Saturday, June 30, 2007

NECC fall out and the swirling literacy storm!

I have been spending the past few weeks, a little busier than I have been, but still engaged in what has been going on around me. I presented at the GoogleIT CTAP sessions with Kathleen, Jerome and Cheryl, which was pretty awesome and I have blogged about recently and I have been working as the Summer School Principal at San Mateo High School.

I blogged last week that I was dissappointed that I could not be in Atlanta, but I think being here and reading what other's have written, including: David Warlick, Vicki Davis, Wesley Fryer, Will Richardson, Mark Wagner and

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Blogging Envy! or Why I am bummed I am not in Atlanta.

The official ISTE, National Educational Computing Conference has just officially started, but there was a lot of action yesterday as many of the nation's leading educational bloggers met to discuss the state of educational technology and what should be the next steps in the process of advancing the use of technology in education. In reading the blog posts from many of the attendees, I found a common theme, of information literacy. This is a topic I have written about several times in this space and it seems that the members of the discussion yesterday had some of the same issues I have had previously with 'information literacy.'

Some of the questions I have had with the idea of 'information literacy' are:

1) Is 'information literacy' separate from the larger idea of what it means to be literate, or is simply a subset of the definition of literacy?

2) How do we clearly define 'information literacy?' What skills are part of 'information literacy?'

3) How do we make sure that students are information literate? Do we need a national standard?

4) How do we measure 'information literacy' in our students? Do we need a test?

What are the discussions going on in Atlanta?

Will Richardson posted that this is the first of many conversations on the topic and that the conversation has finally pushed things forward in his own thinking!

David Warlick has divided things into four general areas with a list on each one.

- The School

- The Classroom

- The Learner

- Assessment

Vicki Davis on the 'Cool Cat Teacher Blog' has created a list of ideas that can be used to create a common message / definition for educational technology advocates to use when illicting support from political leaders and other decision makers. Vicki also posted on her 'take-aways' from the session and some next steps.

Mark Wagner, one of the presenters in the Google Teacher's Academy, had some additional thoughts on his blog and the need for more informal meeting time to allow the conversation to become more organic. (have a life of its own!)

Jeff Utecht, from 'The Thinking Stick' blog posted on what factors lead to a Virtual Learning Community based on the discussions in one of the sessions EduBloggerCon. There is also a post on a Second Life session.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Google Certified Teacher - The First Eight Months

What has it meant to me over the past eight months to be a Google Certified Teacher? Well... it has changed my professional life in many varied and different ways. In breaking all of the factors down, I come up with three larger themes that everything I have done in the last eight months can be connected to. These themes are tools, connections and accessibility. While these themes seem to be standard, or even mundane, they reflect the simplicity in which I have been able to do my job in new and extraordinarily powerful ways. As I said in my GTA Video; I had an 'EdTech Epiphany' in 2005, but in November 2006, I found the way to get to the place I wanted to move my professional life.

Before the Google Certified Teacher day, I was aware of many of the tools that Google had created, but had only used them in passing and independent of each other. While each tool has its own function, the strength of using the Google tools is the inter connectivity each tool has with the others. From the day following the Google Teacher's Academy, I have used Docs and Spreadsheets on a consistent basis, first as a collaborative tool to work on presentations with a group of teachers to having students create projects where we published them on the Internet for students to see each others work. I had been using Blogger, even before the GTA, but I found that I was able to integrate more tools into Blogger, which made it an even more powerful tool. The ability to embed YouTube videos and Picasa Slideshows have made Blogger a must for every teacher. I know that many of my colleagues have found Google Earth extraordinarily valuable, but I haven't had the chance to really sit down and work with it enough.

The connections I have made with the people I went through the Google Teacher Academy program with have been phenomenal! I have developed several working relationships with other educational technology professionals that they synergy has allowed me to do many things I did not think I would be able to accomplish. Personally, I have done many more teacher trainings inside and outside of my own district due to the 'Google Certified Teacher' label. Just this past week, I was part of a team with Kathleen Ferenz, Jerome Berg and Cheryl Davis that did a Google IT training for 40+ teachers in two sites. I was able to guest lecture to Mary Buckman's Graduate Level Instructional Technologies class and I have collaborated with Rushton Hurley on his non-profit venture, Next Vista for Learning. Over the past eight months, I have done over 10 professional development sessions with over 200 teachers and students in attendance. I know that none of this would have happened if I had not attended the Google Teachers Academy.

The one thing that ties all of this together is the accessibility of the tools and the people. I truly believe that for students to be contributing members of a 21st Century society, they need to have Information Literacy skills and these skills need to extend from the school and into the home. Because of this belief, I have been working on ways to get computers into the hands of students who could not afford them. This past year, with the help of others, I was able to develop a program called 'Digital Bridge.' The Digital Bridge program takes in donated computers, refurbishes them and gives them back to students who would not have the means to buy a computer on their own. I knew that this one step was important, providing Internet access was also a major hurdle for these students. Building a partnership with the City of San Bruno and Artichoke Joe's, we were able to provide Internet access for 40 - 9th grade students who were on free and reduced lunch and would be unable to obtain Internet access by other means.

Once we were able to get computers and Internet access into the hands of all students, we could then leverage the Google Tools to move their skill level forward and become 21st Century learners. To me, being a 21st Century learner is not the ability to 'possess' more information than someone else, because at the rate at which information is increasing, doubling every 48 days or so, no one could 'possess' all of the knowledge and information that is available. Therefore, what we should be teaching students are the skills that are necessary to access the information they need, when they need it and the ability to evaluate that information for bias and accuracy.

It is through this process, that I have found my new calling within the educational community. As we look at education over the next few years, the definition of what it means to be literate is changing. The definition of literacy will begin to encompass 'information literacy' skills as well as the ability to contribute 'meaningful dialogue' (Text, Audio and Video) to the society. )

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Google IT - PD on Steroids

I am at the last of the Google IT sessions put on by CTAP this summer, this three day program was designed to give teachers a fast-paced hands on training on all of the Google Tools and their application into the classroom. The four presenters: Jerome Berg (Google Lit Trips), Cheryl Davis, Kathleen Ferenz and myself took 40 teachers (20 in each session - Marin and Pleasanton) through Google Earth, Docs and Spreadsheets, Blogger, Reader and Picasa. The program was very well received by both groups and the comments dealt mostly with the fact that there wasn't enough time to get everything done. In the session I presented, Blogger and Google Reader, I felt rushed getting through the entire presentation in the three hours allotted. I wish there could have been more time to allow the participants the chance to synthesize the tools and their use in education. I do believe that this is the pathway to the future.

So... its the pathway? How are we going to light the path for them so they don't trip or stumble along the way?

Sessions like this are huge first steps. But follow up is needed for the teachers completing the program and more teachers need to be involved.

- More workshops like this to provide the skills to teachers!
- Follow up sessions for the participants to reinforce the skills taught.
- Training for Administrators. Administrators need begin the process of being able to evaluate teachers using the tools. (I think that the reason we don't have more teachers using 21st Century tools in the classroom is that there aren't many administrators who know what 21st Century learning looks like and how can they possibly evaluate something they don't have defined in their own mind. Most administrators I have talked to that think their staff is tech savvy talk about how their teachers use PowerPoint! Arrgh!)

Coming Events:
- Google IT to your Northern California District? Leave a comment on this Blog.
- CLHS/CUE Conference: Monterey, California - November 2007 - One Day Intensive Sessions with Kathleen, Jerome, Cheryl and myself!

The Google Group we used to house all of our material will go public on June 30, so that anyone can view it and look at the sessions. Until that time this link to it may be dead!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Google IT - Blogger and Reader Links

Well, the page I was using in the Google Groups has locked me out from making any changes to my Blogger / Reader page for the Google IT Group, so what I am going to do is to give you a blog post that you can link back to that has all of the links for Blogger and Reader. This list is not meant to be all inclusive by any means, but it is a place to find several resources all in one place that you can refer back to when you start school in the fall.

Kyle's links

- Blogging Techniques for the K12 classroom
- Vicki Davis' How to become an Incredible Blogger
- Vicki Davis' - Ten Habits of Bloggers that Win
- Vicki Davis - How to Comment Like a King (or Queen!)
- Miguel Guhlin - Edublogging Tips
- Will Richardson - Why Weblogs?
- Will Richardson's Presentation Page
- Will Richardson's - Blogs for Professional Development
- Will Richardson - Getting Serious about Blogs in Schools
- David Warlick - Blog Reflection Rubric

- RSS in Plain English Video
- How to Use Google Reader - Andy Wibbels
- Google Reader FAQ's
- 10 Smart Hacks for Google Reader
- Lifehacker: Getting Good With Google Reader
- Lifehacker: From Bloglines to Google Reader

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Google IT - Embedding Multimedia

These are examples of embedded multimedia into a blog post....

All of these are worth a look, since they will transition us into the next part of our day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

GoogleIT - Your First Post

Well, if you are reading this on Tuesday, June 19 in San Rafael or on Wednesday, June 20 in Pleasanton, you are probably about an hour into session 3 of the GoogleIT Workshop. As you have probably already learned, there are many different types of blogging and each has its own educational benefit. You can vary your blogging style as your needs change as well.

As you get better, you'll start to do more with the tools available to you and you will only be limited by your own imagination. Remember, blogging is about communication and the exchange of information, you decide how much information to reveal and part of what we need to teach students in what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to reveal in a public forum like a blog. I suggest teaching an information literacy and digital citizenship unit (I like to suggest the work of Ribble and Bailey at Kansas State) before you start to have students blog. There are also 'safe blogging' tools available to your students. The best of these is 'Class Blogmeister' developed and hosted by David Warlick.

So, what are you going to do on your first blog post? Introduce yourself....

Your first post is going to be just text and graphics. (Like the picture of me and my friends above?)

Here's what you'll do:

Name: Kyle Brumbaugh

School / Position: Capuchino High School - Technology Coordinator

Professional Goals for 2007-08:
1) Increase the connections between our Global Communications program and other classrooms around the world. (David Ratner's Blog - Geoff Hinman's Wiki)

2) Expand the Digital Bridge program from Capuchino High School to some of the local middle schools, particularly Parkside Intermediate.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Management and Content: A journey all teachers must make.

As a practice, blogging has been a way for me to synthesize ideas and clearly define my own educational paradigm. Again and again on in this space, I have tossed out my pithy little saying about education, "There is a big difference between teaching thirty years and teaching one year thirty times." I truly believe in the process of on-going growth and renewal. The visual of Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill day after day, only to lose control of the boulder and have it roll back to the bottom and force him to start up the hill again. I see many teachers in this roll... trudging through the school year, constantly counting the days until the next break or vacation. They do the same thing all the time; lecture to the class, collect the assignments from the end of the chapter and either quiz or test students on whether they know concepts from the textbook. The only way this scenario works is if you are a great public speaker, have a great command of the content and great classroom management.

When I talk to teachers, I say that young teachers have to fight two battles, the content and the management. Having a bachelor's degree in a certain subject gives you enough expertise to teach a basic class, but it is no where near enough to teach an Advanced Placement course. I have seen a huge number of teachers burn out in their first five years in the profession because they have to fight a two front war. They struggle with curriculum because they may have the depth of knowledge, but they don't have the breadth of knowledge to teach a class. They also fight a management battle, by not having clearly defined expectations for their class. Teacher preparation programs seem to be long on management theory and short in management practice. We have all seen teachers that have been successful by being very good in either curriculum or management until they can find their niche in the other area. The teacher that has such mastery of the content, that the students behave because they know the teacher really knows the material. The reverse is also true, that there are teachers that have great management skills that they have the students attention all the time, so they can convey the material they do know extremely well. Fighting a two front war is a difficult thing to do, it didn't work for Germany in WWI and WWII, and it isn't going to work for most teachers. I beleive this is the primary reason for teacher burnout and the reason that most new teachers leave the profession in the first five years.

So, what's the solution for the new teacher? The new definition of literacy does not entail 'possessing' knowledge, but the ability to use, employ, manipulate and synthesize it. This is what we should be teaching the students we teach and it is what we need to be teaching those people entering the teaching profession. And as veteran teachers, we need to think of what it is going to take to teach thirty years instead of teaching one year thirty times.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Are Geeks better educators than Teachers?

OK.... is it time that everyone in the world, with the exception of teachers is acknowledging where education is going? I read an article today from 'ExtremeTech,' a blog that I subscribe to because they usually have some decent pictures of case mods and other cool things for the DIY crowd and my Computer Systems Design students like to see what these guys are doing, that states that students are just going to be editors of the read/write web. The article, "Are We Just Editors?" states that the nature of information has changed so much since the author's youth that it allows students to do so much with a basic Internet connection. The author, Loyd Case, relates a story about his daughter trying to find a quote from a book and how he could help his daughter by quickly searching and finding the exact quote in a matter of seconds.

Loyd starts the article with a link to the Dubious Quality Blog, where the author, Bill Harris, of that post relates the process that most teachers used when they went through school using the card catalog to find books that related to the topics they were interested in. The blog post continues on and relates to how different the process of obtaining information is today, using a story about a friend's children and stating, "We were a generation of information explorers. They are a generation of editors."

To come full circle. Why haven't teachers figured this out and adapted their teaching strategies to leverage the skills students are already using? I think there are a few reasons and I have blogged on them previously, but I think as a profession, we need to take a good long look in the mirror and decide we are going to do what is going to prepare the students we teach for a future that is going to require them to manipulate, evaluate and edit large amounts of information. We need to give them the skills to make sense of the information and utilize it in new and different ways allowing a synergistic energy to build upon itself creating new institutions to advance the society as a whole.

I know... I went a little on the idealistic bent, instead of being pragmatic, but I think we need to know what might be possible if we move forward. Instead, we sit in our classrooms, bound by NCLB and high-stakes testing that professes to be in our best interests, yet is the thing that holds us accountable to the past.