Archive for the 'Reflection' Category

School’s Out For Summer! School’s Out Forever!

June 1, 2010

As educators, we are often told how lucky we are to have two months off work in the summer.  We are told this by people who have no idea what educators do over the summer.  If you are out of school now as I am, enjoy a little time off before you begin the real work.  If you are just finishing up your year, hang in there!

For many, the end of the school year and the hot months of summer are when “the professional development” is “administered.”

As a 21st Century Educator, my professional development is an ongoing process.  From staying in touch with my PLN, working on my graduate degree online, and attending or presenting at conferences, to having departmental meetings and conducting inservice workshops, the professional development cycle does not begin or end for me in summer.

Here is a snapshot of my summer plans

National Park Community College Retreat
For three days this month I will be attending the Summer Institute for Adjunct Faculty at the Rockefeller Center.  The Winthrop Rockefeller center in Morrilton, Arkansas, that is.  This will bring together approximately 20 professionals who are adjunct instructors at NPCC to help align our efforts with the mission and goals of the institution.  I’m looking forward to this retreat atop Petit Jean Mountain!

Arkansas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Preconference
I will again be presenting at the AASCD Technology Preconference.  Although I was scheduled to lead a session on Discovery Education‘s many products (streaming media, assessment tools) that are available to all teachers in Arkansas, it looks like the agreement that made the tools available will be coming to an end.  Instead, I will be introducing the participants to Prezi, an innovative presentation tool.

Go Paperless with Free Google Tools Workshop
In partnership with the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, I will work with 15 educators from across the state who are interested in integrating Google tools into their schools and classrooms.  This workshop has been described fully on this blog before.

ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock was chosen again to host the EMBHSSC.  This two-week program designed to expose middle school students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  Carl Frank and I will be teaching the technology components of the problem-based, interdisciplinary curriculum.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock High School Research Program
Since 2006, I have worked with UALR on this program that aims to provide high school students an opportunity to be mentored for three weeks by UALR faculty in a research setting and to assist students in making sound decisions regarding pursuing education beyond high school.  The HSRP was highlighted in a recent edition of the Computer Science Teachers Association CSTA Voice.

In addition to attending or presenting at these programs, camps, and workshops, I will also be preparing for my first year as a Computer Information Systems Instructor at Ouachita Technical College, keeping up with my PLN, and finishing my graduate degree.

Two months off in the summer.  I hope your summer months will be as fulfilling as mine promise to be!

A Few Things

April 28, 2010

Over the years I have received more than a few emails from our principal with the ambiguous subject, “A Few Things.”  I always knew there would be at least one item in there that I didn’t want to read.  That principal is retiring this year, and I will miss working for her.  Like those “few things” messages, this post consists of some items that need to be said but don’t really warrant an entire post.

Google Workshop Registration Closing
Registration for the Go Paperless with Free Google Tools workshop closes May 1.  Participants will receive 18 technology PD hours and a chance to visit scenic Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Win-Win!  Contact Kim Singleton <> to register.

BotBall Competition in Edwardsville, IL
I traveled with a colleague and 12 students to Edwardsville, IL, last weekend to participate in the regional BotBall competition at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.  This is the same competition I posted about last year.  If you are unfamiliar with BotBall, you should look into it.  Students are given a kit of parts, including Lego, servos, sensors, a Roomba optimized for robotics prototyping, and a pair of programmable “brains.”  They work for several weeks to design, refine, and optimize an autonomous robot to solve a particular problem.  This year’s problem was timely:  collect and clean ducks that were contaminated in an oil spill.  The students learned a lot about team work this year and took home an award for outstanding documentation.

Academic Partnerships at Arkansas State University
I enrolled in the Curriculum and Instruction program at ASU late last year.  I am happy to report that the model this program uses works well for me, and that I’m on track to graduate in May 2011!  I’m currently finishing up School and Community Relations.  I’ve completed School Law, Elementary Curriculum, and Philosophies of Education.  I particularly enjoyed the School Law class.  Do consider this program if you’re looking to continue your education in a program that is rigorous yet manageable.

You’ve probably heard of Twitter.  You might not know about PLNs.  The “in” thing to do is to create Professional Learning Networks by following educators on Twitter who post information and links that you find valuable as a professional educator.  I have been cultivating my PLN for more than a year now. Things have gotten hectic, though, and I haven’t had a lot of time to keep up with Twitter.  Anybody have strategies for taking away the immense value found in a PLN without investing hours each day?

John’s Blog Saved Networking
Teaching students in a lab environment is so rewarding, but sometimes things go wrong.  Without getting too techie, let’s just say that the students ran a command on our pet Linux machine that prevented us from running certain administrative commands.  The only way to repair this is to run administrative commands.  A Catch-22.  Through the directions found on John’s Blog, we were able to get things going again within the period.  Teaching students “stuff” is one thing.  Teaching students how to find “stuff” is another thing.  This only works with folks like John out there creating the content.  Thank you.

Cell Phone Crack-Down
Two media outlets ran stories about the Vilonia School District‘s battle against cell phones.

“Why can’t they just understand the rule that no cell phones are allowed at school?,” [School Board president Danny] Lawrence offered. It should be no different, he said, than the acceptance of the rule regarding the possession of drugs or  tobacco products. A rule is a rule, he said, made for a reason and to be enforced.

I agree that cell phones can be a distraction.  I concede that they can be used to cheat.  I admit that students can do all sorts of unethical or illegal things with these devices.  Drugs and tobacco products have no redeeming qualities.  Cell phones do.  Students can capture images, audio, and video with even the least expensive phones.  Those lacking the funds to spend on expensive clicker systems can instead channel student passion for these devices into class participation using free services like Poll Everywhere or Twitter.  Cheating, goofing off, and other abuses with cell phones should be regulated through classroom management techniques and supporting administration rather than sweeping policies that strip schools of resources they don’t even know they have.

Google Teacher Academy Reflection

April 4, 2010

I was asked the other day if I own stock in Google.  I replied, “Are you crazy?  How could I afford that on a teacher’s salary?”  See for yourself.

The query was prompted by the Google lanyard that I wear my school ID badge on.  It is one of the goodies I got at the Google Teacher Academy last August in Boulder, CO.  Since attending the workshop, meeting the other participants, and joining the discussion board, things have not quite been the same.

Sense of Community

I feel more connected than ever to the world-wide community of tech-minded educators.  I am recognized as my region’s conduit to this community, and I am often asked to pass along questions or concerns.  Although I had previously interacted online with several of the educators selected to attend, it’s always wonderful to get to shake hands and put faces to names.  I was in a group with Paula White.  I had drinks with Wes Fryer.  This made my day.

Sense of Responsibility

As a teacher who “gets” technology, I have always felt responsible to share what I can with others.  Now that I wear the Google Certified Teacher hat, I feel obligated to answer questions that educators ask me about the Google tools.  Google gives so much to teachers and schools.

Sense of Accomplishment

To be considered for the program, I had to respond in essay form to several challenging questions that all educators face.  Additionally, I had to produce a one minute video on classroom innovation or motivation.  Check out the competition.  I was blown away when I got my acceptance letter.

Being a Google Certified Teacher has helped me connect and grow as an educator.  It has improved the types and quantity of professional development programs I offer, and it has helped my school administration understand just a little bit better exactly what it is I do in my classroom.

Learn more about Google’s efforts to serve educators at