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Category Archive for 'Professional Development'

Many administrators and teachers want to know about grants and funding opportunities. It seems there isn’t Grants from pics4learning.comenough funding to buy the technology that schools need to use to address 21st century literacy, so getting some grants would be a benefit.

Here are some resources on grants that I’ve gathered in Delicious, a social bookmarking tool that I use to store and share resources: http://delicious.com/district6/grants Some of the grants in this collection have already expired, but are probably up for renewal soon.

There are several great resources that will help schools and teachers find funding and technology for their classroom. There are Donor Matches, Grant Resource Sites, and even a social network for finding grants.

Donor Matches

There are a few sites that allow teachers to put in their requests in a database on a website, where donors can then contribute to help them out. The more well known of these sites is Donors Choose, but I just heard about another, specifically geared for teachers with technology requests on Wes Fryer’s Technology Shopping Cart Podcast, called Digital Wish. It works the same way as Donors Choose, but teachers can go “shopping” for technology needs. Also, I have bookmarked another donor match site called Adopt a Classroom. I haven’t really heard much about this site, but it looks promising.

Grant Resource Sites

Other grant resources are websites that have a collection of educational grants to choose from. I regularly scan sites like Grant Wrangler, ESchool News Funding, and LACOE’s Grants and Funding Site to see what’s available. Additionally, LAUSD’s Grants Assistance Unit offers a regularly updated list of grant resources. Follow the directions on their site to sign up for grant alerts and applications. All of these sites offer deadline grants, as well as ongoing - foundation type grants. They are a great place to start searching for grants that will suit the needs of your school.

Grant Social Network

Grant Wrangler has also started up a social networking site on Ning so that grant seekers and grant givers can interact. You can join at http://mygrantwrangler.ning.com/

Grant Seeking Guidelines

The most important goal to keep in mind when purusing a grant is that it’s not about the technology or goodies that can be bought with a grant, but it’s more an opportunity to do things differently and out of the box to address the learning needs of our students. Once you’ve established what your need is and how you are going to address it, you need to make sure you have buy-in from the staff for the plan you have. I learned a great deal about grant writing from a presentation on grant writing at our District 6 EdTech Cadre meeting a few years ago. It was facilitated by Ms. Pat Sanford of Tech Ed Services. She gave me permission to record and publish her presenation as a podcast. It’s worth a listen for some great tips on grant writing: Grant Writing Workshop. Ms. Sanford refers to a handout during her presenation. If you would like a copy of the handout, please leave a comment on this blog post, and I will be able to send you that information.

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I just got back from my second week at the Teach the Teachers Collaborative in Ojai, California. As I finally get a chance for quiet time and reflection, I can’t help but pause in amazement at all we did these past few weeks. I’ve been so in the moment, that trying to post any of my reflections would have been futile. Also, given the fact that we were teaching or eating or socializing from 7:00 a.m. in the morning until at least 9:00 p.m. in the evening, and then finding time to socialize and bond, there was very little time for pause.

Teach the Teachers Collaborative offers educators the chance to facilitate sustained learning in a relaxing and beautiful environment. We arrive on Sunday at the gorgeous Thacher campus in Ojai, California and spend a week learning, networking, and working together.

Breakfast is served from 6:30 to 8:00 and includes eggs, quiches, every fruit and cereal you can think of, yogurt and oatmeal. Lunch and dinner come at regular times as well, with a buffet and salad bar that rivals the finest restaurants. There’s always desert, or you can just get a soft serve ice cream cone. Snacks are served at 10, 2, and after our last class ends at 9:00 p.m. Somehow, being away from the city and having delicious food just relaxes the soul and makes the learning environment so natural. Top that off with a swimming pool, table tennis, a weight room, track, tennis courts, foozball, pool, and a gym and you hardly have time to breathe! Small wonder that I’m happily exhausted.

I’ll reflect about my first week and save the second week for another post.

The first week at Teach the Teachers, two groups, the PE Educators and the online content developers, got together for a week of learning. We had our separate courses, but the underlying bond was technology. The PE educators learned about new fitness programs, but they also learned to use Fitness grams and tools like Google Spreadsheets, docs, and groups to collaborate on projects. The online content developers worked on their Moodle courses, but also attended specialty classes that helped make their online content more interactive and engaging. That was my team.

I taught about Web 2.0 tools like rss, blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc - but also how they could be embedded in the Moodle content. It was the finest experience I have ever had. Not only did I get to teach my passion, but I got 30 other people passionate about it too! My course is in a password protected Moodle right now, but I plan to post it to a public Moodle shell somewhere soon.

I am so honored to have worked with such an awesome team! John Lenhardt, a long time EdTech leader and advocate in LAUSD, worked with participants in embedding video. He used Voicethread, TeacherTube, and other tools. John Rivera, an amazing educator and CUELA President, worked with Google Earth and other Google tools to help teachers learn to make learning authentic and interactive. Bob Sachs, an outstanding photographer and educator was our other team member. He taught participants to see things differently, through the lens of a camera. Dan Pink would be proud to see how Bob made artists out of all who were fortunate to have taken his course. His gallary walk of participant masterpieces on the culminating day looked like professional work. He used his large, professional printer to make striking prints that participants could take home and frame.

John Lenhardt discovered CellBlock, a site that allows you to set up a space where others can contribute photos and videos via email, that produces a slideshow to document the event. We always end our Teach the Teacher week long events with a slideshow/video of the week’s events. In the past, one person, which happened to be John for a few of the years, stayed up late the night before the showing putting together the video. This year, the slideshow was made by all of us. Below you will find the embedded show. Not only will you be able to see some of the beautiful photography taken by participants, but you will see many activities from the PE educators. (You also get a glimpse of the mouth watering food we got to eat.) What a wonderful way to document our experience!

Also, I did get to go on one photo walk with Bob, and this is what he helped me to see:


Thanks, Dr. Kip Leland, for making the Online Learning Content Development Collaborative a reality. Thanks to all the educators in LAUSD who made it possible to attend the Teach the Teachers Collaborative. Even our own Dr. Themy Sparangis kicked off the event with an inspiring Keynote about the future of education and the role of technology. Add to that the keynote by 1972 Olympian Medalist,  Craig Lincoln for the PE educators, and the week was perfect!

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Today, I attended NECC virtually. I really wanted to be there, but I was glad to be able to connect from home.

Thanks to Alice Mercer’s CoveritLive , Bud Hunt’s Chatterous and Mogulus, Kelly Dumont and Vicki Davis, and Scott Merrick’s Ustream, Steve Dembo’s EduStream, I was able to listen in and interact with some of the events from today. Thanks to all of you who took the time and extra effort to invite us in virtually. It was appreciated. I hope I get to do the same for others sometime soon.

Although the sessions were great, my favorite part is when I saw Mark Wagner’s message somewhere about meeting up in the Blogger’s Cafe. Thanks to Bud Hunt, I joined the stream there and watched learning happening in the best way. Not only were they playing with Mogulus and CamTwist, it was great to see Darren Kuropatwa trying to join in virtually. I don’t think he succeeded, but the learning was great. Thanks to Jeff Utecht for his refections on the whole day and the event at the Blogger’s Cafe. I even gained new inspiration to jailbreak my iPhone.

Thanks to all who made my virtual attendance possible. I miss you all! Enjoy the conference.

I think Dean Shareski’s 4 minute film sums it up best!

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I got an email today announcing that there is a new Chief Academic Officer in our district. Her name is Dr. Judith Elliott, former Assistant Superintendent for School Support Services in the Long Beach Unified School District and former Chief of Teaching and Learning (what a great title) for the Portland Public Schools.

What were the first things I did when I heard this news? First, of course, I googled her. From following some of the links, I find that she is a strong advocate for Response to Intervention (RTI), which supports a three-tiered approach to intervention for at risk students. There are several articles, an interview, a page selling her books, and even a YouTube video of Dr. Elliott, talking about intervention and addressing the needs of all students. She also has served as an advisory council chair of the RTI Action Network.

I searched on Google News and Technorati for her, but to no avail. A Wikipedia search brought up another Judith Elliott, from Canada. The announcement has not yet appeared on LAUSD’s Website either,  although there’s several articles about the budget cuts. I did find a website at http://judyelliott.com/ It looks like it’s been under construction for quite some time. On EasyWhoIs, a site that allows you to look up who has registered a domain, it appears that a Judy Elliott registered that domain. I wonder if this is the same Judy Elliott. Maybe she’ll start a blog some day. :)

Now all I need to do is find out what a Chief Academic Officer does. Learning about the many positions at the top is quite a job in itself. I hope good things will come from this appointment.

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Cross-posted at my Newsletter blog at http://ld6.blogspot.com

Today is National Teacher’s Day. Here’s the good news from straight from Google via Mike Lawrence at CUE:


Google Teacher Academy - at the Googleplex
Mountain View, CA
June 25, 2008

Applications Due: May 28, 2008

Since today is National Teacher Day, we thought it would be the perfect day to announce that Google’s FREE training program for K-12 educators is back at the Google headquarters! Outstanding educators from across the country (and beyond!) are encouraged to apply for the Google Teacher Academy taking place on Wed, June 25, 2008.

Learn more about the program and apply online!

Google Teacher Academy
June 25, 2008
Mountain View, CA

Applications Due: May 28, 2008

I hope many of you decide to apply for this amazing learning opportunity. It’s great to surround yourself with such a wonderful community of passionate learners! I highly recommend it as an outstanding experience.


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Last week at InfoTech, LAUSD’s student led technology conference, I offered a workshop on Web 2.0 tools in the classroom to a roaring crowd of 6 people. (I think we either need to only offer student presentations, or find a way to free up teachers so they can attend the workshops offered.)

I focused on building professional learning networks in my presentation, because I think that’s where most educators need to begin. I know that’s the way I began; reading and commenting on a few blogs, listening to a few podcasts, and growing my network of smartness by tapping into people that were referenced on those blogs and podcasts.

Nowadays, educators have so many options in the way they can connect with others, that it’s at once wonderful and overwhelming. My advice to my attendees? Sample some of them and choose one that works for you. Learn that one tool, play with it, use it. Then move on to something else. Don’t feel obligated to do it all at once.

With that, here is the wiki page I shared with my participants:


I’ve had this wiki for almost two years. It’s where I have gathered all my learning on Web 2.0. I’ve updated the front page. The rest is in dire need of updating….

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A Class about Email?

A few years ago, I agreed to write an online course about email. It was based on our previous email system, EPals. Even at the time I wrote it, I threw in a few articles written about the Pew Internet study about how email was considered by teenagers as something to be used with old people. I also made the last of the six sessions one about using collaborative tools like blogs and wikis as part of the process. The class was approved and then we switched to Google Apps for Education.

Now I need to rewrite the class. As I look at what I’ve written just two years ago, I am amazed at all that’s changed. I can’t just write a course about email anymore. Email is just part of a collection of tools that we use to communicate, collaborate, and share. Even with Google Apps for Education, I don’t consider email as the most important part of the set of tools. Together with docs and the calendar sharing, it’s a move in the right direction. Add the ability to sign up for other collaborative tools that allow students to be contributors of their learning to a network of producers, and the world opens up.

So, it’s back to hours of rewriting for me. Sigh. It’s a good thing. It’s growth. I hope the people who want the class rewritten think it’s okay to write a class about more than email.

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As I attempt to organize my thoughts for a workshop for my colleagues in the instructional staff at my district office on graphic organizers, I realize I need to clarify my thinking about graphic organizers. Maybe writing a blog post will help.

Our district focus was to investigate tools that help students organize their thinking to improve their organizational skills and their writing. As a leadership team, we explored the different tools being used in our classrooms that would then be presented to the instructional staff. We discussed three tools:

  • Thinking Maps® is a tool that the district English Language Learners department has embraced for grades K-5. All elementary teachers have received professional development on using Thinking Maps® in the classroom, and have been encouraged to use it in all content areas.
  • Make Sense Strategies is a collection of graphic organizer templates used at the secondary level by Special Education teachers and students.
  • I suggested Inspiration/Kidspiration as a digital tool that is being used by some classrooms in our district. I also mentioned that there are many free, collaborative tools on the web for creating graphic organizers, such as Bubbl.us, MindMeister, or Cmap.

There seems to be a disconnect in our district as students move from elementary school to secondary schools. Students understand the 6 basic maps in ThinkingMaps®, but since many secondary teachers aren’t aware of the terminology, they don’t make the connection explicit for their students. For example, a double-bubble Thinking Maps® diagram is very similar to a Venn Diagram. Somehow, we need to make sure that the connections are made. My own opinion, which really wouldn’t count in this situation, is that we should just use the standard terminology for graphic organizers across the curriculum, not something that is copyrighted and proprietary. Since that isn’t going to happen, at least we need to make sure that teachers at all levels know the equivalent terminology so they can help students make those connections. Hmm, perhaps that should be part of the focus of my workshop on Monday morning….

The ELL curriculum staff presented ThinkingMaps® about a month ago to our staff. The Special Ed staff presented Make Sense Strategies to our staff a few weeks ago. Now it’s my turn on Monday morning.

There is so much I want to share, and so little time to do so. I want to highlight powerful features of Inspiration and Kidspiration, but I also want to expose them to the wealth of free resources available on the web.

I think Inspiration and Kidspiration are wonderful, flexible tools that are very affordable in California with the CalSave/LAUSD district wide pricing structure (less than $20 a copy). However, as someone pointed out at our last leadership meeting, these tools have been around for quite some time and are not being used by very many teachers. There are many reasons for this, many of which that have to do with limited access and emphasis on technology in our classrooms. I think the newest editions of Inspiration and Kidspiration are very powerful, with many added templates, graphics and features that help students focus on their thinking and writing in very engaging ways. I want to show our staff these new features, since many of them haven’t even looked at these tools for at least 4 years since the last workshop. The last workshop used older versions of these tools and was done before I was part of the team. I’m not sure what was presented or how it was framed. I’ll present some of these features:

Grapic Organizer of Inspiration Features

However, will this be enough to encourage our district instructional staff to promote the use of these tools in the classroom? I’m not sure.

I’ve been bookmarking resources on Del.icio.us tagged with either graphicorganizer or graphicorganizers and I am amazed at the wealth and rich variety of resources on graphic organizers. There are the free and easy collaborative web tools like Bubbl.us, Gliffy, and Mindmeister. Also, the open source downloadable software, Cmap, can connect through a server to other users to collaborate on a common map. In additions to these, there are an astounding amount of downloadable templates for a number of different scenarios. Some examples are Tools for Reading, Writing, and Thinking, Education Place’s Graphic Organizers, Printable Graphic Organizers, and TeacherVision Printable Graphic Organizers, which are just a few of the many resources available. Then there are the flash based generators, such as those at ReadWriteThink and ClassTools.net With so many resources available, why are we paying for a system like MakeSenseStrategies, or even ThinkingMaps® (I can already hear the gasp of the district supporters), when the tools we need are readily available for free? Are we paying for a packaged system - a uniformity - a defined and scripted curriculum? I’m sure there are very logical arguments for buying these programs, but I think we could do better for much less money. Of course, I won’t be explicitly conveying these ideas Monday morning, but I am going to briefly show the possibilities through sharing these resources …at the END of my workshop on Inspiration.

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There’s a whole world of learning out there that lately I haven’t had much time to tap into. I’ve been “teaching” classes lately -after work, and there are only so many hours in the day. Some of those hours need to be spent with the family. It is exciting to share my learning with others about the connections I’ve made in the Web 2.0 world, and it’s so rewarding when you see some get started…but I need a break so I can do some learning on my own. I want to share all my learning with others, but there seems to be a paradox there. When I’m formally facilitating courses, I don’t have much time left to learn myself. I look forward to the next few months. I’ve decided not to teach any extra courses until after February. I need the break. I think instead, I’ll try to blog about what I’m learning and share my learning that way.

I’m always in awe of those in my personal learning network. They work all day at their day jobs, and still somehow keep up with their personal learning. For instance, I think of those that make up the writing team at the TechLearning blog. Absolutely every one of them is outstanding in their depth and breadth. They do their day jobs, teach extra courses, and still find time to write quality articles and share their learning in so many ways. Congratulations to them for receiving the well deserved award as the best group blog at the Edublog awards.
It’s humbling to surround yourself with so many smart people who have the energy and passion to make a difference. The Tech Learning group of writers are just a few of the hundreds of very smart people I surround myself with by subscribing to their blogs, seeing their tweets in twitter, marveling at what they bookmark and podcast or webcast or ustream or voicethread or capture in images or video or …teach and share with the world. I’m so thankful that I have found this network of educators with whom I share a passion for learning. I look forward to the next few months.

Photo credit: flickr photo The Flag of Times Square by Stuck in Customs

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My colleagues and I met yesterday to explore the Obstacles to Opportunities strand of the K-12 Online Conference 2007.

For homework, we were to have watched the Keynote presentation by Brian Crosby. Since only one had seen the presentation (done their homework), I decided to play it for about 30 minutes. I think that keynote is one of the best from the conference. Brian invites us to see what a classroom can look like when a teacher understands the importance of meeting the needs of every child in his classroom. I really appreciate his sense of humor and genuine heartfelt emotion as he explains how technology has made a difference in his classroom. I HAD to play the video! I was afraid they wouldn’t have a chance to watch it otherwise. I think it had the same impression on them as it does on me when I watch it - genuine belief that even here in NCLB land (the US), great things can happen in the classroom despite the mandates, pacing plans and constant assessments. Brian gives us inspiration!

After watching some of the keynote, we were ready to break in groups and watch some presentations then report back to the group. There was a unanimous decision for all 5 of us to pick one video and watch it together. They chose the one on professional development by Sylvia Martinez, but the sound was not too good, and it was hard to watch on a big screen. So we chose the presentation called “Crossing the Copyright Boundary in the Digital Age” by Karen Richardson. We watched the short introduction, took part of the Copyright quiz by Hal Davidson, and watched a Creative Commons video. Most knew about copyright in the digital age, but found some of the presentation resourceful. To demonstrate our learning from the New Tools strand, especially the presentation called Cell Phones as Classroom Learning Tools by Liza Kolb, we set up a low tech podcast using Gabcast and a telephone.

All we did was set up an account on Gabcast, set up a new channel, then called in using the toll free 1-800 number, and followed directions to post a new episode for each person who talked. I could see that my colleagues were excited about the possibilities of using this tool in the classroom. Podcasting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You also don’t you need expensive equipment to give students an opportunity to practice their oral and reading skills. It was great fun. It’s amazing how the newest tools become easier and easier to use. Here’s our podcast.

(FYI, I figured out how to embed flash players in Wordpress. I used a plugin called CoolPlayer. After installing in it my wordpress plugin directory, a flash button appeared in my editor. After clicking that, I copied the url of the flash file in the box, put in the size I wanted and viola! I’m learning little by little. )

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