Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Is technology for the "doing" part of learning or expressing "Essence"?

During the past six months I attended two seminars entitled, "Radical Leadership" ( from People Builders) that were transformational in my day to day way of personal inter relationships. The basis is from an excerpt of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "The Over-Soul" which differentiates the "eating drinking planting counting" side of our lives to the "essence" or passion of our lives. As I see it, in schools, technology is still considered for the most part to handle the "doing" and "counting" part of learning that students and educators complete from "bell to bell". The descriptors for "doing" are surviving, chaos, confusion, controlling, resistance, draining, fear. (Does this sound familiar!)

What I have been reading about in my last two weeks as a newbie blogger is how I see educators and students tapping into the "essence" of technology. The descriptors for "essence" are wisdom, creativity, vibrantly alive, expand, acceptance, abundance, inspiration,energizing, trust...to just name a few. Essence is from the heart, passion, and the "goose bumps" part of life.

When you think about the teachers that have been innovative and the ones that students learned the most about life ....were they the teachers who went through the mechanics of doing...or the passionate educators who embraced the passion for teaching and making a change? I think the answer is obvious. The latter are the individuals that will be the leapfrogs in this movement to the Web 2.0 technologies.

My First Comment!!

It is true...it is very exciting when someone responds to your reflections about a passion. But the best part is the sharing and the compassion that you are not alone in this frustration about how our schools are handling very slowly the access of the Web 2.0 technologies for our students. We need to be part of the solution and the discussion of how we can make the technology work for our kids. In just the past 2 weeks of opening these blogs and reading, I have learned a great deal.

Before I dreaded my time on the computer, to do the mundane "doing" of responding to emails, etc. Now I find that the blogging fulfills a passion and the essence of why I am in this career of special education/ speech pathology. For those of you that read this...I encourage you to take the plunge and develop an aggregate reader at google and also start reading some blogs and creating posts. It will stir your creative juices.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Future of Technology...This is Wild!

Check out this article http://www.techlearning.com/blog/2007/04/how_much_privacy_are_we_willin.php
Here is an excerpt that I found very powerful in the field of Special Education:

  • Imagine that the rooms in your house can sense the people who enter and adjust the art, lighting, temperature, etc. to reflect individual preferences.
  • Imagine the memory augmentation assistance that you could get from a sensor in your eyeglasses that could register the identity of the person walking toward you and quickly say into your ear her name and how you know her.

WOW! As a baby boomer entering into retirement and a family history of dementia this is good news! I especially like the eyeglass person recognition gizmo...how many times have you had a conversation with someone...and there name is literally on the tip of your tongue!

But the other application I see is in the field of cognitive disabilities and Traumatic Brain Injury. This technological advances could help compensate for cognition that has not developed or that has been lost...

I remember when I first started my career and heard that you could pay your bills with a computer and not need to mail them...and here it has been a reality for several years.

Anything is possible!

How to Bury a Bully!

Below is an activity that I found that I thought would lend itself well to the derogatory language that students use so flippantly without any regards to others feelings. With the recent Virginia Tech Shootings, we need to make a stand in our schools for not allowing "ugly words and actions" to hurt others. We need to recognize that these ugly words can do detrimental emotional damage to children that can destroy lives...

Ugly Words Are Out!
As you discuss classroom expectations, introduce the idea that "ugly words" have no place in your classroom. Ask students what they think you mean by "ugly words." Then have the class generate a list of words that might be found on an ugly-word list, and write the words on a piece of chart paper. (Explain to students that any word that is considered a swear word would definitely be on the ugly-word list, so there is no need to mention them. Point out that the same is true for such words as dummy, jerk, dork, geek, hate, or ugly.) You might start the list with the word "can't." What about the word quit? Go around the room and give each student an opportunity to add an ugly word to the list. When you are satisfied that the students' supply of ugly words has run dry, dramatically rip the chart paper off the pad, let it fall to the floor, and stomp all over it. Next, rip it up and crush it into a ball. Finally, get a shovel, take students outside, and ceremoniously bury the list of ugly words. This activity will have quite an impact: students will always remember the "ugly words" that will not be accepted in class.
Becci Motes, Kelley-Smith Elementary School, Palatka, Florida

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2004 Education World

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Frustrations of a Newbie Blogger...in the arenas of Special Ed

Where do you see the information from today’s workshop making the greatest impact in your school?

It has been only 10 days since participating in Will Richardson’s seminar and so many emotions have been stirring inside me. As a “technology immigrant” there has been much bewilderment and panic. The first evening, I was discussing with my husband what I had learned and the impact that the Web 2.0 technologies could have on the field of education. Since his career is not in education, it was difficult for him to understand the daily challenges that I deal with as an administrator and the very small opportunities that are available to discuss vision.

And since that evening, when I bring up the subject of this workshop, the first reaction that I receive is this glazed look that I am speaking a foreign language! Then it usually moves into a couple of directions of having no time to do one more thing in my day …and then it will land on the “morality” topic that students will explore areas of the internet that are inappropriate. Also, sprinkled in the conversation is the NCLB and AYP that is dealt with on a daily basis.

My frustration is how do you open the eyes of colleagues to this huge paradigm shift that is occurring in education. I am asking them to just be aware and a “try it you might like it” view?

Since the workshop, I have had discussion with a couple of the other attendees around other staff about the topic. Even in these discussions, I am surprised about their views of the material that was presented and where they see its application in our own organization. There is the fear of…we are not there yet.

Then there is the lack of discovery of these technologies in the arenas of Special Education, Speech Pathology, and Assistive Technology. I have not discovered very many bloggers or other technologies on the Web 2.0. When I was reviewing the preconference workshops for the Closing the Gap (National AT Conference), I was holding my breath that perhaps there would be a topic of the use of these technologies as one of the sessions. Another disappointment. It as if this part of the Internet is unknown or being ignored in these arenas.

So back to my response to the question …after reflecting on the past 10 days, I have decided that as in past endeavors, I will start small. I will find staff that are like-thinkers of mine…and encourage them to explore this new area with me. I will continue my daily hour of reading articles in my aggregate reader, adding to my blog of slpforspecialed.blogspot.com and wait with bated breath for a comment to appear. Then at that time, perhaps the impact will begin.

I have included the following article http://www.leadertalk.org/2007/04/using_a_web_20_.html some ideas for moving forward with these ideologies with staff. The ones that appeal are:

· Action Learning Teams.

o These teams could be created during the summer with an overview of these technologies and information about how to get started.

Then throughout the school year have staff include these topics in their blogs:

· Frame specific teacher behavior for technology use

· Expectation of certain design elements in lessons to occur

· Acknowledge instructional delivery that has been observed

· Redefine effective teacher communication to parents and educational teams

· Effect on student outcomes

Using A Web 2.0 Credo to Help Frame Administrative Actions


I really want my whole staff to start blogging. And to have individual web pages. And to encourage students to self-publish. And to create on-line tutorials…and…and…and…

And that’s my challenge. (OK, I started to say problem, but it really IS a challenge.) I want my whole campus to embrace technology and implement as much cutting-edge innovation as possible. I want a true “Web 2.0” campus.

But how best to proceed?

Our district began Action Learning Teams (ALTs) last year as the primary means of professional staff development. There was an “implied” mandate that each team would create and maintain a blog. Honestly, so far it’s been a mixed-bag of results. But it does raise the issue of requiring someone to blog – or for that matter, requiring anyone to use ANY form technology in their classroom.

Thus my challenge… As the principal, do I mandate that every teacher on my campus create and maintain a web page and blog on our school’s web site? It is one of my goals for taking the whole school into the world of WEB 2.0, but how effective is any strategy, or program that is dictated from the top and not necessarily bought into by the entire staff?

Rather than twist arms, cajole, bribe, threaten…or, worst of all, dictate, I would much prefer that my staff see for themselves the direct and tangible educational benefits of having a web page and blog. The idea of posting assignments, tracking data, keeping a calendar for the students, providing tutorials with posted podcasts, having on-line dialogue with students, parents and other teachers, etc. are all ideas I will be exploring with staff in future inservice meetings.

But the immediate issue remains as to how I can effectively INFLUENCE my staff into the directions I want them to go. Modeling is certainly one I’m using. (And yes, I do have teachers coming to me and asking, “how can I start doing that?” )

All of this has led me to the idea of writing a “credo” that states my philosophy and can be used to frame expectations for future directions on the campus. As I attempt to move my campus in the “Web-, Classroom-, Campus-2.0” direction, I am going to actively promote the following:

Our Campus Web 2.0 Credo

  • Believing that all Web 2.0 educational endeavors are populist not elitist in nature, equal and full access to technology for learning will be a guaranteed right of all students on this campus.
  • Every student is entitled to an education that includes on-going opportunities for involvement with and participation in web-based learning communities.
  • Web Literacy** will be considered of equal value to all other forms of literacy.
  • Student self-expression, initiative, intuition, and exploration within the Web 2.0 environment are to be promoted with as few outside rules and as little authoritarian supervision as practical for an educational environment.

My plan is to APPLY and PROMOTE the credo on my campus. I believe that in doing so, combined with my on-going modeling, my staff will gradually follow me into compliance and a sense of buy-in will slowly evolve.

With this as a campus credo, it is axiomatic that all staff must become familiar with “2.0” trends and technology. In their posts of April 13 and 21, Joe Poletti and Barbara Barreda raise outstanding and highly relevant questions regarding the “tools and the instruments we use to reflectively guide and support the faculty.”

I will propose that if we START with a credo or philosophy such as I am proposing for my campus, we can begin to:

  • frame specific teacher behaviors to watch for (what “2.0” lesson components was the teacher modeling in the lesson?);
  • expect certain types of design elements to be common place (what “2.0” types of activities are included in the week’s lesson plans?);
  • watch for specific instructional delivery models (what specific “2.0 type” activity was observed in a walk-through or observation?);
  • redefine effective teacher communication being observed (does the teacher use a blog or web page to communicate with students, parents, other staff?); and
  • measure student outcomes in 2.0 terms (has the student self-published?, posted to a wiki?, etc.)

**With thanks to Will Richardson who pointed out that my original wording “Computer Literacy” was inconsistent with what I was really after here. It’s not the machine I want students literate with, it’s the information the computer allows us to connect to. Thus, I’ve change the original posting to Web Literacy…it does hit closer to my true intent.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Connectiveness is a must to be able to function and learn as an Educator NOW!

Please check out this article on Connectiveness and what it means for our profession. As a SLP in the field of Special Education I have spent several hours searching for blogs or information about what other colleagues are experiencing and not coming up with much. Please respond and dialogue so we can advance our learning.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ohio Recruitment Details

I have included the SPARC website to explain the details of the 5 year program. The first year is on-campus course work with a $12k stipend. Then the second year is practicum in a school setting with a $25K salary. The final three years are working as an SLP in the school with incentives. They have also included a PPT for recruitment in the High Schools. The PPT could have more professional graphics than the elementary clip art.

Ohio Agencies Collaborate to Increase SLPs in Schools

In the ASHA Leader, one of the most interesting and plausible solutions has been developed in Ohio. I find it interesting that it was created within six weeks! They have brought together state legislature, public school system and higher education together to increase the number of SLPs in the schools. This project will definitely be a program to watch in the near future. If it is successful, the next step would be to replicate it in other areas of the country. Finally, some thinking outside of the box!

Intro to Blogging for SLPs with Special Ed

I am entering the world of blogging. As I understand it this is a journey of continuing my learning and staying current with a vast amount of information that is occurring at lightning speed in the digital age. I am reaching to others to share what they are doing with their students that they with special education needs and share what is working and what is not. I am learning from Will Richardson about Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web tools for classrooms.