Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Middle School's Approach to Learning and Using Technology

Our middle school principal create a schedule so that almost all the teachers have two breaks during the day. The first break is for the teacher and the second break is scheduled by her. All teachers must attend the second break activities, called CAPS time. Every other Monday, I am teaching technology integration to all teachers. The principal or assistant principal sits in on all meetings to support the instruction. So far we have worked on setting up gradebooks correctly in STI, individual SharePoint websites, and SAS training. Tuesdays through Thursdays are spent with grade level meetings, designing engaging work, parent communication, and more. Because the teachers are having so much professional conversations together, I am seeing that teachers are impacting other teachers thoughts and ideas quicker than at any other school. A few teachers attending this summer's blogging workshop and are beginning to try blogging through our private SharePoint websites, discussion boards. I am getting more requests to help teachers set permissions for their discussion boards, understand exactly how discussion boards can enhance their curriculum, and basically hold their hands. Regular classroom teachers are not the only teachers interested in discussion boards. I worked a week ago with a middle school Special Ed teacher who wanted to use this first discussion board as a Book Study. To model, she will take the students to the computer lab once a week to make sure they understand how to post a reply. I am very interested in following not only her discussion board, but those of others at the middle school. The High School is beginning to become interested in discussion boards also. A Physics teacher and Health Education teacher are begining to create discussions for their students. More to come!

A New Year, A New Job

The 06-07 school year has begun with me in my new position, District Technology Integration Specialist, for a school system with 4 schools, 300 teachers, and a little over 4,000 students. I worked some over the summer to try to get my feet wet before the full force of the school year began. I conducted Tech. Tuesday classes on Teacher Productivity Tools and Social Networking Tools. There was not an overwellimg response to the workshops, however, at least 3 people attended each Tuesday. These were great because I was able to form relationships with people I had worked with at my old school and those I would come to work with in the future. Also, I created digital handouts which I posted on May the Tech Be With You (wikispaces) for each session I taught. This has helped me tremendously as I re-teach these classes to interested teachers this year. The teachers like the idea that the handouts are online but they still wanted them printed out infront of them. I attended conducting a lesson where they would use split screens to work. They stressed out big time! Everyone that came to a session would get a brief lesson on what a wiki is and how to use it. Unfortunately, no one has actually used the wiki except to retrieve information. I have included questions on all the handouts to entice teachers to "edit this page" to add their ideas, thoughts, questions, examples, etc. I am very fortunate that I am able to freely go into schools to set up one on one training, small group training throughout the day, and after school sessions. I am enjoying my job! I knew I could help teachers with technology integration and am grateful for the opportunity. Also, Shawn, my boss, is pushing me beyond my comfort zone by helping produce a weekly publication called The Geeky Weekly with articles, tips, directions, quotes, questions, etc. I never viewed myself as a writer that someone would want to read. With Shawn and John Norton, Alabama Best Practice Center 21st Century Team, guidance I am joining the realm of writer. Thanks!