Category Archives: technology

What Would my Classroom Look Like? Part 1

If I were to ever reenter the classroom, what would it look like? I have been out of the math classroom for 10 years. A lot has changed. I have changed even more. So, what would it look like? Here are some of my thoughts.

  1. I wouldn’t have grades. Yes, there would be letters at the end of the 9 weeks because the system tells me I have to report out a letter. What would be different is how the letters were generated. There wouldn’t be any daily points that lead to a sum out of a huge total in the end. Mastery of the content and skills would be used to generate the letter. As Dan Pink recently tweeted, “learning should be the carrot.”
  2. I would gamify the classroom. After read Game Storming, I understand that you can turn anything into a game environment. Start with a hook, some way of getting the kids to enter the “game.” Let them diverge from the start into the learning. In the end, they reach a goal. That goal will serve as the starting point for entering the next “game.” I’m not completely sure how to do this yet, but I hope to play more with this idea.
  3. I love the idea of flipping. I hate the misconceptions that are coming with it. Flipping is not a way of removing the teacher. Flipping is a way for the teacher to do more of what is important, spend time with small groups or individuals meeting their specific needs. I would create and use online lessons to serve as the direct instruction. Students would receive the direct instruction on an as need basis. I would use formative pre-assessments to drive the direction students would go.

In part two of this post and beyond I plan on expanding on each of these ideas. Before I get to that, what do you think? What would a secondary math classroom structured this way be like for students?

QR Code Craze

qrcodeAfter attending a session on QR codes at the Ohio eTech conference on Monday, I have become obsessed this thinking of innovative ways to use them in our schools. On Tuesday I was working with a group of 10th grade language arts students. I am helping them create a digital book or magazine. The students get to pick the site they want to use. The teacher created this nice chart to show them some of the potential sites. After doing a quick show and tell we talked about the potential to print these books and put them in our library….ah ha moment…Lets go green. Lets create a QR code for everyone’s book, create page with all the QR codes, and put the codes in the library. A few minutes later after showing what a QR code was and discussing it a bit more, we had decided to do it.

All day I keep thinking of the projects we have coming up and how I can use QR codes with those projects. I now have codes on my desk in the library just hoping when teacher walk by they will ask, “What is that?” Our media specialist had the idea to do something with codes and the upcoming release of the Hunger Games movie. We are also going to steal this idea that Karl Fisch share at the Ohio Summit on 21st Century Skills. Create video book trailers and put the QR code on the spine.

I need more ideas. How are you engaging students with QR codes?

Pedagogy Before Technology Part 1: The Rant

Today I attended the Ohio eTech State Technology Conference. The day started of with physicist and Futurist Dr. Michio Kaku. He made us laugh, but I’m not sure I left the session with anything that will affect how or what I do anytime in the foreseeable future.

I then headed down the hall to listen to a teacher list off the technologies he uses with students. He didn’t:

  • tell why he used the technology.
  • tell how the technology supported student learning.
  • give concrete examples of what he was using the technology for.

I lasted 20 minutes or so before I hit my breaking point. That point was when he asked, “Does anyone have examples of project based learning that works? I haven’t had much success with it.” I respect anyone who chooses to take the risk of getting up in front of their peers from around the state to share their work. I remember my first time, it is a nerve wracking experience. With that said, if you’re going to get on stage, have something worth sharing.

I feel like every year at least half the sessions I attend are this way. I used to attend all three days of the conference, I’m now down to one. Honestly attending is more about presenting with my wife and running into good friends in the halls between sessions.

My biggest frustration is there are teachers out there who believe what they see in these sessions is good. They take the lessons they learn and take them back and try to implement them. They try to use technology for technologies sake, not thinking deeply about how the use of the technology supports their learning targets. They are not thinking about pedagogy.

So how do we make this a conference better, come back tomorrow for, Pedagogy Before Technology Part 2: The solution, when I’m not in a sour mood.

eTech Time

On Monday I will be attending the Ohio eTech conference. After attending, and presenting, at this conference for more than a decade, I sometimes wonder why I attend. Just like our schools, this conference looks almost exactly the same today as it did the first time I attended in the 90’s. The technology has improved, but the use of time and space are pretty much the same. Shouldn’t a technology conference that has the power to get thousands of Ohio’s educators in one place be a model of 21st century learning? Shouldn’t this conference look more like an edcamp than every conference held in the 20th century?

The question becomes, how do we get them to change it?

Till then, I am going to make eTech a little like edcamp myself. Instead of worrying about what session I am going to attend next, I am going to seek out who I can have a conversation with next. I hope to see some old friends to reconnect with and make some new ones. I look forward to learning something from the stories I hear.

Oh, I just remembered why I do attend. I get to share the stage with the best teacher I know, my wife.

Earlier today I was listening to an Episode of Shift Our Schools podcast. In the 35-minute episode they were discussing the topics of self-direction, technology, project based learning and much more. I strongly recommend all educators who want to get a better idea of why we are teaching ‘21st century skills’ give this a listen.

One item in the episode that caught my attention was when they mentioned this IB chemistry Blog. It is quite impressive.  The post are very content rich(and over my head). What is most impressive are the comments students are making back to each other. Many are more detailed than the original post.

For teachers, the about page has a great listing of what students can blog about. If you are ready to dive into student blogging, or just want to expand what you are already doing, this is a great resource.

Self-Directed Professional Development

I recently collected resources to help educators guide their own professional development. I would like to thank @web20classroom and @simplek12 on Twitter for sharing. Here is the list. Fell free to share and add to it. (Some of these are local opportunities here in central Ohio)

Conferences and Professional Development Opportunities 2009-2010

Educon 2.2

January 29-31, 2010

Philadelphia, PA

What is EduCon 2.2?

EduCon 2.2 is both a conversation and a conference.
And it is not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

eTech Ohio Conference

February 1-3

Columbus, Oh

It is a dedicated time when Ohio educators, (teachers, faculty, librarians, instructional designers, administrators, students, technicians) network, listen and explore — then roll up our sleeves and learn! It is a dedicated time where we rub elbows with people like us; hear from international experts; recognize teaching excellence, scholarship, student accomplishments, and tech innovations. It is a dedicated time where all of us (from pre-school, elementary and secondary education, career centers, colleges, universities, and adult education) can tap into the best educational currents across the state and re-energize!
K-12 Online Conference

New sessions start Nov 30th


The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2009 conference theme is “Bridging the Divide.”
Ohio Free Tech Conference 2010

  • Attain success; learn to seamlessly integrate technology into your curriculum. Explore best practice solutions from leaders in educational technology and experience the most valuable educational innovations.
  • Save time and engage students. Gain need-to-know knowledge on how effective use of technology translates into more meaningful teaching time. Impact student achievement through strategic implementation.
  • Discover how technology integration helps you go green.
Classroom 2.0 Webinars, the social network for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education. We encourage you to sign up to participate in the great discussions here, to receive event notifications, and to find and connect with colleagues.

Classroom 2.0 is a free, community-supported network. We especially hope that those who are “beginners” will find this a supportive community and a comfortable place to start being part of the digital dialog. If you feel that you are a beginner and want some extra help, please click here to join the Beginner Group as soon as you’ve registered.

Atomic Learning
Technology training that moves you from
“How do I do that?” to “How do I apply that?”
PBS Teacher line
PBS TeacherLine’s high quality, standards-based graduate-level courses offer teachers the professional development opportunities they need in an accessible online format that makes learning fun, flexible and collaborative. You can earn graduate credit, PDPs, or CEUs while gaining strategies and resources to bring directly to your classroom.
Simple K-12

Here at SimpleK12, we know how important technology education is, and we also know that there isn’t always enough edtech funding to get the training and assessments your students, teachers, and staff need.

That’s why we have FREE curriculum offers for your students, and professional development solutions for teachers and staff.

See below for our simple solutions. We offer every district a free simple solution for their student technology education and a free simple solution for teacher professional development.

North Carolina’s EBistro
eBistro is a professional development tool for educators in North Carolina that will help teachers feel more comfortable integrating technology into the curriculum. Participants are able to create a login, complete individual learning modules, and save their work in their own digital portfolio. Other areas of eBistro provide resources for grant writing and other items deemed important for teachers.
23 Things Project

Teachers, Administrators, School Leaders and others with a vested interest in education are quickly realizing that the face of education is changing. Students, begining in the lowest grade levels are coming to school as digital citizens, yet the system has been slow to adapt. The 23 Things Web 2.0 Project is designed to introduce you to the tools that can transform your classroom, school or district. Activities can be completed independently, as a small learning community or as a large staff.

See for yourself what the Web 2.0 buzz is all about. Aside from being highly interactive, accessible and collaborative-it’s a fun use of technology! Our experts will guide you through six different ways to incorporate Web 2.0 into your classroom. Prepare yourself to learn a lot and be entertained along the way. GO EXPLORE!
Online learning is a convenient way to gain valuable technology-based and content-based skills that is flexible and works with your schedule. It’s a great way to obtain graduate credit in an engaging multimedia environment.

Intimidated? Don’t be – we’re user-friendly! We have supportive and patient facilitators that work with you to ensure your success!


Face-to-Face Fridays (F2F) – These hands-on sessions are offered at North, Central and Southern locations from 10-3 and are limited to a maximum of ten participants.

Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC) Tuesdays – These one hour presentations are offered via video on Tuesdays from 3:30-4:30. Each site may have as many participants as desired.

Online Classes (OLC) – Take an online course in your PJs! Courses are composed of four to five modules with lessons typically posted each Monday and due the following Sunday. You work at your own pace with guided instruction and assistance provided online by an ITSCO consultant. It’s that simple. All you need is a computer and Internet access!

Exemplary Answers

On October 19th I ran a professional development session showing exemplars of 21st Century Learning. Most exemplars of 21st century lessons are going to have a technology component to them. In order to field questions about the lessons and technologies, I had participants text me questions using poll everywhere. Here are the questions I didn’t get to answer during the session and my answers to them:

What would b easier 2 manage – a wiki or moodle?

It depends on your goal. Moodle is a course management system. It does a lot more then a wiki can. A wiki is a website that is easily edited by many users. My suggestion is to discuss this question with an Integration Coach.

Could we see rubrics from teachers in the district?

We will be working on gathering and creating rubrics this year. The goal is to share them out with staff once they are gathered.

How time consuming is having a moodle with ur students? How do u manage?

If you manage it effectively, it will take you no more time that you are currently spending assessing your students. Anytime you do something new to accomplish a curricular goal, you should let something go. When you start using Moodle begin small. Ex. Replace a traditional formative open ended short answer writing with a forum in Moodle. You now have a rich discussion instead of an individual writing what they think the teacher wants to hear.

Have you seen teachers use this in class?

I have used every one of these items in class myself and endorse them all as powerful tools for student learning.

do u need to download voice thread? Could u share how to add it to Moodle?

Voicethread is a web based tool, No download is needed. I do not have a quick tutorial on how to embed Voicethread in Moodle. I will look for one.

do u think having the kids maintain a wiki with newsletter info would work?

That is a great idea for how to use a wiki!

pros / cons of using a wiki within moodle?

Pro: Inside moodle with all of your other course assignments, easy to manage groups of students and permissions.

Cons: Not as graphically pleasing as pbworks or wikispaces, only visable to students in your class (this could be a pro depending on the purpose)

can you use moodle for peer editing?

You sure can, here is an example of how one teacher used it for peer evaluation. Contact a coach and we can show you how to use it for peer editing.

can you show me how to have my students text me questions?

The website is I would be more than happy to give a quick overview of how to use it.

My question to leave this post, based upon this event, do cell phones have a place in school?

Should Schools be Equal?

I have a question. Should all students have the option of getting an equal education? (Equal does not mean the same). Does anyone really need to think about this? If so, what is there to think about?
The 6th largest district in the state of Ohio, nearly 21,000 K-12 students, failed another levy this week. Attached to that failure is the loss of teachers, athletics, high school busing, band, theater, all after school activities. For some students they lost the reason they come to school in the first place. Some can claim the failure was due to the economy. I don’t because two-thirds of the levies in central Ohio passed the same day. I put part of the blame on sections of the community not putting a value on a quality education for the students who live in the neighboring homes. The big question is, do those people have the right to choose the quality of education our children will receive?
I put the majority of the blame on a broken system. A system that give individuals who feel little or no tie to the local schools the ability to choose the fate of its students. All students deserve a quality education. Not just the ones coming from a community that backs it schools because they know the value of a quality education. While a high school teacher in Southwestern City teaches 155 students a day, teachers in neighboring districts will teach 120, 100 and even some as low as 80.
So, what is the solution? We need to stop relying on property taxes to fund schools. There needs to be a solution in which a set dollar amount is guaranteed to be spent on every student in the state. This amount needs to figure in reasonable loads for teachers based upon university research on class sizes. It needs to include technology. In the 21st century, technology should be ubiquitous in our schools. In Southwestern it is just old and dusty (Some labs have 10 year old computers). This money should include choices for our students. High schools should look more like colleges because of the vast experiences that are offered.
I know life is not fair, but should we be teaching that lesson to our youth through an unfair education system? Only a voice as loud as thousands can make a change to this reality.

I Don't have Time for That

About a week ago I asked my PLN on Twitter, “When a teacher says ‘I don’t have time for that’ do they mean, I don’t know how & I’m not willing to take the time to learn.” I will start by saying this is not my opinion, I was trying to start a discussion.

There was a great amount of wisdom in the responses.

@futureofedu It might just mean “I’m scared to try that!” from @kellyhines

I agree, many want to jump in, they are just scared of the water. In my district, there is me and the others in our educational technology department there to be their life jackets. Still, not all people are jumpping in.

@futureofedu means teacher doesn’t know how said thing fits w/curriculum therefore said thing is perceived as added on to curriculum. from @nancydevine

We must stress that it isn’t one more thing. When we talk about embedding technology and 21st century skills, it happens with the teaching of content, not separately.

@futureofedu Probably more like: “I’m being pulled in too many directions with stuff I already know to take on something else.” from @nlowell

@futureofedu Yes and no-My current workload exceeds my contractual liability.Should I feel pressured into even more with no allowance – no? from @sdisbury

@zemote @futureofedu re: teachers/time – I don’t even have time to do the things I know how to do and I desperately want to do. from @teacherc

Dear adminstrtors, please make time in your teachers schedule for them to learn and grow. Hire people in your district that can support this professional learning.

Dear Politician, Find a way for the above statement to be financially feasible for ALL schools.

Teachers need to shift their practices to embed 21st century skills and technology. This should not be an option. The problem is the lack of understanding and funding for this shift to happen at the speed it should be.  The question I am left to ponder, what do we do to change this?