The Learning Revolution – Sir Ken Robinson at TED 2010

If you haven’t watched a TED talk – you are missing out! Here, Sir Ken Robinson continues his talk on the education  revolution, after his amazing TED talk from 2006, Schools Kill Creativity.


My Plea to Go Paperless

This is a copy of an email I sent out this afternoon to all of my staff. I was inspired by Teach Paperless and Steve Katz and hope many of my teachers take the opportunity to participate.

Did you know that in the past 7.5 weeks, Stocklmeir has used 150,000 pieces of copy paper? In just 7.5 weeks, how can that be?

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and I urge you to consider joining hundreds of teachers from around the world as they pledge to “Go Paperless” on that day. That means that you pledge to use no paper in class and accept no paper on that day.

Connie and Amy both endorse this cause and hope you will consider ways to reduce your paper use each and every day.

You may be thinking what could I possibly do all day?

Here are some ideas:
Take a walking fieldtrip in the neighborhood or park (yes, permission slips are still required). The walk can easily be related to science, math, language arts, or social studies. Athenian children in Ancient Greece spent much of their school day learning outside.
Use individual whiteboards (I think the math adoption came with them) or have kids use dry erase right on their desks – they wipe off easily! Kids can write poems, do a gallery walk, draw, practice math, make a diagram or timeline, etc.
-Hands on science experiments where all notes/observations are taken with digital cameras and typed onto a teacher laptop. Kids can discuss, hypothesize, observe, and draw conclusions orally as a group.
-Have a Reading Day/Time. As a teacher I always had one day per trimester that was dedicated to reading for pleasure. Kids brought in their favorite books, magazines, comic books, etc. It was a day just to celebrate and enjoy reading.
Use technology. I know that we have limited access to projectors and elmos (the tech committee is working on this!), but there’s nothing wrong with finding a techie teacher and planning a classroom swap for a portion of the day. That way, you can plan a lesson that uses resources online (feel free to ask if you need ideas) or take a virtual fieldtrip. Of course, we also have the MAC lab and carts to use.
Manipulative math – do an entire math lesson and activity with only manipulatives.  Great for geometry, algebra, number sense, fractions, computation, etc.
Enjoy PE inside or out. You can do an activity with your buddies, with a neighbor class, or on your own.

While you are enjoying the paperless day, be sure to tell your students WHY.

According to the EPA:
Recycling one ton of paper would
•    Save enough energy to power the average American home for six months.
•    Save 7,000 gallons of water.
•    Save 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
•    Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton of carbon equivalent (MTCE).
But not using the paper to begin with would do so much more.

Click here if you would like to take the pledge:

Earth Day 2010 Action Center

Google – I’m Feeling Lucky!

Just found out this week that I was accepted to the first ever Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. Yay for me! I have several friends and colleagues that have been through the program, so I think I have some idea about what an exhausting, inspiring, and amazing day it will be in San Antonio, and I can’t wait. I met Brian Van Dyck (aka @PodPirate) at the Krause Center for Innovation yesterday while scoring MERIT applications, and I really appreciated what he told me.

He said (my paraphrased interpretation) that when I get there, I should just zip open my brain in the morning, let all of the goodness fall in, zip it up that night, and let it consume me. He went on, it’s not about the day, it’s about the network (I KNOW!!). I will become a part of an amazing community of educators with a common vision and drive and the opportunities are limitless. I may never be the same again.

I wish I could leave tomorrow, but I will wait (somewhat patiently) until March 5th and prepare my brain to be permanently altered. In the mean time, we are trying our best to connect virtually.

Here’s my video submission-

See you in San Antonio!

Palpable Energy

I spent the morning at the Apple campus in Cupertino yesterday for a meeting with their education division. The meeting was fantastic, but what really blew me away was the atmosphere. Walking from the parking lot into the main lobby, I could sense something, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I’ve been to Apple before, I’ve been to the Google campus before – it’s always fun, but so NOT the education world that I work in.

In the back of my mind was this notion that now I am an administrator (many of my friends would say that I’ve gone to the “dark side”). My first official administrative job will begin on August 4th – as the AP of the largest elementary school in my district. What struck me as I walked around the Apple campus yesterday morning was the energy there. From the lobby to the grounds, and the café, everyone seemed to be exuding energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and vitality. I couldn’t help but wonder why our schools don’t feel the same way. Am I the only one who feels this way? I certainly don’t mean to say this specifically about my new school – I haven’t spent enough time there to tell. I will report back on that later. But from my experience as a teacher and instructional resource teacher working in many of the schools in my district, I just don’t feel the buzz.

Of course, many individual classrooms that I have vistited  have this feeling, but I have never felt it from a school as a whole. How can an organization as large as Apple exude this feeling and a school campus full of energetic students does not? What is stifling the energy there? This is what I want to focus on during my year as a new administrator – how can we create a school that exudes excitement for learning and has a palpable energy that people can feel the minute they walk on campus? What are the roadblocks to this? How can people settle for anything less?

I’m hoping that my new school community will surprise me and be that school. If not, I’m willing to work as hard as it takes to try to make that palpable energy a reality. I hope my staff, students, and community will join me in that goal.

Technology Leadership Training

This week I am spending time in Hollister, CA,  with the fantastic team of CTAP Region V trainers. The focus is on Leadership in Technology. How does one create positive, systemic change regarding technology and learning? The training is very well organized and thought provoking. What I especially enjoy is hearing from fellow teachers about their successes and trials with helping to advance technology at their sites or in their districts.

I also have to give props to our IT department in Cupertino. They do a terrific job of very selectively filtering out inappropriate content while allowing educators to determine what type of Online resources they can use in the classroom. Here in Hollister, one out of three sites I try to access is blocked by their firewall, including Blogger and news resources I was trying to access. Very annoying!

Laurel and I are excited about what we’ve been learning here and hope to use much of the information in our CUSD/CEEF board presentation.

Great Web 2.0 Tool – Tikatok

Tikatok is a FREE digital storytelling tool available for teachers and students. Teachers can sign up and get accounts for their students. Students are able to import their own drawings or pictures and use them in their digital book. Students can work alone or collaboratively on a story. Parents can view and comment on the stories, and even purchase a hard bound book if so desired. Here is a sample book – click on the full screen link for an easier read.

A N I M O T O: 21st Century Learning

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