Pictures of What?!?! Pictures of What?!?!

stop sign

So an email popped into my inbox from an administrator in one of my many districts.   A simple few lines:

I have heard a rumor that a student has a picture of naked butts on his iPad.  How would he get these?

I had to read that one a couple times, then I laughed.  It was a good belly laugh.  Once I stopped laughing I started thinking about it, carefully, before I replied.

Timely as it is, NPR’s All Tech Considered has been running a series on Raising Digital Natives: Technology And Our Kids.  The morning I received this email, I had listened to For The Tablet Generation, A Lesson In Digital Citizenship.  I share resources with my admin and teachers constantly. I mention it and incorporate it in almost every training I offer.  But with CCSS implementation, growth goals, and teacher evaluations teachers in our region seem to be drowning. Putting one more “you need to teach this” on their plate may be the snapping point for some of them.

For this specific district, I know using Common Sense Media as a guide to teach all grade levels digital citizenship was on their plan for the 1 to 1 iPad initiative, it’s on paper, but it wasn’t happening. The new first year principal, brought on in the middle of the roll out, wasn’t a part of the planning phase.   Staff was overwhelmed by the roll out, the new leadership, and all the state level changes making it a rough start to the year.   It was admittedly pushed to the side, maybe because it isn’t tested or it’s not graded, who knows.  But it wasn’t a priority.

Funny as this email was, it was a perfect springboard to bring back the conversation to how important the digital citizenship piece is.  It is a crucial conversation that is now happening with the whole staff, but necessary, before the naked butts incident becomes something much more damaging.  The lesson for me is I can’t share the resources enough. We want to prevent the fires, not have to chase them to put them out. And thanks to that young man that gave me the strange opportunity to use “naked butts” in an edtech blog post.

And no, the iPad wasn’t taken away.Deal with the behavior, don’t blame the tech.

from Blogger

Photo credit: Stop Sign, a Creative Commons image by thecrazyfilmgirl on Flickr.

Content and Technology: A Mat(c)h Made in Heaven


Today we got together and talked about digital content. It’s coming but we’re unsure about how to get our districts and teachers there. We haven’t even started a conversation about parents yet.

Broad themes to consider:

  • content
  • adaptability
  • formats/operating system
  • learning and content management systems
  • infrastructure
  • devices and hardware support
  • teacher training

Open Content

The confluence of CCSS, technology, and collaborative tools is the perfect segway to getting teachers to contribute. We’ve been exploiting online resources for years…literally stealing them, it’s time for us to start giving back to the community. This is the perfect opportunity. However, according to our conversation this morning, we’re all fumbling our way through the curation, aggregation, formalization process. We are also:

  1. creating content in a vacuum even if we are using open content as a core (CK12, etc).
  2. taking a lot of time to get a finished product, mostly because there just isn’t enough time.
  3. aren’t yet thinking about closing the loop with the final goal of putting the content out there and then having others build upon it and resharing it.

How can we improve on this process?

Ability to Modify

There is tremendous potential in the process of using digital content to modify what students see and hear. This allows us to modify both content and delivery based on ability – I can enrich an environment through student groupings or account for other special needs. I can shift my attention based on how I present content to students. Digital materials also allow students to choose how they receive information because teachers can present it in a variety of formats.

The broader conversation in this regard is about metacognition for students. If they know how they best learn, they are able to choose and even create a learning environment that works best for them. This also creates some empathy for different types of learners. The workplace of today will expect this of students. We need to start helping them think about their thinking now so they can try myriad methods and apply old knowledge in new settings. Resiliency is key when they get into the real world. Metacognition will help our kids get there.


When we talk about the efficacy of content, we are concerned about many things. Accounting for differences across a wide variety of needs is very important. Textbook adoptions around the nation take time and digital content conversations should be no different. We need to vet sources for reliability, validity, and diversity. We need to think about whether the text is culturally balanced and meets the needs of all our students in terms of their needs as learners. These texts need to have enough flexibility to render immediate changes when necessary. It will be necessary.

The Perfect Learning Management System

The conversation bled into delivery and thus LMSs. We developed a short list of things we’d like to see in the perfect learning management system. Here’s our cursory list:

  • Contained or open social component
  • Grading
  • Assessment
  • Assumes 1:1
  • Takes a lot of different types of media – embeddable is important
  • Can set up smaller groups within the system
  • Transparent or closed communication available teacher to student

We are:

  • Melissa Lim of Portland Public School District (@actionhero)
  • Melissa Garner of Salem-Keizer School District (@moseylissa)
  • Jeff Kurtz of Salem-Keizer School District (@kurtzjeffery)
  • Jennifer Scypinski of Tigard-Tualatin School District (@jscypinski)
  • Corin Richards of Beaverton School District (@richards92)

from Blogger

Fancy Gadgets – Cool and Useful or Just Cool?

Melissa Lim

Visioning for the future of education and technology is hard. We talk about getting ahead and then go back to our daily routine involving a lot of reactive approaches to technology. Then we wonder why it doesn’t feel like we’re making forward progress in teaching and learning. Our discussion on October 15 was about innovation in devices. Of course, the conversation always bleeds into how we shift teaching and learning and what needs we have in relation to hardware and apps. Here’s a quick summary.

As we modernize buildings and plan for future structures conversations ensue about equipping classrooms with the things teachers will need today and tomorrow.

Mobile Devices  Apps and devices that reflect an image from a tablet are what everyone seems to be looking for. We are attempting to recommend multi-use devices like tablets through district 1:1 initiatives like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and bonds to supplement current technology. The tail shouldn’t be wagging the dog, though. Discussions about devices need to be lead by curriculum departments. Once instructional initiatives are determined, the right technology can be chosen.

Furniture to Enhance Use of Devices  Arms for holding tablets and stands that encourage them to be used as mobile document cameras are on the market. As a cognitive consumer, the prices are a bit difficult to swallow. I believe in research and development, but it’s difficult to justify such ridiculous markup. We expect prices to come down with a larger variety of stands up and coming. Keep an eye out for innovative solutions. It might be great to kick ideas around in our high school engineering classrooms. I bet they could build us something brilliant.

Mobile Device Management  These solutions are advancing quickly. Prices and functionality run the gamut. If your networking and sys admin folks like to lock things down, these solutions can do that. Apps and different content filters have challenged thinking around the best ways to deliver quality content and waste the least amount of instructional time. The answer seems to be to open as many resources as possible and teach educators about how networks operate. Many of us don’t have context for these shared online spaces so we can’t teach kids about bandwidth and server space. Education is the key.

Peripherals  Projectors, amplification systems, and other enhancing hardware may be a thing of the past when school becomes a student-centered place where kids come to collaborate with peers and get extra help. For now, these types of hardware should be used to scaffold learning as we shift teaching from stand-and-deliver to inquiry-based.

Digital Content Our curriculum departments, parent communities, and administrators are all thinking about the future of textbooks. Open resources are being used more broadly. Our group hopes the conversations around curating and aggregating resources to be used by students leads to students collaboratively creating their own resources. Assessment isn’t in the final product, but in the process for learning new content through production. As we adopt new devices, the future of content needs to be noted. Again, the tail shouldn’t wag the curricular dog. Teaching and learning as a new process needs to be recognized.

from Blogger

Join in to Celebrate Digital Citizenship Week

October 21-25, 2013 is Digital Citizenship Week. However, the skills involved in digital citizenship are embedded in 21st century life; these skills and knowledge cannot be learned in a one-time or once-a-year event. Digital citizenship is part of the process of learning to live, learn, and work in the global community, so these skills need to be embedded into students’ everyday lives, both at home and at school.

Edutopia and Common Sense Media are two leaders in providing resources for teachers and schools to facilitate engaging and relevant lessons and projects that incorporate important concepts such as copyright, internet safety, cyberbullying, digital footprints, communication, collaboration, and media literacy.

Common Sense Media’s resources include comprehensive, age-appropriate curricula for pre-K through 12th grades, while Edutopia’s collection includes videos, lesson plans, and projects from which teachers can pick and choose to find the ones that best fit into their classroom activities. Both sites also have materials for parents, families, and community members as well.

Be sure to join in the celebration of Digital Citizenship Week, and check out the various resources on both of these sites to find the perfect fit for your student’s needs!

Check out STEM Central

STEM Central is a recently-launched website whose goal is to provide resources and materials on STEM-related topics to students and teachers. At STEM Central, which is part of the Sally Ride Science project, one can find links to videos, articles, apps, and many other resources on a variety of subjects  related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
Items can be selected by category, topic, grade level, media type, tags, and ratings.
Resources listed on the site were vetted for quality then cataloged and rated by a specially-selected team of teachers, researchers, and STEM professionals. However, beginning in November, the portal will be opened for all teachers to contribute to the collection by submitting and reviewing links and resources on STEM topics and careers as well as to share classroom-tested tips and tricks on using those resources. Be sure to check out STEM resources for your school and classroom at