Monthly Archives: June 2011

We’re Getting There (someday)…

Still not on board with using social networking to connect to 21st Century students?

Read this article

Tau Day

Tough Argument

Branding BYOD: On/Off
by Jason Ohler

There is a new acronym that is rapidly becoming embedded in the public narrative about technology and learning: BYOD. It stands for Bring Your Own Device. It opens up an area of inquiry that can be summarized in the following questions: How should communities, schools, and teachers address the issue of students wanting to bring their own digital devices to school? What new opportunities and challenges would a pro-BYOD—or an anti-BYOD policy—present? How do educators manage a BYOD world?

I recently had a conversation with someone whom I consider to be very bright and reasonable in matters of educational technology in which she argued that we should say no to BYOD. I pointed out that she didn’t have the option. BYOD won. Kids already bring their devices to school and often use them in ways we don’t like because we have yet to define ways to use them that we do like. We are left to figure out how to manage the situation, often in reactive mode, as we scramble our way up a new learning curve.

As a management mantra, I am going to suggest we brand our efforts with BYOD with the following: On/Off.

On/Off means that we say yes to BYOD, and then manage the situation by asking students to use them sometimes, and turn them off at other times.

It is up to educational systems to figure out how to use them when they are in the On position. And before we holler “technological determinism,” just remind yourself that many of you didn’t even have the Internet 15 years ago. Now you wouldn’t consider living without it. The same has become true for your cell phone; for adults as well as kids. The average adult wouldn’t dream of living in world that wasn’t BYOD at work.

Likewise, it is up to learning managers to determine when to ask students and teachers to turn their devices off; that is, to unplug so we can talk, think, and collaborate face to face. On/Off. It’s balanced. It’s healthy.

If we tell students to turn their devices off all the time, they will turn them on anyway, sometimes defiantly, and do at least some things we wish they would rather not. But if we tell them to turn them on sometimes, and engage them in using their devices to pursue learning exploration in ways that we deem beneficial, they are more likely to turn them off when asked to. If the rhythm is On/Off, rather than “always off,” we may find we are much more pleased with what happens when they are on.

… it is up to learning managers to determine when to ask students and teachers to turn their devices off; that is, to unplug so we can talk, think, and collaborate face to face.
But there is a much more important issue in a BYOD environment than simply engaging students to use the technology that feels so second nature to them in ways we deem beneficial. We need desperately to talk to them about their technology, something we can’t do if they don’t have it with them.

The fact that their technology is so invisible to them is their Achilles Heel. Because they don’t see it, they don’t think to question it.

They need us to help them put their technology in a social context, and to ask questions about how it connects and disconnects them, or, in McLuhan’s parlance, extends and reduces them. We need to talk about how their technology impacts themselves, their communities, and their environment.

In the Preamble of my book Digital Community, Digital Citizen, I ask the question: Our choice for our children: Two lives or one? That is, do we expect students to live a digitally deluged lifestyle outside of school, then unplug when the bell rings? Or is it time to help them integrate their digital and non-digital lives into one healthy life based on a single identity, and talk about their technology in critical terms so that they become the kind of digital citizens the world needs?

I say it is time to help them pursue one life. And to do so, I say we brand BYOD: On/Off.

Are there issues with this? Of course. There are always issues with technology. After all, technology connects and disconnects—always. Most notably, there are three issues that vex us:

1.How do we keep kids safe when they are online?
2.How do we keep them on-task?
3.How do we address those who can’t afford a device?
The first two issues are important, but I believe best addressed in an On/Off culture in which we actually discuss, as a matter of normal fare, the up and downsides of our BYOD lives. Make no mistake—we are looking at a new era of teaching and learning. Professional development will never be the same. An On/Off culture will require teachers to do many things they never had to do before, like manage students who are constantly plugged into the Internet. But certainly we can make no progress about this if we aren’t teaching students the skills needed to address these issues. And we can’t do this effectively if they don’t have their technology with them, and on, at least part of the time.

The last issue, affordability, is certainly real. But when touch pads and other key technologies become so inexpensive that they can vie with supplying each student with a number of textbooks, a development that seems all but certain, this issue can be addressed, whether through lending programs, or easy-buy programs or other approaches that will present themselves as vendors and schools get creative.

I don’t think cost will end up being the issue. Rather, once we have the technology because it is so inexpensive, we will need to return the issue that has always vexed in education: just what does an educated person look like?

On/Off. Balanced. Healthy. Possible.

Putting the iPal in PrinciPal.

Here is an article on iPads and Technology Integration for School Principals…


Check out this lecture about the future of education in North America…

About the Lecture
The Obama Administration’s recently unveiled plan for transforming American education through technology does not envision “plugging kids in and making them smarter,” declares Karen Cator. Instead, it focuses on leveraging aspects of digital technology “to create way more compelling environments in schools,” and to address educational inequities and the larger issue of undereducated Americans.

Cator illustrates the pervasive presence and transformative power of digital media with current examples: the use of Facebook and Twitter in Arab political uprisings; mobile media coverage of the Japanese tsunami; Super Bowl ads embedded with secret codes that invite viewers to go online and play games. Educators could bring this kind of immediacy and creativity to schools, finding opportunities “to work with students in the moment and build experience, before, during and after,” says Cator.

Now is the right time to push for these opportunities, she believes, because of 24/7 internet mobility; the explosion of social interactivity and digital content online; and new methods for aggregating and analyzing data “to help students learn better.” We’re at “an inflection point,” she claims, “between the print-based classroom and the digital-based environment,” and must design and develop “entirely new learning environments that take us further, where the locus of control moves from teacher to student.”

The National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) delineates five goals for engaging and empowering learners of all ages through technology. In the first, Learning, the plan aims to personalize learning environments, incorporating life outside the school, and help for people with disabilities. New Assessment, objectives involve measuring a “full range of standards, not just those in bubble tests,” and should employ real-time feedback, as well as “persistent learning records” available to the parents of students. In Teaching, technology should “augment human performance,” just as it does in other industries, says Cator, enabling teachers to connect to experts and each other. Infrastructure, improvements mean bringing broadband internet to 98% of the country in a few years’ time, so no matter where they live, all students have online access. The Productivity, goal involves offering technology platforms so students may accomplish the most in a given subject.

Finally, the NETP addresses large-scale, persistent inequities in American education, says Cator. Some estimates suggest 90 million adult Americans may be undereducated – for instance, reading at grade school level or worse. Broadband access and new learning platforms will create a richer set of informal learning pathways for such adults and provide new opportunities for lifelong learners.

About the Speaker
Karen Cator
Director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education

Karen Cator has devoted her career to creating the best possible learning environments for this generation of students. Prior to joining the department, Cator directed Apple’s leadership and advocacy efforts in education. In this role, she focused on the intersection of education policy and research, emerging technologies, and the reality faced by teachers, students and administrators.

Cator joined Apple in 1997 from the public education sector, most recently leading technology planning and implementation in Juneau, Alaska. She also served as Special Assistant for Telecommunications for the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Cator holds a Masters in school administration from the University of Oregon and Bachelors in early childhood education from Springfield College. She is the past chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and has served on the several boards including the Software & Information Industry Association—Education.

Language Arts Lessons :: Live Angry Birds Video Writing Prompts

Not exactly a math article, but if you’ve ever played Angry Birds, you’ll know why i needed to post this…

Well Done, Students and Staff…

The Tree of Peace from Daniel Dancer on Vimeo.

Learning to Change – Changing to Learn

An interesting video discussing the role of technology in education…

New Report Cites Need For More Arts Integration

Courtesy the Committed Sardine blog, and remember, Math IS an artform…

Although No Child Left Behind has prompted many districts to focus on core subject areas and ignore or cut arts education programs, a new federal report suggests that’s a wrong approach.
Released May 6, the report reveals that arts education might help student achievement in these core areas and is essential to the nation’s future competitiveness—and it urges school leaders to try creative approaches to arts education during the school day.

Compiled by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the report is titled “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.” It is the first federal analysis of arts education data of its kind in a decade.

“To succeed today and in the future, America’s children will need to be inventive, resourceful, and imaginative,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in the report’s foreword. “The best way to foster that creativity is through arts education.”

Developed in response to President Obama’s Arts Policy Campaign Platform, the report presents five recommendations to help schools incorporate the arts into other disciplines:

1.Build robust collaborations among different approaches to arts education.
2.Develop the field of arts integration.
3.Expand in-school opportunities for teaching artists.
4.Use federal and state policies to reinforce the place of arts in K-12 education.
5.Widen the focus of evidence gathering about arts education.
“Imagine more science classrooms where kids learned about sound waves by playing the flute, or understood mathematical relationships by creating digital designs,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of the arts at the Knight Foundation. “Integrating arts into our everyday lives and learning is essential.”

Data highlighted in the report show that low-income students who participate in arts education are four times more likely to have high academic achievement and three times more likely to have high attendance than those who don’t, with these results continuing into college. Schools that participated in an arts-integration model had consistently higher average scores on district reading and math assessments.

Neuroscience studies demonstrate that arts education can have a significant impact on brain development. Music training helps with the development of phonological awareness and spatial-temporal reasoning, helping with reading skills, while children who practiced a specific art form improved their attention skills and general intelligence. Links also exist between high levels of music training and the ability to manipulate information in both working memory and long-term memory.

Studies cited in the report show that arts integration leads to better attendance and fewer discipline problems, as well as increased graduation rates, especially for economically disadvantaged students. This information comes at a time when the national dropout rate has fluctuated between 25 and 30 percent since 2001, while some demographic groups have far higher rates.

Approximately 50 percent of males from economically disadvantaged groups are estimated to leave high school before graduation, while 2 million students attend what federal officials call “dropout factories.”

PCAH developed the report after 18 months of school visits, interviews with educational leaders, and reviews of recent research. The panel concluded that arts education is a boon for the private sector—business leaders are looking for innovation and creativity from their employees—and is an important way to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s careers.

“We know that education is key to winning the future and that, to compete, we must challenge ourselves to improve educational outcomes for our children,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “The administration recognizes the powerful role that the arts education strategies presented in this report can play in closing the achievement gap, improving student engagement, and building creativity and innovative thinking skills.”

PCAH plans to spend the next year presenting the report’s findings to policy makers, superintendents, principals, and educators and exploring ways to implement its recommendations.

Six Nations Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes June 1st, 2011

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes
June 1st, 2011 2:30 – 4:00 pm
District Teacher Office (J.C. Hill School)

In attendance: A. Anderson, T. Claus, M. Martin, J. Restoule General

Regrets: L. Martin

Absent: C. Froman, D. Hill, A. Noyes, J. Skye

1. J. Restoule General shared with committee information from OAME 2011. This included many handouts, resources and supplies from various publishers and presenters. Committee members in attendance divided up the resources based on their school’s/classroom’s needs. Copies were made of Edutopia, Curriculum Associates, Literacy & Numeracy Secretariat, Statistics Canada, GEDSB, and OAME workshop materials. Committee reviewed some of the workshops from OAME 2011, which can be found here.

2. Information pertaining to the next OAME conference was shared. Committee is encouraged to pass along information regarding the 2012 conference, May 10th-12th in Kingston, ON. Now is a good time as staff will be filling out Learning Plans for the 2011-2012 school year. The conference is akin to “Reading for the Love of It” but for math. It was noted how many teachers from each school go to that conference and it was recommended that teachers consider enhancing and building upon their math knowledge. It would be nice to see at least one teacher from each school in attendance at OAME 2012. There will be some excellent featured speakers. For more information, go to the OAME 2012 website: (Registration opens February 1st, 2012.)

3. Committee members were each given a brochure ( on the OAME Leadership Conference scheduled for the Fall (Oct. 27th – Oct. 29th) to share with their respective schools/staff. The theme for this year is “Creating Communities of Assessment Inquiry
and Practice: A Vision for Leadership in Mathematics”. Schools are encouraged to send a staff member and to include this on their learning plan.

4. Numeracy committee reviewed desk book headings for further development over the summer. A recap of the concept behind the binders (distributed to each school’s members last meeting) occurred, with committee members to continue to gather information/resources to be included in the desk book.

5. Meeting adjourned at 4:00 pm.

Next Meeting: September 7th, 2011.