Monthly Archives: October 2009

T+L Conference 2009 – Day 6

There isn’t a day 6 to this conference.  But there is one for me.  Another travel day – a very long shuttle ride back to the airport – we must have had 14 people on that rickety old van.

Flight to Toronto – all good.  At least I got to use my lounge passes, and had my confreres enjoy the lounge too.

But it’s a long travel day nonetheless – another day spent away from family.  And a missed hockey game with my kids.

Some of these conferences are worth it.  It costs the school board money.  And it costs me money.  But it’s an investment – from us both.  And professional development is an important part of education – for commissioners too.

Truly,

Steve

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T+L Conference 2009 – Day 5

Denver School of Science and technology

Join us as we visit one of the leading S.T.E.M. programs in the country and learn about its one-to-one laptop program at the same time. The Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) is a free, open-enrollment public school serving middle and high school students. DSST integrates technology into every aspect of the school — which has led to some of the best student achieve- ment results in Colorado. DSST’s approach is predicated on a standards-based pedagogy and values-based school culture deliv- ered in a college preparatory liberal arts program with a science and technology focus. DSST is the only “Distinguished” rated high school in Denver, and 100 percent of its graduates have been accepted into four year colleges.

What a school!  What an experience!

The Denver School of Science and Technology is indeed a charter school.  But, its population is 40% hispanic, 40% african american and 20% the rest.  Their students apply via lottery – there is no picking and choosing here – their goal is to make everyone graduate and be placed in college.

And they’re doing it.

In their history, just a few years mind, they have a 100% placement rate.

How do they do it?  Massive, targeted literacy intervention.  Kids come in there several levels behind in their reading ability.  Teachers take them and work with them – intensive work – and they bring them up to speed.

Obviously we have a school that has additional resources and additional control, in that it is a charter school.  But the point is – they take kids who would probably be failing, and the end up placing them in college.  ALL of them.

So – it can be done.

Another thing I took from this school was their behavioural expectations.  VERY clearly written.  And signed by students and parents – in plain view in the lobby of the school.  They are expected to behave.  They are expected to learn, and do well.

And they do.

The building the school has built is quite something too – social “pod” like areas in different areas – all with shelving and plugs to charge their laptops between periods and at lunch.

I couldn’t have asked for a better cap to end this conference – seeing this school and seeing what they are accomplishing raises the bar.  Raises the expectations.  There’s no reason why we cannot do the same.

Truly,

Steve

Check out the school for yourself by clicking here.

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T+L Conference 2009 – Day 4

21st Century Skills: defining, developing, and Assessing — A Leader’s discussion Facilitated by Bernie Trilling, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Bob Pearlman, 21st Century School Development Consultant & formerly New Technology Foundation (AZ), Rowland Baker, Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership (CA), Stevan Kalmon, Council

on 21st Century Learning (CO), Student Panel, Welby New Technology High School (CO)

As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, it is ap- propriate to stop and assess the current state of affairs for 21st century learning. Join the nation’s leading voices as they share their perspectives on what 21st century leadership looks like, what skills and content areas have been agreed upon, and how those skills can be assessed.

Have a look at:

http://www.21stcenturyskillsbook.com/

Bernie Trilling is our speaker and is the man behind this site.

Key question:  Are our students going to really be prepared to go into the workforce of the year 2020?  Let’s think about that one a little bit – imagine the changes we have lived in the work place over the last ten years…  and remember that technology continues to advance at faster and faster speeds.

The simple answer is:  No.  Not if we don’t make some serious changes in what we do and how we do it.

Interesting motto in Singapore:  Teach less; learn more.  What do they mean?

Have a look at the Ministry of Education website here:

http://www3.moe.edu.sg/bluesky/tllm.htm

and you’ll see exactly what they mean.  It’s hard to argue.

More interesting thoughts tossed out there – what would happen if we put two separate classes together – math and science – have two teachers working with groups of students learning at their own pace.  Interesting – I don’t know how practical, but it’s good to throw ideas out there just so that we can continue to see beyond the factory models we have in our schools today.

the Communications imperative: tools to meet a Community’s growing demand for School information John Raymond, PowerIT, LLC (CT) Parents want to know everything, all the time. This session will demonstrate how several school districts are meeting the growing desire for school information by adopting a variety of cost-saving web-based solutions tailored for a K-12 environment. Participants who attend this session will learn: • Practical ways to make all (or nearly all) communications electronic • How new web-based technologies help districts achieve their communications goals while cutting costs • How engaging 3rd party companies for some technology functions can make in-house technology staff more productive

This was interesting to see just how well some of these parent portals work.  And how much they are embraced by their users.

We need to look at parent portals, where parents can be more engaged and up-to-date with what their children are accomplishing – or not accomplishing.

The General Session

This was awful.  From the moment it started, attendees started walking out.  Within 20 minutes, more than half the audience had left.  Finally, Line and I left too.

Non-informative gobble-de-gook.  Wow – first time I have seen something this bad at a conference.

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T+L Conference 2009 – Day 3

educational Social networking

Steve Hargadon, Elluminate (CA)

Social networking is not just MySpace and Facebook, although they give a good idea of how popular the social networking envi- ronment can be. When the tools of social networking are applied in education, the results can be dramatically positive. We’ll look at social networking for teacher professional development, for classroom use, and as part of a growing trend toward Web 2.0 technologies that can create engaged learning environments. At- tendees will gain a better understanding of what social networks are, their pros and cons for use in and out of the classroom, and what practical experiences educators are having using them.

Social networking is a part of our lives.  It’s a major part of our children’s’ lives.  So we had better not just understand it, but find ways to use it within education.

Some interesting links to look at:

http://www.classroom20.com – a resource for teachers using social media

http://www.learncentral.org – social network education

http://www.elluminate.com – “Where bright ideas meet”

http://www.Educationalnetworking.com – this is a fairly exhaustive  list of social networks being used in education

A useful session, if only in the references in the links above.  More interesting still is the fact that social networking is such a big topic in education now.

What School Boards need to know: Planning for andusingdata Jill Abbott, SIF Association (DC), Ann Flynn, NSBA (VA)

Another session on data!

Once again, the focus is on having clear and identifiable reasons for collecting data. This may seem like an obvious one, but there’s an awful lot of data being collected out there that is simply ignored, and/or serves no purpose.

Success factors in data collection and use:

  • set a vision
  • begin with the end in mind, but be flexible
  • involve stakeholders
  • effective and frequent communication
  • data visibility – make it available

Interesting note taken from this one – someone mentioned that schools need to have “a culture of high expectations”.  Can we say that we have that in all of our schools today?

Engaging Parents’ Support for emerging technologies in the Classroom: key findings from Speak up 2008 Julie Evans, Project Tomorrow (CA)

Today’s school leaders face many new challenges in cre- ating 21st century learning environments including how to gain the support of parents for emerging technologies such as mobile devices, online learning and digital content. In this session we will feature data findings from Speak Up 2008 that reveal the different perspectives of parents, administrators and students about the use of these emerg- ing technologies in the classroom, and convene a panel of school and district administrators to share their ideas on how they are effectively engaging parental support to drive 21st century learning. Participants who attend this session will learn:

  • How parents, administrators and students value emerg- ing technologies for learning
  • Which emerging technologies are perceived as having the greatest potential to drive student achievement
  • How your school and district can more effectively de- velop and leverage parental support for 21st century learning environments

Speakup – this is such a useful tool that we need to get into our board.  Free and offering access to comparable data from across Canada and throughout the United States.  This should be a “no brainer”.

Anywhere Computing: enabling Scalable one-to- one with open Source Benoit St-André, Benoit des Ligneris, Revolution Linux (PQ) The roots behind one-to-one programs across the world are to enable universal access to technology in schools and leverage all the learning opportunities that technology can provide. While giving a laptop to every student seems to be the way to enable one-to-one, we think that giving access to the technology the mo- ment students need it using Open Source applications is a better way to enable one-to-one. We have seen many one-to-one projects started that were running in some classes, but that could never be scaled up to a whole school district. In this session, you will see how the concept of “Anywhere Computing” could help you to bring your one-to-one project to life by removing barriers that prevent access to technology. Come and see how you can give access to a universal platform using Open Source tools through various devices such as netbooks, thin clients and desktops, in your school district or at home. Come and see examples and visions of enabling scalable one-to-one according to school district realities using Open Source technologies.

Interesting to see these guys here in Denver.  They’re a Montreal based company, and they are having a big impact here.

Open source classroom management tools are way better than I had thought.  The ability for a teacher to see what is on any and/or every screen at any given moment? Well, that makes control a pretty sure thing.

They are doing amazing things with thin clients.  Easy to manage and easy to deploy.  Very neat stuff.

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T+L Conference 2009 – Day 2

wH2: the right data at the right time — How to identify which data really Help Schools improve Student Achievement: An executive Summary for decision makers

Jake Schlumpf, Diana Nunnaley, TERC (MA)

As usual, I love these sessions on data – and with the coming of partnership agreements and the need for measurable data, this was a key session for me this year.

Main points are that data needs to actually help you.  It’s all good and well to have data – but if you don’t use it, on a regular basis, then what’s the point?

The only way to monitor our implementation and its impact on student success is to measure and compare results.

What should we be tracking?  Teachers sick leave, maternity, movement from schools – all indicators.  When an employee of any title leaves, do we track that and what do we do with that information?

Absences vs performance – interesting one here – they suggest a 10 point drop in grades for every 10 days absence.  Wow.

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T+L Conference 2009 – Day 1

Left this morning at 5:15am to carpool to the airport.  Traveling to the US means arriving two hours before the flight.  My first time in the new international section of the airport departure – it works a lot better than it has been the last few years.

Again, a lot of the value that comes from these conferences is almost incidental value – it’s good to have focused time to discuss the most important issues in our schoolboard right now.

4 1/2 hours flying time and arrival in Denver – and we’re waiting on a snowstorm!

Preparing for a big week with pre-conference workshops first thing in the morning.

Steve

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