Thursday, June 27, 2013


Today is the last day of my sixth course at Cabrini for my principal's cohort and the technology and educational leadership EDG646. Before I started this course I really thought I knew a lot about technology and how to use it in the classroom. After just five days in the class I know that I dont think i can even consider myself a novice.  i am at a basic understanding at best.  Our instructor, Lyn Hilt, whom I have come to know a little better over the past week has opened up my eyes to a world that I never thought was possible and frankly I despised for a long time.  Twitter has always given me a bad taste and I have imagined anyone who used to be a gossip and it was a tool to tell people all of the mundane things in your life. After one class I started to see the importance of using it correctly as a source of information, collaboration and a tool that wi make me a better teacher, student, principal and ultimately a better educator. Blogging is another tool that will become more of my daily life. I know I don't know everything and I am always asking for help. Blogging lets you add to the Internet and just maybe what I say will help someone someday.  Tom Murray of the Quakertown School district,  Dr. Joe Mazza of the North Penn School District and Lyn Hilt of the East Lancaster County School District are three people that are very passionate about technology, education and above all making sure that the students that we encounter on an everyday basis are being impacted in a genuine way so that they become learners who are prepared for global/digital world that we live in today. 

Interview with a Technology Director

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to Google "hangout" with Thomas Murray, who is the technology director for the Quakertown Community Public School District.  He challenged the class #EDG646 to really think about our philosophies when it comes to technology and teaching digital citizenship.  Mr. Murray was very passionate about teaching the students how to be responsible users rather than acceptable users which is what most of the internet agreements state.  He also stressed at the end "what kind of principal are you going to be...are you going to step back and let teachers try new things...are you going to punish the teacher if something that they try is new and they fail?"  I think that for me my perspective would be to help and ask questions because again the job of an administrator is to support teachers.  They need to be able to feel that they are supported and that they can explore different techniques.  Most of the time when teachers explore it is on their own time.  If we stiffle this we restrict the educational opportunities of our students.  Thank you to Tom Murray for joining our class @thomascmurray

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Digital Citizenship

Teaching our students, children ultimately ourselves to be good digitial citizens is a huge responsibility. In an article "Citizenship in a Digital Age" by Stephen Balkam, Founder and CEO of Family Online Safety Institute, he explains that educators and parents need to be modeling good digital citizenship to our students and children because if we don't they are going to find their role models in other ways.  Balkam continued to say that when we start putting restrictions on the access that people have rather than educate how to use the information appropriately the enforcers are looked upon like they don't understand the technology or we are frightened of it. He does say that we do need to protect from the dangers of that are out there but we can do that by education and using the many filters/services out there to  ensure  that our students are  safe but not restricted. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Understanding Social Media in the Classroom

I visited Eric Sheninger's Blog a Principal's Reflection and found a really great video that he posted about social media.  The post was a video, Social Media Use Needs to Focus More on Learning Than Behavior, in which Sheninger was interviewed by Jill Krop from AM/BC about Vancouver's new Social media policies and how Sheninger's New Milford High School handles social media in New Jersey.  One of Sheninger's most important points is that educators need to be involved in the student's lives and right now the digital age demands that teachers and administrators access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets.  He also states that when educators are active in the social media it assists in the moderating of the media, but moderation is not the point of accessing social media but education.  He strongly feels that as educators we need to be pushing students toward being responsible digital citizens.  If students truly understand what the consequences of what can happen if they are irresponsible and then model appropriate behavior we will see students posting, creating and searching the digital world professionally.  

Using Technology in an Urban Environment

 I recently read The Technology Fix by William D. Pflaum, and in one of his chapters he visited a high school in a major city in the Southeast. The school district  purchased the initial start up using federal grants and then have to have the money from their budget to continue to support the projects though rising costs and declining economic issues make this more difficult.  At Longworth, the students use the technology on a daily basis.  As a math teacher two teachers caught my eye as I was reading.   The first was the technology coordinator, Ramona, who teaches her students the Oracle programming.  The teacher engages students and demonstrates how the course is important and applicable.  Students are engaged and hold each other accountable.  In the book the author describes the reaction when he asks the question "What's the biggest challenge in this class?"  The student answer's were "The network is down 25 percent of the time"..."I don't have a computer at home"  and other students responded that the computer lab is open in the morning and that the student could go to the library and the consensus that the network was actually only down "2 to 3 percent of the time."  The other teacher that attracted my attention was the 9th grade math teacher, Larry Purcell, who uses the computer labs to complete several Microsoft Excel activities.  He felt this was important because it prepares the students for the future and that is what he thinks about for them.

I taught at Martin Luther King High School in the Philadelphia School District for four years before moving to the Methacton School District. I really felt that this story was where the Philadelphia School District (PSD) is heading.  My first year as a teacher I couldn't get enough technology.  I started with an LCD projector, shining typed notes on the chalkboard and writing over top of the notes.  I would speak with every administrator and ask for more technology or anything that they had.  At the time my school only had a handful of Promethean Interactive Whiteboards.  The next year ten SMARTboard Interactive Whiteboards were added and the year after that a SMARTboard was installed in my room and a Macbook laptop.  The district did an excellent job training the teachers, by sending each to several full day professional development sessions on SMARTnotebook and the tools that teachers could use in their classrooms. What is going on now in PSD is a lack of funding.  As teachers are getting laid off, I can see the technology advances slowing down or halting as in the Longworth High School the upkeep of the system was estimated to cost $300,000 and the school's budget was only $10,000.

The students were very excited when the whiteboard was installed and I started using it right away.  The buy-in was greater and I was able to relate more math concepts to them by directing them into more real life applications through the internet.  My students had a passion for the internet and I integrated it into the lessons as often as I could.  I believe that technology will always expand the education of the students and as a future principal I want to be able to use the tools that are provided to their best potential.  The one thing that Pflaum mentioned was that their were many tools (software, DVD's and programs) that were not being used and some even never opened.  The biggest point he had to make on this was that if teachers do not have time to understand these programs then they are not going to be because the teachers don't have buy in.  Teachers need to have training and feel that the courses that they are using are going to help the students.  As principals, we need to be able to show the teachers how to use the data and give the teachers choices when at all possible on which software to use.  When we do this rather than just randomly dropping software or a new program each year we will empower our teachers and build an engaged learning environment.