Thanks to Jaime Casap for posting this article on Facebook. I know this statement very well, remember hearing over and over from my colleagues "We don't need to teach kids computers, they know how to do everything". As a computer teacher, I found this not only insulting but incredibly inaccurate. The assumption is that our student's who are otherwise known as "digital natives" will automatically know how to function efficiently and productively in this technology infused world with any given device. Furthermore I just recently heard a speaker state "We don't teach kids to use pencils, technology is just a tool, like pencils."
I need to disagree with all of this faulty reasoning. Actually, we do teach students to use pens and pencils. This skill is developed in kindergarten. As a former Kindergarten teacher I can assert that we spend quite a bit of time developing the proper tripod pencil hold, and building muscles in the hands. We teachers need to help our students become efficient and productive writers, otherwise their hands will tire and their writing will suffer. After-all we must develop the 'manual grit' needed to keep up with the writing required by today's tests!
Technology is the same. There are so many assumptions put on our children that the smartphone in their pocket immediately qualifies them as digitally literate. This article from Ed Surge discusses a survey that was recently measured Adult Competencies (PIAAC) for 2012/2014. What the study illustrates is that the U.S. ranks among the lowest out of countries measured when asked about performing simple technological tasks such as sorting email.
The strange dichotomy for the U.S. is that we have a technology rich society, but many local districts do not have a "computer teacher" in their schools. We have required computer testing, yet some states don't even have a tenure area protecting computer teachers. Academic teachers are expected to follow and understand the SAMR model, yet in many districts there is no one to guide them. Districts may have a computer lab, but no teacher, no expert whose responsibility is to provide guidance for colleagues, prepare students and spearhead the new trends.
Some basic things I taught my students:
I can't say enough about this extension! I have been playing with it for a couple days and I am amazed at its ease of use and functionality. This is a paid extension but the cost is not restrictive.
Hello everyone! What a fantastic week with some new projects!
The 6th Grade Team in Dobbs Ferry is doing a fabulous Renewable Energy cross-curricular integrated project involving Science, Social Studies and ELA. The technology piece they have decided to employ is creating Infographics with the use of Canva. Here is the handout we gave the kids. If you are interested in this please let me know.
Uploading Documents without converting
Making the migration from your computer network drives to your Google Drive? Here are some important things to know!
Spell check in Gmail:
This is a quick technique to check your spelling in Gmail.
Quick filing for Gmail using filters
This is a super quick tutorial which can help you clean out your inbox by making some actions automatic
Are you a Math person?
Teaching Math in a Google Apps Environment
This video is about 50 minutes, not quick, but it is a great resource for answering "How do I use GAFE when teaching Math(Google Apps for Education). I asked two educators who are specialists in Math how they have addressed this common question. I learned a lot!
I hope you had a wonderful week!
There have been some great sessions in Dobbs and a big focus on Google Forms lately
Keeping minutes/Ongoing documents -searching
This is just a quick tutorial to show you how I like to keep minutes within and department for ongoing tracking. When I say “+” somebody into the document that means I actually literally put a plus symbol in the comment and start typing their email address.
Clean Sweeping Email
This is probably my biggest request lately, especially after people see my inbox. This tutorial takes you through saving and cleaning up your inbox.
Finding and Installing Screencastify
I use the screencastifiy extension every week when I do my FAQ videos for you. It is also really valuable for teachers to give feedback for students and also teach flipped lessons for their students.
Sharing to Classroom from Screencastify
This is a great little option that was recently added to Screencastify- Share directly to Classroom!
Here are some videos of the current things that are being addressed in some of my school districts:
Using the screencastify extension
More and more students are beginning to use the screencast by Chrome extension to record themselves narrating slideshows. I have use this with kindergarten, first grade all the way through high school. It's an extension that works very well and is simple to use. This perfect to pair with Google slides and have students narrate a slideshow.
Awesome Calendar Tip for scheduling
Creating a “Period” based calendar. Did you know there is a calendar that can help you with booking appointments? When making appointment slots is not as efficient this is an option one of my districts has taken.
Breakout EDU Session at Dobbs Ferry
I had the wonderful opportunity to work with teacher leaders at the Dobbs Ferry Union Free School District and facilitate a Breakout Edu lesson. Breakout edu is a platform for immersive learning, a presenta challenge in a fun format for students to apply their knowledge and research to solve the puzzle of the box. I have a kit and I am more than happy to facilitate a session in your class or with your department. Anyone can do break out, all you need is a box you can order one or you can create one the directions are open source and available to all. Congrats to the Dobbs HS teacher leaders who “Escaped” with 9 minutes to spare! There are games available from elementary through secondary.
I just received a text, one of those texts/events that marks a "before" and "after" in your life. The text? Here it is.
This text marks another benchmark in the very personal battle to secure tenure and seniority rights for any secondary educator in New York who fills the role of "computer teacher" or "technology facilitator.
In 2011 I was informed by my district that I was being laid off after 11 years of service as a computer teacher, because as a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment who was tenured English 7-12) I had acquired no seniority time in my tenure area. Unbeknownst to me was that because of a horrible loop hole at NYSED. I did not know that seniority and tenure were different. Most teachers don't unless something like this happens. According to NYSED you must work 40% of your time or more in your tenure area to accrue seniority. But in a confusing twist, NYSED also states that any teacher who possesses appropriate certifications (in my case-a secondary certification) may serve in the role of Educational Technology Specialist or Computer Literacy Teacher.
I was a tenured teacher, in fact there several teachers in my department (English) who had less time than I. I never knew this could even happen. Apparently many of my administrators did not either. We were all stunned, and I was heartbroken, this district was my home, I loved it. (I still do, great people, great district!) I couldn't foresee a life without being there. My second child was only 10 months old when I was notified, and I carried the insurance for the family. I was devastated, confused, sad and ashamed.
One of the things that bothered me the most was the simple fact that it is wrong to engage a teacher in good faith as a TOSA and then claim they have no seniority. It's just wrong, and I know many "Computer Teachers" and "Educational Technology Specialists" who are working out of tenure area, BECAUSE NEW YORK STILL HAS NO TENURE AREA FOR US.
Yes, that's right, most of us work under an academic tenure area, Computer Science often falls under Math, many others of us often work under the "Media" tenure area. There is no tenure area for computer teachers/educational technology specialists. Not to mention the number of us who are also wrongly tenured in the "Technology" (aka: "Shop") area. All of us, (TOSAs) who are aware of this quagmire try to fly under the radar, because if cuts must be made, we could be the first ones to go. That is NOT what tenure was designed for. Two of my colleagues also lost a year of seniority each because they too had been in the computer lab for a year and not in their academic areas of certification.
In my case school districts are left little choice. When faced with millions of dollars to cut out of their already stretched budgets (Thank you Governor Cuomo) a school district will automatically look at the seniority of its staff for cuts. I thought I had eleven years, I was told I had none.
NYSUT came to the rescue (Thank you to all my colleagues who pay dues) My effort to right this wrong went to Commissioner John King, who, I guess was so busy campaigning for the common core that it took him well over a year to read the petition (which I believe he never actually did) and then incorrectly cited areas where it had no merit. In essence, King stated we didn't appeal correctly, which we did, but then again I shouldn't be surprised.
First Win- we appealed the commissioner's decision at the Supreme Court level (which is actually the first level) and won, and it was a beautiful victory. Supreme Court Justice Melkonian strongly ruled that King was wrong, and I did have protected tenure rights. The decision was worded firmly and clearly. My old district appealed, but King did not. The fact that Commissioner King did not appeal is basically a white flag, he was wrong and knew it.
Second Win- Next was at the second appellate division, this proceeding had five justices. It was pretty impressive to watch. I drove to Albany watch my amazing NYSUT lawyer in action. She was clear, articulate and the justices possessed every quality you would want in a person serving in such a role. My impression from the three cases I heard, was that the justices really cared about the teachers being discussed. Their questions to counsel were probing, meaningful and in my mind, just.
The ruling was beautiful
Third and Final Win I learned that most cases never make it to the third appellate division. A lawyer must request a case be heard at the third level and then be approved. Less than 5% of the cases that request a hearing are granted one. I anticipated an appeal to our win and was not disappointed. However, I received word today the request was denied.
It's done, I am still in disbelief, but it is done. The biggest accomplishment? We made really good law! Right now, a person can cite Cronk vs King and use caselaw to protect their seniority rights if they are teaching some aspect of computers like I was, out of tenure area.
I think it would be wise for NYSED to stop pushing the onset of computer based testing until we at least have a tenure area to secure the future of our computer/ educational technology teachers. These are the professionals who are often tasked with staying on the cutting edge of trends, while teaching their own course loads, all while providing professional development to their colleagues. How about we take care of the people who train others, including students, on how to take the computer based tests? Just sayin, cart before the horse and all that.
Yes it is earlier than expected! But it has arrived! Google Calendar integration with Google Classroom is here!
I am sitting at my desk with my spelling book standing upright on my desk trying to hide. Please don't see me Mrs. Novelli.
Warning, this video is sad, and disturbing...
Yes, you really saw that. Some under-trained security office handcuffed a third grader. I don't care if this little guy swung at the school resource officer, this is inexcusable.
I had an interesting experience on Friday while I was doing a professional development session. While I was relaying my personal experiences with assistive technology one of the teachers said “I am writing down that quote!” the phrase in question:
“When the mechanics of writing limits a student’s creativity, technology can intercede on their behalf”.
Technology has been interceding on my behalf my entire life. And yes, I realize I just quoted myself, sad but true. So, besides being a little giddy that someone actually thought I was quote worthy, I was touched that I could relay a concept that is near and dear to me. I began to relay my personal story of being a special education student who did not learn how to read until I was in the third grade. I presented some of the modifications that I currently make in my daily life to adapt and to work efficiently. In addition I was also able to share how Google Apps helped me make modifications for one of my children who also has an IEP.
The add-on that I show the teachers was speech recognition in Google Docs, in fact I'm using that add-on right now to do this blog post. I shared with these teachers that there are many students that I've had in the past, that were so intimidated about the creative process, because they found the mechanics required by project were insurmountable. Really these students needed to do to express their ideas and opinions is start drafting using this speech recognition add-on, why not throw the EasyBib add-on for good measure? Here is a quick demo:
I've had a lot of experience using Google Apps for Education with a variety of children that had limitations placed on them by learning disabilities or physical challenges. Myself being a “card carrying IEP” dyslexic has found that Google Apps for Education has truly freed me in many ways.
Also, I shared that using these tools freed me to express my thoughts and follow my whims of my hyperlinking mind, which is often not where the typical thought process goes. Many times I have been someone who thoughts come completely out of left field. As a child this was really hard for me. I usually knew the answers or could arrive at them, I just didn't get them out fast enough. That is one of the reasons why I love instructional technology so much, it frees me to express my opinions, research topics that are meaningful to me, and publish for an audience. I realize that my writing is not perfect, nor will it ever be, but I refuse to allow fear to stop my creativity again. My writing is imperfect, as such, it is a honest representation of myself.
Along with technology, one of the other resources that I found to be very freeing for the atypical student, is Doug Lemov’s (@Doug_Lemov) Teach Like a Champion. If you have any opportunity to go to one of his workshops...go. Seriously, tell your district that you will turn-key the training. Ask for a grant from one of your school foundations, but go. It changed my thinking on teaching forever. As a child who struggled to express answers, take risks or speak up in class, I can tell you that these skills would have leveled the playing field. Now I get the honor of training teachers in these techniques. I have witnessed huge shifts in the classroom environment after training teachers in some of these techniques. Wait time and Cold Calling alone would have drastically changed my learning for the better.
I attended a two-day train the trainer workshop, and I was completely enthralled. The teaching skills that were covered would transform anyone’s classroom into a dynamic, fun, and rigorous learning environment.
I would suggest that any teacher would benefit from signing up for Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion blog updates.
I am a technology leader, professional developer, teacher, parent and proud owner of an IEP. Let's talk about some fabulous learning experiences.