Planning Conference

Planning Conference from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. This is how we are trying to run our pre-observation planning conferences. It’s worth thinking about how you structure this whole process if you want useful observations and resultant teaching improvement.


Three Teachers on Integration

Untitled from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. Despite the massive amount I still need to learn as a videographer and editor, these three teachers say some interesting things. It’s worth thinking about how some of their responses parallel despite open questions and not hearing each others responses. The video is about 7 minutes long and has the comments of three teachers from Byrd Middle School in Henrico County.


Iron Teacher

So there’s been good conversation lately recently about the lack of good lesson plans on the Internet. I think that’s true. I’m not sure this game will bring us much closer to the end game but it has the potential to produce some good content1. Hopefully it’ll be fun and catch on2. Here’s the idea Milobo and I came up with a few days ago. It’s Michelle’s better twist on the Pimp My Lesson Plan idea that’s been nagging at me for a while3. Instead of Pimp My Ride, the inspiration is a lesson plan contest based on Iron Chef. Basic Rules Two teams of educators (more if others are game) will battle4 to develop a unit or lesson plan to meet the requirements of a selected teacher. Each team will share their lesson along with the process they used to brainstorm and develop the idea. A panel of judges, including the teacher who issued the challenge, will rate the lesson on Originality, Student Appeal, and Ability to Meet Outcome. Here’s the current lesson request. It’s due by midnight- Sunday, April 26th. Post the content to your blog and link back in the comments5. The Audience: 2 classes of 10th grade General Level Literature students. The Secret Ingredient: The novel “A Separate Peace” The Challenge (as defined by the teacher): […]


Creating a Safe Space: Hacking WP

60% of my teachers have been in our county for less than 3 years (and, most of these newcomers, have never worked with a 1 to 1 initiative). More than 40% of my teachers have put less than 3 years into this vocation. With this in mind, I have created a space, online, for teachers to discuss instruction, vocation, and solutions for our school. I hope it will be a community building experience that gives teachers as much time as they can to the process without having to commit to meetings. Following the lead of Alan Levine with Tom’s guidance, I started by sketching out my vision. I wanted a place that was password protected and required unique usernames for participation. This site would be a  safe place where teachers could speak their minds in a professional manner. At the same time, I wanted to foster open communication, so anonymous responses would not be an option. I didn’t want a traditional blog format. The U/I needed to be as intuitive as possible, and I wanted meta-data to be presented in a way that encourage conversation. I sketched up two different layouts and solicited some feedback from my faculty.    The overwhelming response was for the second layout. After sifting through themes that mirrored my sketch, I decided on Blue Earth. […]


Web2Summit: Make Life More Like Games

From the O’Reilly Web2Summit: Make Life More Like Games Games come with better instructions; you have a clear goal, and other people share information on how to succeed. Games give you better feedback on your performance in the form of scores and ratings, plus they provide an audience that’s tuned into your success. Games offer better community: everybody’s agreed to same rules and narrative, and you share a heroic sense of purpose. I’m not sure how quickly that’ll happen in life but what about school? How can we make school more like this? How can you make individual projects more like this? Every little bit will help. Directions Just about every kid wants to please. Some of the major problems I’ve had in my classroom, and seen in other classrooms, occur when kids don’t understand what you want them to do. They get frustrated and/or start wandering off task. You get mad because they’re not doing what you “explicitly” told them to do. It’s often interesting to see what a third person thinks of my “crystal clear” directions. I usually run my directions and plans by at least one person. The hard part for me is figuring out how to get a community of support built around your class. Our current school system is certainly not set up to enable […]

Magic Bullets Don’t Exist

Techlearning has an article that was passed around our school email celebrating Eight More Reasons for Technology in Education. After reading it, I’m feeling a little like the crab in the photo above. Now you may have noticed that I?m a fan of technology in education but I feel this list is, for the most part, the kind of thinking that leads people down very wrong roads. We’ve been looking for a savior for education for a while. It’s time we started realizing the savior of education must be the teacher- use all the tools available but it’s really up to them/us/you. You can read the point by point below or my summary here. Technology does nothing by itself. Technology doesn’t change teachers or how teachers teach. It simply makes certain changes easier. The sooner we stop celebrating magical techno things that don’t happen the sooner we’ll have real conversations about what needs to happen in school. Teaching with technology takes just as much work and planning as teaching without it (if not more in many situations). This is no Utopian ideal. Teachers need staff development, planning time and lots of hard work to start integrating technology into the classroom in the ways described below. Technology doesn’t make it happen- teachers do. Using technology involves the student in the learning […]


Facebook Loosening Up Privacy Restrictions

  Facebook is letting non-registered users find pictures and names of private accounts owners.  See link below for official Facebook statement and the page you need to keep your pic and name truly private. This would be good information to pass around to your colleagues.  Many teachers have Facebook accounts they have made private to keep prying students at bay.  This change would give the students access that most responsible teachers try to prevent. Link to Facebook’s explanation of  the privacy change Link to page where Facebook users can (again) restrict search access. via Lifehacker


Finally, a Planbook for the 21st Century Teacher (Update)

Let me say that as I write this, my wife is gleefully entering her first week into Planbook. Periodically, I hear an “oo” and am informed of another feature that simply makes sense for the modern teacher. Planbook is a digital lesson book. Actually, it is a digital organizer for teachers. Jeff Hellman was frustrated with the limitations of a paper planbook, so he created a program that includes document and link integration, lets you publish to the web with customizable themes, and will print your plans in a traditional format. I was using a blog as the information center for my English classes the last couple of years. It made managing my disorganized students a reasonable task. If they lost something, I told them to go to my blog and click on the link. If they missed a day, I sent them to the blog before arranging their makeup work. Planbook gives you the same opportunities but integrates it into your organizational system. That’s one less step each day in your routine. When it comes time to share your plans, you can publish them or print them. You choose the information you want published and tell Planbook to send it to your website, iWeb, or a folder. The publishable plans can be accessed through a master list or a […]


Wiki Testimony

As part of our parent training we’re having teachers and ITRTs speak about powerful ways they’ve been able to use technology in support of 21st century skills. This is Ken Kellner’s comments on how using a wiki changed his classroom (6th grade history). He does a good job and conveys a lot of excitement. If you see him jumping and twitching it’s because I edited like crazy to get the movie down to about a minute and a half. Deep breaths and dramatic pauses were not allowed. It’s in TeacherTube as well. Download Video: Posted by bionicteaching at TeacherTube.com.