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A Few of My Favorite Things

As I get ready to leave Scholastic, I've begun to look back at some of the things I've done, and decided KenR2 that sharing a few of my favorite things would be appropriate. While I have been on many onsite visits at conferences, my school visits have been an academic hug for a digital chalk pusher like me. Please take a look at three of my visits with some amazing administrators, staff and students. The 1st two were done with my own simple Canon and a two mics, but the 3rd I just interviewed and directed. I enjoyed all, and hope you will, too.

New Milford High School, NJ Visit with Principal Eric Shenniger, Students, and Teachers:

Carmody Hills Elementary School, Maryland visit with Principal Roletta Alfred, Students, and Teachers:

Stanwood Elementary School, Hempfield Area School District visiting Assist. Supt Barbara Marin, Students and Teachers:

Robert Newton Peck: A Day My Reading Program Didn’t Die

WildthingsAs a young teacher, I was forced to use basal readers with my 4th graders, and have at least three reading groups—unbelievably referred to in faculty meetings as the three reading levels—Bluebirds, Robins, and Crows. None really fit any of my students, and I got tired of hearing how father and mother gathered the whole family, including the dog for a picnic in the country. Believe me that was a big stretch for basal families, who were usually confined to the area behind a white picket fence.

What I did

I managed to get my hands on a box of assorted paperbacks, with multiple copies, which were in a storeroom. I think they were labeled Library, but the dust labeled them mine. It had some great titles, as well as great authors. I think it was actually for a program called Great Books. Well, I shanghaied that box. Then I did something, which teachers have done forever—I reached into my and bought some new, fresh paperbacks, again in multiple copies. I finished off the collection by visiting our small school library, and lugged back all the books I was allowed to carry out. I was young, naïve, and didn’t think beyond doing what I thought was a good idea and in my mind the right thing.

Change

I collected all the basal readers and shelved them. Then I shared the books I’d collected with my students, and began my own individualized reading program. Most students chose appropriate levels, while some needed help. It was the usual, good readers choosing easier books and poorer readers choosing higher-level books. I never said no to a book, but always suggested students take another—at a more appropriate reading level. By using center activities, I found that I could conference students pretty effectively, as well as individualize reading instruction and assignments. Kids devoured the books, my non-readers became readers, and specific student interests developed.

The Authors

My students loved Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and went absolutely bonkers for Robert Newton Peck, Peckauthor of A Day No Pigs Would Die, Soup, and Soup and Me.  I began contacting nearby authors to see if they might visit my classroom of readers. Maurice Sendak turned me down; he enjoyed writing for kids, but not presenting in front of them. But I didn’t give up, and called Robert Newton Peck. Mr. Peck’s answer was “Sure, should I bring my horse?” I told him that I wasn’t sure if I could handle the horse. He agreed to come, and even bring books. Peck said he’d speak to the school, as well as my class, so I set that up. Board members and administrators from other buildings wanted to be there—pretty thrilling stuff. Things were working out—or so I thought—I was soon to discover that rocking the reading boat had unforeseen consequences.

A Day My Teaching World Stood Still

On the very morning Robert Newton Peck was to arrive, my principal came to my room and escorted me to his office. He was a WWII veteran, tattoos and all, with a knack for very colorful language. Well, he laced into me, replacing subject, verb and adjectives with a few choice and colorful words. “Who do you think you are to change the way students were reading in his building.” He explained that my insubordination was grounds for dismissal. “Get those basal readers back in that class, and get out of my office!” Again, that’s the non-Navy version. I was devastated.

Carry On

I’ve spent other head-in-hands days in my career, but that was the first—and it was a very emotional beating. I went back to my class, and continued preparing for the day. My partner teacher asked me what had happened. She was planning her own basal reading revolution. I told her, and my teaching heart shattered all over again.

Robert Newton Peck Arrives

Robert Newtown Peck walked into my classroom, wearing a cowboy hat, and actually had to bend his head to get through the door. He stood well above the classroom chalkboard. Peck was carrying his book Soup, and when he spoke to my class it was a gentle story—telling us things about himself, writing, and the characters in his book. He answered all questions, and even told us about new books he was thinking and writing. They’d heard me read, but when Peck read, you could hear the love he had for his own characters.

Lunch with Robert Newton Peck

Lunch separated the classroom from the afternoon school-wide presentation. My partner teacher and I took Peck’s advice, and we found a spot outside, and sat down for lunch. All three of us sat on some rocks, ate, and talked. After some chatter about characters in his books, he looked at both of us and said, “OK, what’s going on?” My partner teacher shared that my reading program had gotten me into some hot water with the principal. Peck said something about it being the reason he had visited, and that things tend to work out.

The School Presentation

The principal held the microphone and introduced Robert Newton Peck to the school, board members, administrators, and parents. Peck towered above him as he reached out to take the microphone. When he had the mic, Peck started with, “Sir, did you actually pay money for that tie?” Everyone roared. The tie was awful, but I didn’t know where this was heading. The principal’s face turned red as he backed off. And then, Robert Newton Peck talked books—real books—and basal readers. He talked about his books of course, but it was more about books read by students, and he used my class as an example. I’m not sure if all there knew what they were listening to, but I did.

Eating Crow

The next day, the principal again escorted me to his office—saying nothing. I was certain it would be for Cathat more of a tongue lashing, as well as an order to pack up. Instead, in his office, he asked me to sit, and he quietly said, “I have to eat crow” I really didn’t know the expression, so was glad when he continued. It turned out that after meeting with the superintendent and the board—they had decided to go in my individualized reading direction. “They want you to keep doing what you’re doing.”

I still remember that uneasy smile the principal gave me as I left his office. Again, my partner teacher wanted to know all. The next week, she collected her basals, and set up her classroom like mine. Not everyone in the building changed, but the ones that didn’t were now in the hot seat to do it.

I’d like to think that Robert Newton Peck had something to do with the Day My Reading Program Didn’t Die. I know that I only used basal readers as supplemental resourses from then on.

Kick in Interactive Seat of the Pants

Is the interactive teaching goal being met? KenMic

The method and resources for students to experience brilliant, real life challenges, using the newest interactive devices needs a kick in the whiteboard backside. These discovery/experiential lessons should use interactive hardware (white board solutions and other appropriate interactive devices), assessment tools, software/Internet places, books, eReaders, and possibly 3D technologies to as closely duplicate real life discovery. At the same time, this learning should meet reading/writing and math common core standards, including the use of technology for backing up research. Is it happening?

Unfortunately, what I still see are PowerPoint/Flip Card lessons, dragging words across the screen, with an occasional video clip tossed in. Usually these things are separate and not, “blended”, pardon me for using that word. Now, I appreciate the need for stepping stones of technology for teaching with it, so I have nothing against using Flip and PowerPoint as a beginning building block, but I have everything against using it as the end all of interactive teaching—today.

When many of the best teachers, using technology, are still just masters of multimedia, rather than masters of a lesson with a full-bodied story from start to finish, a poke may be needed. Educators need to do interactive things that can and can’t be done without them—and do those teaching things easily. If you can jump through 20 tech hoops, and finally figure it out—that’s fine, but most educators need a better plan. I’m really looking at the marketplace to figure that out, along with real educators who understand that sometimes tech takes more time than it’s worth right now. To me, that stresses the importance of making the tech simple to use, but not making the lessons one dimensional in the process. Don’t get me wrong, not all lessons have to be complex, but let’s take advantage of interactivity as part of a masterful lesson.

Create lessons that are full-bodied, involving book(s)/eReaders, software especially designed for whiteboards and other interactive devices, as well as other Internet/Web 2.0 extensions, with even blog, e-mail, and social media components. Cover science and math, reading, language arts and writing, as well as individual and group activities—all in engaging, interesting and collaborative ways. Modify to suit the area, level, and student.

It is too easy, and inappropriate to rely upon interactive device companies and product managers to dictate the methods for teaching with this technology. In that way, it makes it too easy to stick with PowerPoint and Flip, with an occasional video clip. I never liked it when I was told, “Teachers won’t miss it, if they don’t know what they’re missing.” Showing them what they’re missing will take educators leading the field trip.

Don’t get me started with teachable moments for saving the day, here, either. While there are many moments in the teaching day that are magnificent surprises, enhanced with an interactive device, you can’t plan your teaching day for them to magically appear.

While this may seem a marketplace call to attention, teachers using interactive whiteboards should strive for more complete lessons, too—at least most of the time. Demanding that interactive software companies start getting serious about augmented reality and 3D resources for interactive whiteboards—that bring the experience to students in the way an actual field experience would, rather than the way the chalkboard or dry erase board did—can happen quickly.

Educators, leading and teaching with technology already are sharing better interactive lessons, and hate to see boards used as projections screens or room dividers, but the goal for best practice teaching use for these devices may take a swift kick.

Teaching with Tech: Josh Stumpenhorst Podcast

Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher), Chicago 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher, talks classroom Superman5technology  with Ken Royal at the Royal Treatment. Listen to a fresh voice with new ideas for enhancing student learning and projects by using technology. Great teaching advice for veteran and new teachers, as well as district and school leaders.

If you would like to voice your own positive education voice, please check the directions and how  at DO SOMETHING: Positive Voices Wanted to submit your own. Join the campaign to hear fresh voices! It's easy to do.

Listen to Josh Stumpenhorst: Teaching with Technology.

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iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Principal Dave Meister: Leadership Podcast

DaveMeisterListen as Principal Dave Meister (@phsprincipal), Paris High School, Paris, Illinois shares specific examples of education and technology leadership during a Ken Royal interview. Leading by example takes a bit of courage, but the rewards are exciting. This interview is part of a Positive Education Voices campaign. Educators DOING!

Here's how to voice your own: DO SOMETHING!: Positive Education Voices Wanted

Listen in your choice of media: embedded Flash player, MP3, or at iTunes:

 MP3: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/645/show_2645387.mp3

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Card Table EdTech Advice

The other day, I tweeted that I'd rather read 3 or fewer ways to do something really well, instead of 100 ways to sort of do anything. I know, with Andy Rooney gone, that sounds like I’m in line to take his place—at least on the education tech front—wherever that is. I can hear my Andy Rooney voice now: I have 6 interactive classroom solutions lined up here. I can’t use all 6, so which 1 is best? Do you know?

Well, I’m certain it most always depends on individual needs, but because I live this stuff, I wouldn’t have a problem recommending the right ones for a specific educator, classroom, school, or district if asked.

Hey, wonder if that would work? Set up a card table at the education and technology conferences. Has to be just a little better advice than the Mystery 8 Ball’s YES, NO, MAYBE, or a psychic card reader—right?

Picture me at a table greeting admin and educators:

“What are you looking for? Oh, you’ll find that in aisle 3, but stop by booth #556, too, because you may like that as well. And, you’re going to need one to these gizmos—you’ll find in the last aisle. It’s new, but will have students hopping out of their seats.”

Sounds a bit like the Santa in the old Miracle on 34th Street sending customers to other stores for the best gift buys. 

I don’t think you’ll see me at a card table anytime soon... although you never know...

Here’s another tweet I saw, recently:

“How do you change a tech reluctant staff?” I don’t get that (Andy Rooney RIP again)! How does a staff get to be labeled tech reluctant in the 1st place? Seems to me that puzzle piece shouldn’t even be in the tech box.

Let’s add a few directions to the side of that box:

1. Know the curriculum.

2. Choose the right tech to match that curriculum.

3. Give that tech to all staff, and in all the classrooms.

4. Offer initial training.

5. Offer ongoing support.

6. Guide students to become more in charge of their own learning.

Additionally, #7 was offered by one of my favorite teachers:

7. Invite teachers to share project ideas with staff (for inspiration).

Let’s stress the importance of Educators as guides for students and colleagues—learning with or without technology.

Now, where’s that card table?

Curriculum Driving Technology

Marin Photo[1]I’ve just returned from visiting a wonderful school and district. Dr. Barbara Marin, Assistant Superintendent of the Hempfield Area School District near Pittsburgh, PA, invited me to visit classrooms, where teachers and elementary students were using technology in the right way. That correct use wasn’t an accident. At the Stanwood School, and other schools in the district, curriculum drives the technology use, and also drove its initial purchase.

Administrators and teachers at all elementary levels, including special education, as Photo[3]well as parent and student stakeholders have bought into the use of technology. One of the reasons is that everyone absolutely adores Dr. Marin, and I’m certain the feeling is reciprocated, because Marin’s eyes light up when her staff shares what they do and how their teaching has changed for the better. I also think that this district, under Marin’s leadership made technology important for everyone, in all classes, by making it a part of each classroom and not by singling out one or two educators as test pilots. There are no pockets or islands of pioneers here. Every teacher has equipment, and guess what? Each teacher is a teaching technology pioneer as well as an across-the-district team member. The curriculum is first, of course, but the use of technology is ubiquitous in Marin’s district.

Photo[2]Each classroom has four student computers for reading and math center programs, a projector, and Mimio solutions—MimioTeach, MimioVotes, and MimioView to make classrooms interactive and engaging for students. All teachers use MimioPads to direct and lead teaching in a mobile way. It is the first time I’ve seen this many teachers so positively use this much technology seamlessly with so many elementary students. There are no behavior difficulties because all students are engaged—and I don’t use that word lightly—they are involved in their learning.

The Hempfield Area School District is the poster/billboard for how technology should be done, and what teachers and students can do with it. I've visited many, but to see a complete school technology package, which began from the curriculum rather than the device side--is brilliant and refreshing. And hey, look at the products they chose for that curriculum.

It was a pleasure to visit, and it must be a pleasure to teach there. I’m hoping there’s an invitation to return, because it certainly was an academic hug for this old chalk pusher.

Photo

AppHazard: Involve Educators

Grade 5 Tech How can educators know about Apps, and determine whether they are space junk or teaching appropriate, and how will educators really influence tech people who build them, as well as companies that provide them?

When the Internet first became a possibility for educators and classrooms, I jumped in. There were very few of us at that time, which made connecting and collaborating between continents a necessity. A research and development guy at IBM taught me some HTML and how to created a Web page using notepad. I’m not sure the phone line modem was 14.4 at the time. Most of us named those initial sites after our classroom, and what we were teaching. Mine was Mr. Royal’s Science Site. It sounded good then, and the 10 or so others around the world, doing it with me, had similar titles. It worked then.

When AOL for e-mail and chat, and Netscape for WYSIWYG Website building came along things really exploded online. You didn’t have to build it all yourself, and you could find more work and lessons done by educators in at all levels and subjects and grades. Best of all, teachers shared. Things got so good that those sites that were not educationally appropriate joined the number of sites that were educationally appropriate. I remember suggesting to an editor at Well Connected Educator, which later became TechLearning, that I’d put together something call Site of the Day, which would suggest the best Websites for educators. I convinced her that it would be equivalent to sharing sites in the faculty room or in the school hallway. Anyway, Site of the Day is still at TechLearning today.

It’s not that educators couldn’t figure this all out; it’s just that it made it easier to find good sites, and the simple descriptions and how to helped them know whether it was appropriate. We are  at a similar place now with education Apps. There aren’t that many, yet, but the wave is building for a tsunami of iPad and Androids apps that will much more quickly build.

I think there are a few things that need to happen, and I’m sure you can think of more. Here’s my short list:

1. Educators, in districts, who know how to build apps, need to work with those who do not, to create real teaching applications that are appropriate. Teachers know how to teach and won’t settle for fluff that’s just pretty. Educationally sound apps is what we want.

2. Companies creating, or providing Apps, need to involve real, in-the-trenches educators in the creation, as well as in the evaluation. My fear is that the apps that make it to teachers, without the involvement of  “real” teachers will have use wandering off in ways that aren’t educationally sound.

3. Districts need to create App Committees to vet appropriate Apps—just as Websites are evaluated. Making that part of an AUP, and part of a school or district tech committees duties is completely appropriate. This is not meant to stifle teaching creatively with technology, but rather to keep an organized app education plan in tact. Mapping course goals should include the apps that are appropriate, too. There is nothing wrong with saying that to cover a particular topic, teachers should use a particular tool, and apps should be included.

4. Education magazines and journals need to help cover educationally sound apps as well.  Maybe having educators providing an App of the Day, with how to and a bit of description needs to be done. Most educators still share locally, even though so many more have international access. Education publishers with national and international clout could help by sharing more educators doing things beyond clay, glue, and glitter. Those administrators and teachers are out there it's just a matter of asking them to share.

Finally, don’t get me wrong; one thing I do know is that if all the wires were unplugged, teachers could still teach. But it’s a different time, and the tools to engage are here, and more arriving daily. Making sure those tools and lessons are educationally appropriate should be the responsibility of educators, and be directly influenced by educators. That was true when I only had a blackboard and a few pieces of chalk—then when I had a class Website—and it is true, today, with my digital tablet.

Accelerate: Standard Deviants Resources

SamGenovese_as_Hiro copy
At the recent ISTE 2011 Conference I had a chance to demo an Biology module by a group of very cleaver, dare I say deviant, education resource producers from a company called Cerebellum. It was fun learning, and fully packaged for teaching the things that used to take me binders full of resource gathering. Beyond that, the pre lesson, actual lessons, and post lesson activities and assessments were anything but traditional. I do know that any teacher could teach biology by using it, and students would love the irreverant style. I did make the comment that students would most likely want to create their own videos and characters after experiencing the lessons. Afterward, I interviewed spokeperson Sam Genovese (image above as "Hiro the Dog Eater") from Cerebellum, who also acts in some of the video resource scenes. You may learn enough about Standard Deviants Accelerate to give it a try.

Q: How is Standard Deviants Accelerate different from other online resources?

Ans: We had a few goals when creating Standard Deviants Accelerate:

1)  Save teachers time.

2) Make it intuitive and easy to use, because no teacher should have to use a personal day to learn a new online program.

3) Make it a comprehensive subject-based learning resource that is flexible for teachers and students alike.

4) Create new and unique Standard Deviants video, audio, and testing materials that are only available on SD Accelerate.

Q: How will teachers benefit from using this platform?

Ans: Accelerate will save teachers time. Grading rubrics are provided for relevant assignments, however we know that each classroom has different needs, so we made the rubrics editable via simple click-and-type. Additionally, Accelerate pushes performance data to teachers for struggling students. This frees teachers from constantly having to log in to get time-sensitive data about students in need of more help, thus providing teachers have more time to teach.

Q: Can you explain the methodology in the structure of the subjects’ material?

Ans: Differentiated instruction, RTI and creative critical thinking are the backbone of Accelerate's methodology. 

A quiz taken at the end of a module is informed by smaller quizzes taken at the beginning of the module.  It really gets interesting with the critical thinking questions, though. Accelerate will push either a foundational or an enrichment critical thinking question to the student based on that student's unique performance on prior assignments. This type of instruction happens dozens of times over the course of an entire subject. 

Accelerate's approach to RTI is to literally send red flags to teachers when students are underperforming, so as to allow the teacher to respond in a timely manner. 

Students are asked time and again to approach the material from creative angles and think for themselves.  This makes the subject matter relevant to their lives, makes it real and makes it totally engaging.

Q: Why should this be used in the classroom?

Ans: For teachers, Accelerate is about flexibility and saving time.  Sure, there is a logical pathway to how Accelerate's lessons are organized and presented, but the entire system is designed to allow teachers to manage their classrooms in the ways they see fit. Teachers can have students submit assignments electronically or as printouts; additionally, Accelerate can be used directly in the classroom or assigned as homework or as a long-term assignment—the teacher is in control.

For students, Accelerate is a dynamic learning environment that provides not only Standard Deviants video programming, but also assignments with twists that really make the students engage with the material.  I mean, where else are students going to be asked to explain mitosis in rhyming couplets?

Cameron Evan Talks Teaching Innovation

Evans Cameron Evans, Microsoft's National and Chief Technology Officer US Education, talks innovative teaching with Ken Royal at The Royal Treatment. Learn about innovative teaching programs, what innovative teachers are doing now, including gaming, and how to get involved in your own student and teacher innovative projects.
Listen to my interview with Cameron Evans:

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MP3 Audio Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/149/show_2149307.mp3

iTunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

 

Phil Mickelson Talks Teachers Academy

Phil Phil Mickelson, tees up some education talk with Ken Royal at The Royal Treatment. Phil Mickelson, professional golfer and science education fan talks about the ExxonMobil Teachers Academy that he and his wife, Amy, began more than 6 years ago. The Mickelsons are a class act, with a passion for helping science and math teachers bring experiential lessons and techniques back to their classes, schools, and district. Phil goes from Royal St. Georges to The Royal Treatment, and it's just par for the course with this class act.
Listen to the interview:


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MP3 Podcast Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/124/show_2124365.mp3

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Planning School and District Tech

 Today’s Royal Treatment is a tech tale of two districts. Joining us are Assistant Superintendent M.E. TP Steele-Pierce, PhD, and Principal Tonya Schmidt of the West Clermont District in Cincinnati, OH, and from Massachusetts, Principal Patrick Larkin of Burlington High School and Library Media Specialist Dennis Villano. These educators will share how they learned more about the tech that’s out there, and how they determined what was the best fit for their districts. Listen to the conversation:

Listen to Scholastic's On Air Royal Treatment at royaltreatment

Best Classroom Web 2.0

Steven Anderson Steven Anderson, District Instructional Technologist for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Winston-Salem, NC gets the Royal Treatment from Scholastic Professional Media Senior Technology Editor Ken Royal. Anderson, also known as @web20classroom on Twitter, shares the Best Classroom Web 2.0 Resources, and offers tips that will put even the least tech-savvy educators at ease. Learn from Steven Anderson, a trusted online resource, education technologist, and presenter. Listen to the conversation:


Listen to Scholastic's On Air Royal Treatment at royaltreatment

Computer Science Cool?: Alfred Thompson MSDN

AlfredtAlfred Thompson, Academic Developer Evangelist for Microsoft gets the Royal Treatment from Scholastic Professional Media Senior Technology Editor Ken Royal. Thompson discusses why computer science is cool, technology for kids and teachers in classrooms, as well as what the future holds for education technology.
Before his career at Microsoft, Alfred was the Technology Director and a computer/technology teacher at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua NH.  He is a graduate of Taylor University in Upland IN where he got his start in computers, and received his MS in Computer Science at Rivier College in Nashua NH. I must add that his well-rounded computer science career began at Brooklyn Technical High School. Listen to the conversation:

Listen to Scholastic's On Air Royal Treatment at royaltreatment

WildLab Kids: Phones in NYC Parks

Central_park I talked with Jared Lamenzo, president of Mediated Spaces about their WildLab project in Brooklyn, NY. Wildlab, funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, uses cell phones and an iPhone app to support science curriculum for kids. According to Lamenzo, “the iPhone app helps learners ID birds, and includes information on birds' ranges and songs. Students submit their GPS-tagged sightings from local NYC parks, and the data goes to the classes' online account—they can refer to their findings later in the classroom.

At the end of the program, students submit their sightings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use in studies about species abundance and climate change. So far, students have collected almost 10,000 sightings, and over 500 students have participated. It’s no wonder the NYC Audubon Society, and other organizations are interested.

I asked Lamenzo if students BYOT, (Bring Your Own Tech) for the projects. He said that WildLab brings the phones with them to the schools, and kids use them as "field tools" rather than phones (note: social networks are blocked). Larenzo is working with scientists on more protocol-based science apps.

They’ve partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension to develop a horseshoe crab app. “In the field, it was like playing a game on space invaders under moonlight with 300 million year old living fossils,” says Lamenzo.

Now this is what I’ve been talking about—using cell phones as learning devices. Kids in parks collecting data, returning to class to analyze, joining parallel studies with other students, with the ultimate goal realized—these students are scientists adding to the knowledge base of other scientists. How cool is that!

Jared Lamenzo concludes, “I think programs like ours can show that phones can be used constructively. It turns out learners are quite respectful of the phones and the data collection, especially since they know it goes to scientists.”

Internet Makes Music: Sound Innovations

SI Book Covers I recently tried out a great idea from Alfred Music Publishing. It’s Sound Innovations a way Music educators and Music department heads can create and modify beginning concert band or string orchestra lessons/”method”. It’s as simple as going online and clicking through the choices that best suit your students’ needs. I was able to create a book specific to trombone in a matter of moments. My music knowledge is limited to what I remember from guitar lessons as a kid, so someone with a bit more knowledge will have an even easier go of it.

According to Alfred Music, the “method” will be available in two formats: the Standard Edition and Director's Choice edition, which allows teachers to customize the method's pedagogy, music, and enrichment materials based on their experiences and preferences.

They are written to state and national standards and based on comprehensive research of music educators' needs and preferences, Sound Innovations provides fundamental teaching tools in a clear and organized format that allows directors to incorporate their own style of teaching.

Sound Innovations is written by music educators Robert Sheldon, Bob Phillips, Peter Boonshaft, and Dave Black, "We surveyed a vast number of music teachers from all parts of the country to find out about their teaching, what they want in a method, and what would be the most helpful in meeting the challenges they face based on their unique teaching situation," said Phillips. "We looked at everything available for teachers, got in depth information about their preferences, and pieced together the best of all worlds, with many exciting new additions."

Sound Innovations: Director’s Choice allows a director to easily customize the method to fit his/her unique teaching styles and classroom situations. "We're empowering teachers to select what they want to teach and the way they want to teach it, by allowing them to choose the things they do and don't want in their method book, while still providing the solid foundation they need," said Boonshaft.

And there’s more, including an MP3 CD with instrument-specific recordings of every single line of music in each student book, and their SmartMusic program provides free access to the first 100 lines of music for students using Sound Innovations.

I recommend that district music staff and department heads check out Sound Innovations at www.alfred.com/soundinnovations to use the internet-based step-by-step program to build and preview their own method, or to view sample books.

Web 2.0 for All

WEB 2010 Getting a majority of teachers to use technology and Web 2.0 tools in their classrooms and with their students—beyond the few that have figured it out on their own—remains a puzzle. I constantly hear from those who know and preach Web 2.0 that they continue to say the same thing over and over—and that the ranks of classroom users just doesn’t increase as fast as they’d like, or think it should. My answer to them is that it’s an on-going effort, and that saying the same thing, again and again, in different ways—helps.

In a short time, Web 2.0 possibilities have exploded in numbers available, but the problem of getting staff to buy in, and become tech users has remained the same. I remember that my problem—years ago—was simply a need to get useful video-lesson supplements in my classrooms—easily presented as part of daily lessons. While a few others and I could create, upload, and share our own, it was unrealistic to ask an entire staff to learn how. Teachers didn’t have the time, and neither did I. And, while I was proud of my original short videos, there was so much more needed. It was not easy to do, and I couldn’t be an expert in all subject areas either.

I solved the problem for the district and me by enlisting help from United Streaming, which became Discovery Education. I was able to create logins for all my staff, Discovery offered searchable video choices, and I could keep track of usage—and help those who specifically needed the help. My staff became experts, and began using their teacher stations computers and presentation equipments daily. One school led to use in all schools. I thought it was completely reasonable to ask all staff to use it.

Today, I revisited Discovery Education online to see what an instructional technology specialist might find if searching for ways to safely, impact Web 2.0 tool usage with staff—in a big way. Well, it looks like Discovery Education Network (DEN) has come a long way since my streaming-video solution needs.

I know that it’s a kick for tech-savvy educators to figure out free Web 2.0 tools and material, but every educator is not cast from the same mold. Most don’t have the time, and certainly most don’t have the skills to play for hours to hunt, modify, and refine a digital teaching technique. Discovery Education’s Web 20.10 (http://web2010.discoveryeducation.com/) has gathered ideas and the most useable Web 2.0 teaching applications in one place. So, if you get five minutes to share anything tech at the opening of school, or future faculty meeting—make it Discovery Education’s Web 20.10. I’m not sure if it will get all your staff Web 2.0 revved up, but it certainly will capture more singers for your Web 2.0 choir.

And for all those creative Web 2.0 masters out there, don't give up on sharing, continue to build the base, and share what you know in your own personal learning networks. Staff and kids need to learn from you!

Check Discovery Education Web 20.10 for yourself, school, and district: http://web2010.discoveryeducation.com/

Energy: What You Need to Know

Energy3 As a former science teacher, I really appreciate the new What You Need to Know About Energy website. The National Academies not only presents the information wonderfully, but they've really paid attention to way the research is shared, especially at the K12 level. Educators and Students can dig as deep as they need, with beautifully mapped research trails, so young researchers will be successful without ever getting lost. The interactivity at the site will not be lost on classroom scientists either. The timing is perfect for this sort of energy research site for students. I hope this is only the beginning, and that there will be more from The National Academies.

I had a great conversation with Stephen Mautner, executive editor of the National Academies Press and the Office of Communications, as well as Terrell Smith, senior communications officer at the National Academies about this MUST BOOKMARK resource.

Here's What You Need to Know about Energy—a FREE resource from the National Academies share by Smith and Mautner:

One of the best parts of our job in the Office of Communications at the National Academies (advisers to the nation in science, engineering, and medicine) is that we have access to the top scientists and engineers in the country—or even the world. When we have questions, the people who have answers are never far from reach.

For the past year or so we’ve had the fun challenge of creating a resource that encapsulates the most important information people need to know about the topic of energy. As editors (not scientists), we came to the table with our own set of questions about this complicated subject and had the opportunity to share those questions with a team of experts in the field of energy. We got to hear firsthand what the pros and cons of various energy options are—and the problems we’ll face if we maintain the status quo. In the course of asking our questions, we also learned what the experts believe is important for people to understand about energy. The result of this dialogue is the website What You Need to Know About Energy—a primer about the nation’s energy situation.  

We designed What You Need to Know About Energy to be easy to navigate, so visitors can explore the story of energy on their own. There are four main sections, covering how we use energy, our current energy sources, the cost of energy (in terms of the environment, national security, and sustainability), and energy efficiency. The landing pages for each section highlight interesting or surprising facts that we think will pique visitors’ interest and encourage further exploration. Those who want to know more can dive deeper into the content, right down to the scientific reports published by our institution, which are written for experts in the field.

The site also includes several special features, including:

One of the other things that makes this site special is that, unlike many other resources about energy, What You Need to Know About Energy is not advocating any particular energy resource or policy. Its goal is to offer a balanced picture of the status of energy and some of our options for the future, so visitors can participate effectively in the conversation about this topic and make informed decisions about our energy future.

Developing this site was very rewarding. We learned a lot about energy and hope that we have effectively passed that knowledge on to others. For those who prefer a more traditional format, a free 32-page booklet that complements the website is also available in print or PDF form. There’s also a short video that captures the main ideas of the energy story. And this summer we will be working on a section just for educators that will offer guidance for how to use the site effectively in the classroom. If you have ideas about how to incorporate the content into lesson plans—or any other feedback you’d like to share—please e-mail us at EnergySite@nas.edu. And stay tuned for the launch of What You Need to Know About Infectious Disease in the fall!

ASCD Conference is a Great Choice!

Add ASCD to your education conference hit list.
(Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)

Ascd2 I attended the ASCD Conference  in San Antonio for the first time. I wasn't sure what toCrowds1 expect. Although, I know that whenever in Texas, I've been overwhelmed with the politeness and courtesy everywhere. The ASCD conference staff went out of its way to make me feel at home, and I'm certain the ASCD Conference attendees felt that welcoming warmth, too.

Educators and administrators attended from everywhere. My flight to San Antonio carried educators from Vermont. I may have talked and asked too many questions of a special education teacher seated next to me, but I wanted to find out why she was traveling to ASCD.  It wasn't for technology alone, but rather a combination of things, such as learning more about assessment, new curriculum ideas, as well as professional development solutions.

ASCD was founded in 1943 and this was their 65th annual conference! Evidently, they're doing something right, and their Learn. Teach. Lead slogan makes education sense. This conference had 50 technology sessions from how to integrate technology into3ascd the arts to using iPods for global learning. Beyond that, the three-day conference had 500 sessions, including ELL, brain-based Ascdoutsideeducation, assessment, mentoring, professional development, education advocacy, and worldwide education presentations. I peaked into a few pre-conference sessions, and even caught Robert Marzano speaking to a packed roomand the conference hadn't started yet.

ASCD's exhibit floor made my day as an old chalk pusher and education product follower. Many times the software side of technology takes a backseat to all the gadgetry and tech hardware, but online and software solutions, including those with print materials, as well as REAL books had a bigger spotlight at ASCD. The aisles were packed.

My ASCD booth video interviews will be posted at http://www.scholastic.com/administrator/.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.