A meta-analysis of 1,055 studies over a 40 year period concluded that the use of technology had "small to moderate" impacts on student learning and attitudes.  As more effective and sophisticated technologies continue to emerge along with our understanding of how to best leverage the power of technology in our instruction, one could certainly make the case we are only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of the potential impact on student learning.

If you would like to read about the study here is the lite version from the Montreal Gazette -

Here is the full research paper if you need more empirical ammunition to support your planning -

Monday, February 27, 2012

PreK Techies?

The jury is still out for many early childhood educators in the debate over technology use with our youngest students.  While millions are being spent on STEM education, the role of computers in the EC classroom is still not clear.  While an advocate to developmentally appropriate practices, including the importance of exploration and play, I'm wondering if we are proceeding a little too cautiously.  The world is changing.  The technology is changing (for the better every day). How we use technology is changing.  Why shouldn't our early childhood classrooms change as well.  I think we can marry DAP and Technology in ways that will improve the outcomes for children, particularly for experiences that cannot be provided in a classroom setting.  Technology also has the potential to even the playing field, building critical background knowledge for our students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.  What is lacking are model programs incorporating best practices.  I am looking to connect with other like minded folks who believe we need to be doing more with our youngest learners.  If you are interested in collaboraating, please email me.

Here is a short piece from the Boston Globe -   

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Implementing a BYOD Program - Three Successful Programs

So you want to bring a BYOD program to your school?  It may not be as hard as some folks have made it out to be.  Many school systems already have the necessary Acceptable Use Policies in place, other need just slight revisions.  This article from Tech Learning highlights the BYOD programs in three school districts: Lake Travis Independent School District in Texas, New Canaan Public Schools in Connecticut, and Osseo Area Schools in Minnesota.  I am still having a hard time figuring out why there aren't more folks out there taking advantage of the technology many of our students come to school with every day.  You can read about these school districts' experiences below:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Another Day, Another IPad District

Students and teachers in New Hampshire are getting in the game. William Allen Elementary purchased 50 IPads for their classrooms and are focused on using them in interactive ways rather than simply playing games and apps.  Students are working on research, creating projects, and developing presentations for their peers.  You can read about their project below:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vegas Baby! IVegas, That Is

You have got to read the article below about a charter school in Las Vegas.  It's an ISchool, where every student and staff member has their own IPad working in a school building with a souped up infrastructure.  This has to be the closet thing to heaven for anyone who believes in the promise and potential of providing kids access to technology and to the wide world of information out there on the Internet. Apparently there are other ISchools in existence, one in Utah and one is Texas.  I would love to see this school in action.  Sounds like a road trip!  Anyone in?  Check out the piece in the Las Vegas Sun below:

Monday, February 20, 2012

California Streaming on Such a Sunny Day

A number of school systems in California are "taking the leap" and purchasing IPads for their students. Annette Alpern, assistant superintendent of instructional services at the Redondo Beach Unified School District sums it up best when she says,  "There is not a ton of debate about whether this is a direction the schools are heading." "The question is more: How quickly will the future arrive?"

Manhattan Beach Unified purchased 560 devices for a pilot project this fall.  The verdict so far: The iPads are enhancing the learning process.

Read all about it below:

Friday, February 17, 2012

East Haven's IPad Reading Initiative

Teachers and students in New Haven Connecticut have a set of IPads for each of their schools thanks to a district wide initiative.  Although the article from the New Haven Register makes more references to teacher driven uses (assessment, record keeping, etc.) they are being used in small groups with kids as well.  Note to teachers - make sure the kids get to use them more than you do, please.  You can read the piece below:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Obama Wants Digital Textbooks

Not being the biggest fan on government intervention, I was a little concerned when I cam across this piece in USE Today. As much as I an a fan of e-textbooks and digital media, I'm not sure it's the government's role to "begin pushing publishers, computer tablet makers, and Internet service providers to lower their costs."  I am a believer in the free market and believe we will continue to see a drop in costs and an increase in availability of e-texts as dictated by market pressures.  I'm also a little concerned about government "picking winners" in this process of adopting digital texts.  At any rate, at least the transition is getting national attention and I suppose that's a good thing.  You can read the piece below:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Moving to Mooresville! A National Model of the Digital School

Add Mooresville, North Carolina to my list of places where I would live and raise my kids.  Instead of buying laptops, how about leasing a MacBook Air for just $215 a year, including warranty? Despite their innovations, as well as their recognition, Superintendent Mark Edwards insists it's not about the technology, or as he calls it, "the box." he is quoted as saying, "It's about changing the culture of instruction - PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THEIR FUTURE, NOT OUR PAST." (caps added by me for emphasis)  How cool to work for such a visionary leader.  I wonder what the housing market is like down there?  You can read the piece below:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Epistemic Games Promote Academic Achievement - Who Knew? Me.

Okay, okay, so PacMan, or even Ms PacMan didn't help me to learn much of anything, but today's computer games have come a long way since then.  Today's games are engaging learners in ways that allow them to interact and experience challenges associated with a variety of environments.  We're not talking about killing zombies here.  This is real learning in very realistic environments where kids can develop independent thinking and creativity.  You can check out the article from Mindshift below:

Now back to my online game of Donkey Kong.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guess What Teachers Want When It Comes To Technolgy - MORE!

In case you didn't know this already, a National PBS Survey reports that teachers want more access to classroom technology.  While 91% of teacher report they have access to computers in their classroom, only 1 in 5 say they have the right level of technology.  Two-thirds cite budget as the biggest barrier to accessing tech in their classrooms,  Can anyone say BYOD?  You can read the press release from PBS below:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Technology Bill of Rights for Students - A Must Read

Tech Teacher and Blogger Brad Flickinger developed a Bill of Rights for students' use of technology.  It is written from the perspective of a student to his or her teacher.  Brad really nails it.  Check out his post on school

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shy Kids and Twitter - What a Great Idea!

Anyone out there have a student who is a great thinker but is generally too shy to raise their hand and participate in class?  Who always has their hands raised?  Those kids who are confident and outgoing or those who process quickly. Without hearing each student's thinking, how can we know how effective our instruction is, or how brilliant our kids really are?  What if we allowed them to participate by tweeting?  Research conducted at Southern Cross University found Twitter was an effective way to engage students too embarrassed or uncomfortable to participate in class.  While the study addressed university students, there is no reason why it wouldn't work as well in elementary through high school.  Of course we first have to allow "tweetable: devices in our classrooms.....
You can read a short piece below:

I've also included a page downloaded from the Southern Cross University website:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chicago Metro NAEYC Conference Presentation

     I had a great time presenting at this year's Chicago NAEYC Conference in January.  What a great organization.  As promised, attached is the PowerPoint from my presentation."

     We have two conference presentations booked so far for the Spring.  In March, we will be presenting at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) National Conference in Philadelphia.  This April, we will be presenting at the Common Ground Conference in Baltimore.  If you are attending either conference, please stop in to hear about our work.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I Know What Kids Like, I Know What Kids Want - Digital Learning and the Speak Up Survey

So what is it about digital learning that kids really want?  Good question.  Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans recently reported on data from the 2010 and 2011 education of the Speak Up Survey with a specific focus on digital learning.  This data indicates kids want social-based learning, tools for untethered learning, and a digitally rich learning environment.  Exactly what we are currently providing them.  (That was a joke if you couldn't tell.)  As Strother Martin, prison camp captain in Cool Hand Luke said, "What we got here is a failure to communicate."  Well, actually, the kids are communicating; we're just not listening.  And we wonder why they aren't listening to us? 

You can read the piece from THE Journal below.  The article contains a link to the Speak Up Survey as well.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Praise the Lord and Pass the Creativity!

Is the tide FINALLY beginning to turn?  For years the talking heads have been professing the need to develop 21st century skills while forcing schools to chase the carrot of NCLB, Race to the Top or politically motivated accountability system du jour.  Well, there is some good news on the horizon.  Take a look at what is happening in Massachusetts, California and Oklahoma.  All three states are trying to broaden the scope of how schools are evaluated by examining how they are fostering creativity and innovation.  Clearly in the beginning stages of development, I am encouraged that some folks are recognizing the narrowness of our current assessment systems,  They understand if things don't change, our nation will lose it's dominant place in the global economy.  The one thing that kind of frightens me is the bus is being driven by politicians.  If you happen to be fortunate enough to live in one of the states,  stand up and make sure your voice is heard.  You can read the article from Education Week below:

Friday, February 3, 2012

You Go Wisconsin! - 1,400 IPads for Madison!

     It seems like many of the articles I post  are about smaller scale projects in innovative school systems across the country.  Madison, Wisconsin is taking a big leap with the purchase of 1,400 Ipads in the coming year.  What makes it even cooler is they got the funding through a settlement with Microsoft- sorry Bill! 
     Stay tuned for more news from Wisconsin.  State Superintendent Tony Evers is expected next week to release a statewide digital learning plan that has been developed over the past year by a group of state and local technology experts.  Can't wait to read it.
     Here is a link to the article:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

IPads Do Not Discriminate on the Basis of Race, Creed or Religion

Check out this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about Catholic schools in Pittsburgh getting their feet wet in latest technology wave- mobile computing with IPads.  Their goal? IPads in the hands of every student by next year.  Where do I sign up?  Check out the article below:

We Love Our Apps - Or Do We?

Okay, I have issues.  Hello, my name is Harry and I'm an appaholic.  Glad I got that off my chest.  I currently have 112 apps on my IPhone.  I have a feeling I'm not alone.  We love our apps, or do we?  I came across this piece in USA Today about App use.  It quotes a Pew Center report which found 68% of smart phone users open five apps or less a week.  80% to 90% of apps are eventually deleted.  I'm wondering if these fleeting love affairs with apps apply to kid's app use as well.  Are there certain apps that have staying power in educational settings, or does the novelty of individual apps wear off over time?  This might make for some interesting research....   You can read the piece below: