Tag Archive for professionaldevelopment

Faculty Summer Reads

The faculty summer read promotes the sharing of fresh perspectives on education among us when we are away from classes and students. U Prep purchases these books and provides them to all faculty members and those staff members who would like to participate. During opening faculty meetings, the three authors will join the U Prep faculty via Skype for a question and answer session about the readings.

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Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age (William Powers, 2011)

A crisp, passionately argued answer to the question that everyone who’s grown dependent on digital devices is asking: Where’s the rest of my life? Hamlet’s BlackBerry challenges the widely held assumption that the more we connect through technology, the better. It’s time to strike a new balance, William Powers argues, and discover why it’s also important to disconnect. Part memoir, part intellectual journey, the book draws on the technological past and great thinkers such as Shakespeare and Thoreau. “Connectedness” has been hconsidered from an organizational and economic standpoint—from Here Comes Everybody to Wikinomics—but Powers examines it on a deep interpersonal, psychological, and emotional level. Readers of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Outliers will relish Hamlet’s BlackBerry.

Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Cathy Davidson, 2012)

A brilliant combination of science and its real-world application, Now You See It sheds light on one of the greatest problems of our historical moment: our schools and businesses are designed for the last century, not for a world in which technology has reshaped the way we think and learn. In this informed and optimistic work, Cathy N. Davidson takes us on a tour of the future of work and education, introducing us to visionaries whose groundbreaking ideas will soon affect every arena of our lives, from schools with curriculums built around video games to workplaces that use virtual environments to train employees.

Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World (Heidi Hayes Jacobs, 2010)

If you believe that an essential role of schooling is to prepare students to be successful in today’s world, then here is a must-read book that makes a powerful case for why and how schools must overhaul, update, and breathe new life into the K–12 curriculum. World-renowned curriculum designer Heidi Hayes Jacobs leads an all-star cast of education thought leaders who explain:
– Why K–12 curriculum has to change to reflect new technologies and a globalized world.
– What to keep, what to cut, and what to create to reflect 21st century learning skills.
– Where portfolios and new kinds of assessments fit into accountability mandates.
– How to improve your use of time and space and groupings of students and staff.
– What steps to take to help students gain a global perspective and develop the habits of mind they need to succeed in school, work, and life.
– How to re-engineer schools and teaching to engage and improve students’ media literacy.

Summer Curriculum Development

Our teachers are hard at work this summer revising and developing curriculum for next year’s courses. Themes include interdisciplinary coordination, uses of technology, and team teaching. Here is a project list. Let no one imagine that teachers rest quietly during summer vacation!

Develop grades 6-7 English scope and sequence
Coordinate 7th grade course projects
Coordinate English 8/History 8 units
Coordinate US Musical and Stagecraft
Align French curriculum, develop French 6 curriculum, develop new uses of tech
Coordinate U.S. History Topics and Survey courses
Revise Art & Social Change course
Coordinate MS and US Chinese
Coordinate Calculus I instruction
Coordinate music theory instruction among music courses
Overhaul Algebra I
Revise Early World History curriculum
Set up Mastering Physics online activities
Share flipped classroom techniques
Develop new Intro to Statistics course
Coordinate grades 7-8 Integrated Science courses
Coordinate Physics and Quantitative Physics courses
Transfer knowledge of 6th grade math
Develop integrated 6th-7th math sequence
Revise Modern to Contemporary World History course
Develop tech methods for data collection, lab notebook, assignment submission, differentiated instruction
Revise MS and US Spanish curricula with new electronic texts
Coordinate 6th and 7th grades ecology and river systems instruction

The Faculty Unmeeting

Can the unconference model work for a school faculty meeting? If so, it would provide real relief from the typical model, in which a series of administrators make announcements and attendee participation is minimal. The U Prep faculty gave the model a try last week, with positive results. Faculty members proposed sessions in advance and described them at the start of the meeting. Most of the topics evolved from summer conferences and classes that faculty members had attended. Faculty members chose what sessions to attend and held unmoderated, highly participatory and engaging discussions. During the debrief, a number of teachers expressed enthusiasm for the model and hoped that we would do it again.

The model does have a few inherent contradictions. People choose to attend an unconference, but faculty members are required to attend a faculty meeting. A planning group determined the parameters of the un-meeting, but many unconferences have little to no planning besides providing space, food, and sticky notes. An unconference does not attempt to reach specific end points, but we may want to see tangible results emerge from faculty meetings. Will these contradictions cause problems further down the line?


edCampPDX Rocks Again

We hosted the third edCampPDX at Catlin Gabel on Saturday. The vibe and content were both great. Teachers, librarians, technologists, and parents from public schools, independent schools, school districts, and technology companies explored ideas on teaching, learning, information, and technology. Participants created all of the sessions. See below for the list of topics covered.

I personally came away with much appreciation for the diverse perspectives and experience of different education professionals, as well as a grab bag of promising tools that others are using. Most importantly, we are succeeding in creating a new, broadly based professional network in the Portland area.

Delightful Design (Rachel Wente-Chaney)
Design principles for non-designers. One of my favorite books is Robin Williams’s The Non-Designer’s Design Book. Her lessons are useful for all people, but I think especially so for educators.
Link to presentation: http://goo.gl/zfYVZ
Link to Delicious Stack: http://www.delicious.com/stacks/view/Ebvf4P

iPads in the Classroom (Mike Kruse)
I will share best practices from numerous deployments that I have surveyed around the nation.

Smart Search (Colette Cassinelli)
A show-n-tell / discussion around search and how to effectively teach students & teachers to move on the basic Google Search. Some of the session links

Intro to Web 2.0/EdTech Strand (Melissa Lim)
Three of my favorite web 2.0 tools and how I use them in the classroom.__http://bit.ly/edcamppdxweb20__

Why Is School Change Hard? (Richard Kassissieh)
School Change theory, Larry Cuban and David Tyack, systems thinking, mental models of “good” education, industrial model for education and the information age.

Speed Innovation Session (All)
In this session, a large number of participants have 3 (5?) minutes to share a tool, tip, idea, or anything else. The idea is to share out a wide range of ideas very quickly, with suggestions for further reading/resources on each topic.

Literature Circles to Create Content Area Relevancy (Ben Bleckley)
Sharing resources for finding young adult literature relevant to specific content topics, ways to develop student self-directed discussion skills, and assessments. Discussion Links  Talking Points

Leave Your Tech at the Door (Corin Richards)
Let’s have a conversation about student-centered learning and other great teaching practices crossing content and grades levels. Of course, technology MIGHT creep into the conversation. This could be a continuation of Richard’s change theory discussion.

Email Strategies

As mentioned yesterday, our most popular technology training this summer is Managing Your Email Inbox. Far from old-fashioned, this topic hits most of our teachers and staff members head-on. Email is ubiquitous on campus, the most used technology for 200 employees to distribute information to individuals and groups of different sizes. It is common for employees to receive 100 emails per day, and they’re not of bad quality, either. Parents use email the most to communicate with teachers.

Despite the ubiquity of email, not all employees possess strong technical email skills. Whether or not email is an “old” technology, lacking these skills is a contemporary issue. Some attendees at today’s workshop came to learn to use a desktop email client for the first time. Others already knew how to use rules and folders but wanted to find out how their peers handled the email deluge.

We practiced tips from GTD, Inbox Zero, and Send today. We explored the triage technique to deal with new messages immediately and once when possible. We created rules to move listserv messages to subfolders and increase the relevance of inbox messages. We turned off notifications and set the mail check interval to 20 minutes. We encouraged ourselves to quit our email applications to limit distractions. We shared our own knowledge of reading techniques, since that was not emphasized in the materials I read when preparing the workshop.

Read the lesson notes here.

Photo source: biscotte

Being Responsive To User Needs

It’s easy for an education technology professional to get swept up with the dominant discussions in the edtech blogosphere. How will social media and mobile devices change education as we know it? When will new models of education sweep away the old? Such conversations largely diverge from the dominant issues facing teachers.

This spring, we asked what technology workshops we should offer this summer. Moodle? Facebook? Laptops? Not at all. We identified topics through conversations with faculty-staff leaders and our annual laptop program survey. Take a look at the list and the attendance figures (in bold).

  • Social Networks: 2
  • Editing the Catlin Gabel Website: 5
  • Email Management Strategies: 15
  • Mac Essentials: 8
  • Windows 7 and Office 2010: required for all Windows users

Most teachers and staff commented on the difficulty of mastering existing information sources and productivity tools. Basic competency and literacy trumped new skills. We do have teachers who live on the cutting edge, but they are relatively few in number and often meet their technology needs through different means.

Email “overload” is a particularly hot topic at our school at present. Teachers and staff find it difficult to keep up with the heavy stream of information and questions that arrive by email. For some, reading and responding to email takes up precious free periods that could be used for face-to-face conversations, lesson preparation, or student assessment.

Our users have said it clearly. They need to feel comfortable with email and operating systems first. They know best when an aspect of their professional life is out of balance. Let us provide them with support, strategies, and resources.

Encouraging teachers and staff to take the next step in their technology work is best done through smaller, more personal means. Many vehicles exist, but I find the “showcase” model the most effective. In faculty or department meetings, individuals stand up to show their latest work with technology. These peer presentations are usually grounded in practical, important needs of the school. They also send the message, “if I can do this with computers, then so can you!”

“12221 Emails” courtesy of somewhatfrank

Presenting to Principals

Today, I presented a talk on social networks to a group of principals and other school leaders taking a course on technology at Lewis and Clark College. I organized my preparation around the facets of social network sites that I thought principals would find most relevant: impact on teaching and learning, teacher professional development, and internet safety. The group had lots of questions that demonstrated a strong grasp of the challenges facing schools and how social network sites might fit into that.

It’s important to fully appreciate the challenge facing anyone who wants to change a school, never mind fully integrate technology. Wanting to fundamentally change the model for schooling is a prerequisite to mastering an entirely set of new technology competencies. As long as one is not willing to reduce the amount of content coverage, as long as technology activities are relegated to the category of optional enrichment, as long as a teacher has to run the classroom, then the effort is not worth it.

The class students are learning about online professional development practices first-hand, each maintaining a blog for the class. In addition, I directed them to Classroom 2.0, the Global Education Collaborative, and the Synapse as a starting point. I hope they’ll keep blogging after the class has finished, so I may follow their work. I demonstrated how to begin to build a personal learning network and related anecdotes of the value of our peers’ online posts to building one’s own knowledge.

To learn what students are doing online, I directed the principals to the MacArthur Foundation series of reports on kids’ online lives, stressing the importance of consuming many reports to gain a multifaceted perspective. Talking to teachers and students about what they do online and what value it has for them is also essential for school administrators.

Faculty Professional Development

We have scheduled spring professional development sessions for our teachers. What are you focusing on as priority teacher professional development goals? We want to offer sessions that appeal to learners at their own stages of technology vision.

Moodle Workshop
Come set up your Moodle course in this hands-on session. Post assignments, readings, and links. Set up discussion forums for students. Learn how others have integrated Moodle into their classes.

Backup Basics
Is the backup process still not quite clear to you? Are you worried that you aren’t getting a good backup? Do you want to make sure that you are backing up what’s important and filtering out what’s not? Come with your questions and leave with a solid understanding of how to backup your important data!

Video Showcase
We have so many ways to use video in the classroom. This session will help you choose one to investigate more deeply for use in your classes. Together, we will briefly demonstrate each technology, discuss capabilities, and show current uses at Catlin Gabel. Technologies will include: YouTube, United Streaming, Blip.tv, TiVo, digital TV, cable TV, satellite TV, video in Drupal, video in Moodle, video cameras, digital cameras, and Flip video recorders.

Getting the Most out of Your SmartBoard
Do you have a SmartBoard in your room but you’re not sure you are using it to its fullest potential? We’ll show you lots of tips and tricks to help you maximize this useful tool. Bring your questions and your laptops as we will have hands-on practice time at the end of the session.

Tying Technology to Your Curriculum
If you’re looking for ways to enhance your curriculum and make it more effective using technology, then you’ll want to attend this workshop. We’ll provide numerous resources to get you thinking about where it makes sense to use technology in your curriculum to engage your students and how to continue to improve learning. You may have some good ideas you’ve already tested. Please bring them along to share!

iPhoto Workshop

Class in progress

Catlin Gabel teachers hone their iPhoto skills.

I just finished teaching a successful two-day workshop in iPhoto. Like many of our classes, I was so pleased that eight teachers and staff members chose to spend some of their summer time developing new skills that they may use this year. Photo management software inspires a lot of energy from our colleagues, so visual and personal yet also connected to their work here at school. Notable, a few attended simply because they were longtime PC users at work who were about to purchase a Mac at home. In this project-based workshop, I also learned much about the print publishing options of iPhoto, such as the ability to drop photos into individual day cells in the calendar tool. One teacher placed 160 photos into one twelve-month family calendar! I also noted how quickly I found myself teaching the students Flickr, in order to fetch Creative Commons photos to import and manipulate, when many had forgotten their digital cameras. One staff member created an entire musical slideshow about trout. Amazing.

Summer Workshops Begin

We have started our summer tech training workshops, classes that the IT staff and our media arts instructor teach on topics that our employees select. These require a lot of time and preparation from our staff, but our employees highly value the opportunity to learn. Our offerings this year include workshops on desktop publishing, Excel, iPhoto, Picasa, Mac OSX and Windows XP Pro. I am pleased that operating systems were a popular choice this year, given how overall proficiency with basic features is pretty low. I blame the software companies for annually rolling out new eye candy that help them market the products while underemphasizing fundamentals that help people work better. I wish that more people wanted to work on web technologies in the classroom, but we will have more opportunities to work on that once the school year begins.

Excel class

One challenge is the wide range of skill levels present in each class. Each teacher handles this challenge in her own way. I make the workshop highly project based and let the curriculum emerge from student interests and questions. This does leave me scampering around the room a lot answering questions and solving problems, but it keeps everyone working all the time at their level. This disappoints some students who come to the class expecting a lot of direct instruction, but most participants leave happy. I will teach the MacOS and iPhoto workshops. Do send any killer activity ideas that you have organized or encountered.

InDesign class