Friday, May 29, 2009

Innovative Solution to Support School Infrastructure Needs When Budgets are Tight

Innovative educators know that 21st century teaching, learning, and leading can’t happen unless a strong technological infrastructure is in place. Unfortunately, today, for some schools the cost of a full-time technician is prohibitive.

The New York City Department of Education’s Division of Instructional and Information Technology (DIIT) has come up with a solution to help address this issue through an innovative and unique collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY). DIIT and CUNY have collaborated to work together to provide schools with high-quality interns that are available to assist schools with their technology needs. This win/win situation provides schools with staff to support their 21st century infrastructure needs at a low cost and provides interns with valuable experience.

The interns provide much-needed support to schools in the following areas:

  • Setting up new computer equipment in classrooms and offices
  • Installing software
  • Ensuring that LCD projectors, smart boards, and other related audio/video equipment are functioning
  • Troubleshooting hardware and software problems in conjunction with DOE Help Center and borough technology staff
  • Configuring wireless devices to access the school network
  • Maintaining classroom servers
  • Maintaining technology equipment inventory
  • Monitoring equipment and working with Help Center to ensure timely repair
  • Providing assistance in use of technology equipment
  • Coordinating with student support teams if applicable

The program provides an intern for either 14 or 19 hours a week for a cost of $9600 or $12500 per year to a school. New York City schools can register at to attend an information session about the program on Wednesday, June 10 at 3 p.m. Those who would like to know more about the program can comment (with their email and affiliation) to this post. Comments will be shared with DIIT and CUNY representatives.

As I’ve written about previously, schools interested in supporting a 21st century environment should also consider tapping into their school’s best resource – students. You can read about ways to do that in these posts Starting a Student Support Team in Your School, 5 Innovative Ideas for Student Teams that Support 21st Century Teaching & Learning, Partnering with Student Tech Wizards to Provide Professional Development at Schools, and 8th Grader’s Advice for Questions Peers Might Ponder On Their Road to Achieving Success.

Monday, May 25, 2009

It's Gratifying When a Mentor Notices You - Thanks Kathy Schrock!

I just discovered that one of long-time mentors Kathy Schrock has listed my blog in her ed tech blog picks. What an honor to be noticed by Kathy and to be in the company of other innovative and inspirational educators.

Here's the whole list:


2 Cents Worth
Host: David Warlick
Always Learning: Teaching Technology Abroad
Host: Kim Cofino
Host: Teacher Magazine
Blue Skunk Blog
Host: Doug Johnson
Free Technology for Teachers
Host: Richard Byrne
Infinite Thinking Machine
Hosts: This group
The Innovative Educator
Host: Lisa Nielsen
The Junk EduBlog
Host: John M. M. Blake, Jr.
Kathy's Kaffeeklatsch
Host: Kathy Schrock
Host: Andy Carvin and PBS
Host: Judy Brown
Moving at the Speed of Creativity
Host: Wesley Fryer
Host: Tom March
The Savvy Technologist
Host: Tim Wilson
Successful Teaching
Host: Patricia Hensley
Tech Tip of the Week
Host: Tammy Worcester
Host: Steve Dembo
Teachers Training Teachers
Hosts: Paul Allison, Lee Babar, Susan Ettenheim, and Thomas Locke
Host: Will Richardson

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blerping Is A Great Way to Help Students Express Themselves

An innovative colleague of mine recently shared a great site with me called Blerp which lets you annotate websites. As a long time Tablet user this is a feature that I found so powerful, but those without Tablets could not enjoy the same option. Now Blerp brings this feature to any laptop user through the use of a feature that allows you to place post its on websites.

As Larry Ferlazzo’s shares in his blog,

The ability to annotate webpages — the equivalent of making notes on a written text — is absolutely critical for students to develop their reading skills. Using “post-it” notes on text to demonstrate the use of reading strategies is a key teaching and learning approach I use in the classroom. I am always searching for web tools that will allow students to do the same on Internet pages, which is why I created the The Best Applications For Annotating Websites.

There are some good tools on that list, but Blerp, I think, “trumps” all of them.

Check out his blog for more information.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tools Innovative Educators Can Use to Assess the Infusion of 21st Century Skills Into Instruction

As I visit schools around NYC teachers and leaders are often eager to show me the great ways they are using technology to enhance instruction. Sometimes I see fantastic things such as during my visit to Kappa IV, CIS 339, PS 005X or IS 93. Other times, such as during a recent visit to a school, I see the technology being used as nothing more than a typewriter or a glorified chalkboard. In cases like this when I ask principals, “How are you assessing your teacher's use of 21st Century skills?” or I ask coaches, “How are you helping to ensure your teachers are incorporating 21st Century skills into the classroom,” they come up blank.

If teachers don't know what the expectations are, principals don't know what to access, and coaches don't know how to get them there, then there is no real way to measure success. Here are a few easy (and free!) assessment tools innovative educators can use to measure, identify, and discuss 21st Century education practices.

Assessing Teachers

Technology Integration Matrix

Description: The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) illustrates how teachers can use technology to enhance learning for K-12 students. One of the things that makes this such a fantastic tool is that it has a video demonstration of what each level actually looks like. The TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed (i.e., reflective), authentic, and collaborative. The TIM associates five levels of technology integration (i.e., entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation) with each of the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments. Together, the five levels of technology integration and the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments create a matrix of 25 cells as illustrated on the website.

Classroom Visitation Rubric


Description: The class rubric was created by New York City Department of Education principals, technology coaches, and teachers from one-to-one laptop schools. It was created to assess technology in the classroom in the following areas: Instruction, Technology Integration, Professional Development, Differentiating Instruction, Learner Centered, Classroom management, Use of software and online tools, Classroom Environment, Computer use, Presentation technology use (i.e. projector, interactive whiteboard.). It is recommended that a school/teacher only select one or two areas to focus on at a time. The rubric is and excel document that can be downloaded and instantly calculates each teacher’s score with room for comments and notes. The document can be modified and updated to each school’s needs.

Assessing Administrators and Tech Coordinators

School 2.0 Reflection Tool

Description: The Reflection Tool presents questions that are designed to help you reflect on your skills in technology integration and to identify areas for growth. These questions are based on the Technology Standards for School Administrators developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Skills Framework developed by the Consortium for School Networking (COSN.) Upon completion, the respondent receives a profile for self-reflection. S/he can then request links to resources that the responses indicate might be helpful and store them in the “your personal resources” section of the site.

There are many, many assessment tools out there. Some free, some require a fee. If you are interested in looking at additional tools, I invite you to visit TIE's Tech Assessments. You can also join the conversation at Classroom 2.0 by visiting Technology Assessment for Schools, Leaders, Educators, Students.

For further reading visit these links published in the February 2009 issue of eSchool News.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Collaborating to Make Beautiful Music

Looking for some inspiration? Take a few minutes to check out and when you go back to your students, show it to them. I was absolutely blown away by In Bb2.0 courtesy of Chris Lehman’s recent Twitter/Facebook post.

In Bb 2.0 is a collaborative music and spoken word project conceived by Darren Solomon from Science for Girls. The project invites the world to participate in an amazing musical collaboration by singing or playing an instrument, in Bb major for 1 – 2 minutes and uploading it to YouTube and emailing the link to the producer. If all is done well, the video get’s added to the collection at where it joins the other videos that are posted. The videos can be played together, some or all, started at any time, in any order.

As an innovative educator, I instantly wondered what implications this has for teaching and learning and what kind of projects can our students collaborate on to make their own beautiful music?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ten Innovative Ideas for Getting Started with 21st Century Teaching and Learning

I’m often asked for advice on how to get started with using 21st century tools to enhance teaching and learning. The mistake some people make is believing educators instantly need to become producers of websites, blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks etc. Most educators need to become comfortable and familiar as participants in these environments before they can feel successful as creators in these areas. To follow are ideas that educators who want to get started with educating innovatively can explore.

10 Ideas to Begin Educating Innovatively

1. Equipment

In order to get started on your road to success, you need a laptop, projector, and internet access. As an innovative educator, I could not survive or teach effectively without these three things. If my school could not provide these basic pedagogical tools, I would invest in them myself, apply for a grant or write to Next, I recommend investing in low cost laptop carts so students also have devices. For information on these options read Low Cost Computing Options That Will Enable More Educators to Consider 1-to-1 Environments and Bridging The Digital Divide in NYC. If you begin on the path to creating a 21st Century environment for students and educators, you will also want to consider Starting a Student Support Team in Your School.

2. Innovation Integration Plan
The use of 21st century tools must be planned for and integrated into the day to day work of teachers and their students. Channel 13 has put together an Action Plan Template and gives advice for Writing an Innovation Plan that will help schools do just that. To help with planning across subjects in each curricular area consider using the Content Area Innovative Integration Plan Template which supports teachers in looking at what they are currently teaching, reviewing the standards, and then determining how what they can teach more innovatively.

3. Standards
You can’t plan without knowledge of the technology standards and ideas for infusing technology into the curriculum. Become familiar with ISTE's Educational Technology Standards which serve as guides for teachers, students and administrators to help them focus on the skills and expertise needed to teach, learn, and lead more effectively in an ever changing global community. Teachers can use the standards to facilitate student learning and creativity, create digital work and assessment, model good digital citizenry and pursue personal growth and leadership.

4. Curriculum
You need ideas about how to enhance the curriculum with technology. A great place to start is with the Information Communication Technology Literacy Maps. In collaboration with several content area organizations, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills developed a series of ICT Literacy Maps illustrating the intersection between Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy and core academic subjects including English, mathematics, science and social studies (civics/government, geography, economics, history). The maps enable educators to gain concrete examples of how ICT Literacy can be integrated into core subjects, while making the teaching and learning of core subjects more relevant to the demands of the 21st century. The download the maps below to get started.

5. Professional Development
Of course, effective integration of technology into the curriculum also takes a well thought out professional development plan and if possible onsite support and coaching. Check with your local school district to determine what offerings they provide for teachers and work to schedule a plan across the year based on the goals of your technology plan. In New York City many schools use this Professional Development Resource for Innovative Educators which is a site that provides professional development materials in the areas of literacy, science, social studies, math, fitness, cyber safety, interactive whiteboard training and more. To see some of the elements for a successful curriculum and professional development rollout read The Power of 21st Century Teaching and Learning Brought to Life at Bronx Middle School CIS 339’s Open House.

6. Social Networking
Join social networks. It is no longer acceptable for innovative educators not to be involved in social networks. It is crucial that educators begin learning how to function in these environments which have tremendous potential for enhancing teaching and learning. Despite what you’re kids or students may have told you, YOU'RE NOT TOO OLD FOR FACEBOOK. Must joins are (for everyone), (for educators interested in using web 2.0 tools), (for NYC educators in tech-rich classrooms), and (self explanatory). To get started read Why Every Parent and Teacher Should Learn Facebook.

7. Blogs
Find some great education blogs to read. You probably want to find blogs that are written by a teacher for a student audience (Techbrarian), blogs written by educators for other educators (Techomnivore), blogs written by students (Newly Ancient), blogs written by parents (NYC Public School Parents) and blogs written by principals (Practical Theory and Greg's Weblog). Subscribe to these blogs (Google Reader is a great tool for this). Once you get to know them, begin commenting on the blogs. Commenting on blogs is one of the most important things innovative educators can do. Vicki Davis, an excellent, well-respected, and widely read blogger explains how to comment effectively in her post How to comment like a king (or queen!).

8. Wikis
Wikis are an amazing and transformative tool for educators and Wikispaces » for teachers let’s you get started for FREE. You can see what educators are doing with wikis over here. You may also want to check out the Wiki Walk-Through from TeachersFirst. The Cool Cat Teacher blog post How I use wikis. What do you do? identifies these 5 uses of wikis in education.
1 - Lesson Summaries
2 - Collaboration of Notes
3 - Concept Introduction and Exploratory Projects
4 - Dissemination of Important Classroom Information beyond the Classroom
5 - Individual assessment projects

9. Online Safety
Make sure you are aware of online safety concerns. There are some useful resources at HOW DO I HELP MY CHILD LEARN TO USE THE INTERNET WISELY?. At the NYC DOE we partner with i-Safe, but there are many organizations providing free materials. Visit TIE's Internet Safety for ideas.

10. Assessment
It is important to have a method to assess how you’re doing. I’ve listed quite a few at Tools Innovative Educators Can Use to Assess the Infusion of 21st Century Skills Into Instruction. The post includes ideas for assessing teachers, classrooms, and administrators.

These are ten ideas to get innovative educators started with 21st century teaching and learning. Of course, there are an endless number of ideas and technologies to consider. Start with a few of these that make sense to you, and build upon these ideas to accomplish your goals.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Partnering with Student Tech Wizards to Provide Professional Development at Schools

A key component of ensuring schools are preparing students for success in the 21st Century is the creation of student support teams. These teams are important not only for helping bring schools into the 21st Century, but they are also important because they tap into school's best resource for 21st Century success--STUDENTS.

In my recent work at a Technology Innovation Manager I have had the good fortune to be able to plan, create and vision ideas for innovation in Manhattan schools with Marc Prensky. Prensky's upcoming book, Partnering with Our Digital Natives taps right into the idea of positioning students as partners in learning. As I do this work and think about ideas for successful 21st Century schools in Manhattan, the timing of the article Creating Tech Wizards from ISTE's Learning and Leading magazine is perfect.

It highlights a school district in Pennsylvania that is creating Tech Wizards at their schools who develop innovative student-centered practices for teaching. Make videos capturing how to do this more innovative teaching that can serve as tutorials, and go back to their schools and provide professional development for teachers at thier school with support from their teacher advisor on how to teach in innovative, kid-friendly ways. You can view complete details of the program as well as samples of student work and videos of presentations, visit the Tech Wizards wiki.

Schools interested in developing teams at their schools can read Starting a Student Support Team in Your School and 5 Innovative Ideas for Student Teams that Support 21st Century Teaching & Learning. Schools that have or plan to launch student support teams may be interested in joining the Student Support Team group on The Innovative Educator network. There you will find Student Support Team Lessons and discussions on topics like What are the services you want to focus on for having Student Support Teams provide at your school?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Evaluating Blogs

Educators often ask me how I would recommend evaluating blogs. Below are posts from two well-respected Edublogging colleagues of mine that address the question and a few other resources I have found.

Evaluating Blogs - David Warlick
School blog best practices from Teacher to Principal - Techomnivore
Find out your blog's readability level at SMOG - G. Harry McLaughlin
Blog Rubric from Marta Valle - See the rubric a New York City teacher is using with her students