Tuesday, December 13, 2011

YouTube for Schools


Wow, I am feeling like our school district is really behind the eight ball.  I have served on an online learning subcommittee for our district for the last two years. This committee was set up to explore student e-mail accounts among other things.  I felt like we spun our wheels, especially the second year.  We basically started all over again addressing the question of whether students need a school e-mail address or not.  It was determined that because of requirements to archive e-mails and the costs associated with this, we have decided to put this on hold.  We further explored Google Apps for Education.  We are going on our third year of discussing these issues. 

Today I came across the following video:

It seems like we are really behind, even though we hired a consulting firm to create a framework for education for the 21st century, we seem to move at a snails pace toward this.  I am not really sure why.  There seems to be a lot of discussion but not a lot of action. The online learning subcommittee is scheduled to meet this Monday.  I am curious to know if we will actually be able to get something done this year.  We are certainly getting a late start. 

As stated in the Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds book (p.99) digital citizenship begins with access.  This not only includes access to hardware but also software and networks (both online and offline).  Sixty-one of the top 100 schools are using Google Apps. Over ten million students are using Google Apps for Education.  Many students are currently using Google docs and G-mail but not under Google Apps for Education.  I don't think this is the most efficient way to communicate or collaborate.  I feel strongly that this should be under the Google Apps for Education program.I think this program supports digital citizenship and gives teachers the opportunity to explore this in a safe environment.

Monday, November 28, 2011

K12 Online Conference


This week is the K12 Online Conference.  There were several interesting presentations.  The one that caught my eye first was The World is My Classroom by Anne Mirtschin. I was interested to learn about what tools were used in the virtual, global, and culturally blended classroom needed.  Many Web 2.0 tools are blocked in our school district and yet we are positioning our schools and educational community to be among the best in the nation.  My question is: How are we going to be able to do this if the tools that are being used nationwide are blocked from our schools?

I am hoping by participating in the Flat Classroom Projects, I will be able to demonstrate the need for some of these tools to be unblocked.  Some of the tools Anne mentioned that were used included:
  • Blogger
  • Edublogs
  • VoiceThread
  • Wordpress
  • Blackboard Collaborate
  • SKype
  • PiratePad
  • TitanPad
  • My PBworks
  • Evernote 
  • Wallwisher
  • Google Docs

Tomorrow at school I plan to test these sites to see which ones are blocked.  I know that some of them are not blocked (at least for teachers).  

Anne continues by stating that today "students have to be given opportunities to connect with others from different cultures."  Students need to establish an educational network of their own using Twitter and Blogs.  Anne states that learning is 24/7/365, experts and students of all ages learn together; learning is vertical and horizontal, learning goes beyond the physical walls, global projects are encouraged.  She stated that learning can be messy but the learning outcomes are amazing.

Student summit:  First they used Wallwish to find out what they wanted to learn about or from each other.  Then they used Blackboard Collaborate to bring the two classes together.  There were students and about 30 global interested educators listening to their learning.  They displayed their products and outcomes on Blogs, VoiceThread, YouTube or other means (if they are old enough).  

Students also learned strategies on how to correct misunderstandings, incorrect use of images, words that might offend students from other cultures.  One suggestion she had was to bring in experts from around the world.  I have long thought of this for graphic design, web design and video production, the classes that I currently teach.  This would give students the encouragement and ability to share what they learn with other students using their networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Classroom 2.0, RSS Reader, Blogs, Budypress, Linkedin.

Anne states that one of the issues with this type of collaboration is access and use of the internet.  She says it is always advisable to have a back up plan and that effective communication is one of the key to success.  You need to work hard, be committed and be determined to succeed.  Overall, maintain a sense of humor and a passion for learning.  The world can be our classroom.  A very inspiring presentation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flat Classroom Certified Teacher Program


Today I attended the first webinar for the Flat Classroom Certified Teacher Program. This was an introduction to the program.  

Next week we will begin our challenges.  In reviewing the documents, I see that the challenges for Module #1 are as follows:

Challenge #1:  Set up your RSS Reader
Challenge #2:  Set up your Blog

In addition, I need to comment on at least three blogs or sites in my PLN with my reflections on what they are saying. (Tag: fcc1_pln)  Set a time to talk to colleagues and/or administrators about what I am learning.  Discuss blogging with them and what I have learned.  Find out about expectations for authoring a professional blog in my school or educational community. I need to set up my blog with appropriate privacy and permission settings.  We are also invited to join the Flat Classrooms educational network and have my blog there (fcc2_blog).

Sunday, November 13, 2011


A few years ago, our school district developed the following goals:

1.  Achievement and graduation for all students, regardless of their circumstances and abilities.
2.  Refine and implement a quality supervision and evaluation program for all staff.
3.  Define and implement a quality professional development program that encompasses best practices and supports the needs of all staff.
4.  Restructure the organization to become more efficient, effective, and accountable to support the goals of the District.
5.  Cultivate and enhance staff, student, parent, business, and community involvement.

Last year our school district, with the help of an outside consulting firm, developed a framework for education in the 21st century.  This framework included a vision for 21st century teaching and learning:


Missoula County Public Schools
Vision for 21st Century Teaching and Learning
We communicate; we collaborate; we think critically; and we create.
We are Missoula County Public Schools -- educational leaders in a global society -- fostering uncompromising excellence and empowering all learners.

Lifelong learning skills, conceptual knowledge, community and citizenship and career development were determined to be the foundation of desired skills and competencies of students in the 21st century.

Expectations for student learning and instructor facilitation included the 4 C's:  Creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration.
 Increasing student engagement, transforming learning environments, support innovators, personalize professional growth, enhance communication and collaborate to make decisions are the six interdependent components that are enbedded and reflected in the action maps for a model of change for MCPS.

This blog will serve as my contributions and reflections in this model of change.  One of the ways I thought I could contribute to this was to become a Flat Classroom Certified Teacher.  The Flat Classroom project is a global collaborative project that joins together high school students, grades 9-12 (ages 14-18 years old). I feel it is important for Montana students to spend time with other students outside of Montana - to open their world a little more.  To really give them an opportunity to see that they can make a difference in the world.  To develop cultural understanding, skills with Web 2.0 and other software, experience in global collaboration and online learning, awareness of what it means to live and work in a flat world.