Text vs. Skype vs. Email vs. Chat vs. Face to Face

I love technology. I love technology in school. I think students need to use a know the different technology that is out there so they can design, write, or engineer the new technology for the world. I like the options that it provides for students to use in school. New homework options instead of just pencil and paper. New ways to communicate with other students and teachers.

But communication can get lost the tech. The one thing that technology needs to be careful of is communication. We have so many different ways to communicate that the most important one of all might get lost in the shuffle. Face to face communication. We like to text or email our friends, chat or Skype our family. We use tech to communicate our thought and sometimes we just need to stand in front of our friends or family and talk. We need to focus on what is in front of us and not let out tech break the focus to text someone or take the call.

Technology is great, but the personal relationships we make with those in front of us will build us up. Using technology in school should include the lesson about communicating with those sitting right next to us. 1:1 computers gives us a path to using technology and prepare them for what might come later, but so will communication. Collaboration with partners and teams should become more important in a technology laden classroom. We need to be careful not to assign too many individual projects and work on more cooperative and collaborative assignments using technology. Brainstorming, discussing, revising, discussing, solving, discussing, completing, communicating.

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When We Understand Computers

Time Bandits was the visor of choice today. Some funny quotes about technology came up.
Evil: If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!
[zaps one of his minions accidentally, minion screams]
Evil: Sorry.

Evil: God isn't interested in technology. He cares nothing for the microchip or the silicon revolution. Look how he spends his time, forty-three species of parrots! Nipples for men!
Robert: Slugs.
Evil: Slugs! HE created slugs! They can't hear. They can't speak. They can't operate machinery. Are we not in the hands of a lunatic?

Evil: When I have the map, I will be free, and the world will be different, because I have understanding.
Robert: Uh, understanding of what, Master?
Evil: Digital watches. And soon I shall have understanding of video cassette recorders and car telephones. And when I have understanding of them, I shall have understanding of computers. And when I have understanding of computers, I shall be the Supreme Being!

Evil: I have the map! I have the map! And the day after tomorrow... The world!

Evil: Oh, Benson... Dear Benson, you are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence.
Benson: Oh, you say such nice things, Master.
Evil: Yes I know, I'm sorry!

Evil: Suddenly, I feel very, very good.
Robert: Oh, I'm sorry, Master.
Evil: No, it'll pass, it'll pass.

Supreme Being: I should do something very extroverted and vengeful to you. Honestly, I'm too tired. So, I think I'll transfer you to the undergrowth department, brackens, more shrubs, that sort of thing... with a 19% cut in salary, backdated to the beginning of time.
Randall: Oh, thank you, sir.
Supreme Being: Yes, well, I am the nice one.

We I'll all be Supreme Beings one day, once we understand computers.

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Too Much Tech On My Hands

I have been looking for great technology to use with my students for many years now. I have found some great software and websites that have enhanced my teaching and student learning. Some apps has made it easier for the students and more work for me, and I have found some apps have made it easier for students and less work for me.

What I have also found is the amount of products that are out there and how I have been trapped in the notion that I need to use as many as I can for the students. I don't think this is the case. We don't have to use as many programs that we can. We just need to use the ones that will enhance the student learning. There are so many different apps out there to use and many of them do the same thing. I heard about Spicynodes a few days ago and I started playing on it. It is a fun program. After I made a project on it I found that it is the same as using Xmind. My students use Xmind when mind mapping. It is easy and not web based, yet we can post the finished products on the web. It is also similar to Mind42, which is also a beautiful mind mapping program. What we use is what is best for us.

We do need to keep our eyes open for useful programs that can be used in our classrooms, but do we need everything we can get? I don't think so.

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What Did He Say?

I have been following the tweets of Bill Ferriter the past few weeks. He was at a conference listening to Andy Hargreaves speak and was tweeting some of Andy's sayings. I was struck by these sayings and feel I need to put them here for me to remember and for others to read.
•As a leader when we say it can't be done, your job is to get in the and show them it can be done.
•As a leader are you willing to go into the dirty, dangerous places where others are willing to go?
•Going into the dirty, dangerous places as a leader show others where change begins.
•Organizations that perform beyond expectations aspire to improbable, collectively held dreams that a bold than any plans.
•We are who we learn from.
•First fit the curriculum to the child, then monitor, track, and measure. Not the other way around.
•Never make demands on people that you don't have a relationship with.
•Late spikes in improvement are a sign of meaningful change.
•Friendly rivalry—on field competition combined with off field collaboration—leads to growth for all.
•The first method of estimating the intelligence of a man is to look at who he has around him.
Andy Hargreaves

These are sayings I will be thinking about for a while.

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Survey Says...

My students started using a Student Response System in my class a couple weeks ago. We have had a set in our library that was unused last year. I decided to get it out and see what I could do with it this year and our Title 1 Department bought each Title 1 school a set of each classroom. So I dove in and found it to be a very useful tool.

We did a few yes/no questions and then started to text in answers. The students payed more attention to what I was doing. Then came the accountability. They found that they could not look to others for answers. They had to come up with it themselves. He answers became more varied and thoughtful.

We brainstormed a fictional narrative the class was starting to write. The ideas came out about a theme. We learned about different Cinderella stories last week and so that became the theme. The setting was Christmas time in the North Pole. We discussed the events that should happen because of the framework of a Cinderella story. They came up with the framework. They came up with names. They came up with a few events. All ideas came from the students texting in their ideas with the SRS. Another tool in the long list of great tools to use in the classroom.

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Does a PLC reach across school boundaries?

We had a principal from another school visit us on a Learning Walk. There is a purpose for the Learning Walk and I think it is for the people coming to our school to learn about some of the things we are doing. I think this mint have been lost on this walk. When it was finished, we heard back about all the wrong things we were doing in our school. How we were not following the strict guidelines on the district on the curriculum map and how we we not using the right materials to teach.

First off, the guidelines are guidelines right? See How To Stay Up With The Curriculum on the editions website. We do the best we can, but we still teach kids. We are taught not to teach to the test, and yet, we are to teach the curriculum at the exact time everyone else is. It is great to have a map and a guideline of what and when to teach it, but some kids need a little more time here and a little less time there. That is the teachers guide to how fast to teach. Am I wrong here?

But the main point of this, for me, is the PLC aspect of it. If we are going to have a Professional Learning Community, we should find the best in the schools and spread it around. Each school should work at getting better by building a collaborative atmosphere and the district should follow suit by building a collaborative atmosphere among the schools. How can we collaborate with people that tear us down? Is competition good among schools academically or should we be working to raise everyone's skill level.

So how do we do this? How do we stop finding the bad in other schools and find the things that a good and try to incorporate them into our school?

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