What to do when you can’t be there

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My district is running 3 training workshops this week for the teachers who have eClassrooms – Smartboard, Macbook, speakers, cameras, wireless internet. Yesterday we trained the teachers who are just getting their boards this year. Today we are training the teachers who got them last year (with the newbies invited too), and tomorrow we are hosting a “potpourri” of multimedia tools for their eClassrooms.

I am not the main trainer for yesterday and today’s sessions, but I was there to introduce the session, our new Professional Learning Network, and to be around in case of emergency (Smartboards are finicky with Macs sometimes :P) Anyways, yesterday went great and I was all geared up to go in today and have a fantastic day.

Then the puking began. Not mine, my 5 year old son’s. At 10:30 pm, fever of 103.5 (yikes!) and ruined bed. Needless to say, I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to work today. Which really bothered me because I was always one of those teachers who felt that they couldn’t NOT be in school because I had to teach my students and I was doing them a disservice to leave them busy work with a sub. I feel even more strongly now that I’m teaching adults. They are giving their time to be there voluntarily, I should be there to teach them.

So, today, I made my first Ustream recording to do the Ning network introduction. It’s not great because I recorded it at 7 am or so, and the quality is really bad when you blow it up. My intention was for the trainers to show the video on the Smartboard, but I also advised them to have the participants watch it on their macbooks.

So here it is, my very first Ustream recorded show and an introduction to our Professional Learning Network!

Live video chat by Ustream


This year in review

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Today is my first day of “summer break”. In celebration of that, I’m going to reflect a bit on the past school year and what I have accomplished and what we’ve taken on at Wissahickon in such a short amount of time.

September:

  • The school year began with a MacBook for each teacher, and the accompanying training entitled “Meet your Mac”.
  • 50 teachers in the district were awarded SmartBoards (including me) and 4 lucky souls were to serve as the first ever 1:1 classrooms in the district in a pilot program.
  • We had a new Student Information System: Sapphire and Course Management System: Moodle.
  • We were told that we would be getting funding from the state through the Classrooms for the Future grant.
  • I was asked to be the Classrooms for the Future coach and jumped in with a whole new enthusiasm for my job.
  • I began teaching for the first time with my SmartBoard and realized that my planning and teaching had to evolve to make the most of this new learning environment.
  • At the end of the month, I attended CFF Boot Camp. This experience, along with the Keystone Technology Integrators Summit in the summer, absolutely changed who I am and started me on the path to my new passion in life: Educational Technology & 21st Century Learning.

October:

  • By this time, I was totally engrossed and involved in teaching French in my new eClassroom and spending a lot of time restructuring my lessons, projects and assessments.
  • I began my job as coach as I began receiving emails on the CFF Coach Listserv and started figuring out how I was going to do two jobs at once.
  • The 12 CFF Teachers were identified and we all met for the first time at the October In-service. There, I conducted a presentation on CFF and my role as coach.
  • I went to my first training as a CFF Coach on the Embedded Learning course that the CFF teachers were required to take for the grant.

November:

  • I continued to work my butt off for my two jobs: French teacher & CFF Coach.
  • I had regular meetings with my Principal about the computers and my future job.
  • The CFF Team met up once again during in-service time. There, I used this presentation to introduce the Embedded Learning course and their requirements and expectations.
  • My principal and I presented a “Wissahickon High School Technology Showcase” to the Wissahickon Board of School Directors. Part of the presentation included this video.
  • I attended my first 2-day session of Apple CFF Coach training in State College, PA. I began to truly appreciate the beauty of the Mac.

December:

  • I continued the juggling of 2 jobs, reworking my lessons for the SmartBoard and getting excited about being CFF coach full-time.
  • I attended my second 2-day CFF Coach Training at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit.
  • I continued to expand my professional learning network through the CFF Coach Listserv, Twitter, and Keystones.
  • The computers arrived and the “Mac Factory” began re-imaging and getting the carts ready.
  • I got an iphone! 🙂

January:

  • My last month as a French Teacher!!
  • Carts and MacBooks were ready to go to teachers. We just had to wait for me to be done teaching!
  • I attended Apple Coach Training #3 in Lancaster County.
  • My students gave me “Going Away” parties and wished me luck on my new adventure.
  • THE FUN BEGAN! Carts were delivered and the teachers jumped head-first into the fray.
  • I began my new job as the Classrooms for the Future Technology Coach!

February:

  • The learning began! We began our Embedded Learning Course: “Teaching in the 21st Century: The Need for Change”.
  • Apple CFF Leadership Training was held at our Central Office building. The leadership teams of several neighboring school districts also came to share our experience.
  • Apple CFF “Out of the Box” training was conducted for the CFF Teachers. The 2-day intensive training was just that, intense, but was informative, interesting and indeed needed.
  • Apple CFF Coach Training #3 in Allentown.
  • I attended PETE & C for the first time and was just blown away by the whole experience. Before the conference began I went to the CFF Coach Pre-Conference as well as the Discovery Educator’s Network Pre-Conference. My network continued to expand and enrich my own professional learning.

March:

  • I established weekly meetings with all CFF Teachers to touch base, answer questions, and co-plan.
  • I co-taught lessons on Comic Life, iMovie, and Garageband and worked with the teachers and classes that were using these tools for their projects.
  • We continued our Embedded Learning course and learned even more about the need for change.

April:

  • More coaching, more co-planning, more development of 21st century learning environments at Wissahickon High School!
  • Last round of CFF Apple Coach Training in Eastern Lebanon County. It was a great group and trainer to work with and a great network of people to keep in touch with.
  • I applied for and was accepted as a Facilitator & Presenter at the Keystone Technology Integrator’s Summit to be held in July at Bucknell University. This is quite an honor!!

May:

  • As the year was winding down, teachers were planning and implementing “end of the year” projects, including the first ever “Kite Runner Film Festival” for which students had to create their own movies related to the novel.
  • The Wissahickon Art Show’s first ever “Cyber Lounge” and Website.
  • I co-taught edublogs.org for the “Like Water for Chocolate Dictionary” project

June:

  • I was hired for my new job: Instructional Technology Specialist!
  • I met with the Staff Developers and the Curriculum department to outline our professional development plan for next year which includes the eToolBox.
  • I spear-headed the Wissahickon High School Technology Showcase wikispace project in which many teachers contributed and posted their lessons, projects, and students’ work.
  • I video-interviewed students who have had the opportunity to use the MacBooks all year in History class. They have some very intriguing reflections as to why their learning is different and how the computers could affect their school.
  • I video-interviewed the CFF teachers who commented on how having a Classroom for the Future had a positive impact on both the students and themselves.
  • I worked closely with our Director of Technology on many things pertaining to my new job: new website, Moodle, eClassroom training, 1:1 training, eToolBox, summer plans for work, etc. etc

Now, the fun really begins! Although summer is upon me and I don’t need to be at work by 7:30am each day, I have plenty to keep me busy this summer. But, that is for my next blog post…


“We want Macs!”

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The students of Wissahickon High School have had the opportunity to be involved in not only the Classrooms for the Future Grant initiative, but also the very first pilot 1:1 high school classroom, with Mr. Jim Shoemaker. The students in Jim’s American History classes have been using the MacBooks almost daily since school started in September. I went in and interviewed Jim’s students a few weeks ago to gather their reflections on using the MacBooks in Social Studies and their feelings on having MacBooks available to everyone in their school. The following video is the result of those interviews. Watch, listen and smile as you enter the minds of teenagers and their thoughts on technology in school.


a whole new day

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Tuesday was the first day that I realized that I really do have a new job now and a new way of looking at the world of education. Tuesday was the first day that I did not set foot in the high school but I was on school property. I was at work, as an Instructional Technology Specialist, not as a French teacher or even a CFF Coach. I must admit that it was bizarre but a great day!

As I enter the world of Central Administration and exit the world of Wissahickon High School I am beginning to notice and learn many new things. Life is different across the street and working primarily with adults is proving to be an interesting but enriching adventure. I am no longer in the world of bell schedules, discipline codes, lateness policies, and crowded hallways. Now my working world consists of meetings, conferences, work sessions, professional development, and trainings. I, along with the Director of Technology, and the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, have been charged with the training and support of 350+ teachers, administrators, secretarial staff, and community members in the area of instructional technology.

“Am I ready?” “Can I do it?” “Do I have it in me?” “Am I really qualified for this job?”

I’ve been asking myself these questions often over the past few weeks. Now, as I embark on a whole new job and a whole new way to spend my day, I think I am ready to respond with an enthusiastic “YES I AM!” 🙂

One of my first tasks at my new job is to lead in the construction of an “eToolBox” for our district that, when complete, will be a list of software and online resources that our teachers should strive to learn and use with their students. Although far from complete, I have begun the eToolBox wikispace and have invited the rest of the team (Curriculum Department & Staff Developers) to help build this resource that, if completed correctly, will be invaluable to the stakeholders of Wissahickon School District.

“Can I do it?” “YES I CAN!”

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