Monthly Archives: June 2008

Is your dance card filled?

While my ‘dance card’ isn’t necessarily filling up as others have posted on Twitter, I was pleased to receive notification that my presentation proposal was accepted for TCEA 2009. My presentation will be about using webcasting/live interactive videoconferencing with students to enrich learning. I have presented at TCEA on several occasions and it is always a great conference. In previous years hearing Ron Clark, Disney Teacher of the Year, and Erin Gruwell, Freedom Writers, speak was so moving and uplifting. As the saying goes, attending those years was ‘worth the price of admission’!

At TCEA 2008, I was honored to be asked to present as part of the Technology Applications Teacher Network of Texas (TTAN) presenters and presented a variation of the session that I will be presenting at TCEA 2009. TTAN sessions are held the day prior to the TCEA conference when funding permits. Teachers are asked to present high quality technology lessons that teachers of all abilities, content areas and levels of experience can implement in their classrooms. Presenters share their strategy and show student products, projects and samples. I have found this one day to be even more beneficial than the regular TCEA sessions. The sessions that I attended the past two years were fantastic and if you are able to attend TCEA and TTAN is hosting presenters in 2009 I highly recommend you make time for these sessions.

Adding the full day of TTAN sessions to your TCEA registration, which opens in September, adds nothing to your total as all sessions are free to conference attendees but you must indicate the session on your registration. It is listed with the paid workshops although the TTAN sessions completely free. After the closing session at 4pm, those in attendance receive a cd with all of the handouts, lesson plans, and activities listed according to grade level and content area. The TTAN site has presentations from prior years and lots of other resources for teachers to use any time during the school year as part of their Best Practices Units resources. Hopefully they will offer a day of sessions for TCEA 2009 – we all know how iffy tech funding and tech budgets are nowadays and hopefully my ‘dance card’ of conference presentations will begin to fill to capacity!

ISTE – 0, Podcasters/Vodcasters – 1

In case you hadn’t heard latest backlash and outrage by citizens of the edublogosphere and twitterverse amidst the many emails flying back and forth to ISTE and edubloggers’ posts, ISTE has retracted part of their new audio/video recording policy and is allowing podcasting/vodcasting and streaming of presenter sessions at NECC2008.

Miguel Guhlin shared on his blog the response he received from Leslie Conery, Deputy Chief CEO of ISTE. Portions of Leslie’s email response in listed below in intalics and bolded for emphasis with Miguel’s personal comments below Leslie’s.

  • We …have had great internal conversations in the last 24 hours about how best to respond. We needed to listen to and address the valid concerns of ISTE members while also protecting the rights of the people who have agreed to present at NECC. What valuable admission is this from the ISTE Organization and what a powerful message it sends to the membership.
  • Post NECC2008, we are planning to convene a discussion around the issue of broadcasting presentations and to work together collaboratively with podcasters, bloggers, presenters, and other stakeholders to develop guidelines for NECC2009 that meet the needs of the education community. We’re invited to participate in a discussion about our content. While it’s obvious that such conversations are necessary, how many organizations do you know that seek to work collaboratively to develop guidelines? This is the ISTE I’m proud to be a member of!
  • For NECC 2008, ISTE’s permission is not required for non-commercial video and audio recording of sessions and workshops.That takes care of the education podcasters I was concerned for. Great.
  • …for NECC 2008, written permission from the session or workshop presenter is required prior to capturing a video or audio recording. Any permitted recording should respect the presenter’s rights and not be disruptive. Not a problem. Does anyone have a form they would like to share?.

Feel free to visit Miguel’s blog read the entire response Leslie sent to Miguel shortly after he emailed her. Response time was quick – less than 24 hours.

What I found extremely interesting is a comment left by ISTE’s Donella Evoniuk ( on Charlene Chausis‘ blog,

I must add that it is unfair for the blogosphere to unload on ISTE over this. We are so sososo supportive of the amazing sharing and communication AND collaboration that is possible with 2.0 tools. The response at NECC 2007 blew our minds and reinforced all of our beliefs about the power, potential, and excitement that is generated by facilitating educators-as-creators-of-content.

‘Unfair for the blogosphere’ to unload on ISTE? If this was unfair to ISTE then I don’t have the correct definition of unfair. Unfair is how this policy was announced to the blogosphere with little time to meet their conditions to record audio/video of presenter sessions. ‘Blew your minds?’ This policy announcement blew the minds of the authors of the blogsphere that a policy like what was originally suggested wouldn’t cause a negative reaction.

Many educators rely on the podcasting from the conference to attend virtually and with the previous policy that would have been severely limited if not nixed altogether.

My question is this: was the timeliness of the notice sent to presenters knowing there would be very little time to seek permission from presenters much less from ISTE personnel who was and is currently traveling to San Antonio and would be unavailable for several days? I would like to think it was merely a coincidence and a decision not properly thought through versus a deliberate decision made late so that permission from presenters and ISTE would be so difficult to obtain PRIOR to NECC people wouldn’t even bother? That’s what I would like to believe. But the fact that they changed the audio/media coverage policy indicates that 1 of my 2 suppositions stated above is correct. Which one remains to be seen since the policy will be readdressed by ISTE post NECC 2008.

So for now, the score is ISTE = 0, Podcasters/Vodcasters 1. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the ISTE members have won the battle but not the war.

NECC Takes Two Steps Backwards

In case you hadn’t heard, it seems that NECC/ISTE have taken two steps backwards by announcing the implementation of their new media coverage policy of presenter sessions. With a little over a week, ISTE recently announced that is limiting the sharing of presenter sessions unless attendees jumped through multiple hoops to get permission to share sessions via podcasts or vodcasts prior to NECC.

Wes Fryer and Miguel Guhlin both wrote blog posts featuring the enactment of this new policy. Essentially, the policy states,

Full video/audio capture of NECC sessions and activities is strictly prohibited without express written permission from BOTH: 1.) the session presenter/s, and 2.) ISTE. Those holding official ISTE-issued press credentials may capture footage for media coverage purposes only.
Source: as cited at

While ISTE has been an institution known for promoting higher standards of technology skills for students and teachers, this policy seems to be a step in a direction different than in past ventures. The ISTE NETS for students and teachers call for creating and developing innovative activities that will revolutionize the students educators turn out after graduation regarding technology use and preparedness for the business world. ISTE calls this ‘refreshing’, educators consider this a continuation, and others consider this elitism. My viewpoint: a combination of all of the above.

Although I live in San Antonio, I still had not made up my mind to attend NECC. I know there are many educators that would like to and cannot attend due to finances, prior commitments or a host of other reasons and rely upon the podcasts shared by many of the edubloggers. I know I personally rely upon the edubloggers’ to share, but just as important, to share their ideas, viewpoints, and perceptions of sessions attended at educational conferences. Those viewpoints help me to decide if the technique or trends presented at a conference are a phase, impractical or truly innovative and assist me in developing my own bag of technological tools of the educational trade. ISTE’s policy seems to be designed to thwart these very efforts of those wanting to collaborate, share and expound educational technology developments.

For most educators, NECC is a conference full of sessions of the latest and greatest regarding educational technology. However, this effort at stifling positive and growing movement in ed tech by this policy does not seem to be a move warranting notoriety of the latest of greatest of the ed tech industry.

In Miguel’s post, he encourages educators to contact ISTE’s Don Knezek ( or Leslie Conery ( with a sample letter. I plan on doing so and have included Miguel’s sample letter below as I haven’t written mine yet (still in a bit of shock by ISTE’s latest move).

Sample Letter:

Dear Don and/or Leslie:

As an education blogger and podcaster, I was disappointed to read that full video/audio capture of NECC sessions and activities is “strictly prohibited” without the “express permission from BOTH: 1) the session presenter(s), and 2) ISTE.” This severely compromises the ability of education bloggers and podcasters to broaden the reach and impact of information, ideas, and best practices shared at the event, limiting us to simple text narrations. In fact, allow this to be a decision that the presenter makes in conversation with his/her participatory audience.

NECC 2007 proved to be an exciting learning experience because educators embraced disruptive technologies and were open to sharing their ideas as blogs and podcasts. ISTE and NECC Organizers have missed the boat in capitalizing on the use of communication and collaborative technologies. In essence, NECC 2008’s policy is to ISOLATE rather than enable educators to COMMUNICATE and COLLABORATE. When I consider the words of Dr. Don Knezek at in 2007 about education no longer being an isolated act of teaching, learning and leading, and juxtapose that intent with NECC 2008’s approach, I am aware that ISTE and NECC are no different than K-16 schools today…struggling to escape the past.

Even as schools and organizations reach towards the future, old fears and habits keep us from moving forward, keep us from being who we desire to be and have said we want to be as reflected in the ISTE NETS-S. It’s difficult to find a new way, and I had hoped that ISTE and NECC would provide the leadership for all state organizations (e.g. TCEA) but I see now that my hope may have been misplaced.

As an educator–teacher, administrator, edublogger and learner who has internalized the ISTE Standards–I challenge you to set aside your fears and reconsider your policy. I intend to encourage all educators to reconsider their participation in future NECC Conferences.

I encourage you to respond to this letter via my blog, Around the Corner, at or to post a response on your own ISTE Blog. If I have misunderstood the policy, I hope you’ll set me straight. Thank you for taking the time to review the contents of this email during such a busy time.

Wishing you well,

Miguel Guhlin

As I am writing this post, there is tremendous outrage about this move by ISTE on Twitter. It seems that I am not the only one with reservations about ISTE and NECC.

Edublogs as Instructional Tools

As I was reading Twitter and blog posts, I came across the blog from Jeff Felix who researched using blogs as an instructional tool in the classroom. The blog post that caught my attention is entitled, “The Study on Blogging Educators is Complete!”, and was created for the following reason:

“This blog is posted in order for people to benefit from the research I conducted on the phenomenon of blogging and, in particular, blogging as an instructional practice in the K-12 classroom.”

As Felix summarizes the results from his disseration study, I am reminded that ed tech teachers knew the following occurred with students and it is fantastic that there is research to use with administrators, directors, etc. to quote when making a pitch for using or integrating tech tools into daily curricula/instruction.

“The study shows that teachers perceive a significant increase in student learning through motivation for assignments and through deeper thought processes. Students seem to enjoy the connectiveness of their work to other subjects and to each other. This collaboration encourages a deeper relationship with their peers and with the teacher. Other studies have shown these relationships produce more student learning especially in minorities and students of low socioeconomic backgrounds. It also seems that teachers see the benefits of this practice. They have increased their use of blogging year after year, which seems to show they feel blogging has great relevance as a classroom tool.”

As I was reading one of the comments to the blog, I was reminded that the district that I was recently affiliated with blocked all blogs until this past March and then only the CIT blogs for each campus and the district ed tech blogs were accessible. It is so disheartening to think of the many opportunities and activities that could have been done to develop the rigor and relavance and make learning more meaningful for students.

Intially, when the CIT’s asked the director if we could use blogs with students we were told no as students would need email accounts. At that time, we were wanting to use the blogging portion only of A generic email account/login could have been used with the email portion of Gaggle still blocked if that had been actual concern. Then a week later the director’s spouse began using Classblogmeister and suddenly the world of blogging became available to the CIT’s only. Use with students wouldn’t be allowed until this upcoming school year. The other CIT’s didn’t use, know how or receive training on how to effectively use a blog with staff. Discussion of ways to use, maintain, implement and promote the blogs never occurred as the directors themselves did not know how or even experience reading blogs. RSS feeds and blogging were so foreign that the CIT blogs had no posts, comments or activity from teachers on their respective campuses. It is so unfortunate the awesome things that could have been done to involve the students and community with blogs. Hopefully that evolution will take place and that area of expertise will expand and grow. I have shared my own (small but evolving!) blog and other educational blogs by superbloggers so hopefully the spark will light a fire for the district instructional technology personnel.

Another Blast to the Past

Speaking of blasts from the past, I recalled a Twitter tweet last night regarding the origin of Twitter. Twitter is one of my new pastimes and I have gleaned a great deal of new ed tech information the past few weeks that I directly attribute to reading Twitter posts.

Originating as Twittr, Twitter has evolved into an awesome tech tool reaching millions of Twitter users each day. The founder shared how this concept evolved into the ‘Twitter-verse’,

We’re calling it twttr (though this original rendering calls it; I love the word.ed domains, e.g. It’s evolved a lot in the past few months. From an excited discussion and persuasion on the South Park playground to a recently approved application for a SMS shortcode. I’m happy this idea has taken root; I hope it thrives.

We hope this blast from the past thrives as well. Tweet tweet!

A Blast to the Past

As I was reading some of the Twitter tweets from people I follow, I came across this post:

Click on the image to access the referred to website and make note of the date the article was written as shared by Digimom. Digimom authors a blog entitled, “Tech Chick Tips” thinks the article missed the mark. What do you think?

Tweet Tweet!

No, I am not quoting lyrics from the Rockin’ Robin song. I was referring to ‘tweets’ sent by the people I follow on Twitter. Initially I wasn’t that impressed with Twitter and didn’t keep up with it until I met Topher Ziers who is the author of the blog, “Muve Forward“. We started talking about Twitter and I shared my initial impressions with him. He told me how he uses twitter and how informative twitter posts, or tweets, are for him. He shared how when he has needed information on a particular topic or educational issue he posted a question on Twitter. Within minutes, he had responses that he would not have been able to find via email, phone calls or posting to his blog about Second Life. After talking with him I decided to give Twitter a second chance.

After using Twitter for a few weeks now, I can definitely see how useful Twitter can be. The people I follow are educators and I have seen some very interesting tweets. There are tons of applications that make Twitter easier to use although it isn’t necessary to use those applications. You can post your Twitter tweets and follow others’ posts directly from your desktop, cell phone, or within a Firefox/Flock browser. A relatively new service that is now in beta is Twitterfone. Twitterfone allows you to use your cell phone to call a local number and have your voice tweet posted to those that follow you on Twitter. I received a tweet from someone who was accepted to use the beta version of Twitterfone and it sounds like a really innovative communication tool. If all of my students used this communication after school hours would be a lot easier and more convenient using Twitter.

The Twitter application that I currently use is Twitterbin which allows you to post and read tweets from within the Firefox/Flock browser. It is very convenient and accessible when I am reading the tweets from all of the people I follow. I have learned of new tech tools, software applications, blogs, websites, and a whole host of other useful and humorous information. So if you see me around feel free to send a tweet to @kcaise on Twitter. I doubt you will be disappointed if you give Twitter a chance.

You want fries with that?

One of my colleagues often asks, “You want fries with that?” when his employees ask a ridiculous question or request. Granted, the question is meant in jest but I understand why he answers a question with this question.

I was reading a post from Chris Lehmann’s blog, “Reasonable Actions for Unreasonable Times” that talked about the drudgery of state testing. I am not going to pontificate about the pros and cons of testing as we have all experienced state testing at its best and worst. What caught my attention was that this time the message was sent by students instead of teachers or administrators expressing disdain for testing. Of course their social studies teacher was to blame for concocting the hairbrained scheme that students think for themselves, adopt and develop their own political views, seek positive resolution to problems they face and demonstrate their independent thoughts in a social studies class. Now who in their right mind wants kids using common sense, thinking progressively and independently?

Chris uses this incident to make a fantastic point:

“The difference between the instance at IS 318 and the other two is that in this case, the kids had a choice and the students chose to send a message — not on the actual test, but on a practice test. Neither Daily News article mentions whether or not the kids were going to take the actual test. But, prima facie, it appears they chose to make their stand in an incredibly pragmatic and smart way — they wouldn’t waste their time on a practice test. In the words of Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice.

As is often the case, the kids’ words speak powerfully:

“They’re saying Mr. Avella made us do this,” said Johnny Cruz, 15, another boycott leader. “They don’t think we have brains of our own, like we’re robots. We students wanted to make this statement. The school is oppressing us too much with all these tests.”


“Now they’ve taken away the teacher we love only a few weeks before our real state exam for social studies,” Tatiana Nelson said. “How does that help us?”
She asks the right question, and she does seem to suggest that the kids were planning on taking the real test. But even more simply, if we had to pick a class where we wanted kids to question the status quo, where we wanted kids to consider rational, reasonable political acts, wouldn’t it be in a social studies class?The difference between the instance at IS 318 and the other two is that in this case, the kids had a choice and the students chose to send a message — not on the actual test, but on a practice test. Neither Daily News article mentions whether or not the kids were going to take the actual test. But, prima facie, it appears they chose to make their stand in an incredibly pragmatic and smart way — they wouldn’t waste their time on a practice test. In the words of Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice.”

I commend these students for their attempt to peacefully and thoughtfully send a message to their teachers, administrators and whomever else was involved in the development of the test preparation materials and procedures for this campus. When I see students putting into practice the things that I have taught them in class, I am richly rewarded and moved monumentally that the students heard what I was talking about and internalized the content presented. As a teacher, my sole goal is to make a positive difference in a student’s life and add value, information, knowledge and skills to their thought processes. If my students gathered together and collectively decided to stage a silent protest on a PRACTICE test, not the real test which shows they were using the higher levels of processing according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. To me, that is the epitome of teaching – seeing the learning in class put into practice.

So to the insanity that surrounds standardized state testing procedures, when you are asked to perform some absurd task related to testing, feel free to respond with, “You want fries with that?”.