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Archive for the ‘Educational Technology’ Category

Truth From The Trenches

CC licensed image shared by flickr user Chez Pitch

CC licensed image shared by flickr user Chez Pitch

“Our hearts would sing if our administrators really made it safe to try new things and make mistakes,” a teacher I had never met and will will unlikely ever meet again shared with me at the recent NYSCATE (New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education) conference. We were at a session on Creating a New Learning Culture in schools. The presenter, Dr. Billie McConnell, was informative, even inspirational, sharing the need for change, compellingly presenting statistics about how unprepared our children are for the world they are inheriting, and sharing a vision, replete with videos of some of the most creative, insightful student-centered, individualized learning experiences I have ever witnessed. He outlined a problem, a significant problem with schooling today, and showed us a profound solution.

And, then, came the question I wait for at conferences; the question I hope somebody will be brave enough to ask in a setting in which we do not know each other, do not need to work with one another for more than a few hours, and consequently, sometimes, when courageous or frustrated enough, can express what is truly on our minds. I must paraphrase, yet nontheless share the essence of the words spoken. “This is all well and good, but it takes a tremendous amount of work, way beyond expectations in our contracts,” a teacher boldly stated. “I am a teacher and in my early years in the classroom I would have aspired to teaching as you show. Yet, now I am also a father of two young children and the demands to teach the way they do in those videos are way too high. It takes much more time to prepare than we have. What do you expect for us to do?”

Dr. McConnell respectfully validated the question and moved on with his presentation. In fairness, Dr. McConnell was showing us through his presentation what a new learning culture can be. He was wise, experienced and insightful, relaying a profound vision and a substantial amount of  information to us in a very short time. I appreciated and respected the learning. And yet, I longed to engage in further conversation with this outspoken, articulate teacher and the other educators who had chosen to come to a session on Creating a New Learning Culture. I longed to delve into dialogue beyond making a case for what is needed in schools, beyond a vision for what is possible in schools, to an honest sharing of what creating that culture is like in the trenches, in real schools and in real classrooms, with the multitude of demands and challenges that exist.

I raised my hand and myself blurted out, with more urgency in my voice than I had intended, a request to pause and speak further about what this teacher had shared, to open the conversation with others in the room about how we can work with the limited resources of time and funding available, and yet make progress. How can we engage with teachers open enough to attend conferences and speak their minds, passionate about helping students, yet skeptical about what is possible in their own classrooms and schools? How can we support teachers honest about how very challenging and demanding changing a culture of learning is? Was Dr. McConnell showing in his videos a few outlier teachers, particularly wise and resourceful, or could the remarkable accomplishments of these superb educators be replicated in classrooms and schools throughout the country? Again, respectfully, Dr. McConnell validated my participation and moved on. I admire Dr. McConnell’s ability to remain focused in the face of participants, primarily me, attempting to shift the focus of his well thought out, well received, important presentation. Looking back, I appreciate that he remained focused and moved on. And yet, I continue to long for a venue in which to discuss the truth from the trenches of our classrooms and our schools; the demands and complexity that envisioning our efforts anew will entail.

As the presentation ended and I stood to leave, the woman sitting next to me turned to me and said, “I am a teacher and I can tell you what I would like from my administrators.” “Please do,” I replied, “that would be so helpful.”  “Our hearts would sing if our administrators really made it safe to try new things and make mistakes.” With that, as participants for the next session began to file into the room and we both needed to leave, I thanked her and bid her good-bye, realizing that in a conference boasting many experts, numerous of them nationally reknowned, this wise and honest teacher had just offered me the greatest gift and insight I had received during the entire three days of the conference. We can only risk growth in environments in which we feel safe and protected. This is true for our students and is true for our teachers as well.

Can we hold the bar high with a vision of learning that is compelling, meaningful, and relevant for our students? Can we support teachers facing a plethora of demands and seeking to make progress with limited resources, time as well as funding? Can we empower teachers to make progress while still attaining a healthy work-life balance, grounded and present for their students as well as their families and themselves? Can we enable teachers to feel safe and protected as we venture forward with approaches requiring risk?

 How can we help make risk-taking safe and progress manageable? How can we help our teachers’ hearts sing?

 

 

 

Dancing At The Edge of Edcamp

JedCamp Swag

JedCamp Swag

“Anyone can learn tech skills, but not everyone has the heart of a teacher,” a superb classroom teacher at my school recently shared with me.  And, I entirely agree. It was that sentiment that motivated us at The Solomon Schechter School of Queens alongside Jedcamp to sponsor an Edcamp inspired Educational Technology and Social Media Conference.

We weren’t “officially” an edcamp. Instead, we danced at the edge of edcamp style learning, striving to meet the needs of educators who are not yet comfortable in the world of professional learning networks and unconferences; educators for whom the thought of attending a conference, or rather an unconference, without knowing what sessions are being offered in advance still sounds foreign. Sensing that some of our teachers with great heart might be suspicious of coming out to a learning experience without knowing topics in advance and might feel tentative and insecure around the networked crowd to which our local unconferences have primarily appealed, our school’s educational technology coach Rebecca Penina Simon and I sought to bridge the gap.

As shared on the Edcamp Foundation wiki, Edcamps are:

  • free
  • non-commercial and conducted with a vendor-free presence
  • hosted by any organization interested in furthering the edcamp mission
  • made up of sessions that are determined on the day of the event
  • events where anyone who attends can be a presenter
  • reliant on the “law of two feet” that encourages participants to find a session that meets their needs

Our learning experience was free, non-commercial, interested in furthering the edcamp mision (to support free edcamp unconferences for educators to exchange ideas and learn together) as well as the edcamp vision (to promote organic, participant-driven professional development for K-12 educators worldwide), and reliant on the “law of two feet” that encourages participants to find a session that meets their needs. We broadly recruited presenters and welcomed all who volunteered to lead sessions. However, veering from the edcamp style unconference, we determined and advertised sessions in advance. In addition to sharing information about the conference via social media, we placed an ad in our local newspaper and asked regional schools to share information about the conference with their teachers. We sought to include topics connected to educational technology and social media that would appeal to educators in a wide range of roles and with diverse comfort levels and experience using educational technology and social media.

The registrations poured in. 106 educators signed up in advance and, on a cold Wednesday night in Queens, NY, close to 100 educators actually showed up; battling icy roads, traffic, and in many cases one if not two bridges. Some were teachers in our own school, energized by a style of participatory learning to which they had never before been exposed. Some were members of our own professional learning networks with whom we speak on twitter and Facebook and whose blogs we read. Yet, many were educators whose names we did not yet recognize. We networked, connected, collaborated, shared, and learned together.

Our conference was one of a series  annual events for #jedcampnjny, an effort among Jewish educators in the greater New York area to extend edcamps from one-shot learning experiences into a community of learners within our regional schools, connected via regular face to face activities as well as on-line engagement.

So, what was the biggest complaint of our teachers at the end of the conference? Too little time, too much to learn! What was their recommendation? Let’s have more such conferences in the future. Let’s hold them not on a week night, but rather on a Sunday when we can spend more time. Let’s continue the learning.

It’s Not About The Technology

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 10.21.12 AM

“It’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning and the relationships,” is a statement that has become almost a refrain within   conferences and conversations about educational technology. And, that was the message at a session on educational technology to support school twinning programs I was privileged to present at recently as part of the International School Twinning Network Conference with my friends Amihai BannettAaron Ross and Tzvi Pittensky.

We spoke of Skype, Edmodo, Facebook, twitter, google docs, google plus, student created videos and wikis. We spoke of the challenges inherent in connecting over different time zones, in different languages, with different facility and access to technology tools, while utilizing different curricula. We spoke of synchronous and asynchronous means of connecting students and of varying approaches to creating collaboratively. We spoke of a range of differentiated approaches effective with lower, middle, and high school students. But most of all, we spoke of nurturing understanding and friendship across distances and in the face of language and cultural divides. We spoke of understanding.

In some ways, educational technology is like cooking. There are talented professional chefs and skilled avocational “foodies” who relish experimenting with flavor. I am unabashedly not among them. While cooking is not one of my favorite hobbies, I can follow a recipe, and can even deviate playfully to an extent, so long as I don’t stray too far from the instructions. Similarly, I am by no means a “techie”. Indeed, I was humbled to present at a conference with colleagues far more knowledgable about educational technology than I am; educators who I met via twitter and would not have known had it not been for the ease of developing community and relationships via technology.  While not an expert, I can follow instructions on how to use educational technology tools, even deviating playfully to figure out applications relevant to the goals of a particular project with which I am engaged. Just as I use a telephone to speak to family and friends, emphasizing the emotion, connection, and substance of the dialogue and not the telephone itself, I can use newer technologies as means to connect, collaborate, and create.

School twinning programs are not new. When I was in high school, I corresponded with a pen pal from Greece. Our handwritten letters to one another took days to arrive. Yet, we connected and even met each other when my pen pal had the opportunity to visit the United States. Today, technology enables us to strengthen global connections beyond what we could have envisioned in the days of handwritten, stamped letters sent via the postal service. We weren’t able to conduct an international holiday celebration with two classes via Skype, send instantaneous written communications via e-mail, speak to one another without travel via google plus hangouts, participate in shared learning experiences in an on-line classroom via Edmodo, nurture relationships in a fluid ongoing manner via Facebook or twitter, or create together via google docs or wikis. Our technology can positively impact our learning and our relationships. It is important; it’s just not the essence.

Ultimately, our session about educational technology was not about educational technology at all. The tools we shared are easy enough to use, either playfully figuring them out or by following user friendly instructions freely shared and posted in writing and in videos. Instead of those “how to’s”, we strove to remind those with whom we were learning of the “why”. Technology helps us connect in synchronous and asynchronous ways, nurture relationships over time, and create together. Which tool we use depends primarily on our purpose and our personal preferences among numerous good options. There is no one “right” way of using educational technology in connecting students globally. The technology itself is easy. It’s the learning and the relationships that need nurturing.

Learning On-Line

 

Move fast – don’t be afraid of failure

Empower your dreamers – say “yes”

Develop a vision and tie it to your mission

Focus on areas of most importance

Think about connecting with others

Brad Rathberger

Director, Online School for Girls

cc licensed image shared by flickr user Derek Purdy

As happens time and time again, at a professional learning experience related to technology, I learned not as much about technology as about learning.

I’ve enrolled in Charting a Direction for Online Learning, a year long course designed for educators at independent  schools. The course is sponsored by Online School for Girls, a learning organization serving a consortium of independent girls schools by assisting member schools to collaboratively develop blended learning experiences for their students. Most of the learning in this professional course occurs on-line, yet this past week I attended the first of two face to face sessions.

“Blended and online learning is as evolving of a field is there is in education. It is flipped on its head every six months or so,” shared Brad Rathberger, Director of Online School for Girls. We are beginning to recognize the potential to dramatically shift control of learning from teachers to students not as much through the technology as through the previously unimaginable potential for flexibility in the use of space and time made possible with technology.

Among the greatest moments of learning was the opportunity to hear from a number of students at School of the Holy Child. “We learn a lot about responsibility, academic integrity, learning to work with other people, and flexibility,” shared one of these very impressive high school seniors, reflecting on a course she was taking in multi-variable calculus. Participating in a college level math course, and interacting with some of the top female high school math students in the country, she interestingly didn’t reflect as much on math or technology, as on learning and growth, noting with maturity how she is less shy and more able to manage her time than she had been prior to her online learning experience.

While one cannot make generalizations about online and blended learning as there are so many approaches, evolving so rapidly, there are a number of broad models currently in use:

  • Rotation Model
  • Flex Model
  • Self-Blend Model
  • Enriched-Virtual Model

Rotation Model

Station Rotation Model

  • Students rotate through three broad types of activities in a continuous loop: individualized online instruction, teacher-led instruction, and collaborative activities and stations. This is the simplest blended learning model.
  • Alternatively, instead of one component of online learning there are two components, the individualized on-line instruction and the on-line assessments. Students rotate through four broad types of activities in a continuous loop: individualized online instruction, individualized online assessment, teacher-led instruction, and collaborative activities and stations.

Lab Rotation model

  • There is direct instruction for 3/4 of the day in math/science and literacy/social studies with teachers. There is a learning lab with on-line activities for the rest of the day, supervised by paraprofessionals.

Individual Rotation Model

  • There is a central computer lab along with numerous other learning settings, chosen depending on what a student might need; intervention, seminars, direct instruction, and group projects.

Flex Model

  • Students learn in a massive computer lab staffed by paraprofessionals for about half their day; and work with teachers in small groups for the other half. They come together for lunch and social activities.

Self-Blend Model

  • There is a physical place for students to come to learn in a collaborative environment when they choose to do so. Students can also work at home with their online teacher. They are not required to be in school.

Enriched Virtual Model

  • Students participate in supplemental on-line courses.

Independent mission-driven schools, not yet as fast moving or skilled at collaboration with other schools as we will need to become, must overcome a number of challenges, and capitalize on numerous strengths and opportunities, in order to design our own solutions for utilizing on-line and blended learning. If we are not proactive, as Brad Rathberger warns, we may find ourselves forced into solutions that do not reflect our missions.

As we move forward, what shall we consider in the move to blended learning options? How might we imagine anew possibilities for use of space, time, and financial resources? How might we assess the quality of on-line options? How might we support teachers to adapt and prepare for teaching and learning in a blended environment? How might we prepare our students? What cautions might we consider? What might inspire and enable us to dream?

Crowd-Sourcing For Learning

Survey results are in!

As the newly appointed facilitator of  YU2.0 , an on-line community of practice dedicated to educational technology integration in Jewish schools, I anticipated the results of a survey we sent to all members with excitement. I sat with the data when it arrived, a plethora of questions swirling in my mind. So much feedback; so much insight. And yet, something felt not quite right. But, what? Pondering further, it struck me. Sitting alone analyzing data for a community negated the wisdom of community. Why not collaboratively reflect, wonder about implications and dream about possibilities collaboratively?

And so, in search of creative collaboration and multiple perspectives, I share with you our data. Your insights, perspectives, wisdom, and reflection will support a Community of Practice better to meet the needs of members.

Who are the members of YU2.0?

We are teachers, technology coordinators, administrators, and more. 37% of us are Judaic studies teachers, 25.9% of us are general studies teachers, and 5.6% of us are department chairs. 31.5% of us are technology coordinators and there are a number of technology directors as well. 11.1% of us are principals and 7.4% of us are heads of school. Also included among our members are a school board president, the Director of Educational Leadership at a Board of Jewish Education, a curriculum writer, student programming directors and coordinators, a parent, a religious school director, and a learning strategist.

We work with pre-k through twelfth grade students, with the following distribution:

Pre-School 19.1%

K-2 35.3%

3-5 39.7%

6-8 55.9%

9-12 42.6%

Why do we participate in YU2.0?

We are motivated to participate in YU2.0 for a range of reasons, shared below in order of expressed importance:

1. Using educational technology and social media to more effectively support student learning High: 49.1 % Very High 41.8%

2. Keeping updated on trends and advances in educational technology High 41.5%  Very High 45.3%

3. Using educational technology and social media more effectively in our own professional learning High 38.2% Very High 38.2%

4. Extending and strengthening the network of educators with whom to learn High 49.1% Very High 21.8%

5.Interacting with others specifically interested in educational technology integration and social media in Jewish schools High 30.8% Very High 34.6%

6. Making a contribution helping and mentoring others High 47.2% Very High 13.2%

7. The opportunity to work collaboratively on projects with others High 21.8% Very High 20.4%

One member wrote in an interest in increasing and strengthening connections between Israel and those outside of Israel. Another wrote, “educational technology is one tool. I am a big techie but find that people who are very into the tech side of education forget that it is about the kids because they are so into the technology.”

What do we hope to learn with YU2.0?

We are seeking to develop a range of skills, shared below in order of expressed importance:

1. Educational technology resources for student learning High 44.4% Very High 48.1%

2. Keeping up to date on emerging trends in educational technology High 45.5% Very High 41.8%

3. Educational technology resources for our own professional development and growth High 41.8% Very High 38.2%

4 Web 2.0 resources for our own professional development and growth High 40.7%  Very High 37.0%

5.Web 2.0 resources for student learning High 40.0% Very high 32.7%

6.Developing school wide learning plans for technology integration high 35.2% Very high 38.9%

7.Using the Smartboard interactively High 34% Very High 39.6%

8.Google apps in the classroom High 38.9% Very high 24.1%

9.The Judaic Studies classroom, integrating technology and social media High 29.6% Very high 31.5%

10. Technology coaching and technology peer coaching to support other educators implementing technology High 22.2% Very High 37.0%

11.Creating videos with students High 34.5% Very High 21.8%

12. Ipad use in the classroom High 31.5%  Very High 24.1%

13. Planning for school wide iPad implementation High 18.9% Very High%

14.Connecting students with other students using social media and educational technology High 25.9% Very High 11.1&

15.Blogging and portfolios with students High 20.8% Very High 15.1%

16.Podcasting with students High 16.7%  Very High 9.3%

One member wrote of interest in flipped learning both for classrooms and faculty meetings. Another wrote in interest in fundraising for moving to a technology based education and communication system. Several wrote in about interest in blended and on-line learning, including school-industry partnerships.

What are obstacles we face in terms of more effectively utilizing educational technology and social media?

1. Too many other demands on my time 57.4%

2. Competing school priorities requiring my focus in other areas 50%

3. Insufficient technology tools available 42.6%

4. Insufficient professional learning 38.9%

5. Competing professional priorities of mine requiring my focus in other areas 38.9%

6. Insufficient knowledge of available resources 29.6%

7. Being overwhelmed with the multitude of options available 27.8%

8. School policies blocking access to sites and resources I might use 20.4%

A number of members wrote in that financial constraints are a significant obstacle. One wrote in that lack of interest among teachers who have little time is an obstacle. One wrote in that educational technology duplicates preexisting materials without proven benefits.

What are the benefits of YU2.O to our members?

Benefits, in order of importance, include:

1. I am learning new things from my colleagues on YU2.0 that are helpful to me Agree 63%  Strongly Agree 6.5%

2. There is a feeling of community and shared identity as Jewish educators Agree 46.7% Strongly Agree 20%

3. The conversations on Yu2.0 are interesting and important to me Agree 59.6% Strongly Agree 4.3%

4. We are creating new knowledge together Agree 51.1%  Strongly Agree 8.9%

5. I am not comfortable sharing my questions on YU2.0 Disagree 48.9% Strongly Disagree 13.3% (on this question disagreement indicates comfort in the community)

6. I do not feel that members on YU2.0 have a common purpose Disagree 37.8% Strongly Disagree 24.4% (on this question disagreement indicates members do have a common purpose)

7. I am sharing what I learn from YU2.0 with colleagues at work  Agree 48.9% Strongly Agree 8.5%

8. There is a growing sense of trust, ease, and valuing of relationships with peers on YU2.0 Agree 44.4% Strongly Agree 13.3%

9. I am confident if I ask a question I will receive helpful, respectful feedback Agree 48.9% Strongly Agree 8.9%

10. I am able to contribute something of value to the group Agree 44.4% 4.4%

11. Participating in YU2.0 has not changed the way I use technology at work Disagree 38.3% Strongly Disagree 6.4%(on this question disagreement indicates that participation has changed the way members use technology at work)

How might we expand our Community of Practice?

We expressed interest, in order of priority, in:

1. Face to face conferences or Edcamps High 40.7% Very High 27.8%

2. Presentations from guest experts High 56%  Very High16%

3. Streamed conferences or decamps High 48.1% 16.7%

4. Webinars High 44.2% Very High 19.2%

5. Opportunities to coordinate visiting each other’s schools High 39.2%  Very High 27.5%

6. Peer presentations and collaborative problem solving High 41.5%  Very High 18.9%

7. Connections for collaborative projects among YU2.0 members High 38.5%Very High 19.2%

8. Connections for peer mentoring among YU2.0 members High 34%  Very High 15.1%

9. Google + Hangouts High 23.1% Very High 19.2%

10. Real time conversations using social media High 30% Very High 14%

11. Twitter hashtag High 23.1% Very High 9.6%

How might we use our periodic e-mail updates?

40.8% of members find the periodic e-mail updates valuable and  4.1% find them very valuable. 38.8% find them somewhat valuable and 16.3% find them not so valuable. Items members would like included in periodic e-mail updates in the future include: top post, best links to new information, technology that improves a specific aspect of education rather than how to integrate technology into education (focus on education with technology as a tool, rather than technology as the goal with education being the platform), information on teaching Judaic Studies with technology, event updates, innovations, ideas, resources, how other professionals and teachers are using various tools in the classroom, connections to current events, what schools are doing, and new groups that have formed within YU2.0.

What are leadership roles of interest to members?

Members wrote in that the would be interested in:

  • Being a regular guest blogger
  • Sharing knowledge about teaching Hebrew with technology
  • Connecting on twitter and Facebook
  • Teaching a webinar
  • Facilitating a subgroup
  • Organizing an online conference
  • Organizing face to face or online meetings to strengthen relationships
  • Teaching about iPad integration in schools
  • Speaking about creating student movies
  • Supporting schools to implement hybrid learning approaches in which technology is a tool to improve the quality of learning
  • Just about anything if it will further my knowledge and abilities in educational technology

What questions does this data raise for you? What recommendations, based on the data, do you have for our Community of Practice? How might we reflect, analyze, dream, and plan?

 

 

Our Countdown

 

 

 

Our countdown to the first day of school is here, at least for those of us in districts and regions that have not already started the 2012-2013 school year.

 For many of us, our countdown includes additional counting. We count with numbered lists: “to do”, ideas, activities, lessons, tools, tips, and general wisdom lists.

Some of my favorite bloggers have chosen to share their lists. With gratitude to them, I’ve collated a new countdown; not a countdown to the first day of school, but a countdown for the first days of school and for the upcoming year.

10 Ideas For Transforming Your Teaching This School Year By Shelly Terrell

9 Tips For Collaboration Starting The School Year From Edutopia

8 First Day Of School Activities From Powerful Learning Practice

7Mobile Apps Students Can Use To Never Loose Handwritten Notes Again From Free Tech For Teachers

6 Ways Principals Can Connect With Students By George Couros

5 Edmodo Activities For The First Day Of School From The Edmodo Blog

4 Favorite Edtech Tools To Inspire Your Lessons From Educatorstudio

3 Tools Every Virtual Learning Environment Needs From Focus On Edtech K-12

2 Things Everyone Wants From Brett Clark

1 Most Important Thing I Learned In School From Educational Leadership

Please don’t hesitate to share some of your favorite lists for the upcoming year. Our countdown is on!

Perhaps Small Is The New Huge

cc licensed image shared by flikr user pulihora

Forty two million new web pages were created last year and educational technology expert Adam Bellow recommended in a session at ISTE (Interational Symposium on Tech Education) trying just one. Perhaps small is the new huge.

Thinking small, or rather thinking focused, is an initially counterintuitive insight to have taken from a conference of the massive scope of ISTE. I went to San Diego, guided by numerous blog posts on how to avoid being overwhelmed by the immensity of the event: plan “must dos” in advance, leave time for serendipitous conversations, and wear comfortable shoes so as to be able to cover as much ground as possible at least literally if not figuratively.

Taking the advice seriously, I planned my ISTE strategy, making the deliberate decision to  veer away from the “big names” of ed tech (although I couldn’t resist learning at sessions with several ed tech leaders whose writings have guided me). Instead, I sought to connect mostly with by no means “small names” but with important voices not necessarily acclaimed; in the trenches teachers striving to make a positive difference in their schools by integrating technology to improve the quality of learning for their students. I was profoundly inspired by the array of talent among presenting teachers who are engaging students in blogging, electronic portfolios, collaborative writing, multimedia presentations, and global collaborations. I was similarly impressed by the tremendous ability and accomplishment of participants at the conference learning together.  I  found guidance and wisdom in areas of great interest to me.

I returned home and reflected, intending to make some initial decisions on how I might bring my learning at ISTE back to my school, wondering whether I as a principal might potentially teach courses in which students create and collaborate through blogging and electronic portfolios.  Instead of rushing forward with plans, I gave myself permission to slow down and with the more relaxed pace of summer, allow learnings at ISTE to unfold and take shape in my mind without deadline. As the days and weeks passed, and the blog posts I intended to write about my experiences at ISTE swam in my head without making their way quickly into writing, I kept hearing the conversation beneath the conversation at ISTE – the passion of teachers, the gratitude toward principals who nurture and support teachers’ passions, and the frustration with principals who do not nurture and support teachers’ passions as effectively as they might.

I had come to ISTE with the essential question “how can I as a principal more effectively support teachers in my school to improve learning?” I wondered whether in answer to that essential question, the greatest insights might come not from the content of sessions, but rather from the emotions and longings teachers expressed quietly between the lines and beneath the content of sessions. I imagined what teachers at my school might present at a conference like ISTE and recognized a plethora of possibilities: using interactive white boards interactively in kindergarten and first grade, ipads as assistive technology for special education students, social media with training wheels: edmodo as a tool to introduce elementary school students to on-line creative collaboration,  engaging families and students in learning through engaging teacher web pages, from voice threads to voki: giving voice to student voice, and flipping the classroom for the tech tentative teacher. The potential for creating a platform for teachers to share and to shine was sounding more and more  compelling.

Paradoxically, perhaps the greatest gift I received at the ISTE mega conference was a new set of lenses through which to look at professional learning; focusing on small as the new huge. Forty two million new web pages were created last year. Even the most tech tentative among us can try just one.  Perhaps that humble beginning will make a potent difference. Perhaps, just perhaps, small is the new huge.

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