Saturday, April 25, 2009


In what ways has this course helped you to develop your own technology skills as a professional teacher?

What a whirlwind course this has been! The students in Walden University’s class entitled Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society have learned about blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, Skype, and podcasting (Richardson, 2006). I was one of the lucky ones because I had the good fortune to learn about these tools a couple of years ago from a wonderful educator, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. However, as I explored these tools through the eyes of an AMSTI math specialist instead of a classroom teacher, I have learned about new possibilities for these tools, and my excitement has been rekindled.

I began blogging several years ago, but I became busy with other things (like graduate work) and neglected my blog. Blogging would be a wonderful way for me to communicate with the teachers I serve through AMSTI. I want to post lesson ideas, grant opportunities, math websites, and real-life math applications. The teachers I serve are a ready-made audience for my blog. I already send them frequent emails containing these items, but a blog would be a better place to store this information for easy retrieval. I would also like to use my blog as a forum for conversations about best practices in teaching math. Throughout a typical week, I hold many great conversations with individuals. My blog could be a meeting place for teachers in different schools to share ideas and learn from each other.

I have also maintained several wikis, and I have not neglected them like I have my blogs. I will continue to post lesson ideas to my 7th grade math wiki, and I want to add more resources to the 6th and 8th grade wikis. The real power in wikis lies in collaboration (Tapscott & Williams, 2007), and I need to find others willing to collaborate with me in this effort.

Before this class, I had never created a podcast. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I spend quite a lot of time driving between schools. It might be very easy for me to record my thoughts as I am driving and then turn the recording into a podcast. The challenge would be finding something worthwhile to say!

In what ways have you deepened your knowledge of the teaching and learning process?

Since minoring in computer science in college, I have felt that technology has the power to engage students. I also knew that technology was able to illustrate concepts clearly for students from my experiences with The Geometer’s Sketchpad software and graphing calculators. This course has given me research to back up my intuition and experience. I am now conscious of the difference between “automating technology” and “innovating technology.” (Laureate, 2008b). Both have their place in the classroom, but I am now looking for innovative ways to use technology to change pedagogy. The main purpose of the Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative is to “improve math and science education in Alabama so all students develop the skills necessary for success in post secondary studies and the work force” (2009). This requires a change in teacher pedagogy, and my job is to support that change. I can share how Darren Kuropatwa’s (2009) students are blogging about their learning. I can show teachers that RSS feeds can connect them to free online professional development. I can share information from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (n.d.) about what their students need to know before entering the workforce. I can model lessons in which students use the critical skills of decision making and communication (Laureate, 2008a)

In what ways have you changed your perspective from being teacher-centered to learner-centered?

I have long been a believer that classrooms should be learner-centered. Students learn more when they are interested in what they are learning. Teachers must rise above the notion that it is simply enough to cover the content. We must focus on whether or not students actually learn what we are trying to teach. Technology makes it easier for teachers to individualize instruction for different learning styles, intelligences, and ability levels. However, this approach requires the teacher to be student-centered as opposed to teacher-centered (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008).

In what ways can you continue to expand your knowledge of learning, teaching, and leading with technology with the aim of increasing student achievement?

The best way to learn about something is to do it! I am very interested in exploring the best practices of technology. I want to connect math content to specific teaching strategies that are most effective for that particular content objective. As I observe teachers and study their test data, I will look for successful teaching practices that I can share with other teachers. When something works in one school, it is very likely to work in another one.

Because of the economy, our travel budget is limited. I cannot attend out-of-state technology conferences like NECC, but I can take advantage of online opportunities like the K12 Online Conference. I should be brave and submit a presentation for this fall! I can also learn a lot about using technology in the classroom from reading educational blogs and joining in the conversations taking place among colleagues from around the world.

Set two long-tem goals (within two years) for transforming your classroom environment by which you may have to overcome institutional or systemic obstacles in order to achieve them. How do you plan to accomplish these goals?

I don’t have my own classroom, but I work in many classrooms. One obstacle I continue to face is strict filtering policies in school districts. I have two school districts that return nearly every email I send to them as SPAM. I need to develop relationships with the decision makers in these districts to get them to allow emails from me. They will never be allowed to unleash the power of Web 2.0 if they cannot even receive emails.

I have a goal of boosting the technology in the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative so that it is given as much attention as math and science. Technology has always been the weakest component in our initiative because of the expense involved in bringing technology to classrooms. However, in my area, all teachers have Internet access and at least one computer in their room. Most also have access to a computer lab. Some of my schools have state-of-the-art classrooms that include interactive whiteboards, LCD projectors, sound systems, and wireless tablets. Many of this equipment is not being used to its full potential because teachers don't know how to use it and/or they do not have the time to explore and plan lessons using it. I can model appropriate technology use for them, provide lesson ideas, and share the innovative practices I see as I travel across my area.

We hold Summer Institute at eleven or more sites every summer. The curriculum training is the same in each location. I would like to link the trainers and participants through a wiki so that teachers can access a wealth of resources created by other teachers in the state and organized by grade level. I have already created the wiki and trained other specialists' on Web 2.0 tools. I must continue to remind them that it is available and encourage everyone to share their resources. The time may be right to excite other specialists about the powerful and FREE tools available through the Internet!

Refer to your checklist from Week 1. Have any of your answers changed after completing this course?

I marked “Often” on all but four of these at the beginning of the course. The four that I marked as “Sometimes” are difficult (or impossible) for me to do because I do not have my own classroom. This course strengthened my belief that it is necessary to embed 21st Century Skills (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, n.d.) into today's classroom.


Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative. (2009). Retrieved April 25, 2009, from

Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Wachira, P. (2008). The use of computer tools to support meaningful learning. AACE Journal, 16(1), 77-92. Retrieved April 14, 2009 from Education Research Complete database:

Kuropatwa, D. (2009, April 13). A Difference. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2008). The changing work environment: part 1. [Motion picture]. In Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2008). Evolution of technology and pedagogy. [Motion picture]. In Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore: Author.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. (2007, March 26). The Wiki workplace. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from

Monday, April 6, 2009

Profiling Students of Today

Students of Today.mp3

Click the link above to access my first podcast...Profiling Students of Today. I interviewed eight students who ranged in age from 8 to 18 about their use of technology at school and at home. Thanks for helping me with my homework!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

I have been exploring the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website (, and I am overwhelmed by all the information it contains! I looked at this site a couple of years ago, and I was surprised by how the site has grown.

My first stop was the Route 21 area ("Welcome to Route 21," 2007). I began by browsing their resources ("Browse resources," 2007). There are 568 items listed, and I quickly realized that it would take days to explore them all. The first one listed, the 21st Century Information Fluency Project (, is packed with ideas and lessons for teachers and students to improve their information literacy. The activities I explored are very engaging. I went to the Action Zone and tried a couple of Search Challenges. I gave up before I found what Kermit was saying, but I solved the Optical Illusion Challenge. I want to return to this site and explore the toolkits on searching, evaluating websites, and ethical use.

Another treasure I found was West Virginia's Teach 21 website ( They have created Instructional Guides (2009) that can be searched by subject and grade. The guides contain detailed lesson plans for units of study that incorporate 21st Century skills. This is another site that will take some time to explore.

I spent some looking through the articles and press releases on the home page. I agreed with many of the sentiments expressed there. Because I am very busy with graduate work, my job, and my family, I do not keep up with current events the way I should. I enjoyed reading the highlights ("The partnership’s statement on President Barack Obama’s education plan," 2009) and transcript (Montopoli, 2009) from President Obama's March 10, 2009, speech on education. I am not as informed about his education policies as I should be, but I thought he had some good ideas for education. Fully funding No Child Left Behind, rewarding teachers who make a difference, creating flexible schedules for students and teachers, removing bad teachers from the classroom, infusing 21st century skills, and expecting more from teachers, parents, and students all sound like a step in the right direction. I wonder how he is going to find funding for these ideas in today's economic crisis, but I am pleased with his emphasis on 21st century learning.

The information provided by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is very practical for teachers and students. The online tools could form the framework for a teacher's professional development plan for several years. The activities can enhance teachers' knowledge of 21st Century Skills, but many activities are also appropriate for use with students. The only drawback to the site is the sheer magnitude of the resources. Teachers may turn their back on these resources because there is so much to wade through, especially if one is looking for some specifice resource. This is all the more reason that I should begin the very lengthy toolkit on effective searches!


Browse resources. (2007). Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from

Instructional guides. (2009). West Virginia Department of Education. Retrieved March 29, 2009 from

Montopoli, B. (2009, March 10). Obama's remarks on education. CBS News Political Hotsheet. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from

The partnership’s statement on President Barack Obama’s education plan. (2009, March 11). Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from

Welcome to Route 21. (2007). Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome to the Blog

This blog is designed to connect with the math teachers that I serve through the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI). I am going to post math and technology lesson ideas, reflections on professional development I am attending and articles I am reading, conversation starters to prompt input from other teachers and AMSTI specialists, and possibly some general musings on education and technology.

Because I no longer work directly with students, this blog is not designed for student interaction. However, students are welcome to join the conversation if you stumble upon us! I would love for the conversation to center around math lessons. The posts could contain the lesson plan with uploaded files to support the lesson, and the comments section could include my comments on how the lesson went as it is taught by me or others. I model a lot of lessons for teachers, and it would be incredible if they would post their comments about the lesson!

I have a dilemma...Blogger may be blocked at some schools where I teach. The easiest way to get feedback from teachers would be for them to comment as I teach the lesson; however, they may not be able to access this site. Edublogs would be a safer bet for that type of interaction, but I like Blogger better. I really like how Google integrates my blog reader, dashboard, and email. I am going to have to think about this some more. Maybe I could ask teachers for written feedback that I could actually post to the blog. That would save time in class because I wouldn't have to show them how to post comments. I could create a form to guide their comments so that they were constructive. This blog could become a Lesson Study for 6-12 math....I could edit the lesson as suggestions are made and house them in a wiki...the wheels are turning in my mind as I write...I love blogging!