Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blogging - Another Reason Why All Kids Should

KQED has an Education Blog called Mind/Shift and they always very thoughtful content. A recent post of theirs about blogging gave me Another Reason Why All Kids Should.

In partnership with Google and an after school program called Citizen Schools, students set up their own blog and write on a topic of their choice. The video below features a young boy named Makeal and he talks about his blogging experience!

Blog on!

'Bing' - Search Engine That Isn't My Favorite

Okay, a few thoughts for this post today.....

There was an article in the NY Times Technology section about Microsoft, and how they're spending $5 billion a year to market/enhance/whatever their search engine Bing. You can read the article here, and they're obviously attempting to take on Google. Bing is a Search Engine That Isn't My Favorite, I am of course a user of Google!

Secondly, I understand the cost of promoting users and development, but $5 billion a year. Wow!

Here's a short quote/excerpt from Qi Lu, president of Microsoft's online division.

“Search is still essentially a Web site finder.” Mr. Lu says. “It’s all nouns. But the future of search is verbs — computationally discerning user intent to give them the knowledge to complete tasks.”

The phrase that Microsoft uses is “decision engine,” as opposed to search engine.

We'll keep track of Bing and their developments, what search engine do you use/prefer?

Here's a nice interactive visual to show the differences between Google and Bing.

Speech I've Read

There is a Speech I've Read by Matt Damon that was delivered at the Save Our Schools march this past weekend. The march is to protest the Obama administration's stance on Standardized Tests in public can read the speech below.
I flew overnight from Vancouver to be with you today. I landed in New York a few hours ago and caught a flight down here because I needed to tell you all in person that I think you’re awesome.
I was raised by a teacher. My mother is a professor of early childhood education. And from the time I went to kindergarten through my senior year in high school, I went to public schools. I wouldn’t trade that education and experience for anything.
I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself — my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity — all come from how I was parented and taught.
And none of these qualities that I’ve just mentioned — none of these qualities that I prize so deeply, that have brought me so much joy, that have brought me so much professional success — none of these qualities that make me who I am ... can be tested.
I said before that I had incredible teachers. And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were EMPOWERED to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of test prep — this silly drill and kill nonsense that any serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning. No, my teachers were free to approach me and every other kid in that classroom like an individual puzzle. They took so much care in figuring out who we were and how to best make the lessons resonate with each of us. They were empowered to unlock our potential. They were allowed to be teachers.
Now don’t get me wrong. I did have a brush with standardized tests at one point. I remember because my mom went to the principal’s office and said, ‘My kid ain’t taking that. It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just make him nervous.’ That was in the ’70s when you could talk like that.
I shudder to think that these tests are being used today to control where funding goes.
I don’t know where I would be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized test. If their very survival as teachers was based on whether I actually fell in love with the process of learning but rather if I could fill in the right bubble on a test. If they had to spend most of their time desperately drilling us and less time encouraging creativity and original ideas; less time knowing who we were, seeing our strengths and helping us realize our talents.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if that was the type of education I had. I sure as hell wouldn’t be here. I do know that.
This has been a horrible decade for teachers. I can’t imagine how demoralized you must feel. But I came here today to deliver an important message to you: As I get older, I appreciate more and more the teachers that I had growing up. And I’m not alone. There are millions of people just like me.
So the next time you’re feeling down, or exhausted, or unappreciated, or at the end of your rope; the next time you turn on the TV and see yourself called “overpaid;” the next time you encounter some simple-minded, punitive policy that’s been driven into your life by some corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything. ... Please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind you, and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you and we will always have your back.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Simple K12 - Webinars I Recommend

Simple K12 has good content on their website, and they also have some Webinars I Recommend
to watch.

Check out their list of webinars here. They have about one-dozen webinars currently scheduled and I'm sure once school starts again, they'll be adding more to their list.

Learn It In 5 - Blog/Videos I LIke/Watch

Learn It In 5 is a Blog I Like and they have some great Videos I Watch as well. Their 'How to Videos for the Technology Classroom' are very informative and can be shown to your students/staff, embedded on your blog (see example below), emailed as a link or shown at a staff meeting for thoughtful conversation. Check out their long list of videos here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tech Talk - Weekly Podcast I Listen To

The NY Times has some great resources, and Tech Talk is a Weekly Podcast I Listen To.

This week they evaluate MAC OS X 10.7 Lion software which you can listen to here.

You can listen to them all on iTunes here.

Of course there is a NY Times iPad app as well and I often download these and listen on the way to work.

Edutopia - Site and Some Features I Like

If you don't know about Edutopia, you should. But besides being a Site I Like, they also have some Great Features I Like.

Their 'groups' section is a great way to expand your professional development with their multitude of offerings.

- Stuff We Love ( lots of different great resources)

And much, much more. Check out the Edutopia Groups page here and join away!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - Education News Page I Read

The is an Education News Page I Read. You can find the main link to their home page here, and I read an interesting/controversial article about coding student's academic ability by the color of their tie. Read the article here.....

Thoughts? Comments? Would this fly in our public schools?

TED x SFED - Video Release I'm Watching

TED x SFED is a Video Release I'm Watching as they're slowly being made available. Victor Diaz is the latest release, and he talks for fifteen minutes about troubled students and his new project, REALM Charter School in Berkeley. I'm not a huge proponent of Charter School's, but wanted to share this TED talk.....check it out!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm Feeling Lucky - Book I'm Reading

There was a good article in Fast Company last week, and subsequent Book I'm Reading.

'I'm Feeling Lucky' by Douglas Edwards looks like a great 'inside scoop' about the 59th employee at Google. I've put the book on hold at my local library, and I would like to recommend either checking the book out from a library or purchasing from your local book store. Since Amazon has decided to break the law and not charge/collect sales tax in California....I'm not supporting them.

An update....I couldn't wait for my library and bought the book at my local Barnes and Noble and can't put it down. I'll review the book when I'm done reading!

Read on....

NY Times - Article That's Important to Read

There was an An Article That's Important to Read in the NY Times this morning and tell me if you're still a proponent of Charter Schools and parents ability to choose their child's school. Lets continue to develop and empower our local public school and create opportunity for ALL students.

MacBook Air - Computer I Use

The 11 inch MacBook Air is the Computer I Use on a daily basis. You can see the specs below, and I have the 65GB flash memory model that is my daily computer. It's the device I use at work all day (when I'm not on my iPad2) and I bring it home with me every day.

- Yes, it's a little slower than a 'normal' size laptop.
- Yes, there is no disc drive....and I haven't missed that soon to be outdated feature at all.
- Yes, it's extremely lightweight!
- Yes, it has a USB port.
- Yes, you can plug in a dongle to hook up to a projector.
- Yes, I would highly recommend the MacBook Air to anyone looking to replace their current computer/laptop. I would never go back to a larger laptop, and when I carry around my wife's MacBook, I can't believe she uses something so heavy.

Highly, highly recommended!

  • Height: 0.11-0.68 inch (0.3-1.7 cm)
  • Width: 11.8 inches (30 cm)
  • Depth: 7.56 inches (19.2 cm)
  • Weight: 2.38 pounds (1.08 kg)1

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Google Apps Highlights - Changes I Like

Google Apps has made some great Changes I Like that will boost productivity and make using Google Apps more efficient. You can read their full blog post here.

The highlights....

- New cleaner look for Gmail and Calendar
- You can customize (sort of) your inbox and how you like it displayed
- Make multiple calls in Gmail (see my previous blog post about this feature here.)
- There are more options for videos in Google Docs
- And there are five new templates for mobile sites
- Also.....many new companies/Universities have Gone Google....I hope my district is next :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Twitter in the Classroom/School - An Idea I Love!

There is a great video on the Learn It In 5 blog about Twitter in the Classroom/School, and it's An Idea I Love!

We set up a Twitter account for my school and I have plans to roll it out this year. We'll start with using Twitter to notify parents of events and updates across campus....however....after watching the video below, I'm thinking of many more ways to use across my school.

Professional Development - An Idea I Like

As an Administrator and Educational Technology advocate, I'm always looking for effective professional development ideas, and I've found An Idea I Like. There was an article in the NY Times that I found quite interesting.

The Relay Graduate School of Education is a new teacher preparation program in NY state, and the only program where there are NO classes, all learning takes place in the field. I do feel there is still a place for some professional development to take place in a classroom setting....but I also strongly feel that classroom observations are more important.

We had six different principal/teacher teams visit my school site last year to talk about technology and observe. The comments we had after the visit were very positive.

What are some of your professional development ideas or strategies to bring your staff/colleagues to the next level?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Florida Virtual School - Webinar I'm Going to Watch

The Florida Virtual School is a 100% online learning environment, and Simple K12 is hosting a Webinar I'm Going to Watch on July 26th and you can sign up to watch here. It's the final webinar in a seven part series and I'm hoping they'll have some good insight about distance learning. Hope you can tune in!

Tech Through The Years - Visual I Like has a great info-graph that is a Visual I Like about the evolution of technology and the different trends throughout the years. You can see the full info-graph here.

Education Policy - Something I Enjoy

Education Policy has always been Something I Enjoy and the Department of Education has a great blog where they discuss and publish federal education policy.

There is also a stand alone tab where Arne Duncan answers your questions, check it out!

Google Voice Calling - Something I Use

The number of tools and resources that Google provides is endless, and they add new services on a daily basis. Google Voice Calling is Something I Use in my personal and professional life.

At home, I use Google Voice Calling when our landline is tied up, or if I'm multi-tasking and just want to make a call from the computer. It's the easiest service to register for and set up, and very handy to use.

At work, I use Google Voice if I'm somewhere without a landline or my mobile phone. You can also text from Google Voice which is real handy. We're slowly converting my district to Google Apps and I'm hoping we incorporate mail into the Google App equation.....which will allow me to call from my work number, rather than having to use my personal gmail account.

Google just announced here that you can now make two calls at one time, just put the other call on hold while you dial on your second Google Phone.....very cool!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wired Magazine and Khan Academy - Something I Read and Use

Wired magazine and Khan Academy are both Something I Read and Use in my personal and professional life.

There was a great article in Wired the other day about Khan Academy and how their tutorial videos are changing the face of education and distance learning. Sal Khan has created tens of thousands of video tutorials, and they're all hosted for free on his Khan Academy website. Check out the article in Wired magazine and if you're not familiar with Khan, check him out as well!

Google Ventures - Something You May Want to Develop

There was a recent article in the NY Times that made me think about Something You May Want to Develop.

Google Ventures is spending $200 million a year trying to find the next big idea they can invest in. It's been reported that venture capital firms have increased their level of investment in the past three months and Google's venture capital arm (Google Ventures) is right along with everyone else. Google Ventures has a great site and it was motivating to read the bios of different companies they've bankrolled.

So....if you have an idea you want to develop....Google Ventures may be a great place to start!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The NY Times and NY Times Magazine - Something I Read

The NY Times and NY Times Magazine is Something I Read on a daily basis!

There was a good article in this weeks magazine titled, 'No, Seriously : No Excuses' that discusses the Education Reform Movement. Diane Ravitch is mentioned as an 'education scholar'.....even though she was a HUGE supporter of NCLB, she has very publicly backtracked on her stance and is a proponent of education reform. I've read her blog in the past, but have taken a hiatus from digesting her educational input.

Stay tuned for.....Articles I've Read, Books I've Read, Blogs I Follow, Professional Development I Like, Google Products That Have Changed My Life and other opinons for your classroom + school + district.

TED x SFED - Something I'm Watching for Professional Development

The TED x SFED videos are Something I'm Watching for Professional Development as they're slowly being released.

The latest release is the TED Talk from Karen Brown. Karen is the creative director of the Center for Ecoliteracy and her twelve-minute talk would be a great way to kick off a staff meeting, department meeting, staff retreat, administrative cabinet meeting or just for yourself.

You can visit the entire TED x SFED site here to see all featured talks and other provided information.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Acer Chromebook (Wi-Fi) - Something I Want to Try

The Acer Chromebook (Wi-Fi) is Something I Want to Try after reading the news release a few weeks ago. For only $349 you can have a fully functioning laptop with Wi-Fi capability. There are a few other models being put out by Samsung but the Acer has the best price point and is also the smallest model.

Some features:
- 11.6" HD Screen
- 2GB Memory
- HD Webcam
- Built in speakers
- 6 hour battery life
- Chrome web browser

The Chromebooks are designed to be 100% cloud based, so if your professional life can handle that migration, the Acer Chromebook is a great deal. We're in the process of migrating my entire district to cloud based computing and the Acer Chromebook at $349 is a GREAT price point for a 1:1 environment in the upper grades. I'm close to ordering my own Chromebook as a test case for my school and will blog any updates that come my way.

A few photos....
The Ace Hotel in New York is even offering them on loan while you stay in the hotel....see the news article here.

ISTE - Books I Want to Read

ISTE always has great resources, especially in their book section. There are some new Books I Want to Read coming out in the next few months.

All the titles below can be purchased through their online bookstore.

Cell Phones in the Classroom looks like a great read and will hopefully change our current educational landscape. Cell phones are more powerful than ever, and also more prevalent than ever.....yet they're banned in many schools/districts and students are discouraged from having them at school. I'm looking forward to this release and any subsequent ideas or changes that can be implemented.

Even President Obama is touting the benefit and need for more STEM curriculum/instruction (Science + Technology + Engineering + Math) in our schools. The ability to connect those students to an actual career may be one of the biggest hurdles we face in education. Connecting Students to STEM Careers is due out in October and I'll be interested what Camille Cole has to offer.

Below is an official White House video release from September 2010 titled, 'Changing the Equation in STEM Education.' You can read the press release here for additional information.

TED Talks - Resource I Like/Use

TED Talks has been a Resource I Like/Use when I was a classroom teacher, and now as an administrator more than ever. We've shown TED Talks in staff meetings, grade level meetings, during lunch with the upper graders in the MPR, and I even post them on our school website. Check out and see a few of my favorites below.

Stanley McChrystal (former Army General in Iraq) gave an inspiring Leadership talk in March 2011, you can watch/show the talk here.

Bobby McFerrin gave an inspiring talk for the musically inclined, or those that would like to be more creative in the arts. Watch the talk here.

Saul Griffith talks about Tapping the Wind for energy here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

You Tube EDU - Site I Use

The plethora of content that You Tube EDU has to offer continues to keep me busy throughout the week. You Tube EDU is a Site I Use in many different facets of my professional life. They have hundreds of channels to choose from and a few of my favorite are linked below.

My Favorite Channels:

- Khan Academy : If you don't know about Khan Academy, you need to! They have tens of thousands of FREE academic videos that can used in the classroom, at home or the boardroom....check them out.

- Stanford University : Stanford offers over thirteen-hundred videos for FREE. From lectures to concerts, they're a great extra curricular activity for your school, or you can even show them during lunch to help pass the time.

- MIT : Lectures, lectures and more lectures! MIT has a channel that is packed with great content suited for middle or high school age students. Their channel has over 3 million views and they're always adding new content.