Monthly Archives: April 2011

Transition to New Blog at Pump Up Learning

Since I graduated in September 2010 with a Master of Education in Learning and Technology degree, I have been working on improving myself professionally while making connections online with other educators to strengthen/expand my professional learning network (PLN) in an effort to learn and develop new knowledge and more skills. My husband and I are in the process of starting up a training venture and we recently bought a new domain. I am trying to transition and hope that you make that transition with me. I know it can be a pain to subscribe to another blog and stop this one and truly hope that you find the hassle worth it to make this move.

My new blog at Pump Up Learning.com has all of the past posts and will contain all of my future posts. I am planning to have a drawing for an Amazon gift card for anyone who subscribes to the new blog. More details will be forthcoming.

Thank you so much for your support in the past and I hope to have your continued support in my future ventures.

Student Sit-In in Texas

Amidst the budget issues and heated conversations among legislators and educators throughout Texas, students in Keller, Texas stated a sit-in in support of their teachers.

According to the article, “Hundreds of Keller school district students protest budget cuts”,

Students staged a sit-in outside the front door of the school, chanting “save our teachers,” as a few students used a megaphone to address the crowd.

“I think it’s important that our teachers don’t get fired, especially the good teachers,” Rachel said.

Colby said he wanted to rally around Kyle Sammons, a U.S. History teacher and coach who received a termination notice. He said Sammons gave freely of his time to students, especially in helping with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Sammons spoke to the students and asked them to go into the school auditorium to talk about their concerns.

About 500 students gathered in the auditorium to listen to Principal Todd Tunnell discuss the budget crisis, “a problem that is bigger than Timber Creek or Keller ISD.”
Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/04/11/2991812/hundreds-of-keller-school-district.html#ixzz1JfQbh8sq

If I were one of the several teachers referenced in the article that I would be extremely proud of these students. Regardless of whether one agrees with the students about whether or not they should have missed class to participate in this sit-in, at some point a teacher touched the lives of these students and truly made an impact on these students. What an honor it is to be an educator that has made a difference in the lives of their students that they would participate in a sit-in to announce to state legislators and district school boards that Texas teachers are invaluable and jobs should be protected. 

As an educator, I would hope my students recognize how much I cared for them and was an advocate for their education. Would your students be willing to risk all and participate in a sit-in to help protect your teaching position?

PD in your PJ's

Saturday, April 30 is a day packed day full of professional development in your pajamas! We have cancelled our ‘Classroom 2.0 LIVE’ show today so that our attendees can participate in one of the free virtual conferences referenced below. No need to travel, find parking, fight traffic or navigate through crowds trying to get to sessions before they are filled. Two of the virtual conferences that are free to attend are the ‘Discovery Education Network (DEN) Spring Virtual Conference 2011‘ and the ‘Way Out West (WOW) AzTea Virtual Conference‘.

The WOW Conference will be an exciting time of webinars in Elluminate featuring Angela Maiers and Steve Farber as keynote speakers. You can find out more information about the WOW Conference here. For those in Arizona, you can participate in one of the live events throughout the state associated with the virtual conference. Follow the Twitter hashtag of #wowvtc11 to be kept up to date regarding the virtual conference. There is a Moodle course full of details for each session with supplementary materials related to each session.

The DEN is hosting their Spring Virtual Conference for 2011 and have a great lineup of sessions scheduled throughout the day starting at 9:00am EST.This year’s theme is ‘Think Outside the Book‘ with strategies to integrate digital media and web tools in instruction with less dependence on traditional textbooks. You can view the schedule and list of in-person events centered around the Spring Virt Con. Registration is required and you can click here to access the registration page. It isn’t necessary to be a teacher on a campus that subscribes to Discovery Streaming Services as the ideas shared are applicable to a variety of grade levels, content areas and technology tools or resources.

Think Outside the Book with thousands of educators from all over the world as we connect during this unique professional development experience where you can attend in-person, online or both!

Learn powerful ways to integrate digital media and Web 2.0 tools into your instruction as well as discover an abundance of resources to expand your own personal learning network.

Regardless of which virtual conference you attend, all sessions are free and will be recorded so that you can view the recordings at a later date. Grab a cup of coffee, fire up your computer, and relax in your comfy PJ’s!

DEN Guru Finalists

I am so honored to be selected as one of twelve finalists to potentially become a Discovery Education Network (DEN) Guru. What is a DEN Guru? I am glad you asked. According to the DEN, below is how the DEN defines the role and shares what is in store if selected for a DEN Guru position.

It goes without saying that within the DEN community we have an overabundance of talent. Every STAR has his/her own special talents, skills and passion for utilizing digital content across the curriculum. We want to continue to provide opportunities for STARs to share their knowledge with the community so last year we announced another membership level – DEN Gurus.

DEN Gurus are STAR Discovery Educators who possess expertise of one or more pedagogical topics (e.g., Differentiated Instruction, Project Based Learning, etc.), have demonstrated their expertise through a variety of professional experiences, and advocate for the meaningful integration of Discovery Education digital content across their area(s) of expertise.

DEN Gurus will be promoted throughout the community as thought leaders in the educational field and have the opportunity to share their expertise in a variety of ways. The current DEN Gurus were featured in THE Journal.

DEN Gurus will:

  • be featured as regular contributors to the Global DEN blog
  • present their own featured DEN webinar
  • represent the DEN at a major educational conference during the year (registration and travel expenses covered by the DEN)

Next week we have to make a presentation before a panel of judges about our proposed topic. I almost didn’t apply as I wasn’t sure my presentation and artifacts of expertise and technology integration was up to snuff with some of the other DEN STARs and members. All are invited to join the 25 minute presentations so please join us and support your favorite finalist. The DEN expected to select 10 finalists but indicated the applicants, “… were phenomenal! We set out to choose 10 finalists and couldn’t do it. The expertise in this community just blows us away.”  Below are the 12 finalists and I am sure you will recognize several of the names. My session is scheduled for Wednesday so be sure to register for Wednesday and come cheer us on!

Monday 4/18 6-8pm EDT (Register here.)
6pm- Charlene Chausis   ePub and the Future of the Book
6:30pm- Michael Gorman Advancing STEM Education On A Scratch
7pm- Elaine Plybon Using Media for Student-Centered Assessment
7:30pm- Rita Mortenson Project-Based Learning using iMovie and Discovery Streaming

Wednesday 4/20 6-8pm EDT (Register here.)
6pm- Kim Caise Global Collaboration Projects using Web Tools and Web Conferences
6:30pm- Kathy Schrock Twitter: Cure What Ails You
7pm- Lea Anne Daughrity Touching 21st Century Science
7:30pm- David Fisher The Fab Four Video Projects

Thursday 4/21 6-8pm EDT (Register here.)
6pm- Dean Mantz Engaging Students Visually
6:30pm- Cheryl Lykowski The Collaborative Classroom: Integrating Collaboration & Digital Tools Within the 21st Century Classroom
7pm- Monique Liles Creating E-Learning Courses for the Social Studies Classroom
7:30pm- Jennifer Wagner Online Projects — Why, When, Who, Where, How

Monday 4/18 6-8pm EDT (Register here.)

Wednesday 4/20 6-8pm EDT (Register here.)

Thursday 4/21 6-8pm EDT (Register here.)

 

Texas Testing Costs How Much?

State standardized testing is fast approaching Texas public schools. Most of the students that take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests do so from April 26th-28th. Although there are additional testing dates throughout the school year for students taking TAKS, the last week in April is essentially the culminating week that for state testing in Texas.

As I was looking up the testing dates in April, I saw a schedule. After living ‘testing’ for 20 years, I was astonished at the schedule when I took a step back. Below is the testing schedule for students in Texas public schools for the 2010-2011 school year. Note the schedule does not include district benchmark or test prep days throughout the year. Several of the dates are for different content areas, grade levels or for students that failed to meet a minimum cut score on a previous TAKS test.

*Source: http://www.birdville.k12.tx.us/accountability/testing/taks.htm

The Texas Education Agency contracts Pearson to facilitate the state testing for Texas public school districts. According to the schedule above, there are at least 34 days students test, retest or  take an end of course exam.

To help offset the budget shortfall, legislators proposed doing away with testing for two years in an effort to help prevent the massive impending layoffs of teachers in Texas.

If you look at the list issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), note how much Pearson gets paid each year.

 

 

I think a moratorium on testing two years would help Texas refocus their efforts on preparing students to be successful, productive citizens after high school graduation and hopefully bring passion back to teaching. Texas could do a great deal of good by redistributing almost $78 million per school year. What are your thoughts?

 

Meet and Greet with Peter Reynolds

If you live in Massachusetts, you have a very special opportunity to participate in a ‘meet and greet’ with Peter Reynolds, author and founder of FableVision. This event is coordinated with the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) member and is an exclusive event brought to you by the Massachusetts DEN Leadership Council. If you have never heard Peter speak in person you are in for a real treat!

As a FableVision Ambassador, it is an honor to help promote and share learning activities using FableVision’s fantastic books and software. I have been a huge fan of FableVision, long before Terry Shay invited me to be a FableVision Ambassador. It is a terrific organization that is positive, caring and wants to make a difference in the lives of the students, parents, teachers and educators throughout the world. You can view their free resources and look over their catalog of paid items as well. The link is to a great poster you can print out about how the use of technology can open doors for students.

FableVision is committed to helping teachers inspire and motivate their students. I highly encourage you to check out the wonderful books written by Peter. If you are lucky enough to be live or work near Dedham, MA, you will not want to miss this event! Peter will share his passion for learning and inspiring students to achieve and be prepared for the 21st century. Mark your calendars with the info below and enjoy!

Date: Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Time: 5:00-6:00 pm
Location: Blue Bunny Books & Toys
577 High Street, Dedham Square.
Cost: Free! (Refreshments will be provided)

For more information and to register, visit : http://links.discoveryeducation.com/PRMG

*Space is limited to the first 30 registrants