Monday, November 12, 2007

Best of the Web

Vicki Davis (aka Cool Cat Teacher) put up a blog on the Best of the Web on November 9, encouraging edubloggers to share with newcomers to Web 2.0 the tools we find most useful. Although I've blogged about a couple of these rather recently, here are my contributions to BestoftheWeb, the tag we've all been encouraged to use so folks can track down these tools.

Twitter: Aside from my week at Keystone Technology Institute this past summer, Twitter has done the most to expand my knowledge of Web2.0 technologies and led me to a number people who have given me ideas about how to effectively and meaningfully use these technologies in the classroom. On top of that, I've stayed in touch with a number of people from KTI, like minded individuals who have the same goals as I do: getting today's students ready to function effectively in tomorrow's world. My professional development will never be the same.

skrbl: An on-line interactive white board. I've used this a number of different ways in my classroom, but my favorite activity is an author study. (I need to blog about this, and will do so soon.) Any time you've got an activity you want the kids to collaborate on and want each kid making a contribution, this is the way to go. I find the site to be responsive (it shows new adds very quickly), and it has been able to support 22 participants at the same time so far. I keep trying to think of new ways to add this tool in my classroom.

Voice Threads: Post pictures and have either vocal or typed commentary added to the picture. My kids used this to document a trip Morpheus Fortuna took to Harrisburg, PA. Still looking for a way to consistently use this in the classroom. I know it's out there; it just hasn't come to me yet.

I'm sure there's more if I think about it, and I may blog more about some of the Best again soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Need for Human Contact

My building has definitely gone through an infusion of technology in the last eight months thanks to a grant provide by the state of Pennsylvania. With the grant came a series of on-line courses group under the header of the emBedded learning academy. The English and Math teachers in out building, recipients of round one of the Classrooms for the Future Grant, were required to take the first course last spring. The course is basically designed to get teachers thinking like 21st Century educators, and part of that is to get teachers out of their classrooms and interacting with the other members of their department for the advancement of teaching or the benefit of students.

With this thinking in mind, Julie, a member of my English department, proposed a professional development opportunity where teachers would get together to identify areas of student need. Once a need was identified, we would brainstorm possible approaches to the problem and all agree to try some of the approaches before our next meeting. The administration loved the idea, and with their blessing, a group was born. So, with that premise in mind, we got together a couple dozen teachers, Julie started a wikispace to be a record of our idea generating and results, and we got the teachers together. I thought our first meeting went incredibly well, and in the time we were together, we identified the first need we wanted to focus on and swapped some initial ideas for dealing with that need.

After the meeting, I was surprised to hear from one of the teachers that the gathering was a complete waste of time. "Why do we have to get together for a face-to-face meeting when we have the wiki?" Wow. I was completely blown away, and here I am two weeks later still grappling with this.

Why wouldn't teachers want to get out of their classroom and have collegial exchanges with other like minded individuals? Why wouldn't we want to have some human contact in a world where people sometimes allow technology to further isolate them? I mean, I look around my building and teachers have further withdrawn into their classrooms, feeling overwhelmed by everything new that has been thrown at them and the expectations that have come with it. When I do get a chance to talk with them, we get to talk about what we are doing and share some great ideas. Shouldn't this be the norm rather than the exception?

Since my ed-tech immersion started this past summer, I've acquired a number of online contacts; in fact, many of us who attended a conference together learned about Twitter there and stay in touch that way. That hasn't stopped us from trying to get together thought. A few of us met in a location central to all of us not too long ago and had a great get-together. We chatted not only about ed-tech issues but also about life, current events, and managing it all when feeling deluged. We got to see that we were all feeling the same way and able to share some ideas for getting along. On-line, the conversation might never have been that deep, and personally, I wouldn't trade those four hours for anything.

So, to close this blog-post out, I encourage all educators out there to maintain personal contacts with others in your community. The technology is great and can take us and our students to a plethora of new places, but get out and talk with people face-to-face. See and feel their struggle. Show your empathy. Share some ideas. Be a part of their support structure and find your own. We need human contact.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My week with Morpheus

Last summer at Keystone Technology Institute, a friend of mine (Brandon) came up with this idea for a stuffed animal to travel the United States, visiting classrooms and learning new things as he went. The animal's travels and learning would be documented using numerous Web 2.0 technologies and be accessible to any class with an Internet connection. Some of us immediately recognized that this was a 21st Century version of Flat Stanley. A few short weeks later, Morpheus Fortuna was born.

Partly to support Brandon and partly to get my students thinking globally, I signed up to host Morpheus. I'd been thinking of all kinds of things the students could do with him ever since the drive home from KTI. However, as the date of Morpheus' arrival drew closer, I began to feel a degree of trepidation. Would the kids respond? Would they think it was cheesy? Would they even voluntarily sign up for a project?

I'd briefly mentioned Morpheus to the class during the second or third week of school, and the response had been tepid. That wasn't doing wonders for stress level. There had been a glimmer of hope two weeks later when the kids asked, "when's that turtle coming?" So, here I was on the eve of Morpheus' arrival wondering if my decision to host was a monumental mistake or not. The day Morpheus was to arrive, I surveyed the kids to gauge interest levels in what they wanted to do. No whining, no complaining, just 100% response. OK, I was feeling a bit better, but not so much so that I wasn't wide awake thinking about the project for two and a half hours the night before I kicked it off in class.

Kick off day was upon me, and I have to say things went much better than I expected. My big group formed themselves into sub-groups after I'd thrown out some ideas, and all of a sudden I had a science aspect to the project, groups that wanted to deal with the history of Harrisburg, and a group that wanted to do something with high school life. I even had stories being written featuring Morpheus and someone willing to become the voice of Morpheus on his blog site! The next three days were an incredible ride: the kids were trying new things, pushing boundaries, and getting excited about what they could share with the other classes.

I guess I was worried about nothing, but as Brandon told me when I updated him on what was going on, "You must have sold it to the kids." I guess I must have. My students exceeded my wildest expectations once I set a vision and let them run with it. Lesson learned: don't doubt that they can do it; believe they can!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

If I could turn back time...

I was interviewed and videotaped today by the district Classrooms For the Future (CFF) coach about my experiences with the technology and the change in my classroom; this will all be part of presentation our tech staff will be doing tomorrow for districts getting the CFF grant for the first time. I was asked about how it fit with the district's vision, curriculum and Learning Focused School initiative and if I'd seen any changes with the students. One question, though, has really gotten me thinking this evening: "If all of the technology was taken away tomorrow, could you go back to teaching the old way."

Could I go back to teaching in a 20th Century Classroom? Although I've forgotten the exact wording of my answer at this point in time, the gist of my response was that I can't imagine going back. When I think of the disservice I was doing to my students, I'm almost appalled at how we were getting kids ready to be citizens in this new, smaller, connected world. I was doing the only thing I had ever known: teaching like I had been taught when I was a student when the world was much larger and the Internet wasn't as accessible as it is today.

I'm thinking of a new math teacher in our building as well tonight. Dan joined us nearly a year ago now, and he mentioned in a meeting this morning how he has already transformed his teaching. He has experienced the power of the Polyvision board and seen its impact on students. He realized he was simply teaching the way he had been taught when he was in school. Dan, because of his experiences with our Polyvision Board, has already begun transforming his teaching style; in fact, he's even actively seeking out available classrooms he can teach in that are equipped under the CFF program.

It is no longer a matter of whether we can go back in time; we cannot. We have reconnected with many of our students. We have engaged them on new levels. They are THINKING and INTERACTING. We must move forward. We must make the transformation.

Could you go back? Would you? This may be a worthwhile discussion worth having.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Skrbl - An online, collaborative whiteboard

A few days ago I blogged about an activity I'd run a couple weeks back and my desire to reduce some of the lectures I've given to increase student involvement and to make the whole affair a bit more meaningful to the kids. We, of course, know that when students DO, they are more likely to retain what they've done. One of my hopes was to make the activity even more asynchronous, active, and collaborative: make the kids less passive, make me even less of a gatekeeper and let the information develop and disseminate as the students located it using the resources available to them.

Immediately after that activity, I started looking for different options that would allow the students to record their findings as they came across them. I wanted something that was "live" and evolving. I wanted something that would allow posting, immediate display, and might encourage the kids to go look up something they had seen posted. I wanted something that would be easy to use for the kids. My CFF coach Laurie V happened by my room that same day, and I asked her for some ideas. We bantered around some initial ideas.

A wikispace was dismissed fairly quickly because of issues my co-workers had with multiple edits happening at the same time. Google Docs came up, but did I really want to take the time to get user names and passwords set up or have the students do so? For some reason I can no longer remember, SubEthaEdit was also ruled out. Free was definitely a concern as well as was the ability of up to 25 students (and perhaps as many as 30 in the future) to access at the same time.

A week passed, and I was coming up on my next novel introduction. It was time to get serious about this new approach I wanted to try. Enter SKRBL. (Get it yet?)

I don't know whether Laurie V mentioned this first (Laurie definitely mentioned something, but I inadvertently deleted that email) or I came across it over at, but SKRBL definitely fit the bill. SKRBL (still thinking?) is an on-line interactive whiteboard that allows users to do all kinds of free hand and typed scribbling. (Ah, finally got it! Don't worry, it took 30 minutes before it dawned on me.) Free with no limit on simultaneous users, I thought I'd found my solution. As a bonus, boards can be either open to the public or password protected and saved as a static web-page for future reference when an activity is over. This was perfect!

So, last Wednesday night I set off to give it a field test. I created an account (very fast!) and set up both a public and password protected board. I drafted several fellow Twitterers (Thanks Chris C., Elisha, Kirk, and hmm, who else was it?) to give it a run. Up to three of us were on the public board at once, and I got a feel for how the password protected pages worked too. Granted three users was a far cry from 25, so I was just going to have to try it under real world conditions to see what would happen.

Friday morning, 8:00 a.m. was zero hour, and for some stupid reason, I invited some administrators by to see it in action. (What was I thinking? I'd never done this before!) Anyhow, I got laptops in the kids hands, explained the task, discussed the approach, and the kids were off and running. The activity ran pretty smoothly, except some of the kids couldn't initially post to the board. I thought we'd reached the limit of the site's capabilities at about ten users, but note this: Skrbl must be run using either IE 6 or 7 or Firefox 1.5 or 2.0; Safari on a go. I projected the board from my laptop, and it was just incredible to watch the kids and the content start popping up on the board. Check out what 19 kids did in about 30 minutes here (a saved, static record of our work).

What would I do differently? The kids got in to playing with different text colors after awhile to make their notes stand out. When, in the middle of the activity, it struck me that I wanted different kinds of information color coded, I was pretty much screwed. In the future, perhaps I'll start have the kids start with black text and have the color coding happen later, or I'll just start with some color-coded categories from the get go. Still have to work on my direction giving for the paper support notes: I thought I made it clear I wanted facts recorded with citations as evidence of individual work. I'm going to have to work on a visual example for this I guess. Otherwise, I'm very pleased with how this activity ran (we'll see about the admin. on Monday), and Skrbl has a major fan in me!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Replacing a Lecture

About a week and a half ago, I was coming up on introducing the novel Of Mice and Men to my juniors. I absolutely hate introducing novels because I'd not found any way to do this beyond lecture. Don't get me wrong, when a novel is being started, it very valuable to know something about an author and his circumstances to understand the context of the novel: Why did an author write it? What had the author experienced that might be in the novel? What was going on in the world at the time? These global questions often act as a nice framework to begin talking about the work. However, those lectures were deadly.

It finally hit me the period before this introductory lecture (better before than after!): why not have the kids research and document the information? The laptops were available and unscheduled for that time, so I decided to jump off a cliff and give it a go.

I started the activity by setting the framework that knowing about an author and his background can often lead to an understanding of the novel. I gave them the author's last name, the name of the novel, and 20 minutes. They were off and researching! My only insistence this first time out was to record their individual finds on paper, so I could track individual participation. Of course, I monitored their progress as well be circulating the classroom.

Five minutes later...time to have a talk about web site selection; can you believe everything on any website? Who can you trust? Can you trust Wikipedia? (Yes, Wikipedia was an early stop.)

Twenty minutes later, I started recording the kids' findings on the interactive whiter board as they threw them out. They found every major fact that I would have given in lecture (except the formal name of his style), and when I told them this, they were amazed. I wrapped up by defining realism and talking with them about which facts tied in to that concept. We had set the stage for what Steinbeck brought to his writing and how it might have affected the outcome.

What would I do differently?
  • I definitely need to be more clear in insisting on the note taking; I've got to have some record of what the kids find and where they have been.
  • Hmmm, where they've been: must have the kids cite their sources. At what site did they find the content they found? Can it be corroborated on another site? Was it?
  • Wouldn't it be cool to have the kids put their findings on the board live as they find them? Waiting to the end was effective, but might it be even more powerful to have this happening live?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

iClick, youClick: Clickers for learning

Last January, three of us on staff (myself, Justin & Koren) got a grant proposal together to buy and test the use of Classroom Response Systems (CRS) in our high school. We were quickly supported by our building principal and the folks in our tech. department, but alas, the wheels of progress were slow. We didn't get word of our grant approval until April (it was a district level grant, and I'd hoped for a quick response), and until the items were ordered and shipped, school was out.

Fast forward to the start of this school year, and we have the systems and are already plotting out various uses for them. Here's what can be reported so far:

We went with a company called iClicker. Started by a group of college professors, they worked under the premise that the technology shouldn't become intrusive; instead, it should just be a natural add-on, almost working in the background without being seen. Let me tell you, am I glad we went with this company.

The learning curve is quick. You can literally start the software and start using it right away with anything. Yes, ANYTHING. You can have a PowerPoint running and pop in a multiple choice question to check the kids understanding of a concept. You can have questions in a word processing document and scroll through the questions as you poll the kids. Heck, you can even handwrite a question on your interactive white board and use that as a polling question! The key to this product is that a screen shot is taken at the conclusion of each polling session, so the results of the question are linked directly to the question. Easy to add new questions on the fly.

Answers are collected by the RF (radio frequency) base station, and the instructor can see the results right away. On the projection screen, a timer runs (either up or down) while the count of respondents counts up. The instructor then has the choice to show the class the polling results or to keep them private. And although I haven't tried it yet, there's the potential to transfer grades to our grade book program.

They'll definitely be follow-ups to this post as we explore uses for the iClicker. I'm hoping to invite Justin & Koren to guest blog on their experiences as well.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

30 minute technology project

I had my doubts.

I was pretty sure what I was asking the kids to accomplish was doable, but I had my doubts.

I'd even done a dry run at an in-service I'd taught for other high school staff members; they had accomplished a very similar task in just about 30 minutes. At the inservice, I had advocated that technologically based products didn't need to take days to complete. I knew the theory was sound; however, there was still this lingering doubt about a practical, classroom application.

The students' task: take a picture of themselves using the on-board cameras on the MacBooks, send it to iPhoto, and create a postcard that told me something about them, so I could get to know them. All right, not a sound curricular connection, but my point in doing this on the second day of class was to give the kids an idea of the type of things I would be asking them to do during the coming semester. I wanted them to understand that class would pace quickly and that they would sometimes have to think quickly to accomplish a task.

The entire activity took 40 minutes instead of my planned 30, but this was well within the time frame I hope to accomplish some future projects. The extra time was a result of a quick demonstration of how to work through the process (I created a postcard of myself), brainstorming some items to share with me, and some technical difficulties we experienced as a result of new Internet filters and authentication software installed in the district this summer. All in all, I'm calling this one a resounding success.

What will make this activity work? A clear set of expectations set out as the students set off to work on a project: let them know what you (the teacher) expects to see as an end result. Be specific. Be precise. And tell the kids the time limit.

I'm anxious to try this now with a curricular connection and will be doing so this upcoming week when the students do character postcards based on a character from Of Mice and Men. But more on that later when I can report how that activity works out.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Power of Advocacy - part 2

After meeting with the district level of our technology team, which I discussed in my last blog, I decided it was time to talk with my building principal. This was a result of not only attending the Keystone Summit but being involved with Classrooms For the Future (CFF) and the emBedded Learning Academy associated with it.

Having been involved with all of these, I began to recognize the need for some wide-ranging changes in my building, and amongst those was the fact that too few teachers were being exposed to the transformation happening with education in the 21st Century. How could the word be transmitted to the masses? How could we work to get everyone on staff on the same page so we were all working towards the same goals? My plan when meeting with the principal was to introduce the idea of having an educational component to monthly faculty meetings; in other words, make the meetings less informative and more didactic.

We were on the same page! Based on his involvement with CFF, he had reached the same conclusion. We’ve already scheduled a second meeting, this time involving the assistant principals as well, and I’ve suggested some topics for the first couple months. I suspect we will also branch out to address some Learning Focused School issues as the school year wears on, but we’ll definitely be moving the faculty and staff in the direction of 21st Century education.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Power of Advocacy

Returning from the Keystone Technology Institute (KTI), I had a renewed energy and excitement about teaching. I came away with many new ideas and thoughts about where we could take technology in my district. Before I even got home, I’d been invited in for a conversation with Jill M., one of our technology directors and a true educator. I went in with an agenda since I’d been thinking about so many things. My main focus: how we could use technology for professional development and to improve teacher-student interactions.

Our wide-ranging talk resulted in several immediate outcomes: the filter on the district network was opened to allow teachers greater access to Internet resources. For example, Twitter has been opened to teachers, and I hope to show my colleagues how they can use it not only for social connections but also for professional contact. (I know I’ve learned a lot from the small circle of people I follow on Twitter!) Because of mentioning the work of Kristen H at the Summit, Skype had already been opened up as a potential avenue for video conferencing.

On another front, I brought up the idea of using some flavor of instant messenger to keep teachers connected with their students. Why do this? The kids of today are connected, and one of those connections is IM. Why shouldn’t we connect with them in a way they are accustomed to and comfortable with? Anyhow…quite frankly, it seems like there’s a fear on some fronts about doing this, and I can understand that. It opens up a whole new form of teacher-student interaction, and what happens if there is an accusation of inappropriate contact? I’ve suggested, and am willing to be a part of, designing a district policy that would support this.

Finally, I brought back the idea of technology mentors from KTI, and Jill seems receptive to the idea. She brought up the idea of using a group called Cadre that we already have in place to help teachers new to the district become familiar with our technological policies and practices.

All in all, it never hurts to take ideas to the folks in charge, especially if they are open to team work and dialogue. Next up...what happened when I met with the building principal.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Persuasive Games

I heard about Persuasive Games on the replay of Tuesday's The Cobert Report, so I decided to check them out. Basically, the premise behind the games is they make people more aware of world issues through on-line interactive simulation game play. Some of their games are offered for free via Shockwave, there's another over at CNN (Presidential Pong), and a number which apparently appear next to editorials on the online version of the New York Times (a TimesSelect subscription is required). Several others, when clicking the 'More' button tell you to contact the company for additional information. Real world issues of today seem to be the main focus of the games.

Can't think of any direct applications in my English classroom...yet. Perhaps just a good background on current events to help the students be more world aware.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tag...I'm it!

8 Random Facts

Much to my surprise, I found out I was tagged this morning. I'm not sure why, but Kristen
tagged me. So, even though this is outside the scope of my normal blog and even though I'm a relatively new blogger, I'll play along with this meme. While I won't be able to tag 8 other people, I'll try to get a couple more people involved.

Anyway, here are the rules:
  • Post these rules before you give your facts
  • List 8 random facts about yourself
  • At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
  • Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

My Facts:

  1. I drove a diesel locomotive near Waterbury, CT in June of 2007. I was at the throttle for nearly an hour and for about 20 miles.
  2. In my first 13 years of teaching, I directed or supervised at least 39 productions. Yes, that's three a year. I retired from that to help teachers in my building learn to use technology better.
  3. There are 5 nieces and 1 nephew in the family. The men are losing out.
  4. I love attending professional Broadway productions, whether locally or in NYC.
  5. I never had a pet until January 1996. The cat adopted me.
  6. My first computer at home was an Atari 800; at school TRS 80.
  7. I have dinner with the same group of people every Thursday night, and have been doing so for nearly 15 years.
  8. It was easily this century before I had my first cell phone.
Again, I'm a relatively new blogger, and I don't even know 8 other bloggers yet. But I'll still tag a couple people and see if they are up to this challenge.

Dianne (come on, you've been tagged twice)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Shift Happening in Dubai

Jim Gates over at TipLine blogged about this earlier today:
TipLine - Gates' Computer Tips: [TIPS] Look at what's happening in Dubai

This is one thing all KTI Summit attendees and others concerned about the transition to a 21st Century model of education need to be thinking about. We need to make sure our students are getting what they need to be competitive in the world in the coming years.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Inservicing teachers of tomorrow

I taught an in service academy today...was one of three presenters. Our topic: Digitizing Your Classroom. We had about 45 teachers in for the day, and we focused on uses of social networking in the classroom, creating electronic charts, and creating dynamic, non-linear PowerPoint Presentations. My focus was PowerPoints.

First off...don't ever try to use a laptop as a file server for a folder 100+ MB in size! I learned the hard way. I'd used the Mac file share feature in the past, but not for anything that big. Get 5 to 10 computers trying to get it at the same time (or whenever the computer maxed out), and everything ground to a halt. Thank God for a back-up plan...USB drives to the rescue! (In hindsight, I should have started a wikispace with the resources. Of course, I didn't realize that until about 5 a.m. yesterday and the academy started at 8:00. Oh, well.)

The technique I was trying to teach was to use buttons for navigation so the kids can jump around as they wish and to embed rich forms of media within the PPT. Why these technique? Student pacing was my big selling point. Are there students who need more time to process the provided information? Absolutely! This kind of PowerPoint allows for this kind of pacing. Students can read at their own rate, take notes at the level they deem necessary, and even replay the embedded videos if they missed something. On a rudimentary level, this a simple way to handle differentiated instruction.

Anyhow, I used plenty of hands on instruction after providing that 100+MB play file: taught a small part while having the group follow along with the provided files, let them practice on their own, give another segment, practice, and then extended practice at the end. Towards the end of the session I provided a take-away: a PowerPoint with embedded screen shots and videos (thanks SnapProX!) to refer back to later when the teachers are creating their PowerPoints.

The feedback when the day was over was what I had hoped for. They liked the chunking and the hands on approach in not only my session but all three. Most felt they were exposed to so much new today. Overall, it was extremely satisfying.

What was my "take away" for the day? I got to interact with a bunch of eager teachers from veterans to some who haven't set a foot in the classroom yet, and I found out that most are all in the same boat: they want to connect with the kids on their level as 21st century learners and are just looking for how to do it. (There was a naysayer in the crowd who tried to tell me we needed to focus on the basics and not worry about the process too much. He said we were trying to scare them with all our talk of how we have to interact differently with the kids in the 21st Century.) It's gratifying to see that so many of us are on the same page and moving in the same direction.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Online Discussion

Discussion groups. Blogs.

Online discussions were my first venture into Web 2.0 applications nearly 3 years ago. What prompted the move? Students who were shy about participating in the classroom. I wasn't hearing their voice and thinking. Their classmates weren't either. In my mind, it was a necessity to get these students involved: they had to think, and they needed feedback on their thinking from others. I set up a group at YahooGroups, allowed the students to choose their level of anonymity to the other group members (but not to me), and I was off and running. The students could read, respond, and (hopefully!) dialogue.

What's the key to a good discussion? A good question is the start. The question must be open ended and has to allow for some latitude in thinking. Preferably, there are many angles to the question. Anything less, and you'll just get a lot of, "yeah" and "me too." Don't get me wrong, even with a good question, you'll still get a lot of "I agree with 'so-and-so.'"

However, there's more to it than just having good questions. At first, even with the best questions, the students will only want to talk to you, the teacher. While that's fine, where's the interaction? The challenge? The analysis? The depth of thought?

Things really start to groove when they really discuss and talk to each other: when they ask for clarification, ask questions, and challenge assertions. How, though, can you get the kids to that place? The only answer I've found is this: with time. But I'm impatient. How can I get them to move there more quickly? Hmmm...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thoughts approaching 2007-2008

I know my introduction states that the main focus of my blog will be on techniques I've tried in class as I transform the classroom from a traditional, industrial one to a 21st Century model. The school year is a good month off yet, but so much is going through my mind, I feel the need to share the vision I'm working with.

Two critical things have happened since November 2007 that have really gotten me thinking about what my classroom should look like: involvement with Classrooms for the Future (CFF) and Keystone Technology Integrators (KTI), both Pennsylvania initiatives.

CFF is on the surface about putting technology into the classroom and hands of both teachers and students, but I've come to understand it is more than that. At the heart of CFF is transforming the way we teach: approaching students in ways similar to the way they approach the world. Time and time again it is emphasized how connected the kids of today are and how quickly they can take in information. Traditionalists hold the kids back, so I'm going to endeavor to open up my classroom and make things a lot more free flowing.

KTI got me thinking a lot about how to make this transformation. In fact, I just have to say that KTI was the MOST rewarding conference/experience I have ever had, and it will transform the way I teach in many respects. I was exposed to various resources that will help me transform my lessons and activities into a 21st Century model. Besides that, it was an awesome networking experience. I met many like-minded educators who were all there for their students: learning to be a better teacher so the students are prepared to function in the fast-changing world around them. I know that many of us will collaborate on projects in the future.