Friday Round Up 6/22/2012

Happy Weekend Everyone! We hope to see some of you at ISTE in San Diego from Sunday June 24th to Wednesday June 27th! Take a peek at our collection of ISTE Survival Guide ShowMes here. 

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AFT and Britain’s TES Connect Unveil ‘Share My Lesson,’Which Will Become Largest Online Site for U.S. Teacher Resources
This is a press release from the American Federation of Teachers. They, along with Britain’s TES Connect,  just released the website Share My Lesson which is now the largest online community for US teachers to share their lesson plans, resources and ideas. AFT president Randi Weingarten explained that this initiative aims to help teachers that often face barriers to receiving free shared resources from other teachers across the country. The website will allow teachers to upload resources as well as rate and review resources of others. An important additional feature will be the high supply of resources created to support Common Core Standards, which are being implemented in 46 states this Fall. Randi Weingarten believes this will become the “single most important tool the AFT has launched in over a generation.”
7 Things Graduating Seniors Should Know About College
These tips are a compilation of excerpts from the book “The Secrets of College Success” by Lynn F Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman. They focus on the academic side of college, topics ranging from when to pick your major, to what to expect when writing a paper. Jacobs and Hyman make the great point that a college paper requires “analysis and research” at a much higher level than high school. (This was something that took me a few months to fully grasp in my freshman year!)

Before Standardized Tests, Teaching Children Not to Drown
Swim For Life is a project in New York City that was brought to life parks commissioner Adrian Benepe, who knew many drowning deaths each year could be prevented if everyone had access to swim lessons. Although weekend and summer courses are available in the city, Benepe felt it was important that swim lessons were provided to students during school hours. Over the past 18 months 14,385 second graders in New York City have participated in swim lessons during school hours at indoor pools across the city. The program has been a success, especially for those students that  started the program petrified of water. After ten weeks these students were able to confidently and happily swim.

Developing A Student iPad Leadership In Your School
Many kids have the ability to pick up an iPad and begin downloading apps and playing games within minutes. However key skills like troubleshooting issues, keeping safe online and learning effectively through technology may not come as naturally to students. It is our responsibility as educators to teach students proper digital citizenship. This article contains several awesome resources you can use to teach your students how to troubleshoot problems and use an iPad effectively and safely in school.

ShowMe of the Week: Find the Missing Angle

This ShowMe created by Harry Amos is awesome for several reasons.

1. He gives us a great overview of how to find the missing angle of a triangle!

2. He created some really nice looking images for the intro of his ShowMe using the Paper53 iPad app. (It’s a great app- I recommend it!)

3. He finishes the ShowMe video with a picture of Success Kid– can it get any better?

Be sure to check out his entire library of helpful math videos!

Friday Round Up 6/15/2012

RIP White MacBook: The Future of Apple Computers at School
This Monday Apple hosted its annual Developer Conference and presented all new updates to the Mac Line. The big news for schools was the unveiling of iOS 6 for the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, available this fall. The update included “guided access” which allows teachers and parents to restrict students to viewing one app at a time or limit touch input. This is a great feature for schools with iPads, and the number of schools with iPads is growing rapidly. In the second quarter of 2012 iPads outnumbered sales of macs to schools by a ratio of 2:1. Even with the increasing popularity of iPads in schools, many still wonder why there is no replacement computer for the white macbook pro that was very popular in schools. The white macbook was sold for $999 had a large amount of memory and a CD drive, but they were taken off the market it 2011. The only computer in the same price range currently is the 11 inch Macbook Air which in addition to being two inches smaller, also does not have as much memory or a CD drive. Perhaps iPads are becoming the go-to computer for schools.

Can Free, High-Quality Education Get You A Job?

It is fantastic to see the increasing number of free, high quality, online college courses being offered by top name schools. It’s a huge step in the right direction when it comes to democratizing education and bringing it to people affordably at a large scale. But can these courses help you obtain a job? Mindshift recently asked company recruiters from tech start-ups, finance firms and banking companies if they would consider non-traditional candidates who received their education from these schools. At this point in time it seemed like all three fields were hesitant to accept a candidate that did not have a traditional college education. I would be interested to see if this changes in five years, after courses are more established and taught on a broader array of topics.

Personalized Learning – Swedish Style
Outside of Stockholm lies one of Sweden’s top-performing schools – Kunskapsskolan Tyresö. This is one of a network of 33 Kunskapsskolan schools in Sweeden, all funded by a public voucher system with no tuition that accepts students on a first come first serve basis. Key tenets of the school culture include interdisciplinary work, collaboration between students, and technology. Every inch of space is used in the school and filled with tables, chairs, and gather places for students to collaborate. All students responsible for setting personal learning goals for themselves and create strategies to reach them. My favorite aspect of this school culture is the coaching sessions each student has once per week for 15 minutes with their teacher. This is a highly personalized and structured discussion where students share their weekly assignments, reiterate what they have learned, and share what their goals are at this point in time. There are certain issues with this program- for example the voucher system it uses is a very controversial topic in larger school programs like the one in US. But I thought this was a really interesting look at a different program that is seeing success.

College Attendance Costs up 15% Over Two Years, Report Finds
The US Department of Education recently released its listings of public and private universities tuition and fees. These listings show that the average cost of attendance at a university or college in the United States has increased over 15% in the past two years. These increases are partially due to the cuts in funding for many public schools across the country. In some states, public school tuition increases has increased over 40%. Over the past decade school tuition prices have increased by an average of 5.6% per year.

The Meaning of Poker Chips

1997-98 was my first year as a teacher. I worked at a private school in Cincinnati as the middle school intern. I still consider that year to be the most important year of my professional life because it left no doubt in me that choosing education for my career was the absolutely right choice. I haven’t regretted that decision since, even on the difficult days. That year was also my introduction to Richard Lavoie and his philosophy on the importance of self esteem on learners called, “When the Chips are Down.” Mr. Lavoie compares self esteem of a student (his focus is on students with learning difficulties) to having poker chips. He believes the more “chips” one has, the more readily that student will take risks and grow.

I remember watching this video during my first year and then again in my second year teaching. My buddies and I quoted Lavoie often mocking the idea and telling each other things like, “you must not have many poker chips” or “that took a lot of poker chips to do that.” However, the idea resonated with me as one where I wanted to be a teacher who looked for ways to help kids gain or at least maintain their “poker chips” (self-esteem).

Conceptually, the analogy worked for me, even if it was a little sloppy. While comparing life to a poker game was not ideal, I did find that the idea a poker player with several chips would take risks that another player with only a few chips would not take seemed logical to what I had experienced in life. Confident students take risks that kids without confidence do not take. More importantly, kids with high self esteem can often take criticism more effectively then those with low esteem. The student with high esteem may look at a lower then expected score as a challenge for future work and strive to do better next time where the kid with low esteem may view it as a flaw in their character. Consequently, the kid with the inflated self esteem seems to struggle the most with constructive feedback as they are so used to being told their perfect that the feedback can be confusing and forces them to wonder if those telling them they’re perfect are right or wrong. It causes real tension in relationships between students, parents and teachers (and schools) when this is the case.

As teachers and parents, we have a lot of sway with our kids. We can give esteem, over-inflate it, or take it away in the way we talk (or not talk) to kids, in how we maintain patience with them, or when we allow them to take ownership in their learning and understanding. We have to be honest in our interactions or as this video shows, someone else will be brutally honest. Kids who are struggling need to know that they are struggling and need to be given tools to help them work through those struggles. Overcoming their difficulties will give them the kinds of self esteem that we want our kids to have. They’ll know that they can rely on themselves to solve problems, but they will also know that they can rely on your support to help them through those problems. In the end, it is that lesson that has ultimately guided my path as a teacher and now a parent. Plus, I’ve learned to be pretty good at beating my neighbors in poker.

Friday Round Up 6/8/2012

7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-leading Principals
THE Journal recently surveyed school principals across the country, asking them what attributes a principal should demonstrate when striving to effectively lead technology implementation in their schools. They compiled the seven most frequently mentioned attributes along with comments from three effective technology leaders that successfully implemented technology in their schools. This list includes some stand out ideas and discusses the value of creating an atmosphere that inspires innovation, the importance of fostering collaboration in your school, and being open to new ideas.

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Way Beyond Bake Sales: The $1 Million PTA
In recent years the PTA at several public schools in more affluent areas of New York city have have raised close to one million dollars per school year for their school. Parents spend this money on technology in the classroom, resource teachers, healthy lunch options for students, and most importantly programs in the arts and after school activities that have been hit especially hard by budget cuts in recent years. Over the past five years New York City has cut school budgets by an average of 13.7% While it is astounding how much money some PTA’s were able to raise, the main takeaway I have from this article is how many schools that aren’t able to receive this type of funding. This means these schools continue to be understaffed, fall behind technologically, and can’t always provide activities and healthy lunches for their students. In a public school system, why should it be up to parents to provide quality learning conditions for students?

‘Why’ Questions Play Big Role in Early Learning
In the new book Trusting What You’re Told, Harvard Education professor Paul L. Harris questions the longstanding idea that children should be self learners. He focuses on the importance of toddlers asking “why” questions at a young age, and how children are not only asking questions for attention, they are actually attempting to grasp a clear picture in their mind about issues they do not understand. Harris also studies the impact of a mother’s education has on the inquisitiveness of a her child, and why children trust their parents.

Is Education a Girl Thing?
In this opt-ed article several questions are addressed. How does gender impact the profession of teaching? In an industry with a higher percentage of women than men, why is it that men make up the majority of policy and produce most of the media surrounding education? How would things change if more women were in control of education policy, philosophy and practice?

Friday Round-up 6/1/2012

Food Trucks Draw Hungry Kids For Free Summer Meals
In many areas of the country, students depend on free and reduced school lunches as a main food source in their lives. However, as a the school year comes to an end many of these students are unable to find transportation to attend the summer food programs, often still offered in their school cafeteria. Last year, Tim Cipriano, the executive director of school food services for New Haven, CT, decided that instead of having students come to a certain location for food, he would bring the food to them driving a colorful food truck to areas with a high population of students qualifying for free and reduced meals. Last summer he served 17,000 meals in 20 days. This year he hopes to provide 40,000 meals for the months of July and August.
Social Media: Help or Hindrance to Education Reform?
There are many issues that comprise the topic of Education Reform. One of these is the importance of Social Media as a learning tool for educators and students. However, some wonder if this focus on Social Media is actually distracting teachers and reformers from other, more pressing issues. Tom Whitby, a support of Social Media in education, explains why he believes that Social Media can actually be a powerful tool to improve Personal Learning Networks for educators. One point that stuck with me: Historically teaching has been an isolated profession, any problems or successes you experienced could only be shared with co-workers in your school or district. With Social Media educators from around the globe can come together both online and in person to discuss what they’ve learned, and that is a powerful thing.

Schools to track students’ whereabouts with computer chips

Starting next fall a school district in San Antonio, TX  will be issuing student ID cards containing a tracking chip device. This chip monitors students on school grounds and notifies the school if a student leaves during school hours. The district advertised the initiative to parents as a safety procedure, however the decision is getting mixed reviews, one large concern being students’ right to privacy. The school will spend $500,000 to issue cards to 6,000 middle and high school students.

Summers Are For Learning
Remember, summers are a great time to learn something new, for both students and teachers! If you think you may be interested in reading, joining a book club, kickstarting your creative process, leaning to code or serving others through community service this summer, this article has a list of some fantastic resources you can use to get started with self-learning this summer!

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