Professional Development Development

How do you or would develop professional development opportunities for the staff of an educational institution?

Should I fly by the seat of my pants and simply see what the year brings?

Do I involve my principal in the scope and development, or should I only go to him after I have the basic program?

Perhaps I should put together a survey online and ask for feeedback.

What I am going to try this year is bring together our rookie and veteran SMARTboard users and use them for recon in their various departments for PD requirements.

I am going to work with the Technology Coordinator to support teachers in curriculum development by suggesting technology and tech strategies in the process.

We are beefing up our assistive technology by adding 20 standalone Kurzweil Learnstations and 2 scanner/programming units – these require some serious PD.

Finally, I am going to put together a biweekly program based on

21 Things for the 21st Century Project
Based on the
National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers

This will be wonderful opportunities for learn for the love of it.

What do you think?

Bullying and our Grade 7s

Bullying has been very much in the news here in Massachusetts of late. We had two highly publicized student suicides here in, a boy and a girl. The boy was 11 years old, a sixth grader, when he hung himself with an extension cord on the second floor of the family home in April 2009 – His Story . The girl, in a case that is drawing national attention, hung herself earlier this year – Her Story. These events were, in part, reasons for the writing of a state law that was signed this week by the Governor of Massachusetts.

I am proud to say that the school where I teach, Pioneer Valley Regional School in Northfield Massachusetts, is ahead of the curve in combating bullying. This happened before I came here and began with the folks who are now my colleagues in the 7th grade. They created a program including videos and a PowerPoint® Bullying Powerpoint, and began working with their grade 7s to build an ABC – Anti Bullying Campaign. The students who are accepted into the program are called ABCs – Anti Bullying Consultants.  Seeing it this year for the first time has been an enlightening and heartening experience, especially at the neurological and social levels of development at which these children find themselves.

The Anti Bullying Campaign complements well with a weekly recognition award – The Star Award – that the teachers have been presenting for several years.

Does loving books mean I speak technology with an accent?

Three Offerings from ISTE

ISTE has timed a good number of books for that magic time, Summer, when I can read ’til my heart’s content. I don’t have the the NET-T in my hot little hands yet, but anyone who’s interested has seem the megaphoned from NECC last week. No, the three I have in mind are Visual Arts: Units for All Levels by Mark Gura,  Database Magic by Sandra Dounce, and Tablet PCs: in K-12 Education edited by Mike van Mantgem.

Visual Arts: Units for All Levels

By Mark Gura (160 pages ISTE, 2007 ISBN 978-1-56484-242-8)

ISTE asserts that the audience is Grade K–12 teachers, preservice teachers, technology coordinators, school and district administrators, teacher educators.

This book is in the familiar format of curriculum series that ISTE publishes. It is synched with new NETS-S and with The National Standards for Art Education (Visual Arts). Typically it is divided into two sections. The first is Mark’s framework for the incorporation of technology in the visual arts classroom. It is very formal. I kept looking to get to know the author here. Well, I had to wait until Section 2. Seeding each subsection with a wonderful quotation and using illustrations carefully Mark provides twenty instructional units. Since I teach Lit on Film, and a suggested project in that course is the production of a claymation or stop-motion film,  I gravitated to Unit 17 “Transformation by Clay Animation”. It will provide so much for my students who choose this project, transforming he manner in which I look at the possibilities. All of the Units meet the standards set by this one, in my mind.

Database Magic

By Sandra Dounce (180 pages ISTE, 2007 ISBN 978-1-56484-245-9)

The author and the editors at ISTE are aiming for Grade 4–12 educators, curriculum specialists, teacher educators, professional development personnel, preservice teachers, school and district administrators.

A CD is included with A good many Microsoft Excel and Access files. If you are familiar with Neo-Office the Mac version of Open Office you will able to utilize the Access files if you are a Mac school.

The book is in the curriculm series structure and is synched with the new NET-S. Section 1 fills almost a third of the book. Though written in gentle terms, I believe it is recognized that the teachers are going to have rather steep learning curve with databases, especially true databases. Sandra uses the first five of six chapters in Section 1 exploring databases. The final chapter focuses on the database functions in Excel.

Section 2 has sixteen units iusing the Excel spreadsheets and the Access databases included on the accompanying CD.  The second section opens with some background and a look at the spreadsheets and databases included on the CD. Sandra has gone to great lengths to not only profile the units in detail but to create a number of worksheets for each lesson.

Understanding databases and being able to create and use them is a critical 21st century skill. The most popular apps on the WWW today could not exist without the creation and integration of databases – from vitual campus visits to Facebook.

Tablet PCs: in K-12 Education

Edited by Mike van Mantgem with Dave Berque, Edward Evans, Tracy Hammond, Kenrick Mack, Mark Payton, and David Sweeney (100 pages ISTE, 2007 ISBN 978-1-56484-241-1)

The audience for this book is the usual cast of characters: K–12 teachers, technology coordinators, library media specialists, instructional leaders, preservice education students, and faculty.

For those with no exposure to tablet PCs, this may seem like a niche concern. It is near and dear to my heart because one of the case studies presented is from Vermont Academy, well within biking distance in the village of Saxtons River Vermont.

The book, in a mere hundred pages, answers the the what, when, and how of the use of tablets. This includes technical facts and lesson plans.

If you are exploring being a 1:1 school or fortunate to have the funds to add a COW (Computers On Wheels), you might want to seriously consider tablets instead of ‘simple’ laptops.

Technology skill set: mine, yours, and ours?

Mike Richards is the author of  Notes From Millie D , and a technology teacher/integrator in Arundel Maine. He is one of seven or eight techno-geek-education types in the USA who aren’t in San Antonio this week for NECC. I only know him through blogging, tweeting, and plurking, but his writing/offerings are outstanding. He dusted off the following list over a year ago. It has gotten legs again this week. In June 2007, Mike wrote:

Trying to some spring cleaning I ran across an article from The Journal (June 2005) titled 20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have. Here is a listing of the 20 skills:

  1. Word Processing Skills
  2. Spreadsheets Skills
  3. Database Skills
  4. Electronic Presentation Skills
  5. Web Navigation Skills
  6. Web Site Design Skills
  7. E-Mail Management Skills
  8. Digital Cameras
  9. Computer Network Knowledge Applicable to your School System
  10. File Management & Windows Explorer Skills
  11. Downloading Software From the Web (Knowledge including eBooks)
  12. Installing Computer Software onto a Computer System
  13. WebCT or Blackboard Teaching Skills
  14. Videoconferencing skills
  15. Computer-Related Storage Devices (Knowledge: disks, CDs, USB drives, zip disks, DVDs, etc.)
  16. Scanner Knowledge
  17. Knowledge of PDAs
  18. Deep Web Knowledge
  19. Educational Copyright Knowledge
  20. Computer Security Knowledge

At that point, Web 2.0 was just infancy. Making a May 2007 edition what things would you add to the list, but more importantly, what would you take off the list?

How would you alter the list in June 2008?

I have already formulated and distributed a ‘skills survey’ to develop resources and expose weaknesses based on the, soon antiquated, NETS-T: One-liners on a chart with boxes to check indicating level of ability. With the new NETS-T in hand, perhaps I can formulate a survey that may be valid, appropriate for a year.

What do you think?

ISTE Books


What do you think of the books that are published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)? Bearing in mind that I am an unpublished author (I’m bearing it in mind, so you needn’t.), I will keep my snootiness to a minimum – those who can’t write publish reviews instead.


On the whole, and I have a shelf of them, I am pleased that I have bought the books. Some have pleased more than others. The newest book – English Language Arts Units for Grades 9–12 by Dr. Christopher Shamburg is actually, I trust, in the mail. But I have some thoughts about three of the most recent ones that I would like to share. 

Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools  by Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum is a book that one would imagine would be great if it were serialized, because of the speed at which the WWW evolves. I have been planning a one semester intro to Web design and I am going to use the Appendices to expand the concept of a Web presence and associated tools for these high school students. The tenth chapter has twelve wonderful tutorials for educators. The first nine chapters discuss the tools of the moment and some really rich discussion about the Web and education. Chapter 6, ‘Leadership and New Tools’ is worth the price of the book, as far as I’m concerned. Many of us have had something to say about the tyranny of top down management. What we say probably differs by where we are in the Great Chain of Being. The authors espouse, quite convincingly, that school and district administrators are the difference-makers in the 21st century paradigm.

John Hendron’s book, RSS for Educators, caught me off guard. The title is so pedestrian that I sighed when I ordered it. It is, however, a wonderful book, written by a person with the soul of an artist. After a wonderful introduction, he breaks his considerations into three sections:

  • School applications: blogs, wikis, podcasts, and VoIP and synchronous communication;
  • Core software applications: Audacity, GarageBand, blogging, news aggregators;
  • Classroom Apps: blogging, wikis, podcasts, newsfeeds, advnaced RSS.

He has two excellent appendices – resources and a glossary. 

Since Michigan made passing an online class a graduation requirements and statewide online schools are sprouting like mushrooms after a rainy week, public school administrators and teachers need to considering the importance and efficacy of partivipating in online education. Cathy Cavanaugh and Robert Blomeyer have edited What Works in K-12 Online Learning. Susan Patrick, President and CEO of NACOL writes the forward. The book has eleven chapters from educational philosophy to online phs ed. I am so pleased that ISTE brought this out in a timely manner.