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Showing posts from July, 2014

Getting Technology, Learning Technology, Using Technology

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     I am so excited about the upcoming school year!

     For the first time ever, all of our school buildings will be wireless enabled.  This is the first step in our efforts to build a 1-to-1 learning environment for all of our students.  This is such an exciting time to be in education.  We have had a couple of schools pilot a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) system and we have learned from their experiences.

     In less than a month, I will meet with 250 teachers in a wireless-enable high school auditorium.  I can't wait.  During this meeting we will use Google Hangout to hear from four different companies that offer four great products for use in the classroom.  Some parts of these products are free to all teachers for use in the classroom and some have a fee.  All of these products have embraced the 21st century learning model of encouraging students to discover information and to ask more questions about what they see and learn.

     None of the four presenters will be physical…

The Best Teachers are Lifelong Learners

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     Every teacher has this experience.
     It usually occurs during the first year of teaching.  I hear them saying it all the time.  "I never knew this (content) so well until I had to teach it."  "I understand this content so much better now--as a teacher--than I ever did as a student."
   There is actually a lot of research behind this idea that "doing" and "teaching" helps students (and adults) to learn, understand, and retain information.  And it makes sense too.  
     As much as (some) teachers would prefer that their students learn merely by listening, the data suggests that very few students (and adults) learn solely by listen.  The best learning occurs when students can combine what they've heard with what they see and what they are asked to do.  Learning comes from struggling with concepts, asking questions, discovering answers, discussing ideas with other learners.  The best learning comes from "doing".
     If this …

Meeting the Needs of All Students

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     One thing that I have always been proud of about public schools is our desire and efforts to meet the needs of all students.  This seems like a natural thing for schools to do; but when we say "All", we mean "All".  While most students fall in the average category, some students are very strong academically and some struggle a lot with academics.  Public schools strive to help all of these students wherever they may fall on this spectrum.

     Probably the most difficult part of achieving this goal is reaching the students on the extremes.  For students who have severe learning disabilities, public schools have personnel trained in Special Education who work with teachers to help our weakest students to achieve.  Improvements in the education of our weakest students have been great over the past generation; and these improvements continue.

     For students who are significantly strong academically (able to understand work that is two and three--or more--grade…

Learning During Summer Vacation

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     In addition to relaxing and enjoying time with family, summertime is a time for teachers to take courses to persue masters degrees, to take part in curriculum development, to read books about teaching and learning, and to prepare for the next school year.

     As a math supervisor, summertime is always a busy time for me as I prepare to roll-out updated curricula and new resources in addition to planning leadership development and professional development for all of our secondary mathematics teachers.  My school district is also on the ground floor of developing a 1-to-1 learning environment and I want to help my teachers and leaders to successfully progress to this new teaching and learning model.

   Additionally this summer, my wife's bookclub is reading The One World School House written by an ex-hedgefund manager turned educator by the name of Salman Khan.  The bookclub invited me to read the book and to join in on the monthly meeting where they will discuss the book.  C…

Everyone is an Expert

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     Sometimes it seems as though everyone is an expert at education.  And it makes sense because everyone went to school at some point in their lives (or they are currently in school).  Education is often in the news.  Politicians debate about education and comedians joke about education and business leaders laud the value of education.  So it makes sense that there is a lot of knowledge about education out there.

     It would be fair to say that (from time to time) the diverse knowledge about education in a community can sometimes lead to disagreements.  But on the whole, I believe that hearing different points of view leads to better decisions for our schools and for our students.

     Parents often cite their own experiences in school.  Some are positive and some are negative.  Often we want to keep the things that we felt worked well and change the things that we felt didn't work very well.

     I've always felt that it is incumbent on public schools to explain their dec…