With only 3 days left before our country celebrates the beginning of Obama’s presidency, different groups of people are thinking really hard about what changes will take place. We all know that the majority of us liked what Obama was saying, but what about his cabinet? Most prominent on my mind, and likely yours – what’s the deal with Arne Duncan, our soon-to-be Secretary of Education? His words sound promising, but only time will tell:
While reading Steve Hargadon’s blog, I learned that Duncan will hold a round-table discussion with 12 teachers on January 21 to discuss their thoughts on the following 5 questions:
1. What is the one most important education issue you wish Secretary Duncan to focus on during his tenure and why?
2. How shall the tenets of the No Child Left Behind act be altered or invigorated? What are its positives? How can its negatives be improved?
3. How should the new administration respond to the nation’s need for better prepared and more qualified teachers?
4.What should the new administration do to increase student engagement in mathematics, the sciences and the arts?
5. How should funding equity issues be addressed?
Hargadon has started a new Ning called ‘Future of Education’ where you can join in the discussion about how you would answer these questions. One of the teachers selected to chat with Duncan, Carol Broos, is asking for feedback and ideas before the 21st – here’s your chance to speak up!
I read a recent post by Claire Thompson called “Tools and Sites I Use – One Year Later“. I really like what she did – last January, she blogged about the tools that she used regularly, and now she’s gone back and reviewed and updated that list. Sounds like a fun way to reflect.
Here’s my list of tools/sites that I use just about every day:
- twitter – probably my favorite tool now, the center of my PLN (personal learning network)
- gmail – one personal account and one work account
- Facebook – keep in touch with old friends and former students
- Netvibes – my RSS reader, how I keep up with my favorite blogs (or try to, at least)
- Firefox – just curious if I’ll still be using it next year, or a different browser like Chrome…
- WordPress – where I house this blog, and read many others
- Lighthouse – more for my company; great, free application that enables teamwork and good project management
- Yammer – microblogging, within an organization – basically there are about 8 of us at Inigral, Inc. that keep up with each other this way.
- diigo – social bookmarking site where I keep my favorites and love following the daily links that I get via e-mail, through the Classroom 2.0 group.
- Jing – slick image/video capture and sharing tool
- Youtube – I end up watching something on here every day. Will it hold its own against the competition this year?
- Microsoft Office – (threw this one on here to see if I’m still using Word and Excel next year….I’m actually rooting for Google Docs!)
Tools I hope to use more:
- Classroom 2.0 – an outstanding Ning with great discussions and many interesting educators to connect with
- LinkdIn – professional networking site – you can find very unique skill sets here
- Evernote – keeps track of life, in general, with to-do lists, pictures, voice notes, and more
- Backtype – how I keep track of commenting on blogs – need to figure out how to tap into its full potential
- Younoodle – a startup networking site
- Flickr – I hope to start posting more pics
- Any iPhone app, period – hope to get one soon!
Now….hopefully I’ll remember this next January 🙂
What do you use that’s not on my list?
I’m not going to turn this into a cheesy ‘new year’s resolution’ post, but here are two easy things that I plan to do in 2009 to be productive and helpful. Being a teacher, you learn the importance of setting goals, but they’re pretty worthless unless they’re measurable. Thank goodness both of these have easy ways to keep track of them:
1. Comment on others’ blogs more – at least an average of 3 comments per day. I’m sure many of us would like to do this. It’s nice to read a quick entry, get something great out of it, , something that maybe even sparks a new idea for you….but then it’s so easy to move forward without taking the 2 minutes to leave the author a comment.
- Luckily, I discovered BACKTYPE!! This is an awesome tool that finds and organizes your comments. Really, the best part for me is just having the links back to the conversations I want to be apart of. But – it also organizes your commenting activity in one place.
2. Donate blood regularly. I believe you can do this every 2 months, but I’m shooting for 3 times this year. www.givelife.org or, in Houston – www.giveblood.org. Both let you create an account to track your donations.
I wish you and your loved ones a great start to 2009!!
If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve already begun building your personal learning network.
Here is a clever video called The Networked Student about how students are doing it these days, and how this new approach to learning will enhance their 21st century skills. Highlights include using iPods to listen to college lectures posted on iTunesU and videoconferencing with experts for research projects. It was created by Wendy Drexler‘s high school students (!), inspired by a course on Connectivism offered by Stephen Downes and George Siemens this fall.
It sums up the role of the teacher as this: a learning architect, a modeler, learning concierge, connected learning incubator, network sherpa, synthesizer, and a change agent. Educators will be solely enablers of searching and discovering, creating life-long learners who will be invested in their own learning. Every small step you take in your classroom to encourage exploration and collaboration brings us all one step closer to this goal.
Integrating technology into curriculum has been a popular topic in the blogosphere for some time now. I’m starting to find more and more concrete, applicable ideas that have the potential to be easily integrated – thank goodness for collaboration. I feel like we’re getting somewhere.
Check this out – Andrew Churches’ “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy v.2.12“.
- He brilliantly updates the 7 scaffolded levels with web-based skills such as searching, bookmarking, blogging, and collaboration and includes rubrics and exemplars of performance.
- He’s actually been talking about this for almost two years. Here, he offers digital alternatives for normal classroom activities, along with tools that can easily be used.
Another cool find – Stacy Baker’s blog on how she’s using technology in her Biology class.
- My favorite find here, so far, is this amazing rubric that she has her students post on their blog or wiki page, where they have to justify their mastery of different 21st century skills – searching, publishing, reaching out to experts and more (this is the ideal performance). Here’s the blank version that they have to fill out.
I’ve gotten to that point where my list of “interesting links” is so huge, I’d better start picking out my favorites to focus on. Here are some of them:
A Directory of Learning Professionals on Twitter – Jane Hart first put out a list of 101people to follow if you’re interested in education and web 2.0, but the list quickly grew into this – 330 and counting!
Soundsnap is a library of sound effects – so cool! Can be downloaded and added to presentations, etc.
Jing is a tool that allows you to capture any part of your screen – images and even screencasts. Very helpful for capturing diagrams and graphs to insert into handouts and presentations.
Make Belief Comix might be the easiest and most accessible cartoon-strip creator to use, even for young students.
EasyBib turns information about a source into a formal, MLA bibliography citation! Even websites!
Who knew that RSS feeds could do so much?!?
- Books. Read books with DailyLit. They will send sections to you each day via RSS feed.
- Word of the Day. Get a new vocabulary word sent to you every day with Dictionary.com.
- World News. One of the top news agencies offering world news brings it to you via RSS feed at Reuters.
Check out this list of 100 cool things you can do with them written by Alisa Miller.
If you’re not quite sure what an RSS feed is, watch this: