Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Passion for Dancing?

As I read through the "What Makes You Dance?" responses, I get this wonderful feeling. I hear words and phrases in my head like 'chart their own course,' common goals, invigorated, exhilarated, passionate, challenges, and working collaboratively, and I think - Wow! These people are talking about learning! On top of that, I 'get' to work with 'these people' who are more than just people. They are scientists, counselors, leaders, learners, teachers, mothers, librarians, mathematicians, and anything in between. But, best of all, they are all educators working together for a common goal to meet the needs of the students in our school and are doing it in a way where they can take student independence to a whole new level.

We are providing our students with the tools they will need to survive in the 21st century. Like Ms. Hammett said, some of us are learning alongside our students. How cool is it to walk into a classroom where there is a live feed of a frog that students are observing in class? Not only that, but the students were the ones who had the idea and set it up. And, furthermore, I know at least three places where SirLime is proudly showcased on a homepage of a teacher's social networking site. If you visit the froggycam, you can view the chat room where students have posted information about what frogs eat, how much they eat, and whether the food intake of SirLime is acceptable for his size and species. It is quite fascinating and is only one example of the many ways we are taking our passion for teaching and learning and providing our students with alternative ways to become independent thinkers.

It's so exciting! What have you been doing with students to promote this same type of learning?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Makes You Dance?

In our PLC we are discussing ways to promote learning through project-based digital tools, the Internet, and Web 2.0. So, we ask our teachers, what makes you dance? Is it the school, the environment, the students, the parents, your colleagues, what you teach, what you learn, or something else? At Grace, we have the opportunity to explore new possibilities and challenge our students to become independent thinkers in order for them to become life long learners. As 21st century learners, it is difficult for some us to understand how this "works" in a world that does not yet exist as we know it now.

Maybe some teachers prefer to look at what does not make them it fear of the unknown, is it not enough time, is it, "I'm too old for this," is it not enough support, is it not enough money, or is it simply, I don't know how? Whatever the reason, it is okay to have uncertainties because the benefit of working in a collaborative environment like Grace with students who want to learn is that, as teachers, we are facilitators of learning and have exceptional colleagues who support us in our own paths. It is our job to provide our students with the tools they need to go out into the world and make a difference. And despite our fears or challenges, we really do use the tools we have available to make learning happen and happen at a higher level.

Kevin Jarett, a technology facilitator in Northfield, New Jersey, said, "Technology is evolving faster than ever before-bringing people together, eliminating barriers, facilitating understanding and knowledge transfer, and improving the world around us with each passing day."

Jarett goes on to say that there's never been a better time to be an educator, according to Diana Fingal, Senior Editor of Learning & Leading with Technology. Then in an another article about HP's Innovations in Education grant program, she quotes Principal Seema Sapru at the Heritage School in Kolkata, India, "The teacher will no longer serve as a disseminator of information via lectures and textbooks. Rather, the teacher will adopt the roles of facilator, tutor, and learner. Similarly, the student will abandon the role of solitary memorizer of facts and principles for the roles of researcher, problem solver, and strategist."

Our students at Grace will do this with their teachers and their peers so that they develop communication and inquiry skills, learn to be flexible, develop an understanding of how the world works, and achieve the feeling that, as individuals, they can do something to change the world.

Knowing that our students will leave Grace with this skillset, what makes you want to dance?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

jdthomas7: RT @kakronfeld:
TLA Fall Conf. -presenting Research 'Round the School

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thoughts About Professional Development in Technology

I visited three educational professional websites which were the Association for Supervision Curriculum and Development (, Tapped In (, and the National Staff Development Council ( Here are some of my thoughts about what I found out.

ASCD and NSDC focus on providing educators with professional development opportunities through access to up-to-date information on hot topics and trends as a means for enhancing teaching and learning. Similarly, Tapped In centers on promoting and enhancing professional development; however, the delivery of information and structure of the site is much different than the other two in that it enables a subscriber, i.e. an organization, to establish its own learning community and create customized staff development programs specific to its needs. All three of the sites are membership or subscription based, but ASCD and NSDC do provide limited amounts of information (such as links to articles and blogs) to non-members, whereas, Tapped In does not provide this type of information unless you are a subscriber.

Of the three sites I reviewed, it quickly became obvious to me two emerging trends or hot topics are the continuous need for ongoing professional development with regards to technology, and the growing popularity of online learning communities. According to Tapped In’s vision, “Research has shown that student achievement is directly linked to teacher quality” (2007). Although there are a few educators who seem to possess a natural ability for always providing quality learning environments regardless of the scenario, it is still imperative that all educators keep on top of the latest innovations, especially technology. In order to do this, organizations and schools are creating learning communities for educators which are similar to social networks. According to Wikipedia, the definition of a learning community, “…is a group of people who share common values and beliefs [and] are actively engaged in learning together from each other” (2009). By combining learning communities with professional development opportunities, educators now have real-time access to information, whereas, previously, educators may have had to wait for a conference or a meeting to learn about or ask questions about the latest technology or trend. Because the technology world is rapidly changing, learning communities allow educators to review and discuss new ideas and equipment as it emerges rather than waiting for experts in the field to deliver the information at a later date. Through online access, up-to-date information can be delivered instantly, and educators can quickly decide how best to incorporate new trends into everyday learning experiences for students or determine whether more research or evaluation is necessary in order to successfully implement the new technology or idea. As educators become well-versed in the world around them through ongoing professional development via online communities, teacher quality improves and, ultimately, student achievement improves. The information available to us through web sites such as the ones discussed here are springboards for ongoing learning in the field of education which will have lasting effects on us as professionals who strive to successfully educate the children who will be our future leaders.

Association for Supervision Curriculum and Development. (2009) ASCD home. From

Learning community. (2009, June 21). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from

National Staff Development Council. (2009). National staff development council (NSDC): welcome. From

Tapped In. (2007). About tapped in. From