5 Awesome Things I Did for PD This Summer

1) #isedchat
While I originally thought that people might want a break from our weekly chat, there was an overwhelming feeling that educators shouldn’t stop learning in the summer. I’m so glad that we continued! We discussed topics such as highly effective faculty meetings, ideas to start the school year off right, personal goals, school to home communication and much more! We even read the book “A New Culture of Learning” and had a fabulous discussion surrounding it one of the weeks. I am also looking forward to a discussion of the article “How Teens Understand Privacy” on August 25th. It was amazing to share resources and learn from each other all summer! Check out our archives published to the ISE Ning.

2) Taught Scratch Programming
This summer, for the first time in 15 years, I taught a computer programming class. I had the pleasure and honor to teach, along side of Sarah Ludwig, 30 highly motivated 6th – 8th grades how to design and create their own video game. I had never used Scratch before so i watched online tutorials, played, and learned right along side of the students. It was an amazingly authentic teaching experience. See my blog post here!

3) Blogged….and read others’ blogs
While I often claim that I don’t like to write, I find so much pleasure in writing and reflecting on teaching and learning. I also love reading other educators reflections. Here are a few of my favorites from this summer:

To Effect Change, Keep It Simple

IT Director = Campus Bartender 

A Letter to New Teachers 

Professional Comfort Zone

Blah Blah Blah Life Long Learning Blah Blah Blah

4) Diigo!
I am a huge fan of Diigo. It provides me with a network of other educators and the resources they find useful. I especially like when others highlight and add commentary s. It is a tool I use every day and I look forward to the daily emails from groups like Educators, Math Links, Classroom 2.0 and many others!  This summer, I set up each department and division with a Diigo group so I can pass along great resources to them. A few colleagues have already signed on, and even added resources to the groups. Yay!

5) Twitter
I am a huge fan of Twitter. I learn so much from my PLN every day! Aside from all of the amazing resources I have at my fingertips 24/7, Twitter allowed me to “attend” some of the conferences virtually this summer that I could not
attend in person. #iste11 was amazing to follow, as was #whuc11, (Whipple Hill Users Conference), some #edcamps and the #140edu. I followed keynotes, workshops, and post-conference follow-ups. Thanks to everyone who shared!

So, another summer is approaching its end. I am always excited about a new school year and I am especially excited, this year, to share all that I have learned!


Opportunity Awaits

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For the upcoming school year, the Technology Committee proposed a change to our current Acceptable Use Policy/ Mobile Device Policy to reflect the fact that cell phones aren’t just cell phones any longer. We agreed to keep the Middle School policy in tact but changed our Upper School policy to:

The use of cell phones/ mobile devices (mobile tablets, e-readers, multimedia players, etc.) is permitted during class and study hall with the explicit permission of a faculty member or study hall proctor. Adherence to the Honor Code is expected at all times. Cell phones/ mobile devices must be off or in silent mode at all times during the school day on the main campus. Talking on cell phones is prohibited at all times while in classroom buildings. Students may not wear headphones while traveling between buildings, however a student may wear them while in designated common student spaces (e. g. courtyard, library, student lounge areas).
This policy change has been met with mixed emotions. In my opinion, it is fair, allowing those teachers who see mobile devices as an important tool in the classroom to use them. It still preserves the right for the less comfortable to not “allow them in”.
So- what’s the problem?…
the problem is that some people feel:
1) mobile devices shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom because it will promote cheating.
2) mobile devices will be a distraction to students in class
3) mobile devices have no use in class, and take away from the “real learning”
Here’s what I say to that:
1) Cheating has been happening long before technology came along. Do we ban books when students used them to cheat?
2) Maybe teachers need to re-examine their assessments. If it’s that easy to cheat, then it’s probably not a good assessment.
3) If you have clear expectations about the honor code, and hold students accountable to it, cheating is less likely to happen (with any tool)
4) Mobile devices can actually be more REAL learning than anything a student has experienced before (in class).
I also say.. OPPORTUNITY AWAITS!!
1) students can now use the powerful technology that is in their pockets. It is more powerful than the computers of a few short years ago.
2) students can also learn appropriate (and inappropriate) uses of mobile devices in school. Lessons we all should be reinforcing.
3) students can connect and collaborate easier than ever before.
4) students might even be more motivated in class!

I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. I am sure this new policy won’t be met without its challenges. I hope that we can continue to remind ourselves of the many benefits of using mobile devices and not get bogged down in the bumps we will surely face along the way.

Recommended book: Mobile Learning Devices by: Kipp D. Rodgers
(There is a lot of great advice, practical examples and policy drafts in this book)


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