Friday, June 26, 2009

New Web Filtering Policy for NYC DOE Employees

The New York City Department of Education has a new web filtering policy for employees. It will expand the use of its web filtering software, currently covering instructional computers, to cover all DOE computers, including those located in school administrative offices and in all central sites.

This software, called Websense, will transparently monitor all internet traffic and will automatically block content that is inappropriate, such as adult sites and those containing known security risks. Internal Department of Education websites, as well as internet sites that do not fall into the above categories, will not be affected by the filtering process.

If employees feel a particular website has been mis-categorized and/or is needed to perform job-related functions, they may contact the help desk at (718) 935-5100 to request an exception. When attempting to access a page that has been categorized as inappropriate, users will be re-directed to a block page like the one posted here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Funding Innovative Ideas with Learning Technology Grants

Innovative educators often share frustration around not being able to effectively implement some of their ideas due to lack of funding. The reality for most schools is that in addition to what the district provides, they’ll need to advocate for funding to support the programs and initiatives they want to put in place. The first step in doing so is for schools to ensure they have Ideas for Getting Started with 21st Century Teaching and Learning which includes having a plan that takes into account knowing what equipment you want and how you intend to integrate technology into the curriculum. Once a school knows what they want they are ready to start working to gain funding to support their plans.

New York State has a grant designed to do this called the Learning Technology Grant (LTG). The program was created to promote collaboration between public school districts/BOCES and nonpublic schools of all denominations.

Program Purpose
1) promote an increase in continuous, progressive integration of instructional technology in classrooms and library media centers to improve student academic performance in relation to the New York State Learning Standards,
2) provide ongoing, sustained professional development focused on increasing knowledge and skills of teachers in the use of instructional technology to help students attain higher levels of performance in the New York State Learning Standards, and
3) make use of recognized model programs that are based on research and have shown promise of significantly increasing student academic achievement.

The program goals for LTG 2009 - 2012 are to:
1) improve student academic performance in achieving the New York State Learning Standards, with emphasis on programs focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
2) increase the use of instructional technology in the classroom and/or school library media center.
3) enhance collaborative projects among classrooms and library media centers.

To find out about NYC DOE school library programs, contacts and automation, click here.

Examples of Learning Technologies include:

  • Information delivery systems or services used to provide distance learning;
    (i.e. Moodle/Blackboard
    , Compass Learning, Apex Learning , InfoSource)
  • Interactive telecommunications, including equipment and services;
    (i.e. Skype, webinar software, video conferencing)
  • Computer technology integrated into classroom or school library media center instruction;
    (i.e. laptops, netbooks, eReaders, projectors, interactive whiteboards)
  • Networking among schools and libraries, including network equipment;
    Library Automation)
  • Multimedia equipment and data storage;
    (digital/video cameras, iPod/iTouch, servers, hard drives)
  • Education related materials, services and software
    (i.e. Robotics, probes, graphing calculators, MOUSE Squads, Sim games, Geometer Sketchpad, Rise of Nations, Kindles)

-Eligible applicants are public school districts and BOCES, or consortiums thereof. Applicants must give nonpublic schools of all denominations within their boundaries the opportunity to participate. Here is the listing of Non Public Schools.
-Applicants must also include at least one SURR or SINI (i.e., SINI, Corrective Action, or Restructuring) school building in the application to be considered for funding.
-No other entities are permitted to participate (community-based organizations, charter schools, etc.).
-New York City Department of Education schools can click here to see if they are eligible. Note you must request access to the list with an NYC DOE email address.

Allowable Activities and Costs

The NYC allocation for this initiative is $1,785,000. Successful applications may be funded for three years at a maximum allocation of $50,000 per year, contingent upon the availability of funds for each school year. Approximately 35 grants will be awarded to NYC DOE schools.
-A minimum of 45% of the project budget must be used for ongoing, sustained professional development, including mentoring and/or in-classroom coaching of teachers to improve instruction using technology.
-No more than 45% of the funds may be used for purchase of equipment (e.g., computers, PDA’s, interactive whiteboards, alpha smarts, etc.)
-No more than five (5%) percent of the funds may be used for program administration not including indirect costs.
-No more than five (5%) percent of the funds may be used for evaluation. Below are evaluators currently evaluating Title 2D grants in New York City.

Sampling of NYC DOE Current Grant Evaluators
1) Design and Development Resources for Education and the Arts
Josephine Imbimbo |
Queens / Bronx
2) Research Works Inc
Dr. Kathleen Toms |
4) American Education Solutions
Elaine Rosales |
Staten Island / Brooklyn

Peer Review
Grants should include a peer review process. Statewide Peer Review is a program created by the New York State Department of Education that helps teachers document, assess, and discuss the work they complete as part of the New York State Learning Technology Grant. New York State encourages use of its Statewide Peer Review process to assist teachers in changing classroom practice to help students reach higher levels of achievement in relation to the learning standards. ( Schools interested in receiving support to implement this process can contact Teaching Matters, a company with proven experience in implementing this process which you can learn more about here.

Project Period
Three years: November 1, 2009 - June 30, 2012. The initial year one project period will run from 11/1/09-6/30/10. A budget for the first year only (11/1/09-6/30/10) must be submitted with this application. Grants will be renewable for the next two years contingent upon the State legislature appropriating funds, satisfactory performance in the previous year and timely receipt of the annual report. No extension or carryover of funds from year to year is allowed.

Due Date
Submit one (1) original and three (3) copies of the complete application postmarked by August 21, 2009.

Page Limits
The Proposal Narrative should contain no more than 14 pages. A page is 8 ½ x 11 one-sided and single-spaced with one-inch margins on top, bottom and sides. Use Times Roman or Arial font in 12-point size.

Tips for Project Abstract
Remember to include the following:
• The names of the schools in the grant
• The name of the project and what it does
• The activities included in the project
• The standards supported in the project
• Indicate that the two schools will use the peer review process

Collaboration Tools to Consider for Writing the Grants
Consider using collaborative tools to collaborate in writing the grant with those at your school and your partner school. Tools may include:
• Video conference using Skype
• Chat using
• Collaborate on single documents using
• Share and collect documents and resources using
• Engage in online discussion forums using Ning. Wikispaces discussion tabs are also an option
• Set up free conference calls using

Additional Information and support.
Additional Grant Opportunities
Tech & Learning and Dell once again bring you the annual grants directory calendar! Leverage available resources by increasing your awareness of existing grant opportunities and associated deadlines, and help address the pain point of limited budgets. PLUS, get the Top 10 Tips from T&L's Grant Guru -- hints that can help you rake in the funds!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Innovative Idea for Remembering Dad on Father's Day

Looking for an innovative, engaging, and fun end-of-the year project for your students to do as Father's Day approaches this Sunday? Have them send their dad (or grandpa, uncle--or any other father in their life) an awesome video greeting made from their pictures. See an example here.

Animoto has created a playful setting for student's to create a video card. All they have to do is choose a few pictures, select a soundtrack, and email it off to their Dad. Students who finish quickly may work on creating a second greeting. Once students create cards you may want to suggest they share for select peers to review and comment on each other's work. Don’t forget to sign up for a FREE educator’s account. Doing so results in the user fee being waived.

Animoto won the Webby Award for best Web Service & Application and also the People’s Voice Award in the same category! Learn more by visiting the highlight reel and blog post.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ideas for Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Cell Phones Even in Districts that Ban Them

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with colleagues interested in using cell phones to enhance teaching and learning in schools with a 21st century education focus. The question we explored was, "How can a school harness the power of tools that students already use and own (like cells)?"

This question is asked in the face of challenges including:
-Students are banned from bringing mobile devices to school
-Cells have a bad reputation as a distraction rather than an educational tool
-There are few well known and documented examples of cell phones being used to enhance teaching and learning
-Many teachers are not comfortable with classroom management issues that exist when students have cell phones in class

Despite the challenges, we came up with some smart ideas for beginning to incorporate these tools into teaching and learning in meaningful ways. The first thing to acknowledge is that while students in some districts are banned from using mobile technologies at school, teachers are not. This means that teachers have multiple opportunities to model and demonstrate best practices to students. The next thing to acknowledge is that few teachers have ever used cells or other mobile technologies as instructional tools so they need to develop comfort and experience doing so before trying to do this with their students. Next is that a great way to get students started in using mobile technologies as educational tools can be by incorporating them into their homework. This takes away two of the basic challenges: 1) Overcoming the ban obstacle. 2) Overcoming possible teacher discomfort with classroom management issues around mobile technologies.

Here are ten ideas for innovative educators and school leaders interested in allowing students to use mobile technologies to enhance learning.

  1. Establish (or become) an innovation facilitator at your school responsible for helping to spearhead the effort. Schools may consider having staff apply for this role, outlining benefits and responsibilities
  2. Provide hands on, concrete instruction on using mobile technologies to enhance education. You may want to consult with experts like Liz Kolb, Will Richardson, Tony Vincent, or Marc Prensky who have published books, and articles and can work with you, your teachers, students, and parents to learn ways to use mobile technologies to engage learners.
  3. Start small with concrete ideas that will not overwhelm your colleagues. For ideas visit:
    o Using Google as an Educational Tool Right From Your Phone!
    o Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning
    o Ideas for Using Cells in Education
    o Resources for Enhancing Education with Cells
    o Texting 101:Craik students using cellphones in classroom
  4. Integrate the use of mobile technologies into units of study and lessons
    o This can be collected on a wiki and shared with the community
    o Use the Unit tech integration tool to support teachers in thinking about how to incorporate technology
  5. Establish an acceptable use policy with students and teachers
  6. Deliver a school launch for students, teachers, and parents. The launch could include:
    o An exciting program overview including goals and expectations
    o An overview of acceptable use, educational value, and expectations
    o Educational activities that introduce students to ways they can begin using their personally owned technology devices to support learning
  7. Launch considerations
    o Consider integrating the use of technology as an instructional tool outside the school day. This enables schools to avoid any issues of bans on devices and enables teachers to become comfortable integrating this work, while internalizing the need and not worrying about classroom management issues. If your district has a ban in place this gives you time to address that.
  8. Parent Coordinator Collaboration
    o Provide a train the trainer for parent coordinators who can provide training for parents of project students and agree to deliver this training across the year to parents.
  9. Online/On demand Support
    o Work with students to video tape and post tutorials online.
  10. Online Resources
    o The article What Can You Learn from a Cell Phone? Almost Anything!
    o The book: Toys to Tools – Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education
    o The blogs: Cell Phones in Learning and Learning in Hand
    o The website: Learning in Hand (educator's resource for using handheld computing in schools)
    o The wiki: Cell Phones in Learning

    o The network: Cell Phones in Education Network providing a vehicle for ongoing conversation and support.
    o The post: Electronic Devices In Schools: PLEASE Allow For Teacher Autonomy
    o The collection: mLearnopia: The Latest from Mobile Learning