Monday, April 6, 2009

TLAT Virtual Meeting, Week of April 6

If you do NOT have a Gmail account, please visit to obtain one for this activity. Thank you.

Please read the following article:

Once you have read the article, please click on Comments below these instructions on this SUSD technology blog, log in using your Google (Gmail) account, read any preceding Comments, and add your own. In your Comment, please respond to the following questions:

  1. Please write a general response to the Adopt and Adapt article. How does this article pertain to the future of educational technology in SUSD? Feel free to respond to previous comments' responses to this prompt.
  2. What is going well with the technology in your classroom? If you have things that are NOT going well with technology in your classroom, please email me privately.
  3. How has the use of technology in your classroom changed the way that you teach, run your classroom, or use resources for instruction?
  4. This question is intentionally open-ended and is aimed toward the "advisory" portion of your mission. What training would you like to have, and what training do you think would be valuable for the teachers at your school? We plan to use these responses as a guide for planning for this summer and for next year.
Thank you for taking the time to complete this. You have until noon on Friday to submit your responses as part of your role on the TLAT team and/or as someone who has been assigned an instructional cart. I know that we do not have school on Friday - I'll be here in the office to read your responses, and if you need additional time after Thursday, you can have until noon on Friday. :-)

Agenda Items for April 20:
  • Quick check-in: technology issues at SSHS and DVHS
  • Lesson plan using technology (please check your email for additional information regarding this. It will not be due on April 20.)
  • Department Delicious accounts (see Academic Technology Newsletter #1)
  • Future of technology in SUSD
  • Training opportunities
  • Summer CTE curriculum work


  1. There is a lot of technology that is not available to schools because the cost to keep up with the latest is prohibitive. What technology is available is not used because sometimes teachers are not sure how to integrate the technology into their lessons. There is very little tech support and not enough time for teachers to learn how to create lessons plans. Most of the time, the workshops or inservices are too short and/or so much information is covered that it is difficult for teachers to go back to the classroom and use what was presented. Workshops/inservices should focus one ONE "new thing." Have the teachers go back and integrate "it" into their classroom/lessons with tech support and follow-up before introducing the next "new thing." I realize that the technology world moves much faster than what we are used to in education, but it is better to have most teachers using some technology than some teachers using most technology.

  2. Yes - we educators need to be able to adapt to new technologies and I do believe that this development should be a coolaboration between students, teachers and administrators. I am concerned about wiki sites where most anyone can post. One of my largest barriers is finding the time to experiment and learn these new technologies. Technology has allowed me to explore the internet and academic books with the entire class. I also use pod casts and listen and watch music that is approprate to the lesson. I guess what I need the most is more time to learn these new technologies.

  3. Teaching algebra and geometry to reluctant learners who have experienced failure on so many levels is difficult in a Learning Support classroom. However, most students with a Learning Disability have average or above average intelligence. Integrating technology in my classroom has provided a confidence-builder in my students that is priceless. Watching these kids progress from orienting the Smart board, navigate the interactive lessons, and collaborating to produce a power point to summarize what they have learned has been an eye-opening experience for this 30+ year veteran teacher.
    I am excited about the technology cart I am experimenting with and using in the classroom. Although I have had the use of a cart similar to this one in Pennsylvania and another district here in AZ, the Airliner and Document camera are new for me. I find I continue to learn new ways to use them. I have shy kids who don’t want to go up to the Smart board but will use the Airliner. The smiles on their faces when they “get it”, the Ah-ha moment, paired with their new technology “expertise” gives them a new-found confidence. And I feel that I have given them new skills that they will be able to write on a resume and to use in college or the workplace when they graduate.
    I have used the technology to teach other teachers in my department how to navigate portions of the on-line IEPs, use the Notebook files for the Smart board and create interactive lessons. However, there is an inborn “jealousy” or resentment that the technology is not available to all teachers even though they understand the cost restraints. I hear, “Why should I learn to use this if I can’t have it in my classroom?” That makes me sad that they won’t even try to learn some of the outstanding ways to engage the students.
    Inviting administrators to our TLAT meetings, scheduled time for department trainings by the TLAT teachers, student/lesson demonstrations at faculty meetings, and brainstorming ways to get everyone on board might soften attitudes by all staff until the district can afford to get everyone who wants one, a cart full of new-age goodies. I really want to share this.
    On another note, my Career Ladder Comprehensive Review involves data and student surveys to determine academic growth. My students felt that the technology helped them focus and learn. The post-tests proved that. AIMS scores won’t be in for a while but watching my ADD/HD, dyslexic, and reluctant learners sit down and attack the AIMS math test was wonderful.

  4. 1.
    At the risk of ranting, I am tired of the Digital Native/Digital Immigrant myth. It is counterproductive to a rational discussion of technology and education. It is a dangerously lazy way of promoting technology for its own sake. The critiques of Prensky abound, most are better researched than his writings. For me, his ignorance of cognitive science and its implications for education is simply breathtaking.

    Back to the Sunnyside perspective:
    “They are far ahead of their educators in terms of taking advantage of digital technology and using it to their advantage” (Prensky – Adopt and Adapt)

    In response:
    “If we project certain qualities and attributes onto our students, instead of learning what they really can do and what they really need to learn, we do them a great disservice by not providing the education (that is, formalized school learning) that they need. We also show great disrespect to them by attributing traits to them instead of coming to know them all as unique and valuable human beings.” (Rob Wall, a Canadian educator).

  5. And while I'm at it, I saw David Thornburg present this very article as a keynote address back in 1993. The least Prensky could do is cite his sources. {dyspeptic mode off}

    2. How has the use of technology in your classroom changed the way that you teach, run your classroom, or use resources for instruction?

    The lack of technology has changed how I teach. Until this year, I've had technology in my classroom. Even when I student taught >gasp< twenty years ago, I used computers/tech in the classroom. And, yes, my students were using the Internet in 1992. It was purely text based but we were hooked into the Media Lab with a phone line using shell and ntalk/ytalk.

    Fortunately, teaching students to build scientific and mathematical models can be done in low tech environments as well as high tech. See Whiteboards (24” x 32”) are the best technology I have to get at student thinking.

  6. @Dave – I agree with you – for *me*, a specific class isn't as useful as the time to experiment with tools and figure out what they can do for me and my students. I want to work with the wiiBoard and see what I can do with motion studies. Gear-head I may be, I am cautious about foisting the latest toys into my classroom. Although something may make things easier to do (using a battery powered air puck versus a block of dry ice for a demonstration), the technology may have unintended consequences (such as scientific misconceptions that I cannot dislodge from students' brains).

  7. The classes we have attended are invaluable for me to begin to experiment with the cart items I haven’t used before. But, after using them in the classroom, I think a voluntary follow-up training for those teachers who want or need additional guidance after becoming more familiar with the document camera or Airliner, for example, should be offered. Attending the MEC workshops expanded the trainings for me because I learned specific ways that others have used these devices in their classrooms which spurred new ideas for me to involve the students in my lessons.
    I used the computer lab and Smart board in the 1990’s to teach algebra using Algebra Cognitive Tutor. The students hated it at first because their computer skills were just emerging but later in the year, I went back to paper and pencil problems and the students wondered when we could go back to the computer lab.
    Liability, time, cost and theft are issues I am concerned about. Years ago, we struggled with the liability of putting confidential information “on-line” in web-based IEPs. Parents, teachers and administrators now accept this, but new issues of liability emerge daily. I share a split classroom with another special ed teacher and constantly worry about how secure my cart is.

  8. 4. This response is for both teacher and, by extension, student training.
    While there is much to be improved on this idea, California has professional technology standards for teachers – the CTAP certification. Teachers have to prove their tech cred, addressing specific standards. Of course, I was the only one in my building who did this through the online course while everyone else did a hard copy scrapbook of screen shots. {I'm not kidding} Still, it would be a start.
    Moving on to a related issue:
    Considering how many university and colleges now use VLE/LMS systems, we are doing a disservice by not offering this to our students. Many students commented that they wished this type of resource available for all their classes, not just mine. With a scattershot approach (go to this site for social bookmarks, go to that one for a wiki, another site for a calendar), it is no wonder teachers (and students) are overloaded with input. If I have to sign up for yet another web service before posting, I am going to revolt. I have no interest in a Blogger account yet I was required to make one to post this reply. I have 5 – yes, 5 – different Google Apps accounts! I have an email account “spammesilly-at-domain-name” just to handle non-professional and non-personal e-mail.
    We have little spare time to keep on top of this. In talking to other teachers and showing them my website or others using Moodle, the bells go off. The response is generally “*this* would be useful for my course.” As a K-12 entity, we need to adhere to FERPA, COPPA, CIPA and more... With a closed system, we can create *private* forums, blogs/journals, wikis, questionnaires, glossaries, quizzes and more. An LMS/VLE like Moodle could provides a framework for teachers to learn how and when to use these resources. (insert Thornburg-Prensky-quote here) When showing my site to a SpEd teacher (not Sheryl!) she said this is what she was looking for for her students. Being able to cut the web clutter was a big selling point – as everything else she saw out on the web, while free, was visually distracting.
    I mention Moodle only because it is open source which means SUSD can afford the software and an installation can be customized relatively easily. Even my old district near Seattle dumped BlackBoard when the costs became an issue (plus it is an inflexible system from the teacher POV). A novice Moodler can begin to build a course and tweak it as their proficiency develops – instead of recreating the wheel each year. Here's an example of a Moodle discussion forum – IMO, better suited for this discussion instead of blog comments.
    guests can enter the course, the key is “modelmech” without quotes. We could create a sandbox for the interested – create skeleton courses where teachers can start to explore before rolling something out to a wider audience. I have already offered use of my domain to my department over the next year. If we had a core of users willing to try this out, perhaps the district would take the ball and run with it.
    Okay, I'm done for now. It is time to go outside and play.