Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ category

Ways to implement the ISTE Administrator Standards

August 11th, 2014

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has created a set of standards for educational technology applicable worldwide. While there are discrepancies in the availability of technology, five standards for educational leaders help ensure that schools are moving in the right direction for student equity and tech efficiency. I’ve included summaries of those five standards below alongside my personal recommendations on how to implement these standards.

1. Visionary leadership – This is an administrator’s ability to involve all stakeholders in purposeful change, follow through on a strategic plan, and advocate for policies and funding.

Implementing a vision is why we need leaders and the best leaders create opportunities for those impacted by a decision to help create that decision. Involve teachers, students, and families in brainstorming sessions regarding the direction for technology at the campus and district level. It is important when gathering feedback to include those who may not be the most comfortable with technology. Even though they may disagree with you, they will be the ones working with you and potential problems can be resolved early on in the process with shared understanding.

Keeping the change purposeful is also key. Too often it is tempting to implement new technology simply because it is new. Everything that the school does must support the big picture vision and mission of the school, which leads to…

2. Digital age learning culture – The innovations that technology can bring to a school must focus on improving instruction. Educational leaders must also model a learning lifestyle for students and teachers in part by participating in learning communities.

Instruction is what we’re about. It may take on various forms depending upon the style of the teacher and the content of the curriculum, but, at the end of the day, we are about students learning. If an activity – technology included – does not help students learn, cut it.

Modeling positive behaviors in education is crucial. Educational leaders must live out what they expect students and staff to do, otherwise it can be dismissed as hypocritical ideology or chasing a trend. A principal who uses a shared network drive instead of making hundreds of copies for faculty meeting handouts is one simple example of using technology to help the school. Modeling the use of collaboration software (such as Google Drive, Evernote, or One Note) with department chairs will in turn show them through experience how to use technology with their students.

3. Excellence in professional practice – Resources such as time and money must be allocated for educators to engage in professional growth. Educational leaders must also stay current on educational research and emerging trends in order to evaluate which practices to pursue.

Money is tough to allocate when the economy is struggling, and time is a commodity that teachers do not have in excess, so creativity is needed to implement this standard. With regards to time, faculty meetings or weekly staff emails can have a section dedicated to sharing best practices. Experienced teachers can be the best experts and money could be saved on not having to hire an outside presenter or consultant and have more practical applications of technology on a campus by campus basis. Opportunities to use teacher-led workshops for recertification credit must also be available.

To stay current, social media is probably one of the quickest ways to see new trends emerge in technology. The issue will be to sift through what is reliable, what is applicable, and what is worthwhile. There are various blogs and Twitter feeds to follow that emphasize Educational Technology, such as The Digital Shift and Michael Karlin’s The Ed Tech Round Up. Another technique is to follow non-educational tech blogs to get a business world perspective.

4. Systemic improvement – Educational leaders need to collaborate with the staff on their campuses and with other administrators to establish ways of measuring success and to interpret those results for the growth of the campus. Leaders must also develop a sustainable framework for technology which includes recruiting and retaining personnel who use technology effectively.

Measuring success is key in determining whether technology use works towards the mission and vision of the school. Is success defined by student scores on summative assessments? Find the correlation. Is success a reduction in late homework turn-ins? Check to see if the data lines up. Data-based decision making is the reality of modern schools.

A sustainable infrastructure is also essential. It’s not a good investment to send a teacher to a training for them to quit the next year. Ways to build connections between teachers and the community, to find what resonates with employees, are crucial for retaining top talent. Autonomy is also something that teachers may find motivating. This is tough when addressing technology because there are so many things that could potentially go wrong, but the flip must not be forgotten: there is so much good that can happen when teachers take calculated risks to inspire students to be better learners.

5. Digital citizenship – Each advancement in technology provides opportunities to educate students, staff, and other community members on the ethics of technology and to create opportunities for increased cultural understanding.

While the fast-paced development of technology makes it tougher for educators to stay current and opens up new ways for students to break a school’s code of conduct, our students must learn how to use technology ethically. Inappropriate use must still have consequences, but a clear definition of appropriate use must be given. Instances where teachers can leverage a Bring Your Own Device initiative to enhance instruction will replace rules of not allowing devices on campus at all.

One of the best ways to help teachers acclimate to new technology is to give them a choice. Teachers already feel like more and more aspects of their jobs are being dictated by groups that they perceive as outside of their circle of influence. Adding a Bring Your Own Device requirement for every classroom will not be well-received. Highlighting teachers who have implemented it well and sharing those effective lessons and strategies will have the natural progression of increased adoption. It is slower than forcing everyone to do it, but will last longer due to incorporating a teacher’s motivation to look for ways to improve his or her practice.

We run a Bring Your Own Device system at our campus, so if you are interested in how to launch/improve something like that on your own campus, just leave a comment here. Also, Vicki Davis has a great list of BYOD apps/web sites that can help you sift through everything that’s out there. The options are ever-increasing, but her information is a great starting off point.

What Does John Locke Say?

November 22nd, 2013

If you’ve ever wanted to analyze John Locke’s philosophy on the establishment of a government’s rights, but wanted to hear it in the style of Internet Europop sensation Ylvis, look no further:

What Does John Locke Say?

Here are the lyrics:

Dark Age gone
Renaissance done
17th century
has begun
Science can
Find the laws
That all nature must obey
But can we find
the laws of man
and society at large
how should we live
Enlightened now
What does John Locke Say?
To understand political power, we must consider the natural state, of man is a state of perfect freedom
What does John Locke say?
The natural state is also equality, where no man has more power than another, and it’s evident that all humans are equal
What does John Locke say?
But if man be free why give up freedom, cause he is exposed to danger and invasion, so he joins for mutual preservation
What does John Locke say?
Reason is law that teaches mankind, that all are equal and nobody ought to harm another’s life, health, liberty or possessions
What does John Locke say?
English Kings
were out of hand
so much Locke
went to Holland
Europe was
filled with absolute monarchs
A Glorious
enabled Locke to go home
and write about
the rights of man
and how society should ru-u-u-u-n, ru-u-u-u-n, ru-u-u-u-n
and what power is based o-o-o-o-n, o-o-o-o-n, o-o-o-o-n,
What does John Locke Say?
When power is given for protection, and it’s used for other ends, there it presently becomes a tyranny
What does John Locke Say?
If the train of abuse continues, the people should rouse themselves together, and put the rule in better hands
What else does Locke say?
All ideas come from sensation, let us suppose the mind to be, white paper void of all characters
What does John Locke say?
Tabula Rasa! Tabula Rasa!
What does John Locke say?

Okay, that’s pretty funny

July 18th, 2013

One of my assignments today was to take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. I post my results because those that know me well will find these results intriguing:

Your Keirsey Temperament Sorter Results indicates that your personality type is that of the:

Idealist Teacher

Idealists (NF), as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self — always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the “not visible” or the “not yet” that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.

Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a “soulmate,” someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.

Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.

Teachers (ENFJ) are highly motivational and can influence others around them with great ease. They are people-oriented and focused on maintaining high spirits within their group. They work well with personnel and their enthusiasm is truly inspiring to others. Teachers can be very creative in finding ways for people to participate on teams and are likely to arrange social functions to bring people together. They tend to be expressive and intuitive and are more likely to make “people” their highest priority over tasks or projects.

Thomas Friedman on Teaching Innovation

April 2nd, 2013

Thomas Friedman, journalist and author of a number of social change books, is advocating for more innovation instruction in the K-12 and college school system in the United States. He makes an interesting point when he says that most information can be found online now on a handheld device, so we can’t just be about knowledge acquisition. (The librarian side of me interjects that we need to teach students how to decipher which sources to trust on those handheld devices.)

I agree and add to the discussion that in many disciplines there are great discoveries happening daily through easier collaboration with colleagues around the world. I mean, we’re trying to bring back sabertooth tigers, after all. With such advances, we need to teach the foundation information but must also train students on how to think critically. I know that we’ve been saying it as a school for a long time now, but I think that with some of the team efforts that we’ve seen locally and abroad, we’re getting more and more successful ideas of what that looks like.

You can read Friedman’s article by clicking here.

More thoughts on BYOD policies

February 13th, 2013

We’re in our second semester of our Bring Your Own Device initiative and I’ve already seen a positive aspect of having students being able to use their own device for projects instead of relying just on the one or two that the library can provide. One example is with video projects. We’ve been more efficient with our class time because each group has at least one video camera through the use of a cell phone. Students get the footage they need and don’t have dead air time waiting for another group to finish.

And yes, we do understand that having a video camera in the hands of each group can also have some negative aspects, too. That’s why we’re teaching digital citizenship, the ethical use of technology. Education Week has a great article that goes into more detail about digital citizenship. I would be curious to hear people’s thoughts about the color-coding system used by George C. Marshall High School.

Students need structure.

January 28th, 2013

General Colin Powell shares about the benefit of structure in education:

ePals Global Community

January 15th, 2013

Writing assignments are more engaging when they have a real-world context (think quadrants B and D on the Rigor/Relevance framework). One way to incorporate that is through written correspondence to people of other cultures from around the globe.

Instead of just randomly emailing people, ePals has set up a community specifically for educators to connect classrooms from around the world. It’s like paper and pencil pen pals, but for the new “flat” world.

Can we get more people to choose the stairs by making it fun to do?

November 2nd, 2012

There were quite a number of great ideas presented by Zachary Walker today at the BER conference. I’ll be posting some of the ways that we’re using them as we go through the remainder of the school year, but one that I wanted to share right now was this video from Volkswagen about motivation to do what’s right compared to what’s easy:

Teach the books, touch the heart

April 23rd, 2012

A friend of mine shared this article with me about the importance of keeping meaningful literature in the hands of students. Check it out here.


Current publisher opinions of ebooks in libraries

March 8th, 2012

I’m working with other librarians in the district to find the best way to work ebooks into our district catalogs. It’s interesting that some publishers don’t want libraries to circulate ebooks at all, some want circulations but set a limit, and some have no limit. Check out the opinions here.

The big debate revolves around the fact that ebooks don’t wear down like a physical copy does. My issue is that when I have a physical copy of a book, it’s unlikely that the publisher will come to my doorstep and pull the physical copy out of my hands if any distribution policies change. I’ve already had a digital book removed without my permission on my phone because of distribution changes and it was frustrating because I wasn’t done reading the book. I had to go into the bookseller’s site and download it differently as a PDF and now it’s ugly to try and scroll through on my phone.