Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who Was Your First?

Well if you are here looking for some real juicy tidbits I think you might be disappointed. Last week as I made my way through different sessions at Tech Forum Southwest in Austin, my last session was with David Warlick. Mr. Warlick talked about his PLN (Personal Learning Network) and how it came to be. He talked about initially following Will Richardson and then adding more people as he became more involved in that network of people.

As I drove back from Austin with Kyle Stevens, I got to thinking about who was the first person that initially brought me to the table and my involvement in and growth of a PLN. I was fortunate enough some time back to actually hear about and then stumble upon Miguel Guhlin. Miguel has been involved for a long time with TCEA so I read his work online by the simple task of having it bookmarked in my favorites. All during this time resisting the opportunity to learn more things that Miguel talked about over the years in his blog.

I continued in this manner for several years or so and then I attended my second Tech Forum Southwest in 2007 and heard about things like Twitter, Delicious, and on and on. I opened my Twitter account that day and followed some of the individuals at the event and casually watched the tweets go by over the next several months. And then it happened. The heavens opened, the earth shook, well, not really, but to say my eyes were opened would actually be a true statement.

Then I ran across Kathy Cassidy’s blog as she was just starting and someone mentioned it in a Tweet. So I read it and decided it was time to get in the pool. Miguel had brought me to the water and I just stood there for a very long time, but it was as much if not more Miguel that got me here as it was Kathy.

Thank you Miguel for what you have meant to me over the years and thank you for your friendship and conversations. Kathy I appreciate your timely post and the fact that it came to my feeds. To all of those who exist in my PLN you are all so very awesome and you continue to push me and make me think. Thank you all and know that I pray for each of you every day.

So who was your first? Who helped get you to where you are and have you thanked them recently? Meanwhile, someone pass me some more of that kool-aid.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

K-12 Online Conference is Here & Not Here

Now is your chance to jump into the conversation. The K-12 Online Conference is here. You can click here for the schedule. The idea is to join in the conversations. Anytime, anywhere learning is what it is all about. Not going to be up? Not a problem. The events are recorded and you can access them at your leisure. Join in the conversations and see what you can contribute, share, learn, take back to your classroom or faculty lounge. It is time to be a part of the change that is about our students. First timer to the conference? Click here.

The investment of time will be well worth it. But wait - you don't think the K-12 Online Conference will be the thing for you? Well then take a moment to crusie over to the Not K-12 Onlne Conference FAQ page. More opportunities to jump in and be a part of online learning.

Take a moment, bring some friends, have a ribfest and watch. Whatever you do take some time to refresh your opportunity for online professional development with some of the best.

I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What voices have you heard?

What voices have you heard from your students? There has been a lot of talk about it is not what we teach but what we as teachers are also learning. So my question once again is what voices have you heard from your students? Is it the voice of being "powered down" because of what is not taking place in the school? Is it the voice of what is going on this weekend with anticipation? Or is it the voice of the girl who is so stone cold due to home that you wonder if she will ever warm up? Or is that a front so you will leave her alone? Or the young man who is loud and boisterous and always has something smart to say? Or is that a front that he is scared? Or is it the silent voice of the young person in the back row that you would never know was there because all they want to do is to be invisible to the whole world but yet there is a body there in that desk?

Yes we need to be learners, yes we need to model all the "it's not the technology, it'sthe tools" we can, but better yet, we need to be open to our students so that they bring whatever voice they have and we help them and ourselves become the most literate, 21st century people we can be. It is their future not ours but in order to bring them to it, we have to know them, we have to hear their voice, we have to know what their voice is truly saying, thinking, feeling and asking, even though their voice does not say it out loud.

Yes we need to learn. But more importantly we need to open our ears and our eyes because we don't teach subjects. We need to learn how to better work with our students and we do that by truly hearing their voices. Learning is messy and that is OK, life is also messy and that can be OK too.

What voices have you heard since school started?

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's A New Year

Since returning from CMK08 it seems all I have done is get ready for the start of the school year. We have installed a new server and now have a total of about 1.6 TB of space to house the volumes we have carved out on the two servers - Anselm & Falcon.

We are preparing 270 iPods for distribution for our incoming 9th graders as well as all our remaining faculty who have yet to receive one. This is our third year of the iPod initiative and we will have a total of 480 iPods in the hands of students.

We are also working with AT&T to up our bandwidth. Our first jump will be from 1.5 mg to 20 mg. Looking forward to that. Along with that we will be replacing switches this year in order to be able to handle the increased bandwidth and to also prep for VOIP.

We have a new 6th grade and we just recently ordered 30 Intel 2Go PC's. We are waiting for them to arrive and will need to get them prepared as well as add a couple of wireless access points.

We finished out our classrooms with SMART boards and projectors. It is amazing to me the amount of equipment we had worked to get over the past few years and now we are giving it away because with the SMART boards and projectors we no longer need them as the desktops play DVD's. We have a couple of TVs and vcr's remaining for the tapes that have not been converted to disk but we are getting there. We have about 35 boards and projectors.

On top of all of this I am teaching 2 classes. Thankfully, I guess, it is the same class but 2 sections. I have juniors and seniors for a Christian Relationship class and we are having fun right now. I just don't have enough time in the day to do all the things I need to do. One thing I am learning is to try and get the most out of those who are working with me even if it is on a limited basis. We have set up a class wiki, Google accounts and have been doing some searches with cell phones in the class. The students have been amazed at what some of the possibilities are and I am glad the administration has allowed me the chance to truly explore these things with my students.

I realize that this is just a lot of info with out a lot of reflection, but I have struggled to get back in the saddle and write. Maybe this will help to kick start a few things. I plan to explain more in depth what we do with some of these things we are rolling out. If you have specific questions about them, send the to me and I will post responses and maybe just make a post about individual items that come my way.

Keep on learning and sharing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A New Jersey Tale - Fuhgedaboudit!

NOTE: When reading this all NJ speaking parts should be read with the Sopranos in mind.

When I decided to go to Constructing Modern Knowledge ’08, I worked on getting my plane tickets with Scott Floyd of Whiteoak ISD. Knowing that gas prices were climbing, luggage was costing money and plane tickets were not getting any cheaper, we turned to When all was said and done we flew to Philadelphia and made a connection there to fly into Manchester. The return trip was going to be a little different with the first leg of the trip going to Newark, NJ and then from Newark to Dallas.

Backtrack a bit to the 4th of July and the Travel Channel. I happened to catch the Top 10 Hotdogs Places in America and wouldn’t you know, one of them is in Clifton, N.J, Rutt’s Hut. Upon further investigation Clifton is about 20 miles from the Newark Airport. Since I was traveling with Scott Floyd (@woscholar) I hoped he would want to take a side trip especially since we had 4 hours to burn while in Newark.

We landed in Newark and headed to the taxi stand. Scott had done some research and I knew the cost of the ride out there would be a bit expensive - $52 – one way. So we got to Newark and went for it. I told the driver, country of origin unknown, that we wanted to go to Rutt’s Hut and he assured us he “knew” Clifton, NJ. So while he was driving I was using my iPhone to get us the address and directions we needed. After a couple of wrong turns we circled back and arrived at Rutt’s Hut. There were 2 entrances so we took the non-bar entrance first. We stood there just watching and soaking in the atmosphere. There we were, two Texans in the midst of New Jersey history, society and Travel Channel lore. We walked up to the counter and truly not knowing what to get I simply ordered 2 “World Famous.” That’s it. Nothing else on the overhead menu about choices. The guy behind the counter who probably was the guy that made sure the Sopranos was authentic on TV, looked at me and said “Anything else?” I just said no. In less than 10 seconds I had two “rippers’ as they are referred to. The reason they are called rippers is that they throw these hot dogs in deep fat fryers and cook them. Once they get hot enough the skin rips and they pull them out, slap them on a bun and pass them to you. I then moved to the side and looked around. There were two containers with lids on them and I took the lid off one and there was this chunky yellow stuff (which Gary Stager assures me is known simply as “yellow stuff’) that I assumed was their homemade relish. The other container had what looked like a special mustard concoction. I put the “yellow stuff" on one hot dog and the mustard on the other. After a bite I walked back to the counter and asked if I could get a soda and the Soprano historian looked at me and said “I asked if you wanted anything else.” I got my soda and looked at Scott and he simply used ketchup on his one dog.

We ate and actually made small talk with one of the locals who was watching his young daughter work on eating a cup of chili. The local asked us where we were from and then he asked if we had ever seen the bit on the Travel Channel? When I said yes he said “whatever you do go over to the bar area and also make sure you go in the restroom. It will all take you back to the early 1920’s. Scott and I took out our cameras and were snapping pictures and people all around knew we were definitely tourist. So we finished in the diner part and walked around to the bar/dining room area. I walked up to the bar and sat down and Scott joined me. The bartender who looked as if he lived there for the majority of his life asked what we wanted. Scott said he was good and I said 2 dogs and a Pepsi please. Two more deep fried, nitrate infested, sulfide loaded Rippers. As I ate and Scott drank the Coke he had with him we looked around and listened to the bartender ordering food on a microphone to the other side of the diner in a language foreign to the two of us. We could see him open his mouth and hear sound come out and were totally unable to translate it. Next thing we knew food appeared at the pass through window which he delivered. Amazing.

We finished up and started planning our next move – getting from Rutt’s Hut to the Airport. I told the bartender that I needed to call a cab, thinking of course that any bar has several numbers for cab companies. He looked at me and said “You gotta number for one?” To which I replied no I don’t and he walked away. Scott and I looked at each other and we started chuckling. We walked outside, I called information, I was connected and I was told that it would be 20-30 minutes. We were still well within our layover window so it was all good.

We walked around taking pics outside and talking and then started to get a bit nervous. I called information again and as I was getting connected this huge black limo pulls up with a guy that looked like Kam Fong Chun from Hawaii Five-0 only bigger. He was wedged into the front seat with a huge crate in the passenger seat. He said “You call for a car?” I called for a taxi. “You goin’ to Newark?” I said the Newark airport yes. “Get in.” I looked at Scott and we hopped in. The limo smelled of stale beer, and was dirty. The ac barely worked and then the questions and the verbal assault started. “Where youse from? Texas. “Texas? What part?” Dallas and East Texas. “Oh I’m going there soon.” Really what part? “Terrell.” (He pronounced like Terrell Owens of the Cowboys) Oh where Jamie Fox is from. “Who?” Jamie Fox. “Yeah whatever.” What are you going there for? “Going down to buy me a gaming dog.” Me I am thinking a bird dog but quickly realized NOT. “They still do that in Texas?” (Dog fights) Scott replied it’s against the law. “That’s what I thought. No cock fights, dog fights nuttin huh?” Nope. “That’s why the only thing left in Texas is steers and queers.” Not in our neighborhood. “Yep steers and queers.” “I got me a world class champion up here in the front.” I’m thinking I doubt he is talking about parading a poodle around at the Westminster dog show. He tells us that the only reason he is in the limo business is that his uncle set him up and was willing to front him the money. Otherwise he would be working in the family furniture store for $300 a week.

We got to the airport, in plenty of time for our flight and OZZIE our limo driver was laughing because he talked about always being abusive to his passengers and they still keep coming back for the entertainment. All about the atmosphere in the state of Jersey.

I think I will watch a rerun of the Sopranos to relive it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Constructing Modern Knowledge '08 Reflection

This past week I had the chance to travel to Manchester, New Hampshire, where I participated in Gary Stager’s Constructing Modern Knowledge. Not only did we sit and listen but then we had wonderful opportunities for those hallway discussion that, in my opinion, are absolutely essential to try and digest all that we heard with the other 30 or so educators who were there.

Probably one of the most amazing things was to have a chance to talk with Peter Reynolds , Alfie Kohn, Bob Tinker, Marvin Minsky, Sylvia Martinez, & Gary Stager (of course) and to question and push back and discuss and reflect with each of these individuals. To walk into a workshop and come face to face with these individuals and to drink from that fountain of knowledge was at times like trying to sip from a fire hose, but it is that full blown washing of our minds and ideas of the old ways, that helps create the new ideas that lead to the potentiality of change.

As a former coach I saw many student athletes that had potential and in many cases that potential was realized and in others it wasn’t. The same is true of students that aren’t in extracurricular as well as with our faculties. How many of us have seen teachers shut down and just never reach their potential or start off like a rocket and burn out in that first 5 years we all hear about?

Throughout this week I saw the opportunities for me personally to realize potential and the possibility of not realizing potential. If anyone would have walked in during the conference I’m sure they might have immediately thought “well all they are doing is sitting around and just playing.” We did play, we tinkered, we talked, we got frustrated, we sat with people that paved the way and we listened and talked and listened but most importantly we LEARNED.

We learned new ways to be present to our students, to our faculty, to each other. Sure we learned new tools but as so many in the blogosphere have said over and over it is not about the tools. It is or at least it should be, about how we help bring our students to the well of knowledge. Do we allow them to passively sit, are we on the stage, is it about us or them, do we allow them to make mistakes and try again, do we allow their learning to get messy? For those in positions of leadership the same questions apply to the faculties and staffs we work with each and every day. What gets modeled is what gets learned.

This week we listened, we talked, we learned, we created and we learned from what we created and from what others created and we questioned and were questioned and we learned from that as well. We were even given the opportunity to get messy. I encourage each of us to model the messiness of creation and creativity, model the need to dive into the deep end, to walk the plank of education by being on the edge, to lead by example and to be willing to do it all each and every day and be wonderfully exhausted at the end of the day,

Thank you Gary Stager. Thank you for going out on a limb, for being willing to bring us together, for being willing to model , for being willing to helps us get messy, for helping us question but most of all for being there to support us.

Thank you Gary.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Constructing Modern Knowledge

Sitting in New Hampshire at the Constructing Modern Knowledge Workshop this week, we started the program off with a short trip to Boston on Sunday going to the MIT Science Museum and followed that with a guided tour of Boston's Freedom Trail. One of the joys of walking through the MIT Museum is watching the eyes and the imaginations of the kids, young and old, light up in the museum as most of the exhibits have some type of hands on aspect to them.

After watching a young lady up on the second floor playing with the combination waterfall/strobe exhibit, I had a chance to ask her a question before she left with her parents. "What was the most interesting thing you saw or played with today in the museum?" Her response caught me totally off guard, especially given the time she took at the waterfall/strobe exhibit. Instead of talking about the strobe display with the waterfall, her response was the exhibit that talked of the use of zebra fish for cancer research which was located on the first floor and probably about the third exhibit you come across. I thanked both she and her parents for the chance to ask the question and to talk with her and we parted ways.

As Scott Floyd, Gary Stager, a young lady named Bobbi from Oregon and I walked through the museum, we came across an exhibit by Arthur Ganson. While just about every piece he did that was on display in the museum was a fascinating piece of work, Gary, Scott and I were fascinated by a sculpted piece of work with a series of connected worm gears, a crank and rice. As you moved the hand crank the rice undulated in the box and looked like a wave type machine or maybe even ground that had some type of worm getting ready to come to the surface. It was really cool looking.

The next day we sat and listened to different theories about play, tinkering and the chance to have hands on experiences and what that does for the mind and for learning. At a time when budgets are being cut in arts and extra-curricular activities, it was easy to come to understand the need for the chance to simply play and explore. When given the chance, Scott, Frances from Mississippi, with a wonderfully southern voice that was like warm syrup, and I all decided that the rice sculptor was what we wanted, but we wanted to motorize ours so that it could merely become zen like to watch. We also had to add some special effects. No different that kids would.

So off to the suitcases of Lego's, and the adventure began. Here is a video of the final product.

So what did I take away? Given the chance to think, and play and tinker brought out the ability to work with others, get frustrated, be creative, laugh, learn, try, fail, try again, succeed, fail again and retry some more. Are we giving our children that chance? Are we giving our children the chance to fail yet be supported? Do we give them the chance to tinker without punishment? Are we comfortable with the amount of time it takes to create or do we just want to cover material? We need to think about these things and how they affect the education we help our students to achieve. We all need the chance to play and "tinker."

Day two of CMK08 coming up. Scott and I are committed to tinkering with Tali from Israel and she comes across as wicked smart. Why do I say that? As she approached our setup she immediately started saying you could use that for teaching about sand dune erosion, wave simulation, teaching about weather and cloud formation and on and on.

We will see if these two Texas boys are up for the fun and the challenge of tinkering at a new level.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

NECC 2008 in Review

As I reflect back on the National Education Computing Conference there is truly a lot to reflect on. One of the things I thought about was the words I heard - Pedagogy, scaffolding, tools, social networking, blog, wiki, ning, NECC, release form, learning networks, ubiquitousness, just to name a few. Of course if you went down into the vendor area that covered two Texas counties you heard even more words and language that was all geared toward "this will do _____" (fill in the blank) as long as you purchased it during the show.

I started early this year but not as early as those who have been working on this for a long time like a year or more, but I started by volunteering. We set up work stations on Thursday at the back of the Convention Center so that we could stuff bags with all the materials that vendors paid to have in there by way of sponsorship. I actually came back the next day and had a crew of 6 or 7 people and we stuffed bags for over 3 hours.

On Saturday I came and attended my first Edubloggercon. It was an interesting experience that I was amazed at, especially since this was my first one. Most of the discussion on the side centered around the presence of Pearson and their camera crew and the structure of the "unconference" which apparently left much to be desired. I can only imagine that NECC 29 years ago probably began to feel and hear some of the same things and it has grown from there. Steve Hargadon, I thank you for your time and energy. I found the day very valuable and while maybe I was a little star struck seeing so many people that I watch and read online, it was a good experience and I enjoyed the chance to be there and participate.

On Sunday I was lucky enough to get in on The Constructivist Celebration sponsored by Gary Stager and his Constructivist Consortium. A wonderful day of creating and meeting and watching and enjoying. Many people there to help and as a result I look forward to the chance to go to Manchester New Hampshire in late July to spend four days in the Gary Stager think tank. By the way there are a few seats still available. Come join us.

After the Constructivist Celebration I hustled over to the hotel where along with four other wonderful Texans, Scott Floyd, Mike Gras, Brian Grenier and John Maklary who had been hard at it were prepping for the Ribfest. What a great time that was as we sat and ate and drank and listened and talked with a lot of folks from the north and also learned and drank from the fountain of wisdom within the group. There was also lots of good food.

The conference started on Monday and moved at light speed - sessions, vendors, workshops, live blogging, ustreaming, conversations in the halls and with folks from all over the world at the same time as they participated in the back channel chats from whatever session was broadcasting. It was amazing to watch and participate in for sure. The tools became the venue only from the standpoint that the cameras and live blogs opened up a truly wonderful conference to more than just the 17,000 plus people located in Texas.

ISTE and NECC did an excellent job. Sure there will always be some glitches and grousing along the way but I think a truly wonderful time was had by all. My thanks to all the volunteers. I know the ones I worked with were so wonderfully Texan with hearts just as big as the state.

To those I met, thank you for taking the time to teach me, mentor me, to drag me on occasion kicking and screaming and mainly for allowing me to be a part of the world of Educational Technology. However, if I heard one thing over and over again, everyone and I do mean everyone of the attendees that I came into contact knows that t is all about the students. Let's make sure we keep it that way. They are our future and one day they will be making decisions for us. Let's lead them properly into their future and not backwards into our past.

I look forward to Washington D.C.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Idea Karaoke at NECC 2008

"Idea Karaoke" I would like to say it was my idea but it wasn't. Steve Hargadon and I both got a kick out of it as Kevin Hunnicutt tossed out that phrase while interviewing Steve for a vodcast done by Kevin. I was sitting in the Blogger's Cafe at NECC 2008 in San Antonio as I wanted to play a little bit with Ustream as I had not had the chance to do that. So while I sat there and worked on my ustreaming (which I hate to say I didn't do a very good job because I couldn't get the link right and working) but in the process I recorded about 35 minutes of video and at the same time talked with Miguel Guhlin, Henry Thiele, Clif Mims and then Kevin saw what I was doing and he said well let's do a vodcast and get both of them going.

Will Richardson said that a lot of conversations would happen in the hallways. While that is true anyone who comes to NECC no matter what year, needs to make sure that they don't just run from session to session one after another. I mentioned to my team from BDHS that you have to take time to reflect on what you have just heard. Go to a session, then talk with others. meet others learn from others, bu no matter what you do come in to the conference with the idea that there are things to learn and make sure you learn at least one a day.

Talking with people over the last year and changing my attitude a bit I have been able to start blogging, live blogging, trying to ustream and I will get there, jail breaking iPhones, podcasting, Skyping, posting to youtube, etc., etc. Does it mean I am an expert, not by a long shot but I have tried and I continue to learn. Isn't that what we want to create in our students? The ability to be lifelong learners ? Or are we simply hoping to make them totally dependent on us?

Empowering or enabling? What are you doing with your staff and more importantly your students?

More learning and sharing coming up tomorrow.

Strategic Ed Tech Thinking

Will Richardson & Sheryl Nussbaum Beach

Ian Jukes @ 12:30 pm

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thank You ISTE - It Ain't So!

When all the hulabaloo erupted about not being able to audio,video,stream, etc without the "expressed written consent of both the presenter and ISTE" the bloggosphere erupted with calls to arms and keyboards and send the words to ISTE and the Administration. We are ISTE and as such the "Administration" listened to its members and did a good thing. Below is the response I received from Leslie Conery and I post it with her permission.

"Hi Paul,

I mentioned in an earlier email that we were working on a way to respond to the concerns that would meet the needs of all the groups of stakeholders who need to have a say in this discussion. We received substantial feedback about this issue and have had great internal conversations in the last 24 hours about how best to respond. We needed to listen to and address the valid concerns of ISTE members while also protecting the rights of the people who have agreed to present at NECC.The statement below addresses how we'd like to handle this for NECC2008. Post NECC2008, we are planning to convene a discussion around the issue of broadcasting presentations and to work together collaboratively with podcasters, bloggers, presenters, and other stakeholders to develop guidelines for NECC2009 that meet the needs of the education community.

ISTE recently disseminated a code of conduct regarding video and audio recordings at NECC 2008 which has generated some thoughtful and energetic discussion. We welcome your interest and comments and would like to clarify and amend the code of conduct for NECC 2008. For NECC 2008, ISTE's permission is not required for non-commercial video and audio recording of sessions and workshops. However, for NECC 2008, written permission from the session or workshop presenter is required prior to capturing a video or audio recording. Any permitted recording should respect the presenter's rights and not be disruptive. Under no circumstances may any length or quality of video/audio capture be used for marketing, advertising, or commercial purposes without express written permission from both the session presenter(s) and ISTE. Thank you. We look forward to an ongoing dialog about fair use.


Leslie and the rest of the Administrative team, my apologies for the delay in getting this posted. I thank you for opening the door to discussion even though it was probably beaten down. I look forward to the dialogue after NECC 2008 to come to a common ground for protecting the rights of the presenters and also making available to those unable to attend as many resources as possible.

To the edu-bloggosphere, I hope that we can continue to pursue the right thing in the right way and maybe we can start by setting up our own Creative Commons Licensing so that people know ahead of time that what is posted or saved or discussed or shown on the web is available for the right use and purposes.

Thank you ISTE and I look forward to seeing you in San Antonio. I especially look forward to the conversations afterward.

Learning coming up, get ready to share.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Say it ain't so!

Today my wife & I drove from Dallas to Houston as I will be participating in Stephanie Sandifer and Steve Hargadon's Web 2.0 Live Tools session all day tomorrow. After stopping for dinner, my wife drove and I quickly checked on email and the Twitterverse to see if I had missed anything. Much to my surprise there was some rapid discussion going on about NECC 2008 and what I feel amounts to censoring of recording/podcasting/ustreaming/ etc. of sessions without the "1.Permission of the presenter and 2. the permission of ISTE." I was shocked. This after there was a huge call to people in Texas to blog about the conference.

I had participated in the conference call with several of the higher ups at ISTE and was greatly pleased to hear them take suggestions and work toward implementing them for the good of the conference, for the good of educators throughout the world and for the future of all of our students. This announcement that was brought to light by Wes Fryer was a stunning blow to me personally. After reading Wes' blog I then scooted over to Miguel's blog and found more of the same along with a request to send your thoughts to ISTE.

No longer was the world flat, instead it was a cold, dark cave like place waiting for Og to create fire. No longer was there a collaborative air about the conference, instead it became the us vs them aspect that so many schools already struggle with when speaking about faculty and administration. Some people speculated that it was merely ISTE's way of protecting themselves for copyright purposes, some felt that maybe technology was finally catching up to the realities of the world.

I personally feel that it stinks but I am waiting for clarification from Leslie after writing the email. What about those who can't get here because of frozen budgets? While a lot of my expenses are paid for by my school, I have a lot of out of pocket expenses that I do not pass on to my school as we are a private inner city school. I have posted my letter to Leslie Conery below and hope you will take the time to weigh in on this whole situation. I started the letter off personally with some of my thoughts and then used some of the sample letter portions that Miguel had posted on his site.


I find it worrisome that after working with you and several other ISTE admin people through the use of a conference call and being asked to blog about NECC, we are told that only with permission from both the presenter and ISTE are we able to record sessions at NECC 2008? As I sat in on that conference call, I was impressed with the things that were discussed and brought up and felt that I was finally dealing with an organization that was truly forward thinking. MY DUES WERE BEING USED FOR SOMETHING GOOD. This is true collaboration, true education reaching out to all. The flat world truly coming together for the good of the future - our students.

NECC 2007 proved to be an exciting learning experience because educators embraced disruptive technologies and were open to sharing their ideas as blogs and podcasts. ISTE and NECC Organizers have missed the boat in capitalizing on the use of communication and collaborative technologies. In essence, NECC 2008's policy is to ISOLATE rather than enable educators to COMMUNICATE and COLLABORATE. When I consider the words of Dr. Don Knezek at in 2007 about education no longer being an isolated act of teaching, learning and leading, and juxtapose that intent with NECC 2008's approach, I am aware that ISTE and NECC are no different than K-16 schools today...struggling to escape the past. Even as schools and organizations reach towards the future, old fears and habits keep us from moving forward, keep us from being who we desire to be and have said we want to be as reflected in the ISTE NETS- S. It's difficult to find a new way, and I had hoped that ISTE and NECC would provide the leadership for all state organizations (e.g. TCEA) but I see now that my hope may have been misplaced.

As an educator--teacher, administrator, edublogger and learner who has internalized the ISTE Standards--I challenge you to set aside your fears and reconsider your policy. I intend to encourage all educators to reconsider their participation in future NECC Conferences. I encourage you to respond to post a response on your own ISTE Blog. If I have misunderstood the policy, I hope you'll set me straight. Thank you for taking the time to review the contents of this email during such a busy time.

Wishing you well,

Paul R. Wood
Director of Technology

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Viral Vacation

The first week of June is gone already. School just ended on the 4th for the students and the 5th for the faculty. I always joke that now I can get things done, the faculty is gone. I already miss the students. So what to do this summer? I have several professional development situations lined up and I am truly looking forward to them, however, my online learning network continues each and every day, 24/7. Here are some opportunities for you to go viral with the rest of us.

On June 20th, I will be in Houston for @ssandifer's and Steve Hargadon's Classroom 2.0 Live Workshop which is a one day session with lots of presentations by some very knowledgeable folks. If the info link above looks goods to you here is the link to register. This one is free and if you are near Houston check out the site and see if you can make it.

NECC is coming hard and fast. ISTE & TCEA and lots of other folks are getting ready to strut their stuff for all those who are coming to town. The venue is San Antonio, TX. My very favorite get out of town to relax place. Northerners beware! San Antonio can be a hot one at the end of June. Check out @technolibrary's wiki on places to go and things to do while in San Antonio. If you are coming in early check out the things on tap with Edubloggercon. There will be free sessions all day Saturday at the Convention Center at Edubloggercon so look it up and learn more so you can share more. There will be additional meet ups and sessions during NECC so check it out.Don't forget to make sure and stop by to see Scott McLeod and pick up your "I'm here for the Revolution" button which he and Wes Fryer worked together on to pick the winner, Bill Mosely.

After NECC it will be a couple of days relaxing and then the next trip is late July to Manchester, N.H. for the Gary Stager-thon. Actually it is called Constructing Modern Knowledge. Beginning on Sunday the 27th of July and going until Thursday July 31. You can find more information here. I have heard there are some spots still available and the faculty for this one looks great.

In between I will be trying to prep machines, ipods, orders, bandwidth and sanity as well as trying to soak in as much as possible and so that I will be able to later share even more. The tools are there and we need to leverage as many of them as possible, otherwise the natives (the digital one that is) will be very restless.

What a viral summer vacation this will be.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The World has Lost a Good One

This is the obituary that appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Sunday, June 1, 2008:

"A Sister of Saint Mary of Namur, died Thursday, May 29, 2008, at Our Lady of Victory Centers at the age of 58. Service: A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10a.m. Monday at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, bishop of Las Cruces, celebrant. Most Rev. Kevin, Vann, bishop of Fort Worth, and priests of the diocese will con-celebrate. Interment: Mount Olivet Cemetery. Vigil: 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Fort Worth. Memorials: Sisters of Saint Mary, 909 W. Shaw St., Fort Worth, Texas 76110. Donna Ferguson was born Aug. 4, 1949 in Dallas. She attended St. Cecilia and St. Elizabeth grade schools and graduated from Bishop Dunne High School in 1967. Following a year at St. Thomas University in Houston, Donna volunteered in the missions of the Sisters of Saint Mary in Africa. In 1968, she accompanied the sisters to war-torn Belgian Congo (Zaire) where she worked with local women and taught PE to 8th and 9th grade girls. Her experiences there inspired her to enter the Community. Sister Donna made perpetual vows in 1985. She earned a BS in Secondary Education and Social Sciences from the University of North Texas in 1974, and a Master’s Degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in 1985. On the strength of this degree, Sister Donna began a long career as spiritual guide an1 retreat director. After three years teaching 7th and 8th graders at John XXIII in Dallas, Sister Donna became ill. Despite a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, she channeled her energies into vocation work. In 1981, she was assigned to the Vocation Office of the Diocese of Fort Worth, and in- 1984 was made Vocation Director. Bishop Joseph P. Delaney named Sister Donna Director of Seminarians in 1989, and she. served in this office until 2006. The future priests benefited from her honesty as well as her encouragement. Sister Donna served as Member at Large for the National Board 0f Diocesan Vocation Directors from 1982-1985. Within her religious community, she served on the Provincial Council and as Provincial Treasurer arid Treasurer of Our Lady of Victory Center."

I met Donna through my older brother. She was in need of platelets for an experimental program that would attempt to treat her MS. They took my blood and centrifuged it and gave me what they didn't keep back. They cultivated what they kept and gave her injections of it to combat her MS. It worked until funding for the program went away.

Sr. Donna later became my spiritual director when I entered the Deacon Formation Program for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas. A 6 year formation program, we were all told to find a spiritual director, one that we would meet with on a once a month basis and this director would help to keep our spiritual compass pointing the right direction. She was as responsible for helping me to ordination day as those who taught my classes. She could ask questions of me that would make me dig deeper than any one else I knew. That was why I chose her. She walked every step of the way with me through formation. Once ordained I kept her as my director and my hope was to have her be my spiritual director for a very long time.

I last met with her over dinner about 4 weeks ago. This was a little bit of an oddity as we never met over a meal. She thought it was a distraction. Our meeting was not so much spiritual direction but more a quest on her part for information about what I planned to do this summer. We talked and visited and relaxed and also had the joy of being waited on by my son who works at the Japanese restaurant where we ate.

I received the call on Monday evening, Memorial Day, that she had suffered a massive brain hemorrage. They took her to the hospital she was awake, responding but was unable to speak or move her left side. I waited to go to her side as I knew the drill in the hospital, one that didn't need extra people in the way and I wanted to wait until her family was able to get there. When I got there she had already begun the downward spiral of life but the upward spiral to her eternal home. I saw her on Wednesday of that week. She slept with only an oxygen tube and breathed a very simple pattern the entire time. I held her hand, I prayed with her and for her and I talked to her, telling her to go ahead and pass on through as God was waiting for her. Her work here was done. She had been unconcious for almost 24 hours at that point.

Donna, you have been a good and faithful servant. You have helped me in so many ways. You are already missed but I know you will continue to guide me spiritually in the days ahead.

I love you Sr. Donna Ferguson and I thank you for being a wonderful part of my life. My only hope is that I can pass on to others at least half of what you have given me.

Donna don't forget, all of this is God's doing so you need to give Him some leeway!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Freedom

I accomplished a lot around my house on Monday, Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who have fought for this country. As I was working outside a group of fighter jets flew over the house in the "Missing Man" formation. A few minutes later a group of vintage propeller fighter planes flew over the house. The flight path they were both on would take them past the DFW National Cemetery and over a couple of other cemeteries in the area that were also having Memorial Day Ceremonies.

As I heard either the drone of planes or the whine of the jets, I began to think about guys like my father. My wife and I are both fortunate enough to have both of our parents still alive and in pretty good shape given the fact that they are 80+. Anyway, earlier that day I had watched "Recount" on HBO, the story of the 2000 Election and the Florida debacle. My writting is not about that or the fact that it all happened or that the right or the wrong guy won. My writing is about the fact that all of those veterans out there did a very wonderful thing for us and that is give us freedom or helped to preserve the freedoms that we have.

Toward the end of the movie, one of the James Baker stated something that I am going to paraphrase and that was for us to remember that all of this took place, the election of a president and the dissent and the court hearings, etc., etc, without a single shot being fired, without a tank in the street, without anyone being hurt.

In my Twitter conversations with @jutecht he is always asking if something is down or are the filters killing my ability to get there? FREEDOM! When Santino, one of the original Lost Boys talked about being here or going back he said he would stay here. If anyone spoke bad about the government in his homeland that would be their last day. In America if we speak bad about our government, we live to see another day and gripe some more. FREEDOM! If I want to go to church, any church, no one questions me, I go. FREEDOM!

I dislike war as much as anyone, too many young lives lost and too many families destroyed but sometimes war is a necessary evil. I don't hate it any less and I would love to see all of our service people come home safe and sound. But the things we beilieve in and the freedoms we have were won by some people doing what they had been ordered to do at a great cost to many. FREEDOM!

Thank you for giving me so many opportunities to exercise the freedoms I partook of on this Memorial Day. I keep all of you in my prayers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Power of Words

I came across an article about a woman who lives in N.J. and has been banned in Yemen for what she writes. Seems after 9/11 she decided she needed to know more about the Arab world so she started studying and researching. She came across some different information concerning a journalist that was being held in prison for sedition. As she explored the information she started to blog about it. She has become so well known in Yemen that she has been called a spy, a member of Al-Queda along with many other things.

In April a young man was arrested in Egypt for taking pictures of a protest. He "twittered" the word "arrested" from his cell phone. His network of 48 other people went to work and a few days later he was released from jail. His story is amazing to say the least.

In both of these instances, and I am sure there are many more out there, through the simple power of the written word so many things can be accomplished. So why aren't we using the different tools of Web 2.0 to help our students discover their own inner power? The fear of losing funds through Erate keeps many people holding on to the filters. Some people actually try to work with their IT departments and are able to accomplish a lot. We want technology integrated but does that automatically translate into learning? How much power are we losing in our words or the words of our students by not getting those words out there in the real world?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Business as usual or taking a swim

I recently watched conversations via Twitter concerning what is keeping teachers from being able to move to the next level, to join the revolution, to use the tools that are there, to stop talking and really start doing, etc. As I sat and thought about it, one of the things that came to mind was could it possibly be as simple as ego? The more I thought however, I began to realize it is more than that.

I would like to think that in my 31 years as a teacher/learner, I was able to put my ego aside and work with the students rather than being the sage on the stage. Last October I attended a one day conference in Round Rock sponsored by Leading and Learning. Speakers were the likes of Wes Fryer, David Jakes, Miguel Guhlin and others that I have forgotten since then and if you were one of them I apologize. My point is that I had never "twittered" before that day. So I started with Twitter and was fascinated. Then I played with Ustream.TV and thought "Wow!" Then I started watching the discussion on Twitter and started adding some people. I would go to others Twitter home pages and see who they were following and add some of them.

Then came TCEA 2008. Some of the same people I was following were talking throughout the conference online, through Twitter, live blogging, etc. I then had the chance to listen to Carolyn Foote and later that day followed that with Randy Rodgers and I sat on the sidelines with John Maklary and Miguel Guhlin, Scott FLoyd and many others and drank it all in. Then all of a sudden it clicked. I can't tell you exactly what the trigger was, but I felt like that scene in the "Hellen Keller Story." All of a sudden I got it, I realized what the importance of what I had been reading all along in the TEC-SIG listserv and on Twitter and reading through others blogs. It was as if the heavens opened and a bright light...well you get the picture. It all clicked.

Then, like that scene I was running from item to item electronically trying things out and I actually started blogging, then I tried to Ustream a presentation we did at NCEA in Indianapolis (that failed but I am ready to try again), I have been practicing live blogging and I feel like I have been a contributor.

So what does this have to do with ego in the classroom. I think there are so many things that we are shouting from the rooftops about, that those who don't get it are overwhelmed and what is the fail safe when we are overwhelmed - business as usual. So in an effort to get around the business as usual approach I have started sending out emails to my faculty that have "Did you know..." in the subject line. They have gotten used to knowing that it will be some small snippet of technology that they can try out. I usually keep it as simple and as brief as possible. The result has been teachers asking when I am going to send out the next one. I have gotten responses from teachers such as , Thanks, I like the info, Cool idea, I am going to try that and even I like my technology in small bytes.

So maybe it is time to stop the shouting and start spoon feeding. Those of us who think we get it have been brought to this river of knowledge by many in our PLN's. We drink freely from its cool and flowing waters and we continue to absorb and be refreshed. If others see us drink from it often enough and we share with them and give them sips on ocassion, we might find some others coming back for buckets and maybe an ocassional swim.

All I can say is last one in is a rotten egg.

Friday, May 9, 2008

NECC 2008 - How Refreshing!

I received an invitation to participate in a conference call with some of the higher ups at ISTE and the conference planner of NECC 2008 today and came away looking so forward to the conference. Why? Because anything that was suggested from the group of Texas bloggers present was snapped up and the ISTE folks were going to do something about it immediately or make sure they found out and would get back to us.

Why is this refreshing? Isn't this the way it should be you ask? It is refreshing because all they want to do is get the word out in any way possible so they can help us help others as they do their part to continue bringing the revolution. Are you in Second Life? Go to ISTE Island and see what is on tap there. Most times you can find several people willing to show you around or talk about NECC 2008. Do you look at wiki's for information? See the NECC 2008 version by clicking here and getting information. Simply prefer to read about it? Go here to see the conference web site. Want to know what to do while in San Antonio? Click on @technolibrary's wiki to see when people are coming in and some of the things to see and do. Do you Twitter? Feel free to ask me @paulrwood or @technolibrary or @woscholar and so many others out there. I am sure if we don't know the answer we can sure find the answer.

What about the keynotes? The opening night keynote will be James Surowiecki who writes for the New Yorker Magazine. Here he is being interviewed about his book on Youtube.

If you are here for the revolution, join us at NECC so that you may be fully prepared and equipped. Hopefully the ISTE/NECC attitude will be adopted by the affiliates in the not too distant future.

So much to learn and so much to share.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lead, Follow or ...well you know!

Today I had the chance to go to the TEC-SIG Spring 08 meeting held in Austin. In the past, I have been unable to go as we have been so swamped at school that it was not feasible. A couple of years ago, we were asked to fill out a survey and one of the questions was about video streaming, podcasting, etc. and how would that affect my attendance at meetings. Well if I can't get there to begin with, it would seem that my attendance is already greatly affected.

I am blessed with a great boss and a wonderful, although sometimes frustrating situation at work. We all know how that is, sometimes things just don't want to work right and no matter how hard everyone tries, is there ever enough money? That being said I am glad I am where I am and the situation I work in for sure.

I asked for time off to come to this year's meetings and I had actually thought about runnng for office to try and make a difference. Several friends that I have made through TEC-SIG and TCEA were unable to make it and yet we, the supposed leaders of technology and innovation for our schools, were unable to either podcast, or ustream any of the meetings "due to leagal issues."

It is time that we all make use of the tools that are easily accessible to all of us so that we can make available to all events such as this. With only 76 people here along with budget cuts, gas prices, etc., we have to connect and communicate the mission of this group in each and every way possible. We must continue to spread the word and we can do it with conferencing, live conferencing but we have to have leadership, solid, forward thinking leadership.

Lead, follow or at least get out of the way so that we can help to keep others connected. As @ijohnpederson says SHARING is what it is all about. Let us use the collective to our advantage as opposed to charting the same, stale static course. If we are the leaders then there is only one thing left to say: LEAD!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

How Googlable are you?

While spending almost a complete weeek at home due to a bad bout of bronchitis, when I wasn't sleeping I was searching the web through my Twitter personal learning network (pln) and found several presentations by some of the people I follow who were presenting on UStream so I tuned in to a couple by Will Richardson. As I was listening in Will made a statment about when he goes in to school systems and does some professional development, he asks about how they use Google. As always many talk about how they Google applicants to see what might be out there good or bad. He then asked what they were doing about making their students "Googlable" to which they all replied "Nothing." His post about "Making Kids Googlable" can be read here.

This got me to thinking about how do we do that with our students? While I know many of our students have either Facebook or Myspace accounts, I know of a couple of teachers that work extensively with their students to help them figure out the validity of web sites using some of Alan November's techniques. After that it falls off rather drastically.

This was brought home recently when we had a situation of bullying online through some Myspace traffic between students. When one of the students was brought in her first statement was "You aren't supposed to read that, it is private." I was stunned. How could this child possibly think that? We have to continue to work to make our students more aware of what is possible on the web and how they can improve their presence by making themselve more Googlable.

So much to teach and so much to learn!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Are you part of the Revolution?

Today is Earth Day and I continue to wonder where the world will be and how will things be different in say 20 years. More importantly, what part are you playing in the digital revolution? In the last few days there has been a lot of discussion (read blogging) about "being here for the learning revolution."

I have been involved in technology for many years but only recently has it seemed as if the world has suddenly opened up to me about the power of what I sit in front of, my laptop. After the last two weeks, I can no longer refer to this piece of equipment as merely a tool. I can no longer say that I am alone in Dallas, TX., writing for myself, I can no longer ignore the fact that we are all called to make a difference, and yet I am almost at a point of not knowing what direction to go.

Last week we met with a Sister of St. Mary of Namur by the name of Immaculee Mukabugabo from Rwanda. She was visiting the school for several reasons but the biggest was to make connection with us as we try to put together what we refer to as a "Global Partnership" with another SSMN school in Rwanda. We asked many questions and were having a wonderful discussion when the question of the 1994 genocide came up and how this had affected the children who are at the school.

Sister talked at length about how at certain times of the year the students struggled with just getting out of bed because of the memories of that period, or the loss of family members. Then Sister took the chance of trusting and being comfortable enough with us on only the second day of her visit to tell her story of what they went through trying to protect innocent people as well as save their own lives from the horrible destruction. I truly felt as if I were standing on Sacred Ground while listening to Sister tell her story.

With the help of Wes Fryer's posts about the Celebrate Oklahoma Voices Project, we decided we needed to start our own voices project. In the next few days we hope to have posted to our school site a section called "Voices." This will be voices of people that have spoken to the students on different subjects with Sister's being the first one. We also hope to include many others who have stories to tell. The power of the voice will truly be something for us to be a part of, continuing to take us further down the road of revolution.

Our next hope is to help bring the revolution to our global partner in Kibuye, Rwanda. They exist in a situation where they hope to get equipment to bring not only TV to their school but also Internet service as well. I continue to look for ways to help make that happen.

So many voices to listen to and so little time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Day - Celebrate it

Over the weekend many places were holding Earth Day activities. As I watched some of the traffic on Twitter, I saw a couple of post saying that solar energy is not as good what many people seem to think it is. With that in mind I did a search for an old reliable book that I used many years ago trying to teach students about the need to conserve, reduce, reuse and recycle. The book 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth was easy enough to find on the web and I had to go digging through my stored boxes of books to find my original version of the book.

The new version has been updated. One of the things that it says it to simply pick one thing, one item from the book that truly interests you and work on that, get that word out, help others to understand what that means to you and maybe, that one item will become someone else's and the ripple effect will start anew.

I recently changed the majority (about 80%) of the bulbs in my house to compact fluorescent bulbs. While I realize there is still a bit of a problem with disposal, I have decided that it is necessary to begin making a change in some way. I have also decided I will hang on to those bulbs that burn out until I can find somewhere that will properly dispose of them.

When we first moved in to the house we now live in, we added insulation in the attic, we installed new, energy efficient refrigerator, washer, dryer and central ac/heating system as well as installing a programmable thermostat. Just recently I replaced one of my water heaters with a new high efficiency water heater. The affect of all these changes was that my utility bill has dropped.

Tuesday, April 22, is Earth Day. Celebrate it, embrace it, do something to help keep the Earth green.

50 simple things to help sustain the Earth, which one to lock in on!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Cost of Not Getting an Education

Tonight I had the opportunity to listen to the Honorable Craig Watkins, District Attorney of Dallas, TX. He spoke at the school as part of our Geo-Tech Lecture Series. The lecture series was started to bring speakers of influence in to speak about social justice and human rights issues.

Mr. Watkins is the first African American District Attorney in the U.S. He is also part of a program that has helped 16 incarcerated individuals to be released from prison through the use of DNA testing. The national program that is in place is called The Innocence Project. Today the 16th person was released. Mr. Watkins has been instrumental in the program here in Dallas.

So what is the cost of not getting an education? According to the statistics I heard tonight, 75% of those incarcerated did not graduate high school. Add that statistic with the latest statistics concerning the number of students that drop out and we are in for some serious prison building if we don't reverse the trend. Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people that don't get a high school degree and are great citizens, but if we continue to cause our students to "power down" when they walk in to our buildings, then we aren't helping the cause.

Another statistic thrown out this evening was the amount of money given to a school to educate a child in Dallas, was $8 a day. The amount of money given to the prison system for a person that is incarcerated is $34 per day. How does that happen? Four times as much money given per person to the prison system than to the education system?

I look forward to Mr. Watson coming back to the school to speak to our seniors in a smaller setting, and I applaud him for the tremendous work he has done, but maybe we need to rattle the cages down in the capital to help them get the funding priorities straight.

More research to do.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rwanda on the Horizon

This week at the school we will be visited by a Sister of St. Mary of Namur who was the principal of Sainte Marie School in Kibuye, Rwanda. The information received from Sr. Immaculee Mukabugabo was very interesting. They are primarily a boarding school with 303 students, 301 girls and 2 boys. 293 of the students are boarders living on campus and 10 come in each day from the town. The students range in age from 12 - 19.

At each level of the educational process the students must take a National Exam and this determines whether or not the student progresses to the next level. The 6th year of Primary results in the National Exam and if a student does not pass they may take 6th grade for up to 4 times. She did not say what happened if they did not pass after that time. The students then move to the secondary school cycle which has two levels a basic studies and a senior cycle of high school. Each of these also ends with aNational Exam to see if the student progresses to the next level.

Tuition at this school is $163 for older students and first year students pay $195. They take 7 to 8 hours of classes a day and also help with the care of the classrooms and the campus before classes begin. When Sr. Immaculee was asked about needs of the school, the first thing mentioned was more classrooms to accomodate the children that want to come to school. They just don't have enough rooms. The second thing mentioned was the lack of Internet access. They have no telephone connection at the school because of the expense of getting the line to the school. Her third item was a parabolic antenna for being able to access television so that students could at least know what was going on elsewhere in the world.

As I reflected on all the things we have available to our students, I thought there has to be a way to make some of these things happen. I am currently part of a team that hopes to journey to Rwanda in December to make connection with the school and the teachers there. My hope is to also help begin to bridge the gap that they are experiencing. The one thing that Sister mentioned was that the poverty of the students and the families they come from is so incredible and then for them to try and pay $160-$195. If we can get them on the web the need for a better vehicle to take the students on educational field trips is lessened to some degree because then the world is open to them.

I look forward to the trip and I look forward to any and all input for ways to help make some of these things happen. More information will be forthcoming when Sr. Immaculee Mukabugabo visits on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

So many gifts and so many to share.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's not about the hardware

Today I received a call from a company that works for Edline, our online portal for parents, students and teachers. The gist of the call was that they had a local station that wanted to come out and do a story on how we were using different ed-tech tools, especially Edline for the benefit of students.

I spoke with the principal, a couple of teachers and several students to give them a heads up about what was going to take place and we wanted them to talk about it on camera. On arrival, the reporter, a graduate of Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio, was asking me questions about some of our programs. We are currently in the 2nd year of an iPod initiative with our incoming freshmen as well as many other things to hopefully help encourage our students to become life long learners.

As we progressed through the discussion and the interview it seemed to focus more on the hardware than education. As I watched and listened to the questions and the direction of the interviews I began thinking how many people feel the same way? How many people feel that as long as we have a lot of equipment we are doing well? Or how many people feel that because we don't have certain equipment then we can't do what we need to so maybe we shouldn't try? I may be jumping too hard on the interview process as I have not seen the final product, bad storms in the area have taken much of the news time this evening.

After reading Miguel's entry on "What Is Your Stop Doing List" I think maybe looking at what we do in that manner may open some new mental doors.

So many wonderful reads out there and so few hours in the day.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Breaking Ground

As I have said before, I am new to this so I am not breaking any new ground in most instances. However, I have already had a couple of people approach me about "this blogging thing" and "how do you do it?" That is always nice to have someone feel comfortable enough to say can you show me this...?

The reason I bring this up is that there is currently conversation taking place in the blogosphere asking the "community" question. Are bloggers, twitterers, im'ers, social networkers, etc., actually a community?" My initial response would have been yes until Miguel tossed M. Scott Peck's 4 Stages of Community in to the mix.

Based on those 4 stages - 1. pseudocommunity - where niceness reigns; 2. chaos - when the emotional skeletons crawl out of the closet; 3. emptiness - a time of quiet and transition; and finally, 4. true community - marked both by deep honesty and deep caring; I would say that maybe all of this bblogging, twittering, etc is at the #1 level but I truly feel that it all begins to break apart after that.

While others have already talked er rather blogged about this same question, I await and look forward to Gary Stager writing about what is and is not a community in the next few days to get his take on it. If this was divided up into segments like pre-k to 5, middle school, high school, university and above, I still do not believe that you would be able to say that you have a community, yes you might get a few people that become closer and take more time to go deeper into certain areas but I truly think community is involved in face to face, dealing with the same issues and working hopefully toward a common goal/good. While there are many conversations going on and people trying to solve many different problems, I still think there is a lack of truly delving into the deeper aspects of what makes a community just that.

That being said I think this blogoshpere of people has very easily descended into area 2 of Peck's hiearchy of Chaos however the skeletons are not those of emotion that are coming out of the closet, it is rather the skeletons of those who have not progressed beyond their own universe to truly make an attempt to try and realize not only the technical tools available and their potential, but also their own personal tools and potential that they have been gifted with to share with those they come in contact.

So many wonderful reads out there and so few hours in the day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Global Partnerships

Today we had an opportunity to meet with Sister Patricia, SSMN, who has been very active at the Dallas Peace Center in Dallas, TX. Sr. has been a great activist for many social justice issues and has spent some time in jail as a result of her activism which I applaude her for. The Sisters of St. Mary of Namur were the founders of BDHS which actually started out as Our Lady of Good Counsel.

While we try to be a very ed-tech oriented school trying to infuse technology throughout our curriculum, we have also been working on global partnerships. We feel that it is important to get our students out of themselves so to speak so as to be more equipped to deal with local things by seeing global things. While we have taken many local oriented trips to places such as New Mexico to visit the Anasazi Ruins for geological and geographic studies, to Washington D. C. with Close Up, to Austin, TX the Capital for governmental education, we have also tried to reach farther than the coasts of North America. We have a relationship in Honduras which is four years old that some of the other Catholic High Schools have joined, we have had a group of students go to Ghana, a group of our students just returned from Costa Rica where they did GIS work and explored the country side as well as spent time learning the culture.

Our meeting today with Sr. Patricia was to continue working toward a plan to go to Rwanda. The Sisters have a great history of mission and education that has spanned the globe and we want to make sure we can help to connect the dots. Our desire is to eventually create this partnership with a couple of schools in Rwanda that the Sisters run and hopefully learn things that are similar to us like getting along with different cultures in the same areas, making do with what we have and using the resources and tools that we have all been given to make a difference in the global community and not just in our own back yards.

In reflecting on this meeting today I felt as if the communities that I belong to online are about the same thing, making differences as a result of the connectedness from a network of caring people who also want to make a difference. I can see the possibilities of using some of the things I have learned from this vast network with Google Earth, Flickr, Ustream and many of the other tools available. I hope the forces that have brought this Rwanda group together will continue to drive us toward a full fledged visit. Then along with learning I hope to teach though the use of the tools I have come to know with this electronic global partnership that I am a part of today.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Personal Professional Development

As I have entered into this world of the weblog or the blogosphere, I have already seen the benefits of what it can do for me by using this tool. While on Twitter today I saw a reference to a post by Ryan Bretag that truly made me stop and think about what I have or have not been doing about professional development and how do I help others in the same area. Most of my professional development was limited in my mind to going somewhere and listening to someone or participating in a hands on workshop of some sort or another.

Ryan's post actually opened my eyes to the fact that if I am invovled in some type of learning no matter where or when, then I am helping to lift myself up past the bar which some have set for me professionally. Can I get a certificate as a result of what I learn in the Twitterverse? Probably not! In the blogosphere, I doubt it, however, the ability to share and learn is there just the same and in some cases it is more personal. The great thing is that instead of just one person's input, it is very easy to get several on the same subject.

So, the next direction for me is to try and help those on my staff figure out a way to get in some PPD and help them to find a way to share with others and keep away from getting cited for "teacher malpractice." I need to help them keep up with the changes in they way of the world , especially the 21st Century Learner World, so they too can raise their hands.

So many wonderful reads out there and so few hours in the day.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Resources and Tools

I arrived back at home and I am glad to be here. I have already received a couple of emails from people that were in my sessions so today what I am going to do is post the tools we use at BD. These will be a combination of items that are accessible to teachers and students. Where possible I will also make sure they are linked so you can click them and get information.

Before I begin I would like to mention Miguel Guhlin who is linked on the main page and his topic which I read this morning titled "Intensity of Authenticity" where he mentions that in all of his blogging he has received few responses. I mentioned to him in my comment that sometimes I personally feel I am not worthy(?) to post due to not being at the level I perceive him to be. I do know that there have been many occasions where his post and musings have lead me to have discussions with other people however, be it in my building or with others in the Diocese.

That said, here we go. We are a Novell networked school, we have almost 230 Windows based machine on our network. Our current supplier is Daktech Computers for both laptops and desktops. We are able to purchase monitors from them as well and they supply us with digital/analog, flat View Sonic monitors of at least 19". We have also purchased laptop carts outfitted with a printer and a wireless hub from them to complete those packages. We use Edline Corporation for web based grades as well as class pages for parent - school communication.

Jackson Software for Grade Quick Web
Administrators Plus by Rediker Software along with the modules for Discipline, QSP for Cafeteria, SNAP for the nurse's office, Concourse for the Library and Admissions Plus.
Windows Operating Systems and Office 2003 & 2007. We currently run XP Pro on all machines.
Macromedia for web classes, graphics animation and graphic art classes. Macromedia has been purchased by Adobe and we are going through that licensing now.
Quia for online test making and taking.
Twotrees Technologies for web mail for all faculty and all students. Twotrees also does our content filtering, pix firewall and has done our webhosting.
ArcView software from ESRI for our GIS program.
SMART Interactive whiteboards. We also use Airliners From SMART, Synchronize
NEC Projectors for use with the SMART IWB's.
Geometer Sketchpad for Math
TI Smartview software for math with the SMART IWB's
Audacity, GCast and Photostory for podcast creation
Naviance with the Guidance offices
Discovery Channel School for United Streaming
SAS in Schools by Curriculum Pathways. for plagiarism checking.
Avid & iMovie for Broadcast Journalism classes

Our library has an extensive database that is subscribed to for the student so I will link you to the librarian's page and you can scroll down to see some of the tremendous work that she has done.

I welcome any input as to other alternatives to these items posted. This is a portion of the list of what we use at BD. I hope this helps.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Day After

Yesterday was my presentation "How we Used Technology to help Transform the School" and I was very honored to have 25 people show up. I look forward to getting the evaluations from the committee. The reason for being glad that 25 people showed up is that there were 21 presentations going on as well as the keynote, all at the same time. The keynote was Daniel Pink so that is why I was happy to have 25 folks. We had some good discussion about how we did some of the things we have done so I was pleased with it. I hope to hear from some of the people that were there.

As I talked with some of the people that helped organize the event I found out that they were thinking there were only about 5000 people in attendance. This dissappoints me in general. I do plan to get more involved witht his organization to try and help make a difference.

I showed a couple of different videos that many of us have seen and used before but I want to create a link to them for those that were in the session in case they want to use them back at their schools.

"What if..." by Karl Fisch.
"Did you Know" by Karl Fisch
"A Vision of Students Today" by the Digital Ethnography Class at Kansas State University - This is the Teacher Tube edition.

These can be wonderful starting points but it is all about the tools that are available to all of us. I am beginning to play with things like Google docs and the tools that they have available. We shall see.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why did I wait so long?

As I write this I have been preparing for a presentation at the NCEA Convention this coming week in Indianapolis, IN. The National Catholic Education Association awarded me with a Secondary Education Department award for significant contributions to American Catholic Secondary Education back in 2004. As a result of that award, this year I got a call and I was asked if I would be willing to give a presentation on the topic of my choice at the upcoming Convention? I replied yes and since then I have been an absolute blank on how to present what I want to talk about.

My chosen topic is How Technology helped to turn around BDHS. When my current principal came to Dunne 13 years ago, we were on a decline and had been going that way for a while. We were down to 242 students in grades 9-12 with a major monetary deficit and a building that was also in decline. When she entered she said we were going to become a technology specialized school and be one of the best. From that point on all focus was on using and integrating technology in every aspect of the school and curriculum. I was fortunate enough to get tagged as the Director of Technology about 3 years after she arrived. My credentials - a willing workaholic that wanted to see the school succeed and just enough geek in me to want to make it happen. At the time I was the head of the Theology Department (yes we are a Catholic School), the defensive coordinator for the football program, head baseball coach and now tech director.

Since then we have been recognized in several areas as well as increasing enrollment from 242 to 650 in grades 7-12, recognized as a SMART showcase school and Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School as well as several awards for the work our GIS department has done mainly as a result of the students and their efforts.

If I had been doing some sort of blogging about this as time went on I could have easily gone back through my written thoughts and brought it all together easier. Well, the record has been started so I need to make the most of it. I do know that since Kate Dailey has been at BD, work has been fun and a challenge but all good.