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Best Practices From Savannah Schools #1

Hello School Leaders,

In the spirit of increasing cross-district collaboration, here’s a round up of some BEST PRACTICES I’m seeing at each school I have the pleasure to support.


Empowering Teachers As Learners

STEM and Islands have been using very successful teacher-led Idea’s Exchange PD model for the past several years. This year Savannah Arts and Oglethorpe are giving it a go with high teacher approval. Jenkins is implementing a “lunch and learn” demo style PD which is getting great praise. Beach coaches are producing a knock-out blog post for their teachers highlighting a teacher of the month and star instructional strategies.

Empowering Students To Take Ownership of Their Learning

Beach and Savannah High math team, with support from Coach Lydia Taylor and a Savannah Arts social studies teacher, Michael Johnson, have rolled up their sleeves to shift conversations from kids “completing assignments” to kids “demonstrating skills”. To do this, they’ve enlisted students to track their own standards-based progress. This is hard work for teachers as designers of learning, but it gives students practice in developing transferable life skills. Check out some of these first iterations on this process below.

Other teachers at Oglethorpe, STEM and Jenkins are moving full steam ahead with student-centered learning by “Gamifiying” their curriculum, which students have reported they enjoy because they, “know what they have to do in order to get an A”. Check out Daniel Kamykowski’s gamified curriculum below.

Instructional Technology is exploring badges to support self-directed.

Coming Soon! 
Power Teacher Pro, which some schools will be piloting this year, allows teachers to create a standards-based grade book.  Standards-based grading is a great conversation to start with staff now because it will be a shift for many.

Increasing Cross-District Collaboration


Over the next couple of months, I’ll be creating cross-district PLC “Groups” in Office 365 and inviting our teachers to share resources/ ideas with others in the district teaching the same course. Myers, Oglethorpe, and Charles Ellis Elementary kicked off this collaboration with a very successful face-2-face Idea’s Exchange last month after school. “Groups” expands our ability to collaborate 24/7. I would love an opportunity to show those who are interested, how it works. If you have a date and time in mind, please let me know.



Developing Our Teacher Leaders


I have identified teachers across the district who have demonstrated higher than average student growth using the growth model on EOC courses. I’ll be asking these folks to share their strategies and resources with others in our course groups. What I’ve noticed so far is that both teachers with traditional “stick to the book” style and those who have deeply embraced student-centered teaching are demonstrating high growth on standardized tests. From this we can infer, when it comes to test prep, no one style is king. Let’s celebrate our teachers diverse styles and talents that they bring to the table.doors

Opening Our Doors

After 8 years of working with leaders, staff and students in 13 of Savannah’s public schools, I’ve found each school has it’s own “personality” with unique challenges and strengths. My hat is off to those of you who have opened your doors to share lessons learned (the good and the bad), resources, and teacher/ leader knowledge with our larger community of educators. This year STEM, and possibly a couple of other schools I’ve spoken to, will be hosting a leadership school tour of their campus and classrooms. This is a great way to “shop” for ideas you can adapt for your school and I hope you will have a chance to attend.

In another brave act of opening our doors, our very own Megan Heberle, Science teacher at Islands HS has “taken over” the GaDOE Instagram account for the whole week! Check it out. Reflective teachers are usually effective teachers.

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Garageband Can Make You Young Again

In the past week, I’ve thoroughly been enjoying my freedom to learn and explore whatever the heck I want. I’m excited and inspired by the start of the new school year, a feeling I wish for every educator. Below is a roundup of resources that got my wheels spinning.

Tonight I spent the night tinkering on the iPad app Garageband. As I played around, here are some of the things that ran through my mind.

…Is that me making that music? How can this be? Wow.

…This is so fun.

…What if kids had this kind of fun at school?

…What if teachers had this kind of fun, at school?

This kind of fun comes from the delight of discovery. There are no expectations, no agendas, no grades, just thinking and Ahas! Inspired by ISTE and Garageband, the 2014-15 school year will see Playgrounds for PD.

Here are classroom applications I thought of during my playtime.

Use Garageband to:

  • establish mood or tone of historical figures, places, or time periods, characters, settings
  •  act as background music for a story, comic, or movie

Thanks to Spotify for keeping me going after my Garageband jam session. Also, thank you for keeping me focused on the massive chasm between learners’ personal world and what the world looks like in school. My job is to help bridge the gap.

Posted in 1.2 Message Design, 501 Introduction to Educational Technology

Elements of Educational Technology

Originally Published October, 2011

In my discussions about educational technologies I’ve found people often use the same term to talk about very different practices. Robert Reiser talks about some of the difficulties linguistics play in defining a field in his article History of Instructional
 Design and Technology:
Part I: A History of Instructional Media. He points out that, for many people, the term instructional technologies conjured up ideas limited to instructional technologies such as CD-ROMS, computers, and projectors. (Reiser & Ely, 1997). Herein he points out that how we define a subject frames future conversations.

According to The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) the current definition of educational technologies is, “The study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.” (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008, p. 1). This definition encompasses management systems, design, learning tools, and instructional media. Yet, to establish a common starting point for discussion we should look at the role of each element individually.

For me, the components of this definition have a hierarchy. Improving performance is the goal. Managing the process outlines the path; the study, creation, facilitation, and usage all provide a means to the end. Prioritizing element helps drill through a complex term with a broad meaning. As the former employee of a corporate e-learning company, our conversations with new clients followed this same sequence. What is your company’s mission? How does management support that? What gaps need to be filled? What content do you need delivered? What is the best delivery method for your employees? We had to ask questions in this manner to evaluate how well our product could meet their needs. When it comes to educational technology not enough conversation happens around how it can be used to better manage the education process.

As I reflect on life as an educator, I’m amazed at how the road map to success twists–and then twists again. Objectives shift from preparing student for a 21st century work force to raising test scores. In my observations, a clear vision and well thought-out implementation plan for adoption of educational technologies leads to authentic integration.

The US Department of Education states their mission is to:

  • Strengthen the Federal commitment to assure access to equal educational opportunity for every individual;
  • Increased involvement in public education of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs;
  • Promote improvements in the quality and usefulness of education
  • Improve the coordination of Federal education programs;
  • Improve the management of Federal education activities; and
  • Increase the accountability of Federal education programs

Based on this vision, the discussion should be how are we managing the implementation of educational technologies to meet these goals.

If we look to other large US agencies we can see how common vision and management implementation are critical for the organizations ability to function properly. In the 911 Commission Report published August 2004, the Commission revealed a systemic problem within the intelligence community.

The U.S. government did not find a way of sharing intelligence and using it to guide the planning and assignment of responsibilities for joint operations involving entities as disparate as the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, the military, and the agencies involved in homeland security.

Similar to the problem highlighted by 911 Commission, our education system needs to reassess how we pool information and resources to ensure equal access to quality education.

The landscape of the 21st century is entirely different from it was at the birth of American education system. One teacher delivering content to classroom 25-30 students is a model developed at time when information could only be delivered to the masses through people and print. Through years of research, we now know that learners have different learning styles, intelligences, skills, disabilities, points of motivation, and interests. To apply this knowledge in a meaningful ways we need to analyze how technology can help us improve how we manage the education process.

To summarize, improved management through technology has the ability to advance processes. Educators face the daily challenge of meeting each individual’s needs with “just-in-time” tools and resources. Technologies like learning/content management systems and data collection have already transformed the way corporations train employees and market to consumers. These same applications applied to education will leverage resources and increase student success.


Reiser, R.A., & Ely, D.P. (1997). The field of educational technology as reflected through its definitions. Edu- cational Technology Research and Development, 45(3), 63-72.

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Definition. In Educational technology: A definition with commentary (pp. 1 – 14). NY: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc.

US Department of Education. (2011), Overview, Mission

The 911 Commission. (2004), The 911 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States–EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.

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Student Goal Setting and Grading

Originally Published December 2011

I still struggle how to use subject/percentage grading-system to communicate learning needs effectively. I struggle even more with how to make it make better sense to parents. On one hand, we grade standards proficiency in each subject. But on the other hand, the key to success in any field is in learning responsibly skills: to be organized, to remember to turn in assignments, to write down homework, and time management. Students are also learning self-management skills: focus, productivity, delayed gratification, self-assessment, self-correction, and follow through.

Ninety percent of every parent/teacher conference I have is about responsibility and self-management skills, but the conference is almost always called to discuss a grade in a specific discipline. We need to help parents and students distinguish and monitor progress in specific academic skills, and self-management skills.

Another clear gap between my vision for a successful year and my students’ was an understanding of the stakes; students didn’t seem to recognize that they had to demonstrate proficiency for promotion. The other more adult concern was our school’s fragile AYP (annual yearly progress) status. To students, my differentiated activities were just another inconsequential exercise to them. They didn’t see the line between practice and achievement. So I set about filling these gaps.

I built self-assessments and rubrics for all of our assignments. We used a matrix of standards correlated to assignments as a daily checklist tool. I held data team meetings with my students to talk about their self-management skills academic skills. We strategized together and built game plans. Students began to set goals and compete with themselves. They set out to master standards one at a time and they did it. Not because it was another homework assignment, but because they now understood how that was their gap to fill, and that in the big picture, it mattered. I finally had a team full of players that were playing to win.

I realize education isn’t a sport, but the coaching analogy pointed out my students and I weren’t on the same page. I still notice at the beginning of every year students’ motivation correlates with how fun an activity is rather how it will help them achieve the end goal. Slowly, I introduce goal-setting mechanisms and measures. I ask them to be reflective about who they are as learners, to understand learning is a process and not a pass/ fail event. We set goals, talk strategies to confront weakness, and look for resources and personal strength they can depend on. Students all have a checklist of standards for each unit. I explain to student what they need to demonstrate for me sign off that they are proficient. Students grade their papers and do the math to find out their scores. I require students to evaluate their progress on meeting long-term goals like achieving a certain grade their report card. Students reflect on their scores, their work ethic, and study habits. The goal helps students understand their responsibility as learners and to provide them a picture of their learning as a journey in progress.

All of these practices invite my students to be self-managers and the captain of their learning. Even though my job is to deliver content, assess, and give feedback, without the students’ participation, these activities are virtually useless. As an unknown source said, “Every achievement starts with the decision to try.” I’m well aware that decision is my students, not mine.

Posted in All

Student Goal Setting

Originally Published December 2011

Every school year one I ask myself, how I can increase student motivation? Many of my choices as an educator are driven by this question. My experience in sales, corporate training, community building, and customer service suggest that motivation is a prime factor in creating forward momentum. So when I decided to become a classroom teacher my students’ motivation was a principal area of interest for me.

My incentives to meet state benchmarks are high. Approving scores indicate I taught the year’s curriculum effectively. Student gains demonstrate that I helped students fill learning gaps. There is also an unspoken teacher ranking system that comes from comparing the numbers of passing students.

My first year, I was a hired to teach writing for 80 fifth graders 3 months after the school year had begun. I was motivated by the surprise job opportunity, by the subject, age group, and the drive to prove rank as a new teacher. I spent evenings and weekends analyzing assessment data and grouping kids for differentiation. I conferenced with students, talked enthusiastically about their writing strengths, and wrote elaborate notes as reference points. But with all this effort, something still wasn’t right. I couldn’t figure why I felt more ownership and motivation for my students’ success then they did themselves.

I was determined to make sure that all my kids crossed the finish line at the end of the year, but they all didn’t seem to carry the same vision. I pictured myself as their coach. We just needed to train hard and prove we had a great team.

Yet the more I considered this analogy, the more I realized I wasn’t like a coach at all. Coaches have detailed playbooks they share with their players. They lay it out; here’s the challenge facing us, and here’s our strategy to beat it. They make connections for players between practice and how those skills create wins.

I, on the other hand, had a playbook of moves my students weren’t privy to. I had data on who had mastered each standard, remediation lists, indicators on individuals learning gaps, but the kids didn’t see what I saw. They saw indicators like Writing 78%, or English Language Arts 73%. This grading policy didn’t tell a student or parent that the deficiency was in using capitalization, commas, and writing conclusions. Students didn’t gage their success on logical data, they gaged it their parent’s expression when report cards went home.

Posted in 1. Instructional Systems Design, 503 Instructional Design for Educators

Teacher vs. Instructional Designer


I’ve thought a good deal about the differences between a teaching job and an instructional designers job. Ironically, my first hand experience in both fields makes it more difficult for me to see the distinction between the two.  As a teacher, I regularly fall back on my instructional design skills to plan effective learning units.

1. What are teachers expected to do that instructional designers are not?

I’ve been asked to answer the questionWhat are teachers expected to do that instructional designers are not?”  In short, teachers traditionally are looked at as people who deliver content.  Some key additional responsibilities include building relationships with students, communicating with parents, maintaining students’ personal records, collecting, analyzing, and reporting on performance, grading assignments, and establishing personal behavior and learning plans.  Teachers also need to complete a teacher certification program show mastery over the content areas they teach.  Contrary, as an instructional designer, I relied on subject matter experts (SME) to outline the content for course development.

2. What are instructional designers expected to that teachers are not?

To the second question I’ve been asked to analyze, “What are instructional designers expected to do that teachers are not?” I have a harder time delineating.  The basic answer is that instructional designers make decisions about how content is delivered.  They need to understand how to use different authoring tools, plan scope and sequence, write scripts, choose supportive media, and develop assessments.

By the same token, as a teacher short on time, I scavenger for material I can stitch together.  Instructional designers need to create their own material from scratch or purchase copyrights because often their work is created for a profit.  As a constructivist, it’s critical for me to design my own content so that I understand the logic behind the design. My teaching philosophy is that educators should build scenarios for students to discover new information and use the best platform possible to do that.

3. What are three major differences between instructional designers and teachers?
Three major differences between a teacher and an instructional designer are practical experience, focus, and expectations. Instructional designers must stay abreast of new technologies like graphics programs, mobile learning, podcasting, and interactive media.  Conversely, teachers gain experience in helping students fill gaps to construct new knowledge.  A second difference is instructional designers are required focus on content development and delivery.  While as a teacher, I received 6 weeks of training on Promethean’s authoring tool ActivInspire.  However, there was no requirement for me to incorporate this tool in my daily duties.  A teacher’s primary focus is on showing student growth.  Finally, Instructional designers are expected to design content and teachers are expected to deliver it.

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Developing Effective Technology Plans


Letter EThink of technology as the water that fills in the shapes of our imaginations. Technology use planning is about shaping a vision and leveraging innovation to make it happen. At worse, these plans are a narrow in overview, outlining types or a number of gadgets that should be acquired by a school or district. At best, it is both a plan and a process (Anderson)–a process that harnesses ideas into a collective consciousness and exemplifies problem solving with innovation.

John See, author of the article “Developing Effective Technology Plans,” argues that technology plans should not cover the scope of more than one year. On one hand, See makes his case by pointing out that in a year from now we don’t know what technologies will exist. On the other hand, Mr. See also says “effective plans focus on application, not technology.” If this is true, then application objectives should drive vision and not the other way around. If a technology plan attempts to tackle some of the more serious weakness in the educational system as outlined in initiatives like Race to the Top, I would argue, planning less than year is hardly adequate time to adopt and evaluate worthwhile innovations.

To illustrate, last year our district implemented the Georgia RESA Assessment of Student Progress, or GRASP testing, intended to progress monitor students in basic reading and math skills k-12. This year, GRASP is no where on the district agenda. For a success of a year-to-year data collection program to be measured or beneficial it must be maintained, analyzed, and evaluated over the course of several years. When the use of such a tool isn’t mandated, and teachers don’t know how to access or use the information, the tool becomes virtually useless.

The downfall in a technology use plans is a plan that focuses on adoption rather than implementation and evaluation. Before implementation we must ask what practice are we trying to improve? How will this technology support that goal? What benchmarks will we use to determine the success of an adoption? And perhaps most importantly, how will the adoption of this technology will improve learning? If I’m using a computer projector in my class in the same way I used an old school light projector, what’s changed? Nothing. If I’m using clickers to speed up grading but not adapting my instruction based on what I’ve learned, again, nothing has changed.

dusty keyboardIn my school we have adopted web programs, typing equipment, computer projectors, Promethean boards, headphones, and camera equipment many of which are infrequently used to maximize learning. Reasons range from lack of training, fear of equipment, fear of equipment breaking, or in some cases, teachers not even knowing they are there. This year’s adoption was Neo keyboards. Currently, four of five grade level sets sit gathering dust. Who ordered them? What was their intended purpose? How do we use them?

New technology trainings focus on the bells and the whistles of the equipment. Yet we tend to miss the essential question.  How are we improving the way we teach and the way students learn? If we don’t follow up to find out how teachers and students are answering this question then, I argue, money spent on new equipment is not money spent wisely.

When I started teaching four years ago, what stood out to me was how dated information management systems were compared to every other field I’d worked in. Even at the auto repair shop, I could look up the history of a vehicle to see every oil change, every diagnosis, quote, test-drives notes, and replaced part by brand and model with the click of a few buttons. But the information on my kids was more elusive. What did an 86% in math tell me about someones needs? I wanted concrete information on what my students already knew and what they needed. Who were they as learners? What strategies maximize their learning in the past and which ones didn’t?

Wiki Product ImageI also wondered how we could leverage resources. How could new teachers tap into the collective intelligence of the greatest teachers from the past? How would a seasoned professional solve the challenges that I faced as a novice? And still further, I wanted to know how I could personalize learning for students. How could I tap into their knowledge base and inspire them to build on what they already knew? These are still fundamental questions that guide my interest as an educator. My vision for personalized learning in fact, has hardly waivered since my own days as begrudging passive student.

My idea of a technology use plan involves finding solutions to these issues that are still of utmost importance. The Department of Educational Technology acknowledged my concerns in the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan. The plan discusses a shift from promotion based on seat time to promotion based on competency.  This would mean a shift in grading methodology and would lead to maintenance of more accurate information on individual student needs.

Personalized LearningThe document also distinguished the difference between individualized learning, which refers to students learning common information at their own pace, differentiated learning, which addresses different modalities, and the ability to personalize learning which takes into account students prior experience, language, culture, as well as pacing and modality. The success of customized consumer experiences has been demonstrated by companies like Amazon, Pandora, Netflix, and Stitcher radio.

The plan goes on to discusses how teachers across the country will share Common Core Standards. This will hopefully lead to a digital warehousing of best practices and expert presenters in core discipline.  Not all concepts mentioned in the report were easy a matter of effectively management of information systems however.  There also was mention of developing 2.0 assessment, which would include problem solving, critical thinking, and concepts of global participation into student evaluation. The subjective nature of assessing these kinds of skills has always been a challenge, which is why virtually all state tests are fill in the bubble, multiple choice tests. In the past, when faced with the choices of the most effective way or the fastest way to assess students, we’ve opted for speed and efficiency.  This leaves me to wonder, when we look back on the transformation of 20th century education system, we will attribute changes to technology use plans and visions of educators, or will simply see disruptive technologies as the butterfly wing that shifted the status quo?

Butterfly-Create ChangeREFERENCES

Anderson, S Larry, The Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan Version 2.0 prepared by students at students at Mississippi State University, 1996

See, John, The Computing Teacher, Vol.19 Number 8, May 1992.

______. National Education Technology Plan 2010 | U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.

Posted in 5.1 Problem Analysis, 5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation, 5.4 Long-Range Planning, 501 Introduction to Educational Technology

School Evaluation Project

For my organization assessment I measure the district and local school site using the Maturity Benchmark Model. This rubric model offers evaluation of a schools technology adoption and integration under five different filters including: Connectivity, Administration, Curricular, Support, and Innovation.  This project addresses the AECT standards 5 in the following ways.


Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to evaluate the adequacy of instruction and learning by applying principles of problem analysis, criterion-referenced measurement, formative and summative evaluation, and long-range planning.

  • 5.1 Problem Analysis
    Problem analysis involves determining the nature and parameters of the problem by using information-gathering and decision-making strategies.


  • 5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation
    Formative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information as a basis for further development. Summative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information to make decisions about utilization.


  • 5.4 Long-Range Planning
    Long-range planning that focuses on the organization as a whole is strategic planning….Long-range is usually defined as a future period of about three to five years or longer. During strategic planning, managers are trying to decide in the present what must be done to ensure organizational success in the future.

School Demographics
ABC Elementary School is Title 1 School located in coastal Georgia. The school was built 15 years ago and is nearing its capacity of 700 students. The average class size is 25. The principal is in his second year of leadership.

School Background
Five years ago the district received $300 million in funding from a ESPLOST (Education Specialize Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) to make physical structure improvements to school buildings. As a result schools in the district have a 5:1 ratio of students to computers. The school was part of a redistricting at the end of the 2009 school year creating a surge in population primarily of Hispanics in pre-k and kindergarten.

About the Evaluation Summary
The summary is organized in order from tier one, or top “emergent” or “island” priorities to lower tier two priorities or “integrated” or “intelligent” ratings. The principal of ABC school as well as the Networking Engineer, Director or Technology and Media Integration, and multiple teachers were consulted on this survey.

Overall Ratings
1. Administrative Integrated
2. Support Emergent
3. Curricular Emergent
4. Connectivity Intelligent
5. Innovation Integrated

Tier I Priority: Emergent or Island rating.


  • Behavior= Island.
  • Resource/ Infrastructure= Emergent

Summary: The Technology Planning Committee consists of 4 member: Chief Data & Information Officer, Networking Engineer, Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Director of Technology and Media Integration. The original 5 year EPLOST technology use plan was designed by these individuals and voted on by the board of education. Future planning should involvement key stakeholders including: parents, administration, teacher, students, business partners, and community members.

Admin Support = Island

Summary: This rating scale should be redefined to be more specific. Statements like limited support, peripheral involvement, ongoing discussions, and extensive involvement must be clearly defined to be measured accurately. In my survey, I specified how often and the way in which administration is involved in district wide technology use planning. For example, were they involved in pre-planning survey, brainstorming, drafting, or pre- publication previews? Additionally, how much time is set aside for planning and implementation support? What kind of support systems, if any are in place?
I found administration is not directly involved in any of the long-term district wide planning outside of their schools. Principals and district staff may share ideas about how to use technology informally. However, there is no process in place or dedicated time for technology use planning.

Tier II Priority: Integrated Rating


  • Behavior= Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure= Intelligent

Technology & Infrastructure Support

  • Behavior= Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure= Intelligent

Summary: The district requires staff to attend many technology trainings such as Power Teacher for grading and attendance and integration of new CPS clickers. Other trainings like Neos, use of Moodle and website development are optional. Some training includes stipends to encourage staff to participate. The district provides all formal technology training. Training is introductory in nature and follow-up trainings on new technology are provided on certain types of technology like the district grading software. The Media technology coordinator has conducted two school professional development sessions over the course of three years. One consideration that should be taken to account teachers movement from positions and grade levels year to year and often miss trainings that have are relevant.
The district is outfitted with a Help Desk for tech support issues Monday-Friday. Most staff utilizes formal support provided by the district in terms of training and maintenance. Grade level teams share information both formally and informally about curriculum, data, and planning in their classroom. Information about how technology is being used often comes up in these conversations though there is no requirement that technology use is discussed formally.



  • Behavior = Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure = Intelligent


  • Behavior = Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure = Integrated


  • Behavior= Intelligent
  • Resource/ Infrastructure = Integrated

Administrative Information

  • Behavior= Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure= Intelligent.

Summary: A formalized process has been integrated to use technology to maintain grades, take attendance, communicate through email with other staff members, and manage the library and cafeteria management systems. In addition, the district’s acceptable use policy describing how students and faculty can use the school equipment are available online.  However some systems such as tardiness, students excuses overlap between paper and electronic processing.

The school’s Yearly Improvement Plan is reviewed by the district and must be aligned with district initiatives. School-wide comprehensive planning receives informal review also because it is often connected to school-wide funding. Schools often look to the district and adopt technologies they have recommended. There is no formal review and no opportunity for faculty to view how technology adoptions are related to other planning in the school or district. Janitors, long-term subs don’t have access to email. Long term subs can’t access gradebook, attendance, copiers, or email. All students 1-5 access computers for 40 minutes 2 times per week. Free internet activities and school purchase


Electronic Information

  • Behavior= Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure = Integrated


  • Behavior = Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure = Integrated

Curriculum Integration

  • Behavior = Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure = Intelligent

Teacher Use

  • Behavior = Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure = Intelligent

Student Use

  • Behavior = Integrated
  • Resource/Infrastructure = Integrated

Summary: Teachers use technology in their daily activities to email, read district news, access standards and curriculum maps. Teachers also use Power School for grades and benchmarks assessment are scored electronically. Teachers in 2nd and 4th grade use Study Island to assess student needs based on standard area. Assessment reporting tools are integrated within products like this but are not integrated into the students’ personal records or year-to-year reporting. Many free Internet activities are also accessible but not all teachers seek them out or use them. Curriculum and instruction are not dependent upon technology.
Students access programs paid for through the district like Brainpop, Education City, Study Island, and United Streaming. All students grades 1-5 access computers for 40 minutes 2 times per week. The Internet provides resources on every area covered by standards. Not all classrooms have access to student computers or computer projection systems and student performance outcomes are not hinged on use of technology. The district purchases equipment for test grade levels first and then purchases equipment on an as needs basis for other grade levels.


New Technologies

  • Behavior= Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure= Integrated

Comprehensive Technologies

  • Behavior= Integrated
  • Resource/ Infrastructure= Integrated

Summary: Many staff members accept new technologies. Experimentation could happen during planning periods, or while instructing students. However no systems are in place for surveying teachers to find out how often or how they integrate technology into their daily instruction.


Local Area Network

  • Behavioral: Intelligent
  • Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

District Area Network

  • Behavioral: Intelligent
  • Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

Internet Access

  • Behavioral: Integrated
  • Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

Communication Systems

  • Behavioral: Intelligent
  • Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

Summary: Staff use available networks for practice activities for students and content delivery. The use differs between faculty depending on their comfort level. All computers are connected with high-speed access to all working environments. comprehensive and expandable for data, voice, and video according to District Network Engineer.



Posted in 501 Introduction to Educational Technology

Acceptable Use Policies

Acceptable Use Policies, or AUP, can be likened to the “Terms of Service” agreements people sign off on when they access online software. The intention of the AUP is provide a framework for specific information security standards. AUP’s should be succinct, yet also cover how users are and aren’t able to use the IT system. With the rapid pace of technological advancements, the trick for many organizations is to find the balance between excessively restrictive policies and those that fall short of their legal obligations.

The purpose of AUPs is two-fold. The first is to protect people in a learning environment from malicious material. The second purpose is to open doors for students to learn and teachers to teach. Keeping AUPs aligned with web 2.0 tools requires constant attention. Some districts update AUPs when the Technology Plan is drafted. Others update yearly, and still others update multiple times in a single year. Some districts use generic language to allow their policies encompass new products.

Tips for Covering the bases with AUPs

  • Consistent enforcement among all staff and faculty
  • Clearly define if tools will be used as learning tools or personal tools
  • Specifically define how certain tools should be used such as a common class Google accounts or material recorded on cameras.
  • Compel all parents and teachers to know, teach, and enforce the districts AUPs.
  • Compose a copy of computer use rules at age appropriate levels in all computer labs.
  • Use computer lab rules that answer “how,” “who” and “when” to adapt to the changing technological landscape.

Here are some examples of AUPs that tackle mobile learning in different ways:

Speers Point Public School Mobile Phone Policy

Mercer County Mobile Device Acceptable Use Policy

Broward County School and District Technology Use

Chatham County Acceptable Policy Use


Consortium for School Networking. (Sept. 2011). Acceptable use policies in the web 2.0 and mobile era. Learning, Leadership & Policy A CoSn Leadership Initiative. Retrieved from

Scrogan, L. (Jul. 2007) AUPs in a web 2.0 world. EDTECH Focus on K12. Retrieved from

Nagel, D. (Jan. 2011). A better approach to AUP’s for mobile devices: 5 questions with Anthony luscre. The Journal. Retrieved from

Posted in 504 Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology

2012 Vision Statement


According to Cathy Davidson, prior Duke University Professor and co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, “65 percent of today’s grade-school kids may end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet.”  Fifteen years ago Facebook, Google, iPhone, apps, YouTube, Twitter, and Wikipedia didn’t even exist.  Yet now these tools have become household names.  These inventions are not only shaping a new work force, but they are shifting the very way we conduct our lives.

With this in mind, a 21st century education is one that reflects our extreme access to information and interactions.  It equips students to decisively sieve through massive quantities of information.  It prepares them to evaluative new applications and adopts new skills daily.  These students will mange large complex communication networks and use technology tools for virtual collaboration.  Preparation for these skills requires we revitalize certain notions about the landscapes of education.

The US Department of Education National Education Technology Plan identified 21st learning frontiers as: inquiry/adventure based, online collabortories, mapping, augmented reality platforms, crowd sourcing, mobile applications, published content, and interactive simulations.  Contrary to today model, these environments often define the role of teacher as facilitator and student as explorer.

Technology use simply, is not technology integration.  In fact, authentic technology integration is when a teacher and a child don’t stop to think they’re integrating technology into learning (Edutopia).  The focus for educators now must be how to bridge the gap between technology integration in the real life vs. school life.


MindShift. (n.d.). How Do We Prepare Our Children for What’s Next? Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Education. (2010) National Education Technology Plan 2010. Retrieved from

Edutopia. (n.d.). What is technology integration? Retrieved from

Posted in 504 Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology, All

Teaching Beliefs vs Practices

Originally Posted February 2012

I fell into teaching in an unlikely way.  I was a kid who didn’t like school, so my rationale for becoming a teacher was to make the system better than it was when I went through it.  “If I was president,” I used to say, “schools would be places where kids could learn about things they were interested in.”  Somehow by the time I was in the 7th grade, the word “learn” equaled “school” which equaled “rigid and boring.”   “My classroom,” I said with confidence after a few years of homeschooling, “will be a place are really interested in the work that they do.”

Now that I’ve been invested on the other end I realize how complex educating really is.  When my classroom is functioning best my students have choices. They can choose seats, work with different partners,  pick projects to work on, and gather resources around the room as they see fit.  When I’m patient and listen I see my kids explore, struggle, discuss, and finally discover for themselves. These are the moments when I feel like a real educator. But these moments seem to be more and more difficult to justify.

Unfortunately, while students who are primarily engaged in Project-Based learning turn out to be better field practitioners, they don’t score as well as kids who follow a main stream classroom models on standardized tests as.  As a novice teacher I steal time from students’ discovery process to drill so I can guarantee they’ll be ready to pass state mandated tests.   Test dates can’t be prolonged for discovery processes to unfold and so we prepare our kids to take and pass tests.

Below I’ve created a graph to represent my beliefs vs. what actually happens in the classroom.  The text in blue represents technology I use to achieve these two very different learning goals.  Double click to enlarge it in a new window.