Monday, March 23, 2009

Facebook Finds – Web Event Calendars, Presentations, Google Talk, 21st Century Libraries, Cells, and “To Friend or Not to Friend on Facebook.”

Here are interesting resources I learned about from my Facebook friends lately that I felt would be of interest to innovative educators.

Posted Links

Classroom 2.0 LIVE!


This calendar shows live web events from the programs, including webcast shows from Classroom 2.0.

--Great calendar with events from all over the edusphere.

Ideas to Inspire


Ideas for interactive and engaging lesson activities in a range of curriculum areas. Contributed by teachers from all around the world.

--I'm always looking for great presentation materials and when I find them add them to Here is one such collection.

State of the Art - Unify the Phone Numbers and All Else Follows -


Google Voice has breathed new life into GrandCentral, a service that lets all your phones respond to one number.

--Very cool technology from Google. Google Voice. not sure how to get this service started though.

A New Learning Tool in the Classroom: Cell Phones at Glick Report


What a day! Between Hasbro, Lego, Starbucks and my following guest, yesterday’s guest list was about as good as it could get. Dr. Irwin Jacobs is the co-founder and chairman of Qualcomm, a legend in the technology world. ...

--Interesting interview with Qualcomm about using cells in the classroom. Thanks for sharing Mike.

The Suffolk Times


Randee Daddona photo Cell phones are a must for busy Mattituck High School seniors (from left) Alex Gamberg, Katie Comando and Tyler Doka. Ms. Comando, a softball player, said she often uses text messaging to communicate with her coaches during down time in class.

--Reading this article about the use of cell phones in school and how it's cheating. Why is it cheating for students to get access to information available to them 24/7??? Schools need to let kids keep their tools and start assessing things that matter and are relevant to them!

A Is for Artwork That Lures Bronx Children to New Libraries -


A foundation has helped build dozens of libraries, some decorated by well-known artists, in schools in poor areas.

--Nice story and couldn't agree more about the importance of environment when it comes to school libraries. Other beautiful school libraries are the Island School and IS 131 in Manhattan.

FriendFeed and Delicious Links

Lots of talk about, “To Friend or Not to Friend Kids/Students.” Hotly contested on both sides. I say, Friend your kids. We need to be in their worlds. They are accountable to adults for their online actions whether they like it or not and who better to role model and interact with them then parents and educators. Read what others are saying below.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to The Innovative Educator !

Happy Birthday to The Innovative Educator! You are one year old today.

It was exactly 12 months ago that The Innovative Educator took its first step in an effort to publicly become a part of the conversation on educating innovatively. As I shared in my post Why I started a blog and why maybe you should too, this blog was born in great part due to the prodding of blogevangelist Will Richardson who I have since named my Blogfather. It was Will who I would run into at events and conferences who would ask, “Have you started sharing your ideas yet on a blog?” and who would write, “if you want your ideas to resonate with me and to be taken seriously, don’t just talk. Engage. Publish. Converse.”

I took his advice and like any proud parent, can say I’ve learned so much from the experience of giving birth to this new creation that has developed a purposeful and professional digital footprint consisting of 124 entries. Now, when I Google myself, it is me, not one of 1000s of others, who comes up on the front page. And, there are all sorts of other important footprints that The Innovative Educator has made. Its print is left on the front page of Google searches like: Educating Innovatively, cell phones in education, technology education quotes, teaching in the 21st century ideas, personal learning network, Renzulli learning to differentiate instruction, and more.

I’ve watched my baby blog grow from no readers to an average of 125 a day. During the Inauguration she received international attention with more than 6,000 hits a day from people interested in teaching the inauguration in innovative ways. I have watched The Innovative Educator’s ideas about educator voice and cell phone use gain attention from the press and its ideas about 25 Random Things Innovative Educators Can Do To Enhance Teaching and Learning become the most popular of all it has shared. You also now have Authority! Growing from being just one of millions of blogs to gaining a credible 38 authority rating on Technorati. But, even before anybody was reading The Innovative Educator, she enriched my life with opportunities to practice my writing skills and articulate my thoughts.

The Innovative Educator has helped me understand the power of influence and given me an outlet to share with my readers about what I love most – “Educating Innovatively!” So, happy first birthday… and many more!

Editor’s note:

I want to thank my blogbrother, Jim McDermott for being the inspiration for this post. I used much of his witty post word for word right here in mine. He perfectly articulated my sentiments, so I didn’t mess with success. He continues to be an incredible motivation and inspiration in my blog.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ensuring Data is Driving the Right Kind of Instruction

Should Data Be Driving Instruction or Should Students Drive Learning?

Editor’s Note: This post was written in response to a job interview question. I thought it was a relevant, thought-provoking question and a great interview exercise. This was some of my thinking on each of the topics.

When educators and administrators think of data driven instruction, they often think of stand-alone assessments taken by students, many of whom believe has little relevance to anything connected to their lives outside of school. In fact in an increasingly connected world where 21st Century literacies are a requirement for success, it is interesting to note that as stated in the recent report, “Beyond the Bubble: Technology and The Future of Assessment,”
There’s one day a year when laptops power down and students’ mobile computing devices fall silent, a day when most schools across the country revert to an era when whiteboards were blackboards, and iPhones were just a twinkle in some techie’s eye—testing day.
Unfortunately in places like New York City and beyond, as I visit classrooms, even in schools with 1:1 environments “testing day” isn’t just a day. In fact, during a visit to a 1:1 school last October I did not find a single student or teacher using technology. Why? As the principal explained, “We don’t use laptops until after the tests in March since kids aren’t allowed to use them on the test.” Yikes!!!! If you’re thinking this is a unique situation, unfortunately, I can assure you, it is not. Furthermore talks of delivering the test in June frighten me, as many educators share the dirty little secret that the real, creative, innovative learning doesn’t take place until after the tests in March.

In an era of data driven decision making, these are NOT the decisions we need to be driving our leaders and students to make. It is imperative that we are collecting and using the “right” data and that, the data is connected to competencies of today, rather than yesterday. During a recent conversation with an innovative principal about the Acuity assessment used in his school he confess that most of the activities recommended are dry and do not appeal to his student’s interests. When the data we are collecting is completely absent of the tools available in today’s world, and the instruction that it’s driving is not engaging, can the data really be effectively use to drive instruction? I would argue no. Especially in light of the “Beyond the Bubble” findings that state,
Efforts were abandoned to produce assessments that more faithfully reflect how
learning would be used in non-test situations, assessments that were guided by
an underlying theory of teaching and learning drawn from the cognitive sciences.
The reason being, that these assessments were costly and technically inadequate
for use in school accountability systems. So, states began to move away from
performance-based assessment systems, back to less-expensive multiple-choice

In contrast, many innovative educators, have stopped saying, “hand it in,” and started saying, “publish it.” Once students reach their real goal of becoming producers and creators of content, authentic assessment that is meaningful to them can begin to take place and will certainly drive personal learning. Innovative educators know that many students are already involved in the business of using data to drive instruction. Unfortunately these worlds are largely devoid of educators, parents, or other adults. However, even in their absence, students are publishing content and using data to drive their work. It is the responsibility of educators to tap into these worlds and into student’s interests to begin aligning instruction to the type of data that drives students! If we put aside the profitizing, monetizing testing companies, and look at how students are already assessing themselves, absent us, we may save a lot of money and gain a lot of engagement. Let’s take a step back and think about some of the things we really want students to know and be able to do. The National Education Technology Standards indicate that the following standards should be met for students to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital world …”
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

I don’t see the data we’re using to drive instruction aligned to these standards. But, this is not as hard as one may be led to believe. At a recent Teaching and Learning conference Sir Kenneth Robinson shared that we’d be much better off in schools if we looked at assessing schools more like Zagats assesses restaurants (imagine British accent and captivating tone). But, this really isn’t such an outlandish idea, and this type of assessment is already occurring in the lives of children. Take a site like Fanfiction where literally millions of students around the globe from the age of 10 on are joining other fans, as old as seniors and are writing and sharing their own stories in genres of deep personal interest for themselves and their fans. They are assessed by 1) Popularity measured as the number of fans who subscribe to them, 2) Reviews from an authentic audience. Kids are engaging in robust, meaningful conversations with real audiences for authentic purposes getting meaningful data they can put right to use to refine, revise, and create new stories. Of course this type of work is happening on more mainstream sights like YouTube as well where students are producing content and success is measured by 1) Popularity measured in number of views 2) Star ratings from viewers 3) Viewer comments. Additionally, unbeknownst to most digital immigrants these sites can be as public or private as you wish and content can be moderated by student or adult.

There are already schools engaging in this type of work. I am fortunate to have been able to support many such schools in this endeavor. Take for instance CIS 339 known for bringing professional learning communities into the 21st Century where they frequently showcase The Power of 21st Century Teaching and Learning by Bringing it to Life at Thel CIS 339’s Open House. They are using tools like Google collaborative documents and wikis to drive and inform everything from instruction to their student behavior system. At the Science Leadership Academy ELA students are collaboratively writing using Google docs and then publishing their work to YouTube where it will be reviewed by classmates, and the world. This definitely drives the students to refine, revise, and modify their work for success. Or, The Island School where they have partnerships with numerous organizations that allow for truly authentic assessment and audiences to drive their learning. For instance, they have a partnership with Rosie’s Broadway Kids. The students are guided to produce a performance. Students are driven to succeed because those who show the greatest talent win scholarships to attend Rosie’s Broadway Kids academy where they are likely to end up on a New York City stage. They also have many students who produce blogs. I spoke to one young lady who is working with a reporter to provide a student perspective on education issues in a local news agency. This happens because the school believes in doing what Sir Kenneth Robinson identifies as helping them find their “Element” and then supports students in connecting with those who can help them to use their passion and talent to drive instruction.

Another place where you can see authentic work and assessment is at IS 93 where students are publishing to an eZine and are completely engaged by the process of authentic publishing. These students are driven to keep learning, revising, and researching based on the comments and ratings they receive from people they care about…other students. Marco Torres is another well-known advocate of authentic purposes driving instruction. His students produce digital videos that are viewed around the world. Students are driven to learn because of authentic causes and passions that they can capture to effect change and bring attention to issues of deep personal importance to them.

In addition to the Zagat’s style assessment there is also real-time, on-demand assessment and instruction when it comes to game-based and digital learning and simulations. These are being widely used in industries outside of education (i.e. military and medical industry) to assess and prepare professionals. Though they are rarely seen as assessments in schools, these type of assessments are available now and lauded by educators like Marc Prensky who shares examples in his book, “Don’t Bother Me Mom, I’m Learning.” In digital and game-based environments students are continuously engaged and forced to make decisions that require learning. However, unlike school, if they make a mistake they get to try again and again until they get it right, and…they get to work on their own level and at their own pace. Additionally, these type of environments are designed to adjust to the level of the learner.

Though the types of assessments I’m advocating may seem out-of-reach to those who have been educating since the 2002 enactment of No Child Left Behind, this was not the case prior to enactment of the policy where there was a movement among educators to provide opportunities for authentic assessment. As stated in Beyond the Bubble: Technology and The Future of Assessment,
The enactment of NCLB in 2002 further complicated attempts to develop new types of testing. NCLB, which mandates that states give annual tests in reading and
math in grades 3-8 and once in high school, resulted in a sizeable increase in
the number of standardized tests given each year—now more than 45
million—creating a situation in which both test- and policymakers scrambled just
to get the tests into the hands of teachers and students. This tremendous
increase in test taking, combined with the limited capacity of state departments
of education and the nation’s testing industry, encouraged state testing
officials and testing companies to continue to use the same kinds of tests
instead of pursuing innovations in assessment.
It is time we remember why we got into the business of teaching and explore options that move away from what is easier for testing companies, accountability systems, and policy makers and start remembering the kids like Peggy Sheehy’s students who remind us that instead we should leave No Future Left Behind and help our students find their passions and talents that will drive their success today and in the future.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is Blogging Worth The Risk? For Most Teachers, No

Editor’s Note: Learning & Leading’s popular Point/Counterpoint section is looking for arguments on both sides of the question “Is blogging worth the risk?” After submitting my initial response in favor of blogging despite the risk , they contacted me saying they were considering publishing my post, but since they had received several submissions on the same side of the issue, they were wondering if I would be interested in drafting a post taking the other side of the issue. Always up for a challenge, I agreed.

This post is written in response to that request.

About a year ago, inspired by three innovative bloggers, Will Richardson ( who I dubbed my “Blogfather”, Penelope Trunk ( my “Blogmother,” and Jim McDermott ( my big "Blogbrother," I eagerly jumped on board and started my own blog ( These mentors served as cheerleaders and guides after I proudly gave birth to my first blog. I used advice from each of them to ensure its successful launch.

I learned 1) a great way to get people to know about your blog is to start commenting on their blogs, 2) to register at Technorati to begin gaining authority, 3) to install a stat counter, Google Analytics, and a Cluster map to track stats, and 4) to add my blog url my email signature. With about ten entries in my first month I thought I was off to a good start.

Not long after I received a generic staff email stating that employees should be using a standard email signature that included basic information such as address, phone, email, etc. Check, check, check. My signature had all that, and more, including graphically pleasing fonts and design features. A couple weeks later I received a call indicating that legal caught wind of the fact that I was sharing my blog in my email signature and I had to remove it. What? I couldn’t believe it! That generic-seeming email was specifically targeting me because I had the educational blog I was so proud of in my email signature??? I was doing what I thought all innovative educators should do. I wasn’t just talking the talk, I was walking the walk, creating a purposeful and professional digital footprint and sharing ideas that I hoped would be of interest to other educators.

Begrudgingly I followed the directive…and blogged about it, asking my readers what they thought of this mandate. WELL…this blew up into a bit of a story that spread its way around educational press circles with headlines like, “Education Dept. Restrictions On Blogs Rile a Staff Blogger.” The story became fodder for much debate in the blogosphere, throughout my department, and beyond.

Next thing I knew people at work seemed to be avoiding me and some colleagues came straight out and said they were afraid to speak to me for fear I may post something they say in my blog and they were afraid they may get in trouble if caught. Other colleagues were leaving emails I sent unanswered. I felt like I had just contracted the plague.

A few weeks later I wrote a post about a class I was offering which provides teachers with information on how to use Google text messaging as an educational tool. That post got picked up by the press with the headlines, Despite School Cell Phone Ban, Course Sees Them as Aid. As a result, the facilitator I had lined up to teach the class wanted to back out for fear he would get in trouble. Then, I received “a call” telling me that I had to make sure there were no cell phones used in instruction (which I could accommodate, because the Google site has a mock phone to use as a demo). However, I suddenly found the class that had been running for quite some time, was now under deep scrutiny and all eyes were on me. Not long after that a story appeared in the press with an inappropriate anonymous quote, and guess who they were pointing the finger at??? Me! What? That seemed to make no sense. I blog/write/speak under my real name. It didn’t matter. Because I had a blog, I was suspect.

Following these events, many of my colleagues shared with me that this was exactly the kind of thing that prevented them from ever starting a blog in the first place. While none of this deterred me personally, what I realized is there is a real risk in blogging that I had not initially considered. For many, even the most innovative of educators, engaging in an activity that constantly places you under examination, makes an already difficult job even more difficult and potentially jeopardizes job security. This is a position in which most educators working for school systems do not want to be placed. For that reason, I believe though educator voice is important, ultimately, most educators who report to an employer, will find blogging is just not worth the risk.


Here's the article from Learning and Leading magazine:
Point/CounterpointIs Blogging Worth the Risk?
By James Maxlow and Lisa Nielsen Download the full article (PDF)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Is Universal Pre K a Waste of Money? John Stossel Says, "Yes!

Why do I love Facebook? Oh let me count the ways…

Below is a great Facebook convo around John Stossel’s Universal Pre K report on 20/20. What’s better than watching a show on TV, debating/discussing the ideas with your colleagues, and then getting feedback from the reporter on the story??? I don’t think our parents (mine who used to scream at political reporters on television) could have imagined such a world. I love the interactivity and blending of media’s today.

If Universal Pre K is of interest to you, read the thread below and comment here on my blog to share your thoughts or Facebook me! to join or follow the conversation at the original thread.

Lisa Velmer Nielsen watching John Stossel-ABC report against Universal Pre K. Research says that it's effects wear off by 4th grade. Sez it's not worth the $$.

10:32pm · Comment · LikeUnlike · Show Feedback (16)Hide Feedback (16) · via Twitter

You like this.

Mike at 10:44pm March 13

Saw that too. What did you think? History would tell me that voluntary, universal pre-k would become mandatory after awhile.

Lisa Velmer Nielsen at 10:49pm March 13

I think John is right. It is a waste of money and those in need can do head start. Since there are no benefits by 4th grade, why spend the money? I told him to speak to Geoffrey Canada though of Harlem Children's Zone. He can show gains because he keeps his kids ALL THE WAY TO COLLEGE GRADS!!! Crazy. But, that may be the key.

Julet at 10:50pm March 13

Sorry I missed that. I would like to see the research behind that and how they came up with that conclusion.

Mike at 10:51pm March 13

Don't tell our government that! (Rep or Dem). That'll be their next idea.

Lisa Velmer Nielsen at 10:54pm March 13

@Julet, Yeah, John collected a lot of research showing there are no gains by fourth grade and shared some in the report. Not too hard to find. I was surprised, but tis true. But not in Geoffrey Canada's kid's cases because he has a different model.

Lisa Velmer Nielsen at 10:54pm March 13

@Mike, if we rewarded schools based on the kids who graduated college that may have a very good effect. That is a good idea!

Julet at 10:59pm March 13

I really wished I had seen it because all the data I'm familiar with point the other way. I am curious to know what was cited as the reason for it wearing off by 4th grade. I am going to look online for his report.
Thanks for the info.

Lisa Velmer Nielsen at 11:02pm March 13

Well, I have not researched this personally, I'm sure Stossel was skewing the info a bit to make his point. Perhaps I can ask him to share the reports. Keep in mind, that he is not focusing on low income or disputing head start. He's saying Universal for all is not necessary and focusing on the middle - upper class.

Mike at 11:04pm March 13

Don't you think that would just reward the schools that don't need the money? I think my school probably sees 1 out of 25 graduates actually graduate from college. Plus, what if you go to two different high schools? Would the money trickle down to middle schools?
I've always thought that merit pay would be a good idea if it was tied to what the teacher did in the classroom, not how students do. For example, you get money if you take college classes, get money if you mentor, maintain a portfolio throughout the year that demonstrates the type of teaching you and I advocate.

Lisa Velmer Nielsen at 11:07pm March 13

@Mike, Yes...Good point. To elaborate, it would have to have the caveat of the increase in graduation from the base over the past maybe five years. What do you think of that? Also, if you school hopped, that could still work. Each school would get a percentage. I think they could make an algorithm.

Mike at 11:09pm March 13

you know, I just thought. Wasn't the idea of Head Start to get the kids even with other kids? That w/o Head Start, they'd be behind. So what Stossel found out probably means Head Start did what it was supposed to do? I'm not well versed in Head Start, but I doubt it would have promised to make kids smarter than non-Head Start kids. But, even still, I don't like the idea of voluntary, universal pre-k.

Lisa Velmer Nielsen at 11:13pm March 13

What Stossel said (and had others back) was that when tested you could not tell the difference btwn the HS kids and the ones who hadn't attended. Even kids of the same SES.

Julet at 11:59pm March 13

I just read his report online. He cites one report (Perry) which was done sometime ago. He also refers to the Multistate (not by name)which was done a few years ago, however he seems to only point out the negative (aggressive disruptive behavior) which were few compared to the benefits. I am not sure if he had more hard data on the show but I found no real reference online.

Lisa Velmer Nielsen at 12:09am March 14

If you draft an email, I can send it to him and probably get a response.

Ron at 7:37am March 14

Universal pre-k is also a working/middle class day care subsidy

Lisa Velmer Nielsen at 9:19am March 14

@Ron, agree about that, but what Stossel is saying is the government doesn't need to be involved. He says they already do a crappy job in general with ed and PK in particular. Keep PK where it the individually run centers and then consider a subsidy package for those who need it. He didn't seem to really be touching headstart.

From: Stossel, John F
Sent: Sat 3/14/2009 10:33 AM
To: Nielsen Lisa
Subject: Show

Thanks for watching.

I know Geoffrey, and we have talked to him, and we would interview him for
our next show on education. Trouble is, my boss doesn't want one.

On the other hand, if last night's show gets good ratings, I'll probably get
to do the Educ show. I'll find out at noon.

From: Stossel, John F
Sent: Sat 3/14/2009 11:00 AM
To: Nielsen Lisa
Subject: Re: Show and Facebook

Some of my data comes from Lisa Snell.

Universal preschool hasn't delivered results

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Facebook Find: YouTube University – An Interesting Opportunity for Innovative Students and Teachers

I remember my very first day in college. Being an innovative student, I figured out a way to begin college while I was still in high school and took a class as a non matriculated student to get a taste for the experience and a head start on my college career. Whoa! I was in for a shock. I was taking a Psychology 101 class in an auditorium setting with a professor at the front of the room lecturing to us all. There was little to no interaction and I was wondering why I really had to be there, and if the professor even really knew I was there at all. I soon learned the ropes of 101 classes which were depicted so well in the 1980s teen comedy Real Genius which coincidentally came out the same year. The movie has a great visual gag that has stuck with me over the years. In an otherwise clich├ęd montage of college life, we see the scene of a professor lecturing to a room full of students, along with a few tape recorders on empty desks. A few scenes later, we see the same professor lecturing to a room now filled with more tape recorders than students. In the final scene, he’s not there at all. In his place stands an enormous reel-to-reel tape deck playing the lecture to a room full of tape recorders.

Many college freshmen might share that not much has changed since then. Unless they happen to be a student in Richard Buckland’s class. Buckland, a senior lecturer at the University of NSW in Sydney, Australia, was frustrated that high school students with a passion for computing and capable of studying at the college level were not able to make the commute to the university fit into their school day so, as I discovered from today’s Facebook find from my Personal Learning Network colleague Will Richardson,

Buckland turned YouTube into a remote classroom where the students could attend lectures virtually and complete coursework. Buckland is dipping his toes into the 21st century waters by posting his lectures online and providing select innovative high school students the opportunity to watch the lectures, do the course work, and…get college credit-for FREE!

This is a step in moving toward what some predict will become an increasing online educational experience. What I love about this option, is once the video is posted, it provides students with a forum to interact via commenting on and rating the videos. It also brings the opportunity to students who may have a difficult time attending classes as was the case for both me and my mother. When I began this endeavor, I was too young to hold a driver's license and needed a special waiver to be allowed to drive to class. It was not easy for my working mother to convince the state that her 15-year-old needed a license. My mother also had difficulty in college, often missing classes and struggling to catch up due to medical issues. This opportunity would have made college much more accessible in our cases, and as you can imagine, many others.

Beyond accessibility, this innovative idea has advantages on all sides. In this case, providing students an opportunity to engage in more challenging coursework, receive college credit, and begin to get a feel for potential colleges, and…providing colleges the opportunity to get to know their potential students, and giving current students a unique, and in many cases, more attractive option for their coursework.

Visit the original post at Forget iTunes U: Students Now Getting College Credit via YouTube.

See other classes at

An Overview of My Work - What do you think?

In these less than optimal economic times where reorgs, realignments, restructuring, and rebudgeting are norm, many Innovative Educators On The Job Hunt are being forced to rethink what it is they do and what they have to offer prospective employers. As such, I thought it made sense to put together an overview of my work that would make it easy to provide some insight into what it is that I do. I'm sharing this with other innovative educators who might need to do the same in hopes that what I put together might inspire, motivate, or provide ideas for those who also might be thinking about their worth and experience.

If you have any feedback or advice, please share. I'm sure your ideas will be helpful, not only to me, but to anyone reading this post who also may be exploring employment opportunities.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Professional Development Resource for Innovative Educators

Innovative educators are always looking for smart ways to enrich teaching and learning with technology. Those who've been at this for a long time know professional development is the key to success and are ways seeking out great resources. In New York City I spearheaded an initiative to bring together Curriculum integration Teams (CITs) made up of instructional technology specialists and classroom teachers and coaches who were specialists in their respective content area i.e. Literacy, Science, Social Studies, Math, Fitness. Together these teams created professional development aligned to the units of study they were teaching that answered the question, "How can we enrich what we do with technology?" The result was several terrific PD workshops geared toward students in grades 4 – 8, each consisting of eight, 45-60 minute sessions that can be delivered at once in a day, over two days or just as one session per day (perhaps during a prep period or afterschool).

All materials are available to educators free of charge at Here is some of what you will find:

Celebrating Student Work with a Virtual Science Fair
In Celebrating Student Work with a Virtual Science Fair participants discover how wikis, online rubrics, electronic science notebooks and other technology tools can enhance the students’ ability to share, comment to, and reflect on science experiments virtually. Upon completion of this class, participants will be able to go back to the classroom and conduct a virtual science fair.

Enrich the Study of American Revolution with Digital Documentaries
Discover how to enrich social studies instruction with digital documentaries using the American Revolution as a sample unit of study. In this class participants investigate key individuals from that period in history and present their contributions in a digital documentary requiring students to use the research process, storyboard, include narration, and credit their work appropriately.

Utilizing Smartboards to Enrich Literacy Instruction
SmartBoards have been proven to be effective teaching and learning tools in the classroom for reaching all students with multiple learning styles. This four session course will focus on training the ELA teacher to: · understand the tools and advanced functions to fully utilize the Smartboard in the classroom · locate and examine existing SmartBoard ELA lessons · build a library of existing SmartBoard lessons · create a SmartBoard lesson specifically designed to address their students’ academic needs.

Celebrating Student Math Work with Digital Data Displays
In Celebrating Student Math Work with Digital Data Displays participants discover how to use technology to enhance the learner's ability to collect, organize, display and analyze data. Upon completion of this class, participants will have the resources to use technology to publish student work.

Creating An Online Wellness Community: Managing Resources Effectively In Enriching the Promotion of Fitness & Health Programs with Technology participants develop a wiki to create an on-line forum to improve coordination of community health resources for students, parents, school staff members and other community members. Participants will then have the opportunity to develop a presentation to promote their online wellness community as well as their physical education program.

Project-based Learning and Exit Project Writing in the 21st Century
English Language Arts teachers will discover how to support their students in using technology to enhance the writing component of exit projects and project based learning. Participants explore the stages of the writing process and learn how digital graphic organizers, wikis, blogs, advanced word processing features and more can support collecting ideas and selecting topics to capture in an electronic writer’s notebook. Participants learn to use these tools to to foster writing and research skills, and in the development of critical thinking skills and language arts skills. The class culminates with participants celebrating writing using a collaborative online tool to publish their work.


I invite you to use these materials with your teachers and share what you find here or on the discussion tabs at

Monday, March 9, 2009

Facebook Find - Education Week: National Standards Gain Steam

From today’s Facebook, my personal learning network colleague Nicky posted a link.

Education Week: National Standards Gain Steam


National standards—once the untouchable "third rail" of American education policy—now have the backing of the nation’s governors, a growing number of education leaders, and the U.S. secretary of education.

I say let's take this a step further. Whether American's like it or not we're moving toward a globalization at lightning speed. Let's jump forward and begin working on International standards. Comparing how students across a City (ie NYC standards) is powerful, comparing how they're doing across a state is more powerful, comparing how they're doing across the nation is even more powerful, but more meaningful than any of that is where we stand globally.