What Do You Expect?

Part of my job this year as our school’s technology coach is to be the iPad Program Facilitator. Just a somewhat fancy title for the guy who keeps the iPads up-to-date, helps teachers become familiar with the devices and strives to inspire teachers and students to use the iPads in new and creative ways.

Today as three girls from fourth grade stopped by to check out some iPads, one of the more verbal and social girls asks me, “How’s your day goin’?” I thought for a moment and said, “Great. How’s it going for you?”

She gave a shrug and a less-than-excited “Eh, it’s okay.” Seizing the opportunity to find out more about what she’s really thinking, I gave a bewildered look of surprise and asked, “Isn’t school exciting?” She quickly replied with a firm and convincing, “No!” but immediately exclaimed, “But, I love my teacher.”

And then she delivered the kicker. “It’s school. What do you expect?”

I thought for a moment and suggested that this topic would be worth discussing further. Her mind was already ahead of me as she recalls, “In Kindergarten, I thought school was lollipops!”

And they were off.

Hmmm… lots to ponder.


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Spring Has Sprung. Has your learning begun?

Maybe this post should have been titled, “Gone Fishin’.”

Weather in the Chicago area has been absolutely wonderful this week. High temperatures around 70, windows open at home, my famous Asian turkey burgers on the grill – life is good!

It is energizing, don’t you agree?

But I have been struggling at school lately as I try to figure out what teachers want and how I can help them integrate more 21st century learning into their classrooms. I know, I know – “it’s not the technology, it’s the pedagogy.” But I’m reminded that although time is a big issue (in every school), maybe the culprit is the basic lack of desire to spend the time to learn new ways of engaging students.

Don’t get me wrong – I have some teachers who are anxious to try new ideas and are excited to jump in and try out some of the lessons and tools that I introduce. But what makes them different? Easy. They simply feel that it is important enough, and that our students are important enough, to spend the time on – just like the other things in life we choose to pursue.

Reflecting on this issue made me think of blog post by leadership guru Dr. Scott McLeod, “We Can’t Let Educators Off The Hook” which I promptly pulled up and read again. Though written September 29, 2010, it is as relevant today as it was in 2010.

One of my favorite ed tech leaders Steve Dembo is quoted as well as Darren Draper, another highly respected educator. Dr. McLeod weaves these thoughts into a powerful and persuasive argument.

There are too many good points to quote here, so click here to read “We Can’t Let Educators Off The Hook.” Oh yeah, there’s 144 comments to the post, too…


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Delicious Highlights – The Holiday Edition

Since I missed the opportunity to post some Delicious highlights in November, this month’s list runs a little long. But I promise you that they are all great finds – with lots of iPad resources and recommendations.

Remember you can find the links to these bookmarks and more at delicious.com/fredkoch.

Here are my top 10 picks (of 100+ bookmarks) since October 4:

October 5 | StarBoard Video Tutorials
10 video tutorials for StarBoard Software 9.2 plus “11 new Features” video for Version 9.3.

October 19 | Digital Storytelling Resources
Very comprehensive list from Dr. Alec Couros.

November 2 | Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners
“Many times these perennial gems can be reinvented, mixed, and transformed to bring about a new 21st century lesson that will be even more engaging and applicable to today’s digital learner.”

November 7 | 65+ iPad Apps Perfect for Elementary School
From Edudemic.

November 7 | 100 iPad Apps Perfect for Middle School
Second in a series from Edudemic.

November 22 | Digital Storytelling with the iPad
“This site will help guide you in what you need for success in the iPad Digital Storytelling classroom.”

November 22 | The Eyeballing Game
“This interactive was intended for woodworkers but works very well in Geometry class. The activity works by showing you a series of geometric figures that need to be adjusted a bit to make them correct.”

November 23 | Using iPads in the Classroom
How to use the iPads to help students learn better and help teachers teach better – lots of great app recommendations, too. An Edutopia article.

November 24 | World Topographic Map
Google Maps are cool, but I found this map extremely easy to use to find longitude/latitude, distance and area.

December 14 – Maths – Shape, space & measures
Great math review for students age 7-11 from BBC Learning. Very interactive and fun! Be sure to check out the other subject areas, too.


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Delicious Highlights – 10.4.11

It has been just about a week since I shared my short presentation with my fellow educators at Sauganash School in Chicago. Since Delicious was one of the two tools I shared, I want to give you an update of bookmarks that I have added to my account since last Wednesday.

Of the 24 new bookmarks, here are 8 which demonstrate the range of sites, articles and tools that have been collected.

30 Sep 2011 | MomsWithApps.com – great source for finding recommended apps (iPad and more…)

30 Sep 2011 | 10 Awesome Apps for Learning about Music, Nature, History and Math

03 Oct 2011 | Minigroup – simple sharing for groups

04 Oct 2011 | Shapescape – a new geometry game for grades 1-6

04 Oct 2011 | Web Tools That Every Educator Should Have in the Bag

04 Oct 2011 | Skype in the Classroom – with new improvements for global communication

04 Oct 2011 | 40 Amazing iPad Apps for the Learning Disabled

04 Oct 2011 | Brilliant Implementation of the iPad – from November Learning

To view all 24 new additions, click here.

One More Thing
I did add another great article to the Teachers Reading Corner on our Sauganash workshop page. Check out Not Just The Facts, Ma’am to read Karl Fisch’s recount of a recent school assignment his daughter brought home…

Image Source: www.fiendishlyclever.com


A School Within A Library…

Today Lucy Gray tweeted that she subscribed to AVENUEdotORG’s YouTube channel. Since I was not familiar with the organization and since I greatly respect Lucy’s sensibilities, I decided to check it out.

IT Chapter 1: The 21st Century Library was so good, I had to watch it twice. And since my attention span today is unusually short, the 5:19 video was just about all I could handle. I am so glad I took the time.

About half way through the presenter spoke about how we have sacred notions that we hold on to – like the one that says there is a library in the school. At that point, I said to myself, “Wait a second, Mister…” But he quickly turned my head around with the idea that this notion might not be true anymore and that the school of the future, or the school of the present, could be better described as “a school within a library.”

At that point I got it. Since the school is digitally networked and set up with all the tools and resources, he contends the “library” will be ubiquitous. But hopefully not as quiet.

What are your thoughts?


Image Source: http://jimsmuse.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/library-assistant/



Delicious Highlights: 4.25.11

busy3We all get busy with all the important (and unimportant) things we have to do in our lives as teachers, I get that. But I find it hard to believe that my last “Delicious Highlights” post was January 12.

I follow others in my PLN (personal learning network) who share their favorite sites and links weekly – but my goal was not as ambitious. Once a month was my hope. And here we are three and a half months later…

That being said, I am excited to share 10 of my favorite links from over 90 of my Delicious bookmarks since 1.12.11.

Summer Resources for Continued Success (April 25) – an amazing list of fun and educational online destinations for teachers and students recommended by Rushton Hurley.

Science of Everyday Life (April 25) – a fabulous site from Discovery Education, with strategy games for students, authentic resources for teachers and activities for families. Recommended by TeachersFirst.com.

Knoword (April 25) – is a fun and challenging vocabulary game where the definition and first letter of the word is provided as a prompt, and you type in the rest of the word. Very addicting…

Primary Preoccupation / Thoughts of a First Grade Teacher (April 16) – whenever early primary teachers ask me for an example of teachers using 21st century skills with young children, I always point them to Kathy Cassidy, a first grade teacher from Canada. This is her blog.

HOTTS /Higher Order Thinking Technology Skills (April 16) – by Kevin Creutz, an assistant principal. “Examining the verbs and activities in Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy can help our classrooms become student-centered, 21st century learning environments.”

Flubaroo (April 9) – a Google Docs script that lets you create self-grading quizes! Save time by letting technology work for you.

The Educators PLN / The Personal Learning Network for Educators Video Page (March 28) – get connected with other educators and become that “model learner” you need to be for your students. Don’t miss the Alan November video from the TEDxNYED conference on March 5, 2011.

18 Best Sites to Download Free Audio Books (March 20) – the title says it all…

Joliprint (February 21) – the best application I have found for printing out web pages. Joliprint creates a cleanly formatted pdf document for you to download and print. A quick, easy and FREE solution.

53 (and counting) Interesting Ways to Use an iPad in the Classroom (January 13) – if you have been wondering how the iPad might be useful in a classroom setting, check out this Google Docs presentation by Tom Barrett.

Enjoy! And please remember to share your experiences with these and other great resources with your fellow teachers and staff.

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