Monday, November 17, 2008

Innovative Workspaces

I've seen an email passed around that is full of fun pictures of the Google corporate office and today viewed this video below of the NYC Google office. Talk about innovation in the workplace. Could we ever provide anything so drastically different in our schools? Why not? Why are schools stuck looking like schools? Why do we still need to have classrooms, and bell schedules? Why are kids treated like robots? Get in line. Don't talk. Learn exactly what I tell you to learn when I tell you to learn it. When will schools ever be able to jump onto Google's coat tails and provide invigorating environments that will allow kids to get excited....really excited to learn.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Schools We Need

Another video by Chris Lehman that captured my attention this morning, thanks to a tweet by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. A couple of quotes that stand out to me are, "What happens at school is real life, not preparation for real life." and "Technology needs to be like oxygen, necessary, ubiquitous and invisible.". The energy Chris portrays is amazing. I would love to see the same passion from administrators at all schools! Wouldn't that alone change education today?

Enjoy the 5 min clip here:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

School Design Educon Session

Investigating Educon conference for next year, I watched a few ustreamed sessions from last year . Here is one on School Design I viewed facilitated by Chris Lehmann from the Science and Learning Academy.

Streaming Video by Ustream.TV

A few too many uhms in the beginning but he got better as it went on. It is definitely time to change our schools and rethink the way our spaces are created for teaching and learning.

Here are my notes on what he shares in this hour long presentation.

Says schools need to be caring institutions.
They use an Advisory system - replaced homeroom. A four year relationship is built with a staff member. Someone MUST know them over a four year period. Twenty students meet with this advisor twice a week for forty minutes. Before conference times, teachers write a detailed synopsis on each child and share with the advisor. Parent teacher conferences are held with the Advisor rather than each teacher. Attendance rates for conferences are extremely high.

Student Centered
It is not about the teacher. Teachers are not the content kings.

Inquiry Driven
5 Core academic values at SLA that drive learning......
Equally -What are the questions that we can ask together? how can we find these answers together
Researcher - how can we find good answers to those questions
Collaboration - how can we work together to make those answers richer, better, deeper
Presentation - how can we show, display and teach what we have learned
Reflections - how can we step back and ask oursleves questions about what we are, who we are and what that creates a passion for.

Understanding Driven and Project-Based - Understanding that what we are teaching are the big ideas. The details are not as important as the BIG ideas that cross disciplines. But it's difficult to measure these big ideas on
Technology Infused - Relationships, can come early & leave late, Ubiquitis,
Stop asking what and start asking WHY.

We need to get past the idea that our students need to learn every little detail. Need to know what kids can create, synthesize, do, think.

Ramifications for Design
Need to understand the possibilities and NOT limit kids.
Don't define learning. It happens everywhere! NOT just in the classrooms. Make EVERY SPACE a learning space.
Make spaces where informal learning can happen.
Make spaces that can bring together students and teachers rather than keep them separated.
Plan flexible spaces.
Build schools that break down barriers.
Technology changes everything.
Build spaces for the whole person where all students can learn.

Thanks Chris. Now I'm interested to learn more about the Science Learning Academy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm back!

I'm back in the game. It's been quite a start up to the school year this year. I've not been able to focus much energy on keeping up with my blog or twitter, or any of my professional learning network the past few months. I've been so tied up with the 'techie' part of my job that the most exciting part had been put on the back burner. Well, school is underway, all the laptop are passed out and accounted for, start up training is done, first round of state reporting is complete, MAEDS conference is past, presentations at PSUG-MI conference is past, new web server in place, migration and upgrade of new Exchange server is complete, new mail filter (Barracuda] is in place, and on and on and on. I've not given up on reading blogs but haven't commented in quite some time. It's all I can do to catch a few posts. I've tried to keep up with a few educational leadership related podcasts that I enjoy.......I can find time to squeeze that in.

Anyway, I'm back, excited, and rearing to plunge ahead in this world of web zero key is broken so excuse the syntax there--- and 21st century educational leadership where I can learn all I can about how I can make a difference and continue to be a catalyst for change in our school district.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Who Drives 21st Century Learning? Technology or Curriculum?

I just looked at our Professional Development calendar put together for the school year.  My immediate reaction is.........where are the 21st Century Skills that we all keep saying are so important?  Then I saw the day in January labeled Technology PD where the Technology Team is the responsible party.  (I put together tech training in Jan every year for one full day)  And at the end of the school year, there are another 2 full days of 'tech training' where the tech team is responsible.  Now don't get me wrong, I think 3 full days of 'tech' professional development is awesome. it really the technology department's role to determine what this should be?  

We don't have the role of a curriculum integration person in our district.  We have the curriculum coordinator, and the technology director (me).  Curriculum includes everything except anything that includes a computer, the web, multi-media, electronic communications, ........the standards in....reading, writing, math, science and social studies.  We promote the importance of 21st Century skills and are full of all the related buzzwords.  However,  the Technology Team decides upon 3 full days of tech training that is needed.  This tech training is the only "21st Century Skills"  training that will be on the schedule. Anyone other than me see the problem with this picture?!?  

I'm frustrated and frazzled and wish others would see the value in looking at the curriculum in a holistic manner with 21st Century Skills AND technology.  WHY does it have to be separate!? 
If we really want to successfully prepare our students for this future we don't know, then we need to stop treating technology as this separate entity unless we are truly speaking of specific hardware, software and infrastructure.  If we are talking about it the context of student learning, then it needs to be all in one, one in all.  

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Social Media Allows Grown-Ups to be Kids

Young children easily play with whatever children are around them. As children grow it becomes a bit more awkward to simply befriend another. As one enters the teenage years, the saga continues where it takes longer periods of time of being together or similar interests to draw teens together into friendships. There are a few exceptions to this rule like my 14 year old daughter who started a new school for 9th grade this year. She did have an immediate group of new friends because of joining the swim team but that wasn't enough. She has become much more outgoing this year....she literally walked around asking other kids if they wanted to be her friend. I thought she was kidding with me when she told me she was doing that, but she wasn't. Luckily, she met many very nice friends this way. we move into adulthood, college and the workplace, it takes more time to develop these friendships, relationships, acquaintances, or whatever you want to call the interactions betwen two people. As I have started to use social media tools, and especially today as I started posting and commenting on the network created for the Laptop Institute Conference, it got me thinking how easy these tools make it to do what is difficult for adults to do in real life. Many adults, myself included, are hesitant to muster up conversations with others. As much as we are all at this type of event to do just that, I am often quiet and shy. I am less timid having tools such as the ning created for NECC, and this interactive site for the Laptop Institute.

This got me to thinking and wondering about this phenomena of how these social online tools are really changing behaviors.  I know that I feel like I am gaining so much more from the summer conferences and trainings I am attending because of these tools.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this adult world of making new friends as easily as one does as a five year old.

Summer Learning Continues

I spent a week in San Antonio at NECC with my husband and daughter. We spent an extra day at Schlitterbaun Water Park and the Como River. I had two days at home for the holiday weekend and flew out to Boston for PowerSchool University. I returned for less than a day to fly to Memphis for the Laptop Institute. I am in my room this morning trying to spend a some time planning my attack for the next few days of more learning. I feel like a giant sponge taking in so much information and sharing. The downside to these back to back conferences and training is the lack of reflection time. I haven't had time to unwind and regroup and really reflect on what I have heard, watched, talked about, learned or shared. In between it all, I've been trying to keep up on the continuing tasks that come my way from the home front. My email is out of control. I'm trying to respond to the most urgent needs. The summer project list is growing. My fear is not spending the needed time to truly reflect and gather thoughts on all of these opportunities before too much time elapses.  I need to make that time, regardless of the monstrosity of other tasks waiting for my attention.  

The biggest ponderment I have is.....When do I get all this time off in the summer that non-educators presume happen when one works for a school?  Although, I suppose if I ever really had it, I would still spend in on learning and finding ways to better do what I do to support teaching and learning in our schools.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Enjoyed the inspiring talk and learning more first hand about the wisdom of crowds today at the Keynote for NECC.  Everyone received their very own cowboy souvenir hat.  Well, who couldn't resist the leftovers to bring home for the family.  I put them to good use for this family mugshot.  

Tomorrow will be a long busy day. I'm looking forward to taking it all in.

Friday, June 27, 2008

#NECC - Icing on the Twitter Cake

I am so excited to be at NECC this year.  I moved from a global company in their IT department to K12 Education exactly 5 years ago.  It's been an eye opener and a wild ride that I wouldn't trade in for anything.  I walked into a position where there was no turnover and a sole person who had the keys to the kingdom….and I replaced him.  I knew nothing about technology in education.  I knew that I was thrilled to be working in a position where I could help teach teachers how to use technology in the classrooms and where I could feel like I could make a difference.  I didn't realize it would be five years to get to a point in my career where I would begin to have time to do what I had envisioned.

My first month in I saw the importance of NECC and signed up.  I had NO idea what I was getting into.  I flew to Seattle and blindly started my immersion into the educational technology arena.  I left there feeling even more geeked than when I decided to take the job.  I came back thinking I would be able to work closely with our curriculum coordinator in creating programming for our students.  I later learned that there is a distinct difference in what our curriculum coordinator sees as curriculum and what I see as curriculum.  I've since accepted the fact that if it has anything to do with a computer or the Internet or anything you plug in that it falls under the Technology department, thus me.  I'm okay with this.  Fortunately, for our students and programming, I am excited about education, educational theory, educational reform, and just plain old education for kids.  All decisions that I make that relate to the technology and underlying infrastructure, I make with student success in mind first.

I've spent a lot of time working on the infrastructure, building my team, and creating an environment where technology can thrive. I don’t know that we’ll ever be there completely….who is? It is a constant work in progress where I will always seek more and better. I have attended NECC each year since that first year. Every year it brings a level of excitement and renewal in the feelings that brought me to my job. However this year, I see the value more than any other year. And I must say I think Twitter is the reason why. I have gotten to read and know so many educators through twitter. I still do not have the time to fully participate in the edublogger community the way I would love to but the time I do spend has been invaluable. I have learned so much from all of you.

My eyes have been opened and they are wide. I am giddy with excitement in what I can do next in my job. I’m thrilled to be in a position where I know my decisions can and do make a difference in the lives of kids every day. I know that I am seeking out ideas and thoughts to help promote and implement with our teachers and administrators. So, even though I feel like an outsider with many of the conversations taking place….I’m okay with that. I know that relationships will be built in time. I know I have had a few conversations that I hope will build into a lasting professional relationship.  

Having the opportunity to attend NECC again this year is icing on the twitter cake. So if you read this and have the chance to meet me or I come up and say hello, please give me a big Texan howdy!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Admin Access for Teachers or Not?

Should teachers have administrative access on their school-owned computers? In our district we have a mixed environment of Windows and Apples for teacher laptops. Years ago we revoked all administrative access on teacher laptops. Life from a tech-support perspective got much better!

All teachers were then using Window machines. There weren't clear guidelines on what was allowed to be installed. Teacher laptops were full of viruses, spyware, and software (personal versions of finance programs, Peer to peer sharing programs) that should never have been installed. Admin access was revoked and the support issues releated to these rogue applications were eliminated. We have since then brought on Apple laptops of which I have allowed administrator access. Teachers have the freedom to update and install educational software as needed. This has not caused problems like we saw earlier when access was open on the Windows laptops.

Now I am at a new era, where I would like to open this option back up for our teachers using Windows laptops. (We run both.) I can already hear our technicians telling me what a bad idea this is going to be. I will be arguing on the side of giving teachers the flexibility to use their laptops to its fullest extent which includes running an update when needed to iTunes, or Firefox, or whatever, or installing a great open source application they have found. I am considering the security risk and the support time involved if there are problems. However there are also support costs incurred when we have touch each machine to fix or add another application we'd like them to use.

Do I turn on the flood gates on teacher Window laptops and give them Administrative access despite what I know our technicians will tell me when I bring it up??? Do I allow this freedom for teachers to explore, update and install so they can use their laptops more fully, risking the added security breaches and support issues that will likely also occur? I can hear them arguing with me already.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

Here I am trying out embedding a youtube video directly to my blog from youtube.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Well Do You Know Your Edubloggers

Somehow I ended up on the blog of Sue Waters today where she discussed trust in the blogosphere.  It was a response to a post by Stephen Downes.   Which then led me this cool quiz Steve Dembo created that started the controversy.  Despite the accusation about receiving payment for advertising the product Steve used to create the quiz, I thought it would be interesting to see how I did on the quiz.  I didn't do so bad and I learned of a few more people I can add to my blog reader, including Jennifer Dorman, Jen Wagner, Kevin Honeywell, Doug Johnson, Joe Brennan, and a couple more.   Steve did note that he could not add all the Edubloggers out there.  I know I enjoy reading thoughts from many more of you out here, whether a small following or large.  We are all here to learn from each other. 

Enjoy the quiz.  I think I'll have to check out MyStudiyo now.  

Friday, May 23, 2008

Switching Blogs

Okay, I have decided to use annelisewojo for my professional online presence which means I am switching my blog and gmail account use so that:

annelisewojo is used for professional online learning community
woitulewicz is used for my personal online learning community

Whew. I'm glad I have that settled. Now I can start with a fresh blog here. I will work on building content over the next few weeks.....or days....depending on my sleep I am willing to give up.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Professional versus Personal Web Presence

I have been teaching myself about using many of these web tools for creating and publishing information, thoughts, pictures, videos, etc to the world. I am finding that I have some things that are more professionally related and others that are personal. Instead of mixing the two, it seems best to create two different blogs for each purpose.

The problem is I want to keep my logon and account names the same for all professional related sites and the same for all personal related sites. I have used annelisewojo in my professional career for many things so I will try to transition to using that for professionally related sites and 'woitulewicz' for my personal side. With that being said......I needed to do some clean up. My original blog here was tied to my woitulewicz account. I am going to try and recreate it under this new annelisewojo account I just created. I'm not sure if I'm giving myself more work or not but I'm feeling like in the long run I will be glad I separated them. Currently I have a mix match going on. I wonder how everyone handles this dilemma. Is it standard practice to maintain multiple blogs for multiple purposes? Do people separate personal and professional web presense? Maybe I need to think about this some more. Any thoughts, anyone?